3 Beliefs that Are Holding You Back From Reaching Your Goals

It’s pretty common for people to think that getting healthier simply means eating better, and getting some exercise. And while both of those are usually at the top of list of things that need to be addressed, they’re often not the only things that should have high priority.

The beliefs you hold, both about yourself and about food, the way you think progress should happen, and the whether or not you feel like you are truly worth taking care of, can all have a huge impact on not only your progress, but also the way in which you seek to make change.

While there are a variety a beliefs that can hamper progress, here are three that I see most often.

#1. You believe your progress needs to be qualified.

Have you ever found yourself saying, “I know I’ve lost some weight, but I’m not where I want to be.” Or, “I know I’m eating so much healthier, but I still have so far to go.”

I call it the curse of the “Yeah, but’s”. YEAH, I’ve made progress, BUT I’m not were I should be.

It’s something I hear a lot.

It happens when you compare every bit of progress to the end goal. And no matter what, if progress is measured by the end goal, your progress will always come up short.

Five pounds lost is meaningless because it’s not 30.

One inch off of your waist isn’t exciting because its not 4.

This belief is a surefire way to always feel unsatisfied with your progress. And it’s a great way to never see those end game goals you keep comparing everything to.

The Fix? Drop the “but”. “Yeah, I’ve lost five pounds, but it’s not the 30 I want to lose.” Stop yourself from saying the last half. It’s not a cure-all, but putting effort into not qualifying your progress can do a lot of good. It acknowledges your progress for what it is – progress. And you can’t get to any goal without making progress first.

Don’t miss the trees for the forest.

And no, that’s not a typo.

2. You believe you don’t deserve it.

I’m not going to lie. This one is tough, and can be a challenging one to get past. But it’s so worth the effort.

The way we view ourselves, and our place in this world directly impacts the things that we feel we deserve. Poor self image, low self-worth, a past that has told us that we are “less than”…all of these things, and more, can leave you feeling like a healthier body isn’t something you deserve, no matter how bad you want it.

And if you don’t feel like you deserve being healthier, or that you aren’t worthy of it, it will never happen. It just wont.

I don’t think there’s a quick fix to this one. There usually isn’t for things that are significant. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t steps that you can take to begin to combat the lie that you don’t deserve to be the healthiest version of you.

A solid first step is acknowledging the things you believe about yourself. If you don’t believe you are worthy of change, or deserve to be healthier, acknowledge it. Write it down. Tell a friend, or your coach. Then begin to explore why. Was it a parent who beat it in to your head? Was it a string of bad relationships? Figure out what has contributed to these false beliefs. The better you can identify them, the less power they have over you.

It’s really worth mentioning that therapy could be in order. Feeling like we don’t deserve good things can come from very deep seeded issues. Therapy can begin to till the soil and find roots to these beliefs you didn’t know existed. If that thought scares you, I get it. But as someone who has been to therapy at three different points in their life, I can tell you it’s immensely valuable. It’s usually not easy, but if you want to find some roots, you’ve got to get your hands dirty.

#3. You believe you haven’t done anything worth celebrating.

This belief is similar to #1, but different enough that it deserves it’s own numeral.

It’s worth noting the way I phrased this belief. “You BELIEVE you haven’t done anything worth celebrating.” It’s different than you DON’T BELIEVE you’ve done anything worth celebrating. Subtle, but different.

It means there is an active thought that is saying, “none of this is noteworthy. None of this deserves to be celebrated.”

The other is NOT believing. It’s more passive. You can say I’m splitting hairs here, but after coaching people for 12 years, I’ve noticed there is a big difference when someone is actively telling themselves that their efforts aren’t worth celebrating. It’s more harsh, and tends to have a stronger hold.

The challenging thing about holding this belief is that all of your efforts quickly become pointless. There is no value in doing something well, because, in and of it’s self, it’s minimal.

Holding this belief comes from being strongly rooted in one reality, while completely missing out on another. It’s seeing the reality that eating one vegetable wont change anything, while missing the reality that eating vegetables on a regular basis requires you to eat them one at a time.

