I don’t know about you but I dread going to the grocery store, I don’t know why but I have never enjoyed grocery shopping. What’s worse it seems these days the checkout numbers can be nerve racking, food in general is expensive. Organic, whole, unprocessed food is even more expensive. These costs tend to become a focal point and often a point of discouragement for some embarking on the road to better health. It’s a common concern for a new client to say, “It’s very expensive to eat right, I don’t know if I can afford to buy organic foods.”
Like most things in life we pass a judgement or place a value on something based upon what we are used to. When it comes to food I would argue you can’t afford not to buy the best quality food available to you. Let me try to demonstrate. In recent years young developing girls often begin their menstrual cycles far sooner than they did only 25 or 50 years ago. This early menstruation has been linked to the increased use of hormones and antibiotics in domestic farming. In addition the continual consumption of trace amounts of antibiotics within our food puts our immune system to work. Unfortunately not in the way we want, rather than the antibiotic working to reinforce our immune system as we would hope it would in a time of illness, our body now becomes desensitized so we either need to consume a lot more or they are just ineffective altogether. It’s my belief that examples like the above are strong contributors to health outbreaks like the recent H1N1 pandemic. Sit down for a moment and think about how many sick days you’ve taken in the last year that either caused you to miss work or pass up on something personally that held high value to you. Consider the lost wages and assign a value to the missed experiences, in this example alone I bet you will find the dollars needed to improve the quality of your next filled grocery cart.
A quick google search indentifies: Heart Disease, Cancer, Lung Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes as Canada’s 5 deadliest diseases. Cumulatively these diseases currently do or will effect the majority of the population. Let me describe that in a way that might be more meaningful. If you have a family containing three people (mom, dad and a single child) it’s expected that mom and dad WILL develop one or more of the above diseases and the child has a 50% chance to also develop one of the above diseases. In all cases Canada’s five deadliest disease’s share another thing in common, regular exercise and quality nutrition are recommendations for reducing the risk of developing these diseases.
The next time you’re at the grocery store contemplating how expensive high quality food is consider the cost of consuming anything else, truly none of us can afford not to consume the best foods available.
I know you probably didn’t wake up this morning thinking you were going to jump out of bed look out the window at a bright sunny day and say, “Hello Red Deer! Today I am going to ruin my metabolism, put myself at risk of disease and try to gain bodyfat!” Sadly though that is exactly what many people will do today.
If you are like most it’s never fun to hear the alarm clock first thing in the morning to get up and go to work. And quite possibly, if you’re like most, you certainly don’t have time to prepare a proper lunch to take to work. This means you are either: skipping lunch (maybe breakfast also), consuming processed food in a restaurant or some convenience item you thought to grab, or eating an unbalanced snack of quick ready to eat whole foods. In any of these situations you are creating metabolic turmoil. Skipping meals is an easy way to destroy muscle mass in a hurry and ruin your metabolism. The only thing worse is consuming heavily processed food that creates free radical havoc and leads to hyperinsulinemia (ongoing elevated blood glucose levels) the lovely precursor leading to type II diabetes.
The second way you will ruin your metabolism today is by remaining dehydrated. (You have no doubt already been dehydrated for days or weeks.) Chances are you will make it even worse by consuming caffeinated beverages and engaging in stressful situations from work conflict to rush hour traffic. All combined has a pronounced effect on elevating cortisol (our primary stress hormone) and reducing our ability to produce the recovery hormones like estrogen/testosterone and growth hormone. This in itself has direct links to conditions such as depression. However it is also easily avoidable by avoiding caffeine, artificial sweeteners and consuming 12+ glasses of filtered water each day.
To top it all off you will get home and simply feel you need to unwind from it all, you will be too tired to exercise (which fatigue is a symptom of increased physiological stress and chronic dehydration.) Now as the evening winds down most of us dread the coming of the next day so we procrastinate going to bed and turn to late night television or other forms of entertainment as a distraction from stress effectively inhibiting our ability to have a restful sleep. I don’t recall the exact numbers but the average person working full time accumulates hundreds of hours of sleep debt each year. Missing sleep damages our circadian health, which combined with physiological stress has a further disastrous effect on hormone production. Our body must progress through all the stages of sleep three times each night for optimal repair hormone release. If you sleep less than 7 hours and wake up at all during that time it’s safe to say you will experience the next day unrecovered. Unfortunately this effect is cumulative, so you can begin paying the debt now, or wait until you break down.
