Trying to Make a Difference

As a personal trainer and wellness coach, I am asked a lot of questions with great frequency. People come to me to try to change their lives and I simply try to provide relevant information to people that are interested. I am not conducting original research or presenting concepts that have never been conceived of.

What I try to do is provide information that might change at least one person’s perspective and encourage them to adopt more healthful behaviors. That is the purpose of my writing. It makes me happy each and every day to hear how I am helping people make positive changes in their lives.

I hope that I can make at least a few people’s live a little better. That is all.

As I am getting ready to watch the World Series, I just caught a commercial for Domino’s. What struck me was a line that said something along the lines of a pizza isn’t going to make tonight special and it flashes to a family picnicking in their backyard and says what you do is. 

What you do on a day to day basis is what makes the difference. A simple idea that isn’t always easy to execute.

As much as I want to watch the entire game tonight, I have an early appointment tomorrow with someone that is counting on me so it’s early to bed.

GO RED SOX!!!

Tuesday Tirade – Do You Know What You’re Eating?

Greek “Style” Yogurt

Seriously!?!?

Seriously!?!?

In the cross hairs today is an imitation of the very popular greek yogurt called Greek “style” yogurt.

It makes me sad that companies make inferior (sometimes harmful) products and try to capitalize on marketing. This is precisely the case for Greek “style” yogurt.

The process of making greek yogurt is expensive because of a straining process to remove the liquid whey, lactose and sugar which also results in the thick and creamy texture. When greek yogurt started gaining market share big companies wanted some of the action.

In 2012, two companies merged to form a new company called Ingredion (sounds like a bad science fiction movie.) What Ingredion did was try to replicate what they called “residual mouth coating,” “meltaway” and “jiggle” of traditional Greek yogurt without the cost of straining. They ended up with a product called “Novation Indulge 3340 tapioca starch and milk protein concentrate. They call is a “texturing system.”

It’s so frustrating to not be able to trust the food that you buy at the supermarket. There are unfortunately thousands of products that many of us eat every day that contain added chemicals to deliver things like “residual mouth coating.” Many of these products have migrated from other industries like rubber and plastics.

If you like Greek yogurt and want the real thing, stay away from any products that contain milk protein concentrate or modified corn starch.

oikos nutrition facts

liberte

Two Things about Food You Should Know

Do you ever eat more than one food at a time?

Of course you do. We all do. Did you know that some combinations are better for you than others. Different foods take different amounts of time to be digested and eating them in the wrong order or combination can cause them to rot in your stomach. Gross, huh?

Check out this article for some in depth information on food combinations and how to make the most of how your body works.

A Big No No, Canola Oil

If you’re anything like me, you are starting to become accustomed to learning that we should avoid a lot of foods we were told to eat just a few years ago. Check out Grassfedgirl.com for 12 reasons you should be avoiding canola oil.

What you read in these articles may represent big changes in your diet. Rest assured these are worth practicing as part of your wellness plan. Please comment if you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions for further reading.

An Important Lesson Can be Learned from the Red Sox Loss

redsoxI am seizing the opportunity to write about my hometown Boston Red Sox in the wake of their painful loss to the Tampa Bay Rays last night in the American League Division series.

They lost because they forgot at least one of the fundamentals of baseball last night and it was one of the main reasons they lost.

Do you know your fundamentals?

What I mean is that I am asked all the time “What should I do for a workout today?” “Is it ok to eat fill in the blank?” and many versions of similar questions. I used to be frustrated by clients who would ask for advice and then not follow it. I’ve evolved as a coach to try to hear what they are saying and ask questions of them to help clarify it in their own mind. Many times I believe that they aren’t considering what their own fundamentals are.

See, my beloved Red Sox lost last night because they neglected to cover first base on a sacrifice bunt. For those of you who know little about baseball fundamentals, a sacrifice bunt means that the batter is “sacrificing” himself to allow a man on base to go to the next base. So its fundamental to the defense to make sure they get the batter out. After all, he gave himself up. I assure you that tonight when the Red Sox take the field they will have put last night behind them and hopefully they will be focused on the fundamentals.

