fitness, Personal wellness

Finding Time for Fitness

Most people don’t avoid exercise because they hate it or even because it’s difficult. In fact, most want to move more and feel healthy. The biggest barrier to getting in a few sweat sessions is the perceived lack of time.

It’s what I hear most from my clients as the reason they can’t exercise. When I really dig in and find out what’s going in their life and with their schedule, I’ve found a few common reasons for the time struggle. And, thankfully, there are a few simple strategies to free up some white space on your calendar.  

We Make Time for What We Like

As humans, we gravitate to what makes us happy or is enjoyable. When I speak with people about their fitness goals and find out what they’ve tried to make time for, I find many of those who weren’t successful were doing exercises they didn’t like. And, they didn’t really know why they were doing it. Somewhere along the way they heard from a friend or co-worker that spinning/running/rowing/kickboxing (insert any exercise!) was the best workout. Wanting to emulate someone’s results or try something new, people jump on the bandwagon. While it’s great to try new things and challenge your body, if you find running to be something you despise or spinning hurts your butt every time you go, you aren’t going to make time to do it. You’ll skip the treadmill, blow off class, and find other things to fill that time slot.

The fix: Do more of what you like. It’s okay to do simple exercise like walking, swimming, cycling. Any exercise can be intensified/modified to give you the cardio and fat burning benefit you’re seeking. When you do something you like (or can at least tolerate) you will find the time for it on your calendar and you will stick with it.

You’re an “All or Nothing” Kind of Person

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve told someone they DO NOT need to workout an hour a day, 7 days a week to get in good shape. I have had clients say to me, “Well…If I don’t have an hour…why bother?” It’s this kind of thinking that keeps you from getting in consistent workouts. Let me repeat it for the folks in the back…you don’t need 60 minutes a day, 7 days a week to get the benefits from exercise.

The fix: Take what you have and make it work. Ideally, you have at least 30 minutes a day/5 days a week, but that’s not always the case. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently revised their exercise recommendations for Americans and one of the key changes is this…“Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Read that again. Move more, sit less. Some activity is better than none. In addition, their overall recommendations for adults is 150 minutes a week. Divvy that up however you’d like over the week – taking every 15, 20, or 30 minute opportunity to work up a sweat. When you think in those terms, those shorter bouts of exercise become “worth it.”

You’re riding the Commitment Struggle Bus

It’s easy for someone to say, “you just have to commit.” Yeah, no kidding. But what many people fail to realize is that commitment is strengthened by a compelling reason why. When you know why something is important, you will find a way to get it done.

The fix: Do a little soul-searching to find out why you set the goal in the first place and then remind yourself of that “why” every single day. If it’s to be healthier for your kids, or improve a health condition, find ways to visually remind yourself of these reasons. Pictures, post-it notes, whatever it takes to keep those reasons top of mind! If you can’t come up with a good why, then reconsider the goal.

You’re a Yes Woman/Man

When I talk to clients who claim to have “no time” available on their calendar, I challenge them to take a good look at where they devote their precious time and energy. I ask them to consider if they could set better boundaries with those who request so much of their time. Your physical, emotional and mental health improve when you set healthy boundaries in all aspects of your life. Easier said than done, right? Work, family, friends…they’re all priorities. How do we decide what stays and what we say no to?

The fix: We all have the same 24 hours and I treat my time like I treat my money – I spend it on quality activities rather than just “stuff”. Ask yourself…what can I delegate? What commitments can I reassess? Who is taking advantage of my willingness and goodwill? Tough questions but necessary ones to get to the heart of why you don’t have time to exercise and take care of yourself. My other strategy is to always reflect on whether a request or commitment is aligned with my goals, values or something I’m passionate about. It might be a good cause or a worthy event, but if it doesn’t line up with what brings me joy or gets me closer to my goals, I don’t do it.

While saying no seems tough, look for ways to turn the no into an opportunity for someone else. For example, instead of taking on more at work, empower a junior staffer to step up and take on the responsibility. Delegate chores around the house to your kids and reward them for their help. And, when you can’t do those things, a polite “no thank you” is a sufficient response.

You Have no Accountability

Accountability is the glue that binds commitment to results. Without it, there is a higher failure rate when it comes to health and fitness. But it’s not as easy as asking your mom to check in on you once a week to see if you are going to the gym. Accountability must be provided by someone who understands your goals completely, supports you in those goals and is willing to dish out a little tough love when they see you slipping. It’s not an easy role to play but the accountability partner is an essential piece to your success.

The fix: Pick the right partner to help you achieve your goals. To ensure they’re a good fit for your personality, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do they support my goals? If the person doesn’t see the value in your fitness goal, they are less likely to hold you accountable.
  • Can they commit? You need consistent check-ins with your accountability coach. Ideally, once per week. Don’t choose someone who cancels on plans or is more booked than you! Find someone who can set and keep a regular check-in appointment with you.
  • Are they comfortable calling you out? When picking a partner to help you, look for a friend, co-worker or family member who is okay with challenging you when you’re making excuses, skipping workouts or giving up on your goals.
  • Are they a good problem solver? An accountability partner should be someone willing to help you solve the challenges you face with your goals. They don’t have to have all the answers, but they should be willing to brainstorm with you to figure out how to bust through the barriers you encounter. That’s why hiring a trainer, or a health coach may be a good option as they are paid to be your accountability partner and fitness expert!

