Tag Archives: Motivation

Getting from Point A to Point Z. (You can’t skip over the points in between).

Think of changing your habits like purchasing a train ticket to go across the country. Trains get us to and from our destination usually with a lot of stops in between. You may be able to buy an upgrade for a fancier seat or wifi but there's nothing you can do to get there any faster. Settle in for the ride.

Think of changing your habits like purchasing a train ticket to go across the country. Trains get us to and from our destination usually with a lot of stops in between. You may be able to buy an upgrade for a fancier seat or wifi but there’s nothing you can do to get there any faster. Settle in for the ride.

One day you wake up and decide that this is it – you are TIRED of being overweight, of overeating, of making food choices that make you feel awful and you’re going to fix it NOW.

You are rolling with enthusiasm. You want to get started immediately and you want results yesterday. You decide that the only way for you to keep momentum is to go ALL in. You will eat as cleanly as possible, as strictly as possible and work out as hard and as often as you can.

Sounds like a recipe for success, right?

All goes well for a bit. The first couple of days are hard but you know it will get easier as soon as you see results! The scale goes down a bit, but you’re so hungry you can’t stop thinking about food and you don’t really have enough energy to do the workouts that you planned to do.

Pretty soon you are so frustrated that you find yourself ordering a pizza and eating almost the whole thing by yourself. And too bloated the next morning to workout. And too ashamed to eat the light breakfast you planned so you hit a drive-thru on your way to work. And it goes downhill from there.

What started off strong and ambitious, screeched to a halt when the progress you made didn’t match up with your expectations. The effort you were putting in didn’t feel equal to the results you were getting back.

You feel like a failure but you are not a failure, it’s just that the way you went about it failed. There are 1000 ways to do everything and the surefire way to fail at weight loss, changing your relationship with food or any habit change is to go at it with extremes.

When we attack life changes with gusto, a part of us feels like we can get from A to Z faster that way. If we go at it hard, fast and ferociously – totally committed, we’ll have faster results. We think we can skip over B, C, D etc and still make it to Z.

But we can’t do that.

If it took you 10 years to gain 50 lbs, it won’t come off in two weeks. If you are a decade in to an overeating or bingeing struggle, you won’t be able to reverse it in a month. If you’ve been running away from your feelings your entire life, you can’t expect it to be easy after trying it once or twice.

If we want to reach point Z, the end goal . . .we have to be willing to tackle all the steps in between. We have to do the work, all of it. There is no skipping over any of it.

We want to, but we can’t.

Every time we try to go at these changes hard, we’re attempting to skip over some of the hard parts. We know this is true, because our intention is to use whatever momentum and enthusiasm we have in the beginning to propel us forward as fast as possible. Otherwise, there would be no rush. But we know (from past experiences) that our enthusiasm will fizzle when stuff gets hard – and so we think we are doing ourselves a favor by moving quickly in the beginning.

You’ll get no judgement from me on this. I know exactly what that feels like. I can’t tell you how many times I got pumped up researching and planning how I’d lose the weight finally “this time” and how urgent I had to get started. That urge to fix stuff RIGHT NOW. That feeling of disgust that we feel when an item of clothing doesn’t fit the way it should. The way you wish you could snap your fingers and be the person you want to be. It feels overwhelming – like there is a massive, crushing weight holding us back from experiencing life the way we want to.

The reason we feel a crushing weight holding us back is because of our own resistance to feeling things as they unfold. The more we push away and resist, the heavier it feels.

Just like we’re uncomfortable with feeling our uncomfortable feelings in our day to day life, we’re also uncomfortable with change, with being present and with not being in control.

Change is hard. Being present is hard. Not being in control can feel hard if you’re used to holding tightly to it. But if it was all easy, would the reward be as great? Probably not.

If you seriously want to make it from A to Z, take your time. Be patient. Experience each step along the way fully. Resist the urge to rush it.

Habit change takes time and the body takes time to adapt and change. No one goes to the gym once and comes out with a fit body. It takes a long time, a lot of commitment and showing up daily. Why not settle in and make changes in a way that you can sustain long term? Not only are you more likely to make it to your goal (there is nothing to fizzle out when you’re not running on momentum alone) it will also be less painful getting there.

As a side note, something awesome that happens when you submit fully to each step in the process of changing your eating habits is that over time, your daily thoughts become less about your weight, food, and your relationship with it and more about living your life. You start to find yourself choosing food and enjoying it with less drama, less stress. Your weight becomes more stable. Periods of overeating become less frequent and less severe. You judge yourself less. It really does become less of a big deal. So yeah, it takes more time and it’s not sexy going slow, but it’s so much more worth it!

