Goal Setting

Challenge: Be “More Present” in 2017

Challenge: Be “More Present” in 2017

What does it mean to be “more present” and how can it assist you in your own personal and wellness goals?

Being present is the conscious practice of being engaged not only mentally but also emotionally.  Engaged in what, exactly, you ask?  The answer is going to be different for each person but is generally whatever is going on around you. It also means consciously paying attention to what you are doing.

One way to explain the difference between being present and not being present is to look at how much time you are spending “in your head” as opposed to experiencing life. One of the ways you can determine if you are present (or have not been present) is to recognize when you’ve lost track of time. Sometimes, this also feels like you weren’t aware of things that were going on around you for a period of time. For example, many of us can relate to “spacing out” while we are on a treadmill.  Music might be playing in our ear buds but we didn’t hear it because our thoughts were elsewhere. We might have an audio book playing in our ears or be sitting in church but later we realize we didn’t hear a word because we weren’t being present.

Can you think of other ways you aren’t fully present? Ever sat down to watch a movie and halfway into it realize you somehow ate a family size bag of chips?  What about while you are driving somewhere familiar or on a long stretch of road? We all tend to “zone out” and go into auto-pilot. Before we know it, we are at our destination and we can’t recall each moment of the drive home or to work.

Zoning out on the way home isn’t all bad. The important point here is considering what is going on in your mind while you are zoned out. What kind of “chatter” is taking place that is keeping you from completely being in the moment?

How can our Bodies Benefit from Being Present?

We can improve our physical well-being by being more present. When you are more fully aware and present, your body tends to relax. The reason for this is rather simple. When we are not present, we are usually worrying, planning or remembering things we need to do, things we forgot to do, issues that stress us out or possibly dreading something in the future. Your body is physically in the present. Therefore, even your past thoughts, memories or future concerns are felt by your body as something that is happening in that moment. As you can imagine, this is part of the way that stress and tension develop.

If you can increase the amount of time that you are mentally present, your physical body and well-being will benefit because you’ll be letting go of excess tension and stress.

Other benefits of being more aware and present in your daily environment include being more confident, having more energy, sleeping better and having better memory. All of these benefits lead to a more healthy, happy YOU.

When you make the conscious decision to switch from not present to being present, it’s a definite switch with purpose and intention. For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally and it takes practice. There are many ways to be more present. For some of us, it’s a matter of walking away from digital devices, spending more time away from Facebook and other forms of social media. For still others, it can be a simple matter of breathing deeply, wiggling your toes or just taking the time to intentionally notice the texture of your clothing, the colors in your office or the sounds you can hear at this very moment. (Just run “ways to be more present” into a search engine for great ideas. We found this one called 12 Simple Ways to Be Present.)

Experts say that as we keep practicing at being more present, it will eventually come naturally without our thinking about it so much. But make no mistake, it will take an intentional effort on your part to become more present daily. The pay offs include better relationships, lasting marriages, career fulfillment and promotions, physical fitness, more energy, better sleep and so much more.

So, take a few moments and practice being more mentally engaged with your surroundings and those around you. It’ll make 2017 your best year yet.

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Tiny Tips to Help You Reach Big Goals

Tiny Tips to Help You Reach Big Goals

Here’s four “tiny tips” that might make the difference for you when you’re feeling a bit sluggish after family get-togethers and holiday parties with delicious dishes and irresistible desserts. Motivation may be the last thing on your mind but a few reminders in the right places at the right time can make all the difference.

Surround yourself with positive visuals. If that means printing out your favorite quotes and posting them in your bathroom, on the refrigerator, around your desk at work and even in your car, then start printing. If you are planning to reward yourself when you achieve a goal, then post a picture of your reward in strategic places to help you focus on what you’re working towards.

Selfie shots. Are you working towards a fitness goal that means losing weight, toning up and/or adding muscle?  If so, take your own “before” shots and save them on your phone where you can refer to them in private – knowing that you’ll be taking “after” shots soon.