This can be a lesson for us all. Define your fundamentals. Create your personal vision of what health promoting, life giving behaviors you want to do regularly. To me this means spending time with my kids, reading every day, practicing mindfulness, working out hard, eating clean (eating as much organic as I can, lean meat, chicken and fish, lots of vegetables and trying to avoid additives and preservatives,) drinking enough water (half my bodyweight in ounces every day) and getting enough sleep.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. –Chinese Proverb

When I first started trying to follow my fundamentals, it felt overwhelming. I tried and failed and sometimes I was disappointed in myself. Over time and with practice these things became part of what I do. I feel great when I do these things. Every day is like a gift. There are still days that I don’t get it all the way I want and there are days I choose consciously to take a day off exercise, go out for ice cream or stay out late with my friends. For me, just like the Red Sox, the future depends on how well we define our fundamentals and how successful we are at remembering that yesterday is in the past and today is the day to define your fundamentals and or keep on practicing them.

You’re Responsible

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. –Alice Walker

Have you figured out that you owe it to yourself? There is little doubt in my mind that you’re worth the effort to make every day a great day.

Today can be the day that you decide to own your actions. It’s a commitment not to be taken lightly and is guaranteed to change your life. From the time we are very small we learn to care about what other people think. We are judged. Each day you are responsible for letting go of that so you can be free to pursue the life you’ve envisioned.

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” -Chuck Swindoll

When you believe that you are responsible for your actions, you start to take control of your life. I had a gift for blaming anything else. I was super convincing to myself. I believed everything I told myself until it smacked me in the face like a wrecking ball. I was responsible for where I was. That realization sent me reeling for a while. Gradually, through trial and error, much of it the same trial and the same error, I began to understand how my beliefs impacted my actions and the results. I dove into books, talked with some fantastic people, made some great friends. Over time, I found myself doing less of the things that made me think “I suck” and more the things that moved me. I continue to feel better since that time. In particular, my attitude has changed for the better and the people closest to me have noticed.

The simple belief, however, that you are responsible for your actions does not ensure happiness. Owning your actions is just the beginning. Beliefs must be cultivated through consistent application and development. You have to practice, fail, learn and then practice some more.

To start moving your life forward decide to try to live the belief that you are responsible for everything you do in your life regardless of the circumstances. It’s a practice, you won’t always be successful. Be willing to learn and persevere and you will like what happens.

Don’t be fooled

In the inaugural edition of the Tuesday Tirade I step up onto my soap box to take on Nabisco and its introduction of the Brown Rice Triscuit.

triscuitsThat’s right, Nabisco has come out with a line of crackers “featuring” red beans and sweet potatoes. That is dried sweet potato and sweet potato powder. While I imagine they taste good, they do not belong in your cabinets. One serving is 6 crackers and contains 130 calories and around 5g of fat and very little nutrition.

The following is an excerpt from an article on adage.com. A senior brand manager from Triscuit says,

“Of course it doesn’t hurt that many consumers associate ingredients like red beans, whole grains and sweet potatoes with better-for-you foods…the brand looked for ingredients that were “both wholesome and can deliver great taste.” Print advertising touts “real food” ingredients.”

The article continues,

“But there isn’t much of a real health difference between the new and old Triscuits.”

Simply one more attempt in a long line of continued efforts to mislead you into thinking this may be a healthy choice and for around $3.00 you can get a box. Next time you’re in the super market, do your best to buy all your food from the perimeter of the store. That means produce, meat, fish, and dairy predominantly. The items in the middle aisles tend to be less nutritious.

If they need to tell you that their product contains “real food” ingredients, it’s a safe bet you’re better off with the real food.

Do you Know What Matters?

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. –Steve Jobs

I just watched an interesting video about motivation, more specifically, intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.

carrot v stick

When it comes to changing your behavior, think of…

…the stick as some external motivation to change.

…the carrot as an internal desire to change from within.

According to Dan Pink and the research that he sites in his talk(see below for link,) intrinsic motivators win in almost every circumstance except one. The stick works better if the task is “mechanical,” meaning repetitive with steps that are clearly indicated.

There are 3 properties of motivation

According to Pink, below are the properties that truly motivate people.

Autonomy: the urge to direct your own life.

Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters.

Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something that matters.

If you’re reading this,

You want to direct your own life as relates to your overall wellness. You have the desire to work to get stronger, healthier and more energized. What is the purpose of your effort to get stronger and healthier? I challenge you to find it. I believe that is the key to a lifetime of enjoyment of being as healthy as you want to be.

It’s your purpose and it is unique to you. It may be to have more energy, to lose weight so you can be more active with your children, to lower your blood pressure or to live longer. It may be something completely different. The only requirement is that it matters to you.

