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How Fear Can Sabotage Your Fitness Goals: Programming for Success

Fear can do many things to us and they are almost never positive in their outcome. Being dominated by our fears is no way to live – especially when it comes to our efforts to become healthy and fit. I have sabotaged many goals and choices over the years because of my fears. Most of the time I have never been clear on just what “it” was I was afraid of but somehow fear took hold of me and I did not step boldly into a successful outcome.

I believe we are inherently capable of being great and doing great things but we can – and do – sabotage our greater “yet to be” by letting our fears control our behavior – and our choices. This is no way to live! In this article I would like to highlight of the 4 keys to overcoming our fears and become bold and tied to our successes – not our failures!

The 4 Keys To Successfully Overcoming Our Fears

VISUALIZATION

I find that when we have a clear picture in mind when setting our goals we can more easily identify with a successful outcome because we can “out-picture” not only a positive process – but a successful conclusion as well. Fear is often described as “false evidence appearing real” and it is this “reality” that our minds and hearts can be “tricked” into giving up before we can experience a result that we desire. I have felt the power of visualization when it came to many aspects of my life – especially when it concerned my running – and weightlifting – program.

Prior to beginning my training sessions I spend time in my mind “picturing” myself doing what it is I want to accomplish during that session. If I want to run a specific time I put myself in this “mental place” by running at a particular pace at a specific speed. I attach my feelings of joy to this picture and visualize me smiling and happy enjoying the process of running free and without fear. It is in my mind that I create success and I do this before I take any action in the “real world”. How long you choose to visualize your own session is up to you.

It is a discipline well worth creating and employing every time you start to address your health and fitness needs. The feeling in conjunction with the “picture” is crucial for a successful outcome. Remember to give yourself a break and start slowly. I tend to spend 10-15 minutes in support of my visual “cues” so that the session  goes as smoothly as I envisioned it. Walt Disney is one of my idols when it comes to visualization (and imagination of course) because he did not see orange groves in Anaheim – he saw Disneyland! Look how that turned out!

IMAGINATION

It is said that the true measure of intelligence is not intellect but imagination. Steve Jobs imagined a world connected by phone and in his mind he set in motion the development of the “smart phone” and he changed the world as we know it. He passed away from cancer but before he died he had the opportunity to see his vision come to life. Walt Disney died in 1966 before many of his most creative ideas were born but he did live long enough to know that his vision of a family oriented adventure and experience would eventually be fully realized. The company that bears his name is still creating in the manner he began some 80 years ago!

I believe in the power of the imagination to aid us in all manner of accomplishment in life. I imagine myself speaking and teaching all over the world as an advocate of the principles of healthy aging and living a life of purpose – on purpose – every day. I know at 70 my time is not unlimited but I do have faith in the principle “that the mind of man is unlimited in its potential – and DOES respond to specific demands made upon it”. This principle works every time we use IF we also BELIEVE not only in ourselves – but our potential to accomplish great things as well.

What is it that you want to accomplish and can this be the key to your success in developing and maintaining an active and complete fitness program? I believe the main reason we need to engage in an active and ongoing fitness program is because we are each here to accomplish something unique that only we can accomplish. I see me speaking and excited about my message because I am filled with the energy of excellent health and also because I am strong mentally and physically as a result of my successful training program. You too can do this! Just believe and do it!

AFFIRMATION

What we say – and think – we become. Never allow yourself to use “defeatist” language that signifies you are NOT capable of achieving whatever it is you have set out to do. Words have power – choose yours wisely. NEVER say what you DON’T want in your life – always affirm what you DO want in your life! If you want to increase your strength affirm: “I am strong and powerful – and grateful for every muscle in my body”. Here is another affirmation:”I am dynamic, energized, open and receptive right here and now and act in support of this instruction”.

Always place your affirmation in the present tense and never allow for anything but a positive outcome. Give yourself credit for being who you ARE and always look forward to becoming your BEST version of yourself. I say everyday: “I powerful, successful and excited to be who I am today and I KNOW I am becoming more of what I want to be with each thought I think and every action I take.

