Feel Better Fit

Feel Better Fit

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Science Of Forming A Habit

How are habits formed? How long does it take to establish them? It takes only three weeks to train the body into a new habit or thought pattern. That’s right! Repeating a behavior for twenty one days will establish a new “habit”. After that, the body will not have to make a concentrated effort to follow through. Hence the name for this blog - 21 days

Here's the scientific basis of the 21 day theory:

From the Aristotle blog:

"Dr Maxwell Maltz wrote the bestseller Psycho-Cybernetics.
Originally a Plastic Surgeon, Maltz noticed that it took
21 days for amputees to cease feeling phantom sensations
in the amputated limb. From further observations he found
it took 21 days to create a new habit. Since then the '21
Day Habit Theory' has become an accepted part of self-help

Brain circuits take engrams (memory traces), and produce
neuroconnections and neuropathways only if they are
bombarded for 21 days in a row. This means that our brain
does not accept 'new' data for a change of habit unless
it is repeated each day for 21 days (without missing a day)."

This quote is referenced from a blog that is no longer online - http://www.aristotle.co.nz/library/series.aspx?seriesId=61

However, Maxwell Maltz book is available from Amazon. I found this quote on the blog entitled A Secret of Transformation:
"the 21 day concept comes from Maxwell Maltz MD, who wrote a mega-successful book in 1960 called ‘Psycho-Cybernetics.’ This book was a pivotal influence on many self-help gurus, and one reviewer on amazon says: “This book effectively condenses the entirety of the self-help field.”" Italics added

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

21 Days Update - The Start of Something Much Bigger

My 21 Day challenge and this blog began on Valentine's Day, February 14th, 2010. It's been 4 1/2 weeks, 32 days. Although I expected to start a good habit, I had no idea the magnitude of positive impact it would have on me. Every area of my life seems to have started an overhaul of spring cleaning! My work, my relationships, my home, my health, my emotions and my spirituality have been super charged with confidence and energy.

I didn't realize this at first. Truth be told, I was a little worried because my original "habit" started to change and transform but the transformation was for the better! As I added the strength training, it was with an attitude of "slow and easy". Surprisingly, I've done much better than I expected and have not only kept jogging while adding the strength training, but have raised the bar a bit.

The fire was lit. Many things were changing for the good but the most important change and the one that empowered all the others was a sense of confidence and determination to "Better My Life" by taking care of me! When we commit to making our needs a priority, we find other areas of our life begin to transform for the better. It requires a little bit of "selfishness" or so it seems, but ultimately what we do for ourselves, if reasonable, starts a fire that warms others. We begin to see the potential of a future harvest for the seeds of personal growth we have sown.

For me it started a few days before the 21 Days Jog/Blog started. I sat up in bed one day and said, "I want to feel alive again!" "I've been struggling with too many things for too long." So I thought back to a time when I felt better and I seriously considered what elements had changed in my life. I realized that I had not been making my choices with strength and power as I had in the past. My fire had gone out and my confidence was under attack continually. In my pathetic state, the "strong me" inside was trying to get out and the "scared me" was getting in the way! I HAD to do something. I wasn't going to give up until I felt "Alive" again! So, calling on my spirituality, I stepped out in faith and with much prayer and determination, set out to uncover and "spring clean" areas in my life that were out of sync.

My health and fitness were formerly at the top of the priority list and that's where they have been returned to! The biggest factor in all this is my faith that if I am doing what I should be, everything will work out right. "Right" isn't necessarily what we expect, but if we change our perspective to one of "watch and wonder" what will happen next then God's grace will be sufficient!

A few days after this decision to "get back my old fire", I visited my daughter who suggested that I start writing a fitness blog. As she pointed out, "Mom, you can only help a small number of people, as a personal trainer, but think about how many people you can reach online with your knowledge and experience!" And so began this venture.

Listen to the "still small voice" within you. It takes some effort! It may require delving into areas you would prefer to avoid. It may require saying "no" to some things and saying "yes" to some others. It will not necessarily be all good and fun. Will power must be enlisted for positive change to take place. Put up the fight against discouragement. Take a stand to be a better you! Stand in the confidence that your determination will pay off not only for you personally but for everyone in your path!

Nothing worth having comes without an effort!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Improve Your Will Power Management!

Will Power is like a muscle, in that, exerting it reduces capacity for use temporarily. On psychologytoday.com, Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D. Associate professor of psychology at Carleton University, reports that multiple tests show participants ability to utilize willpower diminishes after a trying task.