When someone doesn’t believe their efforts are worth celebrating, the work they need to do to move forward gets really old really quick. If the only way to get to the end of your journey is one step at a time, but there is no value in each step…well, you see where this is going? It’s going nowhere fast.

To combat this, it can be really helpful to write out the things you’re doing differently in your health journey. List the things you’re actively putting energy into to make changes in your health. For example, what you are eating differently, how you spend your time differently, how you move differently, how you prepare and look ahead differently, etc.

Listing out all of these things can begin to paint a more comprehensive picture. Maybe eating one vegetable doesn’t feel like it’s a big deal to you, but if along with that vegetable you have two more in the day, a piece of fruit, 20 minutes of activity, a few more glasses of water, and an extra hour of sleep…well, now those little “meaningless” actions are starting to look like quite a lot.

Remember, if it was as simple as moving some more, and eating a little better, you’d probably already be where you want to be. Part of the reason your attempts are often challenging may be because you’re not addressing beliefs you hold that are in direct opposition to your goals.

These have to be addressed.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can do that, while eating better and moving more, shoot me a message. I’d love to chat.

If you’ve found this helpful, or know of someone that could benefit from reading this post, please share. I appreciate it!

5 Actions You Can Take to Keep Yourself Healthy in Tough Times

Let’s be honest, a pandemic wasn’t something we were planning on. No one had that on the 2020 version of Bingo. But here we are. Personal opinions and politics aside, the reality is that this thing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With numbers spiking rapidly, and higher than before, many cities and states are asking people to again stay at home as much as possible. Remember how much fun that was the first time around?

I’ve heard over and over from people how this shut down, quarantine, or whatever you want to call it, has negatively impacted them. How they’ve been struggling to take care of themselves, feel like the day is one big blur of time, and how they just don’t feel that great.

I get it. I’ve been struggling with all of that myself. However, I have been taking specific actions (most of the time) that have really helped me feel better, both physically and mentally.

The good news? These are all pretty simple, and won’t take up a bunch of time in your day. The bad news? You have to actually do them for them to work.

So, in no particular order, here are 5 actions you can take today to hopefully help you feel a little less aimless, a little less listless, and a whole lot better.

Here we go!

Move

It should come as no surprise that moving your body is on this list. I am a personal trainer, after all. And I have been known to extol the benefits that movement and exercise have on your body and mind.

Movement does a couple of things for you. First, it gets your body tissues contracting, stretching, and working like they are intended to. Your body and brain really like when you do this. So much so, that your brain releases chemicals (endorphins) that help make you feel better, reduce pain, and improve your mood. I don’t know about you, but feeling better and an improved mood sounds pretty good to me. Especially now.

Second, if you should choose to, being active outside gets some sun on your face and gives you a break from being cooped up in your home. This has consistently provided a much needed change of scenery for me.

Ideas for movement:

-Workout (with weights or body weight)

-Play tag with your kids

-Go for a bike ride

-Go for a walk after dinner

-Do some mobility work while watching TV in the evening

-Walk or jog up the stairs in your home or apartment complex

This is by no means a definitive list. Get creative, and get moving!

Drink (Water)

Nothing shocking with this one either. But despite how expected this action may be, there’s still a good chance that you’re not drinking enough water. One study estimates that roughly 75% of the population is chronically dehydrated. That’s like, you know, a lot and stuff.

Not only does dehydration negatively impact basic functions of your body, but it can also contribute to fatigue, irritability, and anxiety. I don’t know about you but I don’t need more fatigue, irritability, or anxiety in my life.

So, how much water should you drink? More than you currently are is a really good place to start.

Practice Gratitude

A few weeks ago I launched a podcast with my good friend, and registered dietitian, Erin Green. The podcast, Middleish, centers on moderation, and the important role it plays in lifelong, sustainable health.

(If you’re interested in checking it out, you can watch on Youtube here, or simply search “Middleish” on your favorite podcast platform to listen.)

Each episode, we wrap up with a segment called “Meaning in the mundane.” This is where Erin and I both share a seemingly insignificant moment from the past week, that caught our attention as significant, or caused us to feel gratitude.

