Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Confessions of a Health Coach: A Recovering Perfectionist

peasI am a recovering perfectionist. It’s an ongoing struggle, but every day I get more comfortable with not being the best at everything. And every day, I feel a little happier because of this attitude. Here are my thoughts as to why.

From an early age, we are taught that 100 percent is the best. Those three numbers represent the perfect indication of success. We are encouraged to give 100 percent of our efforts and to be the best we can possibly be. Some people (myself included) misconstrue this message to  mean anything less than 100 percent is unacceptable.

All-or-Nothing Thinking Can Derail Your Health

As a wellness coach, I often see clients mirror these perfectionist tendencies. For example, some may think their diet is ruined because they ate a donut for breakfast and therefore make poor eating choices for their other meals. Others feel it is pointless to lace up their running shoes unless they have time for a 5-mile run, and stay in and watch TV instead of going for a 2-mile run.

Cognitive-behavioral therapists call this type of thinking an all-or-nothing cognitive distortion. It’s an unhealthy perspective for one simple reason: No one achieves 100 percent of their goals 100 percent of the time. No one.

For perfectionists who struggle to make healthy lifestyle choices (whether it be avoiding the vending machine at work or exercising a certain number of times per week), not achieving 100 percent of a goal can be discouraging, if not downright depressing. This is unfortunate because many people fail to give themselves credit for the healthy choices they do make.

The 65–85 Rule as It Applies to Fitness

My road to recovering from my all-or-nothing thinking patterns began with a simple rule:

          Aim to be successful 65 to 85 percent of the time.

I can just imagine the looks of disbelief from my fellow perfectionists. Give me a moment to explain why the 65–85 percent successful rule is such a beautiful thing.

  • It takes away the pressure. True perfectionists understand the crushing pressure of attempting to achieve that 100 percent mark all the time. Eliminating that pressure can actually make working toward the goal enjoyable.
  • It allows for life to happen. Kids get sick. You become injured. We must overcome any number of hurdles on a daily basis to eat healthy and exercise. Unfortunately, some hurdles are bigger and longer, and require more time and effort to overcome. By aiming to be 65–85% successful, you have a built-in cushion to accommodate life’s curve balls.
  • It is a good indication your goal is not too easy or not too hard. If you are 65–85 percent successful at your goal, I believe this means your goal is challenging enough to promote healthy behavior changes without being too difficult.

Personally, I believe adopting this 65–85 percent attitude has been one of best decisions of my life. I don’t beat myself up if I occasionally eat too much chocolate because I know I eat pretty darn healthy most of the time. If I only have time to run 3 miles instead of 6 because I feel unusually tired, I congratulate myself for getting out the door in the first place.

I’ve found that I’ve actually become healthier (and most importantly, happier) by letting go of my perfectionist thinking. I hope reading my thoughts will persuade you to try to do the same!

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Topics: motivation fitness diet and nutrition perfectionism cognitive distortion

5 Tips for Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions

setting smart goals resized 600First and foremost, let’s make some things clear about resolutions. When you make a resolution, you have to remember that it is not just a commitment for January 1; it is for 365 days. Make sure from the beginning it is something that is a long-term goal and a change you want to see. If it is something you have repeatedly tried to do each year, it may be time to reevaluate and come up with a different strategy this year. Otherwise, you will set yourself up to fail.

Don’t be the object of the new year’s resolution jokes. Come into the new year with the mindset that resolutions are achievable if you set yourself up for success. Here are some ways that you can do this.

Make Your Resolutions SMART Goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound:

  • Specific: Make resolutions clear, concise, and well-defined.
  • Measurable: Make sure you have a way to measure your progress and success. Goals should have time frames, dates, amounts, and other quantifiable numbers.
  • Attainable/realistic: Your goal should be something that is manageable, and something you believe you can succeed in reaching.
  • Time bound: Have a starting point and an end point. Resolutions that will take place over the entire year should be broken down into short-term and longer-term goals.