Is it possible that the brain, like a muscle requires a period of recovery? What does this mean in practical application? How does this affect our ability to improve our diet or stick to an exercise regimen?

Establishing a habit requires will power. Much like physical energy output, the degree of the effort one can muster may be limited, especially if other areas in life are requiring self regulatory effort simultaneously. When making healthful living changes, the best choice is to keep them simple and realistic.

Small changes require less will power allowing us to see them through until they become mindless habits. Once established, willpower is no longer required and we can focus on the task of developing a new healthful change. More difficult tasks, like adhering to a new exercise regimen can be accomplished by utilizing all available resources. Limit your necessary output of self regulation by joining a group or hiring a trainer. Until the habit is firmly established, reduce outside stressors that may zap your will power supply.

Dr Pychyl also reports that will power like a muscle, may actually strengthen with use!

"Studies provided evidence that physical exercise programs led to decreased smoking, alcohol, caffeine and junk food consumption, and even reduced impulsive spending, watching television and the tendency to leave dishes dirty in the sink!" http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dont-delay/200902/self-regulation-failure-part-2-willpower-is-muscle

Gradually striving toward better activities and more healthful diet choices, you can confidently look forward to a more fit future, a stronger will power and a healthier, happier tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Good Habits / Bad Habits

Man is a creature of habit. The inherent need to establish routines in life is inescapable. Habits create structure. Structure creates a sense of well being. Having a degree of structure in life gives you the security of having something you can rely on. In a grounded environment; one with certain non-variable elements, you are suited to face the unstable, yet inevitable challenges of daily life with confidence and strength.

Anchoring behaviors can be building blocks for positive living.
Regular mealtimes
Work schedules
Group of family scheduled recurring activities
Private reading/sports/hobbies

Or During stressful times of uncertainty, they may be crippling crutches!
Comfort eating
Substance abuse
Impulse spending

Cherished, yet possibly injurious to our health and happiness we subconsciously depend on the feelings of familiarity associated with these crippling crutches. We may even find ourselves helplessly at the mercy of our “vices” when facing stress. Many times our circumstances plunge us into a life of uncertainty or instability. During those times, habits (which are very reliable and secure to us) may be our only security and comfort, regardless of whether they are good or bad.

It is vital to recognize bad habits and not dismiss them with an attitude of "well I'm just that way". As we start to understand why we do some of the things that are less attractive, we can begin to work toward recovery from the grip they have on us.

If you have struggled with gripping habits and desire to be freed from them, there are several things to do.

1. Adopt an atitude of awareness that you can escape the things that grip you.
2. Begin to develop good habits to replace bad ones.
3. Remove as many triggers to the bad behaviors as possible.
4. Get outside support to assist you.
5. Utilize faith in a higher power!

Determine to keep getting back up and trying again every time you fail. Look at each "fall" as a learning opportunity. The difference between success and failure is often a matter of perspective.

Failure says, "I can not."
Success says, "How will I do this? Why did I fall? What shall I try next?"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Habits Create Stability In Our Unstable World

Have you ever used an exercise ball? When you first sat down, were you eyeing for an anchor to grab hold of? With hands on the ball, a few bounces will suddenly give you confidence. Your brain will find your body's center of gravity and your muscles will quickly, easily stabilize on this unstable surface.

We use our muscles and the ground beneath us to maintain our center of gravity and keep from falling when standing, walking or even jogging. We learned to center our gravity at a very early age and depend on it effortlessly most of the time.

Finding your center of gravity takes no thought. It is a successfully acquired habit!

hab·it1   /ˈhæbɪt/ Show Spelled[hab-it]
1.an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary (definition from dictionary.com)

When establishing a new habit, there is a time of learning and falling, much like a baby taking its first steps. Determination to get moving keeps the child trying and once the skill is mastered, a whole new world is available. The child has learned a "habit" of finding its center of gravity and now can do it without much thought. It's time to focus on bigger and better things!

Eventually, behaviors repeated require no effort and become "comfortable". We mindlessly "fall into habits" when our conditions are unstable, unreliable or requiring extra self regulation from us (see Will Power blog entries). An example would be "giving up on the new diet" (returning to familiar eating patterns) when other demands tax us. When we are stressed or focusing intently in any area, we will search for an anchor of one type or another. Our old established eating habits mindlessly comfort while we focus on a trying task.

