Are You Getting The RIGHT Things Done?

A friend asked me the other day if I’d read Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog!, Tracy is a personal effectiveness expert.

Her question reminded me of one very important principle Tracy and so many other effectiveness and efficiency experts talk about.

It’s called the law of forced efficiency. It says: “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”

Interesting law and well worth applying.

The fact is that the average person today is working at 110-130 percent of capacity. And the jobs and responsibilities just keep piling up. One recent study concluded that the average person has a backlog of 300-400 hours of reading and projects at home and at the office.

What this means is that you will never be caught up. Get that out of your mind. That’s a hard one for me and sometimes I think I write about what I most need to learn!

All you can hope for is to keep on top of your most important responsibilities. The others will just have to wait.

If we follow that reasoning, the key question we can ask is: “What is the most valuable use of my time, right now?”

Every hour of every day, there is an answer to this question. Your task is to ask yourself that question, over and over again and to make sure you’re always spending your time working on whatever is most important at that particular moment. Right now for me it’s writing this article and enjoying my coffee! See? It’s not all bad!

The more accurate your answer is to this question, the easier it will be for you to set clear priorities and overcome procrastination. It helps you stay focused and you’ll not only get more done faster, but you’ll also get the right things done! Getting things done is great….but getting the RIGHT things done is even better!

“Be Here Now” To Improve Your Daily Life

“Be here now.” Three short words that when linked together can create a powerful message. It’s been used as a book title and I’m sure as the title for many inspirational speeches.

I was at a conference a few months ago and the crowd was getting rather rowdy and off topic. The workshop leader told everyone to please pay attention to her and to “be here now!

I think that phrase reminds us that we are often NOT in the moment but that staying in the moment over an extended period of time, free of distractions, is what we need to do to accomplish our goals.

It’s true that if we want to achieve our goals we’ll have to learn to apply “Be here now” in our daily lives.

Here’s how to apply it to your goals:

Rule #1. Concentrate on defining your objective.

What do you want to accomplish? What matters to you? Why do you want to achieve that particular goal?

Rule #2. Concentrate on one part of your goal at a time.

Break down your ultimate goal into smaller chunks. Keeping an eye on the big picture is great. However, you have to focus on the individual steps that will get you there.

Rule #3. Concentrate on controlling your situation. Here’s where the “be here now” resolve must be strongest.

When focusing on those individual steps, control your natural tendencies (we all have them) to drift away from the task at hand and/or stop trying if it becomes too challenging or takes too long.

Rule #4. Concentrate on completion.

To achieve any goal, you have to make a commitment to reach the finish line. Strengthen your resolve and keep yourself motivated by visualizing the end result. Think about how excited you’ll be and how great you’ll feel when you reap the rewards of your hard work.

If you’re already practiced in the “be here now” idea, then that’s great. I know for most of us, myself included, it’s a challenge so I thought I’d remind myself of this practice and remind you all as well, too.

Coping With Stress: Top 10 Ways!

Raise your hand if you have stress on a daily basis! If there’s anyone out there whose hand isn’t in the air, please contact me as I’d like you to write these articles from now on!!!

We all feel stress, so I thought I’d send you 10 ways to cope with stress on a daily basis. They are in no particular order so read through them and use them as you wish.

  1. Visualization. Relaxing images calm your mind and body. Visualize a soothing setting and take some slow deep breaths.
  2. Speaking slowly. This can be helpful when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. When we speak slowly we can think more clearly and respond better.
  3. Recharging. Set aside some time each day for energizing your mind. Purposely plan these relaxation break times in your hectic schedule. And keep these dates with yourself.
  4. Check your posture. This is one of my favorite ones. Poor posture while sitting or standing brings tension, pain, and increased stress to your muscles. Develop a healthy sitting, standing, and working environment.
  5. Eat healthy food, and drink to avoid dehydration. Drinking plenty of water and eating a nutritious diet reduces stress.
  6. Create a positive and helpful support system. Having this makes it easier to manage stress more effectively.
  7. Learn to manage your time. I think poor time management may create more stress than just about anything. Learn to prioritize tasks and avoid overcommitting yourself. Identify regular time wasting activities and eliminate them. Work on procrastinating less. Seeing your time management skills improve will lower your stress level!
  8. Practice progressive muscle relaxation. This means tightening and then relaxing your muscles. Do this laying down and scanning through your entire body. Mental relaxation follows physical relaxation, so give this a try.
  9. Meditation. Meditation quiets your mind and emotions. This helps relax tension in your body.
  10. Exercise. Exercise can be a wonderful outlet. In many ways it acts as a buffer to the overflow of hormones that accumulate during stress. Don’t forget to combine cardiovascular exercise with resistance training.