Finding time for fitness doesn’t need to be overwhelming or complicated. You simply have to get honest with yourself about what is truly a priority and if you are chasing the right goals. Add in a little bit of boundary setting and accountability and you’ll be on a path to better physical and mental well-being.

If you still can’t see a way to get fit, let’s chat. Set up a free wellness consult here. Or, fill out my wellness assessment and I’ll be in touch with a time to talk. Don’t get frustrated and give up. Ask for the help you need!

Niki Campbell

Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Workplace Wellness Consultant

412.310.6882 | info@niki-campbell.com

Uncategorized

Resolution Reboot

It’s officially mid-January – how’s that New Year’s Resolution (NYR) working out for ya? If you are still sticking with your resolutions…great job! Believe it or not, a lot of people don’t last more than 10 days and most give up by February 1.

But let’s say (hypothetically, of course) that you are oneof the 80% who are veering off the path and struggling to stick to your goals.Or, worse yet, you’ve found you hate the goal you set or have no clue how  you are going to accomplish it. This is verycommon with health and fitness NYRs. Everyone has great intentions, but they setthe bar high without having the tools to achieve those big dreams.

If that’s you or someone you know…don’t worry. There aresome simple steps that can help you refocus to start achieving those healthyresolutions before too much time passes and you (or your friend) give up.

  • Reassess your goal. It’s ok to say, “this isn’t the right goal” and move on. Sometimes we high-achievers don’t like to admit when we don’t make the right choices and heaven forbid we admit failure (gasp!). To keep doing something you hate or aren’t capable of sustaining with the hope that it will somehow work out, is the definition of insanity. So…swallow that pride and get real with yourself. Maybe running a marathon seemed like a good idea but you’ve come to realize you hate running. Time for a gut check and recalibration.
  • Reset your goal. If you’ve determined that you had an unrealistic goal or one you just don’t like, it’s easy to rework it into one that motivates you. You just have to be S.M.A.R.T about it. S.M.A.R.T goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound. It doesn’t mean you have to give up that big goal…it may mean just breaking it down into smaller, more achievable ones. I always recommend shorter goals because there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and something to complete. Let’s say your ultimate goal is to lose 40 lbs. this year. Your SMART goal may look something like this. “In 90-days I will lose 10-15 lbs. by exercising 30-45 minutes per day, 5 days a week and eating no more than 1500 calories per day of a balanced, whole-foods diet.” Then, at the end of that 90-days, you re-evaluate and set another goal for the next 10-15 lbs. until the end of the year when we have hit the 40 lb. weight loss mark. The original goal of losing 40 lbs. is still the end game but setting smaller goals makes it less overwhelming and very action-oriented.
  • Get some accountability. Some people are amazing at holding themselves accountable (we hate them, right??). For most of us, given the opportunity to slack on something that is difficult or not something we enjoy, we are likely to choose the easy way out (i.e. sleep in instead of going to the gym at 5:30 a.m.). Accountability is the glue that holds your goals together. Find a friend or family member willing to be honest with you and push you to stick to your goals. If you can’t find someone who’s good with dishing out the tough love, hire a coach. A personal trainer or health coach is someone you pay to keep you on track. You’re automatically more accountable when you have some money in the game, and they have no problem calling you out to help you achieve your goals (we love it, actually!).
  • Finally – celebrate your wins. Every day, every week, every month – find something to feel good about in this journey. We are often quick to think about all the things we didn’t do on a daily basis and miss the opportunity to boost our confidence and commitment by celebrating what we DID accomplish. Women, in particular, are great at playing the “not good enough” game. When we get in a habit of reminding ourselves of what we failed to do, we create a mindset that nothing is every enough. Ok, I know it sounds silly but I challenge you to say out loud something you’re proud of before you go to bed each night. Or, write it down if you don’t feel like making proclamations of self-love before going to sleep. Then, look back at it at the end of a week or month and see all the great shit you’ve accomplished.

The post-NYR slump is real. It’s common. It’s normal. It happens to just about everyone. What you choose to do when faced with this reality is what makes the difference. Use these tips to get back on the right track.

And, if you are about to dump the resolutions for a pizza and a Netflix binge, let’s chat. You can still enjoy life (and pizza and Netflix) but you can also get healthy and achieve those goals.

Have a kick-ass week!

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Think Small This Year – How to Really Get Healthy in 2019

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Every January 1 you are inundated with ads, emails, social media posts about how to completely change your life by setting some crazy resolution.  The whole “New Year, New You” mantra is insulting. It says you’re not good enough as the current you. It tells you that you have to completely remake yourself to live up to some kind of unrealistic standard. And, it’s total bullshit.

I despise the New Year’s resolution hype because when I work with people who want to make true improvements in their health, the thought of a complete overhaul of their lives is overwhelming. And, when people are overwhelmed, they often give up.

Among all the memes and inspirational posts you’ll see today, this week and this month will be lots of encouragement to think big. Dream big. Set big goals. And, while there’s nothing wrong with that, I am going to challenge that thinking to help you be more successful.