Once enough effort is placed into developing healthful eating habits, they no longer require thought and we naturally maintain them while exerting energy in other areas. This doesn't mean we will never go back to bad eating habits. A trigger such as family holiday feasting may shift us back into the old eating style, however with a little will power and focus, we can easily return to our "better eating habits" again!

It's best to keep diet or exercise changes simple, possibly one small change at a time until it has become mindless. If we gradually add new habits guarding them until they are firmly established, we will ultimately reshape our lifestyle and like the baby who has mastered walking, each new habit will open up for us bigger and better things!

Adopt a child-like determination in your quest for developing good habits, with the surety that once created, they will be anchors for you in an ever-shifting world of uncontrollable circumstances!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 21 - Finally Completed The Challenge!

What NOW???

I have made it for 21 days and I feel very accomplished, but I have to admit, I feel a little bit like I'm done. I know that's not a good thing.

Here's my advice to anyone using a 21 day cycle to establish a new habit:

1. Make sure you have a maintenance plan in place.

2. To make this a beginning, rather than an end, start counting another 21 Day cycle.

3. Raise the bar by adding to your original challenge in a related way.

You should increase your existing challenge to avoid losing your barely established habit or add a related challenge. This will keep you engaged and interested.

To add to my challenge, I am going to start a new weight lifting program, while continuing to jog (with or without Jasper - probably a little of both)

Keep reading and learn more about how to change your life through changing your habits.

Future Posts Sneak Peak

Kathryn's Favorite Exercises
More About Habits - Good & Bad And How They To Manage Them For Success
Helpful Training Tips
Training Myths Dispelled
Helpful Links
Debi's Delicious Nutritious Meals
And Much MORE!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 20 Look For Flowers & Enjoy The Process Of Change!

Jasper's still mending, so I'm alone for my jog. Two things happened.

1. I was physically challenged a little. I didn't get any breaks (without Jasper to mark every sign-post). This was good for me. It showed me what I was capable of. Gradually increasing challenges is rewarding! I feel accomplished!

2. I was more aware of my surroundings. It was a beautiful day. Without distractions, everything came alive for me and I noticed the spring's first flowers. It was uplifting after such a harsh winter.

Did I lose a jogging partner or was I blessed with a chance to relish a beautiful day?

Perspective starts with thoughts and choices. I chose to accept my change and look for good in it and my thoughts followed my decision. Are there any decisions or thought changes that you can make to create a better perspective?

The bottom line is, you can't change your circumstances, only the way you react to them!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 19 - Following Through Without My "Workout Partner"

Sometimes your workout partner can't make it.

Sigh...Jasper can't make it today. He's injured his paw. I'm not sure who's more disappointed. Probably me. :-( I took him for a short walk, satisfying his desire to keep up with our new habit. Afterward, I trudged off on my jog alone. Despite my initial discouragement, I really enjoyed my private jog!

When taking up a habit that we share with others, adherence must not be dependant on those around you. Take personal responsibility for your actions.

Don't "blame" anyone or anything that changes your circumstances, allowing it to become an excuse to quit.

What are you depending on?
Praise, Companionship, Competition, Reward, Camaraderie? Motivation is good, until it becomes dependence. Eventually, we have to take off the training wheels and struggle a little if we're going to ride on two wheels. Overcoming our despondency/obstinacy will become easier if we remember that once we learn to ride a bike on our own, we are on our way to a place where we can sit back and "feel the wind in our hair".

In the development of any habit, it's crucial to recognize the dependencies we are creating and free ourselves from them. Despite the temporary fears and discomforts we may experience, for a behavior to truly become second nature, we must conquer the awkwardness accompanying the removal of our "training wheels".

I've always said necessity is the mother of invention. Be flexible if you have to, but don't veer off path.

Use your 3 step Guidelines:
1. Celebrate Success - You have learned some important skills and come a long way already! Turn your focus away from your discouragement and Celebrate how far you have come! Don't lose the ground you've gained!
2. Learn from your mistakes. - Developing a habit requires a degree of Learning about yourself. If we aren't willing to see ourselves realistically, we WILL start to blame our circumstances or worse, those around us. Whenever you find yourself blaming, you can be sure you are not taking control of the situation and/or are being stubborn and reliant on your surroundings. Make your own choices and do what you must to accomplish your goal.
3. Keep Going Forward! - Time to muster up an extra dose of will power. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Success and failure may be a choice away from each other. Ultimately, you make the choice. Make it and Keep Going Forward!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 18 - Running In The Rain

Inclement Weather
Rushed home again for a short jog. Rain was falling gently. Cringing at the spray of muddy water from a passing truck, I decided I jog it alone today. Sitting at the front door to put on my old running shoes I heard Jasper's demanding bark. "Fine, you can go too."

