Reflection Time

With January now over and February well on its way to becoming a month of ‘making up for lost time’, half of us begin to become less motivated and half of us reflect on the year to come with a sense of hope…

Now is the time to really reflect on our behaviour. What happened in 2010? What went right? What went wrong? Did we manage to make any changes in January at all?

If you find that February has come around and you are still thinking about what you ‘should’ do without actually doing it, then now more than ever is the time to make that change. It’s still the start of the year and a real difference can be made.

If the idea of throwing yourself into the deep end scares you… or you can do this but you only tend to be able to do it for a few days, then just take a small step to begin with. Book a Pilates class or clean out your cupboards. You will be amazed how much of a difference this one small step can make. It will make you feel completely motivated and help lay some very important foundations when it comes to feeling like you can achieve your goals.

Behavioural changes are the most important aspect of becoming motivated – after all, as the famous saying goes… ‘People do not attract that which they want, but that which they are’.

It is only once you actually become the person you want to be… and not just try and ‘think’ or ‘will’ yourself into being a certain way, that you will be able to live the life you want.

So, if you’ve started off badly this year, make real behavioural changes and have the 2011 you deserve.

The psychology of working together

The first thing you want to do whenever anybody TELLS you to do something is not do it. There’s nothing motivational about being screamed at, yelled at and having demands made of you. It’s totally understandable that some fitness experts believe this to be the way forward, but really, when you think about it… does this motivate you? In any relationship, being told what to do is not constructive and instantly builds resistance. For both Personal Trainer and the person in training, it’s important to listen to what the other one is saying. A mutual understanding of what each person expects from the other one will get fantastic results. The most important thing here is for this to be reciprocal. As a Personal Trainer it’s important to know what really matters to the person you’re training and what will motivate them without the need of screaming at them. As the person training, you need to understand that your Trainer is there to help, not to badger you, and that they want the results just as much as you do. It’s this connection that will see the best results for both parties. What motivates one person may not motivate the other, so take time to listen to the needs of the person you are training. When working under the guidance of someone else, be clear about what your goals are and what your main point of inspiration is. The clearer the relationship between the trainer and the trainee, the quicker, easier and happier you’ll both reach your goals.

Who do you turn to for advice?

These days everyone is full of advice – your friends, your parents, your colleagues, the internet – it’s often hard to know who to listen to and who not to. Your doctor may advise that you listen to no one but them – including even your Personal Trainer. But how far should you take even this advice? And how do you know who is speaking with your sole interests at heart?

 There has been a lot of bureaucratic nonsense flying around of late, especially when it comes to advising about the health factors involved with diabetes. The medical councils and professionals are saying that fitness instructors shouldn’t be giving out advice, which seems a tad far-fetched considering many fitness professionals have the skill and the training to be able to speak on such matters.

It doesn’t help that these bodies are trying to tighten the reins on just who can give health advice yet aren’t pushing more people through the system. There is a distinctive lack of nurses, doctors and exercise physiologists at the moment and even less people who seem keen to take up the training.

It’s also your Personal Trainer who you’re more likely to see on a day-to-day basis, so to be able to get advice you can trust from them, will make more of an impact then a monthly appointment with the doc.

Of course it’s important to know who you can trust and who is giving the most valid advice. But when it comes to your Personal Trainer, they live and breathe health. They live and breathe YOUR health. There are no ulterior motives, no hidden reason for giving you any other advice apart from the correct advice. Personal Trainers want only one thing and that’s to make you fitter. This is how they make their living, so obviously you can trust that when they give you their opinion, it will be an honest, well-educated one.

Ignorance is bliss – but it’s not very healthy

In any area of your life, to be successful, you need motivation, a strong will and the sheer desire to see something through to the end. Be it in your working life or even just becoming good at a new hobby.

A massive amount of people are very unaware just exactly what is involved when it comes to their health and fitness, and often have no idea about the amount of work it takes to attain a healthy well-balanced lifestyle. It takes extreme dedication, hard work and a huge amount of personal motivation to attain the perfect shape.