It’s been really interesting to see this develop over the last several weeks. I’ve noticed that the more I look for meaning and for things to be grateful for in seemingly insignificant moments, the more I find them. They are also becoming easier to find without having to be so intentional.

A few examples:

-Listening to my girls giggle as they play together

-Watching ants carry a worm to their hill with my youngest daughter

-Watching my wife walk through the room and being reminded of everything she means to me

These are simple moments that would be very easy to miss. But the fact that I’ve been trying to notice small moments that have great meaning, and cause me to feel gratitude, focuses my attention on them more and more.

And the more I focus on what I have to be grateful for, the less I feel burdened by the current situation.

Engage/Disengage

Wait, both? Yup, both.

Engage:

One of the most common things I’ve heard from people over the last few months is how they feel disconnected, and almost in a haze as they go through their days. I know exactly how that feels, because I’ve been feeling it to.

The best action I’ve found to combat this is to intentionally engage in my surroundings and the moments I’m in. Putting down my phone, and fully investing in playing with my girls; or turning off the TV and completely taking part in a conversation with my wife are a few examples of how I do this.

I’ve noticed that fully engaging in my current situation pulls me out of that haze, and places me right in the middle of the moment I’m currently in.

Disengage:

Disengaging for me has been applied mostly to social media. Aside from the time it takes me to post the things I want, I try to stay off of it as much as possible. It’s proved to be really good for my mental health.

The funny thing about disengaging from pointless distractions, is that it makes it easier to engage in meaningful moments.

I promise.

Create a Schedule

Last, but not least, create a schedule for yourself.

I’ve heard it over and over that people’s days just seem to run together. Is it morning, or afternoon? Is it Tuesday, or Friday?

Sound familiar?

Without a strict start and stop times for work, or without kids in school, many people don’t have clearly defined schedules to their day. This can be nice for a few days, but not for several months. It’s a recipe for both feeling very unproductive, and for having the days go by without any real meaning.

Having a set schedule, has helped me tremendously. A set start time for work. A set end time for work (most of the time). Tackling certain tasks at specific times during the day. Writing out and organizing my tasks for each specific day. All of these, plus more, have been tremendously helpful in giving my days a sense of order, and predictability.

That’s it.

It doesn’t seem like much, but these few, simple actions have had a tremendous impact on my productivity and my mental health over the last few months. I hope they help you as well.

And if you know someone who is struggling right now, please feel free to pass this along.

Why Old Habits Are So Hard To Break

People like to talk about how it takes 21 days…27 days?…22 days?…I don’t know…twenty-some days to establish a new habit.

They like to talk about getting rid of old habits that are “unhealthy”.

And they like to talk about the new habits they are forming.

But you know what people don’t like to talk about? Why habits that seem to actively work against your goals are there in the first place.

I think people don’t talk about it, because they don’t really know.

Here’s a hard truth about habits.

(This graphic might look familiar since I posted it on my social media accounts last week.)

The things you do, you do for a reason.

Your habits aren’t accidental, or meaningless.

Just like the incredibly smart person (haha) says in the quote above, the habits you have fix a problem that you need fixed.

Most people go about habit change in the wrong way. They just try to quit a habit cold turkey, or randomly do something else that they’ve decided is healthier.

They fail to look at why that habit exists in the first place, and how they can fix the problem in a healthier way.

If you don’t do this, the problem still exists, because you’re not addressing it. It will continue to exist until you do. This is why we so often start new habits, but after a few days or weeks, we fall back into old ones.

We are not addressing the problems or needs that our old habits fixed.

For example, let’s say you have a habit of eating snack foods late in the evening, even when you’re not hungry, and you often eat until you’re uncomfortably full. A common “fix” to that habit is to tell yourself you won’t eat anything after a certain time, say 7 pm. This definitely addresses the issue of eating late, but it completely fails to address the issue of why you are eating late, eating when you’re not hungry, and eating until you’re stuffed.

If you don’t address that, then your strict rule of no eating after 7 pm, most likely wont hold up for long.