Affirmations give us the opportunity to “re-program” our subconscious minds by replacing outworn beliefs about ourselves with new and powerful thoughts and ideas that help us create the new person we want to become – mentally, physically, and spiritually. NEVER allow your words to create what you DON”T want in your life – always use them to help you become who you want to BE!

ACTIONS – BEHAVIOR

“Actions speak louder than words”. If you want someone to know you value them – even love them – it through your actions and NOT your words that the truth will eventually come out. When it comes to fitness and developing your program – actions are everything! You can’t burn calories or create muscle without taking action – you MUST move first! Everyday I KNOW I will be training because my mind and body EXPECT to do this for my health and well being. I am always aware of the idea that tomorrow is NEVER guaranteed and that TODAY is all I have so I never want to waste even one day of training.

Being FIT is a habit with me that I cultivated over decades of my life. I act in support of my fitness goals every day because I never wanted to grow old – just older. It is not the number of years we are alive that matters – it is the life in our years that counts the most. I work on speed, power, strength, balance, endurance, flexibility and strength because I want my body to be able to hold up for whatever years I have left in my life. I also want to be able to accomplish my mission by contributing my message and voice to life before it ends. I need a fit body to serve as an example of what is possible through hard work and dedication to my purpose.

Conclusion

Take time to reflect on your journey to date and ask yourself one simple question: “Have I come close to reaching my potential or am I letting fear sabotage my ability to create a life of meaning and purpose?” Take time to answer this question and address the needs you need to fulfill physically, mentally and spiritually in order to set in motion your journey to success – and fulfillment. Life is always lived from the “inner to the outer” – not the other way around. We can never access our “greater good” by FOLLOWING others. We CAN serve as examples of what is possible but each of us must find our own path to pursue and this path is not mine – it is YOURS.

Love your uniqueness and praise your gifts and never allow yourself to stay in negative thinking. “Get over yourself” and remember we are here to accomplish something great for others. We are here to SERVE and we cannot do our part if we are weak and scared. I can say I am 70 but I am 30 in my mind – and in body and spirit as well – because I have trained without failure. I started running in 1964 at Syracuse University as a freshman and am in my 53rd year – and counting, Over that time I have accumulated over 60,000 miles and am going to run as long as I can maintain my current level of fitness. When it comes to being fit I will ALWAYS want to serve as an example of what is possible because it is all that matters to me! It should also matter to you too!

Originally printed on HealthyNewAge.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

couple-balancing

Step up to Better Balance

When we are young we take our balance and coordination for granted. Yet as we progress through the years sometimes our muscles get weaker and joints get tighter and our posture changes all contributing to decreases in balance skills.

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Aging and Exercise

Time dictates so many aspects of our lives. When beginning this article, I thought to myself how much time controls my day from the seconds, minutes, and hours. And of course in relation to this piece of writing, it is the measure of our age. The aging process is unique to each of us. But ultimately, it does impact our life decisions, and that includes our exercise choices. So let’s take a look at the relationship between aging and exercise.

Naturally, activity level changes when we get older. As one of my long time clients put it, “Man, I don’t just roll out of bed anymore ready to go”. This isn’t to say that one is less motivated, rather, the energy expenditure levels are different. This is mainly due to the fact that, “A major fraction of total daily energy arises from resting metabolism, and it is thus important to note that resting metabolism decreases with aging, by about 10% from early adulthood to the age of retirement, and a further 10% subsequently.” (1) Adding to this, “One reason is the loss metabolically active muscle mass and parallel increase in metabolically inert depot fat. In later old age, there may also be some overall reduction in cellular metabolism.” (1) When muscle mass decreases, this can cause body fat to increase. Keeping the excess pounds off can get harder. As such, “Your body fat can increase by up to 30 percent, which leads to a loss of lean muscle tissue and can affect your sense of balance. This can make it difficult for you to perform exercise activities you once enjoyed.” (2)

We need to continue a strength training program in order to not let our bodies replace muscle with fat at the rate it would like to. Not to use a scare tactic but here you go: “Strength peaks around 25 year of age, plateaus through 35 or 40 years of age, and then shows an accelerating decline, with 25% loss of peak force by age of 65 years.” (1)

