Category Archives: Inspiration

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/

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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.

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?

 

China Camp Loop Ride with Marin Cyclists Club

So I overcame my fear of cycling by doing it again. After my nervous ride a week ago, it was either abandon the sport or go for it. Today I met up with a group of riders from the Marin Cyclist Club. Beginning at the park-and-ride, the leader took off. I hopped on my bike and followed. I knew if I didn’t hug keep up I would be doomed by fear and discouragement if I started to fall behind. First thing, we hit that steep downhill I WALKED down with my bike last week. No time for fear. I just held on and went for it. Then she turned onto a narrowish road with plenty of traffic and parked cars. I just stuck behind her fender and didn’t look anywhere else. The first big hill was a heavy breather filling me with doubt whether I’d make the whole ride, especially with the faster pace. But I got my stride. I conquered the uphills easily and felt the thrill of the downhill with a pace facer than my comfort zone. I did it! I succeeded in getting over my fear of riding in traffic and picking up speed downhill. It was a friendly ride, met some nice riders and felt exuberant when we finished.

Lesson: If something’s hard or scary for me, I might be able to overcome it with more practice/effort. Also, I learned strength training pays off…that’s what powered me up those hills.

Next challenge: Ok, you say. It was only an “A” ride (easiest, shortest, slowest for the Club). Next time? Longer ride.

Why does anyone care?: Aging is pretty scary so I find it a daily challenge to either give in to limitations or challenge them. I want to share my experiences and encourage others to challenge themselves.

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Here’s the ride on Strava. After a stop, I forgot to turn it back on when we finished the 13 mile loop.

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http://www.marincyclists.com

You’re Going to Age (hopefully): Why Not Prepare for It?

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Take your fingers out of your ears and listen to me! You. Are. Going. To. Get. Old. Unless you don’t. Get strong now and make it easier on yourself. “Nobody wants to think about fixing the roof while the sun is shining,” says actor Rob Lowe, in a recent SF Chronicle article, as keynote speaker for an event on aging, where he talked about donning a “suit” that stimulates being in an older body. The suit includes a helmet that stifles hearing and vision; heavy, imbalanced boots; restrictive fabric that gives the effect of arthritis in the knees, hands, spine and elbows; and sleeves weighed down to imitate muscle loss. The truth is that moving around, getting out of chairs or up off the floor is harder as you get older and more so if you are carrying extra weight. On top of that, as explained in a WebMD article, beginning“…in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia.”. Being active helps counteract this ongoing muscle loss.

Rob Lowe credits his youthful looks to surfing, skiing, CrossFit, running, and swimming. He, along with many of us, hope to live our golden years with gusto. Many individuals in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are living full lives, while others are walker-users who can barely get out of a chair and ambulate. Some are active but have begun falling and, in some cases, have difficulty getting up. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in people over 65 according to the New York Times, Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation. To get up off the floor uses nearly every muscle in your body plus a fair amount of flexibility, not to mention putting a tremendous amount of weight on your wrists, and knees. To get up from a chair and stand takes strength in your chest, arms, gluteals, shoulders, legs, core, and ankles. The stronger you are, the less chance of these basic movements being a problem. Don’t wait until you have a crisis to start getting stronger.

How are you preparing for physically aging? I know, you’re not old yet and you’re in decent shape, lots of energy, walk on the treadmill, do Zumba, and garden. When was the last time you had a physical assessment to determine your strengths, weaknesses, and flexibility? Does your current exercise program strengthen ALL the muscles shown in this picture and include balance and flexibility exercises?

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Why not prepare to excel in aging, just as you have for other events in your life…running a marathon, getting a good grade in a class, planning a big work project, assuring your kids turn out okay. You plan ahead. You prepare. You put your heart into it. You practice. You get competitive. You envision the outcome you want. Do that now with your fitness. Make a Plan.

A personal trainer can help you. First, we will conduct a fitness assessment to find imbalances or weaknesses and then help you develop a program to address them. You can quickly begin to make changes in your strength and flexibility. Participants in my Gymformee-Introduction to the Gym class, an ongoing offering at Body Kinetics, where I work, demonstrated better balance and strength gains after just eight classes.

