Change is hard. Change can be risky. Trying to change means you risk failing. It’s easier to stay on the same path. You know that path, and there’s a certain amount of safety on it. But, is that direction the one that will take you where you want to be?
To change where we are, we need to change what we are doing. Before you make changes, however, you need to clearly define where it is that you want to be, what you want to accomplish. This vision quest, or clearly defined vision of the future you, dictates what needs to be done to get you there. This could be a task like completing a hike or a competition, or it could be getting off/staying off medications.
Next, you need to believe two things.
- First, you need to believe the change is possible. Obviously, if you think that it’s impossible you won’t work for it. This is like saying you want to levitate (I think that would be very cool, btw). How hard are you going to work toward that?
- The second belief is that the change is worth the amount of work it takes to achieve it. Here again is the question, if it’s not worth all of the work required to achieve it, how hard will you work?
Now, if you’ve attempted to reach this goal before, and failed, identify the obstacles that you encountered last time and pre-think solutions for them, because they are likely to show up again.
Lastly, you need to have a plan and it starts with what initial step is required. That may be researching your options for a place to work out, or a shopping list for healthy foods to buy and have at your home or office, but determine that first step and take it.
Change can happen for all of us. What’s holding you back?
I know that the idea of men not asking for directions is a stereotypical, but, there is an underlying issue that makes this true for many. That is ego. Many men don’t like admitting that they don’t know something, don’t know how to do something, need help with something, are wrong about something, and/or are not as good with something as they thought they were. Somewhere along the line we were socialized into believing these scenarios are somehow a threat to our egos.
Don’t get me wrong. Having a healthy ego (or good self-esteem) is great! But, when that ego is easily damaged, walls are put up that usually create more problems.
When it comes to working out and taking care of our health (you knew I’d get around to this, didn’t you?), the ego can take a beating from a lot of things, like not knowing how to use a piece of gym equipment, not looking like other gym members, not using as much weight as the guy (or woman) next to you, or not getting the results you think you should be getting. There are a lot of reasons why this may be the case and none of them should damage your ego.
- Not knowing how to use a piece of gym equipment: You are new to the gym and they have some equipment that you don’t know how to use. Ask a trainer for help.
- Not looking like other gym members: You are not the average member. Many clubs vary in demographics, younger/older, more women/more men, more hard-core/more laid back, etc. Either look for a club more in line with you or just keep on going and not worry about it.
- Not using as much weight as the guy (or woman) next to you: They’ve probably been at it longer. Maybe you got injured or have been away from the weights for a while, and you should be going lighter with a more gentle approach. Maybe you just haven’t been training appropriately or eating properly to support strength gains. Talk to a trainer and/or a registered dietician.
- Not getting the results you think you should be getting: Definitely talk to a personal trainer and/or a registered dietician. Something is going on that you don’t understand. Find someone who does.
The ego thing is a little like failing at some task or venture that you take on. Many see failure as, well, failure. The insightful ones, however, see it as a chance to learn, to grow. Don’t let your fear of a damaged ego stop you from progressing. If you are not where you want to be, ask for help… ask for directions.
One of the newer entries into the fitness realm, is online training. In a nutshell, this is working with a personal trainer remotely using various online tools/apps, which allows for some very unique benefits.
Mark Nutting, being video recorded while demonstrating a bench push up for an online client.
The benefits of working with a personal trainer online include:
- Working out when you want (It’s your schedule. Fit the workouts in when you choose)
- Working out where you want (your home, office, or at the beach)
- Being able to work with high quality trainers no matter where you live.
- No special equipment required. Most online trainers will work with whatever equipment you have access to, or, just using bodyweight
- Able to work out in the privacy of your own space (No need to feel intimidated at the gym)
- You have someone to keep you accountable
- You have someone in your corner cheering you on without judgement
- The cost is less than using a personal trainer in a face-to-face session
Of course, there are challenges as well:
- If you are not using video tools (such as Skype), where your trainer can watch your every movement, you won’t be getting the same kind of attention as you would in-person training.
- You need to make sure your trainer is reputable. You can’t simply watch work them with others as you could at a health club. Check out their credentials.
- You have to be pretty self-motivated and get your “homework” done. The best program in the world won’t help if you don’t do the work.
- Make sure there is a refund policy.
So, as you think about getting started in a fitness program, or if you’re moving away the accessibility of in-person trainers, or if you just want the convenience, an online personal training may be for you. It’s one more way to get healthier and more fit.
Note: Because online training is another great way to help others change their lives for the better, Men’s Fitness After 50 is now offering an online training program. For details, click here: Men’s Fitness After 50 online training program
Are you someone who makes New Year’s resolutions? How did your resolutions work out last year? The year before? Did you know that between 73-80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. That’s a pretty astounding failure rate. We all believe we can change (which is good, because we can) and the new year tempts us with a fresh start, but when it comes down to it, we just can’t seem to make our goals a reality. Here’s a little bit of why you might be failing and some guidance on attaining those resolutions.