Choose the Right Resolutions

If you decide to do something, it has to be something that you want to do. Pick something that has meaning behind it for you personally. Oftentimes resolutions come from outside sources and pressures. If the idea originates with you, you’re more likely to commit.

Stick Your Resolutions with Existing Habits

The easier you make the habit, the more likely you are to stick to it. If your resolution is to take a vitamin every day, put the vitamin container next to your toothbrush that you use each morning. Make the new habit part of an existing one.

Give Yourself a Trial Run

Try your resolution for at least 21 days (it takes at least this long to create a habit). Give yourself these days as a trial period. This will give you some room to make mistakes and tweak your goal to make it more realistic.

Measure Your Progress

Many of us get frustrated and give up on resolutions because we have tunnel vision to the end result, which may take all 365 days to achieve. If your resolutions and goals are smart, it should be easy to track the progress you are making, which will help keep you motivated. 

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Topics: motivation behavior modification goal setting new year New Year's Resolutions in Action

Putting Ourselves in Our Corporate Wellness Clients’ Shoes

personal trainerHave you heard this interesting story  regarding personal trainer Drew Manning?  Manning was what his wife called a “judgmental trainer,” and he admits that he would look at his overweight, struggling clients and think that they must choose to be lazy. Surely if they cared about their health enough, they would just make changes instead of blaming their genetics or other factors, Manning thought.

Trainer Finds Drastic Way to Learn Empathy

So, to put himself in his clients’ shoes, he took it upon himself to gain 70 pounds by foregoing his workouts and eating a new diet of junk food. What he found out is that beyond the physical effects of weight gain, he was a different person mentally and emotionally as well. He became self-conscious, insecure, and lethargic. Next, he quickly returned to his former fit self, dropping the 70 pounds and regaining the muscular build. But he now has a heightened sense of empathy for his clients.

As corporate wellness professionals, are we finding empathy with our clients? It’s true that making healthy choices is exactly that—a choice that only an individual can make. But, are we understanding of the many factors at play in our clients’ lives and aware of possible feelings of guilt or embarrassment when they carry extra weight or lack the strength to perform certain exercises?

Be Mindful of Clients’ Emotional Factors

I would never suggest that we pull a risky stunt of gaining and losing large amounts of weight like Manning did. However, we can make it our job to use patience, reflective listening, and a nonjudgmental attitude to be more understanding of how our clients are feeling mentally, not just physically.

Topics: corporate wellness motivation corporate fitness centers obesity personal trainers guilt

Active Aging: Wellness is more than Exercise, It's Multidimensional

social seniorsBeing in the fitness field, we hear excuse after excuse as to why people skip exercising. It’s not that we aren’t interested in your life and stressors, but we do not want you to feel obligated to explain yourself. Life happens, as any understanding person should know, and sometimes we just can’t do it all.

But don’t think you’re off the hook from exercising. The reasoning behind your skipping out is important. I always tell the apologetic exercisers that it’s okay to miss a day, as long as they weren’t sitting on the couch eating ice cream right out of the container or sulking in bed. However, if you were doing something along the lines of getting together with friends, cheering on your child at a ball game, volunteering in the community, or organizing and cleaning your home, missing a workout is not the end of the world.

There is much more to wellness than exercise and diet, and it is important to keep a balance between all of the components to ensure optimal health. Seven defined dimensions of wellness are integrated and work together to help create who we are. If one of them is out of balance, it can infringe on the other dimensions that contribute to creating a “whole you.”

Take some time to analyze the following dimensions in your life:

  • Spiritual: The development of a strong sense of values, ethics, and morals. It is the feeling that there is meaning in life, which may or may not have a religious inference.
  • Intellectual: The ability to effectively learn and use information for development. This dimension increases openness to new ideas and maintains creativity and curiosity.
  • Environmental: The understanding of the impact of your interaction with nature and your personal environment, which will help improve the standard of living in the community.
  • Social: The ability to feel connected and participate in your community and enhance your well-being through relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.
  • Emotional: The ability to control stress and appropriately express yourself, leading to positive self-esteem and meeting life’s challenges.
  • Occupational/Vocational: The ability to find and create a balance between work and play by matching your values with interests and utilizing talents in your world.
  • Physical: The ability of the body to properly and effectively function by staying active and avoiding harmful habits in order to accept uniqueness and improve health.