Thankfully you can’t unravel your health in just one 24 hour period, and thankfully your body is so resilient that even with everything you have already put your body through with lifestyle changes much of the damage already done can be undone. So even though unknowingly you woke up this morning determined to ruin your metabolism you now have the simple tools to alter your course in history and begin to experience increased health and vitality.
Motivation and inspiration are tough ones for us all. I am sure there is not a single person that doesn’t wish they could call forth the feeling of being super motivated or inspired on command. Yet when we think of great leaders, both present and historical, or even top performers it seems they are perpetually motivated to succeed. I’m sure you and I, we’ve both wondered just how these unique individuals always seem to be at the top of their game.
During a recent speaking engagement for a local group I was attempting to get to know my audience by asking a few questions about what would make this presentation valuable for them. How to get or stay motivated was the common theme. It would seem like this was a fitting topic for an experienced personal trainer who has had thousands of successful clients. Truthfully though, that night I really struggled to deliver an answer that I thought really hit the mark of motivating my audience and leaving them with a direct understanding of what motivation or inspiration is. That is without simply telling them, “you need a personal trainer.”
As personal trainers or coaches we are indeed motivators. Through coaching techniques, a healthy dose of sincerity and a pinch of compassion, we absolutely motivate hundreds of people every week to survive the next workout and perform in ways they didn’t know they were capable. Yet somehow, internally it’s difficult to motivate ourselves.
It wasn’t until the drive home after my presentation that I really had a good answer to what motivation is. Quite simply, it’s a choice. Often it may not be an easy one, but it is in fact still a choice. The physical and emotional feeling of being motivated and inspired is a physiological response to a hormonal cascade. Hormonal cascades can occur a variety of different ways, but a reliable way to produce a hormonal cascade of all the feel good hormones is activity. (Or sex but that is an entirely different column.)
So in short the answer to a lack of motivation is unfortunately not as exciting as one would hope. To stay motivated you are back to setting a defined and specific goal and reverse engineering that goal with backwards planning. What do you need to do each month, each week, to the little things that must be completed each day. When tiredness and lack of interest hit’s, the will of choice must kick in to get you moving, once your moving your hormones will do the rest.
Here is another segment from the series I wrote on Metabolic Typing in 2008, this one I wrote while travelling home from my last bodybuilding contest before competitive retirment. I was satisfied with my second place finish and my best poser award. 🙂
When it come to fitness and weight loss there are some simple truths, if it isn’t working you have two options: give up or find a way. Every single person reading my column or anyone who has even thought about getting in better shape better be totally committed to the later. Losing weight is frustrating, especially when it doesn’t work.
Right now I am 40,000 feet in the air travelling at nearly 500km per hour heading for home. With Montreal nearly two hours behind us we’re returning from this year’s National Bodybuilding Championships. I thought I was done with this sport after a disappointing 7th place in 2000 but here I am sitting and reflecting on a journey just completed. Over the last few months I’ve pushed my body to lose more than 30lbs, quite an achievement when you don’t have above average body fat to begin with. September 6 marked my 11th attempt to master physical perfection on a competitive stage. This year I pushed it further than ever before and was a great step closer to achieving that “perfect look” that I have been striving for. I want to share with you what was different as I believe it is very important to your own weight loss endeavours.
In a previous column I introduced you to the concept of nutritional individuality and how oxidation can have a significant impact on the way you look, feel and respond to the consumption of certain foods. This was one of the focal points of my preparations for this year’s provincial and national events. In addition to very specific nutritional concepts there was also another method that I feel was critical to the final outcome, post meal evaluation. Post meal evaluation is a tool that will help you consider your own uniqueness further. It’s also shines further light on why nutrition may be so confusing. Our body not only responds differently based on the foods we eat but it can also vary further based on when we consume them during the day or sometimes when we allow ourselves deviation from our plan. This, in my opinion, is the biochemical relationship of food and emotions courtesy of our circadian rhythm.
