Thursday, December 8, 2016

What works for you

Starting off the New Year with new resolutions – especially those concerning fitness and wellness - is an energizing feeling, but the key to fulfilling them is a combination of desire, will and strategy.

Sometimes following a resolution is a snap. You decide to go after something, and you just seem to do it. Love it when that happens!

But many times a resolution may be challenging to fulfill. If you slip up it’s important not to be too hard on yourself and give up. Instead you can “fail forward” by becoming a student of your own behavior; learning from what went wrong and making adjustments.

Social scientist Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., recommends analyzing what does and does not work for us in her book “The Willpower Instinct.” She says it greatly helps to consider what obstacles we may face and how we will overcome them. For example, if you can’t resist ice cream, but want to cut down on it to reduce calories, best not to keep it in the refrigerator at home. If you tend to forget your gym bag, put it by the door the night before.

Another aid to boosting our willpower is reducing stress in our life. We need down time to refresh ourselves whether it is listening to music, walking through the woods or meditating. The more stressed we are, the more difficult it is to make healthy choices, research has shown. When we are agitated we tend to seek relief, including through comfort foods and watching too much TV.

Not addressing internal conflicts may keep us from being fully committed to our goals and derail us.  For example, is a loved one pressuring you to do something you want to do but you are resisting doing it because of their insistence? Or is a friend trying to talk you out of doing something you want to do? Find an individual or a group who will be in your corner and maybe even exercise, diet or quit smoking with you.

It can help to shore up your resolve to fulfill those New Year’s resolutions by listening to inspirational speakers or reading encouraging literature. Journaling about the ups and downs of your wellness journey can be helpful. And many find calling upon their higher power makes all the difference. Find out what works for you and make it work for you!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Working out alone vs. with others

When choosing the right exercise strategy for you, one question is whether to exercise alone or with others. I like opting for a mix!

Working out alone is easier to schedule and comes in handy when all your friends are busy. Some people enjoy the quietude of exercising just with the sound of music, nature or their breath. It can be a time for reflection or meditation.

Exercising can also be done a little at a time when you are on you own. Ideas: A few glut bridges before you get out of bed, a simple balance challenge while brushing your teeth, neck and upper back stretches in the shower, a few chin tucks at red lights, and/or some ankle circles and seated breathing and posture exercises while watching TV.  Restorative, conditioning movement throughout the day is great for the body!

Exercising with others, on the other hand, is also beneficial. It can serve as a reminder and motivator to exercise more regularly. Scientific studies show that people who exercise with others tend to exercise more often. Extroverts tend to be drawn to groups while introverts may prefer to exercise with one or a few people they know very well.

You may already know one or several people who would like to become exercise buddies. Walking with a spouse or a friend or strength training with a buddy at the rec center or gym are all options. If you enjoy larger groups, going dancing, taking group exercise classes, or playing sports can be rewarding.

If you feel hesitant to try a new exercise class, it can be less intimidating if you take a friend the first time, especially if the class is large. Senior center and church exercise classes tend to be a little more user friendly from the get go for the solo participant.

Another option, especially if you have specific physical challenges or want to improve your fitness level before you take a group class, is to work with a personal trainer. You may find you only need a few sessions to get you going. Or you may like the coaching and exercise customization so much that you opt to train on an ongoing basis.

Try experimenting a little to find the right combination of exercising alone and with others that is right for you!