As long as you are contributing to and feeding these other dimensions equally, there is no need to be overwhelmed with guilt for not hopping on an elliptical for 30 minutes. Be conscious of your decisions and don’t punish yourself for missing a workout, because exercise can quickly become a chore if we shift our mind in that direction. Feed your wellness with all dimensions, and if you are falling out of balance in your physical wellness, search for an activity you enjoy. Be active, be healthy, be you.

Topics: exercise motivation employee wellness guilt work-life balance

How to Address Senior Fitness Class Challenges

senior stretch classWhat are some challenges in developing group fitness classes for active older adults? One of the hardest things for me is that there is a wide variety in exercise knowledge and ability. For example, you might have someone who has never exercised a day in their life sitting next to someone who has been exercising in a gym for decades. Or, you may have someone in their middle 60s next to someone who is 85 with two knee replacements.

To overcome these challenges, make sure that you give both a progressive and regressive option for each exercise that you are teaching. Allow the individuals to experiment with what works for them. Each individual will choose how hard they want to make the exercise, but it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure they are able to complete the exercise in a safe and effective manner for their varying ability levels. Encourage the participants to try new exercises, but also let people know that it’s okay to progress slowly over several weeks or months. The most important aspect is that they keep moving and have fun while feeling accomplished at an appropriate intensity level for their needs.

Use Visual and Verbal Cues

Each individual will learn in his or her own way. Make sure that you not only show them a visual demonstration but also use verbal cueing that may help them. At this age, some of your residents may not see well and others may not hear well. Pick out key words or moves that may help them remember from one class to the next.

Explain Why They Are Doing the Exercise

It is also important to educate senior fitness participants on why they are doing different exercises. Describe the reason for the exercise, the muscle group being worked, and how it should feel while performing the exercise. This can help participants become more in tune with their bodies and may help prevent injury if they develop improved body awareness.

For example when cueing upright rows, explain to the participants that the exercise can help improve their posture because it engages the muscles of the upper back and backside of their shoulders. As you cue them through the movements, explain how to engage the shoulder blades so they can specifically feel and identify where the muscles should be working if the exercise is being done correctly. For someone who does not have a good visual of the exercise being demonstrated, it may provide reassurance that they are performing the exercise correctly if your verbal cueing is matching up with what they are feeling.

Topics: motivation senior fitness management senior fitness fitness success

The Simple Truth about Exercise Adherence in Senior Fitness

active seniorThe New Year often provides the fitness industry with a boom of customers hoping to hold true to their resolutions. Many of those resolutions often pertain to unrealistic weight-loss goals.

Older Adults Exercise for Different Reasons

While we still see a boost in participation at our retirement community fitness centers in the New Year, the resolutions are often for a different reason. Many older adults exercise to maintain a healthy weight or to try to lose weight, but they understand the value in physical activity beyond vanity. As a fitness professional, it is refreshing to serve the needs of older adults in retirement communities who understand the value of living a physically active lifestyle for their overall health and well-being.

When a physically active lifestyle is adopted for the wrong reasons, it can be more difficult to adhere to for the long term. This is likely why the surge in participation in January often trickles off in mid-February at commercial gyms. However, when older adults adopt a physically active lifestyle, particularly one that has been designed for their individual needs, the benefits of that program help them adhere.

Selling the Benefits of Exercise in Retirement Communities

In our retirement community fitness centers, our participation levels gain momentum as the year progresses, and we don’t see that drop in participation. This isn’t all that surprising. We hear feedback from residents stating they have more energy, less joint pain, improved sleep, an easier time performing ADLs, and more overall endurance.