I don't wanna!!!
We took a better route to avoid traffic but still got 1 1/2 miles in. My new route took me up a steep hill. I started to think about cutting it short. It seemed difficult. Then I thought more and realized it wasn't that hard. I just didn't want to do it. I was thinking about getting home quickly, rather than enjoying the moment. The rain was actually nice! The path was pretty. I was the problem!

Sometimes, we just need a change of attitude.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...Proverbs 23:7

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 17 - Determnation is setting in!

Strongly Determined To Succeed!I remember this attitude. There was a time when I would jealously guard my workouts and jogging. I was a little selfish about it sometimes. Guess what? It feels good to get that feeling back again. Taking care of yourself IS important. Allowing the world to take your life away from you is not healthy. It's actually somewhat pathetic. Of course, emergencies like broken thumbs always take precedence. However good habits, like exercise, rest and eating nutritious food deserve a place of importance in our lives and we have to put them there!

Still stressed out about missing yesterday and keenly aware of the risk of derailing now, I was determined not to miss today! I had a very short window of time to quickly drive home and jog. I knew putting it off would be risky. It might rain and would probably be dark when I got home later....make the decision fast - do it!!!! OK, so home I fly, change, jog, change again and fly to the appointment.

Now I'm home and I am SOOOO glad I jogged! When in doubt, exercise! It's almost always the best decision. Start to guard your fitness commitments jealously. You deserve to. If you don't invest in your future well being now, not only you will pay the price but those you love will also.

I'm Celebrating a success that came very close to being a failure.

I Learned today that I'm getting too comfortable. I need to plan ahead daily or I may miss a day and I will be sorry if I do!

My confidence is growing and I am even more determined to Keep Going Forward!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 16 - Stuff Happens, Get Back Quickly! (emergency)

Allowable Exceptions and Importance of Recovery.

I spent a good part of the day getting my kid's broken thumb x-rayed and into a purple cast. I had to work before and after the unexpected event. Yes, stuff happens. It's OK. I had my son walk Jasper and although I felt really bummed about it, I skipped a day.

I'm actually glad I felt bummed, that means it's already becoming a part of my day!

It's vital to get back on track immediately should an emergency interfere with your 21 day Habit Forming Stage. Should you face an unavoidable interference, make every effort to immediately resume the task!

Sometimes a "derailing" can occur from one lost day. If it does (or has happened to you in the past) start over! Studies show that the more times we attempt something, the better our chance of succeeding becomes. Why? We have learned something to avoid or overcome in each failure. Our persistence in trying again makes the difference.

So should you inadvertently derail, remember the old adage; "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"

Learn From Your Mistakes

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 15 - My Motivation

I'm starting my 3rd week. If the scientist are right, by the end of this week I will have established a new habit. I would have to say by my own observation, my chow, Jasper has already established not only a new habit, but a rather demanding attitude. He demands his daily jog!

My desire to inspire others is a great motivator to stick to this and to log my progress. Actions with purpose give us confidence and strength! I hope to continue my habit forming quest with the goal of overcoming my own health issues to motivate others.

While the typical fitness professional lives an active lifestyle and practices what they preach, most have not dealt with major exercise obstacles first hand. Despite the painful and sometimes debilitating effects on my life that I've experienced while battling Fybromyalgia, I still am grateful for how it has "leveled the field" for me. It's as if I am....well, out of shape. My body does not respond well to exercise. I have to use all my training knowledge, combined with extreme self-control to stay fit and active. I battle discouragement as I deal with a body that won't cooperate. So many techniques that I implemented in training others, I'm now utilizing on my own health quest. My new cognizance leaves me with a conviction to take what I've learned and teach, motivate and inspire others to conquer their seemingly insurmountable fitness and health obstacles one day at a time, one small change at a time.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 14 - Peace and Confidence

It's Saturday, Feb 27th - Everyone is coming to my house and I have a REALLY big family. I squeezed in the jog just in time to jump in the shower before the kids got here - shew! I left my music off. Sometimes I just need quiet.

What a beautiful day with my family. After everyone went home, I rested peacefully. I feel accomplished and happy!