Without going into too much depth, here is how post meal evaluation works. About 1-1 ½ hours after a meal record what you ate and how you are feeling. How you feel should reflect the following: do you feel full or satisfied, or are you craving something more? Do you feel an increase or decrease in energy levels? Do you feel more confident emotionally or do you feel depressed or uneasy at all? Does your stomach feel comfortable or is there any form of digestive distress?
It may seem strange to think you will even be able to discern all of these items, and initially you may not, but if you complete this diligently for a couple of weeks you will begin to notice certain patterns. These patterns can help to identify which foods make you feel the best at different times of day and even how to adjust the amounts of certain foods to produce the best result. At some point of following a regular plan you will begin to grow tired of the routine and if you are tracking your foods through post meal evaluation then you may even notice your physical feeling or response is deteriorating no matter what you eat. It may be time for a deviation. I’m convinced that at certain points it’s good both physically and emotionally to have an off day. Allow yourself to consume the foods you’ve been craving or the items you enjoy that are less than ideal for you. A big problem we face is that processed foods are designed to taste good in spite of how bad they are for us. By allowing ourselves limited exposure we can protect our bodies from their harmful effects but still attain the emotional satisfaction that will keep you committed to your final objective. The key to off days is to plan a frequency but not a specific day. I don’t recommend that it always be the same day but rather a “save for a rainy day” mentality. Personally I like to know I have an off day available for use when I need it for every 2-4 perfect weeks.
Now I know this sounds complicated but you can make it as difficult or as easy as you like. The biggest thing is try not to over analyze or justify. Choose foods that you like to eat and you know are good for you. If this is hard, seek out a personal trainer or nutritionist for help. Begin recording your meals and try to stay consistent with amounts. Focus on just one meal at a time for a few days and then the next until you are seeing some improvements. A change in feeling at one meal may affect them all which is why you can’t make a lot of changes all at once. If you are someone who has tried every popular method to no avail then these types of strategies are for you, forget general programs and think as an individual.
As a final note, my own outcome, well I moved nationally from previous finishes of 5th and 7th to a strong 2nd while being the lightest athlete in my class. I was named best poser for an entertaining performance for the second time this year, and after an 8 year hiatus from national competition I showed up in the best shape of my life affirming that my new concepts and research are heading in the right direction. I hope now that they can assist you in reaching your own goals.
May Ron Burgundy the Anchorman live on forever! Here is my award winning routine.
In my last column I began to discuss the concept of Metabolic Typing. The premise being that even though we are all generally the same we are all uniquely different. An example, around the home or in the office, within family or friends, you see unique differences in their bodies that may make you curious for an explanation. Take the common cold for example; some people hardly feel the ill effects of it at all. For some the physical symptoms of a cold manifest and disappear in a brief period of time, for others they may seemingly last forever. Now there are a lot of variables but at the root of it if we took a group of very like people with very similar lifestyle habits we would still see variations in their symptoms. Nature, each person so similar and yet so perfectly unique.
All the recent research I have been reviewing leads me to believe that nutrition in many aspects is similar. Good habits are essential, using whole unprocessed foods are of paramount importance, and understanding the relationship between protein, carbohydrates, fats and total calories is very important. But even with all of that many people will still struggle to make changes physically from their current form to what they feel would be their ideal form. Enter our uniqueness.
Even when everything is in place and on paper it makes sense sometimes things don’t work. Like you, I demand to know why. Unfortunately there is no clear answer, and that’s likely the worst news someone trying so hard to make positive change could ever hear. But where answers are lacking, hope still exists. Beyond the understanding of the physical concepts of nutrients and calories we now have to grasp our body systems and how they relate to us on a physical, chemical, and emotional level. Our physical characteristics are determined by our genes, our genes are influenced by our internal biochemistry and that does not stop at birth. The habits you employ today will affect your physical appearance in years to come. Our internal biochemistry greatly influences hormone production, which will not only be a factor in our physical appearance but also our emotional state, today, tomorrow and years to come.
