At what point does it become arrogant or boastful to celebrate our victories? When were we taught that to discuss our strengths was inappropriate or even a sign of weakness?
At this time of the year my clients and I are looking over our progress and celebrating, truly celebrating our victories. Some of lost weight. Some have grown businesses. Some have reduced health risks or taken bucket list vacations. All are moving closer to Living Balance Fit.
Everyone has their “Why” and we spend our hours, weeks, months, and years working in the service of that why. What is so wrong about pausing to reflect on the progress we have made? I say nothing at all! Share it with your social network; share it with the world; or simply reflect on it in silence and solitude. Either way allow yourself the time to connect emotionally with the fruits of your labor. You deserve it and you've earned it.
On the other hand struggles and "failures" seem to linger. We have no problem dwelling on them. We may not be so enthused about sharing them but we do wear them on our hearts for long after we've experienced them. Why? Is it more noble to carry our sufferings?
Rather than continually abuse ourselves replaying our struggles...find the lesson in it? What can you learn from it? The lesson is there and it is up to you to find it. If you do, it will lead you to the next victory. If you do not, it will continue to batter you quietly from the inside like an unrelenting bully. Except that in this instance, the bully is you.
Every year brings both victories and struggles. In the stolen moments between the holidays or in the first weeks of the new year, take some time to reflect on yours. Neither one can stick with you in the new year but they can serve to inspire and inform your next victory and alleviate the pain and trauma of the struggles past, present, and future.
Fitness tip of the week: Patience and Process
This morning on my drive in aam I was amazed at the speed with which people passed me by. Abrupt starts as stop lights changed from red to green and passing cars that cut in front so close to alarm me. The suns early light is barely visible on the horizon and yet my fellow drivers already hurried by what must be accomplished today.
Today's pace of life is almost certainly faster than any of us would like to be and modern conveniences and technology have primed our desires for immediate gratification. To what end? Where are we going so quickly? And at what cost?
The same quick minded, immediate gratification approach often carries over in the gym. So many of our clients want results yesterday. Fortunately or unfortunately, we don't work that way. Years ago I remember hearing Stephen Covey refer to the law of the farm. He said we must prepare the soil, plant the seeds, and tend to our crops, before ever enjoying the bounty of a harvest. This point is often frustratingly true. It is not enough to plant the seeds without tending to the soil. It is not enough to tend to the soil without planting the seeds.
To this end… Let us focus on the process. Work to enjoy the process of preparation, planting, and tending.
In terms of your workout, this means immersing yourself in the details of your nutrition plan; Giving 100% effort in your warm-up, exercise, and cool down and stretching; embracing the struggle; and resting as completely as you stress. Don't focus on getting through the work out… Focus on getting into it. In practice today, tonight or this weekend... try doing one thing all by itself. Whether it is a conversation with a loved one, enjoying a meal, or catching your workout…completely immerse yourself in the task at hand. No distractions. No multitasking.
May is exercise is medicine month. What does that mean? What it means is we as a society have grown soft, week, and as a result ill. Exercise has been proven to be a part of the solution if we're doing it right.
Most of the leading causes of death in America from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are attributable to lifestyle. Moreover a significant body of evidence points to a lack of activity at the root of our metabolic problems and frailty. Both of which have direct ties into these diseases.
Does that sound like propaganda? Are you one of the people who would respond by saying I don't want to live the last couple of years anyway. The reality is that exercise does not significantly extend one's life. It is however capable of improving the quality of it. While exercising in and of itself may suck...it reduces inflammation, uses the excess sugars we consume each day and makes us more sensitive to insulin, reducing the need for it. It also released natural pain killers and mood enhancers. All of which will prevent or delay the laundry list of conditions Americans suffer needlessly from. In short, it will enable you to do more with the years that you do have and no one ever regrets a workout once they've finished it.
What exercise is right for you is relative to what your current fitness level is, what injuries or conditions you are dealing with, and even what lurks in your family history. As far as general guidelines go, the current recommendation is 150 or more minutes of exercise above and beyond your activities of daily living per week. If you are dealing with weight issues as well, boost that number to 60 minutes per day 5-7 days per week. If you aren't currently doing any exercise, start slowly and build to those recommendations. Something is far better than nothing but I'd like to see everyone get to that 60 minutes per day eventually.