Listen to your intuition. You already know what to eat and that you should get some physical activity regularly. You have the knowledge. You do not need another quick fix or another 21 day weight loss program. What you do need is to learn the lifelong skills and habits you will need to eat the way your body needs you to and practice them. Daily.

I know you can reach your goals. You can lose the weight you’ve put on. You can stop overeating so often. You can have a healthier relationship with food. It doesn’t have to be such a rush.

Will you do all the work it takes day by day?

Can you settle in and not skip over steps along the way?

What can you do today that will gently push you closer to your goal?

What will you do tomorrow to continue moving toward it kindly and sustainably?

Who in your life can support you in making these changes slowly?


Could you use some support in this area? Schedule a free consult with me here.

You can also download a free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!). It’s my starter tool pack for those who want to begin changing their relationship with food. One of the recipes you’ll get in that download is my Mango Mandarin Green Smoothie (below) which is full of Vitamins A & C, potassium and iron. And it’s delicious!img_2162

 

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What if We Focused on What We Want as Much as We Focus on What We Don’t Want?

Notice how much attention you give to thoughts about what you don't want or don't like about your life. What might happen if you turned things around?

Notice how much attention you give to thoughts about what you don’t want or don’t like about your life. What might happen if you turned things around?

A few years ago, I walked into my job after a long weekend and gave my notice. I had spent the previous 6 months dreading almost every day, not sleeping and finding myself in tears both at work and at home, way way more than normal. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Looking back at it now, I wish I had spent my energy differently during those last 6 months there. I was so unhappy (managerial changes, layoffs etc) and so vested in my own misery that I couldn’t see anything other than my own unhappiness. It was like this massive grey cloud that obstructed my senses, so thick and impenetrable, I walked around with it held out in front of me, assuming that the grey cloud I saw everywhere was confirmation that everyone around me at work was also miserable. Some of them had their own clouds for sure (it was an ugly year for the company), but I was coloring my entire world with the way I had chosen to think about my situation. And I thought that the second I walked out those doors that that grey cloud would be gone forever.

When I embarked upon starting my own business, those same grey clouds would appear every so often, not as dark and thick as before, but certainly enough to make me question what I was doing (do I know enough? am I good at this? was I insane to quit?? etc). I realized that my situation wasn’t fully to blame for my unhappiness – a huge chunk of it was because of how much time I spent thinking about how bad things were at work. I was basically growing my unhappiness by cultivating thoughts about how deeply unhappy I was, all day long, over and over – with every interaction I had.

I am not unique (though I’d like to think I am, haha!).

Most of us spend big chunks of time focusing on what we don’t want in our current situation. It’s easier to think about what’s not going well, what we don’t want, or how we don’t want things to be.

Maybe it’s your job that you hate. You get up each morning, dreading the day ahead. Even going to sleep is challenging because you are thinking about how much you don’t want to go to work tomorrow. How much of your day (or night) is spent thinking about how much you don’t want to be where you spend most of your day?

Maybe it’s your weight. You weigh yourself first thing in the morning and feel instant disappointment. You’re still fat! (side note: your weight is not indicative of how awesome you are and you don’t need to change it.) You go to get dressed and have a meltdown just going into the closet. You know most of what’s in here doesn’t fit your “chubby” body. You take one last look in the mirror before you leave the house and wonder how you let yourself get this heavy? How much of your day is filled with thoughts about what is wrong about your body?

Maybe it’s where you are living. It’s too far of a commute to work. It’s too far in the woods. Your house is too big. It’s too small. You don’t like how it’s decorated. You don’t want to stay there but don’t want to deal with a move either. How much of your day do you dedicate to thinking about where you don’t want to be?

Maybe it’s the people you spend time with. Your husband annoys you or he’s not emotionally available. Your friends aren’t available enough or you have that one friend who is too available and you need more space. Your family is too nosy or they’re too distant. How much time do you spend thinking you’d rather be with someone other than the person or people you are currently with?

Maybe it’s your car. It needs some work or it’s too expensive.

Maybe it’s your local grocery store. They don’t carry the brands you like or they do, but it’s always too crowded.

Maybe it’s how you spend your free time. What free time? Or too much free time?

I think that’s probably enough examples to illustrate the point. We spend a ton of our thinking time in thoughts about what about our lives is “wrong” or “too much” or not “enough”.

How many times has doing that actually changed your situation?

Does a new job materialize when you spend all day stewing over how miserable you are?

Do you suddenly start to love your body after you’ve assaulted it with the 8th “You’re wrong in ______ way” message in one day?

