Is your head full of "weeds"? Part I

Whether we're ready to admit it or not, instinctively we know.

Most people know their bad habits and the things they do every day that move them further and further away from their fitness goals and desires. As a trainer, when I begin working with new clients and discussing their current lifestyles, they inevitably get that "guilty" look on their faces when they begin confessing behaviors they know are "bad".

Well, those bad habits are weeds. They spring up just like the garden variety and leech away the vibrancy of our lives in much the same way true weeds blemish a beautiful garden. By taking hold of them and uprooting them from our lives, however, we can move forward and live the healthy lifestyles we desire.

See if you recognize some of these common weeds and take steps to get rid of them forever:

Weed #1. Stinkin' thinkin'.
"Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right." ~Henry Ford

Is your self-talk negative or positive overall? How do you think of yourself and your body? Do you believe you can achieve your fitness goals and desires? At its most basic level, good health and fitness begins in your mind. In addition to affecting you physiologically, your thoughts, both negative and positive, effect your actions. What you do is a direct result of what you think about and what you prioritize. Your simply saying that your health and well being is a important is not enough. Do you believe you can get more fit? Do you believe you can manage your weight? Can you become stronger, faster, better? If you believe you can change your situation and take action, you will.

Take Action: Control your self-talk. Write a list of 10 things you like about YOU, including your body. During the next month, read your List of 10 out loud to yourself daily. Nip negative self-talk in the bud. Believe in your current abilities as well as your potential. No matter where you are, you CAN achieve greater health and well being.

Weed #2. Sitting, sitting, and more sitting.
"Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it." ~Plato

How much time will you truly spend moving around today? Consider that if 8 hours are spent sleeping, 8 hours are spent working, and the American average of 5 hours are spent watching television, a whopping 21 hours will be consumed in a sedentary position. This, of course, doesn't include time commuting, eating, etc. Since research has shown that being sedentary, aka sitting, is like kryptonite to good health, the importance of finding ways to be more active during the day can't be stressed enough.

Take Action: Get up! The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) OR 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running), AND 2 or more days of muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups. Find activities that you like and do them. This can include walking, cycling, hiking, skiing, and taking a dance class. And don't think that "no time" is an excuse. Studies have shown that even 10 minute brisk walks, 3 times per day can do wonders for your body AND mind. Be sure to stand occasionally during long periods of sitting and stretch as well.

Weed #3. Skipping workouts because you're "tired".
"In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired." ~Author Unknown

Truth be told, if you don't currently workout and you wait until you "feel" like exercising, you might never do it. For many people it takes a little time to feel comfortable with exerting themselves. One of the most important aspects of leading a fit and healthy lifestyle, however, is developing healthy habits. This includes regular exercise. Until and unless the habit is fully formed and adopted, missing one day often leads to two, which leads to a week, then a month, then... well you know. While it's said that it takes 21 days to create a habit, for many people missing just one session can lead to years of sedentary behavior.

Take Action: On days you feel less energetic, show up for your workout and just do less. I call this "intuitive training". Stretch and do core exercises, or yoga. Lift lighter weights, bring down the speed on the treadmill, or pick an easier route when running or walking outside. Do something. Not only will your body thank you in the long run, you'll continue to reinforce your fitness habit, feel accomplished mentally and probably get a better night's sleep.

Weed #4. Staying up too late/not enough sleep.
Sleep, rest of things, O pleasing Deity, Peace of the soul, which cares dost crucify, Weary bodies refresh and mollify. ~Ovid, attributed

Research has shown that lack of sleep is an enemy to maintaining a healthy weight as well a healthy mentality. Not only are there hormonal influences that encourage overeating as well as fat gain, there are also negative mental after affects due to fatigue, such as irritability. There are also recovery and maintenance aspects. Your body takes care of some things while you are asleep, such as healing and restoration, that it simply can't do while you are awake.

Take Action: Go to bed. Organize your evening time so that you can wind down and retire at a reasonable hour. For most people a "reasonable hour" is 10 or 11 pm with a goal of 6-10 hours per night. Try taking a soothing bath or relaxing shower. Read a book or listen to calming music. Drink a small cup of herbal tea and lower the lights. Be sure to go to bed at the same time each night as well to reinforce your body's sleep-wake cycle.

Stay tuned for more on fitness-busting weeds and tips for getting rid of them.

Live. Learn. Move. Thrive!

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