What are you waiting for? Get up, get out, and get moving. Your life depends on it. In the words of Arthur Ashe..."Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."
Spring time marks the time where energy comes back up to the surface and new growth surges. This is no more true than in Wisconsin where we will be come out of hibernation to soak up the first sunny day and everyone there after. It amazes me how good the first 40° day feels in Spring when it nearly shuts me down in the Fall.
Today as I look around it is nearly 50° and the lakefront is filled with joggers, walkers, cyclists, and anyone else looking for an excuse to be outside. The next few days are predicted to be more of the same. Don't let the crowds disuade you. There is still plenty of room for you. I could have stayed inside to catch my workout but I've chosen instead to take my own advice and find a place outdoors to climb rocks. There's a ton of research to support our connection with the outdoors but none of it speaks louder then the stir of your soul when the sun touches your skin and the first few deep breaths of fresh air fill your lungs. As little as 5 minutes of activity outdoors can decrease depression and anxiety symptoms as well as any pharmaceutical and without the side effects, not to mention deliver a boost of caffine free energy. So get a dose for yourself. Your senses will awaken and your hibernation will officially come to an end. Get outside and see for yourself. In Wisconsin, there is no telling how long it will last.
Every so often, I get a great idea! Or at least I think it's a great idea. As I often do, I bounce it off reasonable people (yes, Heather, I am referring to you as reasonable) to see if she agrees. Typically, she doesn't agree and rather than humor me, she rollls her eyes and scoffs at the idea to make sure that I know just how bad the idea is.
In Decemver when I told her that the Orange Shoe Personal Fitness location that I was managing was slated to close before Christmas eve, I told her that I wanted to try to keep the clients and trainers and the community together. I had proposed a cooperative model where like minded professionals could leverage their talents for the collective good of a community that needs to live a fitter and healthier life. I was tremendously surprised when instead of weighing my past gym closings, she replied with encouragement and an enthusiastic "you should buy it".
Three months later, I am coming up for air thanks to the consistent efforts of Rachel, the new energy of Kevin, and the continued love and support of all of you who have embraced our transition with grace and courtesy. Our new brand is born and is an evolution of my philosophy which began in my first gym in 2001 by the same name. Balance Fitness and now the Live Balance Fit maxim serves as a reminder to me, my team, and those we serve to maintain Balance in our life. We are not a gym, but a health and performance coaching service commited to helping you live a healthier, fitter life through a wholistic and sustainable approach.
Over the next few months, we will challenge you to identify priorities while carving out the time and energy to honor them. We will help you set goals and devise a realistic plan to pursue them. We will promote health education around plant based nutrition, purposeful movement, healthy habits, adventure, and love. We will partner with organizations and charities that embody our same principles and we will share all that we have to offer with you. As importantly, we will continue to strike our own balance between purpose and obligation; work and play; time and money; care for ourselves and caring for othes, so that our service will be sustainable and our lives fulfilling.
Balance Fitness is the home to these ideals and your partner in Living Balance Fit.
Each of us only has this moment, right here and now to do anything. If we are fortunate and all goes in our favor, we'll have more to enjoy. But none of us ever gets more than 1440 minutes in each day, 168 hours in any week, or more than 52 weeks in any year. Yet it is my humble observation that some of us commit to health reserving behaviors while others do not. Do you? What is the difference in the choices made by these two different groups of people? Two things.... the first is that some of us see time as a vessel to be filled as we choose to fill it where as others see it pre-packed with little opportunity to select how it is or rather was to be filled. The second difference is whether or not we see time invested in healthy habits as time well spent. Do you?
If you your health is not worth spending time and you have no control over your time to begin with, I recommend you stop reading this blog and continue on with whatever your time was previously slated for. However, if you you can agree with me that you have some control over the outcome.....read on!
I do recognize that there re constraints outside of our control such as committments we've made prior to this moment of our jouney such as he choice to get marred and start a family. In my case this is my most important committment. Yet how much of my time does it consume? Surprisingly less than I would like. How about you? How are the minutes, hours, and days of your life spent?