Does your unhappiness in your current home help you find your dream home in your dream town?

No. None of these thoughts about what we don’t want in our current lives serves to bring us what we do want. Sure, some of us can argue that if we’re happy, we’re unlikely to make changes – and that a glimmer of dissatisfaction can be what sparks motivation to change. But there’s a difference between wanting more in life and finding all that is wrong in it.

If anything, spending too much time in these thoughts about what we don’t want, can make us feel even more down, even more stuck, even more unhappy and less likely to take steps towards changing our situation.

What do you think would happen if we spent more time thinking about what we do want in our lives, where we want to be, what we want to create and who we want to be? What might happen if we spent time thinking about all the things that are right in our world?

When we put our focus on the things we do want in our lives, it makes us feel gratitude, appreciation, love and even joy. When we feel more of those things, we take actions that bring us more of what we want and it can cultivate more patience, tolerance and even appreciation in the areas that we do want to change.

How do we get there? How do we stop thinking so much about what we don’t want?

Here are two exercises that can help turn your thinking around (you’ll need paper and pen or pencil for this):

  1. Think about a time when you felt super pumped up, ready to create something new, go after something big or otherwise make major changes. What was going on in your life? What were you thinking about? Who with, and how were you spending your time? Write down the thoughts that you recall made you feel the most motivated. What thoughts in your current life are most like those thoughts? How can you have more of them?





  2. Each morning or evening (whichever is more convenient for you) write down 5 things in your life that you already have that you want. We spend a ton of time thinking about the things in life that we want but that we don’t yet have. That creates feelings of drought, lack – scarcity! I’m asking you to spend some time creating desire for the things you already have. What do you have in life that you truly want? Try to list 5 different things each day, even if it’s a variation on something you’ve listed before.





 

For exercise #2, here are a few examples from my own life: I want my husband and I want to be married to him. I want fulfilling and meaningful work. I want my sweet cat. I want my empathy and my sense of humor.

It may seem silly to list out things that seem obvious that we have that we “want”  – and it’s certainly way easier to come up with a list of things we don’t want! There are some days I get stuck in thinking about how I’m tired of living so far away in the woods or that as much as I love the freedom of working from home, it gets lonely and I feel like I’ve gotten extra socially awkward since I started (haha!)  but while those things are true – there are not the only “truth” in my life. There are plenty of things in my life that I do want – exactly as they already are.

We think of “wanting” as something we do when we are going without. But wanting is also desiring what we have already and even if there are things in your life that you don’t like and do want to change, I am sure there are things that you are blessed with that you do want and you do desire. Putting your focus on those can help get us out of focusing on the stuff we don’t want – and it will release our energy to be able to be put to use doing something more constructive.

One area that this has really made an impact on for me is my relationship with my body. Someone asked me recently how I made a switch from such a negative body image to a more positive one and one of the things I shared with her was that I indulged thoughts about what my body could do more than I indulged the thoughts about what my body was lacking (in my opinion). Both types of thoughts pop in my head and there’s no controlling what thoughts we have – but we do have control over what we do with those thoughts. I started to put more energy (intentionally) into thinking about all the amazing things my body does for me every single day – breathing, heart beating, feet supporting me when I want to take a step, every muscle, bone, tendon, ligament, organ and everything else in my body serving a function every day that enables me to do really cool things. Being able to ride a bike, take barre classes, walk, run, jump, lift weights, carry groceries, think, cook, love etc.  (This doesn’t mean that if someone is not able to do these things that they should not take the same joy in their body. I think we should celebrate what we can do even if it doesn’t look like what another person can do.)

My whole life is possible because of the body I’m in and all that she does, every day for me.

Doesn’t that deserve more attention than what is “wrong” about it?

It does and so I started putting more energy there. And the cool thing about that is that it fuels my decisions about what to eat or what kind of exercise I do that is more supportive of a body I love (rather than as a way to punish my body). I put more focus on what I do want about my body than what I don’t want – and that has revolutionized my relationship with her.

In the same way, we can revolutionize our entire life with how we direct our thinking. What if we focused on what we want as much as we focus on what we don’t want?

That’s not to say that if you’re unhappy in your job, your marriage, your lifestyle, your health etc that you should just ignore it and focus on the happy stuff. I’m not suggesting sweeping anything under the rug. I’m just suggesting that we put in an equal amount of time and energy thinking about the stuff in life that we do want as we spend thinking about the stuff we’d like to change.

This is your life and you get to make of it what you want – so do it!

