With the proliferation of weight loss programs, you have been “trained” to focus on results more than anything else. Think about it, when you start a diet, the motivation comes from the visual you have in your mind of being thinner, stronger and feeling like a new man or woman, right? But the natural course of this kind of focus, (solely on results) eventually leads to failure. Let me explain.
When you think about exercising or eating right, you do it because you have this picture in your head of what you want to look like. The visual you create in your head is inspired by what you’ve seen on TV or in magazines highlighting people who have lost a bunch of weight and well, it inspires you to lose want to lose weight, right? Unfortunately, these stories are unrealistic and unsustainable.
The problem is when you focus on the end result, you don’t take in to consideration the actual “journey”. Then, once you realize the work involved, it becomes too overwhelming. That thinking comes from the “fast-n-easy” promises we see in ads and magazines. It looks so easy, right? I think we can all agree that lean and fit does not happen just by wishing or visualizing, it comes from dedication, desire and determination.
Following are some ways that you can think differently about making positive, healthy changes come January.
Value is what you should receive from any fitness center you choose. In other words, you should feel an immediate connection with the facility or fitness professional you choose. There should be value in that facility which makes the time you spend and the dollars you spend all worthwhile. It might be the location, the staff, the “feel” of the place, etc. Whatever it is, there needs to a perceived value which will keep you coming back.
Next, benefits. Here’s where you need to change your thinking. Instead of focusing on the results (which are often unrealistic) focus on the immediate benefits you’ll garner from eating better and exercising more. Benefits are immediate, such as sleeping better, having more energy, being more connected with your body. Unfortunately, we’ve been programmed to believe that weight loss is the only valuable part of being active and eating well. It is this type of thinking that keeps your efforts short lived, why? Because weight loss (fast and easy) is not necessarily the first benefit that is derived from eating better and exercising. Unfortunately, if weight loss isn’t experienced right away, all hope is lost and it’s back to inactivity and poor nutrition.
So here’s what I’d like you think about, if you’re only going to exercise and eat well to lose weight, for your resolution, think differently. Think of 5 benefits (other than weight loss) that you will receive from changing bad nutrition habits and moving your body more. Those benefits should then become your focus. Those benefits are unique to you and matter to you, it’s not the generic “weight loss” reason which clearly doesn’t work.
Take time this week to focus on the sustainable reasons you want to become healthy. Remember, weight loss is a byproduct of being active and eating well, it’s not the other way around. Start today to make small changes and trust me, it will just grow from there. Not a single worthwhile thing in life is achieved simply by wanting it, you’ve got to take action!
Here’s to your health,
By Nicki On December 11, 2011 1 Comment
I remember Christmas in 1979, it was about a year after I had gotten my health in order and lost close to 50 pounds ( weight loss followed my healthy changes). Anyway, I had been eating healthy food for about a year and I was heading to my Grandparents house prepared to overindulge in holiday fare. I felt that I had deserved it because I really hadn’t eaten any unhealthy food in so long. I picked up my plate and headed towards the buffet table. Of course my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but hey, I “deserved” to eat all of the foods I had denied myself for so long, so I took one of everything. What I didn’t realize is though I thought I wanted all of this food, the reality was my body had been trained to crave what it needs not what I wanted. I realized at that moment, it’s all about listening to my body, NOT my “diet head”, it’s about being healthy.
We are so conditioned (due to years of dieting) to listen to our “diet-head” that we are completely out of touch with listening to what our body needs. Let me give you an example:
You go to a holiday event and your diet-head says, “Hey, it’s the holidays I can have all of this food, besides once January hits, I’ll eat better.” But if you really stop for just a minute and listen to your body, it really does crave the good-for-you foods. It’s just that we’ve become accustomed to making bad choices out of guilt or “the diet starts tomorrow” syndrome. But that’s all stuff in your head, not your body. Granted, your body does become addicted to sugars and junk food, but if you become consistent with good eating habits, your body will crave the good food, that’s what happened to me.
