Put the Resolve Back in Your Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions.  Everybody has them.  Even the cynical “anti-resolutionists” can’t help pondering the usual questions.  “What can I change this year about myself?”  “What goals did I not reach this past year that I want another shot at?”  And for most people, one of those “non-resolution” resolutions has something to do with physical health.  Maybe it’s to eat less, or possibly to exercise more.  Unfortunately, I think most of our physical health resolutions are plagiarized from last year’s list.  Sure we have the best of intentions.  And we often start strong only to burn out well short of December.  I’m sure there are many reasons for this.  Regardless of these excuses, I would like to offer you 5 simple tips for successful health-related resolutions for the coming year:

1: Set multiple short term goals.  Split your year up into segments (quarters, months, weeks) and set goals for each segment.  This is helpful both for when you are knocking it out of the park or haven’t even gotten off the bench.  For those doing well, it is great motivation to keep it up.  For those failing miserably, it is a great time to refocus without feeling like “what’s the point?”.

2: Keep the goals attainable.  Be reasonable here.  No need to correct 30 years of bad habits in 3 months.  I’m by no means against optimism; but even more important to me is success.  I would rather see you set a goal for yourself that is too easy than to fail at one that only a chosen few could possible reach.  Feeling like you are successful breeds a desire to do more, and feeling like you are never going to reach the mark makes you just want to stop trying.

3: Simplify.  Don’t make your goals overly complicated.  Resist the tendency to try to change too many things at once.  Pick one or two things that are easy to assess.  You may need a complete overhaul in your diet, but start with the easiest changes that will make the biggest impact.  Maybe it’s “no more sodas”, or “less fast food”, or “start an “online personal training program“.  Even one minor change over time can make a major difference.

4: Keep track of your progress.  At regular intervals, reassess your progress.  Maybe that’s weighing yourself once a week or keeping a food journal.  Make it specific to the goal, easy to measure, and WRITE IT DOWN.  That way you can see trends as the year progresses.

5: Share the burden.  Find an accountability partner.  A friend, mentor, personal trainer.  Someone you trust who will be honest, yet encouraging.  Not someone who will enable you and make excuses with you, but someone who will be understanding and will gladly share the journey.   Even better would be someone who has a similar goal they are striving towards.  Then you could meet each other’s needs and lift each other up!

While these tips can work for any area of life improvement, they work especially well for health-related goals because those are usually pretty easy to measure.  And while these are by no means a guarantee for success, they will put you on the best path.  But remember, it is still up to you to take the steps.  Happy Travels!

J

5 Fitness-Related Gift Ideas under $100

So you want to give someone a gift that they will not only enjoy, but will make a positive difference in their physical life.  Here are a few great ideas for some at-home fitness aids that I recommend, most of which will cost you less than a month’s membership at your local gym, listed from least expensive on up (complete with links to the brands I would choose):

1:  Resistance Band Set $30:  They don’t have the money or the space to outfit their garage with a full set of dumbbells?  Give them a set of resistance bands like the one linked here.  Train the whole body with the dozens of exercises available to them, with 7 different resistance levels possible.  A must for increased metabolism and muscle toning, and in a space-saving package!

2:  Stability Ball $30:  Not just for abs, this workout implement can enhance both upper body and lower body training, as well as supply flexibility variations.  Improve neuromuscular coordination while eliminating the need for a workout bench.  Give them an extra challenge to push them to new exercise heights.  Get the 65cm for most men and 55cm for most women.

3:  Pull-up Bar $40:  You no longer need to destroy your doorjamb to get a great back workout.  Not only for pull-ups, this versatile workout tool can enhance your push-ups and ab work as well.  It makes for a great anchor for your resistance tubes too, and paired can even allow you the option of doing assisted pull-ups for those that struggle to crank even one rep out.

4:  Body Weight Trainer $60:  Get all the benefits of the $200 TRX Body Weight Trainer for a fraction of the cost.  Add a functional component to their workouts.  Strengthens shoulder, hip, thigh, and core stabilizers while stressing all the major muscle groups.  This implement hardly takes up any space and is guaranteed to give them a challenge unlike anything they’ve experienced before.

5:  Non-Bouncing Medicine Balls $45-80:  They will work up a sweat while slamming and tossing this tool around.  Or they can use it as a regular, stationary weight to increase the difficulty of body-weight exercises.  Not only will it make their workout more effective, but more fun and varied at the same time.  10-15 pounds for most women, and 20-25 pounds for most men should do the trick.

6 (Bonus):  2 Months of Personal Training $99:  OK.  I couldn’t resist.  The star on top would be a personalized exercise program complete with strength training, flexibility work, cardiovascular training, and a nutrition plan.  Help them put those tools that Santa brought to good use with my help.  Give them a head-start to a new year and a new “them”.