Try the followng activity:
1. List your 3 most important priorities....
2. Complete a time log the way you might use an activity log or a food log. Document every 15 minutes of your day or better yet.....several of them.
3. Categorize common activities and add up the amount of time spent on them. Does your time log match your priority list?
If not, perhaps the limitation isn't your time at all but rather how you are spending it. If time you're spending isn't fulfilling your committments or adding value to your life, then it is time poorly spent. Consider cutting the time you allocate to those activities and reinvesting in something that does add value.
Well, don't waste another minute....... get tracking!
Garrett Stangel, MA, HFS, CPT
Balance Fitness and Juice Plus+
NO EXCUSES has become the tag line for the developing Balance Fitness (Balance by Garrett) brand. It is on the webpage, it's on the T-shirts, it's on the car, and it is certainly woven into the Balance Fitness philosophy. But what does NO EXCUSES mean? I'll share my thoughts on the phrase in this blog but I'd really like to hear from you to know what you think about when you see NO EXCUSES. Please post your comments below!
What does NO EXCUSES mean to me? My personal training/health coaching service, boot camp classes, and corporate wellness programs stem from my service in the US Marine Corps. Although my service ended just over 16 years ago, many of its lessons are still burned very deeply in my psyche. The one most poignant for NO EXCUSES are the Marine Corps Leadership Principles. In peace time Marines are trained and guided by two important rules. The first, is to take care of the people under their charge. I take this responsibility very seriously in all the services I provide as well as those provided by trainers representing Balance Fitness. The second rule is to accomplish the mission, at any cost! While in the Corps, excuses were not tolerated. If you didn't know the answer to a question, a simple "I don't know" was unacceptable. You either confidently provided an answer or replied "I don't know but will find out". When tasked with a mission, Marines are expected to adapt and overcome to accomplish the mission. Period! When I work with my clients I do everything I can to help them achieve the results they seek. I will neither accept excuses for poor effort nor offer any of my own. The NO EXCUSES phrases that are plastered all over serve as constant reminders of my responsibility to myself and others to do my best! If you need your own reminder, T-shirts are available.
A second meaning for NO EXCUSES stems from my training as a health coach. Regardless of the goal; regardless of the circumstances of the individual; everyone can start somewhere! You are either willing to take action or you aren't. I challenge you not to make excuses about why you can't do something but to accept that you are capable of taking some step along the path. You may not be willing but you are capable.
What does NO EXCUSES mean to you? Where have you seen the phrase and what did it call you to take action on?
Get out of your own way. Seriously! This may not be the constructive beginning to a blog that you might expect but I urge you to hear me anyway. Get out of your own way!
I talk to so many clients week in and week out who say that they really want a change. But do they? How much do you really want it? Are you willing to get out of your own way for it? Are you willing to break some old habits? Are you willing to let of your comfort foods and comfortable routines? Are you willing to struggle? That is what it is going to be. That is what it is going to take to make any significant change. To stare into the deep, dark corners of your life and face the things that make you uncomfortable. Deal with them!
A great quote used in local ad campaigns by the United Way is that “nothing ever changes if nothing ever changes.” This Yogi Berra-ism may be overly simplistic because with all living creatures, we are either growing or we are dying. If you and I are not actively nurturing our growth then we are the latter. So I ask you …. No, I challenge you! What are you going to do about it? How will you grow today? What action are you ready, willing, and able to take?
Will you get up earlier in the morning, today, tomorrow, or every day for that matter to establish a new routine?
Will you say good bye to that vice of soda (diet or regular), or whatever mindless drug you turn to when you are tired, stressed, anxious, depressed, lonely or bored? In order to say….”I will not drug myself…I will deal with my discomfort!”
Will you go to bed earlier to get the rest your body so desperately needs? Even at the cost of missing a couple of t.v. shows that you watch every week?
Will you exercise a little bit each day? More as you are able. Will you push the limits of your possibility and really stretch your boundaries?
