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Senior-and-Trainer

Are You Asking the Right Questions of Your Geriatric Clients?

In the world of medical and mainstream fitness, assessment methods and tools abound.  We like to pre-test and post-test and record our findings to show positive change toward the betterment of our clients’ general health.  But what about their well-being?  Are we asking them how they are really doing on that day and in general?  Should we probe further or would that be invasive and make our older client feel uncomfortable and possibly interrogated?  

male-trainer-female-client-gym

Fitness Has Become a Luxury Item. It Doesn’t Have To Be…

Something strange is happening to the fitness industry. Or maybe it already happened – years ago – and I’m only just noticing now (having no social media presence can be a mixed blessing). There’s a shift in how fitness is being packaged and sold, a shift that emphasizes an almost slave-like devotion to the self. During my lifetime the act of “working out” was usually presented as democratic in nature, a basic right accessible to all. Now, it’s being rebranded as a sort of mandatory luxury item for this generation of digital nomads.

Hell, even the language has changed. Health is “wellness”; exercising is “training”; getting a massage is “self-care.” Forgive me for coming off as a younger Andy Rooney, but back in my day you’d hit the gym a few times a week, either before or after work, and that was that. Maybe you’d play some ball with buddies on the weekend, maybe run an easy 5K Sunday morning. Food mattered, but it wasn’t something to stress over.

Today the expectation is to be up at 4 a.m. for morning meditation and journaling while riding out the final wave of your 12-hour daily fast. Breakfast – and every morsel that passes your lips thereafter – is posted on Instagram for the approval of the oh-so legitimate dietitians, trainers and food scientists who lurk in the comments section. Your workout is no longer just that, it’s an “experience” to be shared with your tribe/team/pod, one that we must pause and express gratitude for whenever possible (quick, grab your journal!).

By now you’re likely wondering what my point is. Hasn’t the pursuit of physical perfection and ultimate longevity always been just a tad self-indulgent? And what’s wrong with indulging the self anyway? My point – and my problem – is that entry into this cult of wellness comes at a ridiculous cost, in both the literal and metaphorical sense of the word. Forget for a moment the time commitment required; society is being duped into believing you need a Fitbit, compression shorts and a $200 pair of lifting shoes to get in shape, when a notebook, sweatpants and Chuck Taylors will do just fine.

Of course, there’s always been a market that caters to the well-heeled. Peloton presents the most extreme example of this absurdity. Have you seen how much those bikes cost? And then there’s the monthly membership to boot. You could fly first-class to France and tour the countryside on your own damn bike for the same price. The same goes for Equinox – not a gym, but a “temple of well-being” that charges its parishioners thousands of dollars for the privilege of spilling sweat inside its walls.

Pay attention to the way these products are being positioned. Peloton ads feature every day, average folks pedaling away on $3,000 machines in their unspectacular homes. Lululemon ads feature every day, average folks running and bending and lifting in outfits that cost more than most people make in a day. The message is clear, yet entirely incongruent with reality. At least Equinox has the decency to showcase their upper crust offerings in the proper context; in keeping with the tradition of aspirational luxury brands, their ads make no sense at all.

Getting in shape doesn’t require a payment plan or a line of credit. I’ve spent time in posh gyms and I’ve spent time in musty warehouses and I can assure you there is next to no correlation between high fees and quality of service. In Toronto, Hone Fitness offers memberships for as low as $30 a month and you can bring a friend whenever you want. The YMCA has 120 fitness centers across Canada with fully-equipped weight rooms and loads of fitness classes; their membership subsidy program ensures everyone, regardless of income, can cycle their stress away. You may not be able to bathe yourself in eucalyptus-infused steam showers afterwards, but really who needs that anyway?


Paul Landini is a personal trainer, health educator and fitness columnist with The Globe & Mail. He specializes in making fitness fun and accessible to all, regardless of their age, gender or abilities. Paul has been a long-time advocate for plant-based nutrition and loves nothing more than dispelling the many myths surrounding vegan and vegetarian diets.

new year

Fitness New Year’s Resolution Tips

The holidays were here and there was plenty of running around and parties to attend. As we said goodbye to this year, we are ready to take on the new year. Many individuals have decided to make fitness a resolution and made the commitment with themselves to get into better shape.

