Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
You SAY you want to be more fit and active. You really MEAN to work out more. But somehow the days, weeks, months, dare we say “years” slip by and there you are — still intending to finally be more active but not actually doing much about it. Forget guilt, self-beratement, and worrying about having excuses that last longer than your most recent resolution.
(Like the chart I made? Please feel free to pin the heck out of it.)
If you could take a magic pill (yes, one that tastes good, has no side effect, costs nothing, and is small) that instantly gave you the body measurements you want for the rest of your life, would you swallow it if it meant never being able to exercise again?
Non-exercisers grab for the gusto with a hearty “heck yeah, I’d swig that pill down! And what do you mean when you say ‘able to exercise?’ Don’t you mean ‘HAVE to exercise’?”
Exercisers break into two camps: most say “hmmm, tough choice, but ultimately I’d pass as the other benefits of exercise outweigh simply looking good. No magic pill for me, gracias”
The second camp of exercisers tries to negotiate: “any chance I could take that magic pill AND still work out regularly? Then I’d get the best of all options.”
After I gave my response, I walked back into the gym and taught two more classes – one Drums Alive ; one strength training on the ball. Once I was done teaching, I started thinking further about her question. Although it was really probably a compliment with no answer expected, I did ponder it as a sort of research question. You know, in an anecdotal sense, as I haven’t done any research on myself (trying two cigarettes in 7th grade sort of counts as self-research I guess. I smoked the wrong end, as we were hiding in a dark basement, so couldn’t see. Turned it around, inhaled deeply, almost died from coughing. End of smoking career).
First, the answers I rejected as to the genesis of my energy:
* Genetically gifted
* Good luck
* Students are super listless, so I look energetic by comparison (though they do look a bit
like pale vampires peaked during mid-terms)
* I’m bionic
* Energizer batteries shoved up my … nope, that’s not it
* Optical illusion due to room lighting
* Crowd hypnosis
* Lots of caffeine (hahahah. I drink decaf coffee every few weeks, and think soda is evil)
Want to know what I told her? Three words: Exercise, Nutrition, and Willingness
Most non-exercisers will think, “Hey, wait just a sec. Exercise makes you tired, not energized. W.R.O.N.G. That is short-term thinking. In the long run (and 55 is the long run, I assure you), the cardiovascular system becomes more efficient when it is challenged with exercise. I’ve been teaching for over 30 years, plus I danced and played soccer before that, so even when I had anemia in my 20s, I still had lots of energy. This post we wrote with 7 of the top reasons people exercise will enlighten you. And this other post with the other top 7 reasons will make you smile. Or so we hope.
It’s probably an unfair match-up between my eating habits and my university students’ because they are part of a demographic famous for eating (to say it delicately) crap. I require them to eat a healthy breakfast, yet I don’t actually monitor their personal lives, nor am I all that sure that their definition of “healthy” matches mine, though I do
nag give them friendly advice about what constitutes a suitable breakfast prior to working out.
In our radio interview with personal trainer, author, and biologist Tamara Grand you can hear her excellent advice about clean eating for women over 40 (though her advice works for all ages).
I have taken her “tough love” advice about no longer being able to eat as I did in my younger years (due in part to estrogen and other hormones).
What the heck does this have to do with energy, and what do I mean by willingness? I really just mean attitude and being willing to do what it takes to be healthy and fit. I am not a of fan of the word “willpower” when it comes to moving and eating for health because it’s too easy to feel it’s a battle, and I don’t want to fight with myself. Trying to think succinctly, I’d say that I am pretty good at “If / Then” decisions. For example, I walk a lot. And when I walk I don’t actually like to sweat. But I think, “If I walk up the mountain road road for an hour, then I’ll have done my 10,000 steps (my daily goal) for the day.” Or “If I choose not to eat cookies or ice cream when I crave an evening snack, then I’ll be that much closer to my weight goal.” I think of the choices, then make conscious decisions. I essentially have a bargain with myself. Luckily, most of my bargains lead to a happy, energetic resolution!
I’m tempted to say, “Suck it, youngsters,” but I like my youngsters, and was once one myself. So I think I’ll just say, “Try to keep up. Maybe by the time you reach 55, you’ll have lots of energy too!”
For those of you above 40 (or know someone who is), do you have more energy now than you did then?