Give some or all of these a try and see if you can’t get a handle on your daily stress. Then maybe next time I ask you to raise your hand if your feel stress on a daily basis your hand won’t go up quite as fast or quite as high!!

Will Running Help You Lose Weight?

As a health and fitness professional I field a lot of questions that revolve around the “what’s the BEST” topic. Everyone wants to know the BEST, but it’s an awkward question to answer and maybe even the wrong question to be asking. The best for what? The best for whom? And for each best recommendation that you might hear about or read about in the media, even if it’s wrong for you, there might be some truth in it.

So you may be exercising and eating all wrong, for YOU and your goals.

And the fitness field sure does lead to some interesting ideas posing as “the truth”.

For instance, here’s a sample taken from questions I receive:

  1. Is running several miles per day the key to getting fit?
  2. Is doing a ton of long, slow distance (LSD) running absolutely necessary?
  3. Is lifting the heaviest weights you possibly can the best way to get really strong and fit?
  4. Will eating five or six times per day crank up my metabolism?
  5. Will training one part of my body today and another part tomorrow prevent over-training?
  6. Is working out only 2-3 times per week the fastest way to make progress?

While there are pieces of truth in all these questions, there are also pieces of untruths. Let’s take one of these, the one about running and metabolism, which is one of the most frequent questions I get. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people tell me they are training for a marathon, or even a half marathon, and yet they aren’t losing any weight.

For example, long, slow cardio may make you feel good, but if you want to “STEP UP” your metabolism, you’re far better off doing a very hard, very vigorous workout that calls upon all your physical and mental reserves. You’re better off with a short workout that will never get easy, no matter how often you do it.

Consider the sprinter. Her body is lean, muscular, and powerful. But it is rare to find a long-distance cardio person who is well muscled. They may be lean, but there’s no power. Not only that, after a period of time they may end up suffering from hip, knee, ankle, and lower-back pain, particularly if their technique isn’t good.

Why? All the pounding on the joints takes a tremendous toll on the body.

And as I suggested, it depends on YOU and your goals. Running a lot of miles isn’t the best approach if your goal is fat loss or a change in body composition.

Try these 5 approaches instead:

  1. Begin doing vigorous bodyweight exercises that force you to lose control of your breathing. If you aren’t getting out of breath when you train, your system is NOT being forced to adapt and change. The harder you are breathing, the more shock to the system. The more “shock” there is, the greater the shake-up in your metabolism.
  2. Instead of running or bicycling several miles per day for cardio exercise, train like a cheetah. No I didn’t say train eating Cheetos, I said train like a cheetah! Run as hard as you can, at full blast, for as long as you can. Run with all your might. When finished, you’ll be gasping for oxygen. And this gasping is what turns on the fat-burning furnace within. Make sure you’re in appropriate shape before you tackle this one.
  3. Practice deep breathing. The deeper you breathe, the more oxygen in your system. The more oxygen in your system, the faster your metabolism. Don’t just get your deep breathing from vigorous exercise. Get if from the act of deep breathing itself, done all day long.
  4. Eat plenty of fiber-rich, water-content foods while avoiding starchy foods most of the time.
  5. Change the mental picture you have of yourself. As you see yourself in your mind’s eye, so you become.

While #4 and #5 aren’t about exercising per se, coupled with the first three suggestions, they’ll surely help you make progress.

So always remember, it’s about you and your goals and what exercise and diet plans will help you reach them in the safest, most efficient ways possible.

Easiest Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Health

After the last blog post about cardiovascular disease, I received an interesting question. The reader asked me, “From the list of ten recommendations you gave us, which one should I start with?”

Great question! Hard to pick just one, but here’s what I suggested.