When people eat far too much in the evenings, it’s typically because they are using food to cope with an emotion. The most common ones are frustration, sadness, loneliness, and stress. We feel these emotions, don’t recognize them for what they are, and default to our typical way of dealing with them – snacking. And that works, at least in the short-term.

The problem with a strategy like not eating after 7 pm, is that people still feel the emotions they typically feel, they just don’t have a way to handle them now.

Doing some work to recognize what problems our current unhealthy habits fix is critical to changing those unhealthy habits. Otherwise, we have the challenge of a need going unmet, and unaddressed. This will inevitably lead to falling back into old patterns that are working against you and your goals.

Do the work to figure out what problems need fixing. Create new habits that are healthier, but also fix the problem. Habits that are designed in this way will be much easier to keep.

5 Minute At-Work Workout

Let’s be honest.

A 5 minute workout isn’t going to transform your body. It won’t build muscle. It won’t “torch” body fat. And it probably won’t get you stronger.

So why am I posting this? Because those aren’t the only reasons to get up and move for a few minutes.

If you sit a lot at work, or at at home, it’s likely you spend a lot of time hunched over. Your shoulders are rounded, your upper back is hunched, your head is protruding forward. It’s a posture that a lot of us spend most of our day reinforcing. And it not a posture that is friendly on your joints.

So while this quick 5 minute workout won’t get you strong, and lean, it will:

-Put your body in more postural friendly positions

-Help reinforce good postures throughout your day

-Give your metabolism a little bump

-Give your brain a quick break, so when you return to work you can be even more focused and efficient

I’d say those are some pretty great reasons to take five minutes out of your busy day.

By the way, you don’t have to do these at work. You can do them at home too.

Here are the exercises:

Reverse Lunges (body weight)

Wall Slides

Modified Push Ups

Glute Bridge

Split Stance Adductor Mobilization

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, and repeat for a total of two rounds. Alternate your legs on the Reverse Lunges, for total of 30 seconds.

For the Push Ups use a chair or desk.

For the Split Stance Adductor Mob, perform the movement on each leg for 15 seconds, 30 seconds total.

Five minutes, and you’re done!

If you know someone who could use a quick workout at work, pass this along to them!

Three Plank Variations You’ve (Maybe) Never Tried

I’m a big fan of planks.

When done correctly, they teach you to create tension throughout your body, which is a skill a lot of us lack, but could benefit greatly from. If you can create a high amount of body tension when you move, lift, or carry things, you’re a lot less likely to get injured while performing those tasks.

However, the typical plank can get pretty boring. And as you get better at it, you could find yourself holding it for a few minutes, or longer, before it starts to feel like work.

That can look cool on social media, and there can be some benefits to having that kind of muscular endurance, but a few sets of that can eat up your precious workout time.

Here are three plank variations that make the typical plank a minimum of 3.27 times harder.

General cues for all of these:

  • Maintain body tension throughout the movement (brace you upper back, abs, glutes, and thighs tightly)
  • Keep your hips from rocking side to side
  • Avoid sagging through your low back

Elbow Touches

Make these easier by:

  • Placing your hands closer together
  • Spreading your feet further apart
  • Elevating your hands on a step/bench
  • Keep the “elbow touch” motion quick

Make these more difficult by:

  • Spreading your hands further apart
  • Bringing your feet closer together
  • Slowing down the “elbow touch” motion

Plate Switches

Make these easier by:

  • Decreasing the weight or number of plates you’re using
  • Spreading your feet apart
  • Placing your hands on a bench or step to elevate your upper body

Make these more difficult by:

  • Increasing the weight or number of plates you’re using
  • Bringing your feet closer together
  • Slow down the movement

Spiderman Plank

Make these easier by:

  • Elevating your elbows on a bench or step
  • Performing the movement quicker

Make these more difficult by:

  • Performing the movement slower

Give these a shot, and let me know how you like them!

What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

One night, in the middle of my sophomore year of college, I found myself standing on the edge of a bridge that was easily 80 feet above the water below. It was after midnight, and there was no moon. I couldn’t see the water, but I was told it was there. My hands were gripped tightly around a rope which had a loop tied at the bottom of it, my left foot placed inside. My roommate assured me this was all secure, because he’d “done this before”.