Ignore the urge to compare yourself. Remember everyone is different and we all have our own starting line. If you haven’t worked out or been active in quite some time, you’re starting line may look very simple. It may mean a 15-minute walk around the block with five minutes of stretching.  For someone else, the starting line might be a brisk 30-minute walk or a light jog along a favorite trail.

Eliminate “wasteful” thoughts. Often, we talk negatively to ourselves. Whether it’s thinking how awful you look when you wake up or calling yourself an idiot for taking a wrong exit off the freeway, these thoughts are not only toxic to your mental health but they are a waste of your time.  They serve no purpose other than to slow you down in life. They derail physical progress and mental motivation. Imagine how productive you could be if you focused only on productive healthy thoughts and immediately tossed out unhelpful personal insults or derogatory thoughts? Where would that energy and those thoughts go? More physical exercise? More fun projects around the house?

The choice is yours. It’s your world. Make it the best year ever.

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New Year’s Goals and Your Worst Enemy

New Year’s Goals and Your Worst Enemy

Enemies are almost never thought of kindly. That’s why you need to recognize one enemy that you MUST treat kindly while, at the same time, refusing to listening to negative comments from. Who’s that enemy? Look in your mirror.

You.

Yes, that’s correct. Your biggest threat to your success is yourself.

You are going to have good days. You’ll also have bad days on your nutritional plan and your fitness plan. You may want to give up. Resolve right now that you won’t listen to the following (or similar) thoughts “I don’t feel good today.” Or “I’m just not in the mood.” Or “I’ll start tomorrow.” Or “Today was a really bad day, I’ll start when I feel more positive.” Or “I’m so tired. I just need to rest.”

Your own thoughts can be your biggest obstacle. Sometimes it helps to just visualize slamming a door on those thoughts as soon as you think them. Sure, counter it with a positive thought like “Walking gives me more energy, so I won’t be so tired so often.”  But definitely give yourself the mental picture of slamming a door on the negative thought and padlocking it. When you do that, you are also giving your brain the message that those thoughts are not welcome. In some ways, you will be ‘training the brain’ while you are creating a new habit.

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Beginner 5K Walk (3.1 Miles)

As Walkingspree members, you’re already walking. Some of you are collecting steps throughout the day and others at concentrated walks. Now you can add another layer to your walking by learning how to increase your walking distance, speed and time by participating in a 5K Walk event (3.1 miles or approx 6,000 steps). Fall is an ideal time to do your first 5K event.

Don’t worry about speed at the beginning and instead focus on the time you spend walking. Take each part at your own pace and repeat until you can follow the plan.

Getting Started on a 5K Walk:

Weeks 1 – 2

We’re going to assume that as Walkingspree members, you’ve already been walking for 100 minutes/week and are able to walk daily for 20 minutes at a time.

Check your Getting Started Guide (First Steps: A Walking Primer) on your login page for tips on walking shoes, walking form and other getting started with walking tips.

Week 3: Walk at a Moderate Pace

Time: Add 5 minutes a day so you are walking 25 minutes, 5 days a week. Weekly total goal: 100 – 125 minutes.

Measure your Intensity

Talk test. If you’re so out of breath that you can’t carry on a conversation with the person you’re walking with, you’re probably walking too fast and should slow down.

Perceived exertion Scale. You rate how hard you think you’re working on a scale that ranges from 6 (no exertion) to 20 (maximal effort). Aim for at least moderate intensity (12 to 14) as you walk.

Monitor your heart rate (pulse). To find out if you’re exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop exercising to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery). Another option is to wear an electronic device that displays your heart rate. Your target heart rate will depend on age. Resting heart rate average is 72 beats per minute.

Week 4: Add a Long Day

Time: Add 5 minutes a day to walk 30 minutes, 4 days a week, at a moderate pace. Weekly total goal: 125 – 150 minutes.

Start building mileage by adding a long day. Every week, add one long day on your fifth day. This should be a 40 minute walk at an easy pace.

Week 5: Adding Speed

Time: Walk 30 minutes a day on four days a week.
Long Walk: walk 45 minutes at an easy pace.

Building speed: During your short walks, focus on your form. If you have not been using arm motion, this can help improve your speed (do not carry weights while walking as that can cause injury).