Many individuals do not plan for this transition and end up stopping within three months. There are some things you can do to be successful if fitness is on your list of resolutions.

The first thing you want to do is to choose a fitness facility where you feel comfortable. By comfortable I mean, do you like the atmosphere? Is the gym to big or small for you? When you look into fitness facilities, make sure they’re not too far from your home. If the gym is too far, you’re less likely to go consistently. Try to plan for when the best time would be to go. Decide if morning, afternoon or evening works better for you and your schedule.

When you find your gym and figure out a time, make an appointment for an assessment and consultation. There are some people who decide to do this after a couple months of joining. Try to see a fitness professional within the first two weeks. We are able to help you figure out a plan for your workout and keep you on track. Some fitness centers call new members after the first week to see how everything is going.

It’s also important to not have an “all or nothing” mentality. If you decide to go to the gym three days a week, but sometimes fall short, it’s OK! Just get back to your schedule the following week. It will take about three months to adapt to your new transition.

Another tip is to have fun! Look at class schedules and try new classes. If you are new to classes, don’t worry about keeping up with everyone else. I always suggest that clients show up to class ten minutes early. This enables you to speak with the instructor about any injuries or concerns you may have. You can also leave class early if you need to. Some new students may only be able to do a warm up and have to leave. Remember that everyone in the class was in the same boat as you at some point.

It may seem tough to add fitness to your life at first, but it will get easier. You will start to feel better overall. Many people are able to sleep much better, bring down their blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce stress, and prevent osteoporosis. The benefits are really endless! The best thing is that you are setting the stage for a healthy lifestyle as you get older. You will be able to do more and live independently longer.

Good luck to everyone this year who has fitness as one of their resolutions. You will be able succeed if you keep positive and plan for success. Have a happy and healthy new year!


Robyn Kade is the Founder of The Stress Management Institute for Health and Fitness Professionals. She has 20 years of experience in medical-based fitness. 

Mirabai New Year Article

Health Coaching: A New Way To Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions

So you go to your annual check-up and your doc says “whoops your blood pressure is up and you’re 15 pounds heavier than last year. I’ll give you some meds, but you’ll have to lose weight and get into shape, OK?

You say OK, you walk out and then what?

Join a gym, hire a personal trainer, go on a diet, take a walk? You might do one or several of these because, after all, it’s a new year and a new you.

Right? Right, and you try something. But how long is it till you throw up your hands and say, “ugh, I got started and now I’m off the track just like last year.”

What went wrong? Maybe nothing, except you might not have been psychologically ready to take those steps.

For any change there is a process. One of the models that are used is the transtheoretical model of behavior change (TTM) developed by James O. Prochaska , Ph.D

There are 5 stages:

Precontemplation – going along not aware of a need for, or not wanting a change.

Contemplation – recognizing a need to do something to improve your situation and considering making some sort of change.

Preparation – doing some research, making small changes, or at least thinking about what you’re going to do to help yourself.

Action – Actively making lifestyle changes,

Maintenance – Having made changes, keeping the healthy lifestyle going.

All too often we jump from contemplation to action without being ready for the change. It can feel like getting off a plane in Antarctica wearing shorts and a T-shirt. You wanted to be there but you weren’t ready for what that change would be like, and what you’d need to do to stay there comfortably.

But there is help, a new kind of help.

The health and fitness industry is rising to the challenge of our increased involvement with our own health care.

Many of us still think of fitness professionals as muscle heads with great bodies and not much else. Those types will always exist, but more educational opportunities including degrees and certifications are spawning a new breed of health & fitness professional, one that’s part of the health as well as the fitness industry.