Sticking with a commitment makes other areas of your life better too!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 13 - Savor the Good Days

It's Friday, the 13th day of my jogging, but no bad luck today. Fridays I teach PE and usually shop for the weekend on the way home. I don't typically have clients or classes. This Friday, my wonderful husband got off early so we met for lunch and then made a grocery trip before heading home.

By the time I got home, Jasper was patiently waiting for his walk and after getting groceries in and put away I quickly dressed for our winter jog. I was determined not to let a day get skipped so I had to hurry. It would be dark soon. I finished with time to spare and took my excited little poodle down the street and back too. Almost ready for the weekend. :-)

Some days exercise feels really good. It's important to savor those days. Enjoy them and log them in the happy memory bank for future retrieval. When exercise is more difficult, remember the "good days" and just get through the tough ones. There will be more good ones soon and at least you will have accomplished something despite the discomfort!

Don't give up. Keep Going Forward!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 12 - Face the Wind Bravely!

Cold, windy bursts press against Jasper and I as we plunge forward with determination. There's a strange parallel between overcoming the obstacles this winter weather has brought us and and bravely conquering the storms of life. My mother used to say, "If you don't like the weather around her, just stick around awhile." Virginia is notorious for drastic change.

So too, when we take on a new challenge, we will face "changes" daily in the conditions that surround us. Enjoy the warmth of a sunny day and appreciate it especially after cold snow and flooding rains. Remember to count the blessings of life while accepting the "rainfall". The cruel whipping wind chills me today but wind moves on, weather changes and so does life.

Start each day with gratefulness. Live it in kindness.

Celebrate Success. Learn From Mistakes. Keep Going Forward!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 11 - Utilize Multi-tasking with cardio activity.

As my body gets accustomed to the activity and my chow learns to be more cooperative, jogging becomes more relaxed and I'm feeling "settled in". When a habit starts to become more "mindless" or requires less thought, spicing it up with something you enjoy is a great idea.

Reading a daily devotional during/before cardio is my "spice". I used to do this during my warm up walk before jogging. Now I read my devotional, then listen to my devotional music. This has a dual benefit.
1. It gave me something to think about (so I'm not thinking about jogging, lol).
2. I know have two productive objectives side by side, complementing one another.

As I've added a spiritual element, my faith to face life's challenges is refueled in my daily runs. My commitment to see it through has doubled with the extra benefit added.

Other "spice" ideas to overcome cardio boredom:
Make a play list of your favorite songs on an mp3 player.
Tune into a favorite talk show with a walkman type mp3.
Download audio books.
Learn a foreign language.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 10 - Overcome the "Too Busy" Temptation!

So far, this has been the most difficult day to complete. I feel fine, but I have a lot to get done today. As a trainer, the most repeated reason for not exercising is I don't have time. It's not an excuse, rather a perspective.

We must make time for the things that mold our lives, lest our lives begin to shape our future in opposition to the path we desire.

Take time to consider the times in your life when you were the most industrious. During those times, were you enslaved to circumstances beyond your control? Probably somewhat; that's life. However, you most likely spent time and energy in activities that enlarged your life experience; fitness, education, sports, hobbies.

Pursuits that may be classified as selfish are actually essential to our productivity in other areas of our life. Without them, we become over-taxed and our responsibilities become a burdensome drudgery. Our confidence and energy levels begin to drop and every task becomes more difficult.

Making a 21 day commitment to this new habit has been instrumental in pushing me past the place where I usually say, "Fine, I'll skip my workout and get to work on...'whatever happens to be pressuring me at the moment'."

When I think back to the times of my life that I view as the happiest, most grounded, secure and productive, I can find one common element - I made decisions for my own well-being.

Make a decision to take care of yourself for the one's who love! They just might help you to see it through. My huband and kids are happy to help me to follow me, but I have to make the decisions and make known to them how important it is to me!

When we fail to take care of the bodies we are blessed with, we are investing in a future of being a burden on others as we reap the effects that poor health and diet habits are sure to bring upon us: disease, pain, depression, possibly leaving us partially or fully incapacitated. I want to be a better partner for my husband for a LONG time!

So presently and in the benefits of a full and happy future, I am Celebrating my success in pushing past the pressures to "Skip just this one jog".

I Learned that this venture is teaching me things about myself and strengthening my confidence in making decisions based both on my knowledge and on my faith, rather than being tossed around helplessly like a ship in a stormy sea. I'm trusting my faith to lead me!