Today, January 1, 2019, I want you to think small. Make small changes. Set short-term goals. Take daily action – even if it’s not perfect.

Setting goals always seems daunting because we all think in big picture terms. Consider setting a process goal vs. an outcome goal that has a shorter time frame. For example, you may want to lose 20 lbs. this year but what if you stepped away from the number and focused on the behaviors and processes that will help you lose weight – one day/week/month at a time? For example, can you eliminate one take out meal a week? Or, commit to exercise three times a week? When you break down the bigger goal into bite sized pieces, you re-establish healthy habits that will get you to that 20 lb. weight loss.

So, how do you start today?

Here are my 3 Tips to A Healthy New Year:

  1. Take Action. Do something today. It doesn’t have to be an hour workout or throwing out all the food you love from the fridge. Take a walk. Make a healthy dinner. Take deliberate action to be healthier. Do just one thing each day.
  2. Find Accountability. Tell someone. Make a point to have a weekly check in with a friend, spouse, coworker who knows you are trying to improve and can help you stay on track. If you invest in a personal trainer or health coach, they should be setting up check in points with you at least weekly. I use texting and online tools to support my clients with accountability.
  3. Always reassess. Check in with yourself once a month to see how you are doing with your short-term goals and new lifestyle changes. If you’ve been consistent with a goal, add a new goal or amp up the current one. For example, if you’ve hit the gym three times a week for the whole month, add a day and shoot for four days in the new month. If you never change-up your goals or challenge yourself in new ways, you’ll get stuck, bored and worse yet, revert back to old habits.

 

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Creating a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be a complete “do over” every January. It should be a process of continual improvement. Ditch the stress of New Year, New You and think in terms of New Year, Healthier You.

In the category of taking action…There’s still time to join my January lifestyle program – The Little Black Dress Project. 6 Weeks of total wellness coaching (all online!). Fitness, nutrition, mindset, financial, career, beauty and more! You will learn how to make small, sustainable lifestyle changes to be your healthiest, happiest and most confident self. We start January 7. Take $100 until January 4 with code LBD100.


Personal wellness, Uncategorized

The Summer Shift – Falling into New Routines

a man and a woman assisting a girl while jumping
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Back to school is here and that means cooler temperatures, less daylight and the routine of homework, after-school activities and sports. Even if you don’t have children, Fall signals a change in pace and focus. Work picks up again. The push to meet those year-end goals is now a high priority!

If doing the happy dance at the bus stop this morning or running to catch the train was the first exercise you’ve done all summer, and your diet has consisted of the 3 B’s: BBQ, burgers and beers…you’re not alone. Most people relax their health and fitness goals during the fun of summer.

But if too much of summer relaxing has caught up to you and those Fall jeans and sweaters are a little snug, don’t panic! Before you make a run to the local mall to size up your wardrobe or resign yourself to wearing sweats all winter – there’s plenty of time to shape up before the real craziness of the holiday season kicks in! And, it doesn’t mean you have to commit to two hours of daily sweat or surviving on a diet of celery sticks and water. In fact, you can reset habits in just a few weeks to kickstart your weight-loss and start feeling better.

Try these tips to restore some order to your health and fitness routine:

  1. Don’t look back. No regrets if you took the summer or even most of 2018 off from your health and wellness goals. You made memories and had fun. You can’t change it so don’t focus on it. Today is a perfect day to start. Onward and upward!
  2. Set a 30-day SMART goal. SMART goals are – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. Creating a 30-day goal will give you something to work toward without it becoming overwhelming. For example, a SMART goal might be, “To lose 5 lbs. by walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week and keeping my calories to 1400 a day.”
  3. Put a plan in place. Nothing is truer than the quote “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” No weight-loss or health goal is attained without a plan. It’s not fun to plan. Just one hour every Sunday to set up a calendar of workouts and meals can eliminate spur of the moment decisions later in the week that lead to skipping workouts and ordering pizza.
  4. Get a support network in place. When family, friends and co-workers know what you’re trying to accomplish, they are more likely to help you stick to your plan. It’s especially important to get your immediate family on board with meal planning and protecting your time to exercise. A spouse or older kids can help with preparing meals and taking care of younger children while you work out or pair up with a neighbor to help each other stay accountable.
  5. Celebrate the little accomplishments. Don’t wait until you reach your ultimate goal to celebrate. Recognize the small wins along the way. That keeps you motivated to push forward. That might mean treating your family to healthy take out after two weeks of preparing and eating meals at home. Or, allowing yourself to have a piece of good dark chocolate after a stressful week where you avoided office donuts, happy hours and other diet disasters!

women s in white scoop neck mini dress in front of boy s in gray top and blue shorts
Photo by Igor Starkov on Pexels.com

Getting back on track and then maintaining healthy habits is a process and lifestyle.

You didn’t get off track or gain weight overnight – so changing those habits won’t be a quick fix. While Fall is the perfect time to refocus on you, be patient with yourself on this journey. There will be obstacles along the way but if you get started now, you will be healthy for the holidays and ready to take on all the stress and fun that come with them.

If the idea of having your meals planned for you and getting the daily coaching and accountability you know you need to succeed sounds awesome…join one of my Fall group programs!

