nutrition, Personal wellness, Uncategorized

The Space Between

Have you seen this graphic/meme/tweet circulating social channels? As funny as it may be, it’s scary true – especially for those of us who are taking time off.

week between christmas and new years.jpg

Wednesday feels like a Monday. It’s “normal” to be eating cookies for breakfast and going to the movies midweek. College football is on every day and weekend news anchors are filling in on a Thursday. Nothing is familiar or routine, and our bodies and minds are confused.

If you are feeling bloated, tired, cranky and suffering from brain fog, you’re not imagining these things. They are real. The “week between” is a real thing and can seriously mess with your wellness.

AdobeStock_126394975 (1).jpegWhat Went Wrong…

First of all, you have likely spent the last 30 days burning the candle at both ends trying to get it all done before the holidays. You may have put workouts on hold and relied on take out or fast food as a dinner solution. Add in the extra holiday lunches, happy hours and cookie exchanges and your body has been processing a lot more food — mostly sugar — than it’s used to handling. It happens. To all of us. Pardon the seasonal pun but it’s like a snowball. The more you allow a habit to roll (eating out, not exercising), the bigger the issue it’s going to be come. And, when you finally realize it’s out of control, the snowball has run you over. The week in between can be a time to squash the snowball or a time to ignore it until it hits you in the face with an icy sting.

What Can You Do About it…AdobeStock_183508816.jpeg

Don’t ride it out. You may not believe it but these five or six days can be a reset of your mindset and your habits. You won’t undo several months (or years) of unhealthy behaviors overnight but you can start feeling better, more energetic and healthier in as little as a week. And, it’s not going to require you to spend hours at the gym or starve yourself.

Check out my best tips for maximizing the week in between and getting BACK ON TRACK.

  1. Clean and Restock the Fridge. From a food safety standpoint, toss any properly stored leftovers from dinner after 48-72 hours. You’re sick of ham anyway. You can keep some things like veggies and make a healthy stir-fry. But get rid of anything from dinner that’s been in the fridge for more than two days. Out of sight, out of your diet! Restock with healthy foods – check out and print this clean eating grocery list.
  2. Hydrate Like it’s Your Job. Start with 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water. More if you workout or if you just want to flush out the bad stuff. Water isn’t just about quenching your thirst. It improves digestion (get it moving!), helps curb cravings and overeating, keeps your energy up and helps your skin look clearer and brighter. Use one of your holiday gift cards to get a fancy water bottle that keeps the stuff super cold and carry it with you everywhere!
  3. If You Eat It, Track it! Use a notebook or app but track your food. If you eat it, track it to stay aware of what and how much you are eating. That’s the first step in getting control of your nutrition. Without knowing what you’re eating, how can you change a habit? Go one step further and calculate the calories you need to maintain or lose weight and stick to that number for a week. You may be surprised how quickly you drop a few pounds when you are aware of what you’re eating.
  4. Bring the Exercise Back. If you have time off, this is the perfect time to start exercising again. If you are back to work, it’s a great time to play around with different times that a workout can work with your schedule. Unlike other trainers, I’m not recommending 60 minutes of hardcore exercise. If you’ve been off for a few months, ease into it. 20 minutes a day, 3-4 times per week. Walking is an amazing way to get back into an exercise habit. All you need are sneakers. You can calculate your optimal heart rate for calorie burning but here’s an easy way to tell if you’re working hard enough – can you easily carry on a conversation while you walk/run/exercise? If you can, you can amp up your output a bit. You should feel a little breathless to be gaining the fat-burning benefits.
  5. Accountability Counts. Don’t do this alone. Enlist a friend or neighbor who can help you get back on track and then hold each other accountable. Or, if you’re really ready to make a change and need more concentrated support, consider a trainer or coach to create the systems to hold you to your goals and help you through your challenges.

You Got This…

The week between can be filled with more busy-ness or it can be a quick reset of your habits and routine. It can set you up for a great New Year or it can make it even more difficult to change habits after the holidays have passed.

If all of this resonates with you but you still don’t know where to start or you’ve been off track for a long time, I invite you to check out my upcoming New Year’s program, the Little Black Dress Project.