Two Things Need to Happen if You Want to Change Your Life

photo credit: petrichor via photopin cc

photo credit: petrichor via photopin cc

I’ll get right down to the point. The way I see it, there are only two things you need to do if you want to change your life. It doesn’t matter if “change your life” means losing weight, changing careers, finding love, quitting smoking, getting off of sugar, reducing anxiety or most anything else.

The two things that need to happen are:

1. You have to really want it.
2. You have to continuously take steps towards that goal.

I don’t mean to trivialize how difficult changing your life is, because it’s definitely not easy and we certainly can’t take steps to change until we are ready, but so many people give up before they even start because they see where they are now and where they want to be as two points that are miles apart. They can’t see how they can get from one to the other so they don’t do anything about it.

No amount of wishing your life was different or being envious of others success will change your life. No amount of ignoring your situation will change it. No amount of complaining about it will make a difference. And there will be no perfect time in your life to make it happen. Life doesn’t slow down and suddenly become more convenient. A special opportunity when all things are aligned won’t show up.

It may sound harsh to lay it out like this but I’ve noticed that the difference between most people who are successful at changing and those who aren’t is often as simple as being willing to continuously take action, even when they’re busy or feel like giving up. They don’t give excuses a moment to take root.

No, changing your life isn’t easy. It’s usually hard work and sometimes you feel like you’re taking a lot of steps that don’t really seem to be going anywhere. But if you keep taking action you will move forward. It may not be as fast as you would like and you may need to revise your goals along the way. You may even realize during your journey that you want to head in another direction. That’s okay! That’s still growth. You’re still changing your life!

If you feel like you are taking action and working towards a goal but nothing is happening, ask yourself if there is something you could be doing towards this goal that you’re not already doing. Also important, is your goal a S.M.A.R.T. goal (S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Realistic – Timed)? Goals that are well defined are easier to reach.

If you have clearly outlined the steps to reach your goal but are not making the progress you would like, is it possible you are self-sabotaging? Maybe you’re unconsciously afraid of this change so you’re finding ways to not move forward (been there!) or you’re not really sure how to change something (been there too!) so you end up spinning in circles.

Another possibility is that you don’t really want to reach this goal to begin with. Many of us think we want to achieve something because it is what society expects of us or it’s a story we’ve told ourselves for many years. If you don’t really want it, there is no amount of goal setting or coaching that’s going to make it happen.
Goal Setting Blog Post (1)

If you’re just getting started with change, try to not take on too much too soon. It’s the fastest way to get overwhelmed and discouraged. Start with small changes first and build on them as you gain confidence and momentum.

For weight loss, try adding in an extra vegetable each day to start. When that becomes easy, consider starting an exercise routine (if you’re not already – and with your doctor’s approval). It can be just 10 minutes a few times a week to begin. Start there and keep building!

If you want to change careers and know what you want to do but don’t know what it takes to get there, start by doing research on your dream field and reach out to people already working in that field that you know already (or find them on Linkedin) and ask if they’d be willing to tell you how they got their foot in the door. Get the ball rolling and get excited about your future and your next steps will appear.

For increased chances of success, consider sharing your goals with a friend and asking them to hold you accountable or hire a coach who can help you navigate roadblocks. Having support can go a long way towards your progress.

For true change to happen you have to want what you’re after and continuously take action towards it. If you do those two things we’ll be celebrating your accomplishment in just a matter of time. I’ll buy the champagne!
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Do it Because You Can

Move because you can.

Do it because you can, even if you don’t want to because someone else can’t.

Some mornings, I’m more likely to hit the snooze button than get out of bed to go work out.  Though I have to say I usually only do that now on days when I know I can get my exercise in later in the day.  If I have a packed day ahead of me and my only opportunity to exercise is first thing, well you can bet I’m getting up.  I’m squeezing myself into a sports bra, pulling my hair into some sort of attempt at a ponytail, grabbing a smoothie out of the fridge and on my way in less than 10 minutes from when I hop out of bed.  Sometimes I just want to go crawl back in bed but I don’t, for a few reasons, but one that stands out to me more and more the older I get is:  Because I can.

I walk because I can.
I run (sometimes!) because I can.
I bust my butt at Booty Barre because I can.
I ride my bike outside in the summer and my indoor spin bike in the winter, because I can.
I lift weights in my living room because I can.
I do yoga at home, outdoors and in a studio because I can.
I do push ups & crunches because I can.
I go swimming because I can.