Week 6: Build on your Mileage

Time: Walk 30 minutes a day four days a week, paying attention to form and speed.
Long Walk: walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.

Weeks 7 and 8: Adding Intervals

You’ve done great and by now you could complete your 5K walk. This is a good time to add intervals to your walk as they help build stamina, speed and endurance.

For your long week this week, walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.

Week 9 and Beyond

Why not try turning your long walk into a dry run for your event every other week. Try to increase your pace and walk at 80% of the speed that you hope to walk for the 5K event. You can also try adding another 15 minutes to your walk to increase distance.

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Your 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan

Your 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan

Let’s face it. We’ve all got good intentions regarding our health and wellness. But it seems like there is always something else to do, things to get done and places to be. We don’t have to look very far to find excuses and reasons to procrastinate when it comes to being more active and physically fit. Before we know it, months and years pass us by and we find ourselves less healthy than we’ve been in some time.

The more time that passes, the less fit we are and the harder it is to get started moving again. We also realize that we’ve lost confidence in ourselves in addition to strength and stamina. That makes it a lot easier to give up and go home when we know we should keep pushing through our exercise roadblocks

It seems like summer has flown by and we are running headfirst into fall. Here at Walkingspree, in south Texas, we are just hoping for temperatures below 90 but that’s another story. It is worth noting that one thing we all have in common, no matter what state we live in, is that fall routines are more, well… routine. So there will be new times and moments to create new beginnings for ourselves. This is our opportunity to create a new habit before colder winter days set in. That is key. Get that habit in place before the weather makes us think twice!

Your Personalized 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan

Let’s say that most people have at least 8 weeks, maybe twelve, before cold temperatures set in. In southern states, we have several months before we say it’s “too cold.” But everyone has at least 8-12 weeks.

Sure, you are always going to have your everyday responsibilities. Career, relationships, kids, life and all that goes with it. That’s why you have to look at your schedule and purposefully find that small window of time for you. Even if it means carving out just 20 minutes of your day. Put it on your calendar, enter it into your phone with a reminder. You have to put on a blindfold when it comes to all the other distractions that try to pull you away from that one small time frame set aside for you.

You also have to fight off your biggest enemy: Yourself. Don’t give in to the following (or similar) thoughts “I don’t feel good today.” Or “I’m just not in the mood.” Or “I’ll start tomorrow.” Or “Today was a really bad day, I’ll start when I feel more positive.” Or “I’m so tired. I just need to rest.”

Your own thoughts can be your biggest obstacle. Sometimes it helps to just visualize slamming a door on those thoughts as soon as you think them. Sure, counter it with a positive thought like “Walking gives me more energy, so I won’t be so tired so often.”  But definitely give yourself the mental picture of slamming a door on the negative thought and padlocking it. When you do that, you are also giving your brain the message that those thoughts are not welcome. In some ways, you will also be ‘training the brain’ while you are creating your new habit.

Set the time in your calendar for the next 90 days. Call it “Self Appreciation” or “Self-Improvement” instead of “exercise” or “working out” if those terms don’t inspire excitement in you. Create a start date and an end date. Even if it means you only choose to be more active three days a week for 20 minutes at a time. Chances are, after your first week or two of meeting your goals, you may choose to bump it up to four times a week. Starting small is perfectly alright.

Don’t Limit or Compare Yourself

Remember everyone is different and we all have to start at our own starting line. If you haven’t worked out or been active in quite some time, you’re starting line may look very simple. It may mean a 15-minute walk around the block with five minutes of stretching.  For someone else, the starting line might be a brisk 30-minute walk or a light jog along a favorite trail.

Stay Accountable

Call a friend (or a group of friends) to join you. Studies show that when people know there is someone waiting and counting on them to show up, they are more likely to stick to a fitness routine and see results.

Last, but not least, stay positive! This is not a contest or a race. This is about being healthy, happy and creating a habit. Habits don’t just ‘end’ like a race or a contest. They are meant to keep going and be a consistent part of your life. So, once your personalized 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan is complete, just start a new one. Personalize it some more. Add different activities and try new things. Or, simply keep improving on what you’ve already begun.

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