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Got Change?

How many times have you wanted to make a change, jumped into it, ready to go to find yourself back where you started? You may even find yourself worse off because your confidence to change just went down a couple of notches.

You will be happy to know you are not alone! Many of us jump right into action without doing the necessary prep. When it comes to your goals, reflect on each of the following:

  1. When setting goals, listen to the language used. Do you hear yourself say “I will” or “I should”? If you hear “I should” dig a little deeper. Is this something somebody else wants you to do? Your doctor, spouse, children, society…?
  2. Is it interesting, exciting, engaging or does it make you yawn?
  3. Ask yourself “why”. Then ask yourself “why” 4 more times to dig deep to the heart of the matter. *Focus on positive whys. Meaningful, powerful whys are the fuel to persistence.
  4. Create a “why do” list instead of a “to-do” list. When you discover your why you will discover your how!fear of change
  5. Focus on any tiny bit of motivation vs resistance. Avoid fear based motivation. It’s not the best motivator when it comes to change.

Change takes time, patience, and planning. While it can be hard to accept failure, it is just a sign we need to modify our plan. Look for the lesson in failure. After all, we are a work in progress!  

Questions? Comments? Send me an email at elizabeth@bestselfcoaching.com

 


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One Brain Two Minds Part II: Motivation Mindset

As a health coach and fitness expert, I often have clients come to me because they want me to motivate them. But where does motivation come from? I am talking about the kind of motivation that gets us out of bed in the morning to go for a walk before work or motivation that get’s us to the gym after a stressful day.

What we believe when it comes to physical activity influences our ability to sustain an exercise program. Having a narrow view of what constitutes exercise is self-limiting and tends to lead to an all or nothing attitude. A typical example is the belief that exercise counts only if we are at the gym for one hour. What if you don’t enjoy going to the gym?

Given this scenario, your chances of being successful are slim. Worst yet, you might criticize yourself as being weak-willed, and the vicious cycle of failure continues.

Why do you want to begin an exercise program? Weight loss, avoiding disease, aging well? These are valid motivators but they are all rooted in the future. We make decisions based on how we feel in the moment. When wrestling with the idea of going to the gym after a long, stressful day how energizing is “avoiding diabetes ten years down the road” as a motivator?

When we set out to “take charge of our health” we rarely exam our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about the changes we want to make and jump right into action.

To get off the diet and exercise roller coaster examine your beliefs by answering the following questions:

  1. Is physical activity something you enjoy or does it feel like a chore?
  2. Do you take your daily walk because your doctor says you should?
  3. Do you exercise mainly to control your weight?
  4. Do you eat “clean” and feel guilty when you have been “bad”?
  5. Is the thought of going on another diet down right depressing?
  6. Do you hear a lot of “shoulds” when talking about self-care?

If you want a different result, you have to go back to the thoughts and beliefs holding you back and move forward with a new narrative.

 


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One Brain, Two Minds Part 1

 

12_languages.jpgOne Brain, Two Minds

Our brain uses two different and often conflicting systems to process information, drive our choices, and behaviors.

Mind #1: The logical mind:  “I’ll stick to my diet because it is healthy and will help me lose weight.”  The challenge with the logic based mind it the fact that it is much harder to exercise willpower when fatigued or stressed. You may start the day with good intentions but end the day in a very different place.  It is much easier to keep your long term goals in mind when making decisions when you are well rested.

Mind #2: The impulsive, emotional mind: The emotion-based mind is experiential and often automatic.  It motivates us based on how we feel and is often outside our awareness. Logic is screaming at you to avoid the cookies. Before you know it, half the box is gone!  

This phenomenon goes beyond diet and very much applies to exercise and other health behaviors. When we are in the moment, our choices are often driven by emotion especially when willpower is low. It is much harder to think about long-term goals and our future-self when we are low on energy.

Understanding the science of willpower can help you plan for the times you know you will be energy depleted. For most, it tends to be afternoon and evening.

