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17

Healthy Holiday Motivation – 5 Tips

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

I'm Dreaming of a White...

This is the time of year when millions thousands a crapload of people you and your best friends Betty and Veronica make resolutions and promises, some of them involving blood, toil, tears and sweat (quick, history buffs, who said this?)! This Season of Determination is quickly followed by the Season of Broken Dreams, as resolutions go out the door faster than old eggnog (an evil holiday beverage).

But do not despair; instead get motivated. There are ways to help yourself get and stay motivated to implement your goals.

Season of Broken Dreams

1. Focus on the Process, not the Outcome–The process is the road there; the outcome is the final destination. You cannot get from here to there without some sort of journey. In practice, this means take it one step at a time. Set yourself up for success by naming and writing down the steps it will take to get you where you want to be. “Get Super Buff” is a fuzzy outcome, because it’s not defined. What would that look like for you, and how will you get there?

Journey, not Destination

2. Make it More Fun–If you hate running, why promise yourself you’ll start a running program? In this situation, “running” is spelled F.A.I.L.U.R.E. As I mention in our Womensradio  radio broadcast on this topic, if you love to dance to Led Zeppelin, that’s what will be fun for you. Who cares if everyone else loves boot camp if your thing is boogie-ing down to disco classics?

Boogie Down with your Fit Self

3. Allow Yourself Opportunities for Mastery–Find activities you can do that allow you to become good at something. For example, if you hate push-ups, why beat yourself up that you cannot do a flying push-up (maybe I’ll post video of this someday)? Instead, try a wall or knee push-up.  Then you can legitimately tell yourself, “I did a push-up.” This is highly motivating and will lead to further successes!

4. Go With a Friend–Whether it’s in person, (a walk or exercise class together), or by check-in (“Hey, did you go to your fitness class today?), being accountable to a friend dramatically increases the chance that you’ll keep to your plan. No-one likes to be the one to let a friend down.

5. Avoid Comparisons–Face it, you will never be the person you were in college or your wedding (unless they were in your very recent past). You are older, and probably have a better ability to pace yourself now anyway! Comparing yourself to your distant past is like asking for a date with disappointment (yes, I know him. He was all hands). And comparing yourself to how you should be in some never-quite-there future doesn’t work either. If you must compare yourself to something, choose yesterday. Then do something that is more than yesterday and you’ll have a good basis for comparison. While you’re at it, don’t compare yourself to others either. They’re all either better-looking (darn your parents for those imperfect genes) or worse-looking (that’s just mean), so stop it right now! (Of course, I have an identical twin, so have a lot of experience with the comparison business – so sad for her!)

Speaking of my imaginary twin, she wrote an excellent piece on this very topic (wow, what a coincidence)!

Photo credits: Photobucket

Dear Motivated Readers: What little “tricks” do you use to help yourself stay motivated? And why is the word “ate” in “motivate?”

4

Go Ahead. Motivate My Day!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: I am relatively healthy, but over the years I’ve developed arthritis and diabetes…. I have meds that have added to my weight gain…. Although I have access to a gym, I don’t have workout clothes. As someone with chronic pain, any suggestions on how to motivate myself to exercise?

Liz, Alexandria, VA

A: I’d say you motivate yourself the same way as those who aren’t in pain – by yelling, guilt, comparison with others, negative self-talk and a serious taunting of your mirror! Oh, wait (hits brakes and skids into ditch), those are actually found to NOT be motivating. Oh, that’s very different. Never mind.

1. Go with friends.

2. Wear comfortable clothing (doesn’t have to be “workout” clothes), but not ugly, baggy stuff that makes you feel frumpy.

3. Research has shown that arthritis pain is ameliorated by exercise.

4. Some interesting news just came out a few weeks ago showing that diabetes can be reduced or even reversed in combination with a good diet.

5. Only do a few minutes at a time. You will be miserable and unsuccessful if you try too much.

6. If your club offers a free intro session with a personal trainer, take it. Make sure it’s someone with knowledge of medical issues. A good trainer will be encouraging and give realistic, achievable goals.

