Why Things aren’t as Complicated as They Seem

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Many of us have trouble trying to figure out the best option for our health and wellness goals. Turn on your computer or scroll through your social media feeds and you’ll see hundreds of different products and services ready to get you lean and mean. For instance, if you want to start exercising you have a range of options, from Zumba, Pilates and Yoga, to P90X, Crossfit and Parkor. On the nutrition side things are even more complicated. Should you do the Mediterranean Diet or Atkins? How about the Zone Diet or Paleo? Should you have gluten in your diet or dairy or carbs? The options are literally endless. And this is where our story begins.

 

Having choices is something that all of us enjoy. We want to be able to pick a brand name product over a generic product, or vice versa, because we hate feeling stuck with only one option. Ironically, though, there is a point on diminishing returns when it comes to choices. In actuality, when we get to a point where we have too many choices, we are generally unhappy with the decision we end up making. This is the Paradox of Choice. In a world of abundant options, we get stuck in this endless cycle of having to make decisions. And most of the time, those decisions lead us to be unhappy about our given choice.

 

Which brings us back to fitness and nutrition. We’ve already pointed out a few of the numerous options we have when it comes to health and wellness (and this is only the tip of the iceberg). So, knowing that having abundant choices typically leads to being unsatisfied with your decision, we are already set up for failure by not knowing which option to pick for our exercise regime or our nutrition plan.

 

The good news is; it doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems. We are all individuals, and as such, we have to figure out what works for us: what worked for your friend, Sally, may not work for you. However, there are general guidelines that all of us can follow to get moving in the right direction. And they are pretty consistent from one person to the next:

 

1. Drink lots of water

 

Water is the Liquid of Life. The vast majority of our body is either made of water or needs water to function. Without water, you can not properly assimilate nutrients, dispose of waste products or maintain quality muscle mass. It surprises many people when they increase their water intake and start losing weight. Give it a try.

 

2. Eat whole foods

 

If you look back to the beginning of human existence, our bipedal ancestors did not have the option to grab a Little Debbie snack cake or even a Hungry Man because they were in a hurry. Although there are some quality options when it comes to bars and powders and other snacky foods, whole foods have always been the tried and true source of quality nutrients.

 

3. Do basic human movements for exercise

 

We have certain movements that we perform are a regular basis throughout our daily living. These movements are called the Basic Human Movements. These are the types of movements you should perform while doing your purposeful training regimen. Here’s your list of Basic Human Movements:

Push

Pull

Hinge

Squat

Carry

Everything Else

Most of these are self-explanatory. The everything else category involves most anything outside of the other 5 categories. Decide what is important to you and do these movements often.

 

4. PLAY

 

It seems silly to hear the word PLAY when talking about staying healthy, especially for an adult. Play has been, and still is, one of the best ways to decrease stress and anxiety while staying active. But play doesn’t have to be what it was as a kid (although it can be that kind of play if you want). Play can mean going for a bike ride, canoeing, hiking, climbing trees, skiing, playing basketball…whatever you enjoy doing OUTSIDE of work. Make sure to play on a weekly basis AT LEAST.

 

Stick to these 4 basic ideas and you’ll be off to a great start with your health and wellness. These ideas could carry you through the rest of your life. Remember, always KISS (Keep It Simples Stupid) when it comes to your health. Don’t make things any more complicated than they have to be and you’ll be set.

Nutrition & Exercise Tips while You’re Traveling

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There will come a time in your health journey where you will be forced to adjust your nutrition or exercise routine due to a family vacation or a trip out of town for business. This creates a problem for those new to a healthy nutrition or exercise program. You basically have two options. The first option is to break your routine for the week then start again when you return and that’s great for some people. Others may find this is too difficult and wind up struggling leading to frustration and possibly quitting. The second option is to have a plan. We would like to share some tips that could help you stay partially on track and not stress over being away.

 

Vacations are meant to be a time of rest, recovery and relaxation. If you are worried about eating perfectly or getting in your exercise program everyday then you are defeating the purpose. You simply need to decide what you want to do and then come up with a plan. Do you want or will you be able to cook some of your meals? Then search the Internet ahead of time to find the nearest grocery where you can shop for healthy food. If you have no intention of cooking then do the same for healthy restaurants in the area. Look ahead at their menus for options that fit closest to your plan. You can also take food along that travels well such as nuts, cans of tuna and protein bars/powder to have in a pinch. If you will be gone for an extended period of time, you may even want to ship items before hand to your destination. If you wish to hit the gym while away, then choose to stay where they have a gym on site or locate one close by. Many gyms have a guest pass where you pay for the week and can use their facility. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to burn some energy and to keep moving. You also have lots of beach walking, hiking or biking as well.

 

Traveling for business is a bit different in the fact that you are still going to be working a schedule and can’t necessarily choose your accommodations. The same tips will hold true though for checking if there are microwaves or small refrigerators in your room. If not, ask management if they might able to accommodate your needs. If you have several meetings where the food served is not ideal then pack portable items like protein bars, beef jerky or nuts to have on hand. Eat fruit, lean protein and salads if provided. Take a small cooler along as well to store perishables. If there is no gym available then use bodyweight exercises and walking to keep moving.

