Betty's Blog » Health and Well Being
Spring is almost here!!! Better get out the running shoes, workout gear, yoga mats, or whatever it takes to get you in the exercise mode...if you haven’t already. I hope you haven’t developed a “winter spread”…but if you have…no worries. It is NEVER too late to begin an exercise program that will whip you into shape for those sleeveless tops and shorts you want to wear in the coming weeks.
WHAT IS YOUR FITNESS GOAL?
Before you decide on an exercise program, you need to make sure that you know exactly what your fitness goal is. Are you exercising to lose weight, to stay in shape, or…are you already fit and want to make your fitness training harder? Without answering this question, you will not be able to find the workout routine that will suit your personal needs best.
The one reason why so many people quit on their exercise program is because they are choosing the wrong one. It is important to make sure that you do your homework and find the best workout program that you will actually put into practice. Workouts can be fun, if you are selecting the right one for you. When you find a program that works with your schedule and fits your personal needs, you will enjoy and look forward to exercising.
CHOOSE AN EXERCISE THAT YOU LIKE
We are genetically designed to be active. Getting healthy and getting your body moving isn’t as hard as you might think. Find an activity that makes you happy, and do it all of the time. Many people make the mistake of thinking they need to join a gym for their exercise program. No Way! You can do all sorts of exercises like swimming, running, walking or even cycling away from the gym…at home and in your neighborhood. Try choosing the one exercise that you love doing and start with that.
Do you like to jog? Great, do that. Do you like to lift weights or kickbox? Go for it! Maybe you like yoga or pilates…you can join classes or dvd them at home. Dodgeball, Ultimate Frisbee, rock climbing…whatever! If you don’t like to exercise and be active and move, then you will have to keep trying activities that you do enjoy participating in that will motivate you and keep you interested. Find something that excites you and trips your trigger. Hey, I LOVE to dance. So I get in the living room, bluetooth my wonderful, high powered headphones, start my playlist going on “Pandora” and get my “jiggy” on! It makes me happy, joyous, and I get a great cardio with a little muscle building.
Do NOT overdo it and hurt yourself. Make sure that you ease into your workout. Remember…Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you haven’t exercised in a while or you have never worked out, this is really important. Get informed on any exercise or workout program you are not familiar with or haven’t done before. The one thing that is most important to any workout you choose…Enjoy Yourself! Sure you may grunt and groan at first and want to give up…but don’t!!! You are making new habits and setting new goals…so stick to them!
IDENTIFY YOUR ENEMY
If you have started an exercise program in the past and failed, it is important to know WHY. Did you give up when you saw little or no change in your body right away? Did you get sick and give up? Did you go on vacation, get off your schedule and say “why bother?” Or…maybe you just got bored with your workout and decided the effort wasn’t worth it. Educate yourself on the hurdles and kryptonite that caused you to fail at getting in shape before, and work on avoiding those pitfalls and finding new ways to deal with them.
FIND A WORKOUT BUDDY
There are going to be days when you want to slack off, sleep in and even skip your workout. Find a workout buddy, hopefully someone who is at a similar level of fitness as you are, and be accountable to each other. He or she can help motivate you on days when you are dragging and vice versa. You can be a support system for each other and encourage one another to reach your goals.
CLEAN UP YOUR DIET
This is huge…80% of your success in your workout goals will depend on your diet. Think the “80/20” rule…80% diet/20% exercise. You cannot outrun your fork, and you cannot out-train a bad diet. Whether it is eating less calories per day, cutting out sodas, eating more vegetables, or skipping that dessert…small changes can make a huge difference. You probably shouldn’t try to make too many changes at once, however. Your stomach might flip out and you may go back to some old eating habits and “fall off the wagon”.
YOUR NEW SPRING EXERCISE PLAN:
- Set the goals you want to establish. Post them on your wall.
- Determine why you have failed in the past and how you can avoid it in the future.
- Start cleaning up your diet in whatever method works best for you.
- Pick an activity that makes you happy, and do it…a lot.
Exercising regularly will help you to strengthen your heart, build muscle, lose weight, lower blood pressure, prevent depression, and increase endurance and/or flexibility. As an added benefit, regular exercise can change the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. So many reasons to begin your exercise program NOW!
Important thing is to GET STARTED! BE CONSISTENT! ENJOY WHAT YOU ARE DOING!
Many of us are trying hard to eat and drink healthier and to become more fit in the New Year. We are looking for ways to satisfy our thirst with something more than just water. Normally, we drink diet soda instead of the regular sodas. But, do you really realize how unhealthy these sodas are for you…even the sugar-free sodas? If you are looking for some good, healthy drinks that are good for you and easy to make, then you don’t have to look any further.