I do these things even though I don’t always want to. Sometimes I’d much rather just lay on the couch and watch TV. Sometimes it would be way more fun to go out for a cocktail.  And sometimes when I’m in a grumpy mood, even though I know working out will make me feel better, I just straight up want to stay my grumpy self. Most of the time, I do what my body feels capable of each day – even if it is just something small (and yes I do allow for rest when it’s needed). And I push forward because I can.

Why am I repeating myself? What’s the significance of “because I can”?  Well I have 3 people whose experiences I can thank for it.

The College Roomie’s Mother
In college, we walked all over campus, all of the time. Over time, as some of my friends brought their cars on to campus (parking was always a pain), the idea that we wouldn’t have to hoof it from one end of campus to another on foot was pretty appealing! One friend insisted we still walk everywhere even when her car was parked directly outside of our apartment. Me and our other friends would complain and tease her, saying “Ug, you make us walk everywhere!”  One day, as we were walking across T-hall lawn, she turned to us and said “You want to know why I walk everywhere? Well some days my Mom can’t. Some days her legs don’t work, so as long as mine do, I’m going to walk everywhere I can.”

Her mother had MS, which all of us knew, but we didn’t really know enough about the day to day goings of someone dealing with it.  We were young, the general public was less informed about it than they are today and this friend didn’t talk about this stuff with us very often. While it helped me understand my friend better and what her family was going through, I don’t think it had a huge impact on me personally then, but a seed was definitely planted in my mind.

My Mother
Many of you know that my mother passed away just after I graduated college, and her passing has heavily influenced my lifestyle decisions since.  But even before she passed, my mind was often on her health. She was a smoker, had asthma (and more lung issues but we didn’t know it yet) and I remember coming home for a holiday break and hearing her having coughing fits in the middle of the night, so bad, that I got up to check on her.  She was up doing a nebulizer treatment (a common sight in our house – most of our family had asthma) for the second time in an hour – which was not like her.  Coughing fits were the norm, having the nebulizer not help the first time wasn’t. In fact, her cough was so distinct (at least to us kids) that when I was in the Catholic school choir and the school attended a monthly mass together, my sisters and I always knew when our Mom was able to make it, without even seeing her, because we would hear her cough and recognize she was in the building. My mother quit smoking not too long after the two nebulizer night but her lungs only got worse.

Regular breathing was such a struggle, that without her saying anything, I learned to recognize the signs – shoulders up high and lips pursed, it would take up a ton of her energy to just breathe.  But she continued doing things normally as much as she could.  Going to the grocery store, I’d offer to push the carriage but she wouldn’t give it up.  I realized later that it wasn’t because she wanted to be tough, it was because she literally needed it to hold her up, because she was exhausting herself just trying to breathe, something that most of us take for granted.

My father gave her a hard time about needing to exercise – he (and my sisters & I) thought, that if only she exercised, her lungs would get stronger and her “asthma” wouldn’t be so bad.  Her “asthma” at this point was really end stage COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) but none of us knew this, and if she did, she kept it from us.  Her exercise goal was just to walk to and from the mailbox a few times a day. She said she would be proud of herself if she could do that. Our mailbox was not very far from our house. I have no clue what the length of our driveway was, but if you parked 5 cars back to back from our doorstep to the mailbox you would probably reach the mailbox before the last car was even squeezed in.  Covering that tiny distance took everything she had.  And she’d have to stop and catch her breath when she came back in the house.

Looking back, the biggest sign of how sick my mother was and how limited her physical mobility was, came my junior year in college. I was living at the “Gables”, UNH’s on-campus apartments and my mother was coming to pick me up so I could work for the weekend.  She hadn’t see my apartment yet and I was excited for her to see it and meet my new roommates.  When she arrived, she called me on her “emergency” cell phone.  Back then, no one used cell phones for anything but emergencies but my mother wanted to let me know she was there but didn’t want to come up. I gave her a hard time.  I really wanted her to come see my place! The building we were in had a little cul de sac out directly in front of the doors, you weren’t supposed to park there but we all did if we were just going to be a minute (the parking lot was really far away otherwise), then you walked down a short hallway into an elevator, rode it to the 6th floor and my apartment door was right in front of you.  She would not have had to walk very far at all – probably no farther than the distance to the mailbox.  I was a bratty know it all 20 year old and acted ridiculous about her not wanting to come up.  I couldn’t comprehend how she wasn’t fit enough to come inside. Even though she told me she just didn’t have the energy to come up, I saw it as her being “lazy” but what it really was was her cells being completely starved of oxygen because of the COPD.  She was in tears (and I probably was too) by the time I got down to the car.  She rarely let us see her upset so I knew she had to be hurting.  Still, I didn’t quite get the message until later.