Kick off a motivating incentive program in your retirement community fitness program in the New Year to recruit new residents to exercise and inspire existing participants. Getting the residents started is half the battle. The benefits of exercise can often sell the adherence component for you!

Topics: exercise motivation senior fitness management fitness senior fitness

Corporate Wellness Works Better When Leaders Walk the Talk

corporate leaderA leader is someone who can guide, direct, or show the way. Wouldn’t you hope the leaders in your life have had experience or are educated on whatever matter they are pressing?

Take a personal trainer, for instance. You probably want your personal trainer to have a degree in the field of exercise and possibly some certifications to go along with it. And once they have those degrees and certifications, you would hope they practice what they preach and actually exercise on a consistent basis.

What about your boss, manager, or supervisor? Perhaps they encourage exercise in the workplace to increase productivity and to boost energy around the office. As your supervisor, they are in turn your leader (at least in the office). As a leader, you look to them for counsel and guidance. If your supervisor eats fast food for lunch every day and takes numerous smoke breaks, and the only walking he gets is to the vending machine, chances are you’re not going to listen to him.

The point is that leadership has to start at the top. A leader is put in that position to inspire, to rally, and to command your allegiance. If a person cannot do this, he or she should not be in that position. However (and there’s always a however), you are also an individual. Even if your supervisor works out every day in the corporate fitness center, that will not help you prevent heart disease. It will not help you shed those unwanted pounds. And if your supervisor quits smoking, your lungs will not get stronger. It is up to you to make positive changes in your life.

In a sense, we are all leaders. We each have our own path and we each blaze our own trail. It is up to each and every one of us to lead by example. I leave you with a quote from Marianne Williamson (from Return to Love). I hope it speaks to you and you become the leader you strive to be.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness motivation employee wellness

Senior Wellness: Exer-games Provide Cognitive Benefit

This blog was written by Jenna Pearson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

senior fitnessMost people would agree that regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, but how much of an impact does physical activity really have on one’s health and well-being?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has been advocating exercise as medicine since 2008, and when you look at the statistics, the reasoning behind their now-famous Exercise is MedicineTM initiative becomes clear. Studies have shown that regular exercise does the following:

  • Lowers the risk of stroke by 27 percent.
  • Reduces the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 58 percent.
  • Reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by approximately 50 percent.
  • Can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50 percent.
  • Can lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60 percent.
  • Can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by approximately 40 percent.
  • Can decrease symptoms of depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy.

Newer research also suggests that certain exercise provides cognitive benefits. Specifically, exer-gaming may delay—or even prevent—dementia, and has been shown to improve cognitive function in normal aging. Such exer-games include CyberCycle by Expresso and Shadowboxer ACTIVE.

Exer-games are also beneficial to physical aspects of health, as they shift one’s attention from the sometimes monotonous mindset of exercise to the task at hand, allowing them to put forth greater effort. Exer-games may also be more enticing for those who are easily bored by traditional exercise, thus helping them to more easily commit to a regular exercise routine.

Topics: motivation senior wellness programs senior fitness cognitive function memory dementia

New Habits, a Lifetime of Results at NIFS's Slim It to Win It

This blog was written by Lori Griffin. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

NIFS, Slim it to Win it“Exercise is boring…,” “I don’t have the time…,” or “I don’t know where to start” are words many have used as excuses at some point or another in regard to a fitness routine or lifestyle change. With the emergence of Slim It to Win It in 2011, NIFS sought to squash not one, but all three of those excuses. With the guidance of health and fitness professionals two hours a week, members teamed up to conquer fun, limit-pushing workouts.

After experiencing personal successes the first year, members anxiously awaited the return of Slim It to Win It, and the second run of the program proved to be life-changing once again. Slim It is a chance for people to step outside their comfort zones and into a new way of life. With a total weight loss of 635 pounds and 1.6 percent body fat lost on average, coaches and participants alike celebrated forming new exercise habits and breaking old eating habits.