Exercise becomes so extremely important as we grow older. We tell ourselves that we used to be able to eat whatever we wanted and still look fabulous, but now the odds aren’t necessarily the same anymore. We have to take care of our bodies, and we can help prevent certain diseases with exercise. For example, “Your bone mass begins to decline once you enter your thirties, putting you at risk for conditions such as osteoporosis. If you are concerned about developing this condition, perform more weight-bearing exercises, such as running and tennis. Regular cardio activity will also help you control high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as ward off type 2 diabetes and some kinds of cancer.” (2)

As I always say, there is no can’t. That word is not allowed in my studio. There are modifications for so many exercises, and I will be by your side as we run, walk, or crawl to get it done. If we don’t use it, we lose is, right? Not every day is a peak performance day, but we do we can. As long as we are active, we are being productive to our bodies. Running a marathon might not be in the future, but what about making to your training session twice a week and keeping that commitment to your body? Goals should be realistic. Remember the glory days fondly, but know that you are keeping your mind and body in better condition and sticking around longer for your family and friends by maintaining an exercise program. Fitness is a way of life and the destination involves progress not perfection so just keep going one rep a time, one day at a time, and with every age of your life.


Originally printed on the Every BODY’s Fit Blog. Reprinted with permission.

Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough, owner of Every BODY’s Fit in Oceanside CA, is a NASM Master Trainer, AFAA group exercise instructor, and specializes in Fitness Nutrition, Weight Management, Senior Fitness, Corrective Exercise, and Drug and Alcohol Recovery. She’s also a Wellness Coach, holds an M.A. Physical Education & Health and a Ph.D in Health and Human Performance. She is a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, and published author.

References 

  1. http://www.sportsci.org/encyc/agingex/agingex.html
  2. http://www.livestrong.com/article/418037-how-does-age-affect-exercise/
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Stop Sitting: It’s Time to Take a Stand!

We probably know that sitting can be bad for our health. In fact, sitting has been called the “new smoking.” So, if you’re laid out on a couch, or plopped in a chair right now, you might have the most common health problem in America today — Sitting Disease. That might sound silly, but prolonged sedentary living plays a substantial role in a lot of the health concerns of our time.

The U.S. is a world leader in sloth. Seventy-five percent of the population of the United States fails to meet even the minimum government recommendation for daily exercise. And latest statistics shows that the highest rates of inactivity remain among those ages 65 and over. This epidemic is not confined to any region of the United States either. It is ubiquitous in both rural and urban communities and both the wealthy and the poor. (1) (2)

Chronic diseases are major killers in the modern era, and physical inactivity is a primary cause of most of them. Depressing, huh! Well, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Increasing our physical activity can result in substantial increases in both the number and quality years of life. Adults who are physically active are healthier and less likely to develop many chronic diseases than adults who aren’t active — regardless of their gender or ethnicity.

Physical activity/exercise is also the primary way we can slow down biological aging, as well as prevent or delay premature death from 35 chronic conditions, including: low cardiorespiratory fitness, obesity, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, depression and anxiety, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, balance, bone fracture/falls, many cancers, erectile dysfunction, and pain. (3)

Get Up and Move

It’s time to take a stand! Get on your feet and out of the computer-typing, cell phone using, freeway-driving position you find yourself in all too often.

Of course, it can be tough to schedule time to exercise when you want to see the hottest thing on Netflix, there’s Haagen-Dazs in the freezer; actually, if you’ve got anything better to do with your time. For a lot of us, the most pressing question about exercise is: How little can I get away with?

It turns out, doing anything is better than doing nothing. This means you can get the same health benefits as people who work out in a gym but spend the rest of their time sitting. Staying active throughout the day results in similar benefits to doing a rigorous workout.

We can reverse three to four decades of inactivity by performing easy, bodyweight, multi-joint movements that use more muscles. Even doing twice-a-week leg exercises strengthens them. And small gains in leg strength make a big difference in everyday life. It can get easier to get out of that chair, climb stairs, and carry groceries. Incorporating exercises for leg strengthening into your regular workouts may also aid in fat loss. And you’ll improve your balance. (4)

So, What’s the Drill?

