Monday, December 30, 2013

Make Your New Year's Resolution Stick!


Want to lose weight? Get a promotion? Take over the world? Here's how to make sure your New Year's resolution becomes a reality.

First, the bad news: The odds are stacked against you. A few years ago, psychologist Richard Wiseman conducted a study of 3,000 people who had set New Year's resolutions for themselves. At the end of the year, a measly 12% had actually achieved their goals.1 But don't let those bleak stats kill your mojo—there are a few easy ways to make your goals more attainable, so you'll be toasting your success next December.

Plan ahead. It's 11:59 PM on December 31st—do you know what your resolution is? For the best chance of success, set your goals long before you want to start them. Wiseman says that reflecting on your goals a few days before the New Year will make you more likely to choose a meaningful resolution—which, of course, will make you more motivated to work for it. Still haven't set a goal? That's okay. Make one now and set yourself a start date a few days from now.

Shout it from the rooftops . . . . . . or at least share it online. According to Wiseman's research, women were more likely to succeed if they told their friends and family about their goals.  After all, you wouldn't want to fail in front of a few hundred of your closest friends, colleagues, and high school exes—would you? Make your resolution Facebook® official, tweet about it, or post a "before" photo on Instagram®. Accountability is your friend.

Strategize. Once you've decided on your Big Important Goal, come up with a few smaller objectives that can help you get there. If you resolve to lose weight, commit to doing your INSANITY® workout every day. Or hire a personal trainer and buy sessions in bulk. Or take a two-mile hike every weekend. "Intention is very different than action," says Daniel C. Stettner, Ph.D., director of Psychology at UnaSource Health Center in Troy, MI, and an adjunct professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. "People have to come up with tactics and strategies. Otherwise, it's like driving to a destination without directions—you're not going to be successful."

Think positive . . . but not too positive. Notebook with New Year Resolutions on them.  If you paid attention in English class, you might remember "doublethink" from Orwell's 1984—the ability to accept two opposing beliefs as truth. In this case, you need to accept that you can succeed and that you can fail. In his book, 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, Wiseman points to research by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, who found that imagining success kept people motivated, while imagining failure helped them form "avoidance goals." In other words, it's okay to fantasize about firing your annoying cube mate when you become manager—but also devise a Plan B in case you get passed over for this round of promotions.

Know thy enemy. Willpower is overrated. According to a recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people were more likely to be successful if they avoided temptation altogether rather than expecting superhuman self-control to kick in.  So figure out what changes you can make to sidestep your biggest roadblocks—can you take a different route to work that doesn't pass a bagel shop? Can you block Facebook on your computer to free up more time for new projects? Can you switch from your usual hangout to a non-smoking bar? A few small lifestyle changes can prevent big pitfalls.

Reward yourself. We all love instant gratification. So when you're pursuing a long-term goal like weight loss or digging out of debt, short-term rewards will help you power through. Just make sure the rewards jibe with the ultimate goal—don't reward a week of workouts by eating an entire chocolate cake. If you're trying to slim down, for example, Dr. Stettner suggests buying a new outfit you can't squeeze into (yet!) or working out with a friend so the reward is built-in.

Don't let setbacks derail you. Spoiler alert: You're human, so you're going to screw up. Don't let it discourage you, and don't use it as an excuse to let the rest of the day (or weekend, or month) go down the tubes. "There are going to be lapses, but a lapse doesn't have to be a collapse or a relapse," Dr. Stettner says. "Seek persistence rather than the dirty P-word, perfection. Don't think, 'I went off the plan today, so I'll start over tomorrow.' Salvage it. Save the day."

Source: Kara Wahlgren

Resources:
1-3. http://www.quirkology.com/UK/Experiment_resolution.shtml
4. http://psych.nyu.edu/oettingen/l
5. http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2011-28783-001/

Saturday, August 24, 2013

How Often Should I Workout?

  • What are the benefits of exercise?
  • How many days per week/hours should I be working out?
  • Tips for making exercise a way of life
According to the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Georgia State University, more than 60 percent of adults in the United States do not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity needed for good health; 25 percent of people in the United States are not active at all. Exercise is an essential part of achieving optimal health and quality of life, so it is important to get adequate amounts of physical activity in your life. Check out these seven ways exercise can improve your life:
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  • Controls weight
  • Combats health conditions and diseases
  • Improves mood
  • Boosts energy
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Improved complexion
  • Can be fun!

How often you should work out is really a matter of your current fitness level, the types of exercises you are performing, the intensity of your workouts, and how much time you actually have available to spend in the gym, However, The American College of Sports Medicine exercise guidelines for average healthy adults under the age of 65 states that you should do moderately intense cardio for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or do vigorously intense exercise for 20 minutes three days a week and 10 minutes of strength-training with eight to 12 repetitions twice a week. The World Health Organization recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise weekly.

Getting and staying fit can be a challenge. For many of us, it’s hard just to get up off the couch. So what’s the secret of people who have managed to make exercise a way of life?

  • Be consistent
  • Set realistic goals
  • Follow an exercise routine
  • Workout with a friend
  • Make your plan fit your life
  • BE PATIENT!
Determining how often you should workout is a bit science, a bit art and a lot of experimentation.  Each individual is different and each person’s ability to recover may vary considerably from another’s, even if their experience level or intensity seems identical.

The best approach to determining the right training frequency is to ease into your workout schedule slowly and take note of the mind-body changes that you experience.  Keep a journal or record of your progress in notebook or exercise log or program. Make notes about your perceived intensity and whether you were sore the next day. This will help you determine the right workout frequency for you.