Personal wellness, Uncategorized, Workplace Wellness

Don’t Let that Extra Daylight Fool You

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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.

 

 

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

Leaders Behaving Badly – Breaking the Bad Habits We Fall Into

Young Woman Working at Home, Small OfficeShame on you. Seriously. You talk a good game but you don’t live it!

Women who encourage other women to have more balance and be more present in their family’s lives. All the while, they are a boiling pot of stress ready for the lid to blow off and to let out all the pent up steam. All because of a few bad habits.

Professional women are unique creatures. We have the amazing ability to appear to be doing it all — Killing it at work; making it to all the kids’ soccer games; volunteering at the local animal shelter. Only to go home and collapse from the exhaustion of our lives.

The problem with living like that…being on, going non-stop, is that something needs to take a backseat to all the other priorities. And, guest what? It’s usually our health and wellness. And, that sucks.

Women, and high achieving professional women in particular, don’t know when to stop and take time for themselves. It seems selfish and extravagant. We’ve worked really hard to get where we are (despite earning 73% of our male counterparts ). And, research shows that women and our “do it all” personalities burnout faster than men (60% more according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). That stress leads to weight gain, high blood pressure, and a bunch other health problems.

So, admitting the problem is the first step, right? Then, what’s next? Where do women start in breaking these bad habits so they can continue to be high-achievers and not burned out couch zombies by the age of 40?

Here are some of the common “bad habits” I see in my clients and some of the strategies I’ve recommended to them. It’s not enough to say, “stop it.” Women aren’t wired that way.

Bad Habit #1: Running from meeting to meeting from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Solution: First of all, I’ve seen executive women who don’t even leave time for a bathroom break. It’s time to rethink your schedule if you can’t even pee. We all like to think we are absolutely indispensable to every conversation, I challenge you to be a true leader and delegate routine meetings to a junior colleague or someone you are mentoring. Give them the opportunity to shine so you have the opportunity to hit the restroom and regroup for the strategic meetings. Then, get a report out from them in a walking meeting. Grab a coffee or smoothie and head outside (weather permitting) to discuss.  You’ll get some fresh air and maybe some fresh ideas.

Bad Habit #2: Multitasking at lunch to catch up.

The Solution:  Focus on one thing at a time. There is truly no good way to multitask (don’t believe me? Science says so!). When nothing gets our full attention, nothing gets done well. If you have 30 minutes to eat lunch, dedicate half that time to eating. Just eating. Then, use the rest to answer emails, make appointments, scroll Facebook. Whatever to-dos you have that have been slated for your lunch time. This approach is important because being mindful of what you eat leads to better eating habits — like proper portions, and more nutritious choices. Bonus – you might actually enjoy eating. Focusing on one thing at a time will yield better results for your health, your career and family  life!

Bad Habit #3: Keeping your phone by your bed and checking it first thing.

The solution: Charge your phone elsewhere.  Easy to say. Tough to implement. I’m a terrible offender of this. However, when you wake up and start reading, processing, and responding you are literally inviting stress into what should be your most peaceful place, your bed! Again, I know this because…science. Here’s what I recommend and I’m trying my best to do. Put that phone somewhere that requires you to move before you look at it. Better yet, put it in a place that requires you to sweat, like on your treadmill or inside your running shoes by the front door (assuming an outlet is nearby). Then, if you must, read the stuff that you’ve missed when you’re walking or stretching. If nothing else, put it by the coffee pot so at least you’ll be caffeinated before you start dealing with life.

Bad Habit #4: Relying on Take Out More than Once a Week.

The Solution: Meal prep with friends. This solution solves two problems – having nothing to eat during the week and having no time for friends. Pick two Saturdays or Sundays each month and invite a friend or two over to do meal prep. Agree on 7-8 dinners that you’ll prep for the next two work weeks. Keep it simple and clean (buying a bunch of frozen meals doesn’t count!). Grab some wine, and prep together while you catch up on life. A few hours invested in preparing meals are good for your body and the time with a friend is good for your soul.

Your wellness starts on the inside. Stress, lack of sleep, and relentless multitasking will take a toll on your psyche and eventually your body.

Even if you pick one bad habit to change, you are doing something positive for your health. You’re also setting an example for your employees and co-workers and your family. Small steps will lead to a greater state of wellness. And you don’t have to give up that high-achieving, Rockstar status to be healthier. You really can have it all. Just not all at the same time.

Is this resonating? Do you find yourself saying, “hell yes” to all of this? If so, let’s chat. This is just the tip of the iceberg. To truly revolutionize your health and wellness, you need support and accountability. I can help. I’ve been there and know how to get more from your career and life through having a wellness state of mind.

Uncategorized, Workplace Wellness

Quarterly Check Up on Your Wellness

img_5709For most of my corporate career, I’ve been part of a team that prepared for or helped conduct quarterly business reviews. And, most businesses, small and large, participate in some kind of regular check-in of their progress throughout the year.

With Q1 behind us, you’re likely looking at how your business and employees are tracking with the goals you’ve set. It’s also a great time to check in on your wellness goals. Are you seeing the positive changes you want from making better decisions about food, exercise and stress reduction?

If not, today’s a great day to refocus on the transformation you want to see in your health and wellness. Here are my 3 tips for a quarterly wellness review.

1. Review it. Are your goals SMART? Those familiar with the SMART goal-setting concept know that goals have to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. If you are not seeing results, try re-tooling the goals first to be more attainable and time bound. Small, incremental successes lead to big returns in the long run. Instead of saying “I’m going to lose 50 lbs,” reframe the goal to be more attainable and time bound…”I will focus on improving my diet and exercising 5 days a week to lose 4-5 lbs. a month.” A weekly or monthly target is not as overwhelming. Plus, this goal provides specific methods for achieving the goal – diet and exercise — and it’s relevant to what you want to accomplish by the end of the year.

2. Announce it. Well, maybe not in a press release or on your company’s web site but tell someone. Your business partner, boss, or colleagues working toward similar goals. You are at work more often than not so find a coworker you can trust to keep you accountable – especially when there are cookies or birthday cake in the breakroom (you know that struggle is REAL). If you’re not ready to shout it from the podium at your next staff meeting, find an online accountability/support group (here’s a link to mine…https://www.facebook.com/groups/RoadWarriorFitClub/) where like-minded people from all over the country and world are pursuing the same goals.

3. Track it. You probably have a report for every metric in your business. Successful business owners are tracking their business health on the regular, and should be doing the same with their own health. You don’t need a fancy fitness gadget. A pen and paper, your phone notes app, or one of the many free fitness/diet tracking apps will work just fine. You will not be successful with your wellness goals long term if you are not conscious of what you are eating and how often you are exercising. You may lose some weight or finish a 5k in the short term, but sustained results come from tracking your progress DAILY.

So, as you get ready to run some diagnostics on your business, put it on your calendar to do the same with your health and wellness goals. In fact, put it on your calendar for every quarter…right now (seriously, go write it down now).

Sales, market share and cash flow don’t just happen without careful planning, tracking and accountability. Neither does your health. Treat your wellness like your business and I promise both will perform better. Here’s a great article on other “healthy habits” of successful CEOs and entrepreneurs.

My parting advice on this..don’t go it alone. I’m sure you surround yourself with smart people to advance your business. Do the same with a health by finding wellness coach and accountability partner. Wellness coaches encourage you, help you plan your workouts and meals, and most importantly, keep you on track. I’ve been there, a busy corporate roadwarrior who figured out how to balance work and wellness to be the best possible professional I could be. Want to learn more about me and how I can help, check out my website and feel free to message me with questions.