Instead of speaking generally, I’ll give a specific case example. I have a 65-year-old friend, Barbara*. She has diabetes, insomnia, low arm muscle tone (related to a shoulder injury & surgery), is overweight by about 20 pounds, and has forward head thrust. Oh, she also complains of snoring, but wants to avoid wearing a CPAP machine to bed (recommended by her doctors after a sleep study for the insomnia). Her eating habits consist mostly of fast food and restaurant food.
For two months, she has talked about the things she “should” do, yet not much has changed. When she started talking to me, I listened for any recent relevant successes. As it turned out, she had lost about 35 pounds over the past few years. With a background in fitness, food and counseling, you’d think I could just say, “do X, Y, and Z and you’ll be fine.” Well, I COULD say that, but would she listen? Would you?
Keeping in mind she’s my friend, NOT my client, I’m somewhat limited, yet she truly is motivated. So I think like a pro and friend, by staying as non-judgmental as possible (that’s diplomatic talk for me trying to keep my mouth shut regarding unsolicited advice).When trying to lead a healthier life, small changes are best because... Click To Tweet
Focus on one issue at a time
Put related issues together
Mention possible small changes
Create an environment that leads to success
Pat, Slap, Pat (totally non-counselorish phrase for Compliment, Correct, Compliment)
Find opportunities to celebrate small successes
Lay out a clear picture of what success looks like – can’t reach a goal if you don’t know what it is
Try to solve all the issues at once
Be a saboteur
Expect the person to do what YOU would do
I realized fairly quickly that Barbara’s main focus is the insomnia and snoring, even more than getting off the diabetes medicine. Me, I’d want to be off the daily shots for the diabetes, but that’s ME, not her. She doesn’t like being reminded about pulling her head back, so the forward head thrust is out of the equation for now. She also has shown little inclination to work out, so the arm strength is also set aside. The good news for her is that the cure for the insomnia and snoring is going to help her diabetes and weight too.
These are a few of the changes that she’s made:
She said she wanted to walk her dog, yet that wasn’t happening. Instead of nagging her to walk the dog, I asked what it was she didn’t like about walking the dog. She said it was boring to walk the same neighborhood day after day. Solution: We meet at different places in town and walk the dog. Side benefit: She is discovering places in town that she had never visited, and her dog barks less at night because he’s sleeping better too.
She said she wanted to eat better by eating fewer meals (skipping breakfast, to be specific). Research doesn’t back up this plan, but I know very few people who change their habits when they read research, so instead I went shopping with her and helped her pick out foods she would actually eat. Solution: She found cereals she liked and has taught herself to read labels to watch for the sugar content (for the diabetes). Side benefit: She is no longer driving through fast food places mid-morning to satiate her hunger, so the type and amount of calories she’s eating have changed for the better.
She knows that exercise leads to weight loss, which leads to a decrease in snoring and helps her sleep better, yet she wasn’t doing any exercise. She’s a social person, so I invite her to join me on dog walks and other walking opportunities. For example, she’s so used to driving everywhere, that’s it’s a habit for her to jump into her car for even a short distance. We were headed somewhere that’s about a quarter mile from my house, so I suggested we walk. Solution: She’s starting to look at walking as a way to get from place to place, rather than as forced exercise. By simply “interrupting” her unconscious habit of jumping into the car, she now sees walking as an alternative mode of transport. Side benefit: She has noticed the correlation between the exercise and how she sleeps, and has come to realize that it’s actually cause and effect.
She is a kindhearted person who likes to be a good friend. We were going out to restaurants far more than is my usual style, and I found I was eating more than I normally would. When I expressed concern about this, she wanted to be helpful to me. She isn’t a doggie bag person; her mindset is more toward “clean your plate.” Thinking of “Pat, Slap, Pat,” I said, “I love going out to eat and trying new foods. This lifestyle won’t work for me in the long run, as I’m sitting too long and eating too much” (way better than saying, “You eat out way too often,” which sounds judgy). “Could we swing by the ready-made section of the grocery store and pick up some lunch there instead?” If I had suggested cooking at home, she would not have been successful at reducing her restaurant visits, since she doesn’t cook. Solution: She is looking more to the grocery store as a place for portion control and choice. Side benefit: She now has more time for those dog walks, as she’s spending less time sitting in a restaurant.