Enter the Health & Wellness Coach

Not to be confused with a personal trainer, the Health & Wellness Coach is a consultant who helps you go, through, preparation, to action and on to maintenance. The coach helps you determine your health and wellness goals and needs. Once you have a path to your goals the coach continues to work with you to help you find the behavior modifications, activities, facilities and allied health professionals (MDs, Ph.Ds, Nurse Practitioners RDs, PTs, Personal Trainers, Exercise Instructors, etc.) to support your healthy lifestyle. You can do this on your own, but having someone with health industry knowledge who has your back, who is nonjudgmental, who just wants to help you focus and succeed can make all the difference.


Mirabai Holland MFA, EP-C, CHC is one of the foremost authorities is the health and fitness industry. Her customer top rated exercise videos for Age-Onset health issues like Osteoporosis, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Diabetes & more are available at www.mirabaiholland.com. Mirabai also offers one-on-on Health Coaching on Skype or Phone. Contact her at askmirabai@movingfree.com.

scale

The Habits of Successful Weight Losers

In a national television interview with Barbara Walters in 2014, Oprah Winfrey confessed that not being able to maintain her weight loss was her biggest regret. In that interview, Walters asked Winfrey to finish the sentence, “Before I leave this Earth, I will not be satisfied until I…”

“Until I make peace with the whole weight thing,” Oprah replied. Losing weight is hard; keeping it off is even harder. What is unique about those who succeed? The answer is buried deep in the archives at the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center in Providence, Rhode Island: The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), the largest database ever assembled on individuals successful at long-term maintenance of weight loss. Founded in 1994, the NWCR includes more than 10,000 individuals who complete annual questionnaires about their current weight, diet and exercise habits, and behavioral strategies for weight loss maintenance.

Habit #1: Live with Intention

Living with intention eliminates the random approach to weight loss maintenance in favor of the systematic and methodical one that leads to results. The NWCR has shown that, when intention is behind weight loss maintenance, 21 percent of overweight people are successful weight losers. [1]

The longer people keep their weight off, the fewer strategies they need to continue keeping weight off. [2] In other words, weight maintenance gets easier. The longer your clients persist in their intention and behave in accord with that intention, the easier it is for that behavior to “stick” and turn into a habit.

What makes one individual persist at a specific behavior while another individual doesn’t? For starters, the persistent individual has a conscientious personality. In the most recent NWCR study published in 2020, conscientiousness was compared between successful weight losers from the NWCR and non-NWCR weight regainers. [3] The successful weight losers were found to be more conscientious than the weight regainers and scored higher on measures of order, virtue, responsibility, and industriousness. The scientists suggest that being conscientious may help individuals maintain their weight loss by improving adherence to specific behaviors.

In a review of 56 studies that contained 58 health behaviors, researchers at Université Laval in Quebec, Canada and the University of Limburg in The Netherlands found that intention remained the most important predictor of health behavior, explaining 66 percent of the variance. [4] In half of the reviewed studies, perceived behavioral control (believing that you have control over your behavior) significantly added to the prediction.

Habit #2: Control Yourself

Being a successful weight loser requires a lot of self-control, delaying gratification now (e.g., dessert) for the more desirable reward later (e.g., a slimmer waistline, better health, enhanced self-esteem, and happiness).

Compared to typical unsuccessful dieters, successful weight losers are better able to resist temptation, control themselves, and push back against the environment. They restrict certain foods, [5] weigh themselves regularly, [6, 7] and use digital health technology. [8]

One of the key factors of self-control is disinhibition, which literally means not being inhibited. Some inhibition is good, because it prevents people from not giving into temptation and eating whatever and how much they want. High levels of disinhibition are bad, because it leads to risky behavior. Disinhibited eating is a failure to maintain control over eating. The opposite of disinhibited eating is dietary restraint. Several NWCR studies have found that increased disinhibition leads to regaining lost weight. [9, 10, 11, 12, 13] Other studies have found strong relationships between a lack of self-control—impulsivity—and obesity. [14, 15, 16]

Habit #3: Control Calories

Successful weight losers consume fewer daily calories than the general population. Table 1 shows the number of calories the NWCR members consume per day, from the several studies that have reported it, along with the amount of weight they lost at the time they entered the NWCR.

