Saturday, August 27, 2011

Attitude and Health

As a health major, I took many health classes in college. One day one of my  professors brought up the topic of attitude and health. It was one of the more memorable lessons I recall from college. He used the word "hearty" to describe individuals who are more resilient, optimistic, up to a challenge, and able to cope with changes in their lives better.

One's attitude can help determine how you deal with stress, illness, injury, and serious disease. It also determines how you feel about taking care of your body. I believe having a good attitude can improve one's health. To illustrate this, let's look at the example of someone with a bad attitude.

I'm sure you have encountered people who always seem to have a furrowed brow and a scowl on their face. Their bad attitudes ooze negativity to everyone they come in contact with. They love to complain and bellyache about everything. These are the kind of people who brighten a room up when they leave. You can't tell me that their negative interpretation of life and angry emotions don't carry over and manifest themselves on a physical level in their various body systems and, in turn, affect their health.

I think a great example of the power of attitude is the story of Victor Frankl. He was a Jewish psychiatrist who was sent to a concentration camp during World War II. He observed that those who survived the nightmarish conditions were the ones who looked to serve and take care of others. They still had purpose and focused on others as opposed to the suffering they were going through. They refused to give up and, as a result, had a better chance of surviving.

I've never had to endure a concentration camp, abuse, or gone through chemotherapy, so I am not trying to judge those who have had bad attitudes while going through horrific experiences. I'm just trying to point out that the ability of a person to deal with difficulties and move beyond them has a great deal to do with their mentality and attitude.

I've trained people with negative attitudes who second guess and refuse to take counsel. They make excuses and try to be the exception to the rule for nature's laws. I've found that the "glass half empty" people are less likely to be successful at reaching their goals and getting results than people who have a positive attitude.

Some people think positive attitude denotes a Pollyanna complex or is used to describe people with rose-colored glasses who ignore reality. A positive attitude is much more than that. Having the proper attitude is essential to good health. As you develop a hearty attitude, you will be able to deal with set backs and adversity more successfully. I believe attitude is one of the great secrets to better health.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

6 Tips To Stay Motivated

One excuse I occasionally hear from clients is that they just can't get motivated to work out or to eat right. As a fellow human being, there are times when I can relate. I am always up for playing basketball, but I occasionally run into phases where it is harder for me to want to run or lift weights.

So, how do you get and stay motivated if you feel your efforts are slipping? Here are some ideas that can help you.

1) Get a workout partner. If you exercise with friends and make it a social event, you will be more committed to participate and there's also a good chance you will have more fun.

2) Increase your accountability. Paying a trainer is another effective way to commit to working out. If you don't show up, you end up flushing your money down the toilet, so you might as well exercise and get the good results.

3) Focus on your goals. Put up a realistic photograph of what you want to look like (maybe a picture of yourself when you were more fit.) Keep your fitness goals in front of you. Keep your focus on the prize as opposed to the price you are paying. Remember the reason you are willing to work hard and sacrifice. It's not so hard when you remember why you are doing it.

4) Remember how great you feel after a workout (aside from the tired and sweaty part.) Endorphins give you a natural high and can decrease depression and alleviate stress. Exercise provides so many health benefits.

5) Use rewards as an incentive. When you consistently do your part or reach a goal, treat yourself to a non-food reward. Just make sure it is appropriate to the task you have completed.

6) Use a social event as a deadline on your calendar. Events like an anniversary, reunion, birthday, or vacation can be used as goal dates to motivate you to get into better shape or maintain healthy habits.

It's easy to get excited about getting or staying in shape at the first of the year when everyone is making resolutions, but it may take some additional motivation at other times throughout the year. Utilize these six tips to help you stay on track when the going gets tough.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Prevention is a crucial component of healthy living. When is the best time to correct a problem? Before it ever happens! Think of the billions of dollars spent on health care that could have been avoided if people had only taken preventative measures. It's hard to put a price tag on prevention. To quote Michael Scott from The Office "You just can't put a price tag on a $50 gas card."

Taking preventative measures and being proactive is one way to avoid being a victim who just lets life happen to them. You've all heard the phrase "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". I understand that people who exercise everyday can still drop over dead from a heart attack and people who watch what they eat can still get cancer, but anytime you can stack the odds in your favor you will be better off. You will also have a higher quality of life when you actively take measures to promote better health.

I think the dental industry is a good example of prevention. It would be nice if doctors could remind you to do the equivalent or brushing and flossing for your health, but they usually end up treating you once you are past that point and need immediate treatment for some illness or disease. I don't have a medical license but I can take on the important role of prevention coordinator. In fact, I think I'll make myself the Founder, President, and CEO of the Your Fitness Quest Prevention Society.

Little things like wearing seat belts, flossing, washing your hands, reading food labels, wearing safety eye wear when operating machinery, and having health screenings may not seem like a big deal, but if you develop these and other habits it can make a big difference over time.

Nobody wakes up one morning overweight and out of shape. Changes are gradual and take time. If you are not doing anything to promote better health then you are probably slowly slipping backwards. Today is a great day to make a difference in your health by practicing prevention.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Planning for Success

Planning is a crucial part of success for any venture and it's also the case when it comes to weight loss, healthy eating, and improved health. You've probably heard the saying "failing to plan is planning to fail". Making lifestyle changes and getting rid of unhealthy habits can be a difficult process, so give yourself an advantage by planning for success.

1) Decide now to remove temptations. A co-worker once had a bowl of M&Ms in her office which she kept eating so she gave them to me. Guess who ended up eating them because they were under my nose all day long? You can't surround yourself with stuff you are trying to avoid or you will give in. If junk food is in sight and within reach, you will eat it!

2) Plan meals in advance. Preparing your menu the night or week before can be very helpful. When you have 20 minutes to get something to eat and you haven't brought a lunch or bought healthy ingredients to make something with, then you are in trouble and end up settling for less healthy fast food options because they are so convenient. Cook in bulk and freeze meals for later in the week. Successful eating never happens by accident.

3) Chart out your exercise out for the week so you will have a plan and know what you are going to do before you get to the gym. You can always adjust or adapt your plan when things come up, but you will be much better off and feel more committed if you know what days and times you are going to do cardio and when you will do resistance training.

4) Learn to manage your time better. Many people claim they don't have enough time to exercise. You can't afford to neglect your health. A good workout doesn't need to take a lot of time. When you exercise, it sharpens the saw and actually improves the quality of the other aspects of your life. Exercise is a great investment and most people can find time if they learn to manage their time better and avoid time wasters.

If you can develop the habit of planning, then you will be much more successful in your attempts to reach your fitness goals. I have never seen someone who had an impressive body transformation who said it happened by accident and they didn't have a plan. Realistic planning combined with consistent effort is the key to getting you where you want to be.