 Just because the person next to you isn’t exercising or working out regularly doesn’t mean that you should do the same. Following the crowd and living in ignorance will never get you anywhere. Just because everyone else does it, doesn’t mean that you should too. When it comes to your personal well-being, this kind of ignorance is the first thing you need to get rid of. When you understand exactly how hard it is to get in shape then you’re taking the first step to do doing it. Ignorance may be bliss, but it certainly isn’t when your health is involved. It doesn’t pay to be ignorant about your health and it doesn’t pay to follow the crowd.

Even if the person you’re following is living a nice and healthy lifestyle (which of course, in comparison, is a far better role model), it is also important to get your personal health and exercise regime correct. What works for someone else may not work for you.

So, get wise to what’s involved, stop doing what others do, and work on a regime that suits YOU!

The Pay Off

Paying for a cleaner will get your house nice and clean. Paying for a gardener will mean your lawn is always neatly trimmed. However, paying for a gym membership doesn’t mean you’ll get in shape. In fact, paying an excellent personal trainer to make you run around for an hour a week doesn’t mean you’ll get in shape either. No way near.

Obviously, signing up to the gym is the first step, and assigning a personal trainer is another massive push towards achieving your goals. However, the real results will only come with daily, continued effort, both in the gym and at home. There’s no point trying to out-source your fitness. Many people believe that by paying a personal trainer for an hour a week, they will get results – if this is combined with personal exercise and self-discipline, then yes, absolutely. However, if you’re paying to be fit for an hour a week then forgetting about it for the other 167 hours, you won’t get anywhere – no matter how hard you train during that hour.

In today’s society, there are ways to pay and have virtually anything done for you – from your food shopping to your children’s welfare. However, your fitness is something that can’t be out-sourced. It takes a continued effort to make a change here. Paying the bill is only the first step…

The Power of Compelling Goal Setting

 “He who has a big enough why to live for can bear almost any how.”
– Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, 19th century german philosopher

This quote pretty much sums up the power of goal setting and explains why some people achieve things that other people only ever dream about. Everytime I hear or read this quote, my immediately reflect on a 14 week period at the beginning of 2009. At that time, I was fortunate to participate in a Natural Body Building Competition a large group of Vision Personal Trainers, Managers and Owners in May 2009.

Whilst my main motivation to eat well and exercise consistently for the entire 14 week journey was to avoid the embarrassment looking out of place on stage, I also learnt a great deal about what can be achieved when your goals are compelling enough. Upon reflection long after the event, I was quite surpised about the level of commitment that my collegues and I showed, especially when many of us were responsible for running businesses and raising young families at the same time.

During the preparation, 4.30am cardio sessions for two hours before work were just part of the daily routine, without too much fuss, even though I consistently went to bed well after 10.30pm each night. Similarly, saying “no” to bad food and alcohol at parties was really quite easy. I simply put this down to the quote mentioned above.

In the subsequent months after the event, without the compelling goal, suddenly it was harder, if not out of the question, to rise at that ridiculous time to exercise. Poor food choices gradually began to slip back in too. I have witnessed this happen so many times with clients over the years. Many people seek the services of a Personal Trainer to help them achieve their goals. Then when they do so, they attempt to embark of a self imposed “maintenance” plan, without their trainer. Unfortunately, without ongoing goal setting, their old habits sneak back in and before to long, they return to square one.

So my advice is to set goals that are compelling to you, for it is only then when you can achieve greatness!

Junk Foods – What our kids are missing out on!

Today I was talking to a Vision Personal Training client about the state of her pantry. She suggested that she had to have junk foods in her cupboard so her kids wouldn’t “miss out”. That comment stopped me in my tracks. The only thing I thought her kids were missing out on is the opportunity to feel healthy and energetic, as a result of eating healthy foods. After the meeting, I paused for a few moments and reflected upon how different people associate entirely different meanings to certain situations. The concept of missing out was interpreted in an entirely different way by me, compared to the way my client did.

