Fitness Behavior Change? Victory!

I know it’s been a while since my last post about my effort to change my fitness focus.  Y’all gave up on me, didn’t you?  Especially after that last post! The goal was to change my behavior around prioritizing fitness in my life, and ensure that I was being physically active/working out 3-5 times a week.

Well….I’m there!   I did it!  Three weeks in a row I’ve worked out from 3-5 times.  I’m living proof that it can be done.

Some of you may be saying that it’s too early to call a victory – images of a premature “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner are filling your brain.  But I know — know because my attitude, and my behaviors have actually changed.  Evidence:

  • When someone asks to schedule a meeting on a week where I don’t have my workouts scheduled, I wait to reveal availability until I’ve blocked out the times when I’m working out.
  • I like that one or another part(s) of my body hurts on any given day.
  • I’ve made gym friends who expect to see me there, and ask about me when I’m not.
  • I bought a new gym bag because suddenly the bag that I only had to bring out every once in a while wasn’t good enough when I was using it almost daily.
  • I’m known by some people as “the girl from the gym” – awesome!
  • I am past the point of “returning back to yoga” and can actually do the poses, and the instructors know my name!
  • I don’t ever want to experience the pain of that first day with my trainer again, and I am doing strength training ON MY OWN.

I know I will have “dips” like I did when I was on vacation, but I now know I can come back from them, no problem.  No “baby with the bathwater” here!  And also, on a not so small note – it feels REALLY GOOD to prioritize myself.  I’m getting used to saying no so that I can put ME first every once in a while.

So, I need to choose a new behavior to change in the upcoming months.  Any votes?  My original list:

  • Drink more water
  • Go to bed earlier
  • Cut out sugar
  • Work out consistently
  • Meditate daily
  • Go on weekly “Artist Dates”
  • Write daily
  • Be on time
  • Be more organized
  • Put myself first once daily

Tune in tomorrow for the kickoff!

I’ve been bad

The last week was filled with some working out, and some good intention, but mostly it was filled with lots of good wine and good company.  As mentioned in my last post, I was out with friends from college in Boston for a long weekend, which ended in lots of late night shenanigans, then I was home for a couple days, then out to the Bay Area for work and to see friends again.

So I was a little good in between the badness…I worked out both days I was home.  And I braved seeing my dear Ken-doll trainer, Ryan (seriously…could play Ken in the movie, if there was one). And I worked HARD!  I took care of myself by eating my (good) carbs before working out and I made it through with no shakes and no drama.  I packed my bags with the intention of fitting in a least a walk along the bay or maybe a yoga class with a friend.

But my dear friend Wine was invited to the party each of the nights I was there.  And I couldn’t turn her down.  She’s so lovely and smooth and she slips in so easily you almost don’t notice her.  But the next day you remember she was there.  She left an impression.

I only had one real opportunity to work out, but that idea went out as fast as it blew in.  So here I am, a week later from my last session with Ryan, with no progress or activity to report.

Am I bad?  Or did I just take a week off?  I’m going with the latter because I’ve already scheduled in all my workouts for the coming week and I know I’m going to hit them.  But it’s very hard to shake off the guilt, and I feel like a bit of a fraud.  Stick with me folks – I swear I’m in it for the long run.

Discipline: Fighting the Resistance

I am reading The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.  I think maybe everyone in the world who wants to do anything with their life should read this book.  It’s a no-BS, wake up call to just get it done.  Call the excuses what they are (or actually, he calls them “The Resistance”) and get on with it.

All of us have it – that thing/voice/block/weather/excuse/husband/wife/kids/job/country/REASON why we cannot finish, execute or sometimes even start what we know we are meant to be doing.  So know it, and get over it.  “Go Pro” as Steven says.  Do what you need to do to do the work no matter what.  A professional athlete doesn’t wake up one day and say, “hmmm, I don’t really feel like doing my training today…maybe tomorrow”.  When you Go Pro, you stop finding excuses for not doing the work, and you Just Do It.

I am on my way home from an amazing weekend in Boston with my best friends from college.  One of them just completed the Boston Marathon with an amazing, mind-boggling time (to me) – 3hrs and 12 minutes.  On Saturday afternoon, many of them decided to go for a run.  They went Pro.  I came up with about 10 reasons why I couldn’t:  I wanted to spend time with my friends talking.  I was tired.  I was still a bit sore from my PT workout (yes, still).  I didn’t want to shower again.  I’d rather drink.  I am so far from going Pro when it comes to my fitness routine that it only took a feather to knock me off course.

So here I am, looking at my week ahead, knowing I only have 2 days in which to actually work out…the Resistance is Strong.  It wants me to do other things during that hour and a half.  But thankfully, I’ve already blocked the time out.  Sacred.  Scared? Sacred.  Not movable.  I will not let the resistance win – not this week.