My Aunt
My mother had one sister, Denise.  She was “Aunt Ninny” to my sisters and I.  She never married and had no children.  She chose a life of freedom & adventures with her friend’s John, Rosie and Linda, instead of settling down with a family. She enjoyed wine, cheesecake and her dog when she wasn’t hitting the casino or visiting a new city.  She was one of the most giving and hilarious people I’ve ever known.

She also was a smoker and had asthma.  She spent many years on corticosteroid inhalers to control the asthma and that medication caused osteoporosis. One day, she had a coughing fit and coughed so hard that she fractured her T4 and T5 vertebrae. When brought to the hospital she was still able to walk so no one thought it was that serious, but within a day or two she mentioned being unable to feel her legs and then after that she lost all movement and sensation.  She ended up being paralyzed from the waist down and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, which sadly was only a few years. She spent many months in the hospital and in rehab and then many more months in a nursing home while her home was renovated to be wheelchair friendly. Doing basic tasks for herself became impossible. Things we all take for granted – cooking, going to the bathroom, showering, walking the dog, reaching for a cup on a shelf – were all out of reach.  Her vibrant life was whittled down to days spent waiting for others to come visit or assist her with everything, and though she tried to put on a brave face when we came to visit, you could see in her eyes just how painful her new reality was.

My Motivation
The conversation with my college friend happened around 1997 or 1998, my Mother passed in 2001 and Ninny died in 2005.  By the time Ninny became paralyzed I had fully heard the message – do what you can, while you can.

Nothing is guaranteed.  You could say that both my mother and aunt ended up the way they did because of smoking, so if you just don’t smoke, you’ll be ok, but that’s not true.  People who don’t smoke get Emphysema and COPD, get paralyzed and develop MS. And there are countless other conditions or unfortunate situations that arise suddenly and can take away one’s ability to do the things they love or do the things that keep us physically fit.

Exercise keeps me sane.  It gives me an outlet for nervous energy, helps give me focus and clarity.  It helps lower my blood pressure, reduces my chances of getting sick and gives me energy to get through each day.  It keeps me strong enough to pick up my 70lb niece like a sack of potatoes and climb 5 flights of stairs to get to a class.  Being able to move when I want to and because I want to is currently a choice, but if it was suddenly taken away from me, whether through my own fault or not, I would be devastated.  So, I will continue to move when I can and how I can, not just because of the benefits I outlined above, but because I CAN.

I keep my friend’s mom, my mom, and my aunt in the back of my mind when I’m thinking about skipping my workouts.  I know not everyone feels the same love & need for exercise that I do and I understand that.  But if you enjoy your physical ability to do anything you want, I hope you honor it by indulging your body and moving it the way it was meant to be moved, even if “movement” for you means going apple picking with the kids, visiting a new city on foot with friends or just getting your feet wet at the pool.

What’s your motivation for exercise or for pushing forward when you don’t want to? How do you honor your body?

What to Expect When You Hire a Health Coach

What the heck is health coaching?

What the heck is health coaching?

It seems like the term “Health Coaching” or “Health Coach” are being flung about a lot these days but most people aren’t really sure what it is or what it means.  It’s a pretty young field and is still developing.  In fact, it’s so young that at this moment there is no single licensing board that regulates who can call themselves a health coach and whether or not they can dispense nutrition advice varies by state.  Anyone can call themselves one without any training (that’s why you see diet pill pushers on TV calling themselves a health coach).   This makes people a little wary of hiring one (and they should be).  You want to know a little about someone’s background, training and what you’ll get by hiring them. When I’m asked what I do and tell the person that I’m a Health Coach, sometimes I get a look of confusion (when that happens I just know that they think it has something to do with kale).

I’m always happy to explain more about what it is that I do (and what training I’ve had) and I know it’s only a matter of time before the term Health Coach is in everyone’s vocabulary but for today I thought I’d take a minute to lay out exactly what you can expect from working with me. I think it’s important for clients and potential clients to know exactly what they can expect from my services and our sessions.

I also want to be clear about what they won’t be getting when working with me. I am not a nutritionist, dietician or personal trainer.  I can’t diagnose you with anything, prescribe medications or treatments and I won’t advise you specifically on how much fat, carbs or protein you should be eating.