I gave her a card for her wallet that lists her goals, but that was a total bust, as she never looks at it. And I discovered that chocolate shakes are non-negotiable for her, so I stopped rolling my eyes. She has a sweet tooth, so I have to work WITH, not AGAINST it. How? I offer fruit in vanilla yogurt to her, which sometimes (not always) satisfies her sugar craving. And isn’t fruit two times out of ten better than candy bars ten out of ten? Maybe she’ll get to five times fruit and five times chocolate bars. But that might be enough to beat the diabetes.
Oh, I got her hooked on Bolthouse Vanilla Chai instead of the caffeinated energy drinks and sodas she was drinking. THAT is a big success.
What is the one small thing you can do? Write it in the comments below so we can steal your ideas.
Alexandra Williams, MA
One very small thing you can do is subscribe to our twice-weekly posts, just by entering your email right over there ——->
Photo credit for “To Do” – Courtney Dirks
It was a dark and gluten-free night… and sis and I were deciding whether to attend all four days of the annual IDEA World Fitness Convention. Then (thunder sound inserted here), what should happen but a knock at the email!!! Our buddies from Attune Foods invited us to help out at their booth, sharing the goodness that is their cereal.
Saying yes to being at the booth meant we got to talk about (and eat) their Uncle Sam Original and their newest cereal, Uncle Sam Rye & Hemp, which meant we know for a fact that these two have only four ingredients, and sugar isn’t one of them, which plays nicely to my love of healthy foods that make my body healthy, leading to increased brain power that allows me to channel my inner Faulkner and have fun writing one very long sentence!
In other words, it was the start of a weekend with a focus on the relationship between our minds, bodies, and good nutrition. As anyone who has tried to lose weight can tell you, the mind controls the body. When it comes to food, our bodies are a result of what our mind thinks, believes, assumes and creates. Luckily, our minds are malleable! Ponder and assimilate, grasshoppers, ponder and assimilate. In shorthand – P&A.
* If we want to attract healthy relationships, we must be healthy
* Our relationship to food and how we eat reflects how we live, so eat mindfully
* Every thought we have becomes our physical self
* Our thoughts release chemicals into our bodies. When we change our thoughts, we change our physiology
* When you are stressed, put away the utensils and eat with your hands; preferably outdoors
* If you are feeling depressed, eat raw cashews first thing in the morning
* Chronic disease isn’t because we are old; it’s simply the late onset of all the stuff we’ve done to our bodies up to that point
* How old would you be if you didn’t know your chronological age? That is how old your body thinks you are
* The people who live longest are those who are most flexible and adaptable. This includes eating for health, not chemical pleasure. Adapt your diet to increase your longevity
* Organic food is better for your health than cleanses, as your digestive system already renews itself every 3-4 days
* Physically you have a new body every 7-10 years, so it’s not too late to change your eating habits
* Your chronological age does two things – gets you beer and discounts. It’s your biological and psychological age you should focus on
* To improve your digestive system, eat 2 tablespoons of raw, unfermented sauerkraut every day
* Gluten and casein are the two most common causes of inflammation
* You will be healthier eating junk food with someone you like than eating healthy food with someone you don’t
* Medications can help, yet be aware that they silence the symptoms. Meditation can help silence the thoughts that led to the symptoms
* Use food to harmonize, not demonize, your mind, body, and soul
All the above tips come from Teri Mosey, who has the most unique combination of degrees – a
Bachelor’s in Biochemistry, Master’s in Exercise Physiology, and PhD in Holistic Nutrition.
* Keep a food diary
* Be aware of hunger
* Step self-sabotaging thoughts
* Build resilience
* Be aware of how you eat when alone vs with others
* Read the label before eating
* Take time to enjoy your food
* Turn off distractions
* Consciously tense up your muscles, then relax them when you’re about to make a poor food choice
* Look at pictures of happy events when tempted to stress eat
* Don’t make it personal. You are not good or bad according to what you eat; you are undergoing a process of change
Did you know that the ONLY food directly related to pediatric obesity is sweetened beverages! Back away from the soda (and check those energy and replenish drinks too).
These tips are from Michelle Murphy Zive, MS, RD, and Principal Investigator: Network for a Healthy California.
I came away from the convention with a renewed respect for my body, especially after tear duct surgery on both eyes. I’d say I had a determined look in my eye, but that was actually the swelling. My eyes might not have been working, but my taste buds were, and I came away from the convention with a few boxes of Attune cereal. Scooooore!