One such aspect of this is the role and rate of oxidation within our bodies. Just like rust that forms on the surface of iron oxidation or cellular breakdown occurs heavily in our bodies in every area from the digestion of our food to the tissues of bones, organs, blood vessels, etc. Not only does oxidation occur but the rate of oxidation is very different for everyone and also influenced by a number of factors. Some real strong factors of oxidative rate include: exposure to pollutants, radiation and chemicals (exhaust fumes, sunlight, second hand smoke etc), damaged nutrients in primary foods (from cooking to processing we are missing loads of anti-oxidants, enzymes, etc), personal uniqueness(genes, internal biochemistry).
This is what has attracted me to Metabolic Typing, it does not preach that there is an answer to fit everyone but rather acknowledges that our life and environment dictate strong adaptation. So through testing and reasoning we can begin to make decisions about our own needs and altering habits to nudge the body in the right direction. In regards to oxidation the foods we eat can have a profound effect. For instance I am categorized as a fast-oxidizer. Generally my body breaks things down at a very fast rate, and if I don’t slow it down I burn out and wear out physically and emotionally. This is very relevant to some of my characteristics physically and emotionally. A perfectionist attitude, a person that is a little more uptight or faces additional stress, I typically have a hard time gaining weight and yet losing all the body-fat I want is also difficult, I often show the signs of adrenal fatigue and increased cortisol production and gravitate to caffeine to keep me going at the tough times. These are all conducive to fast-oxidation. Food wise my bodybuilding years had me consuming a lot of white proteins, especially chicken. Well chicken is not a very dense food for a fast oxidizer, and I know first hand that when using a lot of chicken I am constantly hungry and miserable. My metabolic type testing has educated me on the role of fats, even saturated fat, and how important denser red meats with fats and saturated fats can be important to slow down oxidative rate. Well the proof is in the pudding, or maybe the lack of pudding, in the last 2 months during my preparation for the 2008 Canadian Nationals I had been much more comfortable using primarily bison, beef and even bacon in shedding body fat without starving. In the best shape of my life I was happier and less hungry than I had ever been through the rigours preparation process. Now understand this is a very limited look of one aspect of our oxidative system but it may stimulate some interest and curiosity in your own body and why it may not have been responsive to what were seemingly good habits in the past.
In 16 years it’s safe to say I’ve had, learned and changed a few ideas about training and nutrition. I am astounded how much you can continue to learn and how the pieces of a much bigger puzzle slowly fit into place with time. With many holes and gaps in ideas and concepts still remaining I am excited to express and implement a few more. Let me explain myself.
In 1994 when I really started to take weight training seriously, I entered my first contest that year, I somehow was enlightened about the Glycemic Index. The GI basically is a chart of foods and explains what time period it takes for them to begin to breakdown in the stomach and illicit an effect on blood sugar. As you know a rise in blood sugar causes insulin secretion controlling many major hormonal processes in our bodies. Continual consumption of processed foods which tend to be high glycemic are one of the leading causes of Type II Diabetes in North America today. So back then in my mind the intelligent thing to do was try to consume lower glycemic foods, well lower glycemic foods do not tend to be the most exciting foods on a menu. Broccoli, seeds, asparagus etc.
Some time later I continued to learn that combining protein, fats, and carbohydrates altogether greatly changes the glycemic index of all the foods and allowed for a much greater variety of foods. So my ideals shifted to educating people that it is always wise to consume these three elements together. It was about this time that I found a book by Dr. Barry Sears called Enter The Zone. The Zone was one of the many lower carbohydrate and moderate fat diets of this era. I was fond of the zone as it wrapped much of my nutritional knowledge together to where it made sense. Balance and proper food ratios with meals always comprised of some protein, carbs and fats is still likely to get many of you heading towards your goals. But then there is that other group, the group of people that seems to struggle no matter what. Many of you are probably these people, the ones constantly on the hunt for new answers.