KetoFast – a 28-day Keto and Intermittent Fasting Program that accelerates weight loss or Back to Basics – a 28-Day balanced, clean eating plan to reset habits and kick start weight loss.

 

 

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Start Where You Are

arthur ashe

Whether you have 5 of 55 pounds to lose, knowing where to start and how to build momentum can be daunting. Especially if you haven’t focused on your nutrition or fitness for some time. Figuring out how to change your diet, exercise more, plan healthy meals, drink more water and get more sleep can be overwhelming. That overwhelm can lead to procrastination and eventually giving up. I know. I’ve been there and I work with many women who have experienced this over and over again. They are frustrated as I’m sure you are too.

So, when I have a client come to me out of ideas and tired of starting and stopping, my advice is simple.

 

Just START.

 

Yep, That’s it.

 

START. With whatever you have. Whenever you can. As much as you can.

I’ve always been of the mindset that something is better than nothing. A 15 minute walk is better than sitting on the couch. The choice of vinaigrette is better than a creamy ranch dressing. Prepping 2 dinners this week is better than none.

The problem is, women in particular get caught up perfection paralysis. If I don’t have time to do it perfectly, why bother? Instead of thinking, “I have 20 minutes to exercise today instead of an hour – how can I maximize that time?”

Let’s face it…there’s never a perfect time to get healthier. And many of us get “stuck” believing that we have to all the things to improve our health. Things like a gym membership, the best gear, a fancy fitness tracker and tons of time. Or, a meal planning service, all organic food and complicated recipes for perfectly balanced meals.

Here’s a big fat truth bomb for you…you don’t need any of that. In fact, if you have a pair of shoes suitable for walking and a kitchen where you can prepare a meal, you are ready to make a change and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

So, in the face of imperfect lives and time crunched schedules how do you get going and stay on the right track? Where do you start? Here are three SIMPLE ways to make a change in the coming week. PICK ONE.

1. WALK. Pick one day and walk. Walk anywhere. Or nowhere (on a treadmill). On an indoor track or outside in your neighborhood.  Just walk for 20-30 minutes at a pace that challenges you. Then, end with a 5 minute stretch. Walking clears your head and gets your heart pumping. Better yet, it motivates you to make other healthy choices (very few people follow up a walk with a giant hot fudge sundae).

2. COOK. Cook one dinner at home. Dinner cooked at home is usually proven to be healthier than one that is ordered or eaten out at a restaurant (unless you buy a frozen pizza and pop it in the oven). Make enough to take the leftovers for lunch the next day. Don’t get hung up on making it perfectly healthy. Just make it at home.

3. PROTECT. Your time. Everyone wants your attention. Say no to one thing you really don’t need to do, or perhaps don’t want to do. The world will continue to spin, I promise. And, you’ll get back a few minutes for what really matters to you (family time, meal prep or exercise).

So that’s it. No complicated plans or programs. Simple strategies for taking small steps forward with your health and wellness. Did you notice that each idea suggests that you do something ONCE. One walk. One dinner. One “no”. This isn’t about completely overhauling your life and doing something EVERY DAY. It’s about one thing at a time; one day at a time. It’s about JUST STARTING.

If you’ve started to make healthy changes but would like some additional coaching and support, get scheduled for a FREE 30-minute Well Chat. Simply fill out this form and I’ll be in touch.

Looking for a tribe that will encourage, support and kick your butt a little? Join my Fit, Fab & Fierce Tribe on Facebook. Lots of great info and supportive ladies in there.

Other questions? Hit reply and let’s talk. And, remember, this is all about JUST STARTING with one thing to get closer to the healthier lifestyle you desire. Don’t overthink it!

Much love,

Niki

Personal wellness, Uncategorized, Workplace Wellness

Don’t Let that Extra Daylight Fool You

ecard

Spring ahead into a busier schedule

Daylight Saving Time is here and with it comes more daylight and more “stuff” to cram into our already hectic 24 hours. Somehow, we rationalize that more sunlight gives us more time (it doesn’t, obvi) yet little of that “new found” time is spent on ourselves. Wait. What? We get all this energy around more daylight and then fill it with other people’s priorities. Hmm. Ok. How’s that working for ya?

Look – more daylight or not, we have 24 hours to spend every day. Think of it as $24 that shows up in your wallet every time the clock strikes midnight. Let’s pretend that each dollar represents an hour of your day. How do you spend it? What do you prioritize?

Here’s how mine used to be spent on a weekday:

  • $10 on work (in the office, commuting or traveling)
  • $5 on sleep
  • $2 on running kids around
  • $1 on making dinner
  • $1 on answering work emails at home
  • $2 attending a board meeting for a community organization or volunteering at school
  • $2 helping with homework, class projects, costume creation, school play line rehearsal.
  • $1 on shopping, errands, etc.

Did I catch up on some things over the weekend? Sure, but then sub in the kids’ sports, social events, cleaning the house and other chores/errands and I filled up those 10 hours spent working on a weekday. My point? You get the same hours in a day as everyone else. You must find time for your health, your well-being (your waistline). That may mean that something else needs to go! The consequences of ignoring your physical well-being ain’t pretty. And, you’ll be no good to any of those people if you have to drop everything to focus on a health crisis.

