Category Archives: Mindset

What can you learn from your post-vacation body?

So, you are back from summer vacation. The kids have started school, all your colleagues are in the office, and it feels like life is suddenly on overdrive.

What the H@!# Happened?

Just a few days ago you were feeling super relaxed. When you were on vacation your tension just melted away.

During re-entry, you started to hear all kinds of unexpected compliments: You look great. Did you lose weight?

And perhaps you were even a little befuddled. After all, you really let yourself go while you were away.

You didn’t go to the gym, or work out nearly as much as you usually do. You drank a lot more wine and to top it all off, you ate a lot. The scale even affirms that you gained weight. Clearly it is time to get serious about getting back to your usual fitness routine and diet.

Hold on just a minute!!

The scale is just a small measurement of overall health. A weight gain can be indicative of so many things, and if your body looks better and you feel better, perhaps there is a little assessing to do before getting back to “normal”.

I see this happen all the time with my clients when we start working together again in the fall after they’ve left town for a few weeks or a few months. While they’re seriously distressed about weight gain and “poor” eating habits, it visibly appears as though they’ve lost years from their life in a matter of weeks. Shoulder tension, bad posture, and even chronic pain seems to have dramatically gone away.

Getting back to business rarely if ever seems to build on the benefit from an extended break from daily stress and that is a big failing on our parts should we choose to ignore it.

The biggest cause of aging is our stress and the number one thing we can do to maximize on the benefits we’ve gained from our vacations is to measure acceptable stress and stress management through the lens of how we feel in the days following a good break.

So, how can you change the way you handle eating, exercising and other everyday tasks to maintain that lowered stress level you returned with?

That’s impossible!!

Well before you allow that thought to take over, consider this: If you do everything in your life EXACTLY how it’s been done before, you are correct, that is indeed impossible. But if you employ a different strategy, not only is a different result possible, it becomes highly probable.

Let’s take a closer look at the “faulty” health and fitness strategy you employed on vacation:

1) You had a lot of leisure time. You weren’t constantly in planning mode, trying to finish last minute work on projects, and working every second of every day.

2) You exercised for the joy of moving. Maybe you walked, swam, did a little stretching, but it was more a part of your daily lifestyle. Something you did to relax, start your day, or cap it off. Not something you did because you were supposed to do it or something that was part of beating yourself up in any way.

3) You rested when you were tired. You went to bed earlier, slept later, and took breaks from exercise when you needed it.

4) You ate what you enjoy and you enjoyed what you ate. It is totally appropriate to eat according to desire. You are actually more likely to overeat when you deprive yourself day after day. The more forbidden the fruit, the better it tastes. If you consistently tell yourself no, your inner child only wants it more and will eat more (often without even tasting and enjoying it) when the opportunity finally presents itself. If you allow indulgence from time to time, you will naturally gravitate towards healthier more nutrient foods most of the time (I know I do).

5) You connected regularly with friends and family. Having strong relationships is satisfying. It helps us process stress more easily and provides an amazing support network for us. If we are supported, we don’t indulge in unhealthy behaviors that often come from feeling lonely or not good enough.

6) You spent time on yourself. Whether it was through reading a book, a magazine, meditation, or a nap, you gave yourself space to rejuvenate without a specific purpose or end in mind. Leisure time is so important. We can’t work on our goals every moment of every day without burning out!

7) You lived in the present. Much easier when you don’t have such a lengthy to-do list, or a house to clean, I know. But we all can choose to live each moment of everyday in the present. Children do it naturally and the more we select how we will focus our time, and avoid overworking and multi-tasking, the easier it becomes to do this.

All of these strategies result in an overall reduced state of stress which is vital for us to function at an optimum level, lose weight, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Perhaps you shouldn’t eat quite as much as you ate, or exercise quite as little as you did, but in the quest to “fix” that, let’s not erase all of the benefits you gained by taking the pressure off yourself to be perfect.

Just think, how different would you be if you integrated just one of these ideas into your life on a regular basis?

Now it’s time to take action.

In the comments below, share your insights with me and the Leap Ahead Fitness community.

How is your body different post-vacation? What is one thing you did on vacation that you could continue to do in your everyday life to maintain lower stress and better health and fitness?

Me? I’m going to continue to enjoy wine on a daily basis. What the H@!#! You only live once!!

Health and Happiness,

Natalie

5 Ways to Get Past Your Fitness Plateau

5 Ways to Get Past Your Fitness PlateauI spent the better part of the day last Thursday at the Small Biz EXPO in NYC. As with many trade shows, the experience was both overwhelming and exhilarating. So many people to meet, so many services to learn about, and new information to learn.

In a lot of ways, attending a trade show isn’t that different from embarking on the journey to better health and fitness. There is a lot of information out there. Some has merit for your own unique set of experiences and desires. Some is completely useless to you but might be useful to others. And the rest is complete garbage … even though it might not appear that way at first.

Companies that seek to do business with you have invested a great deal of time and energy in marketing in a way that will hook the most people. But just because it looks pretty or effective doesn’t mean it is.

The fitness industry is no different. It seems like everyone is pedaling a new diet or a new fitness trend that will help you “finally achieve success.”

But the reality is that just like services for businesses are only as effective as the CEO who implements them, fitness products and diets are only as effective as the people who use them.

You could spend hours, days, weeks, months, and years trying new diets and fitness routines, trying to prevent yourself from getting bored or from hitting a plateau.

But have you ever noticed that when you hit a plateau and you decide to try a totally new strategy that you just hit a similar plateau when a similar amount of time has passed?

Without addressing the underlying causes of your plateau, regardless of the brilliance of your plan, a new plan is unlikely to solve all your problems. 