Most government guidelines define physical inactivity as anything less than 150 minutes of walking or moderate physical activity per week. Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving — not just traditional exercise. The process of adding activity to your busy life can be difficult, but it can be done. Even lifelong exercisers had to start somewhere.

150 minutes each week may sound like a lot of time, but the good news is you don’t have to do it all at once. You can meet this goal by breaking it into smaller chunks of time during the day to. Take a 10-minute brisk walk and repeat it three times a day, five days a week. By adding structured, planned, intentional movement to your days, you can reap additional life benefits, increasing the health of your heart and lungs, improving muscular and bone strength, and increasing flexibility. (5)

Look for ways to be active that are fun and work for you. My vision is to guide you to live, work, and play actively, no matter your age, where you live, or your ability.


Jacqueline Gikow, whose holistic, health and wellness practice centers on pain relief through better movement, is the owner of Audacious Living NYC™. She is certified through the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBCHWC), the Functional Aging Institute (FAI), Medfit (MFN), and the Arthritis Foundation (AFAP/AFEP). Her fitness practice includes in-home and remote, one-on-one fitness training and coaching in New York City. Visit Jacqueline’s website at audaciouslivingnyc.com, or on Facebook.

 

References

  1. http://www.physicalactivitycouncil.com/pdfs/current.pdf
  2. http://harvardmagazine.com/2004/03/the-power-of-exercise
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/older_adults/
  5. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/
trainer-with-senior-woman-at-treadmill

How the Human Body Changes As It Ages

The human body undergoes a lot of changes during its lifetime. From infancy to old age, there are biochemical processes in the body that define these changes.

Some of them are visible externally, such as the greying of hair, skin becoming less supple, etc.

But beneath all of this, some processes happen to make all of this possible.

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Why Women Should Lift

Just a generation ago, women’s weight-lifting was largely isolated to professional athletes and competitive body-builders. Men have been lifting weights for years, but it has not come into the mainstream for women until the past 10-15 years. 

Some of the barriers to the barbell for women may include fear of injury, lack of accessibility to an environment where they can learn and lift weights safely, and even more compelling are concerns about body image: “I don’t want to get too bulky”. Today, we know so much more about the overall health and athletic performance benefits of weight training. As more women have flooded competitive and professional sports and with the emergence of CrossFit and other resistance based group fitness classes, weight training has become commonplace in women’s organized sports and recreational fitness programs. But still today, the barriers to the barbell still exist with many misconceptions about risk of injury and body image concerns. 

The Effect of Aging on our Muscles and Joints

Being a well-rounded athlete includes not only endurance, flexibility and agility, but also muscular strength.  Our muscles move our skeleton, protect our joints, are a major source of energy expenditure and play an important role in blood sugar management. Like our heart and lungs, our skeletal muscles need exercise to stay healthy so they can continue to carry out these functions for our entire lives. Over time, especially into the menopausal years, women begin to lose muscle mass and bone density. Decline in estrogen levels increases the rate of bone loss and joint laxity leaving us more vulnerable to injury and fractures. With the loss of muscle mass, our metabolism slows and activities may become limited. But it doesn’t have to be this way. One important weapon to combat these natural changes is the all-mighty barbell! 

Health Benefits of Weight Training

As young women, weight training helps performance across a spectrum of recreational and professional sports and builds a solid foundation of lean body mass, strength and functionality for the future. Starting from puberty, bone density increases until it peaks in our early 30’s.  Weight-bearing exercise, along with sound nutrition, optimizes bone density development to prevent osteoporosis and fractures later in life. Into our 40’s, 50’s and beyond, weight training and attention to nutrition and recovery can not only slow the loss of bone density and muscle mass that comes with menopause, but may even result in continued improvement– especially if weight training was not started until later in life. Increasing and maintaining muscle mass in this age group also affords stability to joints such as shoulders, knees and hips thus preventing injury. But what if I’m already in my 60’s and beyond and I have never lifted weights before? Is it too late to start? Absolutely not! At age 89, my mother started doing deadlifts and chair squats with gallon milk jugs. Weight training for beginners can start with weighted household items, progress to dumbbells and to group classes such as Boot Camps, Crossfit and other similar type classes. In all age groups, like with any new sport or activity, beginners should focus on strict technique and mechanics with an experienced coach or instructor before increasing load and intensity.