- Your resolutions aren’t specific. “I’m going to lose weight.” should be, “I’m going to lose 10lbs.” “I’m going to eat healthier.” needs to be, “I’m going to eat 5 serving of fruits and vegetables every day.” If you don’t make the goal specific, you won’t know what precisely to do to attain it.
- Your resolutions aren’t timed appropriately. One of two things typically happens time-wise with your goals. Either you don’t set a time limit or you set an unrealistic one. If you don’t set a time limit (given that most of us are procrastinators) it’s just not going to happen. The other time issue is that you set your time limit too short. The time you set has to be realistic. No, losing 30lbs in two weeks is not going to happen. You’re not going to achieve that beach body in four weeks. You aren’t going to run that marathon in two months if you haven’t started training yet. Not only will not reaching the goal make you feel badly about yourself, but you may very well get injured in the process.
- You’re out of the gate too fast. This goes along with not allowing yourself a realistic time to reach your goals. You push too hard, too fast, crash and burn mentally and/or physically. Allow yourself time to start slowly and plan a gradual increase in intensity or volume as your body and/or mind are ready.
- You grasp at anything promising a shortcut. “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills. Success is never instant no matter what the ads say. Change takes time and sustainable change takes more time. If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t true. (I have more platitudes, but I’ll spare you.) Stay away from the hype of quick solutions and commit to the journey.
If you want to achieve your New Year’s resolutions, don’t fall into the traps that make so many others fail. Get specific, time it right, avoid going out at an unsustainable rate, and stay away from gimmicks.
Good luck and happy new year.
I was going to follow my last post with some exercises for getting up off the floor, but something happened. Last night my wife and I were at a holiday party, saw a lot of friends, had some great conversations and ate great food. One of the people I was talking with, a man maybe 55 years old, went home and died a few hours after we last spoke. The cause is unknown to me as of yet, but it was probably a cardiovascular event. Hearing this news this morning was shocking. He seemed fine last night. Unfortunately, this is not a story that is all that uncommon.
No matter how people may appear, they can have underlying health issues that threaten their lives. (i.e. High blood pressure is not called “the silent killer” for nothing.) Can we even prevent these sudden deaths? The answer is ultimately, “no”. However, we can take precautions to give us the best chance possible of living a long, healthy, and active life.
- See your doctor regularly (as regularly as he or she recommends).
- If you are not exercising, get on it. Start slowly and gradually increase your intensity. See a certified personal trainer if you need assistance.
- Eat healthfully. Stay away from fad diets and seek to change your eating for the long-term. See a registered dietician (RD) for assistance and beware “nutritionists” who, in some states, need no qualifications to call themselves that.
- Find ways to lower your stress. There are lots of ways to reduce stress, from meditation to simple unplugged time with the family.
- Quit smoking. You know it. Smoking is a huge health risk.
As stated earlier, some things can’t be predicted or prevented, but we should all be stepping up and taking charge of what we can. I know that I’m going work for every extra bit of time that I can. How about you?
Say, for whatever reason, you find yourself on the floor, maybe you’re working, maybe you tripped and fell, maybe you are playing with your kids (or grandkids). How difficult is it to get back up to a standing position? The level of difficulty of sitting up from the floor and standing has actually been shown in research to be a good predictor of all-cause mortality. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to die from a fall (although you are more likely to take a fall), but it means that you’re probably lacking in mobility, strength, and balance, which probably also means that you don’t move enough, which means you’re unlikely to get any cardiovascular conditioning, which makes you more susceptible to disease, aannd that means that you are more likely to die prematurely.Remember that movement plays into our health in so many ways. When moving is challenging for us, we tend to move less, and then it gets even more challenging, and then we move even less, and then…. You see the spiral.
Back to getting up off the floor. This requires flexibility, stability, strength, and balance. If you are already challenged getting up from, and down to the floor, stay tuned. Next week I’ll show you an exercise progression that can help make the process easier. If it’s not so challenging, keep on doing it. It’s when we stop doing activities that they become harder for us.
Anyone that is trying to change their lives for the better, whether changing their career or trying to get healthier, will probably have experienced the “frenemy”. According to the Urban Dictionary, a frenemy is The type of “friend” whose words or actions bring you down. (whether you realize it as intentional or not.” Maybe it takes the form of putting down your choice, “Why would you try that? That’s out of your reach.” Or, maybe they simply try to get you to not follow through with it. “Oh, you can have another piece of pie… what’s it going to hurt?”
So, the question is… are they really your friend? If they are, why would they make reaching your goal more difficult?
Obviously, there are those people that just play at being your friend and really don’t have your best intentions at heart. They may keep you around to make themselves feel superior (think DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend). They could also be using you to get something that they need or want. These are the people that you should have ditched long ago, but may have hoped, in spite of things that they may say to you, that they really do like you (and you don’t have many friends).
Then there are those individuals that really do like you, want to be your friend, and yet still sabotage your efforts to change. They may even be completely unaware they are doing it. This may be that they feel badly that you are finding the motivation to better yourself and they aren’t. To feel better about their lack of initiative, they try to keep you with them. “Stay and have another drink with me.” “Don’t make me eat by myself.” “Come see a movie with me instead of going off to the gym.”