This week, try to listen closely to your body. Granted, this time of year poses more challenges when it comes to eating healthy, but if you’re not in the “diet-head” you’ll make better choices versus eating something you swore you wouldn’t and then living with the guilt for the next week! Whether it’s the holidays or not, do your best to eat well and remain committed to activity. Let go of the diet-head and begin to be more thoughtful about making the choices that are right for you because your body and ultimately your mind knows best. Think about it, when you eat well, you feel well – enough said.
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On November 27, 2011 3 Comments
A bit of some pie, a slice of the cake, Januarys coming, resolutions I’ll then make. I won’t worry now, what time I would waste, I won’t eat that much, simply a taste.
I promised myself, I’d diet next year, I promise I will, you’re reading it here. In the scheme of things, what’s a pound or two? I’ve lost it before, I’m sure you have too!
The holidays bring out the child in all, naughty or nice, you make the call. Doesn’t really matter, I’ll do what I like, because after December, I’ll bond with my bike.
I’m not going to worry, I’m not going to cry, it’s easy to choose …one more slice of pie! I won’t get caught up in this weight loss game, I’ll let the holidays shoulder the blame.
Spending my time obsessing with food, just brings out my diet ugly mood. So I’ll give up the worry, I’ll give up the fight, and after December I’ll make all this right.
Wait just a minute, let me think here, is this the way to start a new year? To indulge and indulge until I just pop, then January 1st it all comes to a stop?
If I have a small taste here and there, no need to abstain come the first of the year. Surely if I practice at a moderate pace, my January weight won’t be such disgrace.
I remember past January’s, that first step on the scale, all I could think was, human or whale? The numbers reflected my imbibing mistakes, I knew I should’ve passed on the goodies I baked. What was I thinking, why didn’t I stop? Dial 911, call the weight loss cop!
Yeah, the thought isn’t pretty, not something I need, so maybe the following words I should heed:
Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night. Do yourself a favor and simply eat right. Once in awhile a treat is just fine, yes, even the occasional glass of wine.
Just keep yourself active and keep yourself fit, I know you can do it, no magic to it.
The holidays are great as long as you know, it’s a temporary season that comes and goes. It leaves behind messes and food galore, yet without even a thought you keep eating more.
So before you get tricked into holiday fun, don’t turn from healthy eating, that’s number one. Get plenty of water, that’s number two and plenty of rest, it helps all that you do. Plenty of fruits and veggies are number four, otherwise healthy eating just goes out the door.
Going through the holidays eating just right, won’t take the fun out of parties at night. Cause on January first when you’re feeling great, you’ll smile as you think about the over-eaters fate!
Here’s to Healthy Holidays!
By Nicki On November 3, 2011 No Comments
As we shift in to the frenzied holiday season, healthy intentions are left behind. Once the chaos of the holidays takes control of our lives, January 1st is the day of salvation. But you know, and I know, New Year’s resolutions rarely have lasting power.
Granted, we’re far away from January 1st, however many people I work with start losing their focus because January 1st is right around the corner. I wish there never was a January 1st, simply because people give up any healthy intentions in exchange for the belief that the New Year will undo all the November/December indiscretions. Quite frankly, it’s not the way it works. If I had a dollar for every person that used January 1st as their day of redemption, I’d be a very wealthy woman. In fact, if I had a dollar for every person that crashed and burned after 4 weeks of restriction and over exercising, I too would be wealthy. But I have no desire to make a penny off of people that are getting bad information.
I recently read an article discussing the fact that fad diets, or any kind of quick-fix doesn’t work. It’s the education and application of healthy living that gets lasting results, period, end of sentence. As you make your way in to the season of temptation and over-indulgence, check out some of my tips that offer solutions vs. resolutions designed to help you put your focus where it needs to be, on your health!
1. Do not attempt to lose weight over the holidays, rather focus on making the best choices you can, as often as you can. There will certainly be some things you are going to want, so do it, just do it moderately. After I lost my 50 pounds, my approach was 5 days on, 2 days off. In other words, 5 days a week I was very focused on getting the best nutrition possible. But allowing a couple of days to go out to dinner or for a party. It’s realistic and takes the pressure off to be perfect 24/7. Over time, you’ll find it not only gets easier but it will be more like 10 days strong, 1 day not so much!