Health Coaching is a subset of Life Coaching.  You have health or wellness goals you would like to reach (lose weight, stop your sugar addiction, find more time to exercise etc), I’ll hold you accountable and together we’ll confront obstacles in your way and work through them.  We’re so used to having to go to outside of ourselves (the doctor, books, the internet etc) for help managing our health, that we forget that much of it is actually in our control.  We have the power to create a healthier lifestyle by making little changes that add up to make a huge impact. A Health Coach can help you get control back and be an objective sounding board when you feel like you are going in circles with information overload or decisions.  And, no, it’s not all about kale (but maybe it’s a little bit about kale). And a real coach with a quality background is not going to try to sell you a quick fix.

photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc

photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc

Here’s what you can and can’t expect from me as your Health Coach:

      • I will help you define goals and form a plan with you on how you can reach them.
      • I will hold you accountable.  When we decide that you are going to take an action, I expect you to take it.
      • I will ask you questions that make you think deeply about your choices, excuses, motivations and more.
      • I will keep what you tell me private.  I want to provide a safe and trusted space for you.
      • I will be your cheerleader and support you through both the ups and downs on this journey.
      • I will help you deconstruct your food cravings so that they don’t derail your goals.
      • I will help you address issues that may be forming in many areas of your life, including your career, physical activity, diet, spirituality, creativity, social life and even relationships.
      • I will give you my undivided attention during our appointments.
      • I will let you know that you are not alone.
      • I will help you figure out the “how” when it comes to implementing these changes.
      • I will let you lead the discussion.  Some days you may want to talk about your diet, other days it might be work or your home life that needs some attention.  We’ll go where the need arises.
      • I will encourage you to be open to trying new things (in your diet and elsewhere in your life).
      • I won’t hand you a meal plan that tells you exactly what to eat but I will help you figure out what foods make you feel your best.
      • I will help you dig deeper when you feel stuck in a situation.
      • I will recommend eating more whole foods and less processed foods (but I don’t subscribe to one particular diet for everybody).
      • I’m going to make these lifestyle changes as easy as possible for you by being with you every step of the way.
      • I don’t expect perfection from my clients but I do expect effort!
      • I won’t judge you.  I want you to feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with me.
      • I won’t and can’t do the work for you.  I’m here to support you in making lasting changes.  If you aren’t committed to doing the work, then coaching may not be for you.
      • I won’t recommend or support magic pills, surgery or other drastic measures for losing weight.
      • I won’t tell you that you can’t eat something (but I may suggest alternatives to try).
      • I won’t hesitate to suggest you seek additional help or services from other medical or mental health providers if I believe your needs go beyond my scope of practice.  Your safety and health is of utmost importance.

I hope this helps you to have a clearer picture of what working with a Health Coach is like.  I really love the work that I’m doing.  It’s so awesome to watch people transform their lives (especially if they were feeling stuck before). Have you ever considered hiring a Health Coach?  The first session with me is free if you want to test the waters and see if it’s for you. If you have any questions, please submit them in the comments or send me an email and I’ll respond as soon as I can. Untitled drawing (1)

Let’s Go to the Barre!

 

Coaching Blog Photos1If you knew me when I was in my 20’s, it would probably be not too far of a stretch to say that I was addicted to going to the bar.  Now, in my 30’s, I’m also addicted to going to the Barre.  I never thought I’d enjoy going to a fitness class so much that I would drive 40 minutes to it, each way.  But I do.  In case you’ve never heard of Barre, the classes are fitness classes that are based on ballet, pilates and yoga.  I’ve had such a good experience with the classes that I wanted to share about them here.  I love sharing things that I love because I think you will love them too!

I started taking Barre classes at Strength in Balance NH (the first barre-only studio in NH) last November.  I bought a groupon/living social deal with a friend and settled in to enjoy what I thought would be a handful of reasonably priced fitness classes.  I’d workout and move on to something else when I used up all of my classes . . .because that’s what I usually do with trying something new (BECAUSE I HAVE ADD AND GET BORED EASILY. WHY AM I YELLING?).

I enjoyed my first classes.  I thought they were challenging but still doable no matter what your fitness level with modifications. I enjoyed the classes so much that I signed up for a 90 day 50 class challenge in January when I used up my deal classes. I knew it was going to be tough for me to make it to 50 classes in winter (when I live in a town that thinks snow plowing is optional) but I was determined to do it.  It was tough!  Towards the end of the challenge, I had to double up on classes just to get them all in but it was totally worth it.  I lost 8.6 lbs and 23 inches over the 90 days!

Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of exercises – running, cycling, Body Pump, yoga, heavy weights – you name it. My body changed with those things for sure, but Barre hits spots that no other exercise gets to in the same way.  For the first time in my life I’m wearing skinny jeans.  Even when I weighed 30 lbs less than I do now you would never have caught me in a pair of skinny jeans because they just didn’t look right on me. I’m not a tiny girl but I now look fab in my skinny jeans.  I’m noticing definition in places that have never had definition before (hello abs? I have some under there?) and changes in places that have historically been impossible to change (for me at least), my inner thighs!   I can even now zip up knee high boots over my calves . . .something that was pretty tough even when I was my thinnest 5 years ago.  Barre can be crazy hard but it’s also crazy effective.