Table 1 – Caloric Intake of Successful Weight Losers

  Calories Per Day Pounds Lost
1,381 [17, 18]

1,297 (women)

1,725 (men)

66

63 (women)

78 (men)

1,306 (women) [19]

1,685 (men)

63 (women)

77 (men)

1,390 [20] 69
1,462 [21] 124
1,400 [22] 62
1,399 [23] 73
Average

Women

Men

1,406

1,302

1,705

79

63

78

Successful weight losers consume a low-calorie diet of about 1,400 calories per day, with women consuming about 1,300 and men consuming about 1,700 calories per day. By comparison, the U.S. adult population consumes an average of 2,120 calories per day (women consume about 1,820 calories per day and men consume about 2,480 calories per day). [24, 25]

Successful weight losers control calories several ways, including limiting how often they eat out at restaurants, [26] rarely eating fast food, [27] and limiting how many calories they drink. [28] They are also more likely than normal-weight individuals to have plans to be extremely strict in maintaining their caloric intake, even during times of the year when it’s easy to consume calories, like during holidays. [29]

Want to learn about more of the habits of successful weight losers? Check out Dr. Karp’s book, Lose It Forever: The 6 Habits of Successful Weight Losers from the National Weight Control Registry


A competitive runner since sixth grade, Dr. Jason Karp pursues his passion every day as a run coach, exercise physiologist, bestselling author of 10 books and 400+ articles, speaker, and educator. He is the 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and two-time recipient of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition Community Leadership award. His REVO₂LUTION RUNNING™ certification has been obtained by fitness professionals and coaches in 23 countries. His new book, “Lose It Forever: The Habits of Successful Weight Losers from the National Weight Control Registry” is available on Amazon.

 

References

[1] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21:323-341, 2001.

[2] Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., Lang, W., McGuire, M.T., and Hill, J.O. Does weight loss maintenance become easier over time? Obesity Research, 8:438-444, 2000.

[3] Gold, J.M., Carr, L.J., Thomas, J.G., Burrus, J., O’Leary, K.C., Wing, R., and Bond, D.S. Conscientiousness in weight loss maintainers and regainers. Health Psychology, 2020.

[4] Godin, G. and Kok, G. The theory of planned behavior: a review of its applications to health-related behaviors. American Journal of Health Promotion, 11(2):87-98, 1996.

[5] Wing, R.R. and Phelan, S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82:222S-225S, 2005.

[6] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21: 323-341, 2001.

[7] Butryn, M.L., Phelan, S., Hill, J.O., and Wing, R.R. Consistent self-monitoring of weight: A key component of successful weight loss maintenance. Obesity, 15:3091-3096, 2007.

[8] Goldstein, C.M., Thomas, J.G., Wing, R.R., and Bond, D.S. Successful weight loss maintainers use health-tracking smartphone applications more than a nationally representative sample: comparison of the National Weight Control Registry to Pew Tracking for Health. Obesity Science and Practice, 3(2):117-126, 2017.

[9] McGuire, M.T., Wing, R.R., Klem, M.L., Lang, W. and Hill, J.O. What predicts weight regain among a group of successful weight losers? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67:177-185, 1999.

[10] Niemeier, H.M., Phelan, S., Fava, J.L., and Wing, R.R. Internal disinhibition predicts weight regain following weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Obesity, 15:2485-2494, 2007.

[11] Butryn, M.L., Phelan, S., Hill, J.O., and Wing, R.R. Consistent self-monitoring of weight: A key component of successful weight loss maintenance. Obesity, 15:3091-3096, 2007.

[12] Thomas, J.G., Bond, D.S., Phelan, S., Hill, J.O., and Wing, R.R. Weight-loss maintenance for 10 years in the National Weight Control Registry. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 46(1):17-23, 2014.

[13] Lillis, J., Thomas, J.G., Niemeier, H., and Wing, R.R. Internal disinhibition predicts 5-year weight regain in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). Obesity Science and Practice, 2(1):83-87, 2016.

