CHANGE YOUR HABITS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE

Chances are there is some behavior you’d like to change relating to exercise, weight loss, sleep, money, productivity or relationships. “If we change our habits, we change our lives”…claims author Gretchen Rubin in her book Better Than Before, Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of the Happiness Project, graduated from Yale Law School, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, then quit a lucrative career in law to write, it turns out, about happiness. In her second book, she decided to expand her research to delve into habits because she found peoples’ happiness to be closely tied to them.

From informal research with friends and family on changing habits, Rubin was struck by what works for some gets the opposite results, even resistance, with others. She says we all face “outer” expectations (meeting deadlines, etc.) as well as “inner” expectations (exercise regularly, etc.). To describe how people respond to expectations, Rubin developed a framework defining four distinct groups within which most people fall, The Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers or Rebels with the idea that understanding yourself will help you shape habits and strategies that work for you.

Here’s a brief description of the Tendencies:

  • Upholder – meets BOTH inner and outer expectations, is good at keeping commitments, following a schedule, keeping New Years resolutions
  • Obliger – meets outer expectations but RESISTS inner expectations, will meet obligations to colleagues, family, friends but has difficulty self-motivating and sticking with it without outside accountability
  • Rebel – resists BOTH inner and outer expectations, likes freedom and choice, doesn’t like to follow routines, resists habits but will work towards goals in own, unique way
  • Questioner – meets inner expectations but RESISTS outer expectations, is motivated by reason and logic, may need to do own research before buying in

If you’d like to figure out your own Tendency, take this quiz:

http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3163256/Gretchen-Rubin-s-Quiz-The-Four-Tendencies-Fall2016

Better Than Before covers a wide range of topics relating to habits. Here’s a summary of some of the points she makes.

  • You might need to change a bad habit (going to bed late) before you develop a good habit (exercising in the morning). Habits in the areas of sleep, movement, eating and drinking right, and uncluttering are foundational for well being and reinforce each other, so if you want to lose weight, for example, you may need to get enough sleep to have energy to change the way you prepare food and eat. Exercise boosts energy and mood and helps you sleep better. Alcohol interferes with inhibitions and disrupts sleep. A favorite saying of Gretchen’s is, “Outer order, inner calm” – she advocates reducing clutter to help foster a sense of self-command. It might surprise you to know that making your bed is considered by many sources, including this book, as a definitive way to improve your own self discipline and well being.
  • Monitoring behavior can be a powerful way to promote change. For example, studies have shown we tend to underestimate what we eat and overestimate how much we exercise. Logging our food intake or writing our exercise minutes on a calendar is often motivation for change. A related activity is accountability, being held accountable to an outside source. Examples are weigh-ins at Weight Watchers, meeting a friend at the gym to workout. The simple act of scheduling habits on your calendar, like times to workout, eat meals, can reinforce behavior. If you want to lose weight, do you allow time in your day for shopping, meal prep and eating to avoid having to grab convenience foods and eat on the run?
  • Sometimes we can be struck by what Rubin calls a Lightning Bolt, an action that results in a sudden habit change. Watching a documentary like Food, Inc. could change your relationship with meat forever.
  • Important to know about yourself, are you an abstainer or moderator? Abstainers find it easier to give up something altogether, like strictly following a diet plan, than by allowing deviations. There is no sense of deprivation when the issue is off the table totally. By contrast, moderators may feel heightened deprivation from a restricted diet; an occasional indulgence might strengthen their resolve to continue healthy eating.
  • Changing one’s environment is helpful, such as packing your gym bag the night before, cleaning out temptations from your home or creating storage space to help keep organized. Move the candy jar off your desk at work.
  • Lastly, stumbling blocks are everywhere. It helps to have a strategy ahead of time for tempting situations. Develop “If…then” scenarios, “If this happens then I will______”. Rubin describes the biggest enemy, a variety of types of Loop-hole thinking, arguments for why we should be excused from following a good habit, why we should make an exception such as… I deserve a day off. I’ve lost weight so I deserve a reward, etc.

Hopefully this will help you think about your habits and consider changing some to improve your life! To learn more you can read the book, Better Than Before, follow Gretchen Rubin’s blog, or listen to her weekly podcast (links below).

Blog: https://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/tag/blog/

Podcast: Happier with Gretchen Rubin: http://gretchenrubin.com/podcast/

Body Fat Measurement Tool…the Mirror!

 

There’s many ways to measure body fat with varying degrees of accuracy  but all involve some type of specialized equipment. If you don’t have calipers, scales, or a submersion pool, here’s an at-home way to estimate your body fat percentage using the mirror!

 


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These pictures come for the website Built Lean. Follow this link for an excellent article on the topic.

http://www.builtlean.com/2012/09/24/body-fat-percentage-men-women/

 

Cycling – Warm Up and Stretching Exercises

Warming up before riding gets your body ready for the effort it’s about to exert. The idea is to gently move one’s joints through all their ranges of motion. Afterwards, stretching when your muscles are warmed up is aimed at mobility as well as stretching muscles out to avoid poor muscle function or imbalances. These warm ups came from the LIVESTRONG web site…I put them all on one powerpoint slide for easy access.