For example, If you are exhausted after work and you are finding it challenging to stick with your goal of going to the gym how can you make it easier to follow through?  Set yourself up for success by eliminating any barriers, real or perceived. Go right to the gym after work instead of going home first. Keep your workout clothes in your car.  Logically we know we have more energy after exercising. But when you are tired after a long day, you are likely operating from your emotional, impulsive mind.

Understanding the science of motivation can help you tie positive emotions to your health habits by engaging in activities you enjoy and building awareness around how our health habits add to our daily quality of life. Focusing on how your daily walk improves your mood and energy level vs. thinking of your walk of something you have to do to lose weight.   

Lastly, do you look at your health habits like a chore or a gift?  When your health habits feel like a chore, the likelihood of continuing is slim.  If you find yourself saying “I should” when talking about your health goals they probably feel more like a chore.  When you can find the gift in what you are doing, you are more likely to continue.

 


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Creating Powerful Resolutions and Goals That Stick!

Creating Powerful Resolutions and Goals That Stick!

Roughly 92% of us fail with our New Year’s resolutions. After a while, many stop making resolutions all together. With an 8% success rate, can you blame them?

Considering 45% of New Year’s resolutions involve getting fit or losing weight it is no wonder our confidence to change our health behaviors has eroded.

Why do so many of us fail when it comes to our resolutions? Most of us make New Year’s resolutions that are too big, too vague or too boring and lack the key elements that make goals compelling. Most resolutions tend to be outcome goals without the action steps to get there. How are you going to reach your destination without a map?

To increase your chances of success when it comes to your New Year resolutions write out what it is you would like to accomplish and make sure it contains one of the following characteristics:

  • Intellectually stimulating
  • Physically challenging
  • Emotionally energizing
  • Purposeful and meaningful

Breakdown your resolution into bite-sized action steps that will move you closer to your goal. For example “I am going to get in shape!” What do you mean by in shape? Do you want to be able to run a marathon or to make it up the stairs to your apartment without getting winded?

Describe what getting in shape looks like for you and create milestones for yourself to measure progress.

“I will eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.” While this goal is specific and measurable, does it make you want to rush to the grocery store and buy a bag of celery sticks? Probably not. When goals are boring and lack meaning they are easy to blow off.

To persevere, you have to pursue goals you care about. You have to ask yourself what’s at stake. What do you gain if you achieve the goal or what will you lose if you don’t? If you want to eat healthier to have the energy to keep up with your kids or grandkids, now we are talking!


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Turn Your Vision into Reality – Building a Foundation

pyramid3The Wellcoaches’ behavior change pyramid is a powerful visual depicting the importance of building a strong foundation when making health behavior change.  If you skip any of the blocks you risk creating goals on  shaky ground.

The bottom of the pyramid your wellness vision. What would it look like if you were at your best state of health and wellness? Paint a picture of how you would look and feel. What activities would you be engaged in? What do you want more of in your life? Joy, love, hope, confidence?

What are your values? If your values include achievement, efficiency and integrity, do you make health decisions based on your values? How about your strengths? Are you compassionate, kind or curious? How can you incorporate your strengths into your health goals?

If you are having a hard time pin pointing your personal values and strengths think about what is make you a good employee or a good parent. Make a list of  the attributes that make you successful at work or at home.

What obstacles have you experienced in the past? Moving past obstacles can involve taking a new path, looking at your challenges through the lens of your strengths, shedding self-limiting beliefs and developing a more flexible mind-set.

In order to make change we need to be mindful of our habits. If you begin to feel guilt or shame over your habits or past attempts to reach your goals take a deep breath and sit with your feelings. Are you being fair to yourself? Do you hold yourself to unrealistic standards? We tend to talk to ourselves in a way that we would never talk to a friend. What would you say to a friend in the same situation? Does it match up to what you are telling yourself?

What resources and supports do you have to help you move forward? Do you have a friend or a family member you can share your goals with? Have you thought of hiring a coach or a trainer to hold you accountable and guide you through any bumps in the road?