Please don’t get discouraged. Keep at it. Being stuck or slow at achieving your goals isn’t an issue of willpower, so don’t waste time berating yourself about a perceived lack of it. It may be an issue of willingness or need for skill development, which we talk about in our 5 Steps to Create Permanent Lifestyle Change.
According to Psychology Today, “approximately 50% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, most having to do with weight loss, eating healthier, improving finances, or getting a new job. But less than 10% successfully achieve their goals.” Hmmm, does that mean that the other 40% unsuccessfully achieve their goals? It would appear that ten common mistakes could be getting in the way, writes psychology professor Shawn Meghan Burn, Ph.D.
1. Forgetting Change Is a Process and Resolutions Are Only the Beginning
2. Making General Rather Than Specific Resolutions
3. Making Unrealistic Resolutions
4. Having A Half-Assed (or No) Specific Change Plan
5. Giving Up Too Quickly
6. Failing to Overcome Or Manage Ambivalence
7. Failing to Obtain Social Support & Identify Healthy Role Models
8. Failing to Address Emotional Issues That Sabotage Success
9. Failing to Address Environmental Issues That Sabotage Success
10. Adopting Simple Solutions Peddled By Unscrupulous Salespeople
How many of these have gotten in the way of your progress? I recognize several, with #4 being my particular issue. Maybe I need to get more “full-assed,” both metaphorically and literally. Maybe I need to do those 30 squats that the Moscow subway set up in exchange for a free ticket.
Anyhoo, let’s focus on the good news. The happy statisticians at the University of Scranton (tanget – my son had that as his 2nd choice university) discovered that “people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.” So be explicit!! Which should not be confused with illicit… or elicit. Look them up – they are definitely NOT interchangeable words.
Our dog has no qualms about reaching her exercise goals. Every afternoon she starts whining and giving me the “chin on lap sad eyes” trick that means it’s time for her walk. She doesn’t care if I had explicit or illicit goals – she just wants to move.
Now, two things occurred on Saturday that affected my specific plan to walk at least 10,000 steps every day. One – we had a major storm here in Santa Barbara, complete with flooding, one guy swept out into the ocean, property damage, and
freezing, Arctic, Canadian, polar vortex, unheard of, lower than usual temperatures in the (eek) 50s. Not so motivating. Two – I received an email from FitFluential about a March challenge to run, walk or hike 100 miles this month. That works out to under 10,000 steps a day, so I should be able to run, hike or walk that easily. Game on!
If you want to receive free info about challenges (with prizes), recipes, workouts, fun events, and motivational tips from some famous fit celebs, sign up for FitFluential. Put my or Kymberly’s name in the “How did you hear about FitFluential” section, as it leads to magic weight loss dust being sprinkled on us or something along those lines.
I called my sister, hoping she’d come walk the dogs at the beach with me so we could see what the storm hath wrought, but she was B.U.S.Y. which is really spelled L.O.S.E.R. According to #7 above, I failed to obtain social support. But wait, what is that whining I hear? The dog was volunteering to be my social support? Guilt won and we headed to the beach for what turned out to be a super amazing walk. Seaweed and sea foam everywhere. Sand and ocean detritus washed all the way up to the parking lot. New hidey holes created in the cliffs by the over-the-top high tide.
I have pondered what made me successful at getting my half-ass out the door, and came up with a few.
1. I have a dog. Yup, go get yourself a dog. You will walk a lot more.
2. Guilt. I knew the dog would be bummed. Yes, guilt is a success tip.
3. I really, really want to hit 10K steps every day. I’m competitive with myself.
4. I recognize that I already have good eating habits, and don’t want to eat less, so moving more is the key to shedding my last bit of holiday belly bobble. I like to move.
5. I wanted to see the beach after the storm. I cared more about that than walking.
Find whatever success triggers work for you and incorporate them. While we’re at it, make your resolutions behavior-based, not goal-based. And you don’t need to wait for January 2015 to change your behaviors. Now is good. Want to join me in doing 100 Miles in March? That way we can all be Awesome in April!
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1. THOSE people don’t have a secret; they have a habit. Just as you automatically brush your teeth and put on deodorant (we hope) each day, so can you do at least 5-10 minutes of exercise. It’s how you think about it. If you see it as a luxury, or extra, then it will get cut as your day fills up with stress and chores. If you think of it as part of your non-negotiable personal care regimen, it will stay in the schedule.