A testimony to the power of daily effort, this man improved his flexibility and was able to touch his toes after just 41 days of practice.Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.06.22 PM

 

 

TWO SIMPLE TESTS YOU CAN TRY AT HOME

 Get Up Off the Floor Test

Simply lower down to the floor, sit, and stand back up. If you are able to do so without assistance from any limbs, you score 10 points, 5 for getting up and 5 for getting down.

10 Points Possible as pictured here

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 Subtract 1 point each, both for standing up and sitting down, using assistance from a hand, knee, forearm, hand on knee, or side of leg.

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 This test not only assesses flexibility, balance, strength, and mobility, but may also be a measure of your mortality according to a study conducted by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo. These two links (Simple Sitting Test Predicts How Long You’ll Live) and (RQOW: Getting Up From the Floor) further describe the study, the test, and provide a link to a YouTube video of the original test.

Stand up, Sit Down Test

Arms crossed, touching chest, rise to full stand, return to fully seated, as many times as possible in 30 seconds. Below is an excerpt from the Senior Fitness Test Manual table ranking you with individuals your age at 95 percentile ranking. If you’re younger than 60 you can still see how you compare.

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PRACTICE TO DO AT HOME

Practice getting off the floor daily.

Sit on the floor to do something (put on your socks, eat off the coffee table, etc.) so you have to get up. Or just practice – check out this link for a “how to” .

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Using a chair or other assistance can lessen pressure on joints. If you have back, hip, wrist, or knee issues, check with your doctor first for the safest way to get up off the floor.

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Make a Habit of Getting Out of Your Chair Unassisted

Notice how you get out of your chairs during your day. Do you have the habit of using the arm rests? If so, change to standing up unassisted. Even better, do chair squats or regular squats everyday. (For knee safety, as you squat back it’s hips, not knees, first, then weight back on heels as you slowly lower; knees stay behind toes.)

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Studies show any amount of regular exercise will benefit you! If you want to get amazing results and become functionally younger than you are today, take this advice from the authors of Younger Next Year, on the secret to great health, “You should exercise hard almost every day of your life – say six days a week. And do strength training…two of those six days. Exercise is the great key to aging.”

 Take Action Now! Make a plan yourself or enlist the help of a personal trainer, but get going. Plan for six days of exercise to include:

 Components of an Overall Fitness Program

  • Strength training: two times per week
  • Aerobic/“Cardio” activities: 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity (less minutes with high intensity workouts)
  • Flexibility (Yoga, Pilates) two times per week
  • Balance: daily

 The good news is that by working hard and getting strong, you can feel better immediately and benefit for the rest of your life.

 References

Stephanie M. Lee,” Does this outfit make me feel old? It’s suppose to”, San Francisco Chronicle, Business Report, page 1, November 21, 2004  http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Ageless-Rob-Lowe-promotes-suit-that-simulates-5907449.php
Reviewed by William Blahd, MD, “Sarcopenia with Aging”, WebMD, 50+: Live Better, Longer, August 3, 201  http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/sarcopenia-with-aging?page=2
Katie Hafner, “Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation”, New York Times, Health Section, Page 1, November 2, 2014  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/03/health/bracing-for-the-falls-of-an-aging-nation.html?_r=0
Paige Waehner, “How to Safely Get Up and Down From the Floor”, About Health, May 1, 2004 http://exercise.about.com/od/exerciseforseniors/ss/Get-Up-And-Down-From-Floor.htm?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons_nip
Chair squat image: Arun Shanbhag, “Knee Exercises: Chair Squats”, Aches & Joints, April 27, 2008. http://achesandjoints.org/2008/04/27/chair-squats/
Getting off floor with chair image: Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging, Health and Aging, September 2, 2014   http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/exercise-physical-activity/sample-exercises-flexibility
Body image from:   http://www.builtlean.com/2011/09/15/full-body-workout-vs-split-routine-which-is-better/
Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, M.D., Younger Next Year, Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2007, p. 14

Power of Stretching…man touches toes in 41 days!

As a trainer, I am continually reminded of the power of doing. The power of  practicing and trying day after day and the amazing results that follow. I love this video. Here’s a man who could NEVER touch his toes. Not even close. But then he did. He did it with daily practice. Stretching exercises. 41 days after beginning the routine, he touched his toes. Inspiring!Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.06.22 PM

Watch his short time lapse video here.

http://www.jasonbarron.com/41-days-trying-to-touch-my-toes/

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