2. Plan, plan, plan. Everyone should have their healthy food options ready. If you’re going to a party, bring your own dish. More now than ever, you should be planning your meals for the week. On Sunday, I sit down and figure out my week, when I’ll be home to eat and when I won’t. I then create my weekly menu and go shopping. I know that I’ve got meals covered and healthy snacks for the week. Planning is key to long-term success.
3. Water, Water, Water. Between alcohol consumption, too much sodium and heating, the winter is full of dehydration pitfalls. Be mindful of keeping yourself hydrated with water intake throughout the day. Further, being hydrated is noted for reducing hunger. H20 is a win-win!!
3. Don’t lose sight of exercise. I often tell my clients, “I don’t exercise for vanity, I exercise for sanity.” During the holidays, even more so. There is a lot of stress that comes with the holidays. Everything from pressure to shop, entertaining, family gatherings, etc. Exercise is the secret to maintaining a healthy energy level and creating a positive attitude that is often challenged during the season of good cheer.
4. You’re not perfect. One of the more common reasons people drop their exercise and/or nutrition efforts is unrealistic expectations. People believe that if they don’t get perfect results from their efforts, it’s pointless. If you continue to focus solely on weight, that may be right. But if you focus on lifestyle and ongoing efforts to make good choices most of the time, you can’t fail. Perfect is non-existent in the world of diet and exercise. In fact, that word is what I believe to be the demise of women’s best intentions. So take the pressure off yourself to be perfect. Simply be the best you can be most of the time and that is better than perfect, it’s realistic.
Here’s to a healthy holiday season!
By Nicki On October 23, 2011 2 Comments
I’m grateful for the choices I’ve been given with regard to healthy living. The fact that I have choices, makes opting for good health a natural one.
This past weekend, my daughter came home from college to celebrate her older brother’s 26th birthday. It’s amazing how quickly time flies. Kids go from needing you desperately, to managing their own life. I suppose that’s the role of a parent, to raise them to be independent and a productive member of society.
I digress. Anyway, when she was home, we were out for lunch and commented that her friends thought we looked a lot alike, and I didn’t look my age. I’m sharing this because I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life choosing to take care of myself with diet, exercise and work/life balance. My other motivation to stay healthy is my family health history. My maternal Grandfather had a massive stroke at 38 which left him bedridden for 8 years until his death at 46. My paternal Grandfather was taken by a long, painful bout of cancer that took over his body and left him at 83 pounds and 62 years old when he died.
Because you cannot ignore the fact that genetics play a role in your health, it’s important to do what we can to preserve it. I know that’s been the case for me. Knowing that I needed to take good care of myself in order to have a better quality of life than my ancestors did, I ultimately chose my profession as a way to stay on top of my health as well as educate and inspire others to do the same.
My job has been tough as the diet industry continues to override my efforts to teach people to be more mindful of health versus size. The truth is people jeopardize their health every day all in an effort to be thin. Remember, thin and healthy are about as similar as cheese and chalk. So, what I teach and what I encourage is to let go of the “thin” phenomenon and look towards a lifestyle that offers good health and opens the doors to a better quality of life.
I can’t tell you what it will take to finally “get” that diets don’t work and weight doesn’t dissappear with simply a wave of a wand. I don’t know what it will take to embrace healthy living and let the whole weight focus go. Don’t get me wrong, 60% of the people I work with need to lose some weight, SOME weight. The reality is this, if you focus on living a healthier lifestyle, the weight will be where it needs to be. In fact, my clients that focus on changing their lifestyle, are the most successful at achieving a healthy weight that is lasting. Of course it’s important to take baby steps and make gradual changes. Trust me, gradual is key here. For every overzealous client I’ve had succeed, five have failed. Too much to soon is a sure ticket to injury or burn out.
So, I ask you to take a look at where your health is today. Is it where you want it to be? Are you able to make choices to change? We all have the choice to be active, and choose more nutritious foods and I consider that a privilege! Some don’t have a choice due to physical impairments or health issues. I am hopeful, that as you stand back and look at your current lifestyle, you can begin taking the necessary steps to encourage good health. Life does move forward at an amazing pace, and the older we get, the quicker it seems to go! So why not take the opportunity to choose good health to better enjoy your life, at any pace.