One of the easiest and most effective things you can do to improve your health in general and heart health in particular, is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

I found a recent study where researchers from Iran’s Obesity Research Center examined fruit and vegetable intake in 840 men and women from Tehran, and the results were dramatic. The subjects who ate a lot of different fruits and vegetables were significantly and inversely associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Specifically, it appears that eating a VARIETY of fruits and vegetables leads to lower LDL cholesterol in a dose-responsive manner. That means you’ll get more benefits from eating an apple, an orange, a banana, and some broccoli than you will from just eating an apple and an orange.

So every time you are at the grocery store, add at least one new fruit and one new vegetable to your cart. You can choose from kiwi fruit, avocados, asparagus, pears, spinach, and so many other amazing and delicious foods. This past month two foods I’ve added to my salads are radishes and jicama. I guess I was craving crunchy foods! And for fruits, let’s just say that lately I’ve been going gaga over grapefruit!

Try to be a little better every week with your fruit and vegetable intake and you’ll reduce your risk of heart disease in one of the simplest possible ways.

As you know I’m all for extending my life and living out my years in tip-top health, and I really do think that it’s a matter of making simple lifestyle choices, like eating a wider variety of fruits and veggies!

Spending Money On Healthy Foods Now Will Save You Money In The Future!

Penny wise, pound foolish is an interesting way to look at the financial costs of maintaining a diet full of fresh healthy foods.

When I go over food choices with my clients, I often sense a resistance to my advice to shop more selectively for healthy items. They tell me about their budgetary constraints. I understand this.

However now, besides just presenting them with anecdotal evidence about how eating well and spending wisely on the best possible diet will save them money in the long run in terms of stress and potential medical costs, I have some scientific evidence to back me up. I thought I’d share it with you as well.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed that the healthiest female eaters spent 24% more on groceries, BUT had lower rates of angina, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. So while it’s more expensive to eat well, it’s clearly better for one’s health profile.

And here’s some more statistical evidence for you. A recent analysis of previous studies that looked at the economic impact of obesity found that for obese women, annually $4,879 was spent, and for obese men annually $2,646 was spent out of pocket for extra medical costs and lost income. When they figure lost years of life, the dollar values jumped to $8,365 for women and $6,518 for men. These costs go for higher medical bills, sick days, lost productivity and wage differences.

Yes, I know there are no guarantees, but I’m willing to bet that by investing in fresh, healthy foods now, I’m saving myself not only money every year, but in the future as well. I’ve been making this choice for years and at 60 I’d say it’s paying off rather well!

I hope it is for you too!

Best 5 Tips So You Have GREAT Energy All Day Long!

How would you like to add four more hours to your day? Do you wish you had more time in the day? No, that’s not a trick question and yes, I know we all have the same 24 hours in a day, so here’s my point.

If you have more energy and get more done you’ll feel like you have more time in your day. I experience this feeling often. And of course I’m suggesting increasing your energy naturally…..this is no Red Bull!

Here are five tips. Pay attention to them on a daily basis and watch the time in your day feel like it’s expanding with all you’re getting done. Keeping your energy levels high maximizes your time!

1. Include a healthy protein source into every one of your meals (this includes snacks as well).

If you’ve been reading these MMMM’s over the years, you’re probably not surprised to hear me saying this. Healthy sources of protein and good fat slow down the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose (sugar) in your blood stream, keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day. Many times the “crash” people feel after lunch or breakfast is their blood sugar spiking high and then “crashing” really low because they ate a meal that was carbohydrate dense and not balanced with enough protein.

Adding in a healthy protein source like organic eggs, natural meats or poultry, wild fish, and raw nuts can ensure your blood sugar doesn’t go on a rollercoaster ride every time you eat. So instead of grabbing pretzels from the vending machine in the afternoon, go for some raw almonds and a piece of fruit and that will keep your energy levels sustained for the rest of the afternoon.

2. Stay hydrated all day.

Most people know they should be drinking water, but what they don’t know is that it directly affects their energy levels throughout the day. Consider this: your brain is approximately 80% water. Staying hydrated helps you maintain mental energy while avoiding fatigue and headaches. Water also plays a vital role in your body’s ability to flush toxins. Organs have to work harder when you don’t have enough water, causing fatigue.