2. Hmmm, the truth is, #1 sort of covers it, but there are ways to get there. Make it easy to do. You don’t have to choose your toothbrush each morning; it’s right there on the sink. Easy peasy. So why spend 5 minutes deciding on an outfit for a quick walk or run (or group fitness class at the gym – our favorite)? Before you go to bed, pull out whatever is on top – socks, shoes, and workout clothes. Put them on top of your toothbrush. That way they’ll be calling to you, “Hey, we are the easiest thing here to put on. Go ahead, get dressed.”
3. Ask someone who supports you to phone you and remind you to get going. Not a text message – it’s too easy to say yes, then do no via text!! You know what I’m talking about! When you’re held accountable, it’s more likely you’ll follow through.
4. Put $7 in a jar at the start of the week. As soon as you are done with your workout for the day, take back $1. If you don’t work out, leave that dollar where it is. At the end of the week, any money in the jar goes to a charity you hate. Not one you like – one you hate!! It’s far easier to go for a quick walk around the block then it is to give money to an organization such as the Ku Klux Klan.
5. Watch the self-talk. Behind the obvious “I’m too busy right now,” is the unconscious belief that goes with it – “I’m being selfish if I leave the kids;” “People will think I’m lazy if I don’t do all the chores;” “I want people to like me, so I have to do all kinds of extra work at the holidays;” “It’s hard (or scary) to make a change” – these are all underlying beliefs that many of us have. If you thought “I don’t care about my health” instead of “I’m too busy,” that would seem weird, right? Sort of dissonant in your mind because of course you care about your health. If you find yourself thinking you’re too busy for even a 5 minute walk (and truthfully, once you actually get out the door, you’ll probably go longer), reword that to thinking you just don’t care about your health and see if you find that acceptable. Chances are you won’t. Self-talk is tricky, but not impossible to change once you realize what’s going on (psssst, self-talk is also a habit, which means it can be changed).
If you want more Healthy Holiday Motivation, click this link to read five additional tips.
What tips would you add to this list? And of course, once you add your comment, go do a few push-ups!
Photo credits: MorgueFile
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Back in 1983, I was invited by Kymberly to come to West Berlin and join her in teaching at a club that offered a new kind of program – aerobics! As we had grown up with dance and soccer, it sounded like an ideal way to travel and earn money.
Kymberly told me to take a few classes at the Jane Fonda Studio (I lived in L.A. at the time) so that I could figure out what the aerobics hoopla was all about. Besides learning some cardio moves and instructional tips, my forays to the Jane Fonda classes taught me a lot about spot poaching. People really like “their” spots in the group fitness room! But I digress.
When I flew to Berlin, my sis spent the week giving me teaching tips so I’d be ready for my first class. The two that really stuck with me were, “If you forget what comes next, do eight more of whatever you’re currently doing,” and “Smile and make eye contact.” I still use those tips on the instructors I mentor and train.
Thanks to her, I got to live and work in Berlin, including a stint on the U.S. military’s TV channel there, demonstrating exercises. If only Kymberly and I had owned video cameras back then!!
When I got back to the States, I taught aerobics as a way to make money while I studied Russian at San Diego State University. What started as a side job then turned into a 30-year (and still going strong) career. When IDEA Health and Fitness Association needed fitness writers, my sister recommended me, and I’ve now had hundreds of articles published (and am an editor too). I’ve traveled to many parts of the world as a fitness leader, and met thousands of active, happy people. Even better, I’ve met thousands of inactive people who became active once they found how much joy and energy they got from moving and exercising. More importantly, my boys have spent their entire lives as part of an active family that values health. They see movement and good nutrition as normal.
If Kymberly hadn’t talked me into moving to Berlin, I doubt I would have become an instructor. Upon reflection, it’s funny how one seemingly minor decision led to an entire lifestyle. I live #FitClean.
Remind me to tell you some of the funny stories about Alexandra learning to cue aerobics in German. Or the time I borrowed her workout gear without asking for one of the TV episodes she was not in. Oops – forgot she planned to watch the show.
Anyway, my fitness inspiration is my mom. Growing up in the 60’s in Hermosa Beach, CA was a lot of fun and the decade we got a black and white TV. But that inspir-poopy mom of ours limited our tv time to two hours … per WEEK! From a list of approved shows. What’s a baby boomer girl to do with only 4 siblings, a big front and back yard, a ping pong table, and a trampoline when she can’t watch the telly? Why, play and fight outdoors of course!