There’s only one real way to deal with frenemies. Sit them down and have a conversation about the choices that you are trying to make and why it’s so important to you. Ask them to support you in this and respect the decisions that you make. (i.e. When you say that you are going to work out, they should cheer you on, not try to have you skip it.) If they change and start supporting you, great! They are being a friend. If they continue their belittling behavior or are still trying to undermine your efforts, ditch them! Change is difficult enough and life is too short without continuing to keep company with people that don’t want the best for you.
There all kinds of “Challenges” running about on the internet. They are set periods of time in which you do or don’t do something throughout that time. Challenges can be great ways to jumpstart a program. Most people can do something difficult to attain a particular goal. However, before you jump on the bandwagon, there are a few considerations that you should take into account.
- Don’t just do a challenge because it’s out there. I saw a “30 minute plank challenge” on Facebook that was ridiculous. First, there’s no point to doing a plank for 30 minutes and second, couldn’t you choose a challenge that is more meaningful and more likely to help you reach your goals?
- Choose a challenge that sets up behavioral change beyond the timeframe. Say you want to eat better, maybe the challenge is to eat no processed foods. For a short time this might be a good one and, beyond the end of it, you’ll be in better control and better aware of eating at least less of those food items.
- Choose to prepare for something. Maybe you want to train for a certain event such as a race or a hike or an obstacle course. Couch to 5K is an example of that.
- You can create your own challenge. Don’t get hung up on looking for a set program to do. Just create your own.
- Do it with a friend. Doing things that are challenging are typically more successful if you have the support of, and share the experience with, a friend.
- Choose a timeframe that is realistic. If the chosen timeframe is too short, it is either unrealistic to reach your goal or it’s not much of a challenge. Many programs run 6, 8, 12 weeks (don’t ask me why, but I don’t see many 10 wk programs). These lengths give enough time to accomplish something meaningful.
- Review your success once the challenge is done. After you complete your challenge, you should take a good look at what you’ve accomplished and appreciate the effort that you put into it. Maybe it wasn’t perfect. That’s okay. It’s not all or nothing. Look at it in percentages. In example, if you meant to eat breakfast every day and you only did it half of the time, that’s still 50% more than you were doing before. Or, you were training for a running event and you only could get in 3 of the 4 miles per day that you set out to do. That’s still 75% of your goal. In both examples, good for you!
Challenges, something done or not done for a set period of time, may be a way to change your behaviors or accomplish something on your bucket list. Think about what change would be meaningful to you and set up a challenge to get yourself started.
Good luck, and please let me know if you could use some help with this.
Every advertisement or “guru” (both of which are trying to sell you something) will claim that if you just use this product or try this method, you’ll gain wealth, lose fat, get healthy, be popular, yada, yada, yada… If this, then that! Simple. Well, not so fast. Nothing is that simple. There are always stumbling blocks (funny that nobody wants to talk about that). There are always things that you either didn’t plan for, or couldn’t plan for. These things will set you back. You will lose ground and guess what… it’s okay.
Your success will not be a linear progression. The key to success is to stay the course. The path may lead up and down, but the path (your plan) will eventually get you to your goal.
Things that can help you make the path a little smoother include:
- Imagine the obstacles that could show up, or ones that have shown up in the past, and come up with a plan to pre-handle those obstacles.
- Don’t let the unexpected set you back more than it needs to. When something sets you back, it’s easy to let the emotional side get the better of you. This can often lead to a delay in getting back up and moving again. Whatever happened, the sooner you get back on your path, the sooner you reach your goal. Start back up, now!
- Embrace the journey, don’t stress out about the moment. Committing to the long haul gives you prospective and allows you to see that little fluctuations here and there are not that important in the scheme of things.
Accepting that your progress will not be linear and that that is okay, will set you up for a a more positive attitude and with that, a better chance of succeeding.
Good luck with your journey!
As the story goes, when a young comedian asked Jerry Seinfeld if he had any words of wisdom, Seinfeld said, “Don’t break the chain.” What he was talking about was that he set a goal for himself of writing X number of jokes every day and when he accomplished this, he would cross off that day on the calendar. This created his “chain” or consecutive days of achievement.
The idea of this chain, or consistency tracking, is a way to motivate you into creating a habit that helps you work toward your goals. Currently, I’m using Duolingo to help me learn Japanese. The app sends me a reminder every day to not break the chain.
There is a definite desire to build that consistency record. Whether you are marking the days that you work out or eat correctly or practice your instrument…. checking off those days feels good and does add motivation. And… the longer your chain or record goes, the more you try not to break it.
Now, probably, at some point, you will miss a day/break the chain, and you need to jump back on and start again from scratch (as far as the chain is concerned), but having worked at that consistency, we are already ahead of the game, both in what we have accomplished goal wise and in the building of a habit.
So, start now and again as often as you need to. Build that chain. Build those habits that will lead you to your goals.