Over the past several years we have continued to experiment, everything from high protein ketogenic diets (Atkins is an example) to low fat diets of yester year. All of them work, sometimes. Recent research is leading me in new directions. It’s very apparent that we are all individuals with very individual body chemistry and yet science and medicine is still very much a bunch of statistics. Example, when someone is deficient of say calcium we are told to supplement calcium. Well the truth is you can have two people deficient in calcium for instance and one will require supplementation of calcium while the other will need a completely different mineral to improve the absorption and usage of the calcium. The individual requiring the other mineral taking more calcium could even worsen the situation. You can imagine while I am learning more about this basis of nutritional individuality how curious I am, and how confused I am.
The last two years have been remarkable in terms of developing new knowledge about understanding the relationship of specific foods and their effects on our body. This science is called Nutrigenomics, the study of our gene response to food. Even Dr. Sears so many years ago recognized this in a quote I seen from his book, “some people can eat piles of carbs and never gain an ounce, its in their genes.” One of the best books I have found on this topic, I was so intrigued I am currently finishing their level 1 certification, is call the Metabolic Typing Diet by William Wolcott. Metabolic Typing provides testing, ideas and answers for choosing what foods and combinations you should eat to look and feel better. Together the science of metabolic typing and nutrigenomics provide strong evidence that many serious conditions such as Type II Diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and cardiovascular disease have a strong connection to the foods we eat and can be controlled, stopped and possibly reversed if we begin to decipher our own individual body chemistry.
I purposely never watch or listen to the news, it’s always so negative, they should just call it the six o’clock edition of bad news. When it comes to people and health it’s always how bad people are feeling, how many more trips they make to the doctor, how this disease or that disease is increasing or causing more deaths. I bet you workout and eat healthy because you know that it drastically reduces many of the risk factors associated with these illnesses. Improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, cardiovascular health all lead to many extra and more enjoyable years with family, friends, and loved ones. I am certain that’s probably why you workout.
As high school or university ends it seems for most of us so does our forced activity. From this point physical ability begins to decline and extra weight appears in places that are unexpected and unflattering. Fears of injury from participation in various activities increases, aches pains, arthritis all begin to occur. It seems to be normal early in life to live with, or expect to live with, pain of some sort. I bet that is why you workout and eat healthy because you’ve heard a reputable personal trainer explain that it’s not normal to live with pain. You have seen firsthand that with proper, targeted exercise, many common pains such as arthritis or otherwise can be reduced or eliminated altogether. You realize that living pain free allows you to participate in all the things you have always loved for the majority of your life and I bet that is why you workout.
You are probably aware of recent studies by our federal government that indicate thanks to technology and our fast paced dynamic culture that even our children are presented with so many new ways to communicate and entertain themselves that they are becoming far less active. This decline in activity in the youth is so bad that you may outlive your children. Because these are findings of a formal government study in recent years I am certain you workout and eat healthy to be a role model to your fellow family members and children. You realize that setting positive habits makes it easier for them to adopt those same habits long term ensuring that your family is protected from these horrible statistics. That must be why you workout.
I bet you workout because you’ve heard that the number one medication prescribed by doctors is antidepressants as our society deals with greater amounts of stress than they ever have before leaving them feeling inadequate or unsuccessful. You realize that exercise relieves stress and promotes hormone release that works to counter these effects. I am sure you workout and eat healthy because you know that statistically those that exercise on a regular basis are far less likely to be depressed and many times more likely to achieve the success they desire. I am certain you workout because the stress of an economic recession seems far less frightening when you feel good and confident about yourself.
Or maybe you simply exercise and eat healthy because you enjoy the feeling of accomplishment you get from mastering each challenge. Or perhaps it’s just the simple desire to stay in the “skinny jeans” or continue to look great for each trip to the beach this summer. For whatever reason you workout and eat healthy it’s a good one, exercise saves lives you should introduce a friend.
Over the years we’ve had many moms both expecting and post pregnancy worried about losing the baby weight and regaining the body they once had before giving birth to the love of their life. For many women this can be a real struggle, and the truth is that has a lot to do with the lifestyle of the mother to be while she is pregnant.
As the fetus grows and matures the metabolic needs of now two bodies fluctuates and increases. With so many hormones present and rapid growth of your unborn child the body demands increased amounts of nutrition (and I am sure as any new mother can attest to it demands some odd things.)