Slim It Helps Participants Achieve New Fitness Levels

While the empirical evidence demonstrates the physical success, it is the individual stories that explain the true victories. Participants accomplished fitness feats they never thought possible. From kicking their walking pace up to a jog to finally tackling a box jump, participants used the team atmosphere as fuel in their quest to shed some weight.

Nutrition and Healthy Eating Benefits

Not only did Slim It provide stellar exercise sessions, the program also spurred participants toward healthier eating habits. One participant in particular completely shifted his mindset regarding food. Rather than look for convenience at the last minute during lunch breaks, he learned to plan ahead for healthier, more satisfying options. Another member lost 26 pounds in the 10 weeks and attests to a true change in her body composition. “I am wearing jeans I have not worn in months! Not only did the numbers on the scale change, but I can really see a difference in myself.”

The Fun of Working Out as a Group

In addition to encouraging participants to challenge their fitness boundaries and reset their food mentalities, the program also instills a unique camaraderie among team members. Members exchanged numbers and worked out together outside of the team time. Even as the program ends each year, participants still connect to keep up their fitness.

With Slim It, people discover the fun in working out as a group. For example, coaches encouraged participants to log into a calorie-tracking website and when teammates noticed it had been awhile since someone had tracked his or her food intake, teammates made it a point to razz the individual a bit to get back on track. Each year with Slim It, “teammates” quickly turns into strong friendships rooted in a common lifestyle.

A Lifetime of Fitness Results

At the start of Slim It to Win It, 155 people began a 10-week program that took each of them to a new health and fitness level. With the challenging and encouraging group atmosphere, participants conquered their weight-loss goals. Coaches worked to instill new habits so that weight-loss goals were not only achieved, but also maintained. 

One member comments as to why he chose NIFS’s Slim It program two years in a row: “I’ve been able to maintain the weight loss. In the past the weight would reappear.” Combining raw statistics and personal success stories, it is safe to say Slim It to Win It creates a lifetime of results for NIFS members.

Topics: nutrition weight loss weight management motivation NIFS fitness fitness success Fitness Center

Weight Loss Success in the Work Place

People always ask me, "what's your secret?" and I laugh and tell the it's no secret.  Thanks to a huge lifestyle change and the wonderful support system of work buddies, friends, and The Body Shop (worksite fitness center) and it's staff (NIFS) I have lost almost 100 pounds, maybe more!

A couple of years ago, the girls I ate lunch with every day decided to lose weight.  I had been down the path before and was not excited.  I hadn't weighed myself in well over a year and had no intention of starting.  Because my friends were doing it, and I didn't want to eat lunch alone, I gave a half hearted effort.  I decided to stop drinking regular soda and participate in whatever physical activity they did.  And that is exactly what I did, and miraculously my clothes started getting bigger.  We were just walking on the treadmill or outside at our lunch time and giving up soda and I could see results. 

As the initial loss, whatever it was, had slowed because the changes I made were only mild, and as I saw my friends who were already participating in Weight Watchers begin to lose more rapidly, I wanted to make bigger changes too.  So I had to finally weigh myself.  By this time, I had started at a size 24 and was now in a 22, and some 20's, but still hadn't stepped on a scale.  When I finally did I weighed 238 lbs.  I cried the entire day, and thought how did I let myself go this far?  And so I began to count calories, and changing everything about my life.  Eventually through regular physical activity, tracking what I ate and counting calories, I have made huge changes.  It's still a struggle every single day, but when I fall off the wagon, I started again immediately and you know what, the struggle is worth it.  I have zero health issues and I can keep up with my kids.  I look like a different person and I feel like a different person, a happier, much healthier person.

Do you have a support system at work to motivate each other to reach your weight loss and health goals?

 

Topics: corporate wellness employee health corporate fitness weight loss weight management motivation NIFS employee wellness corporate fitness centers