Here’s to your good health!
By Nicki On September 5, 2011 No Comments
When I got up this morning and the thermometer read 58 degrees outside, I found myself excited about the arrival of fall. Some of you may think I’m nuts, (I SO love summer), but there is something about the fall air that brings a different kind of energy to great walks or runs. The crisp air seems to energize me and the first smell of a fireplace burning, well, nothing better. Though I look forward to the changing leaves, and gorgeous fall scenery, it’s important to consider exercise plans for the fall/winter season. After all, as the seasons change so does our lifestyle.
Truth be told, once winter weather hits, I’m a wimp. If the temperature drops below 35 degrees F, I’m subjected to my dreary basement and the mundane treadmill run, (yawn). But my best bet to stay motivated is to lay out my goals for spring which conveniently dictates my fall/winter exercise plan. Not only does this strategy help to keep me consistent during a challenging time of year, when spring rolls around, I’m ready to realize my hard work through either a faster run, a further bike ride or my most recent discovery, a better triathlon. (I tried a Tri and I liked it!) The point is, if you have something specific that you’re planning for, you’re far more likely to stay on task and consistent with your exercise routine. We’re all too familiar with the New Year’s resolution dissolution come February, right? The best way to avoid that is to PLAN for something special. It could be your first 5k walk. Plan for a specific time that you’d like to complete the walk, or seek to reach a certain number of walks per month.
Along with staying focus on exercise during the winter months, don’t forget about nutrition planning as well. As seasons change, so do the foods people crave. (For those of you lucky enough to be in warm weather 365, it may not be the same ). If you’re a gardener, consider canning or freezing your harvest. If you’re not in to that, pay attention to produce that is seasonal. There is nothing better than that first roasted butternut squash!
Don’t let a change in weather derail your best intentions. A healthy lifestyle isn’t seasonal, it’s constant. Lay out your exercise and nutrition plans today to help you stay on track and get through what to some, is the most challenging time of year!
Cheers to your health,
By Nicki On May 28, 2011 2 Comments
This past week, USA Today came out with a story that polled about 1000 people asking if they would rather have a million dollars or a great body. 1 out of 4 would rather have a perfect body than a million dollars. I don’t know about you, but I was wondering about health. Why wasn’t there an option that asked if people would like to be in great health? In my humble estimation, that’s a two-fer. If you’ve got your health, you’ve likely got a healthy body. Would it be perfect? There is no perfect, whereas health offers a number of benefits!
There is no doubt that we live in a time when validation is often based on the external, what you have, what you look like, etc. Have you seen the new show, The Voice? It goes against the norm of judging based on looks, etc. The premise of the show is that singers seeking stardom audition for judges that can’t see them, they only hear them. The idea is if they are less than attractive or super hot, it might skew the judges vote. So, they are initially judged on talent alone, (what a concept). This is a great illustration of not judging a book by it’s cover, because we may think we know what we’re going to get, but that is not always the case.
I know for me, when I lost all my weight, people were nicer to me. The same thing happens with someone with new found fame or money, suddenly it’s cool to be associated with you. What’s wrong with that shallow picture? I’m convinced that’s why the diet industry is so incredibly successful. Each and every day people are striving to be accepted and that often comes with a visual perception. “If you’re pretty or thin or rich, you’ll have it all.”
Remember the show, The Swan ? A select group of women, down on their luck, worked with a group of experts including, a therapist, dentist and plastic surgeon to overcome their issues. Not sure how the plastic surgeon factors in, well I do, but it’s just so ridiculous. Then there’s the show, Bridalplasty in which girls compete before their wedding day for plastic surgery. Huh? Wha? I wonder how long the marriage lasts after so much plastic surgery? Something tells me those men wanted to marry the girl they met, not the girl that was created. Likely, they think that perfection equates to happiness or success. I know some beautiful people and they have just as many troubles as those not viewed as “beautiful” (beautiful is relative, don’t you think?). The best advice I ever got was from my Grandmother, she always used to tell me, “It may be shiny and new on the outside, but you need to dig a little deeper to find out what condition it’s really in.”