The instructors constantly change up the workouts so I’m not getting bored and my muscles continue to be challenged.  Just when I think I’ve got a certain move mastered or that something should be getting “easy”, we do something else and I feel like I’m at square one.  It never gets “easy”.  You’d think that would be unmotivating, but it’s not!  I keep coming back because I’m getting results (results I wasn’t getting even when I used to run 25 miles a week).

It’s not just a great workout.  It’s also a positive and warm environment. The instructors, Becki Somers (owner), and Julia LeFebvre make it a point to learn everyone’s name who comes to class. I’m always impressed at the effort they put into making newcomers feel welcome and comfortable.  There’s nothing worse than going to a new class for the first time and having it feel like a big high school clique. I’ve been to some straight up snotty & superficial classes before. That’s definitely not the case here.  Everyone is too busy trying not to slip on the floor in their own sweat puddle to spend a moment judging you.  There’s a lot of laughter and joking among the women who come to class. It’s a great group of women. Everyone is super friendly and welcoming.  We may not know each other’s names (in some cases) but if I’m sweating alongside you for months while we both curse the little blue sponge ball that we’re squeezing between our thighs (while on our toes and in a pulsing plié) I feel like we’ve bonded.  Sweaty sisterhood.

If you live in the Nashua or Hudson, NH area and are tired of your current workout or looking for something to help you get through a plateau, you should come check it out!  Strength in Balance NH is right on the Nashua/Hudson border on Bridge St.  There’s a fabulous deal/challenge going on right now. It’s the Bikini Challenge (no bikini involved) and it’s $99 for UNLIMITED classes for 6 weeks.  You can sign up between now and May 25th.  It’s a ridiculous deal and I’ve already signed myself up for it.  If you’re interested and thinking of checking it out but feeling intimidated, let me know when you’re going and I’ll come with you if I can!

A couple of things you might want to know before going:

  • Your first class is free!  And you can sign up online for it.
  • Class is done barefoot or in socks (if it’s cold)
  • Yoga mats, weights, thera-bands, and any other equipment you’ll need is provided
  • You don’t have to have a dance background or be graceful to take these classes
  • You’ll probably be really sore after your first class (even if you workout already). My calves were so tight after my first class that I almost fell getting out of bed the next morning.  Husband thought that was hilarious.

Oh and the studio just moved to a new location on Bridge St and they may not have signs up when you go, so check out my little dorky picture spread below to give you hints about how to get there.  It’s like fitness and a treasure hunt all in one.  Aren’t you lucky?!

The new studio is a little tricky to find if you've never been in this area before so I made you dorky OCD picture directions!

The new studio is a little tricky to find if you’ve never been in this area before so I made you dorky OCD picture directions!

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Day 9 – Build Confidence with Affirmations

What do you want your story to be?

What do you want your story to be?

Yay! It’s Day 9 of 31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More.  Today’s tip is to start an affirmation routine.

Many of us have a very ingrained way of thinking about ourselves or our lives and it’s not always positive.  How do you start to turn the negative talk around? One way is through affirmations. Affirmations help train your brain to view things in a better light and they’re a great tool to have in your back pocket. Words can change your brain.   Studies are even starting to show that using affirmations during times of stress can improve problem solving performance. So it’s not just BS!

What should you use as an affirmation to start?  What is the worst negative self-talk you say about your self?  Whatever it is, turn it around into positive statements on how you want to feel.  A few possible examples:

  • “I’m so dumb” becomes I’m a powerful and intelligent being.
  • “I’m too fat to date” becomes I am improving myself everyday and worthy of love as I am.
  • “I’m a bad parent” becomes I am a loving mother and I am becoming more patient.

Write them down, as many as you like and then look yourself directly in the mirror when saying your affirmations. Try saying them in the morning, before you jump in the shower or right before you leave for the day.  It takes just a few seconds so I know you can squeeze this in. If you don’t believe what you are saying, pretend you are an actor rehearsing lines for a role.  Put some effort and energy into it. It’s okay if you don’t believe the words yet.  The benefits will come the longer you say them.

If you make affirmations a part of your routine, you will leave the house a happier & more confident woman and it will grow each day that you do it.   Less negative self talk means more room for love, growth and moving forward.  What a great gift to give yourself this holiday season!