Achieve Your Summer Fitness Goals

imagescae2vkgaWill this be another season of half-hearted attempts at getting fit, or will this really be the summer begun with a new attitude? Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit gives us hope and a way to make changes that can break-up the old routines. The following is a mini-plan to begin.

1. Create a Routine: Teach your brain that it’s time to exercise by devising a cue, like putting your sneakers next to the door, or packing your lunch the night before. “A routine gives your brain something to latch onto,” says Duhigg.

2. Set Small Goals: You want to run 5 miles 3 x weekly? Week one, wear your workout gear. Week two, walk around the block. Increase slowly until you reach your goal. Habit formation is built on small wins, according to the author.

3. Choose a Reward: When you reach your daily goal, regardless of what it is, treat yourself to a piece of chocolate, 20-minutes of Web browsing or whatever you genuinely take pleasure in. “This works because you are training yourself to associate a behavior with something you actually enjoy,” states Duhigg.

4. Write it Down: List your cues and rewards: “Monday- put on workout clothes + one square of dark chocolate.” This works because by identifying your routine, you significantly increase the chance that the habit will take hold,” according to the author.

Change require discipline, patience and your personal buy-in. Think back to times when you have been able to consciously shift your thinking, modify or eliminate a behavior. Redirect your focus into replacing old actions with new behaviors for success!

• Are you a biker, runner, walker, swimmer or outdoor enthusiast?
• Is variety important to you?
• Learn a new skill or mix in what you already know?
• Is your best time morning or later in the day?
• If equipment is necessary can you borrow it first?

Trying something new requires patience. As a rule of thumb, I suggest trying an activity at least three times. You will have low expectations at first. The next time, you are a still a beginner and on the third attempt, you will have a better feel for the activity. Perhaps you may look for something else or sign up for lessons with a pro, purchase the bike or dust off those old roller blades and get moving!


It’s Tee Time

golf-teeThe spring season began with a strong desire to improve my golf game. I’ve worked with a fantastic pro in the past and it made sense to begin again, actually before the course was open. Technology is a marvelous tool as part of an instructional package and it’s easy to develop a love/hate relationship with the camera. Viewing my swing in disbelief at times was a humbling experience, yet invaluable, especially when trying to incorporate change. The golf swing isn’t an intuitive motion and the nuanced pieces of it can be especially frustrating. Just when you think you have one part handled, another element falls apart. Yet, in those fleeting moments when it all comes together, I am pulled back for more rounds and more instruction. It can be addictive…in a good way.

Practice your golf game! What does that really mean? How many hours for playing? How many hours at the driving range? How many lessons? Join a club or a league? Buy new equipment?

When I drilled down to identify what the drivers were for me, I discovered the following possible benefits:
• Better enjoyment of the game
• More opportunities to play with others in business or social settings
• Combine with travel
• Possibly compete
• Faster pace
• Moderate exercise benefit
• Refining my laser focus on the present
• Dedicating real time to improving a skill that has the potential to adding another dimension to my life

Improvement is only one aspect of the game and another is maintaining any new skill-set. It calls for vigilance and discipline; characteristics that sometimes slip away. However, the good news is that I’ve lowered my handicap and become a better golfer this season. While it’s not a panacea, the steps I’ve taken to improve help in other aspects of life. By ascertaining my goals, enumerating the possible benefits and with a big picture to visualize, staying on track was easier.

• What’s one skill that you would like to improve?
• What steps do you need to take?
• When will you begin?