The sad thing is many of these folks on these shows as well as people that watch them believe that, “If I only looked like that I’d be so much more successful! If I could lose weight like the people on that show, I’d finally get that job or get that guy or girl, etc.” The Biggest Loser is a good example. Sure, they lose weight, a lot of weight, however, once they’re off the show, they go back home to the same stresses, the same issues sans the chef, trainer and therapist. The only thing that’s changed is what’s on the outside. (Yes, I know, their vitals have changed) But, if it’s not permanent, and they’re not maintaining healthy patterns, then what really changed? Only the outside.
I tell my clients all the time, change has GOT to start from the inside out, period. The truth is that if you want to change your life, there has to be a major mental shift. Just because you look great, how is that going to translate to the ideal job? Get you out of financial trouble? One needs to shift the way they think and feel internally and start conveying that externally. If you wake up tomorrow and you’re an ideal size, the “upkeep” will likely throw you and you’ll be back where you started. If you win a million dollars tomorrow, it might help you pay off some bills and buy some things you’ve always wanted, but does it change the core of who you are, bring about bliss and utopia in your life? Probably not. If you didn’t have it before, you’re not likely to have it when circumstances change, unless you realize change is an inside out process. You can’t project what isn’t there.
No matter how great someone’s body is, you really have to come back to self, i.e., values, character, integrity and the things that really, really matter. To me, my health is what matters because having my health allows me to do all the things I really want to do. Having my health allows me to feel great and project that energy. Focusing on my health every day gets me a lot further than focusing on my 6-pack. So, I ask you, if you had to choose between a million dollars, a “great” body or excellent health, which would you choose?
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On April 10, 2011 No Comments
This past week I hosted my 6th orientation at my studio for my 6-week Weight Loss Challenge. For the orientation, I had yet another speaker that has successfully met “the challenge” to tell her story. (Check out our other success stories). This week, Reality Fitness welcomed Marty Hammond and she shared how she has managed to lose 5 dress sizes and 30 pounds in 5 months.
” When I started this program 5 months ago, I only came to the orientation because my husband Mike wanted to support Nicki’s program. But as I sat and listened to Nicki’s emphasis on losing weight for better health and quality of life I thought, ‘Hmmm, maybe this is something I should try. I’ll call next month when I’m not so busy.” Normally that call would have never happened, but having a 2 pot-a-day coffee habit and struggling with extra weight, I figured maybe it’s time to make some changes. When I started the program there were 4 things Reality Fitness gave me.
The first tool they gave me was a compass, or what I like to refer to as a GPT, Great Personal Trainer. I could not have made the progress I’ve made without Jon. Next, they gave me a map, which was my food plans. Nothing crazy, just focused on getting rid of garbage as I knew I needed some structure. I gave up a 2 pot-a-day coffee habit and drink only tea now. I would often eat in my car, typically fast food. I was on my way with my compass and my nutrition. With those two components in place, I was then given keys, which was my journal. I liken it to AAA roadside assistance. The journal held me accountable and made me aware of what I’m putting in my mouth. Nicki said at the orientation, ‘If you’re not willing to journal, you are not willing to be successful.’ I know how true that statement is now that I’ve been doing it for 5 months. Then, I had to have fuel, and that fuel was the Happy Monday letters Nicki sends out to those of us participating in the challenge as well as the motivation I received from my trainer.
After all of these wonderful tools for success I received from Reality Fitness there was one thing missing, the driver. No one would take the wheel for me and drive to my destination, it was up to me to grab the wheel and take control. The biggest benefit of grabbing the wheel and taking control was knowing that I was in charge of my destiny. ”
Marty is now training for 5K’s and enjoying an improved quality of life. Her husband came to support her and told me, “She’s now outrunning me!” No doubt, a couple that exercises together, stays together!