With obesity rates in Australia reaching epidemic proportions, I think it about time society really started to view the consumption of junk food differently. The sooner that fast food companies are prevented from advertising during childrens TV programs and the sooner they are prevented from associating their products with kids toys the better.

Is FaceBook turning you into a thief?

Everytime I hear about the expansion of FaceBook, thoughts of specticism flood my mind. I immediately wonder when people are using it. Is it during work hours or is it in their own time? After discussions with many people about this, I found that people frequently use FaceBook for personal reasons (not professional) during work hours. In my belief, this is a form of theft as they are being paid to work but in fact not doing so.

Well known Personal Development author Larry Wingett discusses this concept in his best selling book “It’s Called Work for a Reason“, a fantastic book about becoming more successful. He suggests that time stealing is no different to taking money out of the bosses bank account or cash register and I agree. This tendency to work on personal matters during work hours is not surprising, particularly as most Australians are unhappy in their jobs.

So why am I writing about this when my passion is really about improving the health of the nation you may ask. It is because I believe that many people who are unhappy in their jobs often turn to food, drugs and alcohol as forms of comfort or as a means of achieving happiness. As a result, their health is in jeopardy.

I am proud and fortunate enough to be able to say that I love what I do. I don’t feel like I have really worked since about 1992, when I switched from working in Accounting firm as a trainee accountant to “play” in the fitness industry. Hence, I don’t have the desire or need to turn to food, alcohol or drugs as a means of happiness. In fact I am proud to say that I have never taken drugs. 

To me surfing FaceBook for hours on end purely for personal reasons is a complete waste of time. Similarly, eating poorly quality food, drinking alcohol excessively or taking drugs simply prevents you from maximising your potential to achieve worthwhile goals.  My advice to those out there who are victims of these destructive behaviours is for them to find a career, sport and / hobby that ignites their passion. Once this is found, the need or desire to steal time from the boss or lead a destructive lifestyle will be a thing of the past.

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The best workout ever!

Which workout has the most influence over whether or not you achieve your results?  Some people may think the biggest muscle of the body would be in their legs or their strongest muscle is their bicep!  

Without a doubt the most workout involves the mind.  The mind allows you to set the intention of not only your overall goal but also gives you the focus to ensure you maximise your training time and stay on track with your nutrition. 

Have you ever seen someone in the gym that looks like they’re day dreaming? Perhaps they were on the leg press just mindlessly pushing the weight or on the treadmill staring out of the window.  This is a clear indication that the focus is not on the training.  To ensure you get the most out of your workout try connecting the mind to the muscle.  Focus on visualising the area you are working and ensure you actually are feeling it in that particular area.  

You will probably find that you will need to drop the weight you normally lift and you will actually perform the exercise slower as you concentrate on the targeted area.  What you most definitely will feel is the difference in intensity and after a short time you will absolutely see the difference in your body.  Remember where the mind goes, the body will follow.  If your heads not in the game then ask yourself why you are there – if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing correctly. 

The mind will also give you the discipline required to eat smart and the focus to stay on your chosen path and not stray. No doubt there have been times when you have doubted your ability or beaten yourself up about your fitness level, work or relationships. This negative self talk can have a massive detrimental impact on the actual desired outcome.  

In these situations staying positive and utilising the power of your mind will be more beneficial to you than staying in a negative mind set.  If you ever find yourself in this place, think about something that makes you happy or a recent time when you last really enjoyed yourself or laughed out loud and let the mind take you there.  Remember the feeling of the experience also and then notice how much better you feel about the whole situation. 

The mind is just like every other muscle in the body and needs to be exercised; it needs to be challenged so that it can perform at its optimum.  When was the last time you sat reading a book rather then watching television in the evening?  When was the last time you actually watched a documentary rather than the same old soap or reality show or tried to complete a crossword or Sudoku puzzle?  These days there are plenty of online memory tests or games consoles that are easily accessible to stimulate and strengthen the mind.  Regular ‘brain training’ will improve the quality of your life, your general functionality as well as keeping the body young and active. 

Remember it’s all in the power of the mind.