Back-To-School Rebook Sale
Until this Sunday August 18, Reebok.com is kicking off the Reebok Friends & Family Sale! The Friends & Family Sale is one of Reebok’s biggest sales of the year, so make sure to take advantage of this great offer and get 30% off your entire order by using the code FF30 through Sunday if you’re in the market for fitness apparel or shoes.
Reebok has also marked down some of the hottest apparel and footwear in their Sale Section including Classic leather and Zigs in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes! Men’s, women’s and kid’s hoodies, jackets, shorts, sports bras, and t-shirts are on sale too! We thought the sale was a good deal so we’re sharing it!
Your event needs education, motivation, and fit-ucation? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email email@example.com.
Grab a fruit smoothie and head on over to our YouTube channel to view short videos that will improve your fitness! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on Google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.
I recently won a free blood test from WellnessFX. The cool part? It included a consultation with a registered dietitian.
Maybe your reaction is, “Big deal. I get my blood drawn once a year during my physical.” Yes, but does your doctor actually take 20 minutes to explain what the results mean? And does your doc then make dietary suggestions? Aha, that’s the bonus.
I exercise quite a lot and take no prescription drugs, so I chose the RD for my consultation. But I could have chosen from their list of medical doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths or naturopathic doctors.
I drove to Ventura, California, for the blood draw, and was in and out in 15 minutes. A few days later I received my results, which of course, were only vaguely comprehensible to me (I do know how to read the cholesterol and iron bit, but that’s about it). The results categories were red, orange and green. I was green in nearly every category, which is the good color!
No magic here – the green is a result of exercise and a healthy diet (portion size and food selection). The only result of concern was my LDL – low density lipoprotein. That’s the bad cholesterol. For this, I blame my parents, as there’s a genetic component. I’m not a big ice cream or milk person, but I cook and bake with butter. So even though I don’t use a lot of it, during our consultation the RD still suggested I substitute olive or canola oil when possible. I’m putting her recommendations here because they are good ideas for everyone to consider:
Use unsaturated fats (olive oil, canola oil) in place of saturated fats (butter) when cooking.
Limit amount of butter added to food (1-2 teaspoons).
Avoid Trans Fats (hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil) often found in regular peanut butter, packaged baked goods, and fast food.
She said my elevated bilirubin could be related to my self-reported high stress levels. Even though I do lots of exercise, I also have a lot of financial stress (anyone else paying out-of-state university fees?) and constant work deadlines. So I’ll consider yoga (probably won’t happen), more walks (probably will happen), or going to bed earlier (probably won’t happen).
Luckily the RD didn’t push me to take a bevy of supplements, as that wouldn’t be me, but she did suggest Omega-3 fish oil, which makes sense for someone who’s a vegetarian and over 50 (which I may or may not be)! Because I’m very picky, I went with the softgels from Pure Matters, a company that puts it right out there in their mission statement: “Our bodies and lives are the product of what we put into them. Our goal is to be the most transparent and holistic source for wellness and performance available.”
Whenever I remember that my body and life reflect my choices, it’s fairly easy to walk away from poor foods.
I wrote this post to encourage all of you to stay on top of your health. Get your blood checked. Move your carcass. Eat foods that are friendly to your body. Take supplements as needed. And be kind to those idiots who drive under the speed limit on a one-lane mountain pass when you’re late to work. Yeah, still working on that one…
Speaking of winners (me and you), have you entered our giveaway yet for a free one-year membership to Anytime Fitness? The deadline is 17 January, so get your entries in!
I was not compensated for this post. I was provided with the Omega-3 fish oil tablets from Pure Matters at no cost. All opinions, blood, stress and youthfulness are entirely my own!
You can get even more great health and movement tips by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Click now on the icons above or below. We make it easy to share, subscribe and have fun exercising!
Photo credits: CreativeCommons.org: Debs (ò?ó)? (tomato heart)
We were once asked (really? just once?) if we were aware our jokes are corny. And prior to an interview the other day we were sent this potential interview question: “Your writing style is quite casual and humorous. Do you feel this unique approach resonates with your readers? Are you ever concerned it could affect your credibility?”
My answers are “sort of”, “maybe” and “it depends”. Growing up as a red-headed, freckled, smart, four-eyes (this term I’ve never quite understood – how can my glasses have eyes?), nail-biting, socially unconfident, flat-chested twin (am I missing anything here?), it didn’t take me past the first nap of kindergarten to realize that humor was the only thing that could save me (and getting cleavage and contact lenses as a teen). Since research has shown that humor can help with:
I figure I’m okay with corny, since it makes us all cohesive, and that’s the sticky tape that holds us all together.