It happens to the best of us

I totally get this. That was my time budget above. And, I have a great partner who helps around the house and as well as a support system – but I got caught up in the cycle of self-care denial that quickly spirals out of control. For me, it resulted in being 30 lbs. overweight, exhausted and, well, cranky!

I reached the point where I couldn’t stand what I saw in the mirror and knew I had to take action. May have been imperfect action at first, but action nonetheless. It took me well over a year to lose the weight but I’m proud to say I’ve kept it off for nearly 7 years.

While I adopted new, healthier habits, all my focus wasn’t just on sweating more and eating less. A lot of it was about unloading stress, needless “to-dos” and mental baggage that was weighing on me and keeping me from doing things that would make me healthy. It was around re-prioritizing myself and my health. Making time for workouts and to cook meals at home. It was getting the whole family on board with new lifestyle choices.

Since that time, I’ve become a personal trainer and health coach and know all the right things to do from a food and fitness standpoint. However, as a recovering do-it-all woman, I also have the personal experience to share the lifestyle changes I made that work together with nutrition and exercise to get you closer to your goals and further away from the destructive cycle of self-neglect.

Start spending time on you FIRST

From my experience, these things help start you down a path to putting yourself first and improving your health:

  1. Get real about where/what you spend time on. Track everything you do for one week. Write it in your calendar as if everything is a meeting you attended. Then, review it and see where you are wasting time. If you find that you spend an hour a day talking to your mother, sister, best friend, or others, block time once a week to catch up with people on your commute to or from work instead of when you get home and want to work out. Or do you scramble every night with what to make for dinner because you didn’t really plan for the week? Set aside 2 hours on Sunday to meal prep instead of zoning out in front of the tv. Find the time wasters and eliminate them or consolidate them into blocks with a designated start and stop time.
  2. Get good at saying NO! Get comfortable with politely turning down requests, invitations and opportunities to volunteer. I always remember that when I say YES to something that means I’ll eventually have to say NO to something else. Choose wisely. There are millions of ways to do it but I’ve found that keeping it short and simple is better than trying to justify or create elaborate reasons. Most times, I simply say, “Thank you but I’m unable to volunteer/attend.” If you feel like giving a reason why, great, but it’s not required. Your time is yours and what you choose to spend it on, is entirely up to you. Don’t let friends, colleagues or others guilt you into saying yes.
  3. Get a budget for your time. Map out how much time you are willing to spend on volunteering, working at home after hours, etc. and then plan for it. The key will be to add in 5-7 hours a week for self-care. That’s a small investment for the ROI you’ll receive. And then treat your time budget like a real one – don’t go over and if you’re under, spend the surplus wisely. Bonus: When you only budget so much for activities that are for the benefit of others, you have a great out for things you don’t want to do but hate saying no to (see tip #2 for how to enjoy the art of NO). “Oh, I’m so sorry Linda, I’d love to help with bake sale but I’ve already booked my volunteering time for this month. Maybe next month!”
  4. Get over doing it all on your own. You are a professional woman, entrepreneur or maybe a small business owner – start acting like it! You have help when it comes to running your department or company. You don’t do everything on your own just because you can. You have accountants and administrative assistants and other professionals to help you. So why do you insist on doing it all when it comes to your personal life? Invest in services and people who can do the things you don’t have the time or energy for or that are not a good use of your time (like cleaning the whole house on Saturdays). Same goes for your health and wellness. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, hire a professional to help you. A personal trainer, health coach or nutritionist can quickly assess your needs and get you a path to better health with the right food, fitness and lifestyle behaviors.

As a recovering do-it-all kind of gal, I know now that being all things to all people just means having nothing left for myself. And, when we continue to overspend our time budget and take on even more responsibilities, we eventually become overdrawn and even bankrupt in our health and wellness.

Assess, take action and ask for help

Take the time to ASSESS what you’re spending time on, take ACTION to prioritize what is truly important, impactful and enjoyable, and finally, ASK for help with the rest. When you do, your schedule opens, your time bank is full and you can be that strong, healthy and happy overachiever that everyone loves.

Try it..

Xoxo

Niki

PS – if you’re ready to finally ditch the crazy diets and the over-the-top exercise programs and still lose weight, let’s chat about my 8-Week Fit, Fab & Fierce Bootcamp. Lose up to 15 lbs., jumpstart your metabolism and transform bad habits into healthy lifestyle behaviors. Schedule a chat here:  https://goo.gl/forms/J5eqpgY98H2nnBBk1 or text me at 412-310-6882.

 

 

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Putting the Power Back into Willpower

Willpower is a Limited but Renewable Resource

 

Someone in my Facebook group asked a great question the other day…how do I gain more willpower to make the right food choices?

There were some great answers from other members about the importance of accountability, taking small steps to improve versus trying to “fix” everything you’ve done wrong in the past, and giving yourself a break sometimes because, none of us is perfect.

But it got me thinking even more about the question. What is willpower? And can we really create more of it? So my writer instincts said…go research it. First, I went back to my health coaching textbook and looked up how my field describes willpower.

“Willpower is the ability to ignore temporary pleasure or discomfort to pursue a bigger goal.”