Whatever your goals, build a strong foundation consisting of your values, motivators, support, challenges and strategies for success. Your foundation will support your vision and goals at the same time serve as a positive place to come back to if you are struggling.

Elizabeth Schenk is a health coach and fitness expert specializing in helping individuals with chronic disease or chronic pain take charge of their health and build a positive vision for the future.  


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Exercise is Medicine – Even for Chronic Pain

Living Well with Chronic Pain

When faced with chronic pain or illness, life can change quite a bit. You may not be able to do some of the things you used to do and that can be very frustrating. Be careful not to dwell in that place for too long. Finding the motivation to exercise when you are in chronic pain can be challenging but it essential to your well-being.LogoColorTextBelow

They key is to focus on what you can do no matter how small it is. Make a list of activities that you can do that will not aggravate your pain. Start with the smallest amount possible even if it is a couple of minutes of activity. The last thing you need is to overdo it and get frustrated.

Be patient with your body and don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do what you once could. That only creates more stress and…

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Living Well with Chronic Pain

acceptance-art-dirty-faith-Favim.com-610774 Are you one of the 100 million Americans affected by chronic pain? Living with chronic pain is not “sexy”. Chronic pain sufferers don’t have foundations to bring world wide attention to our suffering or walks for our cause or celebrity spokespeople.  We don’t get the attention that say MS patients or cancer patients get. And I understand, chronic pain is usually not a life threatening problem and I am certainly not trying to understate the seriousness of these other conditions. Chronic pain it is just something you might have to deal with the rest of your life day in and day out. Something that affects every single aspect of your life from work to your relationships, being a parent being a partner or spouse not to mention the emotional roller coaster, self-doubt, self-blame and self-pity.

We often get stigmatized as drug seekers, hypochondriacs, lazy or weak minded. This often leads…

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For Long Term Success, The Joy of Living Trumps the Fear of Disease

A diagnosis or threat of disease motivates many to start a wellness program, but is often not enough to keep people going.  For example, tobacco users are well aware of the long term consequences of tobacco use such as lung cancer and emphysema but it is not enough to motivate certain individuals to quit. So what does work? Connecting people with their values, strong motivators and purpose has a much more powerful impact.

A former client of mine who was a smoker lost a grandmother to lung cancer yet this was not a motivator for her to quit. Protecting her own health was not a motivator either. As we continued to explore reasons to quit smoking she said having a child of her own would motivate her to quit.

Another former client who was obese with various health risks tried diet after diet with no lasting success. When she connected her health to her faith and helping others in her community it was life changing. She now supports members of her church who want to lose weight by holding a weekly support group. By helping others she has been able to help herself.

The initial shock of a diagnosis of any disease is enough to shake us up into behavior change but what is going to keep you going? This will take a little digging, thinking and soul searching but it is worth it. Finding your purpose to be well is extremely powerful.

To start you can ask yourself what are your motivators? Why do you want to do this? No superficial answers like I want to look good and feel better. Don’t we all? What does it mean to be healthy? What will you be able to do if you are fit and full of energy? How will staying healthy help your family? What will you be able to do if you are in good health? Go on that trip to Thailand you have been thinking about? Plant a garden?  Play with your grand-kids?  Often you will find the fear of the disease is not as motivating as the joy of possibilities!

 


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The Connection between Sleep and Your Waistline

More and more informationsleep 1n is being discovered about the importance of getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. In terms of weight loss, a lack of sleep affects our ability to lose weight by interfering with the hormonal processes that take place while you sleep.

The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin.  Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, your body makes less leptin. Ghrelin is the  hormone that tells you when to eat. When you are sleep-deprived, your body makes more ghrelin. The result? Your body is telling you to eat more and your body is not telling you when to stop. In other words more ghrelin + less leptin = weight gain.

Keep a sleep log to see if you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you are not, make a list of the barriers that prevent you from getting 7-8 hours of sleep.  Are your barriers to quality sleep things that you have the ability to change? If so, what can you do differently to get your ZZZ’s?