We get it! “New year, new you!” is just another well-intentioned slogan to motivate you to make a big change this year. But, before we get into some of the depressing stats about New Year’s resolutions, I’m going to ask: Do you really need to create a new version of yourself, or just improve upon your already wonderful self?
According to Forbes.com “...Some estimates say more than 40% of Americans—make New Year's resolutions. But for all the good intentions, only a tiny fraction of us keep our resolutions; University of Scranton research suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year's goals.” Despite your good intentions, failure rates suggest “About 22% of resolutions fail after about a week, 40% after a month…” and you don’t want to hear the rest, because I’m not here to bum you out.
At the beginning of 2018, I shared my view of putting a more positive spin on making “resolutions” by focusing on getting the wheels turning, get started moving, and find new ways to improve. There were examples of both qualitative and quantitative fitness goals to help give you a little direction. This year, I want to provide a few additional tips on how you can ensure you stick to your revolutions all year long!
Most people fail because they bite off more than they can handle. Setting too many goals or trying to make too many changes all at once can feel overwhelming and discouraging - to the point of giving up. To keep your goals simple, choose only one or two things to focus on at a time. You can’t change your life all at once, so don’t try too. Recognize that each day of success if a step towards accomplishing your overall goal.
For example: Instead of setting a goal of trying to lose 25 pounds this year, set your sights on trying to lose 1-2 pounds each week.
Having big goals is great, especially when you’re looking at the big picture of creating your legacy. However, large goals can be hard to sustain if they’re not specific enough. Being specific helps make the goal more concrete. Plus, you know exactly what you are going to do every day to help you achieve that lofty goal.
For example: Instead of resolving to “visit the gym 4 days each week,” refine it to setting goals of attending Bootcamp every Tuesday and Thursday, participating in one group fitness class, and going outside for a long walk or light run.
Awareness is one of the most critical components for success in any goal. Don’t assume you’re going to remember your revolution two months from now. Write it down on a sticky note for you to see every morning as you’re getting ready for the day. Put a note on your calendar to check-in with yourself once a week to review the goal and track progress. Maybe even share your goal with a like-minded friend who can help keep you engaged - especially when you’re ready to quit. Having awareness of your goal will help to keep motivating you to successfully achieve your resolution.
Did you meet last year’s goal… or did you forget about it by Spring?
You may remember I had created a fitness goal for myself to lift 5,000,000 total pounds by the end of the year. Which, I’m proud to say that I did accomplish! It seemed lofty to begin with, however, I broke it down into simple manageable goals and keep track of it every day, week, and month.
Here are my goals for 2019:
Fitness Goal: Lift 7,000,000 total pound by the end of 2019. I enjoyed the 5 million goal so much last year, that I choose to do it again. I’m upping the intensity of it this time and feel very confident that I will achieve it.
Personal goal: To continue the personal, daily hard work that it has taken me to get to a point of better happiness. Often times I reach a comfort level, in several areas of my life, and then I go on cruise control and don’t continue to do the daily work that got me to that point. I realize this causes me to relapse and thus go through the struggle all over again. Not this year. This is my year to thrive and push harder at creating the best life I can.
There you have it. My 2019 goals to continue growing and achieving bigger and better things. To help hold each other accountable, I want you to share what your goals, or New Year’s Revolutions, are going to be for 2019. And, how do you plan on achieving them? Give me a shout and let’s make 2019 our best year yet!
They’re coming: the holidays!
Touted to be the most wonderful time of the year, yet we often end up dreading the rush and stress it brings. Plus, with all the extra food-related celebrations we attend, it’s no wonder some of us gain an annoying 5-10 pounds by the time the clock strikes midnight on the New Year!
Instead of waiting for the major magazines to publish “5 Healthy Holiday Eating Strategies” for you to read an hour before Thanksgiving dinner, shift your mindset to developing those healthy eating strategies now before the holidays hit!
Now, the go-to here would be eggs and bacon, but there are so many more options available! Try replacing your milky cereal or breakfast bar with veggies and protein, like pan-seared broccoli, spinach, eggs topped with nutritional yeast. Or, egg “muffins” filled with peppers, mushrooms and sprinkled with cheese.