Busting the Willpower Myths

More digging into the subject busted some long-standing myths that I had about willpower. Such as:

  • You just need more information. Knowledge is not power when it comes to willpower. Apparently, even if we know a sleeve of Girl Scout Cookies are high in calories and generally not a good choice for breakfast (oh no!), that does not increase our willpower to resist them.
  • Using the willpower “muscle” makes it/you stronger. Ugh. You know how people say practice makes perfect. Not always with willpower. The cognitive function that controls your ability to have willpower can become fatigued, like an overworked bicep.
  • Willpower is a long-term strategy. Willpower is an “in the moment” response to the cookies, a second glass of wine, or whatever you’re trying to consume less of. To truly change your behavior long-term, willpower is only one part of the equation.

So, knowing all these fun facts, what can we do to not only increase our ability to make snap decisions that are healthy but also increase our overall ability to reach our long-term goals.

Let’s Get GRITty

According to the experts it comes down to GRIT. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania coined the acronym and it is defined as “the ability to “work strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity and plateaus in progress.”

Wow. That’s motivating.

Dr. Angela Duckworth distinguishes self-control (willpower) as a shorter-term behavior—not eating the cookie right in front of you. While GRIT is about pushing toward goals over a longer period.

Here’s an overview of GRIT and how I use these techniques to help my clients gain better long-term control over their lifestyle habits and behaviors.

  • Goals Get You There. If you’ve read my blog for the last year or two or if you’ve worked with me, I am a big proponent of setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound). When you lay out your goals in a way that has all those elements it helps to focus your efforts on ONE thing and strengthen that willpower muscle for endurance, not just spurts of heavy lifting.
  • Relax and Reward. Again, something I teach my clients. First – I help them find ways to reduce stress and increase energy. Yoga, long walks, silent meditation for 15 minutes a day – whatever it takes to quiet your brain and refocus on your goals. When you’re tired or stressed out you don’t make good choices. Your guard is down, and you reach for comfort, and convenience. Also – I’m a big fan of rewarding yourself and celebrating the little accomplishments. If you never allow yourself to eat that cookie or order the second glass of wine, you’ll eventually overindulge and end up on a path back to old behaviors.
  • Intention and Implementation.  Ahhhh…it all comes down to planning and preparing. When you plan what you’ll eat and drink at a cocktail party or map out when you’ll workout on a business trip, you are in CONTROL and when you’re in control you are ready for the temptations and roadblocks. One way researchers suggest to prepare for something that will be tempting is using the “if-then” strategy. Let’s say you’re going to a client dinner where there will be lots of alcohol flowing. “IF someone tries to pour me a drink, THEN I’ll thank them and carry a glass of club soda with a few olives in it.”
  • Thinking Truthfully.  Kelly McGonigal the author of The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It says there are three different aspects of willpower:

-“I won’t” power—the ability to resist temptations
-“I will” power—the ability to do what needs to be done
-“I want” power—the awareness of one’s long-term goals and desires

Using these mantras to deal when temptation pops up will give you the ability to respond to whatever the world puts in front of you (cookies, wine, the couch and remote).

Let Your Willpower Renew

Finally, even with all the good intentions and planning and goals, it’s important to remember that we are human. We are flawed. We will give in to temptation sometimes. The most important thing I teach my clients is self-forgiveness and self-compassion.

Remember what I said about willpower ‘muscle fatigue’? Some days that muscle will have had all it can lift and will give out. When it does, acknowledge the slip, remind yourself of the long-term goal, and refocus on you and what you need to do next time to avoid the pitfall. Give the muscle a break; let it renew a bit. It’s when we never use the muscle that poor “in the moment” choices then become habits and then deeply-ingrained behaviors. That’s when we need to bulk up that willpower muscle and use a little GRIT to overcome the challenges and make the positive changes needed to be healthy.

Want more help finding your GRIT and strengthening your plans to be healthy? Let’s chat. Fill out my FREE Wellness Assessment and you’ll get a 30-minute call with me. We’ll discuss your goals and what I’d recommend to strengthen your willpower and GRIT.

Have a happy and healthy day and watch out for those willpower-busting, yet adorable, Girl Scouts and their addictive cookies!

Xoxo

Niki

Personal wellness, Uncategorized

Dare to Compare?

working on my own grass

Dare to Compare?

The Dangers of Trying to Be Someone Else

Have you heard this one…Comparison is the thief of joy? Sounds cliché but there is some truth to it. Constant comparison and “trying to keep up,” will not only steal your joy but also your motivation, confidence and focus.

Quick story about the danger of comparison…I once attended a business meeting and there was a woman wearing the same dress. She was tall, blonde, all legs and in my mind, 100 lbs. less than me. I had a jacket on, so it wasn’t as noticeable that we were wearing the same dress, but I spent the entire meeting comparing everything from the thickness of my hair (hers was beautifully thick and wavy) to the circumference of my ankles to the length of my eyelashes in comparison to her. By the end of the meeting I concluded that I was basically Shrek and needed to lose 50 lbs., get false eyelashes and find a way to grow thick blonde hair. Okay…so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but I did spend considerable time comparing myself to someone I could NEVER look like, instead of focusing on the meeting, contributing to the conversation and providing value. Ridiculous, right?