Our mom taught modern and performance dance when we were young. Twice a week she would take us all with her to the dance studio, where we’d join in the classes and productions. That meant we also rehearsed at home, made up dances for each other, and generally leapt about the house with dramatic flair and em-PHA-sis. Always moving, always moving.
As well, mom (and dad) encouraged us all to play sports. Keep in mind this was pre-Title IX when sports did not really exist much for girls. Heck, girls had to wear dresses or skirts to our elementary school — no pants or shorts allowed. In a family with four girls and one boy (the baby, poor thing), my mom was quite progressive for her time. She instilled in us a confidence and belief that girls could do everything boys could do, both academically and athletically. When AYSO (American Soccer Youth Organization) FINALLY formed the first ever girls’ soccer teams, my parents enrolled Alexandra, our younger sister, and me lickety split. Around then, my mom went back to college to get a Master’s Degree in Dance (the first of a few advanced degrees). So you can see that she valued movement. Or time away from a passel of kids. We’ve always wondered.
Never once did she nag any of us about our weight, though she did have strict rules about food. No sodas, max of one piece of candy per day (Two after Halloween. Whoo hoo! Live it up!), no sugary cereals (“Please let us have Captain Crunch or Sugar Pops, please!), dessert only after dinner. Mom herself was never on a diet, nor did I ever hear her express dissatisfaction with her own body. The focus was on how our bodies moved and functioned, not how they looked. Only in hindsight do I realize she was an anomaly among her peers in that she had no eating or weight issues.
When I left for Berlin after college, ultimately teaching at the first aerobics studio on the European continent, my mom gave me great advice: “Have a wonderful time; make lots of memories; be open to new things; find many adventures; don’t fall in love and stay abroad!”
Yup, even though she’d miss me, she supported my going far away — first learning to teach fitness, then training new instructors throughout the world. But I heard my mom’s message – move across the globe, move to music, move others to move. Then come back to the States!
Our mom just celebrated her 84th birthday. Guess how? She drove herself to her weekly acting class followed by her twice weekly aqua aerobics class. I think it was the two birthday cakes that inspired her. She does have a sweet tooth these days. She’s earned it! Thanks mom for inspiring me to be active all my life!
Who inspires you to live #FitClean?
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Why am I excited about State of Slim and the authors’ advice for permanent weight loss when I have poo-poohed or ignored so many others of its ilk? (Did I really just say “ilk?” Go me!) First, I had the fun and fortune to meet Dr. Hill and Dr. Wyatt in person when I attended last year’s FitSocial conference at the brand new, jaw dropping Anschutz Health and Wellness Center where they were both presenters. Second, I just got back from this year’s FitSocial event where Dr. Hill served as keynote speaker on the subject for which he is the leading world authority: Obesity.
When high-level researchers and academics bring evidence-based, hot off the treadmills, cutting edge info direct to fitness bloggers like me, I get a nerdy, intellectual groupie thaaang goin’ on. If you have weight loss goals, then take my advice to take Dr. Hill’s advice. For one, he and Dr. Wyatt focus minimally on what causes our nation’s obesity. (Though, believe me, they have years of data to list how we got into fat trouble). Instead they put their efforts towards what actually works for successful weight losers. Or more importantly — weight loss sustainers.
Depending whether you are in weight loss or weight maintenance mode, you have specific, clear steps to take. And those steps are backed up with a lot more than a gimmick or celebrity testimonial. Their extensive research reveals that Step One is to answer these questions:
Write down a few motivators or key desires now. Or share in the comments below. Feel free to overshare even! Make your list as long, short, ungrammatically incorrect as you like, but do some self-reflection to come up with your “whys.” You will have times when an oversized portion of yummy deliciousness beckons like Precious in Lord of the Rings. My precious. My precious. (Ok, kind of creepy if you think about it.) Or the warmth of your snuggly blankets feels sooo much better than springing up to work out early. In snow. Or dark, Or uphill. Both ways. You need to invoke your purpose motivator mojo if you want to join the ranks of successful losers.
As Dr. Denise McGuire reinforced in her talk at FitSocial 2013 on Making Lifestyle Changes, “Be clear about your motivation if you want to make a life change. 95% of diets don’t work long term. And fewer than 20% of the people in a problem population are truly ready for change.” If you are wanting a healthier, happier, leaner body for life, you need to have reasons that are meaningful and powerful for YOU.