[14] Chamberlain, S.R., Derbyshire, K.L., Leppink, E., and Grant, J.E. Obesity and dissociable forms of impulsivity in young adults. CNS Spectrums, 20(5):500-507, 2015.

[15] Fields, S.A., Sabet, M., and Reynolds, B. Dimensions of impulsive behavior in obese, overweight, and healthy-weight adolescents. Appetite, 70:60-66, 2013.

[16] Amlung, M., Petker, T., Jackson, J., Balodis, I., MacKillop, J. Steep discounting of delayed monetary and food rewards in obesity: a meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 46(11):2423-2434, 2016.

[17] Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., McGuire, M.T., Seagle, H.M., and Hill, J.O.  A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66:239-246, 1997.

[18] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21:323-341, 2001.

[19] Shick, S.M., Wing, R.R., Klem, M.L., McGuire, M.T., Hill, J.O., and Seagle, H.M. Persons successful at long-term weight loss and maintenance continue to consume a low calorie, low fat diet. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 98:408-413, 1998.

[20] McGuire, M.T., Wing, R.R., Klem, M.L., Seagle, H.M., and Hill, J.O. Long-term maintenance of weight loss: Do people who lose weight through various weight loss methods use different behaviors to maintain their weight? International Journal of Obesity, 22:572-577, 1998.

[21] Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., Chang, C.H., Lang, W., McGuire, M.T., Sugerman, H.J., Hutchison, S.L., Makovich, A.L., and Hill, J.O. A case-control study of successful maintenance of a substantial weight loss: Individuals who lost weight through surgery versus those who lost weight through non-surgical means. International Journal of Obesity, 24:573-579, 2000.

[22] Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., Lang, W., McGuire, M.T., and Hill, J.O. Does weight loss maintenance become easier over time? Obesity Research, 8:438-444, 2000.

[23] Ogden, L.G., Stroebele, N., Wyatt, H.R., Catenacci, V.A., Peters, J.C., Stuht, J., Wing, R.R., and Hill, J.O. Cluster analysis of the National Weight Control Registry to identify distinct subgroups maintaining successful weight loss. Obesity, 20(10):2039-2047, 2012.

[24] Wright J.D., Wang, C.Y., Kennedy-Stephenson, J., Ervin, R.B. Dietary intake of ten key nutrients for public health, United States: 1999-2000. Advance Data From Vital and Health Statistics, 334:1-4, 2003.

[25] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. Energy intakes: percentages of energy from protein, carbohydrate, fat, and alcohol, by gender and age. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2015-2016, 2018.

[26] Wing, R.R. and Hill, J.O. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annual Review of Nutrition, 21:323-341, 2001.

[27] Thomas, J.G. and Wing, R.R. Maintenance of long-term weight loss. Medicine & Health Rhode Island, 92(2):56-57, 2009.

[28] Catenacci, V.A., Pan, Z., Thomas, J.G., Ogden, L.G., Roberts, S.A., Wyatt, H.R., Wing, R.R., and Hill, J.O. Low/no calorie sweetened beverage consumption in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity, 22(10):2244-2251, 2014.

[29] Phelan, S., Wing, R.R., Raynor, H.A., Dibello, J., Nedeau, K., and Peng, W. Holiday weight management by successful weight losers and normal weight individuals. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(3):442-448, 2008.

Healthy-Lifestyle-Nutrition-Exercise-Medicine

Using a Lifestyle Medicine Approach to Support Health

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) defines lifestyle medicine as an approach to prevent, treat, and sometimes reverse chronic diseases to promote optimal health. Individuals are encouraged to follow a healthy eating pattern that is predominantly plant-based, engage in regular physical activity, experience restorative sleep, manage stress with success, avoid risky substances, and engage in positive social connections. There are a variety of tools and strategies that medical, health, and fitness professionals can utilize to have a collaborative conversation with clients and/or patients that can evoke change. It is useful to have a structured framework to facilitate the conversation.