I am more determined than ever now, to not only succeed with this 21 days but to regain my confidence and strength in making decisions for my personal fitness a priority again as I Keep Going Forward!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 9 - Put your new habit on the top of the list!

It's Monday and back to the grind of work which makes it harder to get the jog in, but it worked out perfectly. A morning client called to post-pone till afternoon and I took advantage of the opportunity to rush home to engage in my new habit. On my way back from the afternoon session, it began to rain. What if I had waited? I know that if I am making something a priority, it should be as high on the to-do list as possible.

Try to plan workouts or new habits early in the day, if applicable.
In training, early morning workouts are better because, should life get in the way, you still have the rest of the day to possibly wedge them in. Evening sessions are frequently cancelled for traffic issues, staying late at work or just being too tired. Morning exercisers seem to be more consistent. During this crucial "21 day habit forming time" prioritize your new habit to be successful!

Today I Celebrate that I made a good choice and therefor didn't get rained out!
I Learned first hand that taking my own advice and prioritizing my workout works!
It's getting easier all the time to Keep Going Forward!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 8 - Cherish the Good Days!

Today was gorgeous! The sun came out and I only needed single layer clothing. We didn't get too far because that large dog came out again and got Jasper all upset, however we did get a really nice jog.

Some days are just easier than others. :-)
This needs to be in my mental bank for retrieval when I become discouraged. I can pull it out as a reminder to Keep Going Forward!

Inspirational Ideas:
When you have a great day, take a picture and post it for future inspiration.
Put a post it note on your mirror with a few words that describe how you felt on a good day.
These are the days we Celebrate. Log them in a Celebration journal!
Refer back on our Learning days!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

7th Day - Old Habits Revive Quickly!

One third of my 21 days is done and I already feel like I've established the habit. (I know it won't be that easy, but I do feel like I'm on my way!) I suppose I can attribute that to having created a running habit in the past.

Once you have done something long enough to be habitual, a little effort will bring it back.

A habit from the past can be retrieved or revived. The neuro-pathways are there, they just need the dirt and weeds removed and a little new gravel laid down. This requires will power, however, the investment will provide a quick return. Much like riding a bike, one never really forgets. A few pedal strokes and your off!

Just the same, refusing to let my guard down, I'm going to focus on the 21 days and stick with it!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 6 - The Learning Curve

Benefits of pushing through that first week.
This week has gone really well and I've noticed preperation for going out the door takes less time daily. As we repeat behavior several things happen that make our actions quicker and easier to carry out.

1. We get organized. I know what I need each day and the best order to get things ready. I have my running clothes and Walkman ready and I'm keeping plastic bags with Jasper's collar near the front door. I've figured out that my I can warm up by walking my toy poodle, Jolt first. This also keeps Jolt from barking when I leave with Jasper.
2. Our actions become more mindless. I know what I need to do and don't have to ask myself, "Have I forgotten anything?" I'm also getting so used to it, that it doesn't require as much effort. Jasper is behaving better all the time too! We're both getting used to it.

We've jogged 6 days in a row- YAY!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 5 - Developing Habits Changes You!

A story about Habits

Many years ago, I attended an evangelistic seminar. The speaker told an interesting story. He had worked in Canada for a logging company. The massive trees were cut and strapped to strong stately Clydesdale horses who hauled them out of the woods. He pointed out that these amazing animals, capable of pulling entire trees were easily driven by a small piece of wood in their mouth-a bit. A small tug brought discomfort to the animals and that discomfort could be relieved by heading in the appropriate direction to release the pressure. These huge creatures can weigh upwards of 2000 lbs and could easily break free to go in whatever direction they desired. However, having been trained thus, they were seemingly unaware of their strength and ability. Consequently, they were content to follow the bit wherever it led them.

In life, we too are led by “bits”. We call them habits. We follow them because of the mild discomfort we feel when we resist changing direction. All it takes to unleash the hold they have on us is to realize our power to turn the other way and be confident that with some resistance we will break the “bits” and possible to create bits of our own liking. These new and better habits will shape our future. Let’s face it. Being creatures of habit, we will develop and be lead and driven by “bits”, however we do have the inherent ability to choose what they will be and where they will take us!