When I used to think of comparison, I thought of it more like competition and I’m a fiercely competitive, Type A gal. I thought that by paying attention to and striving to be like those I considered “high achievers”, it would keep me on my toes and motivated. Until I realized that, most times, it didn’t matter what I did or how hard I worked, I was never going to be the person whose life I held in such high esteem. Not because I didn’t have the drive or ambition – got plenty of both. Rather, because their achievements didn’t fit my lifestyle, career choices, body composition, etc.

You see, comparisonitis (yes, it’s like a disease) or the act of relentlessly measuring our lives/bodies/careers by someone else’s standards, is a dangerous and exhausting endeavor. When healthy admiration and motivation turns to non-stop self-judgement and berating, we have no joy in our lives and we miss out on celebrating the amazing things we DO achieve, every damn day!  Ultimately, the act of measuring our worth, accomplishments and progress against someone else stifles our efforts, damages our self-esteem and leaves us miserable.

Why we do it?

I’d love to say this is a new thing with the dawn of social media and all the filters that make us look better and seem awesome. However, keeping up with the Joneses has been around a long time. It’s just that now the reminders of our shortcomings is like a 24/7 cable news broadcast.

Like I said, I think relentless comparison starts as innocent motivation. Let’s take fitness as an example. We decide to get fit and start to follow a fitness celebrity or trainer because they are successful in weight loss and creating a healthy and fit lifestyle.  Yay! That’s what we are supposed to do – surround ourselves with positive people who set a good example. They don’t have to be famous – it could be your neighbor who teaches a spin class and has 12-pack abs. That motivation in and of itself isn’t unhealthy. People we admire help us see what’s possible, and they encourage us to act. All good things. The danger lies in when we go from inspiration to deflation because you haven’t achieved exactly what they have, and you tell yourself you’re a failure who will never measure up.

What’s the harm?

So, what’s the big deal? A little motivation and healthy competition is good, right? Sure. In small, reasonable doses. When that motivation turns to self-judgement and defeat or worse yet, a time-consuming obsession, you risk setting yourself back and even quitting all together because you feel like a complete failure. Here are some signs you’re heading down a dangerous path.

  • You become distracted. All you can see is what you HAVEN’T accomplished. So, you start doing anything and everything to achieve that “ideal body.” And, when you’re doing everything you’re likely not accomplishing much. By veering off the plan you set to achieve your goals, you become distracted and risk losing ground on what you’re after – the healthiest version of YOU!
  • You become defeated. You know that feeling when you’ve been working hard to do something and you’re not making progress? The feeling of exhaustion, frustration and failure. When you have that feeling all the time you end up defeated and discouraged and may decide to throw in the towel. I mean, if I can’t look like Beyoncé, then why bother, right?
  • You develop a skewed sense of reality. When you start to believe that everything you see online is real, it’s time to pull back and re-evaluate. Most of what you see on social media is NOT REAL life. It’s filtered and Photoshopped. It’s the “highlight reel” not the boring, messy crap that we all deal with. The neighbor who seems to have it all together, has laundry piling up, deadlines she missed and cranky kids. You just don’t get the behind-the-scenes tour of her life, so it seems all good. When that’s all you see, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to live up to the same standards.

How can you avoid it?

We all fall into the cycle of comparison and competition but how do pull yourself out? The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t see that you’re in the comparison vortex and you continue to spin and spin and become more frustrated.

  • Acknowledge it, feel it, move past it. We all go through this. Recognize it and then ask yourself what’s really going on. It may be guilt over not getting to the gym or ordering takeout too much lately. Your friend’s gourmet meal pic or her gym check-ins are triggering a little guilt. Instead of feeling terrible about it, stop scrolling on Instagram or Facebook and refocus on your goals. Plan to change the pattern. But don’t let it get a grip on you and kill your efforts to get healthy.
  • Take a break from social media. For real…remove one social media channel from your phone. You can still check it on your iPad or laptop but make it a little more difficult to mindlessly scroll. If you’re not ready to delete it, turn off notifications so you aren’t getting a pop up or little red dot every few minutes reminding you of all the awesome things you’re not doing. You can unfollow, pause, hide certain people, posts, etc. Take advantage of these tools to give yourself a break from the constant comparison.
  • Find gratitude for what you have accomplished. Look around. You have lots to be proud of and even more to be grateful for in your life. Acknowledge that. Grab a journal and every night before you go to sleep, write down two things you’re grateful for and two things you’ve accomplished or that you’re proud of (you packed a healthy lunch, your son got an A on a difficult test, etc.). When we remind ourselves of all the good in our life, it’s tougher to feel like a failure.

Comparison is inevitable. We are humans who need to feel good and successful. So, it’s ok to see someone and think, “I could be more fit like her.” Just recognize when healthy motivation and competition turns to relentless comparison and self-judgment. Your goals are unique and specific to you. Don’t jump off the path to follow someone else’s journey because you’ll end up going nowhere.

If you’ve had enough of the cycle of comparing, chasing and failing, take a minute and fill out my free wellness assessment here. Then, let’s chat. I’m ready to get you back on track and hold you accountable to your goals. I’ll help you become the best version of you so that your neighbor will be asking what you’ve been doing.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Your Waistline Affects Your Bottom Line

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You’re Missing Opportunities

I’m going to ruffle some feathers with this blog post but I feel like it’s time to get real and call it like I see it. Because you’re leaving money on the table. Like it or not…Your waistline affects your bottom line. Your income suffers when you are overweight, unhealthy and don’t like how you look. Yep. I just said that. Why? Because your health and wealth (however you define it) are intertwined.