For many women these odd cravings and unsteady emotions really take their toll. Combine that with the convenience of society and being uncomfortable it’s not too hard to understand why pregnancy nutrition can deteriorate so much.
Anyways, the truth is an expecting or recent mother you has two chances to quickly lose all of the baby weight. The first comes while you are pregnant. The body is undergoing so much rapid change and hormonal cascades are frequent and levels extremely high. By continuing, or starting, a reasonable exercise program while pregnant you will work to provide some balance to all of these rapid changes. Steady light exercise has also been shown to speed up delivery and reduce the likelihood of physical complications. By doing your best to consume quality, unprocessed food and avoiding refined sugar you will minimize the gain of unneeded body fat as well as enhance the health of your child, we truly are what we eat. The easiest way to do this is to use the same principles we recommend to our clients on a daily basis; always have food prepared and don’t let yourself get too hungry, eat often. This alone will minimize many cravings and the times it doesn’t it will create less guilt if you choose to indulge. The impact that good habits during pregnancy can have on the health of your child should not be ignored, and especially if you are eager to get back into shape after.
The second chance to quickly lose all of your baby weight comes just after the birth of your child. Pregnancy is a dramatic physical change, a change that takes your body way off the axis of its normal balance. Think of this like a swing, what happens when you push a child on a swing? As you push in one direction at some point it pushes back in the opposite direction, our body is very much the same way.
Post pregnancy your body is still working overtime hormonally and metabolically to produce all the nutrients and elements you need to feed your child and allow them to continue to grow rapidly and healthy. You should now be much more comfortable, there is obvious less risk to exercise and though there is still great unbalance in your
body it’s now much more on your side. Starting or resuming a regular exercise program soon after pregnancy will allow you to take advantage of all the increased hormonal cascades to quickly shed any weight gained. Additionally exercise further improves hormone and enzyme production and ultimately the health and nutrition you can pass on to your baby. Combine this with quality nutrition as your cravings subside and true miracles can happen in a very short period of time. I think many women are confused, thinking that they have been uncomfortable for so long that they need to be careful or wait to begin to be more active. While you should always exercise a little caution the truth is our bodies are designed to be in motion and the sooner you are the happier, healthier and closer you will be to your pre-pregnancy weight.
These are the three things that everyone should do: eat more often, exercise regularly, resistance training. It’s that simple if you do these three things your body will have no choice but to improve in physical condition. This isn’t a new concept I know you’ve heard it all before. Still everyday at One to 1 we continue to explain these things. Eating more often tends to be the most difficult one for people to accept.
If you are exercising regularly or eating healthy, or clean as we term it, but you are not eating at least five times a day you and the hamster running on the wheel have a few things in common. Each time we eat we kick the digestive machine into high gear, that machine is power hungry it demands energy to do its job and let me tell you digestion is not like an economy car. Digestion requires an incredible amount of energy to do its job; it is the single most effective calorie burning tool in your arsenal for getting in shape. If you want to be fit, eat all the time. I’m serious about this the more often you can eat or if you can teach yourself to continually graze the hungrier you will become, the warmer you will become and depending on what you eat the fitter you will become. Now just because I told you to eat non-stop please don’t be that person that makes the drive-thru line up extend onto the street, there’s too much of that already. Choose clean whole foods, carry vegetables with you everywhere. Throw a can of tuna or a few egg whites in an afternoon salad. Trim the fat from your red meat in the evening or try consuming fish or buffalo instead. Just make sure you eat that minimum of five times a day to really experience the easiest calorie burning workout known to man.
Regular cardio is an insurance policy for weight loss, the weather has been take advantage of it. Running, biking, walking, if you haven’t been out there doing those things, today is a great day to start. Combined with extra meals your metabolism is going to love you for adding regular cardio exercise. 20 minutes of sustained activity at an elevated heart rate increase metabolism for hours, more calories burning just by sitting around after. You just can’t go wrong it’s like being a savvy market investor learning to compound your rate of return with the least amount of effort. With cardio just remember you want to try to keep your heart rate elevated to at least 60% of your max for 20 minutes or more, I highly encourage workouts at higher than 60% if you are up to the task for the multitude of heart health benefits. (Max heartrate = 220-age, please consult your physician first before implementing a high heart rate workout.)