Kymberly: I am pretty sure Alexandra was talking about her parenting techniques in that first part. Finally she can put her Master’s Degree in Counseling to some use besides making us all crazeeeee!. More to the point, I want to add a few points:

1) Wear whatever will get you to the gym. Except the MC Hammer pants. So last decade or two. Believe me, everyone else is too busy with their own workout and body image to worry about what you are wearing….unless you are not wearing anything. Guaranteed attention getter. For more on this plus a laugh or two, check out our post from waaaaaay back when we were the same age and weight as now: Do Sexy Clothes Make The Workout.

2) Ask yourself: “What is the LEAST amount of exercise I can do today and still feel I made some progress and did not aggravate my pain?” Whatever the answer is–5 minutes, 12 minutes, 49 seconds–commit to this least amount and revel in accomplishing it. Keep asking this question every day. Lo and behold, you will find the minutes adding up, the guilt and overloaded feeling going down, your pain levels dropping, and your gym fees worthwhile. But not going up. One hopes….

Photo credits: Photobucket

Dear Readers: What skills do you draw upon to motivate yourself to be active? What is your favorite motivational quote?

9

Love Exercise; Work is a Pain Though

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Yep, I am a workaholic and a busy mom of three, but I still try to get my exercise. I try to get a bike ride and a couple of kettle bell workouts a week. Additionally, I have a workout bench on an incline that I like to do crunches. My problem comes with the endless hours I spend at the desk. I have a recurring pain in my right shoulder blade, on my mousing side, and it affects my shoulder’s range of motion. It usually flares up after I have been working extra hard. I would like some exercises and stretches I could do throughout the day. At my husband’s work, they call them fitness breaks and they are designed to prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs). I am sure almost all of we desk jockey’s could use some pointers about this. Thanks!  Kami, Houston, TX

Desk Jockey with Poor Posture

Alexandra: Why are you working extra hard? That’s just wrong. You should go work with your husband since his company gives wife-smooching fitness breaks. But let’s just imagine for a second that you like your job and have no plans to change your good-girl of fitness ways. That’s a flare-up of another color.

1. Check your chair height. If it’s too low, you are over-contracting in the upper traps (shoulder/neck area).

2. Stretches – Do some that lengthen and release the upper torso area.

3. Posture, posture, and oh, posture. Go back and read this so that I don’t have to repeat repeat myself: http://funandfit.org/2010/07/straight-scoop-on-super-posture/

4. Many people like to roll the shoulders forward. Why? I don’t understand that. Most desk jockeys are already over-stretched in the back and over-tight in the front (chest/shoulders). Why do more? So….a mini-desk fitness minute is to roll your shoulders back and down. Don’t roll forward.

5. Lastly, find out if your company has an ergonomic professional on staff. If so, that person can assess your work area to make it more physically functional and supportive.

Kymberly: Let’s also address the “endless hours you spend at a desk,” you “desk jockey” you. Look for opportunities to stand up more and sit less. When you talk on the phone, stand or walk about your work area. At least once an hour get up and out of the sitting position. Walk to the farthest bathroom; get supplies one at a time; forego calling a colleague and go see that person in person. Oooh, I like the alliteration of that last sentence, which rolled so trippingly off the mouse. Gotta go stand up now or risk turning mousy. In short, interrupt your desk jockey pattern. RSI is Really Sucky Inactivity so actively check that you are not in the same position for minutes on end. One great hour of exercise cannot overcome 8 hours of a locked-in sitting position. But if that ergonomic professional advises a hot tub, spa, and barcalounger for your office, go for it! With three kids you deserve some down time. Yeah, Down at the Gym!

Readers: What are your favorite workplace exercises or stretches? What is your favorite work?

4

Firing a Personal Training Client

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra

Q: is it OK to kill or fire non-compliant clients?