The purpose of this fine Pastor’s story was not only to instill a desire to overcome bad habits. More importantly, he added that despite our sincere commitments in life to any type of change, we will most likely be lead astray from time to time by the age old “bits” that we have unknowingly developed. Understanding how powerful and deeply ingrained habits are, should not lessen our original commitments but it should help us to view our propensity toward them as natural and when we are lead astray from our goals by them, realize this is a learning experience, rather than failure. Use the information wisely and start over again. Our focus should never be on the old habit we fell back into but on the new, better habit we are seeking to develop. The more times we try, the deeper the pathway in our brain is established that leads us toward our goal. Once this pathway is fully developed, it becomes easy to maintain the behavior. The old behavior may rear its head and we may resist or we may fall into it. Be assured that should you fall after you have succeeded in creating a new pathway, you can jump back on track fairly easily. Remember, once “it’s your habit”, it will only require a small initial effort to do it a few times and it’s all downhill again!

Remember, failing in deed does not mean we fail in desire. When we truly believe something is right and truly commit to following a path that leads upwards, we will fall and we will err. This is part of the process, for despite our sincere “decision” we are still only human and still held unknowingly by these annoying but powerful little “bits”. Good wholesome ventures are lost from discouragement due to “bits” taking us off path when our “derailing” would have been much more productive if used to teach us something about ourselves. Have you developed good habits in the past and that you have moved away from? do you feel like a failure? Be human. Get back on track and learn from your mistakes!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence (aka Areté) then, is not an act, but a habit."

~ Aristotle, 4th century bce Greek philosopher

Today is my 5th day. Despite yet another setback, Jasper and I overcame! Can you believe it? Another obstacle!!! I tweaked my foot running down the steps and every time I tried to jog, the pain shot through my foot. I tried stretching to no avail. Swift walking was OK...so walk fast I did! Day 5 happened and my foot has been fine all day! This wa a test for me. I'm determined to see this through now not only for my benefit but for others who may be encouraged some day by reading it.

I'm Celebrating that I didn't skip because my foot was hurting.
I learned that if there is anyway possible to follow through, do it! I would have been very dissapointed had I made a different choice.
Needless to say, I will Keep Going Forward!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 4 - Bad Day Advice - Reduce Intensity. Don't skip!

Not my best day!

I was sick during the night with a fever and achy but I decided this morning I would stick with my "habit" and just back it down. Usually I would cut myself slack and skip a day, but I know it's important during the 21 day cycle to be as consistent as humanly possible. I really felt OK this morning also.

Bad Day? Reduce intensity, rather than skipping during your first 21 days.
So off we went, Jasper in his thick coat and me in my double layers as usual. I decided to reduce the distance to my previous route which covers about 1 1/2 - 2 miles. I tend to be an over doer by nature so when I should have turned around, I actually thought about going farther. A massive dog appeared to deter me (not Jasper lol). Another dog was just ahead and to avoid a problem I decided to turn around.

As I neared my street, my overdrive kicked in again and I decided to go past it, but lo and behold, road work and flag man. "OK, I get it. Turn around and go home." No doubt in my mind now, there was some divine intervention. Time to "read" the signs!

One more successful jog and whatever bug was making me sick has been defeated. I've been fine all day. Work is done and I'm going home to rest for tomorrow.

I'm Celebrating that I'm more than half way through the first week, despite obstacles.
I've Learned I can be nudged in the right direction when I try to go wrong.
I'm curious to see what else will try to defeat me but determined to
Keep Going Forward!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 3 - Stick with it! Things work themselves out!

Somehow everything always works out if you put forth the effort!

Today I arrived home at nearly 2pm, with plans to leave for work again at 3:30. Jasper and I were both determined to jog and I decided, pressed for time or not, we're going! I changed quickly and just before I got out the door, my 4pm client cancelled. Today, things worked out and I was afforded the luxury of a much needed midday break after all.

Although very cold out, the sun was shining and in it's own crisp way the day was extremely beautiful. So taking advantage of the extra time and invigorated by the excitement I'm feeling at getting back into my jogging habit, we extending our jog (partly walking) to 3 miles. Afterward, I grabbed a nutritious lunch and if I hurry with this post, there is still time for a little siesta before my evening training groups.

Celebrate Success
- I'm ecstatic!
Learn From Mistakes
- I learned yesterday to bring an extra puppy bag lol
- Today, I found out that usually, if you follow your gut
and stick with your commitment, it all works out.
Keep Going Forward
- I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 2 - Use all your will power. You'll need it the first week!