3. Be cautious with caffeine intake.

I am not suggesting you completely eliminate your morning espresso or your breakfast tea. But many people take their cup of coffee and turn it into a pot of coffee! Yes, caffeine will give you a quick boost in energy, but will almost always send you crashing just a few hours later.

Caffeinated beverages will also dehydrate your body, and dehydration will cause you to feel fatigued (tip #2). Try to keep your caffeine beverages to a maximum of 1-2 per day. I would also suggest drinking those before 1pm as drinking caffeine any later than that can disrupt your ability to fall asleep at night.

4. Beware of “white” carbs.

“White Carbs” (breads, pastas, cereals, baked goods) break down quickly causing a fast spike in blood sugar. You’ll feel a quick rush of energy, but then a big drop, causing your energy and mood to drop along with it. Also, when too much sugar floods the system all at once, your body can’t use it all for energy and converts it to stored fat.

While it is correct that carbs give you energy, too many carbs at once will actually lead to fatigue and lethargy. I suggest keeping the “white carbs” to a minimum and eating healthier, fibrous carbs like oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. And always be sure to eat those carbs alongside a healthy protein (tip #1).

5. Do a quick 5-minute mini-exercise circuit at any point during the day.

Yes, even a quick 5-minute exercise routine is enough to get your blood circulating, sending more oxygen to your muscles and brain and giving you a boost in energy. Quick bursts of exercise will also increase your metabolism, not only helping you keep the excess pounds off, but giving you a burst of energy as well.

If I start to feel the “afternoon energy crash”, I will go for a short walk or go up and down my stairs a few times. Any movement will help. Dance and sing, or skip rope……move around.

If you aren’t already using the 5 tips, give them a try. Having great sustained energy all day long is wonderful, no matter how you choose to use all that energy!

Don’t Feel Like Working Out?

Here’s a silly question for you.

Have you ever gotten started on a workout program and then all of a sudden stopped?

I said it was a silly question. Who hasn’t gone through that stopping and starting.

Trust me, it happens to the best of us. Yes, even me.

So the question is: How do you get yourself started again when, quite honestly, you just don’t feel like it?

Don’t we have enough stuff to do in one day without throwing in one more time consuming task on our “to do” list?

Complaining only goes so far, so let’s figure out a good solution!

I was having a conversation with a good friend who just recently got himself back to the gym. After just the first 2 days of getting back into his old routine of going to the gym after each work day he said:

“I forgot how great I used to feel after a workout. All that time I spent dreading going back into the gym was really just a waste. Once I got in there, it was no big deal. Why did I waste all that time?”

I couldn’t agree more. I know this isn’t going to sound like revolutionary advice, but when you fall off the wagon, you just need to get back on! That’s it.

Just walk back into the gym one time, break a sweat, feel the burn, check out your own muscles in the mirror, whatever it takes. Chances are you will be right back on track. Yes, that fast. Whether or not your exercise is done in the gym or somewhere else, the same principles apply.

Or you could just start with something simple. Anything goes. A walk. Some pushups. Bench press your dog food bag. Yes, anything. The goal here is to get yourself back to the point where you’re feeling the wonderful effects of exercise and you actually don’t want to miss your workout.

Imagine that. So get back on your routines and you’ll be feeling like my friend felt…….I promise!

Top 3 Secrets To Success!

Today, let’s talk about the general concept of success. To me, success is all about what goes on inside my head.

Here are 3 secrets to success that I use no matter what my goal is.

Secret #1: Have “Cheerful Expectancy”

Many people who write about creating success in your life write about cheerful expectancy.

There’s a big difference between cheerful expectancy and hoping or wishing something is going to happen. When you have cheerful expectancy, you know it’s going to occur.

It comes from having knowledge. I believe that knowledge gives you the confidence to have that positive expectancy. And to a large degree, your expectations determine your results.

Secret #2: Do One Proactive Thing Every Day

You don’t need to do 100 things a day to be successful and reach your goals. Just do one proactive thing a day. By laying one little brick at a time, you will eventually build a big wall.

Don’t overwhelm yourself. Just relax. I think that overwhelm is a huge barrier to success because you end up confused and immobile. One day at a time and one thing at a time.