 

When making sustainable change, you have to be able to navigate the obstacles that life puts in front of you. Take it easy on yourself. It is more about what you consistently do rather than the few weeks or days of being forced off the path. With a bit of planning and improvising, you will still feel successful and can proceed with confidence in your journey.

How to Develop Your Morning Routine

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In a recent post, we talked about the importance of establishing a bedtime routine to help you decompress from the day and improve sleep. A bedtime routine helps to send a signal to your brain and body that it is time to rest. Morning routines are just as beneficial for your health and wellness. Establishing a morning routine will help you feel more in control of your day, it will help to increase your productivity and even your happiness.

 

“Drive your day or your day will drive you” is how the saying goes. Our willpower and motivation is highest upon awakening. A good morning routine sets the tone for the entire day. This may be the time to work on a goal you have set for yourself.  If you want to make a lifestyle change like exercising then it might be best to make this a part of your morning routine when motivation is highest. It also allows time for “self-care” before the craziness of the day sets in. Self-care is performing activities that bring you joy or helps you to become the best version of yourself. These are the things that most often we let slip because we have run out of time. Early mornings are quiet providing the environment to more easily focus, be reflective or to meditate. Meditation comes in many forms such as deep breathing, writing in a journal or just sitting quietly to gather yourself.

 

So how do you establish a morning routine? Since everyone has different priorities and interests it can vary greatly among individuals. The one thing most experts agree upon is that the first hour of the day shouldn’t vary a great deal as in the choices you make or activities that you need to do. By having a routine, you won’t have to think so hard and exhaust your decision-making skills early. Another thing to consider is to be realistic with how much time you have in the morning. Start small with 15 minutes and add time as you adjust to getting up a few minutes earlier. Do not make this stressful! That is the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish with your routine. Here are a few suggestions to help get you started. Place a small behavior goal that you need to make a habit to achieve a bigger goal in the morning. For example, if you have an outcome-goal of improving your nutrition then eating a healthy breakfast could be part of your routine. Another would be to pick 2 or 3 items off your to do list and work on completing them early in the day. This helps you to feel successful and gives you a sense of accomplishment therefore lowering your overall stress level for the day.

 

Make your morning routine relaxing and simple. Begin small and be consistent with whatever activity you decide to do first thing in the morning. Experiment with different things or activities to find what will work best for you. Remember to put yourself in the driver’s seat and take control of your day.

How You Can Come Up with Attainable Goals

 

Do you ever think about your life a year or five years from now? Is it the same as it is or do you see it differently? Unless your life is absolutely perfect then you have things you would like to change. In order to facilitate those changes you probably have goals. A goal is defined as the object of a person’s ambition; an aim or desired result. I want to lose 10 pounds or I want to make more money are examples of goals. The average person knows where they are now and knows where they would like to be but struggle trying to get there. Goals help give us focus and move us forward improving our lives.

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There are five key components to consider when you create a goal.

 

  1. Goals need to be written down – Research shows that people who have goals written down are 5 times more likely to achieve them. They say a goal not written down is just a dream. You can carry a goal around in your head for years and never act upon it.

 

  1. Goals need to be specific and measurable – “I want to lose weight or make more money” are vague. Goals that are specific and measurable provide you with focus and tracking capability so you can measure your progress. You can build short-term goals within a long-term goal that will help you feel successful and stay motivated along the way.

 

  1. Goals need timelines – Without establishing a timeline, you really are still only hoping to get there. This will make the goal concrete and get you moving in a forward direction. Without a deadline, it’s human nature to procrastinate and make excuses why today isn’t a good day to start.

 

  1. A goal must be realistic – “I want to lose 20 pounds in 3 weeks” isn’t realistic. Studies prove that ½-1 pound/week weight loss is best for sustainability and health. To create an unrealistic goal only becomes frustrating which will most likely lead to failure.

 

  1. A Successful goal must have significance for you – It has to have a “why” attached. Why do you want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks? Just because you think it might be fun to do? What happens when your friends want to go out for pizza and beer? Well you might say that sounds like fun and there goes your goal. When motivation wanes during the process this is what you will need to come back to. It will help to inspire you to keep reaching for the goal even when it gets tough. You may want to lose those 10 pounds because your mother died of heart disease and you do not want to suffer the same. Make the why significant.

 

Finally, there are two types of goals: outcome-based goals and behavior-based goals. An outcome-based goal is what you wish or want to accomplish. You have no direct control over an outcome-based goal. It either happens or it doesn’t because of the decisions you make along the way. Behavior-based goals are the behaviors you are going to put in place in an attempt to reach the outcome goal. These you do have direct control over. For example: “I want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks” is the outcome goal. Now, what are you going to do to achieve this? “ I will exercise for 1 hour three days a week” might be one of your behavior goals if you are currently not exercising at all. You can choose or not choose to do this exercise. You can’t choose or not choose to lose 10 pounds directly. Behavior goals are where you need to put the greatest focus. They are the behaviors that are going to get you to the bigger goal.

 

So remember the five key components for writing an outcome-based goal. Create a plan listing the behavior goals that are going to help you accomplish what you desire. Tuck away the outcome goal and focus on the behavior goals. Carry these with you and be consistent. Don’t give up even if you have a bad day. Wipe the slate clean and start again. You might just get what you are wishing for!