LBD Promo graphic (1)

The LBD Project is focused on whole-person wellness that helps you lose weight, reset unhealthy behaviors and rebuild confidence to take on 2019 and kick ass!

For a limited time, you can take $100 off with coupon code LBD100. Have questions or want to discuss? Let’s chat. Fill out this form and I’ll be in touch for call.

Enjoy the time off if you’re taking it and let’s get ready for an amazing 2019!

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

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

Uncategorized

Thinking Yourself Fit

The Energy Mind Game

I’m pretty stubborn and I don’t compromise on much that’s related to my career, personal beliefs or health. However, that doesn’t mean I love all things healthy or that I don’t have days where I just don’t feel like exercising. But I’ve learned that in life, you sometimes have play some mind games with yourself to power through the things you don’t love to get to the things you enjoy. For many people, exercise and healthy living are at the top of the list of things they don’t feel like doing. So, can you talk yourself into being more fit? Having more energy?

My favorite celebrity trainer, Chalene Johnson, a high-energy, motivating dynamo from Southern California has a quote that I absolutely love. “Energy is a state of mind. Tell yourself you’re tired and you will be. Tell yourself you have energy and you will.”

Is it Really All in Your Head?

Chalene’s quote has always resonated with and motivated me, but I wondered if there was any truth to it? Is energy something we can just tell our brains and bodies we have? Turns out you can fake it ‘til you make it to get your body up and moving. I did the research to explain it and have boiled it down to these points.

  • Self-talk is powerful. If you grew up in a family with an “I can’t” or “it’s hard” mentality, you may be wired to quit when something gets tough. Worse yet, you may not even try because you’re convinced you’ll fail. These behaviors become powerful habits that keep us stuck.
  • Energy attracts like energy. For many people, they carry that negative energy into adulthood and surround themselves with like-minded people. Thus, continuing the self-doubt, destined-to-fail attitude in all aspects of their lives – career, relationships and wellness.
  • Negative self-talk is a habit you can change. Here’s the good news. You may have a propensity for negative energy but it’s not a life sentence. By reframing the inner-talk, you can change your energy and move yourself and your goals forward.

How to Master that Inner Dialogue

In reflecting on how I power through when I don’t feel like it, and my inner voice is saying, “stay here in this warm bed,” here are my tips for fooling your mind into getting up and moving.

  • Use the 5 Second Rule (check it out here). A big influence in my life is Mel Robbins. She is an author and motivational speaker who used the power of 5 seconds to propel herself out of bed and into a successful life and career. Check out the link above but the quick explanation is this…when you have an impulse to do something like working out, but you aren’t self-motivated to do so, count back from 5 to 0 and physically MOVE. When you do, you prevent your brain from talking you out of it. It can be used for anything and everything in your life, especially wellness. I use it to walk away from that second cookie or the impulse to have another glass of wine at happy hour.
  • Give it 5 Minutes. This is a Chalene Johnson hack that I’ve used for years. I make a deal with myself that I’ll give exercise 5 minutes. If I still feel tired/unmotivated/cranky, I’ll stop. I can count on one hand the number of times I stopped working out in over 10 years.
  • Get it Over With. When you put off exercise or anything until “later” you spend the whole day making excuses about why you can’t. You will put everything and everyone ahead of that 1 hour of gym time. Don’t do it later…get up, lace up and go.
  • Everything Counts. Many times, we talk ourselves out of exercise because we believe we must ‘go hard or go home’. Ditch that belief and know that a 30-minute walk or a gentle yoga session is often all you need to gain the benefits of movement when you just don’t want to feel exhausted.
  • Plan your Days On/Off. If I already know what days I’m working out and when I’m not, I don’t feel the pressure of having to decide and have that inner debate every day. Schedule your workouts and your rest days. Put them on your calendar and treat them like any other meeting or appointment. It frees you from making that decision daily.

Flip the Script in Your Mind

So much of what we do physically is controlled by our thoughts and attitudes. How we speak to ourselves and what we say in those moments of decision-making are critical to living a healthy life. Impulses to eat better and to exercise more are fleeting, we must recognize them and act before we talk ourselves out of it.

Want more healthy-living tips? Join me in my Facebook group, Fit, Fab and Fierce Women or message me for a free wellness assessment.

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.