A Word about Body Image

When I started weight training in the mid-1980’s, skinny was in. I was always self-conscious about doing too much leg work because my legs became very muscular. So I stopped training my legs – for literally decades. And now I am paying the price. But through Crossfit I have regained a lot of what I could have developed in my younger years. Today, I very much regret surrendering to the societal ideal at the time. Because “society” doesn’t have to contend with my personal struggle to start rebuilding leg strength after age 45. Fortunately, today is different, “Strong is the new sexy”. But the body-shamers and the haters still exist and feel compelled to impose their beliefs and ideals on others. But the truth is that your strongest, healthiest, most confident self is your most beautiful self – not some societal ideal. So whether you are 18 or 80, grab those weights and give your body the gift of strength that will keep you healthy, active and living life to the fullest for years to come.

Join Dr. DiGirolamo for her webinar, Hormones and You: Knowledge is Power


Dr. Carla DiGirolamo is a double Board-Certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Reproductive Endocrinologist who specializes in the care of reproductive age and mid-life women. Carla completed her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brown University Medical School/Women and Infants’ Hospital and her Reproductive Endocrinology training at the Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School. She is a North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Certified Menopause Practitioner and has been featured in multiple podcasts and speakerships at various events discussing the physiology of the hormonal changes of menopause, hormone therapy and functional fitness training.

woman heating pad

Why Suffer in Silence?

In America today, 40% of females, including women, children and teens, suffer in silence with either primary or secondary dysmenorrhea every month. Primary dysmenorrhea accompanies the monthly menstrual cycle without any underlying medical conditions. Secondary dysmenorrhea means that there is another medical issue present, such as endometriosis. This condition makes it hard to function, with most women being bedridden for three to five days or longer. Dysmenorrhea is not a weakness, but a real medical issue.

Generally, the female client will have severe throbbing pain from the waist down. They can feel it in their stomach, low back, legs and feet, making it hard to move. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, stress, depression, lightheadedness, fatigue, headache, fever, and depression, weakness and fainting. Risk factors are smoking, obesity, being underweight, strong family history, high levels of stress, anxiety and/or depression. Women can still have painful stomach cramping well after menopause if they have Endometriosis.

This is a silent stressor for many women because they rarely choose to speak about it. Some have been living with the pain for twenty years or more and think there is nothing they can do. If a client comes to you and mentions that they have a lot of pain, urge them to see their doctor. This conversation is more likely to happen with a female personal trainer. The good news is that fitness professionals can help their clients to feel better during this painful time of the month.

It is important to acknowledge this painful condition because of the physical and mental implications that come along with it. As the trainer you, may be working with a therapist as well as an OB/GYN. You are trying to help your client feel better overall. We recommend scheduling an assessment first to understand the client’s medical history. As a fitness professional, you may want to refer your clients to other professionals as well. Acupuncture, for example, is well known for helping women to ease and reduce anxiety. When you network with other professionals, you form a referral system to obtain more clients for yourself, too.

After completing your assessment, you will develop a wellness program for your client. The program will include: exercise, meditation (specific to this condition), and aromatherapy, as well as other components. Try to have your client establish a regular daily wellness routine. Journaling is also important as it helps to connect your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Support groups can also help as women share their experiences with others.


Robyn Kade is the President/CEO of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals™ and the SMI Business Institute™. Robyn received her Bachelor’s Degree from Rowan University in Health Promotion and Fitness Management. She is an American Council on Exercise (ACE) personal trainer and group fitness instructor, received a certificate in PTSD through the Kew Training Academy, and is a Compassion Fatigue Resiliency and Recovery – Educator. Robyn is also certified through the American College of Sports Medicine for Exercise Is Medicine (EIM) Level 1. Robyn is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Wellness and Lifestyle Management with a concentration on Wellness Coaching at Rowan University.


References