Frustrated Trainer, somewhere in CA

K: Say now, we normally hear from fitness enthusiasts and participants, not industry professionals. Welcome to our Fun and Fit blog. As for your “insider” question, I believe the answer is “yes,” not only is it possible to fire non-compliant clients, but it is your duty. What kind of walking advertisement would they be for your training business otherwise? I can hear it now:  “Wow, you look lethargic and out of shape. Who is your trainer?”

Two choices : 1) kill the clients by recommending totally sedentary behavior since we all know sedentary behavior shortens lives. Maybe breathe smoke on them while suggesting they lie down and keep a remote close by. 2) Get all their fees for your services paid up front (maybe a year in advance) then let them continue to be non-compliant.

A: First of all, you aren’t my trainer are you? If not, professional duty compels me to say that you need to adjust the workout to something more achievable. I assume you are referring to the exercises they are supposed to do when they are not with you? If they are still non-compliant, have them increase the number of sessions with you. It’s hard to be non-compliant in the presence of the trainer. That would not be non-compliance, that would be “spending money to hang around and chat with my trainer.”

Hmm, now I know why my trainer keeps squinting at me and giving me that “finger across the throat” sign. I thought he was showing me his shaving stop line. Gotta run. I’m supposed to do some push-ups. But I’m so tired – think I’ll go take a little lie-down and dream in a virtual exercise kind of way.

K: Now if what you mean is “non-compliant, big ole’ pain in the Gluteus Medius and Minnieus Mouseius” kind of a client who is wrecking the mood and vibe with bad behavior during your session, then my advice really changes. Instead of “yes, it’s your duty” I am compelled to say “Heck double yes, get on it and fire up the bye-bye-barbie.” Fire the client as no money is worth being around an energy and fun sucker. People have frenemies for that. Bottom line: both you and your clients need to be happy with the partnership for it to work. Just like Alexandra and me….. who needs to get to work.

Readers: Have you ever fired a client? a trainer? How did you feel afterward?

Photo Credit: Creative Commons-igKnition
3

Allergies and Activity–Something to Sneeze At

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit:

I have really bad allergies during spring when everything is just starting to bloom so I try not to be outdoors (especially on windy days) … to control my symptoms along with the usual allergy medicine. However, I noticed that when I’m running in the morning, I am usually allergy symptom-free! Do you have any ideas why that is the case? Do you think I can distract my allergy enough with activity that it won’t tell my body to sound out the alarm and make me miserable?

Lou, of BVIbrantNow.com Windsor, CA

Kymberly: Veeery interesting, young grassy-hopper. For the record, I am allergic to any kind of running in the morning. Ok, just running. Amazingly I am always symptom-free when power walking. Back to you, Lou: Normally pollen counts are highest in the mornings (check out this MD-reviewed and super readable article, “Exercise Outdoors — Even with Allergies“).  So you’d think you’d be sneezing and wheezing and cursing the purty flowers and bucolic buds on that early run. I know I might curse a leetle teeny bit when up and out early, like anything that is :00 dawn-o’clock.  But there’s a twist to the story. According to this fine, fine, and poachable article, “although exercising outdoors can increase your contact with pollen, ironically, the extra adrenalin your body produces while you are working out can temporarily dampen the allergic response.”  In other words, YES, you can distract your allergy with activity. Make my work easy and just read the darn link, will ‘ya?! The only flaw here is that once you stop, the dampening effect of the adrenalin stops and symptoms come back. So keep running until evening when pollen counts drop or you do. My lawyer says to say “not really.”

Alexandra: I have distracted many, many things over the years with “enough activity” yet have only dealt with grass allergies during soccer games. I sneezed every time the other team scored!  Since your allergy symptoms will increase as your running speed increases, you either need to distract your allergies by running slower (aka walking) or get a face mask. It would appear that even isolating yourself on a pollen and mold-free cruise ship wouldn’t necessarily solve your an allergic reaction, although you would suffer in style. Speaking of suffering in style, why don’t you just get a trendy spacesuit? Then you could run anywhere, in any season, any time of day? Just for the record, I have no actual medical degree, and therefore no idea why you are symptom-free during the worst time of the day for inhaling pollen. My fitness theory? You are out-running whatever the wind is blowing into your face. Sadly, this would mean keeping up or even increasing your running speed. This goes so far against my personal motto of “Why run when you can drive?” that I am having an allergic reaction to my own theory. I recommend you walk with Run…DMC that is.