In just a few moments, I was supposed to put all my faith in my roommates knot tying abilities, that he had accurately judged the distance between the bridge and the water, and in the strength of the rope, jump off the edge of the bridge, and free fall until the tension of the rope kicked in, and swung me up in the opposite direction. I would then swing back and forth until I slowed down enough to push myself away from the rope, and fall into the water below.

As I prepared myself, (mentally, emotionally, spiritually) my roommate patted me on the back and said, “Don’t worry. What’s the worst that could happen?”

In my experience, it’s situations like these, that this question is most often asked. It’s not asked legitimately, but rather as a way to acknowledge the reality that things could easily go awry, and to bring a little levity to the situation.

Me: “I could die.”

My roommate: “Haha, yeah, maybe.”

However, I’d like to present the idea that this question can have some real value to your life, when asked legitimately and not in an attempt to make a joke about the potential life-ending activity you are about to participate in.

Fear is the most common reason that people don’t pursue something. Whether it’s weight loss, getting healthier, going after a dream job, quitting a crappy job, or asking for that first date.

We build up all the possible, and worst case, scenarios in our head, resulting in our inability to move forward. Because it doesn’t matter how realistic these possibilities are. It just matters that we’ve thought about them, and now they’re in our head.

Asking yourself the question, “What’s the worst that could happen?” is a great way to combat this paralyzing fear.

For example:

Chasing that dream job? Worst case scenario: you don’t get it. You continue where you are currently, and wait for another awesome opportunity.

Losing weight? Worst case scenario: you aren’t as successful as you had hoped, but you learn some valuable lessons that will make the next attempt easier, and make you more likely to be successful.

Asking for that first date? Worst case scenario: During the summer after your 8th grade year, your friend calls her to ask her out for you, but she laughs and says “no”. And then when summer is over and you go to 9th grade and see her every day you have to pretend like it never happened for the next four years. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

If you ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?”, and honestly answer it, it’s likely you’ll realize that the worst case scenario isn’t that bad after all. And that it’s probably worth the risk to give things an honest attempt. Because even if you’re faced with the “worst that could happen”, you’re stronger than it and you will be better equipped the next time around.

And, yes, I did jump. I didn’t die. And it was awesome.

Fit In Fifteen

Let’s be clear about something right from the get-go. The title of this article should not suggest to you that you can get fit in just fifteen minutes. That’s silliness. If you’ve been around here long enough, then you know that I am not a fan of quick fixes. I’m sure that’s not what you thought, but…you know…just to be clear.

What this title should suggest to you is that you can use the following 15-ish minute workout to get some good work done in a short amount of time. And that doing short workouts like this can be very effective in your pursuit towards being a healthier person.

Perform the following exercises for the time prescribed, resting minimally between exercises. After one round is completed, rest for 60 seconds and then repeat. Complete for a total of four rounds. As mentioned, this should take you roughly 15 minutes to complete.

Squat Clean and Press (30 seconds)

Double Dumbbell Bent Over Row (30 seconds)

Floor Press (30 seconds)

Body Tap Plank (45 seconds)

Farmer’s Carry (45 seconds)

Give this a shot and let me know how much you love (or hate) it!

And if you know someone who could use a short, effective workout, please share this with them!

Some Tough Love

New goals don’t deliver new results.

New lifestyles do.

And a lifestyle is not an outcome, it is a process. For this reason, all of your energy should go into building better habits, not chasing better results.

-James Clear

We often think that we just need to make the right goals. If we can do that, and make them at the right time, then THIS time we will be successful in achieving them.

This is not the solution. This is the problem.

We want different goals, but we don’t want a different lifestyle.

We want to be healthier, but we approach it in unhealthy ways.

Changing your lifestyle is hard. Really hard. But it’s the only way you will see long-term success.

Every time you try a new diet, you think you’re trying a new approach. You’re not. You’re doing the exact same thing that has repeatedly left you frustrated, defeated, and feeling like you’re not cut out for this. It just has a different name this time around.