Don’t fret about whether your reasons are internally motivated — you want to explore the world when you retire — or externally driven — you want to look HAWT in your new travel outfit. No worries either if your purpose or whys shift over time. The point is to start with whatever gets and keeps you going now. You can revise your purpose as you go if needed. As Dr. Hill pointed out in his talk, the single greatest challenge to keeping lost weight off is staying motivated. Losing weight is hard. Keeping it off is harder. Even harder yet is being obese or overweight.
Kymberly is showing proper respect for Dr. HIll and her blue Lorna Jane Activewear top!
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Alexandra is away presenting at a conference. That tells me to whip out some photos I took, add some interesting scoop from our vast files of saved fitness tidbits, and make posting life easy on myself. Then I will go for a walk!
Every season is a good time to fit in a walk. Are you surprised that people accumulate more walking steps in fall than in spring? Then you might also be surprised to learn that a Walk is as Good As a Run (Go ahead and click that link. Just come back here when done.)
A one hour power walk can extend your life span up to two hours. Keep walking … another 112 years. While you’re out there, read this post on Great Gait: 7 Steps to Better Walking
“A vigorous walk can do more good for an unhappy person than all the medicine in the world.” Do you agree or disagree?
Getting the idea to walk then sleep? Perk up; Drop off; Lose weight. Works for me! If you want more images with motivational quotes, click over to our post, Quotes to Move You.
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Photos: I took the above photos at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort, Tecate, MX and in Santa Barbara, CA where the sun shines summer, winter, fall, and spring.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
No doubt you are inspired by more than wanting to look good or have a 6-pack, or lose weight. Even with those goals, what happy thing happens once you achieve them? We were posed with this question and had to think a moment.
Actually, we had the question posed a different, more fun way: “What is on your Fitness Bucket List?” That sounds more enticing, right? So tell us – what’s in your bucket? Does your list include performing certain exercise feats? For example, do you want to:
Or would you put activities on your bucket list that you would enjoy once you are more fit? For instance, sky dive (let’s just state here and now for the record that neither of us has that particular goal. Hurl! But you might!). Or you’d tackle that hiking trail over the mountains and through the woods? Maybe you have a plan to travel the world and haul your own luggage or backpack as soon as you get stronger. (We like the plan that offers bellpersonage service, frankly).
Now if you are wondering about OUR Fitness Bucket List, why thanks! Don’t mind if we do share! We worked up Pinterest boards entitled “Fitness Bucket List.” I know, we got all creative and wacky on you there! To be accurate, the CEO of FitFluential,* Kelly Olexa challenged us to create such a board. And we take doubledown dares as we are double time twins!
Alexandra: It took me a while to start my list, because I feel like I’m mostly doing what it is I like to do already, but I do love walking and travel, so I really want to go to various places in the world and walk. I love walking in the mountains, the city, country trails, along the beach, almost anywhere. Not hiking and camping – bleech. I hate camping. I love walking. And I’d really love to learn the Dougie from our First Lady Michelle Obama. And anything that involves disco would be on my list too. Maybe a lesson on dancing the entire scene from “Saturday Night Fever” that John Travolta did to “You Should Be Dancing.” If I could memorize that routine and do it that well I’d be pretty happy.
Kymberly: If you have followed our blog for any time you will not be shocked to hear that my numero uno dream is for us to be the first twins on Dancing With the Stars. And not the first twins to be eliminated either! I also recognized how much I enjoy water sports such as paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling – as long as the water is warm and calm. This is one area Alexandra and I totally differ as A-twin re-enacts the melting scene from Wizard of Oz when she gets near water. Another huge item on my list is for medical technology to make strides and find a way to give me back the knee joints I had in my twenties. Aaaaaah, to run and jump again with ease and freedom!
Once you make your list or create a Pinterest Fitness Bucket board, you will notice something veeeeerrrry interesting – themes and trends reveal themselves. At least for us, they did. Give it a whirl. Then tell us all about it in the comments below. We’re waiting! Impatiently.
* Oy vay – an asterisk to track. Such calorie burning work we’re asking of you. FitFluential is a continentwide network of fitness enthusiasts sharing their journey both online and off via multiple social media platforms. Take a peek-see and maybe even join. You’ll get access to a great community, good info, discounts, jetsam, flotsam, and lots of motivation.
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
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?
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?
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!)
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?”