K: On the days you still want to work out but your allergies are acting up, try either swimming or shifting to indoor cardio activities. Wear a flattering outfit so you can distract someone or something.

A: Lou, if you think you’ve got it bad, take a look at this poor little bear cub. He should not forage in the early hours:

Sneezing bear

Readers with allergies: What tricks do you use to minimize symptoms when you want to exercise but the air says “don’t breathe me now?”

Photo credit: Mike Tually – Creative Commons


2

Pain in the Butt–My Trainer That Is

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: K and A:

I went through some serious medical issues in the last 5 years. But now that I am able to, I would like to find my girlish figure that is hidden somewhere in here. I know it will take some hard work & commitment. But I’m ready. I met with a personal trainer. I told him my goal is to lose weight & get toned up. I thought cardio was good but P(ersonal) T(rainer) said it is only 10% to reach my goal. 40% is weight training or resistance training. And of course 50% is nutrition. He had me do some squats & sit ups on a ball. (poor ball) I’ve been sore for 3 days. I can’t afford the personal trainer. Plus I think he has it in for me… If I keep doing the things he has shown me will the pain subside??? Thanks for the help.

Susie, Las Vegas

K: So your girlish figure turned churlish on you and now it’s time to turn back? Fun and Fit like your attitude! First, let’s do some magic math. Assuming your girlish figure is hiding under some matronly (we could say “Rubenesque“) fat, I prefer 25% cardio, 25% resistance training, 50% good nutrition and 100% laughing along with Fun and Fit twice a week when we publish new posts. That adds up to rollicking times in and out of the gym!

Given your trainer budget, do cardio training on your own as often as feasible and tolerable. Avoid getting too hung up on numbers, including our magic ones above. Unless it’s a phone number of your girlish figure calling to say she wants to get together, then hang up. If you can afford the trainer a little while longer, make the investment in learning strength training as it will pay off. You can avoid more pain (and frustration) having a professional teach you upper body, lower body, and core exercises. If you cannot afford a trainer, hie thee hiney hence to group classes. So effective, so supportive, so affordable, so many ideas to keep you exercising!

A: Stop worrying about the pain as it will subside. Unless you live with Kymberly. Your muscles are adapting to the fact that you are asking them to pay rent after letting them mooch off you free for years. As long as the pain is not in your joints, you are fine. If your trainer is just the right combination of sadism and compassion, your muscles should be somewhat sore after every session! You wouldn’t pay him to let you lie in the sun would you? While we’re on the topic of numbers, I want to encourage you to pay less attention to your scale (at least for the first few months) and more attention to your clothing size. The speed at which you gain muscle strength (and mass) and lose fat is not exactly equal, so you might not enjoy the scale for a while. I mention this in a purely caring, I Hate Scales, kind of way.

As we are both group exercise instructors, we are mucho partial to that form of exercise. Read the class descriptions, choose one that does not have these words–advanced, extreme, high, super, energetic, or killer–and get in there. You can wear your baggiest shmatte so don’t worry about the clingy wear at all. Inform the teacher before class starts that you are a beginner. Say you are nervous. Say you want to be right in front so she or he can keep an eye on you. Allude ever so casually to your medical issues if they will affect your heart rate or ability to remain upright. Tell yourself you’ll do 20 minutes, then stay for 30. Let your teacher know with a smile and thumbs up that you are leaving early because you made it this far. We teacher types get nervous if we think people are leaving early so they can go pass out in the locker room. Oh, while you’re in the locker room, look in the mirror and say “Yay-ess! I did it. And will keep on doing it.” We have no idea what “it” is, but have gotten lots of entertainment out of seeing suckers students do this!

Pained Readers: Do you remember first starting out an exercise program? What do you recall about it? And do you like paintings by Rubens?

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