This savory breakfast will likely keep your hunger at bay a little longer. Plus, this ensures you get at least two large servings of veggies - setting you up for success for the rest of the day.
Yes, this one gets repeated a lot, because most of us still don’t drink enough water throughout our day. Plus, cooler weather tricks us into thinking we aren’t thirsty and we end up drinking much less than we need. There are so many overlooked benefits of drinking water regularly we don’t think about. Plus with flu season on the way in, we could all use a boost to our immune systems!
In addition to improving your mood, your skin complexion, your energy levels… drinking more water will help flush out the built-up toxins in your body after events when you opt to drink a little more than you normally would.
It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking about weight loss instead of health gains when trying to improve nutrition and exercise. The number of the scale doesn’t provide the full context of how your body is feeling and operating on a daily basis. Keep moving and following your body’s natural queues of what makes you feel good, versus what slows you down or causes aches. While it’s easier said than done, try focusing on the way you’re feeling rather than your weight.
Focus on positive thoughts and enjoying the journey. Be kind to yourself and try not to beat yourself up. We all have bad days and setbacks but don’t let one bad day or even one overindulgence derail your whole mentality and game plan.
When it comes to the celebration itself, enjoy! Take a bite (or two, or five) of your grandmother’s apple pie because you know how hard she worked to make the crust from scratch. Eat your child’s homemade holiday cookies - baked with a lot of love of course - so you can witness the gigantic smile on their face guilt-free. It doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing affair; you can enjoy the foods you want to in celebration with your friends and family without overindulging.
Take it one step, one holiday at a time!
We’ve all read the story or watched the video about an ordinary individual overcoming great difficulties in their life to achieve something better for themselves. I have even worked with clients who have gone through the worst trials and tribulations, making their stories of determination and perseverance truly inspiring. It’s reassuring to our sense of self-knowing how so many who are just like us can also struggle.
But, that is not this story.
Instead, I want to be transparent with my own, recent struggles dealing with life’s nefarious obstacles to share how we are truly all on this same journey together. Because no matter where you are, or what you’ve already overcome, there will always be another challenge.
One of my morning rituals includes journaling every morning to start my day in order to set perspective on what I have done and focus on what I want to do next. While journaling one summer morning I reflected upon why I hadn’t felt like the best version of myself for some time. After a quick self-assessment, I realized I had been having a rough time with my physical health for the past two-and-a-half years. Of course, having your physical health diminished is hard for anyone. But, for a personal trainer and someone who workouts almost daily, it can be hell.
The short of it started in November 2015 when I twisted my left knee while hanging Christmas lights around our house. (I wish I could say it was something more worthwhile, like rebounding for a killer layup in an intense game of basketball or setting a new squat PR... But no. I was stepping down from the ladder and turned my body at just the wrong angle as I planted my foot; twisting my knee, unknowingly kicking off what would become months of injury and recovery, because such is life. I cared for my knee in an attempt to let it properly heal, although it was hard for me to stay out of the gym for too long.
Three weeks later, close to Christmas 2015, I was feeling pretty good and decided to perform heavy deadlifts - one of the classic powerlifting moves, and my personal favorite. As I was pulling the last rep during the last set, I felt extreme pain explode in the opposite ankle as if all of the tissue suddenly disintegrated. Of course, I finished that rep out of sheer will, but soon learned I could not put any weight on that foot whatsoever. As both my doctor and physical therapist later told me, I had truly blown it out by overcompensating from my knee injury, causing my right ankle to completely give out. This injury was so damaging it left me unable to perform almost any impact movement (e.g. jumping) or weight-bearing exercise (e.g. squats) for quite some time, negatively impacting my disposition.
Fast forward to June 2016: I was lifting as heavy as possible, but primarily focusing on upper body work while mixing in as much legwork as I could safely tolerate. Next in my rotation came “chest day” and I was sure to hit all of the big presses while feeling good. Later that evening after arriving home I noticed my front, right shoulder (aka my anterior delt) felt a more tender than normal. I considered the fact I might be injured but chalked it up to muscle soreness from my intense workout earlier in the day. Unfortunately, that tenderness in my shoulder persisted the remainder of the year. While it never got to the point where I could no lift, I recognized the pain would never disappear on its own no matter how much time I gave it to heal.