I have been in this business a very long time, I have seen fads come and go. I have seen people go to ridiculous lengths to lose weight, rarely if ever keeping the weight off. Every time they would gain the weight back, the weight of failure became heavier than the weight on the scale. The difference with our clients success is not only their determination to once and for all make positive changes, but the support they receive long after the 6 weeks is past. Big changes require a lot of support and our clients get that from us. I think that if we’re able to develop programming on a national scale (no pun intended) that helps put people in the drivers seat, but gives them support during, before and after, that will be the key to long-term success. I’m see it in my studio every day. There is nothing that inspires me more than seeing people that are ready to change, make the change, and finally realize change can be a very positive thing.
By Nicki On March 20, 2011 No Comments
“You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.” This quote was shared with me by a student in a spinning class that I recently visited for my newspaper column. Gil, who’s smile is contagious, was a walking motivational quote. Another of his favorites, “You’re never too old to be who you might have been!” No doubt, proof of the influence that this spin class has had on his life.
This week I had the privilege and I mean privilege of visiting a spin class for students 55 and up. I was blown away by the energy, dedication and clear disregard of age. All the students agreed, “Age is nothing more than a number.” I have seen classes with much younger students that didn’t exude the enthusiasm that this group of “Spinners” did. After I interviewed the students and instructor, I was reminded of how many people dismiss exercise and something “for the young” when in fact, it’s more important than ever, especially as we age.
The oldest student in the class was 80 and when she’s not spinning at her exercise class, she’s outside riding her bike. Another inspiring student was Dollie, in her 70′s who sported faux leather bike pants and hopped on her bike with the ease of someone 30 years her junior.
For those of you that blow off exercise with the myriad of reasons that exist, think again. After watching this group pedal through their hip replacements, cancer, strokes, heart attacks and loss of a spouse, I truly believe there isn’t an excuse in the world that one of these students would buy. So the next time you think you’re too old or too busy or too sick to exercise, think again. It all begins with “I can.”
By Nicki On March 13, 2011 1 Comment
As many of you know, I have been implementing a weight loss challenge at my studio that has turned out to be, well, amazing. Because of the incredible results our clients are experiencing, I am asking them to come back at the orientations we hold each month and share their stories. Let me just say, they are pretty incredible stories.
This past week at our March orientation, Patricia Buckley was our speaker. Patricia has been a client of ours for a number of years, but the weight loss part seemed elusive for her. She was dedicated to her exercise, but for years the weight never changed. When I launched our 6-Week Weight Loss Challenge, Patricia decided that it might be worth checking out. She started the program at the end of the orientation back in November, she hasn’t looked back. Patricia has lost about 37 pounds which is fantastic. But beyond the weight loss, she has changed her lifestyle. I have always said, weight loss is incomplete without the lifestyle change. And that is what Patricia has discovered.
Here’s a bit from her story, “I’m a school teacher and I’m very busy. My husband and I used to eat out, a lot. I liked to eat a lot. Because of that, I have been on many diets and therefore, I wasn’t quite sure what would make this program different. To start with, it wasn’t a diet. Before starting the challenge, I figured because I was exercising that was all I needed to do. But once I came to listen to Nicki speak about her weight-loss challenge, and she kept using the word ‘sustainability’ something clicked, and I knew I needed to do something more. Since starting the program I have lost 37 pounds, dropped 4 pant sizes, many dress sizes and I’m learning to cook. I was a pot-a-day coffee drinker and now I only drink tea. My energy, outlook and quality of life are all greatly improved. I have learned so many things on my journey, but 3 words that have become my mantra are, CAN, CONSCIOUS and CHOICE. The focus for me is no longer on the four letter words diet and can’t, rather the fact that I CAN make good CHOICES based on the CONSCIOUS awareness of what is good for me physically and emotionally.” Wow, well said.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing can change without your willingness to change. The hardest part for people that believe they want to lose weight is taking responsibility for long-term change. For some long-term is just too overwhelming.
So, just for today think about Patricia’s 3 words, can, conscious and choice. Can you make conscious choices that will serve to create a healthier you? Start by looking at the changes you’re willing to make and implement them in to your long-term plan. Patricia is making changes that will be major contributors to long-term change. Diets are temporary and teach nothing. When you change your lifestyle in order to lose weight, you are creating a success story that will have staying power and that is definitely a story with a happy ending.