Make a commitment to do one proactive thing a day, no matter what. These actions will have an immense impact.

Secret #3: Make Quick Decisions

A lot of people have a decision. They don’t like to do it, because it cuts off their other options. Frankly, that’s the point. You want to cut off your other options so you’re forced to move forward. It can motivate you like nothing else. I’ve always believed that you make a decision, move forward, and then adjust as you receive feedback.

And something magical seems to happen when you make a decision. I don’t claim to understand it so I can’t explain it. But when you set your mind to do something, all of a sudden you meet people who can help you get to where you want to go. It’s as if once a decision has been made, your mind gets tuned into it and all kinds of coincidences start occurring.

Don’t be afraid of making the wrong decision, just make a decision. If you make a mistake, who cares? What you want to do is get all your mistakes out of the way, learn from them, and move on. Fail quickly. That will speed up the time it takes you to succeed.

So to recap:

  • Expect that your goal will eventually happen.
  • Do at least one thing every day to get closer to your goal.
  • Make decisions. If the results are favorable, keep going. If they aren’t, fail quickly and go on to another choice.

Keep Your Workouts Safe: Follow These 10 Rules!

Today I’m going to give you the 10 best practices for a SAFE workout.

The first thing to remember about keeping your workouts safe is to avoid doing too much cardio. Particularly if you’re just starting out in a new routine or haven’t done much cardio lately. More is not necessarily better!

Same goes for strength training. More is not necessarily better. So here are the:

Top 10 Rules for Safe Workouts

  1. It is important to train conservatively and not overdo things. If you are doing resistance training (and everyone should), don’t do any exercise that you aren’t sure how to do. Always get personal instruction from a certified trainer.
  2. Don’t do anything that hurts or doesn’t feel right. There are plenty of alternate exercises for any exercise in any workout program. Just ask a qualified trainer for help.
  3. Whenever you start a new resistance-training program, use lighter weights than normal and perform only one set per exercise. This will minimize the muscle soreness that you can expect with any new program.
  4. If you need extra recovery time within the workout or between workouts, don’t hesitate to take it. Most beginners only think about how they can do more and more exercise to help them lose weight faster. But everyone (from beginners to pro athletes) needs some days of light exercise to allow the muscles to repair. And don’t worry. If you do the right type of exercise, you’ll still lose fat even when you are not working out at the gym.
  5. Check your ego at the gym door and start with the easier alternate exercises, even if you have exercised in the past. New movements, even those that look easy, will cause muscle soreness. This goes for yoga too. Many beginners overstretch and end up with the same kind of injuries often associated with weight training. So no matter what you do, be conservative.
  6. Do not do interval training or hard cardio more than four times per week. Even pro athletes don’t play hard every day. Doing too much cardio is the biggest reason beginners end up hurt, frustrated, and in the doctor’s office. Research shows that all you need to lose fat is three interval-training workouts per week. When you do cardio, you’re doing the same movement thousands and thousands of times in the same workout. If you have even the smallest injury, it will be magnified by this repetition.
  7. Never skip a warm-up. Instead of using the treadmill to warm up, do a general body weight circuit of easy squats, easy push-ups, and ab planks to prepare your body for resistance training.
  8. If you decide to use running as your form of interval training, make sure your shoes are in good shape, always do an extra-thorough warm-up, and pay attention to the running surface. If you use a treadmill, please operate it safely.
  9. If you have any type of injury at all, rehabilitate the injury before you start an exercise program. You are better off committing three weeks to rehab now, before the injury becomes serious, than to neglect your body and be forced to stop exercising for three months later on.
  10. All together now: “Safety first!” Check with your health care professional before starting any new exercise or diet program, if you have any doubts about your health. There is no need to get hurt, no matter how serious you are about getting into shape.

Don’t Let Your Workouts Be the Reason You Can’t Work Out

Those are the top 10 safety tips to keep in mind before you start working out. Don’t make the classic beginner mistake of doing too much exercise too soon.

And know that your diet will have a much greater impact on your weight loss results, so there’s no reason to over-exercise. Your program should include resistance training and interval training to help you burn fat, but you only need to exercise three times per week with total-body workouts.

Hope these guidelines help!