Water with a twist
Water isn’t always the most exciting thing that you can drink, but how about “water with a twist”? This isn’t the normal water that you can buy in the shops that is flavored water and has some sugar added. This is natural, homemade water that everyone can make. Mash fresh fruit and your favorite herbs in a glass. You can use any kind of fruit that you can find, or that you really like to eat. You put the mashed fruit in the bottom of your glass. Then, you top off the glass with cold water and ice. You can use any type of water, from tap water to bottled water or tonic water.
Seems like everyone likes the flavor of iced tea…kind of like your Grandma used to make! You don’t have to buy the bottled ice tea in the stores to get that homemade iced tea flavor. In fact, it will be much better made from scratch in your own kitchen. You make your normal tea, let it cool, then add sugar, stevia or honey to sweeten to taste…however…try to go light on the sugar. Using green tea instead of regular tea would be an even better and healthier option for your drinking pleasure. If you want a little pizzazz…use fizzy water instead of the normal tap or bottled water.
Who would have thought that you can make a delicious iced coffee at home, and know that you’re drinking a good healthy drink? Iced coffee is delicious and there are many different varieties of coffee available in the stores that you can turn into iced coffee. You can also just drink black coffee with honey over ice, or you can add cold milk, soy or low-fat whip cream with the iced coffee. To keep it healthier, don’t add sugar and make sure that the milk you are using is also low-fat milk.
You don’t have to just drink boring, cold water when you’re watching calories and trying to stay fit. There are delicious alternatives that are available that will be tasty AND healthy at the same time. Try the drinks I have listed above, or use your imagination…go a little crazy, and put together some drinks with the ingredients that you love! But, remember…you should always prepare it the healthiest way possible, without too much sugar and maybe little honey for a sweeter taste.
January is that time of year when we reflect on the events of our life over the past year and start New Year’s resolutions in the hopes of changing our lives in a positive way. I have been sharing with you about having a balanced life and making changes so that you are more content and satisfied in your everyday life. If you are thinking about relationship expectations, I believe there are some basic needs all women want and need from their “other half” and… since Valentine’s Day is coming upon us, I thought I might share a few of these “not so secret” desires with you. Women aren't exactly the great mystery that men often make us out to be. A poll was taken and there was a list of 10 basic and simple things women want in a relationship. Here goes:
- Respect. Show us through your actions that you respect our opinions, careers, interests, friends, bodies and minds. You don't have to agree with all that we say or do, but try to honor our opinions as valuable contributions. Follow the golden rule and treat us as you would like to be treated: Be honest, fair, kind, and considerate.
- Communication. Women are vocal creatures. We know you love us, but it's nice to hear you say it, too. We can also be insecure. We wish we weren't, but the reality is that we often notice our jiggly thighs and the weight we have gained. So let us know when you think we're hot. Tell us we're beautiful. It helps us feel good. Plus, when we feel sexy we are more likely to act sexy. Words of appreciation aren't half-bad either. Tell us you love the lasagna we made. Thank us for driving the kids to school. Notice that we cleaned the bathtub. It doesn't have to be over the top, just let us know that you see the effort we put in, and you're grateful.
- Romance. Date nights, making out in the car, dancing in the living room, kissing like when we first met - all of the things that made us fall in love with you don't have to stop just because now there are bills to pay, a house to be cleaned, and kids that need to get bathed. Treat us like you did before we became your wife. Another night of staying in and watching TV on the couch doesn’t mean the evening can’t be romantic. Light a few candles… open a bottle of wine and see where the night leads. Once in a while, bring home flowers for no reason. We're not talking about a $100 bouquets of roses here…the small bouquets from the supermarket are enough to make us smile.
- Sex. Yes, we love sex… but the small physical touches like holding hands, massages and shoulder rubs go a long way in letting us know that you are interested in something else besides the “home run”. Always remember, there are four bases to cover in the bedroom… not just one. Take the time to get to know our body and its responses.
- Time. We understand relationships aren’t going to be all wine and roses, but spending time with us and treating us like your top priority says "love" more than all the fancy gifts and love letters you could write. This includes helping with chores around the house. In this 21st-century both partners probably work. If you happen to get home before we do, vacuum the living room or throw in a load of laundry. If you take the garbage out without being asked…well…that is huge!
- Engage: Show an interest in our passions and the things we get excited about, whether it is career related, a sport or a hobby, or just a friendship that is important to us. You don't have to like everything we like, but just listen to our thoughts and feelings when we talk to you. We're not speaking just so we can hear our own voice… we want to connect with you on a deep emotional level. This also means paying attention to the little things…what movies we like, our favorite restaurant and favorite dessert, our little habits that we do each day.
- Humor and Humility. These two go hand in hand. Laughter is such good medicine. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean cracking jokes and being the entertaining clown. It just means being able to laugh and have fun…like laughing at yourself and not taking yourself too seriously. Men who take themselves too seriously are a downer to everyone around.
- Dinner: You may not be good at cooking…but you can rustle up something once in a while in the kitchen! Greeting us at the door after a long day with fish sticks, a hamburger or even ordering in Chinese when you know we have had a hectic day, makes us swoon, because it shows that you've been thinking about us.