Start resistance training, it can be fun, it doesn’t have to be the boring square repetitive training that most people do, and there is plenty that can even be done in your own home with very little equipment. The bottom line is take the steps to work the muscles and get stronger. Deteriorating bone density is a problem that is on the rise, as a trainer I’m hearing it from my clients more and more. Resistance training has an anti-aging effect by keeping tissues and structures healthy. As you gain strength, experience and confidence hard resistance training is also another key in your metabolic arsenal. Anaerobic training promotes muscle fiber development. Stronger muscle fibers mean more mitochondria the cellular energy producing units. More mitochondria mean additional energy production and calorie burning, ultimately this means a fitter leaner individual.
It’s not rocket science, it’s a smart investment, an investment in your own health. It’s habits that should be a part of all our lives. Start by adjusting one component at a time it won’t take long for you to see the changes that occur.
Earlier this year the Advocate asked me to contribute an article to a special section they were publishing on health and fitness. I really wanted to do something special for this section, something different. Wendy and I co-wrote this piece on the steps to supporting your spouse and working together to develop and acheive your fitness goals. I hope you enjoy it.
This is the time of year many of us are setting new goals. If you are married or in a relationship chances are your spouse or companion is also setting new goals. I am sure Wendy and I are not alone in acknowledging that for many husbands and wives it’s very difficult to know how to properly encourage or support your spouse as they pursue their own goals. Yet as individuals the encouragement, support or lack thereof from our spouse can have a dramatic impact on whether we ever reach our goals.
I knew I couldn’t write a column on this topic alone so I turned to the best expert I know and together we have outlined our best tips for spouses to motivate and encourage each other.
1) Set your goals and most importantly write them down. Do this together and it will be much easier for your spouse to be supportive when they know exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish. After you have written your goals assist each other in defining the steps that need be taken to accomplish them. This doesn’t mean you have to have the same goals.
2) Once you`ve set your goals you might make mini challenges or find ways to challenge each other. You can be companions but you can also be competitors. Seeing the other push harder in turn makes you want to work harder, but also set rewards at the end. If she wins the challenge maybe she gets a new outfit, if he wins the challenge maybe he gets a back rub or a trip to the sports store, either way make it worth something.
3) If at all possible do the activity together. It’s easier to find motivation to improve when there is someone holding you accountable and that you will disappoint if you bail. It’s also harder to make excuses not to do it when you know that other person is counting on you to participate.
4) Listen to your spouse talk about their goals and experiences trying to achieve them. Talk to your spouse about what they are doing. Women especially love to just talk and be heard. The more excited and supportive you are to her ideas, the more excited she will become just talking about it. You don’t need to give suggestions, unless she asks, but just listen to her spill her guts about her awesome workout or how great her butt looks now. Whatever it is just listening is the key. Guys go back and read this one again.
5) Encourage your spouse to do activities they love. Let them know it is ok to take time away from work, the relationship, the housework, whatever it may be to do something just for themselves.
6) Support them with your actions and get involved even if it`s just once in a while. Words can mean a lot, and people need to hear encouraging words but actions speak far louder. Try and get involved somehow to show that the other person`s interests are important to you. Share in their passion, even if it’s only once in a while. Showing interest is one way to make someone feel that what they do is important and matters.
7) When things get hard, because they always do, remind and affirm each other about the reasons they can succeed. We all need encouragement and affirmation far more often than we receive, in a world full of negativity and fear it`s important to be that person who can bring a positive twist back to our companion`s day.
As individuals we can accomplish a great deal but as a team we can accomplish far more. As you both set and embark on new goals committing to these seven tips will not only help you reach your goals but create an avenue of growth providing even more important reward. Though it may sound easy on paper being able to properly encourage and support your spouse is something you get better at with practice. Use these seven tips and don`t forget to start out small, have fun doing it and be patient with one another, all good things take time.