A fad diet will not work because it doesn’t address the reasons you’ve never stuck with a fad diet before.

Getting motivated will not work because it doesn’t address the reasons your’re motivation has always failed you in the past.

If you want to be successful for the rest of your life (because that’s the goal right?) you need to address, and change, the way you live life that is in direct conflict with the goals you want to achieve. If you don’t, it will never matter how great the goals you set are.

You will not keep them.

The Trouble With “Earning” Food

It’s been a long day.

You didn’t sleep well.

Your kids were fighting all morning.

Work was rough.

Dinner didn’t turn out very well.

And, you still have to sit down and pay bills once the kids are in bed.

So, you grab the ice cream out of the freezer, and put a big old scoop into a bowl. Then another scoop, and you tell yourself, “It’s OK. I’ve earned this after today.”

Image result for bowl of ice cream

Been there? I’d say there’s a really good chance you have.

There are two problems with this thinking.

First, we don’t earn food. We need food. It’s not something we have to work for, or only get if we “deserve” it.

Thinking it terms of whether or not you have or haven’t earned food is a good sign that your relationship with food might need some work.

Sure, there is some real value to taking a moment to think about if eating a certain food will move you closer to, or further away from your goals, and doing a quick cost-to-benefit ratio to see if you want to eat it. But that is totally different than feeling like you’ve earned certain foods.

That difference in mindset and how we mentally approach food matters.

A lot.

Second, when we feel like we’ve earned certain foods after long and stressful days, it’s not really about whether or not we’ve earned it. What’s most likely happening is that we’re stressed, and we want something to make us feel better. We want comfort, and food is an easy and common way to find it.

We tell ourselves that we’ve earned it, because if it’s something we’ve earned and deserve, then it’s pretty easy to justify.

(Side note: I could care less is you have ice cream every single night. What I do care about is WHY you have ice cream every single night. I have a bowl of cereal most nights. It’s never because I feel like I’ve earned it. It’s because I like cereal, so I make it fit into my daily nutrition while still being able to pursue my goals. There’s a big difference between eating something to deal with stress or emotions, and making a conscious choice to eat something simply because it brings you pleasure.)

Following my last point, before my side note, if you find yourself justifying anything you’re eating, that’s also a red flag. You don’t need to justify your food choices to anyone. Certainly not yourself.

Using food to cope with feelings is very common. I’d argue it’s one of the most common things my clients struggle with.

The best approach is to acknowledge what you’re feeling. Are you tired? Are you stressed? Are you bored? Are you lonely? Ask yourself those questions, and answer honestly.

This alone can be very helpful. Recognizing that your “hunger” is really just a cue to an action that helps deal with emotions can sometimes shut the whole thing down.

If it doesn’t, deal with what you’re feeling.

Stessed? Go workout. Call a friend to vent. Make a plan to deal with that specific stressor.

Tired? Go to bed.

You might be surprised at how often this will nip that “I’ve earned this” mindset in the bud. And taking back control of your eating habits will go a very long way in regards to meeting your goals.

Build-A-Booty: Kneeling Dumbbell Squat

I’m usually a little wary of “new” exercises. They tend to be incredibly complex, difficult to set up, way too advanced for most people, or all three.

Social media has definitely brought about an age of stupid things getting notoriety simply because they look cool. That’s great for entertainment, but it’s not so great when you’re looking for actual results.

That being said, sometimes you see something that makes you go, “hmm, that looks like it could be beneficial.”

That’s the thought I had when I first saw the Kneeling Dumbbell Squat a few years back.

I like this exercise for a few reasons. First, it’s effective. Third, it’s really easy to perform properly. And D, it’s easy to adjust the difficulty as needed.

Here’s what it looks like:

Cues:

  • Get on both knees, with your toes flat on the ground.
  • Hold a dumbbell in the goblet position (at chest height).
  • While maintaining a tell chest, lower your butt to your heels, and then return to the starting position.
  • Finish the movement by squeezing your glutes tight at the top.

That’s it!

Give these a shot, and let me know how you like them!