Will you challenge yourself each day, one choice after the next? Today is your day if you choose it! Take some time right now to consider what burns inside of you. Sit with the emotions that you often suppress. Put it and the goal that stands between you on paper as descriptively as you can. Now, I want you to make a commitment to yourself today. Share it with someone whose opinion you value. It could be a best friend or significant other, a child or anyone else who will care enough to ask you if you did what you committed to do each day. Choose someone who you will struggle to give them the truth even when it isn’t what you’d hope to report. Because remember, this will be a struggle and you will not be successful all the time.
More importantly than just sharing that commitment with that significant other is to take that first step TODAY and again tomorrow! Do something each day that moves you one step closer to the health and to the life that you deserve. Do something each day that moves you closer to solving the problem that you have been covering with body weight or any other bandage. No matter how big or small, take one step forward each day. Make no excuses about why you did not do it. You are either committed to growing or you are committed to dying. Either way you are committed. Which one will you be committed to? I challenge you to be committed to becoming your fullest potential for you and for everyone whose life yours touches.
By Garrett Stangel, MA, HFS, CPT
New Year’s resolutions come and go and for the cynics and skeptics they are a waste of time. According to Aristotle "the unexamined life is not worth living". If Aristotle is right the time we spend on contemplating, strategizing and taking action to improve ourselves and our lives may be what makes it worth living altogether. Then why do so many of our resolutions go unresolved? Simple answer may be that we spent so much time thinking about what we want or how we want to be and not enough time thinking about our real why. What is your real motivation? For you and me it may be several layers deeper than what we really think. Let' take for example the all too common weight loss goal. Do you truly want to lose weight? Maybe. Maybe not. If so, why? What does the number on the scale represent to you? Failure? Loss? Scorn? Judgement? Or perhaps as far back as you can remember you weren't good enough to someone for some reason.
A second reason why this resolution may not be realized is that you are likely trying to fit a new goal into an old dysfunctional way of living. Often without letting go of what already occupied that space. Sort of like trying to put the square peg in the round hole. Looking at it another way it is our way of attempting to put more stuff into a bag that is already full or overfilling our bathtub. Use whichever analogy you like. So if you really want this what else needs to change? You won't change your reality until you change your way of thinking about it.
Whatever your goal is, it's important for us to connect with your real reason for why you want it. Get down to the real truth. Peel back the layers of the onion. What really strikes that nerve for you to want this change? And what is going to strike that nerve for you to place this at the highest priority in your life? If you can't reach that nerve perhaps this goal isn't ready yet. In which case it is either destined to fail or it should be responsibly put to the side until we are ready to get to its roots and deal with it. Please chime in on this blog. Is your goal already been abandoned this year? Are you willing to look deeper at it? What is your goal? What is your why? Be brave. Let's engage in this conversation.
By Garrett Stangel, MA, HFS, CPT
As I browsed the pages of facebook this morning I see post after post of my clients who are rising to the challenge of resisting the seemingly inevitable demise associated with aging. While it is certainly true that we will change as we get older, the most important factor in the health, vitality, and ultimately in the quality of our lives is not locked away in our DNA. In fact, it is through our choices of how we will live our lives, how we will face the obstacles of our days that determine its quality.
The challenge I referred to is that of committing to the belief that we are every bit as important as the other variables in our life. Not secondary to our jobs, our friends or our families but rather of primary importance. If you do not care for yourself and for your potential, who will? Like Aesop's story of the goose that laid the golden egg. Rather than a moral against greed, though related. I argue ours is against selfishness. If we continue to take more and more from the goose until it has nothing left to give us what do we have in the end? In today's story you are both the goose and its owner. And if you are not continuously nurturing and caring for yourself, you are selfishly slaughtering the goose of your own potential. To what cost? What could your better health do for your energy and mood? How could you use more quality years in your life? How much more could you help those you are dedicated to? How much more could you serve the causes that inspire you?
I thank those of you who have raised the bar of consciousness for me and others this morning (and throughout the year) in your celebrations not of completing the Tough Mudders and Ironman Triathlons, or even of smaller pursuits but of your demonstrations of what is possible when you are committed. Today you are thriving and inspiring us with new life. How will we respond to your call to action?