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!


Getting Centered in a “New York” Minute

centeredFast and furious we seek the quick fix. What if you were able to stretch time? What if you weren’t always trying to “beat the clock”? What if you could relieve stress and recover more quickly when you are feeling overwhelmed? Stop for a moment and visualize a time when living was effortless, when everything flowed. Some examples might be when you hugged your newborn child, received a degree, scored a winning goal or recalled a special vacation memory. At that moment, you were centered. As you visualize that centered moment, notice your state of being so that you can recreate it again and again whenever you choose.

Train to Center ~ Once you recognize center, you can begin to train in it. At first this requires trust. Don’t expect major breakthroughs to happen daily. Let go of attachment to measurable outcomes. Appreciate your moments of centeredness. Take in everything about your world at these times, and again, persist in your training. With time, centeredness will become a familiar place where you can rest and revitalize yourself.

There are many ways to train in centering. Here are some concrete examples of how to incorporate centering training into your life:
• Recreate the image or feeling you experienced in the centering visualization from above periodically during the day.
• Breathing is natural for everyone. Begin to use your breath as a means to center.
• Breathe deeply and slowly from your abdomen whenever you are aware of tension in your body.
• Choose two or three daily activities that you can use as reminders to center. For example, when the phone rings, center on the first ring and answer on the second.
• Other centering checks might be turning your computer off or opening the door to your office.
• Set aside 10-20 minutes daily for quiet reflection, introspection and meditation.

Unless you know where you want to go, you are unlikely to get there. Know your purpose in life and why you are involved in the activities that occupy your time. Be crystal clear on this and in times of stress, reflect on that purpose before you take action in a conflict. Simply and regularly ask, “What’s the highest level of me that can show up right now?”

Develop a network of people, programs and literature that brings you back to center. Our strength is in connection, not in isolation.

Managing Your Weaknesses

triathlete_by_whimsy3sh-d5z74chI can say with confidence that I am not a baseball fan. My husband and son are quite knowledgeable, even if they root for opposing teams. In New England it is sacrilege to be a Yankee fan, but growing up in New York gives this branch of the family a pass on divided loyalties. What I do know about baseball is quite limited, except for the Joe Pepitone home run ball caught by my husband on one of the most exciting days of his youth at Yankee Stadium. It has a special place and a special case, prominently displayed in our den.

So, even if I don’t care about baseball currently, there must be some childhood memory of growing up around it and the importance of it in our culture. At that time Sandy Koufax was a legendary World Series MVP, an All Star and Cy Young Award winning…pitcher and NOT a hitter. With this talent, no one expected him to hit home runs, just make some contact and not get hurt in the process. In fact, a tongue-in-cheek assessment of his skills came from rival Whitey Ford who said, “I know Koufax’s weakness, he can’t hit!” As an all-time great, no one would ever think of him as a weak batter. His strengths as a pitcher, made his weaknesses as a hitter insignificant. Legendary business analyst Peter Drucker said it best:

“The effective executive…knows that one cannot build on weakness…To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant.”

Weakness is not a “dirty” word and we all have weaknesses. Even if you are good at something you hate to do, it can still sap your energy. Don’t dwell on what you’re not good at or obsess over how to “fix” it. You’ll probably never get to a high level of performance around these areas regardless. Workplace research data taken over decades bears this out. People who play to their strengths daily are much more engaged, less likely to quit and much more likely to contribute to high performing teams. Should you ignore your weaknesses and only focus on your strengths? Think of the tri-athlete whose strength is not swimming but who bikes like the wind. She will focus on learning the most efficient way to manage the swim component because it is an integral part of her overall time. Since biking is her strength and she probably enjoys it the most, she can also train harder on improving her technique or even purchasing new equipment for the event. It’s also possible that with positive attention to managing/improving her perceived weakness, it could even become a strength!

• List 10 things you are good at
• List 1 area you would like to improve

©2014 MWeisner