- Consistency.This doesn't mean you need to be boring and predictable. It means that we can count on you to always be there to give us the love and support we need. Knowing that you are always in our corner no matter what difficulties we face or encounter goes a long way in making us feel secure and safe.
- Challenge. Not the kind that makes the relationship constant work, but the kind of challenge that surprises and motivates us to achieve what we desire in life. Studies show that partners who encourage each other to meet their goals and dreams are ultimately happier than those who don't hold each other accountable.
Okay!!! It is the New Year and I hope you are all trying to make new and positive changes in your lives. I have discussed before the importance of creating balance in your life and certain ways you can achieve that. Here are some suggestions on exactly how to begin.
9 Tips to Living a Balanced Life
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~Thomas Merton
In my work, I am often reminded that what works for some people does not necessarily work for others, and that one person’s idea of balance may not constitute anything remotely balanced from another person’s perspective. I wanted to address the various elements of life that can require balancing and offer some suggestions to find the mix that works best for you.
To start, what does it mean to be balanced?
To me, it means that you have a handle on the various elements in your everyday life and don’t feel that your heart and mind are being pulled too hard in any one direction. More often than not, you feel calm, peaceful, grounded, clear-headed, and motivated. I know that when I feel balance in my life, I am a much happier person to be around. I am more confident, self-assured, and ready to tackle any life experience that might come my way because I have taken care of the things that are important to me and placed a priority on them.
How do you find your balance?
The elements in life that require the most balancing can be divided into two categories: internal and external. Oftentimes, people focus on one more than the other. For example, you may find that you focus on external things, like work, relationships, and activities, and that you pay very little attention to what is going on inside your heart and mind.
On the other hand, you may find that you spend so much time being self- reflective that you sometimes miss out on the experience of everyday living.
Other people may be fairly balanced between the two but might want to balance out some specific elements within each category. I created this little outline to help us better understand the beneficial components on both ends of each spectrum.
Internal (Mind, Heart, Health)
- Mind: Challenging yourself intellectually vs. creating opportunities for your mind to rest
- Heart: Giving love vs. receiving love
- Health: Eating, drinking, exercising properly vs. resting and treating yourself to some extra treats
External (Work, Social, Family, Fun)
- Work: Pushing yourself to achieve goals vs. seeing the bigger picture and enjoying the ride
- Social: Satisfying your social desires vs. taking time for yourself
- Family: Fulfilling your familial responsibilities vs. creating healthy boundaries
- Fun: Allocating time for things you enjoy doing vs. making sure you don’t overdo it
As you can see, both ends of each spectrum are actually positive; but if either side is taken to an extreme, something that is intended to be positive can end up being detrimental and dysfunctional. It is helpful to check in with yourself to see if you feel balanced.
If you feel pulled in any one direction and uneasy about it, these steps may help you get your life aligned:
Take some time to really look at your life, your state of mind, and how you’re feeling. Be honest with yourself and notice the areas of your life that you’re neglecting.
Notice if you’re leaning more toward an internal or external focus, or if there are areas within each category that you would like to be more balanced.
- Set Goals.
Look at the outline to help you decide which ways you want to balance your life. Make a list.
- Plan Tasks.
Make a list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that you will need to do to achieve each of these goals. What have you tried in the past? Did it work? If not, what can you do differently?
What is the most important thing you’ve accomplished in the past? How did you stay focused toward this goal? How did you handle your fears, doubts, anxieties, worries, and negative self-talk? How does it feel to know that you accomplished the goal in spite of these parts of yourself?
What is your inner “stuff” that keeps you from sticking to your plan (fears, worries, doubts, negative self- talk)? Can you specify the things you say to yourself to push you off track? (For example: “Just one more bite, I’ll start eating better tomorrow”) Make a list and prioritize it.
What do you need to remember in those times? What are things you can say to that self-sabotaging part of yourself? Be kind to yourself. Balance won’t feel good if you’re cruel to yourself in creating it!
Is there a person or a tactic you can use to keep yourself supported, motivated, and focused in those hard times? I highly recommend connecting and sharing your inner process with someone. Find someone who can help you challenge your inner demons, and celebrate your little accomplishments…someone you can be accountable to.
Just like accomplishing any goal in life, it takes time and effort to overcome your habitual patterns and create new ones. If you stay on track with this detailed and intentional process for three whole months, then there is a good chance you will create new habits to enjoy a more balanced life going forward!
Until next time -
As this year ends and a new one begins, we can reflect on this past year and remind ourselves that each and every day is a new beginning to start over. We all have things in our lives that we wish we would have done differently…things we should have said or not said…relationships we should have kindled or ones we just needed to try a little harder with to make it work…given more love and time to those in need and simply taking more time to slow down and enjoy the the simple things in life. Whatever your story is, remember you can write the ending. Follow your heart into this next year and believe the best in yourself and others.