Assuming you have a good strategy to begin with – one that is aligned with your reasons, goals, and endgame –  changing your goal is nothing more than a clever trick your brain has devised to keep you from actually realizing your goal.

So you have a great strategy and have hit a plateau. How do you get past it?

It’s time to dig deeper and and do more than just show up. It’s time to add specificity to what you are doing. Commit more deeply to your plan. Figure out how you can work more deeply within the framework you have created.

Here are 5 key questions to ask yourself to determine where there is room for improvement:

1) Have you been religiously following your plan? Or do you regularly skip workouts and cheat on your eating plan?

2) Are you exercising with optimal form? Often when exercises seem easier, our first impulse is to make them more complicated or add weight. But from years of teaching Pilates, I know that one of the simplest ways to challenge yourself is to get more specific about what you are doing. Discover where you are “cheating” – whether intentionally or not – and really work on that. If you aren’t regular getting corrections on form either from a personal trainer or a group exercise instructor, seek out someone who can fill that role for you.

3) Have you been slacking off? When we work out by ourselves without the guidance of a trainer or group exercise instructor, it can become easy to unintentionally slack off, especially as we get stronger. Our bodies are designed to adapt to stimulus (like exercise), so the same exercise, with the same weight will actually become less effective over time. When you do cardio, is your heart rate still elevating to the same levels it was a week ago? a month ago? Do you feel like you are working to your peak in every workout? Are you staying fully present physically, mentally and emotionally in every workout?

4) Is stress your un-doing? Do you sleep enough? Take time to meditate or unwind in some way on a daily basis? Without enough time to recharge our batteries, our brains produce excessive cortisol which makes up less responsive to change. The best weight loss and fitness gains come from a state of relaxation. [Tweet this

5) Do you have any crap programming living in your subconscious? These are deep seated beliefs, opinions of others that may have rubbed off on you, fears of the what if. Take some time to clear the beliefs that may be getting in your way and causing you to cheat in little ways and subconsciously sabotage yourself. EFT (emotional freedom technique) and hypnosis are great ways to tap into your subconscious.

What did you learn from asking yourself these questions?

Did you find at least one way that you can commit in a more focused way  to your health and fitness plan? How will you use what you’ve learned to get past your current plateau?

Leave a comment below to share what you discovered and how you plan to tweak your fitness plan to get to the next level. As always, I look forward to hearing from you!!

 

Is Your Resistance Taking Over?

ResistanceYou want to get in better shape. You want to feel better and have more energy. You want to look great in your jeans.

You start paying more attention to what you are eating. You join a gym. Maybe you even start working out on a regular basis.

And you start to feel better and lose some weight.

And then suddenly it stops.

You become overwhelmed by work, your family responsibilities, your relationship.

It feels like your life is falling apart and little by little, you start to cheat yourself.

You decide to have another “treat” – a burger, a chocolate bar, some fries, a second glass of wine. You need it after all. You’ve been working so hard. You’ve made progress. It’s time to celebrate.

You skip a workout saying that you’re too tired. You’ll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and goes. Then the next day. Then a week.

Your energy feels like it has been sucked out of you like a Death Eater, and you can’t imagine what could possibly get you back on track again.

You are exhausted. You have started and failed to follow through with your plans to get in better shape so many times.

You think, “Maybe success is some impossible ideal. Why bother if I’m just going to fail again?”

_______

If you’ve ever experienced any or all of these thoughts, you’ve been victim to a thing that artists call Resistance. It is that indescribable thing that stops you before you start. The thoughts that tell you that your desires are foolish and crazy. The self-doubt that causes you to erase all the progress you’ve made and maybe even end up worse off.

Before you start your own pity party, thinking that you are the only one who can’t seem to succeed, know that you are not alone.

This week I have been re-reading some treasured personal development books, and one of the books that popped to the surface was “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. Some friends are reading a trilogy of Pressfield’s books on the art of being an artist, and  even though I hadn’t read the book in at least a couple of years, I admit I didn’t even want to read it.

I rarely re-read a book. After all, there are only so many hours in the day. With so much to do, why waste time reading something I’ve already read?

However, once I started reading, it became clear to me that these were words I really needed to hear. In my growth as an actor and an entrepreneur, I have come so far, but I’m still not experiencing the level of success that I desire in my life.

The more I read, the more I recognized some of the patterns of frustration I had created for myself in the past year as manifestations of my Resistance. Failure to keep up with balancing my accounts. Accumulating huge piles of clutter. Not cooking my own meals. And perhaps the biggest one – I haven’t written a blog post since January!

My excuses?

  • I was too busy pursuing my acting career, and auditions left me too exhausted to put time into my business.
  • I don’t know where my business is going and I’m terrified of creating a business that is bigger than I can handle.
  • Why should I put all this effort into building a business that I might have to leave one day when my acting career becomes wildly successful?

(Beware: Excuses are one of the biggest forms of Resistance.)

So how do we move past our excuses, our Resistance and achieve the Success we truly desire? In brief, take action daily towards our dreams and do whatever we have to to silence our Resistance. (more on that later – today I’m starting to read Pressfield’s book Do the Work)

For now, I am so grateful that I picked up this book so that I could see my Resistance for what it really is – a big fat liar, that is scared of change.

So to my Resistance, I’m saying “Thank you for your opinions, but no thank you. I choose to listen to my heart and not you.”

What about you? Where is Resistance surfacing in your life and especially in regard to your desire to be more fit? What excuses are you making that are stopping you dead in your tracks? What action can you take to beat your Resistance today?

Leave your comments below. You might just help someone else conquer her own Resistance.

xo,

Natalie