If you’d like a PDF of these for your phone, email me: fitforrestofyourlife@gmail.com.

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Here’s the link to the original livestrong site: http://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1010730-stretches-before-biking/#slide=11

 

 

Cycling Fashion, Cycling Performance

Here’s my quote and photo from my last post. “I’m all in for cycling now. Proof? Check out the CUTE IMG_3886cycling jersey I bought today! Dude Girl. Can’t wait to try the matching accessories.”

 

IMG_3931On my first ride in my new jersey, a woman drives up in the parking lot tooting her horn when she saw my jersey. She jumped out of her car and whoa…she is the one who IS ALL IN, in more ways than one. First, she has ALL the accessories to go with the jersey… the pants, a windbreaker vest, arm warmers, red sunglasses AND a bike with red trim. Second, she and the folks pictured here were off to Muir Beach, a mountainous climb. I don’t know which to be more jealous of…the outfit or the ability to do rides like that (and much more).

Fashion aside, what about cycling performance? I’ve ridden 81 miles in the last 8 days, the longest ride was from Nicasio to Inverness, 31 miles. Average times are getting close to 15 mph compared to my first ride in May averaging 8.5! I’m still striving. This older body hasn’t peaked in aerobic fitness yet.

Today I talked hubby Jeff into going along. He did great for someone who hasn’t been riding, a testimony to his Crossfit training. We both were so grateful to be fit and able to ride outside along this beautiful stretch of the San Francisco Bay.

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Next goal: maybe I don’t have one. Come to think of it, I sure would like a road bike.

Out of shape at 61, Fit at 90!

90 years old. His workout? 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups and 2919 steps! Cardio and strength training combined! After retirement at age 61, over the years he took up jogging, calisthenics, and hitting the local Larkspur stairs.  Not only has he become a fit senior, he’s become somewhat of a folk hero in his community along the way. It’s never too late to get in shape!

 

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Link to the Marin Independent Journal article.

Eat Healthy and Exercise – Corporate America (in this case Embassy Suites) Makes It Hard

During my recent stay at Embassy Suites in Chicago I witnessed hundreds of people, mainly families, piling on “free” breakfasts. In my visits to the tiny gym I saw 0 to 4 other people.  I wish for a cultural shift where the family attraction doesn’t have to be unhealthy food, where fitness could even be an attraction.

Breakfasts consumed were huge and not nutritious. I don’t remember seeing a vegetable. True, some healthy choices were offered which the platters of food didn’t reflect. Clearly a culture of get-and-eat-as-much-as-you-can prevailed. It wouldn’t have been so disturbing if most of the adults and children hadn’t been overweight, a sign that it’s not just at Embassy Suites where poor food choices are made.

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Don’t we all know how to eat? The message is everywhere, it seems to me. Michelle Obama sure has tried.

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We can’t blame Embassy Suites, can we? Don’t we all know the price we pay from poor diets and excess weight (heart attacks, diabetes, joint pain and injury, high blood pressure, etc.)? But where do we start to change the culture in America? Corporations can take the lead. Can you imagine less food, paired down to the healthiest options, with a bigger, more visible gym, maybe even with a section for kids?

Take a look below at CEO of the Worldwide Hilton chain (owners of Embassy Suites), Christopher Nassetta .

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Here’s the CEO of Embassy Suites, John Rogers with celebrity Brooke Burke- Charvet at an event held at Dylan’s Candy Bar promoting family travel at Embassy Suites.

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Whatya bet you wouldn’t catch them eating platters full at breakfast, and I’m guessing you’d meet them in the gym. CEO Christopher Nassetta loves to cook and is known for visiting kitchens in Hilton hotels. I urge him to infiltrate the dining area of the Embassy Suites on N. State Street in Chicago and see what people are putting on their plates.

I don’t know the answer to changing our breakfast culture. Why do I care? I guess it’s wanting to have pride in being an American. I want  an America on the cutting edge of health, a country of people taking the lead in eating less, wasting less, and exercising more.

 

More from Michael Pollan:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?pagewanted=all

More about CEO, Hilton Worldwide, Christopher Nassetta

http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/turnaround-ceo

Stretching Does Reap Benefits

The physical therapist prescribed more stretching for me today, hamstrings and quads. Hmmm. No surprise that these are areas in my body that need it. To inspire myself,  I’m posting photos here to remind myself of the two stretches I want to do daily.

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To further inspire myself, and maybe you, too, here’s a repost of THE MAN WHO TOUCHED HIS TOES IN 41 DAYS!

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Great time lapse video showing his progress.

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Click here to see how he did it!

What are the stretches you need?

 

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