As to the casual, credibility question, I guess I think you don’t have to be serious to be taken seriously. After more than 25 years as fitness writers, speakers, presenters, teachers, mentors and even award-winners, we hope people will see value in what we write. Even if that doesn’t happen, we still made you healthier if you laughed at stuff like this:
Yeah, I’m a Healthy Hottie! I’m going to live a long time. I’ve already achieved my dream – embarrassing the heck out of my teens just by existing (and talking about my 80s and 90s workout wear). And while I’m living longer, it will be with less stress, more relaxation, zapped up dopamine and endorphins, and less pain.
Okay, did any of you ever see the movie “The In-Laws” with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk? The year that movie came out I had 4 wisdom teeth pulled. When I was coming out of the anesthesia, I got off my recovery bed, wandered into the operating room, asked where the party was, then went outside and tried to re-enact the “serpentine” maneuver. It’s here for your reference:
I believe I was captured and returned to the recovery room by my mom, who laughed her ass off. Was it a humorous outlook that made my brain override the pain of the surgery? What else could it have been, hmm?
For the record, I was wearing regular clothes, not an open gown. That was probably best, since my re-enactment was in a public parking lot. Also for the record, my #1 favorite topic is Clive Owen. Or Colin Firth. Or my kids. Depends on a variety of hormonal factors; theirs and mine!
Humor also has cognitive and emotional benefits, which I interpret to mean that if I have writer’s block on a post such as this, I can just grin away and inspiration and creativity will come to me. Or I’ll just bite my nails for a while. Oh, even if you’re not feeling overly joyful, pasting a fake smile on actually tricks your brain, so you get some health benefits anyway. I’ll wait while you try it.
Did it work?
This post is part of a bloggers’ challenge. If you want to participate, just write a post between May 13-19 about a women’s health issue that is meaningful to you, then click on the picture below to link it up. Please feel free to leave your link in our comment section below too!
And smile! Or frown and stand on your head. Either way you’ll get healthier! And you do know that exercise makes you happier, right?
What makes you laugh out loud? Smile quietly to yourself?
The link via “glasses” is to our affiliate Warby Parker. If you buy something (please do), we make enough money for some lens cleaner.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: Great questions! Do the activities you enjoy as those are the ones you will stick with. The main equipment I suggest is the right pair of shoes. Get what’s comfortable, workout-specific, and durable. The most expensive shoes are usually over-engineered. We are not fans of the rocker type shoes for indoor workouts. For now, do not worry about the heart rate monitor (what you saw Emily wearing in her posts).
My approach for beginning exercisers has always been to simply get out there and exercise as often as you can, as long as you can, as hard as you can. I am not big on counting burned calories since getting consistent, reliable feedback can be frustrating and demotivating when starting out. Nor do I necessarily suggest a time limit unless it’s for short bursts–pushing yourself hard for X seconds or minutes. More important at this stage is to create workout habits.
Alexandra: Since you already know you enjoy dancing, and you’ve found a class and joined a gym, I think the only remaining thing to do is make a specific plan. Mark it in your calendar. And list it as an appointment, not a class. People tend to keep appointments!
We wish you were in Santa Barbara, as we absolutely LOVE students like you: motivated, great attitude, and wishing to lead a healthy life. Here are our mega-amazing tips, and we hope you write them down:
I could make a long list and frighten the hoo-ha out of you, but that about covers it. Of course, the unspoken question is your food intake. You will probably want to assess that too: what type of food and how much are you eating?
Kymberly: Experience compels us to say that the fewer RULES, REQUIREMENTS, and “SHOULDS” that you place between you and working out, the happier and more successful you will be in reaching your goals. Just move, move more, move a lot. Then come back for more fine-tuning advice.
We hope some of our previous posts will be helpful:
All Sizes Welcome
Be Your Body’s Best Friend
The “Best” Cardio Workout
Alexandra: Once you’ve established a routine for your dance/ cardio class, consider adding strength training. You’ll lose weight faster that way. If that advice sounds overwhelming, come back to this part later.
Hope this all helps. Keep us posted on your progress. Or move to Santa Barbara and take our classes!
Readers Who Have Been Where Cassie Is: What is your advice?