Using the 5 A’s Framework to Structure the Conversation

Many medical providers and personal trainers have not been trained to facilitate a conversation surrounding an individual’s desire and readiness to change. This is a useful tool for structuring the conversation and ultimately setting SMART goals if the client or patient is indeed ready to commit to making a change.1

Assess
To begin the conversation, ask if the patient is currently engaging in the healthy behavior that is being contemplated as well as exploring their feelings about this specific health behavior. This dialogue will give you some insight about current beliefs and behaviors as well as identifying any gaps in their knowledge.

Advise
Here you can put on your expert hat and provide the individual with evidence-based information that highlights the benefits of making a health behavior change. If your client or patient is receptive, now is the time to provide them with specific strategies or a prescription.  For example, if they are looking to lose weight, you could prescribe a combination of cardiovascular and muscle strengthening exercises to support that goal.

Agree
As the conversation continues, collaboratively work to identify goals based on where they are showing interest and energy as well as where they have confidence in their ability to successfully make a sustainable change.  In this part of the conversation, you can help your client and/or patient create a SMART goal that is relevant and aligns with their values to promote self-efficacy.  

Assist
It is now time to discuss potential barriers and explore strategies that could be helpful in overcoming these challenges. This is also an opportunity to discuss social and environmental support structures that have the capacity to promote accountability and ultimately lead to self-monitoring.  

Arrange
As the conversation draws to a close, arrange a follow-up visit to monitor progress and convey that you are there to provide motivation, accountability, and support.  This is also an opportunity to refer your client and/or patient to community resources or to other health, fitness, or nutrition professionals that can support the behavior change process.

Redefine Health with Lifestyle Medicine

Using a lifestyle medicine approach highlights the need to promote optimal health by addressing health behaviors across the dimensions of wellness. This approach has the capacity to prioritize mental health as it is integrally related to our physical health and impacts our relationships with others. Lifestyle medicine is an emerging field that prioritizes our conversations with clients and patients creating rapport and trust that ultimately enables them to experiment with behavior change.  Health coaching and lifestyle medicine are a powerful combination used in delivering evidence-based interventions that have the capacity to help others redefine their health.


Suzanne Stringer, Master of Health Science, CHES, CHC, CPT is a health coach and personal trainer. She collaborates with clients to co-create goals that enable them to experience success as they work through the behavior change process. Additionally, Suzanne is an adjunct faculty member in the Health Sciences Department at AACC.


References

  1. American College of Lifestyle Medicine.  (2021).  Foundations of Lifestyle Medicine Board Review Manual.  American College of Lifestyle Medicine.  

 

ocean-hope-positivity

Living With Purpose: A Challenge Fear Can Sabotage

I find the holiday season to be challenging mentally, emotionally and physically. I am sure many of you who are reading these words feel a similar pressure of the current year ending – and the uncertainty of the new one to come. During this time of the year I have found myself being repeatedly burdened by entertaining old, worn out, negative thinking which leaves me exhausted and prone to getting sick, frustrated and fearful of the unknown time ahead.


The mind-body connection

This year it has been no different for me as I seem to be facing a past challenge regarding my belief in myself, my self-worth – and my purpose. For the better part of the last week and a half I have been struggling with a bad case of what I believe is the flu. With this latest (rare) bout of illness I have been blessed with a large dose of coughing, sneezing, general weakness and a very substantial lethargy. I believe in the power of the mind to bring us health and well-being but I also believe our thoughts (and beliefs) can – and do – deliver to us the other side of life which includes illness, unease, a genuine lack of self-confidence, and a sense of what I will call “hopelessness” – a feeling of living without purpose.

This is how I have started to feel in December – that regardless of what I have done, written or spoken about in terms of my passion for healthy aging, that it matters little and that I am wasting my time. This thought has occurred to me many times before and I am sharing it with you now because I am going through this challenge in this moment in time. ALL of us at some point in our life (and in my case it has been more than once) have felt empty inside and afraid – fearful of the unknown, of not being enough, of having chosen our path in life badly – and much more “baggage” that we carry around with us every day! It is a burden we decide to carry. It is up to each of us to decide to stop carrying this extra weight – or it will remain a “drag” on our life well into the future! We don’t need negative thought patterns ruining our lives, do we?