Stuff their stocking with the gift of better health, and don’t break the bank at the same time!  Enjoy!

J

When the Going Gets Tough…

I used to think that if I tried something and I received resistance, or a push-back against accomplishing what I set out to do, that it was somehow a “sign” that it wasn’t the right thing to do.  I think that many of us feel the same way, especially if we set out to on a path that we are not sure is the right one.  The road starts to get bumpy and we immediately start to question whether we made the right choice.  But one important lesson I’ve learned, especially from my adoption experiences, is that the “rightness” of a decision has little or nothing to do with how difficult the result might be.  In fact, I believe that the more difficult the road, the more “right” it really is.  In battle, the closer you get to the enemy the more the bullets start whizzing over your head.  Head in the wrong direction and you’ll probably find the road pretty easy going.  Please be careful when someone tells you “this is an easy way to lose weight”.  Chances are the road is not taking where you really want to go.  Or, “what you’re doing is really hard, and I think God is telling you that you should stop and try something else.”  Standing tall in the face of adversity is a true sign of courage.  Don’t give up.   When the going gets tough, the tough keep going.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

J

The Truth About hCG

Question of the Week:  Finish this sentence:  When the going gets tough, …

Nugget of the Day: The truth about hCG for weight loss.

A client recently asked me what I thought about hCG as a weight loss tool.  For those of you not familiar with hCG, it stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin.  It is a hormone released by the placenta of pregnant women.  (Huh?  Yeah, that’s most people’s response)  Believed to stimulate the consumption of excessive fat tissue in the pregnant mother in support of the growing fetus, it has been hypothesized to assist in metabolism of fat as an energy source in non-pregnant individuals, as well as suppress appetite.  When accompanied by what can only be classified as a “starvation” diet of 500 calories, it is believed to promote significant weight loss.

There are a few issues here to address.  The first is the effectiveness of hCG as a weight loss tool.  As of right now, both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have concluded that hCG is neither safe nor effective as a weight loss aid.  The second is the starvation diet of 500 calories.  Obviously, any diet that absent of calories is going to promote weight loss, at least for a time.  However, not only does it wreak havoc on your metabolism, but it is nearly impossible to adhere to for any length of time.  Since it is not a plan that promotes healthy, long-term eating habits, most people will regain much of the weight, if not all of it when returning to their regular eating plan.  And, third, the FDA has prohibited the sale of over the counter hCG products and homeopathic versions, declaring them illegal and fraudulent.  So if you are going to try to skirt the physician-prescribed route, don’t waste your time or your money.  There isn’t enough real hCG in there to have any metabolic effect at all.

In conclusion, the hCG diet is no more than another “quick fix” scheme that is unproven at best and downright dangerous at worst.  It is simply another “starvation” diet routine that leaves you undernourished and destroys your metabolism, increasing the likelihood of you not only returning to your pre-diet weight, but even getting heavier in the long term.  Don’t be fooled.  There are no quick fixes that beat good, solid hard work and lifestyle change.   Stay the course, keep up the hard work, and don’t give up!

J

It Comes Down to Pride

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”  Romans 12:3

A couple of weeks ago I was helping out at the Escondido Community Wellness Day, and I was present during the door-prize giveaway of a year of financial planning for free.  A great offer, right?  A whole year of a professional looking over your budget, helping you trim where you need trimming, invest how you would most benefit.  But I have to be honest.  My first thought was “I’m not sure if I would use that.”  Why not?  I really can only say that it comes down to pride.  It’s not that I couldn’t use the help.  I’m sure that the advice would be invaluable.  I just don’t like the idea of someone poking around in my personal life, and I think I would have a tough time with someone telling me that what I am doing is wrong and that I need to change it.  But I got to thinking about my attitude, and I realized an important hypocrisy in my rationale.  What I do for people’s physical lives is no different than what a financial planner does for people’s financial health.  And I expect that people will come to me for help, willing to open themselves to a certain measure of scrutiny.  Physical health is a very personal topic for most people, but I expect them to be open and honest with me.

What about me?  How willing am I to open up to someone about my personal life?  Realizing this has made me much more understanding about the psyche of the individual who seeks me out for my advice and help.  That being said, don’t let your pride get in the way of finding the help that you need.  Don’t be afraid to seek out the accountability of a friend.  Ask that trainer in the gym if you are doing your exercises correctly.  Sign up for Weight Watchers.  Sometimes it takes admitting that we can’t do it on our own to start making progress.  This is one of the reasons that I write this blog.  Please don’t hesitate to leave comments and ask questions.  I am here to help.  Don’t miss out on the opportunity to better your health because you won’t admit that you can’t do it on your own.

J