bestselfcoaching

Eat Mindfully, Move Joyfully, Live Vibrantly


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One Brain, Two Minds Part 1

Our brain uses two different and often conflicting systems to process information and drive our choices and actions. You can almost say we have one brain and two minds.

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The logical mind: One mind operates based on logic. “I’ll stick to my diet because it is healthy and will help me lose weight ”. The logic-based mind requires willpower which is exhausted by dieting among other things. Resisting temptation over and over again takes mental energy which drains willpower. 

The impulsive, emotional mind: Meanwhile, the emotion-based system is experiential and often automatic.  It motivates us based on our feelings and often outside our awareness.  Even when logic is screaming at you to avoid the cookies, you’re enjoying the cookies before you know what happened.

This 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 energy depleted.

Understanding the science of willpower will help us plan around the times we know willpower is low while working on strengthening willpower.  For example, if you are exhausted after work and find it difficult to prepare a healthy meal, prepare as much as you can ahead of time. There will be those days when you really just want to pick something up on the way home. Make a list of healthy options when you have the time and energy. The goal is to make things as easy as possible when you are willpower fatigued.

Understanding the science of motivation will help us tie positive emotions to our health habits by doing things we enjoy and focusing on how our health habits add to our daily quality of life. For example, 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.  When your health habits feel like a chore the likelihood of continuing is slim. When you can find the gift in what you are doing you are more likely to continue.

Stay tuned for Part 2!


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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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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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Progress not Perfection

The drive to be perfect often flows over into exercise and diet. We are bombarded by the media telling us how we should look, what we should eat, what new exercise will give us the perfect backside, what new diet will melt the fat away, you get the picture!  Not to mention your Facebook friend that has 5 kids, just ran a marathon, is getting her PhD in astrophysics and just won 10 grand on her fabulous vacation in Vegas. Darn her!

1013272_596120620439064_93867641_nLooking at these images, negative self-talk rears it’s ugly head and guilt sets in. “I was so bad today”, “I ate like a pig, I am going to have to eat celery sticks for the next week”, “I shouldn’t have ate so much ice cream, I am going to have to work out for 2 hours tonight!”.  Sound familiar? In the endless pursuit of the magic diet and exercise program we often find ourselves swinging from one extreme to another, back and forth, back and forth. Self-compassion goes out the window and the more we try the worse we feel.

There is nothing wrong with striving to be your best but not at the expense of your self-worth. It is easy to get trapped in the notion that we have be the “ideal” only to be disappointed when we don’t achieve the unrealistic goals we set for ourselves.  Repeat this vicious cycle again and again and it erodes our self-confidence.

Rather than trying to be perfect all the time, strive to do your best in each moment. Your best one day might be squeezing in a 15 minute walk in-between meetings and your best on another may be going to the gym for 45 minutes. And if you are unable to meet your exercise goals one day accept that wellness is not all or nothing and pick up where you left off. Tomorrow is a new day. When you get rid of the drive for perfectionism, you can move to a place where challenges are now opportunities for growth. Focus on progress rather than perfection and ditch the all or nothing mentality.

Learn to do things that work for you rather than what the so called “experts” say.  Become the expert on you. After all who knows you better?

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Goal Achieving Part 2 – Your Personal Mission Statement

When I start a coaching session with a new client, we start by creating a wellness vision. The process involves creating a clear picture of how you see yourself at your best state of well-being.  In order to know what we truly want in our lives, we need to get a clear picture of what that is. You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan would you? Well, you could but having a plan will certainly increase your chances for success. Think of the values and purpose part of your wellness vision as your personal mission statement.  In the business world, a mission statement is defined as a company’s “statement of purpose” or “why the company exists”. It is part of building the foundation of the business. When big decisions are made, the company’s mission (usually!) is kept in the forefront.

Now think about creating your own personal mission statement. Your personal mission statement should define your purpose, what you value, who you are, and how you want to live. You can have a blanket mission statement for your life or a mission statement for different areas of your well-being. The main areas of well-being are:

  • Career well-being
  • Financial well-being
  • Physical well-being
  • Community/social well-being
  • Family well-being

To help create your personal mission statement, a good place to start is by asking yourself some questions:

  • What have I done well in the past in this area of well-being?
  • If I was at my best with regards to this are of well-being, what would this look like?
  • What are my core values when it comes to this area of well-being?
  • What is most important to me?
  • If I were living this area of well-being with purpose, what would that look like?

Take your time and write down anything that comes to mind. There are no rules on how your personal mission statement needs to be written or how long it needs to be. After all, it is you mission statement.  It should come from you, not from another person’s idea of who you should be.

Keep in mind, your mission may change over time as your life evolves. It is helpful to review and revise your personal mission statement often. If you use your personal mission statement to guide your goals, you are more likely to set meaningful goals and your life will be a reflection of your purpose and core values.


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Goal Achieving Part 1; The Importance of Values and Purpose

Have you ever stopped to think about what you really value in life? How about your life’s purpose? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?

The truth is when our behaviors are driven by our values and life’s purpose we open the door to infinite possibilities.

If we don’t make decisions based on our values and life’s purpose we end of living in a constant state of guilt, shame and fear.

Defining what you value in life is an important piece of behavior change and goal achievement.  That being said, values and life purpose are separate than your goals. They are part of the foundation for your best self and make up the building blocks that help you achieve your goals.  Without defining your life’s purpose and values, goals are set on a shaky foundation with slim chance of success.

The typical New Year’s resolution is a great example. “I am going to lose 30 pounds.” This is an outcome goal. It is important to have behavioral goals and action steps to support outcome goals, but we will get into that later. How many people do you know, and maybe you are one of them, that started the New Year off with a bang and by February 1st, things were back to a fizzle?

The reality is, if you don’t have a lot invested in your goals they are easy to blow off and give up. If you define your life’s purpose and values clearly, keep them close to you and design your goals around them, your chance of success sky rockets.

Stay tuned for more!