Carbs are Good

Today’s lesson:  carbs are good. Huh.  All my Atkins brainwashing circa 2000 has me twisting this lesson from my trainer, Ryan, around and around in my head.  Oh, and eating before working out is good, too.  Maybe not RIGHT before, but sometime before.

You see, your body needs food in order to fuel it, so that it can burn the fat.  It’s the short-term flame starter it needs in order to access all the stuff that you are trying to get rid of.

The reason why he told me this?  Well, because I was sitting on the floor with my head between my knees praying to not toss my cookies and/or pass out.  You see, I did NOT eat carbs, or for that matter, anything before my uber-intense baptism-by-fire first training session today.  Ryan believes that strength training can and should be a cardio workout.  And he set out to prove it to me.

So after one “trail” set (three machines – two upper and one lower body – what he calls a “Mega-set”) and three “for real” sets, I found myself on the floor, quitting for the day, worried that I might not make it home.

And the only reason is because I didn’t take the time to eat something.  As typical of me, I scheduled something up to the minute before, and forgot to eat.  I ate a small breakfast, but it was 5 hours before, and wasn’t quite providing the nutrition needed for Ryan’s Mega Set.

So the challenge is 1) do NOT let this discourage me – I am on a mission to do well by myself and my fitness goals, and this setback cannot stop me 2) tweak the plan (again) and make sure I am planning my meals along with the weekly workout schedule.

I am finding that my biggest obstacle, the thing that will most limit me and lead me to failure, is lack of preparation and planning.  This includes setting aside the time for working out (and eating) as well as preparing my bags so they are ready and/or my kids stuff so they do not make me late, as well as informing my husband, nanny, etc. ahead of time of what I need in order to workout.  Whew.  It’s a lot.  The issue right now is that I have no routine.  I strongly desire one, but feel very uncomfortable committing – I mean, what if a client can ONLY meet during the time I “blocked” out for yoga?  I am so hesitant to put that time aside for me, just in case someone might need me…

…and then of course, the workout doesn’t happen, because it wasn’t planned for.  Or at a minimum I am late/undernourished/rushed/passing out/only have 20 minutes etc.

Carbs are Good.  I must eat.  I must take care of me first.  I WILL set a schedule and I will make my appointments around it.  Yes.  See you next week Ryan.

Without a Map

I am high off my day with Seth Godin, who provided a small group of us further insight and a forum to discuss the concepts from his latest book, Linchpin.  First of all, I LOVE this book.  Every paragraph I read seemed to articulate part of what I am trying to do here on Earth.  I want to help people change.  Today Seth talked about that we have two choices – either to teach people a way to do something (give them the map), or to give them a new perspective (show them they can create their own map!)!  I’ve been a bit trapped in the concept of the “what” am I teaching, and today I realized it’s more important for me to share my perspective, and insight, and to give people the gift of a new way of thinking.

[Read more...]

Fitness Challenge: Accountability Buddies Rock!

Day 1:  I was so fired up!  Ready to take on this challenge and kick butt!  I walked in to my gym with a new sense of purpose about my workout – not about just the dreaded losing the couple extra pounds but about changing BEHAVIOR!  Yeah!

My intention was to get a baseline measurement from a physical trainer.  I got one of these when I joined the gym 3 years ago, and figured I was due another for free, but was willing to pay if needed.  I was pleasantly surprised when they told me that yes, I get one free assessment each year with my membership!  So I filled out the form, turned it over and expectantly looked at the greeter to point me to my trainer.  He said “okay, you’re all set.”  I must have looked confused because then he added “a trainer will be calling you in the next couple of days”.  Humpf. If you know me at ALL you know I like measurement.  Now I wouldn’t have a TRUE DAY 1 measurement…it was going to be like Day 4 or Day 5.  Not cool.

So then I looked around for my friend who works there (Jason in membership – no really, he is my friend, not just the guy who sold me the membership!  He’s my brother’s wife’s brother!).  I thought that maybe he could wrangle someone for me.  His office was dark, so I just said to myself, “it doesn’t matter – the real behavior change is about consistently working out 3-5 times a week – the measurement was just gravy!! And you’re HERE! So go work out!”  With my pep talk wringing in my ears, I climbed on the elliptical and settled down for a marathon of 6 month old magazines and Law and Order reruns.

After I finished my 45 minutes, I walked over to stretch a bit and heard “Hey!” — I turned and there he was!  Jason! We stretched together and I told him about my program.  And then I asked him to be my accountability buddy – I told him I would tell him when I was going to the gym, and if he could watch out for me and make sure I was actually going, text me if I wasn’t there, and just in general support me, that would be amazing.