Almost didn't make it!!! I was tempted. Had to cancel morning classes for icy roads and just as I'm planning my alternate plan for the day, my best friend calls. I couldn't help myself. I volunteered the kids and I to come help her pack a household while entertaining her two small kids. I have to work tonight so it was now or never and it's COLD outside! This afternoon would be warmer, but probably wouldn't happen...Jasper WAS incessantly barking...ugh...ok, I'll bundle up and go. Btw, that was me arguing with myself.

When change is just ahead but stubborness stands in the way, focus on your goal. Willpower WILL get you over the hump. Use it!

So double layers of clothes and off we go! I'm starting to think of Jasper as my trainer lol. He's establishing a path for us to take and we're compromising on the pace. He's already learning to stop for cars.

Day 2 happened and I'm pumped-Celebrate Success, even the small stuff!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

21 Days - Change Your Life, One Habit At A Time!

You've probably heard that it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Good news - It's actually backed scientifically! I'll be telling you more details about this subject and how significant it can be to your life in future posts, but for now, I'm here to practice what I preach and pick "One Small Change" and stick to it till it's a habit!

Establish A New Healthful Habit
1. Pick one small change-something with significance that requires effort but is both practical and feasable utilizing my current circumstances in life.
(I better make the most of where I am, for I'm not of much use where I am not!)
2. Figure out how to fit it into your life and premeditate EVERYTHING that might get in the way, creating solutions ahead so you won't be detered when obstacles arise.
(If you've failed to plan, you've planned to fail!)
3. Commit to 21 days (NO EXCUSES!) Commit to put forth the effort for at least the 3 weeks with the rewards in mind of not only improvement but also the establishment of a new habit!
(Always look at the horizon. Keep your eyes on your goal!)

So I have this big adorable, stinky chow! He's soooo sweet and well behaved. Unfortunately, while I'm at work, he spends alot of time fenced in my back yard. Feeling terribly guilty for leaving my sweet pet outside so much, I yearned for a solution. Nature solved the problem for me. My back yard flooded and stayed that way for over a month. I chained Jasper, my regal friend to the front porch while I was at work and brought him in at night. It temporarily solved the problem however, dogs need exercise too! So I began asking my son to walk him daily.

Remember that my change plan requires a participant to utilize their circumstances. Embarrasingly, I have to admit, that struggling to work and be a wife and mom while battling fybromyalgia, even I, the Master Trainer, put exercise on the back burner! It only takes one step to change your direction and I'm commiting to that step now.

Jasper and I have taken up jogging together and we're having a blast! I'm actually returning to the sport and he's just learning to do it on a leash. Before I can get out of the van, my hairy new jogging partner is jumping for joy and barking loudly at me (something my well behaved Chow rarely does). The demanding continues until my running shoes are on and I appear with the leash. The few jogs we've taken over the last two weeks have brought us both alot of joy which led to:

"My 21 Day Commitment"

Jog with my dog and post my results while sharing helpful information and inspiration to others. I want to improve my life, my fitness level and be a blessing to others but I often feel utterly helpless and frustrated with the odds that are stacked against me. It seems like life continually gets in the way and discouragement is always trying to foil my plans. I know I am NOT alone! My clients each have their unique obstacles to overcome.

Stick with me and see if you can create your own "21 Day Commitment" to improve your life!

So today, day 1, we jogged in snow flurries, but having predicted that might happen, I rushed home quickly and bundled up! It was great and I'm soooo happy I did it!

Notice important characteristics of my commitment:
1. A time frame to completion - 21 days. I can see the horizon of my efforts.
2. Practicality - we both need the exercise!
3. Feasability, utilizing my circumstances - not much time, too many responsibilities, a need to feel like a better pet owner, a need to squeeze in some exercise for me, a midday break most days, a dog that loves to jog :-)
4. Something to be gained that is significant to me and will give me a strong sense of accomplishment, building my confidence and improving my health!

In my business, Feel Better Fit, I have a motto:
Celebrate Success. Learn from Mistakes. Keep Going Forward!

As I apply my motto to my Small Change, Celebrate I feel accomplished having made a sincerely productive, practical, feasable commitment and set it in motion. I found myself more aware of what I was eating and began thinking ahead to obstacles that I might have to overcome. Both of these initial effects of a positive change are invigorating and encouraging! I'm celebrating right now in this blog! Learn I learned that weather might get in the way and plans are formulating already to overcome the possible obstacle. I have made commitments before and I look at how they changed and improved my life. I think of the set backs and stumbling blocks I encountered in fulfilling them and I am decidedly headstrong to Keep Going Forward!

Kathryn Mccall Lafferty, Master Trainer