Fighting negative thoughts

The point is that it takes courage and discipline to “fight” this negative “wave” of feelings and thoughts. The first step that we can take to address this important issue is to become AWARE that it is happening – and to STOP and THINK in order to increase the possibility of changing your mind in order to “reassert” your power over your training – but your life as well. I am grateful for these reminders as they spur me to make the choice again that I AM valuable and worthy of success. Even at 70, I am dealing with this very issue as Christmas approaches – again. I had a terrible Thanksgiving because I could not be with my daughter and grandson and tonight had a harsh exchange of words with her over the phone (frustration, anger, fear – whatever it may be.)

What this matter basically comes down to is a FIRM belief in ourselves – and our own unique purpose – that we are alive for a reason. It is incumbent upon each of us to maintain a vigilant and forceful awareness that CAN prevent negative thoughts from derailing our dreams from becoming fully realized. If we allow these negative thought patterns to remain in our subconscious minds over time they WILL harm us emotionally, mentally and physically. ALL life – and reality – begins with thought, so guard your thoughts well! I am sorry to report that we are never done with these challenges of the mind and they can – and DO repeat (sometimes – not always) for a reason: To REMIND us of who we are – and are becoming. The ego wants to regain control of our thought patterns and return us to an earlier status quo that never worked for us – and never will.

The antidote for this negative “cycle of thought” is an examination of what we are doing and how well we are doing it. Can we improve our behavior? Our discipline? Our planning? Our listening? What is it that we are seeing again – and why? My conversation (argument) with my daughter showed me I am still capable of entertaining past negative thinking with poor results showing up again in my life. What a DRAG! Low self-worth and self-esteem can raise doubt and fear in all of us. What I am experiencing right now is a reminder of the road I have travelled – and the miles I have to go. It is always incumbent upon each of us to be “self aware” and allow this awareness to guide us to take personal responsibility for our behavior – and thoughts – (all that any of us can control  and then, and only then, will we make it successfully to our goal and accomplish our mission.

Our fitness programming follows this same logic and if we believe we cannot make it – we won’t. Our thoughts determine our results and our belief systems determine everything else of importance in our lives. DON’T LET FEAR AND SELF DOUBT control your future destiny. DO NOT entertain thoughts that in and of themselves are self destructive. I don’t know how the distance with my daughter will be bridged before Christmas but it will probably include compromise and some serious mutual listening.

Conflict in itself solves NOTHING but it CAN promote growth and understanding so I am not shy about engaging in a good argument – if it leads to greater mutual understanding – and peace. It is in HOW we disagree that matters. I argue with my feelings leading the way sometimes and that CAN be hurtful, but in this hurting we may get the opportunity to expand our definition of ourselves – and expand our consciousness as well. This is what I would call a “win – win”. This potential outcome CAN help us grow into a new definition of ourselves and create new opportunities with those we love – and with those others we value in our lives. It is about taking some risk and exposing ourselves to being uncomfortable for a while. I feel it is worth the effort – just be smart about how you go about implementing this idea!

I am convinced this time of year is challenging for all of us because there is much we need to learn – not only about ourselves – but about each other as well. After 45 years of being a father I am still learning about what that means and tonight I found out I am still NOT as patient or compassionate as I thought I was and so some “soul searching” will be required to bring me back to my best path of growth and understanding with those I love.


Take time today to reflect not only on your relationship with yourself but also with those you love and care about and see what emerges. You might be in for some amazing surprises and only YOU can do this work. Becoming a thoughtful listener is really the key to effective communication so practice that skill a lot! We have TWO ears and ONE mouth for a reason. I really find the holiday season to be about buying “STUFF” and not about appreciating our many blessings. This thought drives me crazy! However, this is the life we are living today so I either learn to live with it creatively or I will continue to hit the same “brick wall” as I have in the past – and I CHOOSE NOT DO THAT. All of this is to say that becoming unsettled, confused – or even angry – is probably a sign that we ARE ready for positive change to enter our lives and I TRULY BELIEVE that is a VERY good thing! Travel well.

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.