I returned to my doctor in early 2017 to get it checked out. He suggested it might be an inflamed bicep tendon (which inserts around the anterior delt) and prescribed treatment through physical therapy. I followed my doctor’s orders and practiced PT three times every week for one month… without any improvement. I returned to my doctor in mid-March and, fortunately, received a referral to a specialist. An x-ray revealed no structural damage to the shoulder, so we moved on to the MRI. (For those of you who have never been inside an MRI machine, know they are not nearly as big as they appear on TV!) The MRI revealed a small tear in my Glenoid Labrum, a small fibrocartilaginous structure which helps deepen the shoulder socket to hold the shoulder ball in place. I learned the labrum does not have any blood flow to it, making it impossible to heal on its own with just rest or physical therapy. My only option was surgery.
Surgery day was on May 4, 2017. I experienced what so many of us do for a surgical procedure: I was not allowed to eat the night before, asked to arrive an hour early for prep, put under anesthesia, “slept” for an hour during surgery, and waited for another hour during my post-op examination. Before I could leave, I was fitted with a giant shoulder strap and a special ice pack vest, which I wore for four very long weeks. Once I was allowed to begin moving my arm again I attended six weeks of physical therapy, endured two months of intensive, deep tissue, trigger point massage therapy, and then waited another seven months to truly allow myself to heal before easing my body back into working out.
My ankle continued to ache and cause me problems for the majority of this time. Luckily, once I started seeing my massage therapist for my shoulder, he was also able to work on and “fix” my ankle which was nothing short of a miracle. I struggled with both injuries for well over two years.
While the physical injuries were very difficult in and of themselves, I want to share how I was also battling major emotional and mental stress during this same time. My lack of physical activity, along with a deep identity crisis, took its toll on me. I can now admit my depression had spiraled out of control which hurt all of my relationships, and I found myself at an all-time low during winter 2017/2018. I sought counseling and discovered the right combination of medication for my body, both of which helped me to dramatically improve my outlook, thought process and coping mechanisms.
At the time, those days felt like forever. It had truly been one of the worst experiences of my life. Yet, I made it. I survived all the struggles and declared victory.
It wasn’t until June 2018 I considered myself healed. My ankle and shoulder had been repaired. My mental attitude was better and I was able to focus on taking care of myself and the many, important people around me. I was even kick-starting my normal workout routine! It was time for me to move forward.
But, life doesn’t always go the way you plan. I hit another physical snag towards the end of June with what I thought was a hernia. Luckily, it turned out to only be a groin strain which - thankfully - wouldn’t require another surgery. With this, I’m making it a priority to listen to my body, take it easy, and have given myself permission to not get overly stressed about not working out. (Trust me, you don’t feel like doing much of anything when you strain your groin!)
And since I was already in recovery mode, I decided to have another, minor medical procedure performed. As of today, I will have been out for over six weeks and personally, I think this really sucks, but I know it’s not the end of the world. I’m taking this extra time to right a few paths which were a little crooked to help make me a better version of myself. I can already see light at the end of this tunnel with just another three weeks of healing to go, and preparation for the next phase of my life.
Life, and all of its challenges happen to each and every one of us in some form or fashion. My struggles are minor compared to many, yet this experience has taught me to empathize so I can help others choose how they navigate their setbacks. You can persevere. Try your best every day, but remember you don’t have to be your best every day. (We’re all allowed crappy days and crappy attitudes on occasion.) Choose to face your challenges head-on while also giving yourself grace to help you become that much stronger once your obstacles have passed.
Persevere, my friends, persevere.
I often get asked what "the best" way to eat is, or which diet leads to "the best" results. My answer will always be, "Whichever one you'll stick with and works best for you!"
That's it! There isn't one magical diet that is the absolute best because everyone is different and has different needs. Even for one individual, what works now may not work forever with strength, activity, and lifestyle changes over time.
Long term research suggests it doesn't matter which plan you choose to use for weight loss because what really matters is adhering to a reduced caloric intake, filled with a well-balanced diet of healthy food, based on your personal level of activity, consistently over your whole life. This is "the best" way to ensure a life of healthy weight maintenance.
If you're not sure where to actually start or want help in getting started, then Legacy Life Fitness is here for you. Contact me and we can discuss what your individual needs are and find "the best" weight loss solution for you!