Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Five Ways You Might Be Messing Up Your Goals (And Five Fixes)

In the over 20 years I've been a trainer, I've seen a lot of mistakes that have prevented people from reaching their health and fitness goals.  Here are some of the more common ones.  Recognize yourself?

"I'm going to stop (insert bad habit here) for one month!"  Awesome.  But what happens after one month?  Here's the problem:  if you set an end date for stopping bad habits (or starting good ones), and then you go back to it after that date, has it really done you all that much good?  I have had several clients through the years who have declared that they are cutting out alcohol, pot, junk food, etc for a set period of time, with no intentions of quitting for good.  And for that period of time, they do great.  Once it's done, they start again.  And then they regain the problems that came along with the bad habit, and it's back to business as usual until they take another break from it.  It's Yo-yo Habiting.

The fix:  If you want to quit a bad habit or start a good one, don't give yourself a time limit for it.  Just do it.  Embrace it.  And don't go back.

Buying junk food "for the kids."  First of all, you know you're going to eat it if it's in the house.  Second of all, why is it not OK for you to eat it, but perfectly OK for your kids to eat it?

The fix:  Stop buying junk.  Adopt a household healthy eating policy, and teach your kids that healthy foods can be awesome.

Not making time to move.  Most of us have, either by necessity or not, adopted an extremely sedentary lifestyle that is also so packed with work/obligations that exercise falls to the wayside.  Unfortunately, the more you sit, the higher your disease and mortality risk appears to be. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

The fix:  You have five minutes, right?  I don't care how busy you are.  You have five minutes here and there.  Do something physical for five minutes in the morning, five minutes in the afternoon, five minutes in the evening.  There.  That's 15 minutes.  Now, how about you walk up escalators, park a little further away, take stairs whenever the option is there?  How about taking phone calls walking?  Going over to your co-workers' desk instead of calling them?  Having walking meetings?  Maybe getting a standing desk? What if you set an alarm on your computer to go off every half hour or so, got up, and did 10 quick deep knee bends or pushups?  What if you used some of your TV time to take a walk, go biking, swing a kettlebell, dance like no one's watching?  There are a lot of ways to sneak exercise into your life, no matter how busy you may be.  Write it in your schedule if that's the only way you can do it.  But do it.

Forgetting the veggies. If I've told you once, I've told you a million times-- eat your veggies!!!  They provide a myriad of incredibly healthy benefits for a very low caloric load, and they are filling and delicious.

The fix: If you're not eating veggies because you're just not in the habit, make it a point to include them with every meal.  If your problem is that you don't like vegetables, it's time to get over it.  Put spinach and sprouted broccoli in your sandwiches.  Make soup.  Blend them up into shakes.  Make green lemonade.  Grind lots of leafies into pesto.  There has to be at least one way you'll eat them.  Find it.  It's worth it.

"I don't cook."  I meet a lot of people who say their diet suffers because they don't cook.

The fix:  There are basically three ways you can fix this.  1) learn to cook.  2) hang out with someone who cooks, and get them to cook you lots of healthy things.  3) order healthier.  Skip the white breads, the pasta dishes, the white rice, the fried foods, the fast foods.  Ask for extra vegetables, and that they not be fried or covered in butter or other weird sauces.  Remember that just because it says "salad" does not mean it's healthy.  If you're getting a salad, make sure it has a lot of different kinds of vegetables in it (iceberg lettuce is barely a vegetable, IMHO), and skip the croutons/won ton strips/taco shells/tortilla strips and the creamy dressings (stick with extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar whenever possible).  Make sure the majority of your plate is vegetables, whatever you order.  If you do meat, stick with grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish.  If it says "crispy" or "creamy" (or Krispy Kreme), stay away.  And remember just because you're out doesn't mean you have to order the dessert or overindulge on the alcohol.

Hope you found this to be helpful.  How do you get in your own way, and how do you think you can fix it?  Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!

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