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Consistency, Part Three

Here are three little keys to help you be consistent with your healthy lifestyle habits, even on tough days:


1. Never tell yourself “I’m not motivated.” 
That’s not the real problem, unless you really don’t want to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle. As long as you do want these things, you have all the motivation you need.
It may be true that sometimes you don’t want to exercise, or that you really want to stop and get fast food rather than cooking dinner. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t mean you’re not motivated. It just means that you want two different and opposing things, and you have to make a decision. Telling yourself that you lack motivation is just a way of denying that you really do have a choice. It makes the problem seem mysterious and out of your control, and it makes you feel less powerful than you really are, because you lack something (the motivation) you need. Not true!
In the long run you’ll do better if you acknowledge that the choice is yours to make. You can choose either option, without making excuses or inventing a theory like “lack of motivation” to justify it. Then, pay attention to how you feel about the choice you made, and decide whether that is how you want to feel most of the time.
Being consistent does not mean being perfect. (There are going to be days when you decide to do something other than stick to your exercise and diet routine, and that’s fine.) But becoming consistent does mean giving yourself the power to choose. 


2. Build momentum one step at a time. 
It’s never easy to change old habits or start new routines. Studies show that it takes anywhere from 21 to 40 days to really turn a new behavior into a persistent habit. And during that time, you’re going to have to work at it pretty diligently—even when you don’t feel like it.
The key to long term consistency is building momentum. The hardest part is always getting things started. But once you’re moving, staying in motion and picking up speed becomes a lot easier. There are a lot of ways you can gradually build momentum. Here are some examples:


  • Start with something that’s pretty easy to manage and build up from there. Set a goal of one 10-minute exercise session per week. Then increase it to two 10-minute sessions. Gradually add minutes to each workout (and eventually add one or more additional workouts to your week), until you’re exercising as long and as frequently as you should in order to reach your goals. The simple act of setting aside some time for exercise every day, no matter how little, and sticking to it is enough to start building the habit.
  • Find an accountability buddy—someone who knows about your plan and is willing to give you a push when you feel like slacking off.
  • Employ an excuse buster. Find a friend, family member  whose judgment and opinion you respect. Each time you find yourself thinking about skipping an exercise session or blowing your meal plan, write down the reason for your choice. Share this reason with your excuse buster and get her honest opinion about whether the reason for your choice is reasonable or just an excuse. You’ll probably find that this makes it a lot harder for you to believe your own rationalizations.

3. Always have a plan B

Because life happens.  It is unpredictable and complicated, so you need to have plan B ready—even before you actually need it. Plan B is an alternative way to stay consistent with your goals when your regular routine (or something else) doesn’t work out as planned. Obviously, you can’t foresee every single problem that might come up. But most of the time, the things that get in your way are things that happen fairly often—like kids getting sick, extra hours at work, or days when you just don’t feel very energetic. Those surprises won’t throw you off track if you plan ahead. For example, have a friend or family member lined up to stay with your kids so you can make it to the gym; stock your freezer with some healthy meals when you’re short on time; stash your exercise clothes at the office for a quick workout when you can’t get away.
Put a little time into identifying the most common problems that disrupt your healthy routine, and plan (in advance) what you can do to handle these problems without sacrificing your diet and exercise routine. Then all you’ll have to do is put your plan B into action.



Stress Management

We all feel it at times, some of us more than others, and it’s a dirty little six letter word: S.T.R.E.S.S.

It crawls inside of us and makes its home there when we have to do too many things at once, or some emotional turmoil is getting the best of us, or we just haven’t slept for a while for whatever reason, or… you name it!  We were never created to do it all and we just can’t handle all that is on our plate, no matter how hard we try.  But even that is stressful for most of us.

And this kind of low-level constant stress is just plain bad for us.  It messes with our hormones, digestive system, eating habits, and so much more.

That being said, it’s not like we have no way out.  There is always a little something that we can do, and that tiny little sense of control we get through these simple actions will alleviate some of that nasty stress.

Here are three manageable and realistic action tips–things that you actually can DO to lower your stress levels:

Others can help too! When we feel that everything is up to us, we feel stressed.  I know, I know, maybe your child won’t make the bed as well as you would have, or your spouse won’t buy the exact can of green beans you sent him to the store to get, but in the long run, you will feel better if you let others help.

Slow down!  Two minutes, that’s all!  Just take two minutes to be on your own–the bathroom is a great place for that.  Call it meditation time, or decompressing chamber, or whatever you want.  For me, it is my daily prayer walk outside or on my treadmill. Use this time to evaluate your priorities, pray, breathe deep or just look at something pretty.

Stop stressing over what you can change–just do it! If you stress over the dirty dishes in the sink in the morning, do them at night.  If you stress over an inbox filled with unimportant emails, unsubscribe!  There are things that you have no control over, but there are many that you can change.  Simply do them–you will be so glad you did!

BALANCE is the key to stress management.

Work must be balanced with fun.

Life is too short to not let yourself enjoy all of it!

Holiday Tips

It’s December 10th, and most of us have at least one or two Holiday parties to attend.  And yes, we love it–the atmosphere, the music, the lights and of course, the food!  Food has become such an integral part of the Holiday season, and I have to admit, I like it.  When else do you get to have pumpkin everything, and maybe lobster, and every cookie known to man, and stuffing and eggnog, and … and… and…

But the Holiday season doesn’t need to be a free-for-all, as though this is your one and only chance to ever eat all that good stuff.  The national average of actual weight gain during the holidays is only one pound, but it turns out that that’s one pound that is almost impossible to lose…  So, here are a few of my tips to enjoy the season thoroughly without putting on that one stubborn pound.

1. When going to a party, don’t “save up”your hunger for it.  Eat a little before and spoil your appetite so that you can be controlled in what you choose to eat. Go for the stuff you really like, quality over quantity, and enjoy each bite intentionally!

2. Stay away from the lick and taste diet… you know, like licking the ice cream scooper, and tasting the mashed potatoes twenty times to make sure there is enough butter, and the meat.  It’s an easy 300 calorie save!

3. Don’t keep beautiful filled candy dishes in sight; if you keep looking at it, you are going to have to eat it eventually!

4. Keep moving as much as you can, but don’t use it as an excuse for over-eating… I know, not fun, but reality. But actually, you can make it fun by involving the whole gang!

5. Don’t beat yourself up if you mess up.  You can start over right away, no need to wait until January 1st.

6. Pick carefully what you are going to indulge in. No need to fill your plate with the stuff you don’t love just because it’s there.  But what you choose, enjoy it without guilt!

7. Focus on more than food.  It really isn’t all about the food.  Time spent together is very rewarding, just because.

8. Unfortunately, alcoholic beverages have a lot of empty calories… be careful with them.  Also, when you drink a bit too much, you might stop caring about what you eat… until the next morning!

9. Don’t skip meals just because you overate the day before.  Just keep it light.

10. Water, water, water! It will flush a lot of nasty stuff out!

All that being said, enjoy yourself!  And have a

Very Merry Christmas!

What about you?  Do you have any tips to share with the Barb’s Fit U community?  Please comment here!  

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