I could point to studies that prove this . Like this one done in the U.K. in 2016. Or this one done by a professor at Wharton. But I don’t need to. I’ve seen firsthand in my work with executives.  When you are overweight, unhealthy and uncomfortable in your own skin you are less confident. And, when you lose confidence, your credibility suffers. And when you aren’t credible or convincing, you lose — money, job opportunities, clients, sales.

To build your empire; to shatter that glass ceiling; to make a big fucking impact in this world, you need to be at the top of your game both mentally AND physically. And that means dropping the weight that’s holding you back. You need to stand tall and feel proud of how you look when you are doing that white-hot, bad ass presentation, sales pitch, interview, etc.

Confidence Sells

Extra weight – even 10 lbs. – drags you down. Literally and figuratively. When you are carrying around extra weight and aren’t confident, it’s what people see FIRST and sometimes it’s ALL they see. It’s often what they base their decisions on. When you don’t like how you look, neither do your clients or customers because they sense your discomfort and lack of confidence.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to carry around extra weight and feel the way you do. You can change it. You can lose weight, feel better and gain your confidence back. IF…yes, there’s an IF. If you stop making bullshit excuses and start taking action. Yep. Another #truthbomb.

The only thing stopping you from losing weight or getting healthy is YOU! Not your job. Not your boss. Not your demanding clients. Not your kids or spouse. Not an injury. Not your busy schedule. Those are excuses. Every one of us has the same 24 hours in a day. We all have the power to re-prioritize and put ourselves first.

Now…having said all that, I am acutely aware that while we all have the power to change, we don’t all have the knowledge and resources to make it happen. There is a new diet, workout trend or weight loss promise out there every day. There’s a gym on every corner and lots of videos online. Knowing what to eat, how to workout to maximize your results and trying to fit it all in…is overwhelming to say the least.

How to Jumpstart Your Slim-down Strategy.

Look, I’m pretty forthcoming with my thoughts on fat. I take the emotion out of it. It’s something you HAVE. Not something you ARE. It’s disposable too. But, I also recognize that people get overwhelmed with where to begin when it comes to ditching the fat and being the healthy, energetic person they are meant to be. Where do you start? How can you fit it in when you’re busy AF!? Here are 3 tips that any busy professional can do to kick your body into action and start looking and feeling better – in as little as 7 Days.

  1. Drink up! Not booze. Water. At least half your body weight in ounces. I’d guess most of you are dehydrated. When you’re dehydrated you think you’re hungry so you eat more. You have less energy so you don’t workout as much. Water is life. Literally. Stop whining about how boring it is and drink up! Don’t add any crap to it. Lemon, lime, strawberries, etc. are fine but no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners.
  2. Get you Ass Moving. Stop making excuses. You have 30 minutes a day to sweat. You do. You make time for what you prioritize in your life. My guess is, you haven’t been prioritizing your health. So…stop that. Sit down, look at your calendar and pick 5 times over the next 7 days that you can get on a treadmill, go for a run outside, attend a spin class…whatever. 30 minutes is all I’m asking for.
  3. Eat Less; Eat Better. Ditch the take out and drive thru for one week. Cook at home and that doesn’t mean popping a french bread pizza in the oven. Reduce your overall calories by 250 each day. Track your food. Watch sodium and amp up that fiber (at least 25 grams per day). Bottom line…be aware of what you’re putting in your body. Mindless eating is the enemy.

Successful People Seek Out the Experts

Have you ever seen a successful team without a coach? Or, a successful businesswoman without a team of experts around her? Successful people seek out those who know more than them. And, that’s where I come in. My coaching is laser focused on YOU and your individual health and wellness needs. I have the knowledge and do the work to ensure you have the most efficient and effective program to get you back in shape and feeling great.

So, if you are done with the “reasons” why you can’t get healthy, and you’re ready to raise your hand, take action and get the help and support you need…let’s talk.

Your career, business and financial future depend on you looking and feeling your best. Invest now in your health, lose the weight and feel confident so it doesn’t cost you in the long run.

Ready for a Bigger Badass Jumpstart?

I’m getting ready to open up my 8-Week Badass Bootcamp for those ready to ditch the fat and get healthy. I’m not going to sugarcoat it (and you’ll probably eat less sugar) – it’s a lifestyle overhaul. A reboot of your bad habits to transform them into healthy behaviors. It’s 8 weeks of nutrition and fitness coaching, daily accountability, weekly coaching calls, workouts, recipes, meal ideas, etc., etc. You will lose weight, have more energy and get back that swagger that you had 15 pounds ago.

There are limited spaces because of the attention and time required to implement this program. To apply for a spot, you’ll need to fill out my Wellness Assessment and have a quick call with me to ensure you are ready for this and we’re a good fit! You can’t be on the fence for this program. This isn’t going to be 8 weeks of me dragging you along and convincing you that you’re worth it. So, if this has you even thinking HELL YES, fill out the form and let’s chat.

This program will change your life. You just have to commit to getting help. Hope to hear from you soon!