Not only did he say yes, he took it one step further.  He said that after I (finally) meet with the trainer, that we could sit down and set up a schedule, that he would workout with me (WORKOUT BUDDY!!!) during times he could, and basically, that we would do this together!  I would be motivating HIM to be more consistent! Whoo hoo!  I almost cried (seriously, I get really emotional about this stuff!).

So I went home re-fired up, although a bit “in waiting” since I need to meet with my trainer before setting this all up – I have to admit to being a bit discouraged by that roadblock.  But Friday, my accountability buddy came through and texted me “GO TO GYM” Love it.  I told him Friday was my day off but would meet him at yoga at 9AM on Saturday.  He was going to be working, but said he would see me there.

Saturday at 8:30AM, as I was starting to wrangle my kids into the strollers and those thoughts of “well, it might be better just to stay home so Alex can take a proper nap” Jason’s text popped into my mind….”GO TO GYM” .  I smiled, put my shoes on and walked out the door.  I was late, but I was there.  Namaste!  (In a universe aligning-note, my Yoga Teacher, Jackie Prete, was focusing on breaking through barriers, what she called ‘fishnets’ in class – so perfect!)

Got a call yesterday from the trainer and will call back this AM to set up my fitness session.  Hopefully by the end of day tomorrow I will have a program in place so I can schedule it out in my calendar and “officially” start this thing!

April Change: Making Fitness a Priority

So here I am, on April Fools Day, no less, forging ahead with my experiment.  I will focus on one specific behavior each month in my own life, and catalog my journey along the way.  My goal is to share my process with the hopes of inspiring you to make your own changes or at a minimum empathizing with your struggles to make lasting behavior change.  I welcome your comments, thoughts, support and criticism. 

When developing this idea, I spoke with one of my coaches (yes, I have multiple!) about the fine line between a blog being self-serving and/or preachy and being a vehicle by which I can share with, teach and learn from others.  I trust you all will keep me honest.

I brainstormed a list of specific behaviors (note, these are not bigger “goals” per se, but singular behaviors that I would like to change in order to reach the bigger goals).  Here are a few of them:

  • Drink more water
  • Go to bed earlier
  • Cut out sugar
  • Work out consistently
  • Meditate daily
  • Go on weekly “Artist Dates”
  • Write daily
  • Be on time
  • Be more organized
  • Put myself first once daily

Good list, right?  These are the little things that nag at me on pretty much a daily basis…things that I really want to be doing as I know what an impact they will make in my life.  I also know that if I try to tackle all of them at once, I will fail.  So I decided to pick the one thing first that 1) I think will have the MOST impact on my life 2) is on most of YOUR lists and 3) is probably the hardest.  WORK OUT CONSISTENTLY!  Making Fitness A Priority.  Why the hardest one first?  I like to employ the “swallow the frog” theory made popular by Brian Tracy’s book on procrastination:  Eat That Frog! — the concept is actually about doing the most dreaded/big task first thing in the morning and everything else will “go down” easier, but I also link it to bigger projects – this may be the hardest one for me to actually do consistently, but I figure if I get this right, everything else will be a piece of cake! 

First I need to actually define the behavior I wish to change.  Specifically, I have found that the number one reason I don’t work out consistently is because I don’t make it a priority — in the past I have treated working out as a “luxury” — something I can do if I have time after everything else — vs. a priority — something that is just as important or urgent as everything else.  

The best way I know to prioritize something is to plan for it.  So, to get really specific, the behavior I need to change is to stop putting working out on the back burner, and start PRIORITIZING fitness by PLANNING for it. 

I need to have my “behavior” be measurable (so I know when it’s actually changing), so I am going to do that in two ways:

1) I commit to working out 3-5 times/week, with a mixture of strength and fitness

2) I will take my measurements at the beginning of the month and at the end of the month

The second measure is more for the satisfaction factor – I am actually not worried about the numbers and do not want to set specific goals around that.  I purely want to change my behavior (and attitude) around working out so that it is so much a part of me that it happens naturally.  I know that fitness is essential and foundational to success.  I know that when I am employing physical activity in my life, I feel better, I am more productive, and it is easier to accomplish all that I have on my plate.  As I said to my coach, when I don’t workout, I know I can “get there” and get it done, but with a strong, active body as a foundation, my energy and outlook are supporting me, vs. pulling me down.  And CONSISTENT exercise helps me maintain that outlook and energy level.

Now that the behavior has been defined, I need to identify those actions that will help me change that behavior:

1) Make a plan for working out (weekly?  monthly?)

2) Put workouts in my schedule — treat them as non-negotiable

3) Tell people (guess I’m already doing that)

4) Get support (from husband on days he needs to watch kids, from friend who works at gym, from coaches)

5) Do it.

So, today I am going to 1) go to the gym and get my measurements taken and 2) get the schedule and sit down and block out my workouts.

What do you think?  Are you in?  I’m off to the gym.  Let’s do this thing.