Your challenge today is to think about why your commitment to being healthy matters to you. Post why it matters to comment because I want to know what motivates you.

Here’s a link to the TED talk by Dan Pink. The video is 11:00 minutes long in case you choose to watch it.

 

Even Bad Feelings are Good

Nobody needs a strategy to deal with feeling good.

It’s not surprising that everything seems easier when good things are happening. What you may not realize is that you do have a coping strategy for when good things happen. You just don’t see it as coping because it never feels like there’s anything to “cope” with.

Celebrating is a way that people express their happiness. You may celebrate differently than other people you know but its easy to feel good.

Celebrating

Victory

On the Flip Side of Good

Nobody feels good all the time. So many things can change the way we feel. Today I was working on a technical project and while it seemed like I should be able to figure it out, I was having a really hard time. I was starting to feel frustrated but I stuck with it (perhaps too long) until I felt like I couldn’t see straight. I took a break and tried again to no avail. As I resigned myself to having to leave it unfinished I was worked up and felt defeated.

I got in my car for the 30 minute ride home and I was fighting to dismiss some negative thoughts. Recently, I’ve been practicing mindful meditation through music and breathing. So on the way home, I opened spotify, found some meditation music and started paying attention to my breathing. I focus on taking deep breaths and if any thoughts are in my head, I try to let them go as I slowly exhale. I do this for about 1o minutes at a time. After just a couple of minutes I am usually able to quiet my thoughts and start to feel better.

This is my own personal example, your feelings may come from something else, there’s enough life events that can cause us to feel down. It’s perfectly natural to feel down sometimes and there’s no artificial way to get rid of it. Dealing with the ugly parts of life takes a deliberate approach to process through it.

Even if you find a way to distract yourself, the issue is there waiting for your distraction to end. Try to learn various methods that have worked for others and begin to practice them yourself. It might be meditation, yoga, music, maybe its going for a walk. Remember, negative feelings are a part of life and you can develop a strategy to deal with them. It will take practice but keep at it and you’ll be on your way to considerably more good feelings.

If you have a strategy that works for you, post it to comments so others can see if it works for them.

Friday Food War – Poutine

Poutine is a common Canadian dish, originally from Quebec, made with french fries, topped with brown gravy and cheese curds.

poutine1

 

This is one of thousands of reasons we are battling an obesity epidemic. The weekend is not carte blanche to completely abandon your weekday habits. In fact, its time to practice with more discipline.

Happy Weekend!

Help me collect more information about food that we need to wage war against. Post them to comments and I’ll find them and share.

10 Things I’ve Learned Since My Divorce

I got married when I was very young. My now ex is a wonderful person and even though I know that, I believe that divorce was still a good decision. That said, I have learned a lot in the 5+ years since I’ve been divorced. In no particular order,

1) Children really are the coolest thing ever and NO, your dogs aren’t like children.

2) The most important thing you can bring into a relationship is your true self. If you’ve just ended a relationship, be sure you’re over it before bringing it to a new relationship. When your friends tell you that “you just need to find someone new” its BS. Mourn, be sad, it’s your time to rediscover or find things you love.

3) You learn who your real friends are. It can hurt sometimes but pay close attention to those who add to your life and those who don’t.

4) Learn how to communicate in a friendly way and know how to say when you want to talk about it but you aren’t ready to “talk about it.” If you aren’t ready, set a time when you will address it. 

5) Don’t be in a hurry. Friendships take time to build and the best relationships are between friends that fall in love. 

Holdinghands

6) Only break up once. Whether you’re momentarily feeling lonely and filled with regret or they are, there’s a reason you broke up in the first place. Learn to love yourself and don’t rush back in because it feels “safe.”

7) Understand your partners point of view better than your own. Don’t argue. Does it really matter who left their towel on the floor? There’s a path to resolution without arguing, always look for it.

8) Try your hardest to resist electronic forms of communication. Its ok to text message when you’re running late or you’re thinking about them but in my experience, the only thing that comes from texting is misunderstanding.

9) Turn everything off as frequently as possible. Practice dropping everything and just hang out together. It’s your responsibility to yourselves and each other to make sure you both make this a habit. There are no exceptions to this. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time but no relationship will survive without it.

10) There’s a lot different grass, the amount of nurturing it gets is what makes it green.