Accountability – In which, I attempt to gain some

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Accountability…Level 11

Accountability.

For me, this is the single most important factor in achieving a goal.

I have alluded to the fact that my health and fitness have suffered somewhat (ok, fine, a lot) over the past year. In August I got inspired to take control and perhaps over-zealously started going to bootcamp 5 days a week. Not surprisingly, this led to injury, which still, 5 months later, hasn’t improved.

It’s a new year, and while I am reluctant to use the term “resolution” I am inspired once again to renew and improve my outlook and to take back the healthy lifestyle habits that were once easy and enjoyable.

I’m putting this all out there to the world, for better or worse, because it helps to keep me accountable. You, dear reader, are helping me though we likely have never met. Look how inspiring you are!

This post is embarrassing, quite honestly. I am supposed to be a professional that helps others achieve exactly what I am complaining about. I’m also human. I have bad days (or years), and now I know how easy it is to let things fall apart and the consequences of doing so. Perhaps next time, I will have a better handle on how to maintain my habits and goals even if motivation is suffering.

Photographs of a dance event I performed at this past weekend gave me an objective view of just how bad things have gotten. Alright! I get the picture (heh, get it?), I am ready to do this!

I set a goal of May 14, my birthday. I feel this is a reasonable time frame in which to lose approximately 10-15 pounds of fat, regain my strength, and eliminate or improve my injuries. I also plan to take a trip to Portland around this time to visit a friend and some family and I want them to be proud of me. I would hate to be one of those people you see after several years and while you are overjoyed by the reunion, you’re thinking “Eeeesh, what in the hell happened to you?” Oh come on, you know you’ve done it.

I will make any excuse under the sun not to get off my ass and go to the gym. In the schedule below I have varying degrees of accountability. I have pre-paid for personal training so I feel obligated to show up, that one is a no-brainer. I enjoy the yoga class as well, and the set times help me to get there but this is pretty easy to back out of too. Showing up consistently to a class like this would work best with a friend. Lastly, we have cardio. I really hate cardio. Like, really hate it. Sooooo tedious. My trainer expects me to stick around and do 45 minutes of cardio after our session but I usually can’t make it through more than 20 or 30 before I get too bored and begin to stare incessantly at the seconds ticking by. I much prefer to get outside, especially if it’s warm. Even if I don’t push my heart rate as high, I’m usually able to last up to three times as long while getting some Vitamin D in the process. I figure it’s a good trade-off.

My regimen:

Mon: Personal Training (60 mins)
Tue: Off
Wed: Personal Training (60 mins), Hot Yoga (60 Mins)
Thu: Dance rehearsals (90-120 mins)
Fri: Cardio (30-60 mins)
Sat: Outdoor cardio/activity (60+ minutes)
Sun: Hot Yoga (60 mins)

So, assuming 122 days until May 14, this regimen will have me working out 86/122 days, or roughly 70% of the days. ( I am not including dance rehearsals in this figure.) I think this is do-able. I suspect the double whammy on Wednesday might suffer a little from time to time, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Yes, I know there are more efficient ways to work out (HIIT, anyone?), but this is what I, personally, am willing to do considering my bodily limitations and what I actually enjoy.

Of course, 80% of results are achieved outside the gym, so I will be cleaning up my diet (again) as well. Back to meal planning, cooking real food and following a mostly paleo/primal-ish diet. I am curious to see what the 21-day Sugar Elimination I attempted a few weeks ago combined with a workout regimen could do for me.

I will post an update once a month until May rolls around. I expect to be able to give you excellent progress reports. Gold star for me!

So what do you think works best, high stakes, positive reinforcement, the buddy system, or the promise of a reward? I would love to hear what works to keep you accountable.

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12 Months of Memories – or, The Gratitude Project

JarIn 2012 I came across a project idea to encourage gratitude for all the good things that can happen in your life within a year. You take a mason jar, or decorative holding device of your choice, and fill it with scraps of paper containing all the good things that happen to you throughout the year. At the end of that year you dump them all out and review all the wonderful things you have experienced. I thought this was a great idea, especially considering we tend to dwell on the negativity and drama in our lives instead of focusing on the good stuff. So last year I decorated some jars and gave them out as gifts and also made one for myself. This past weekend I sat down and reviewed my memories for 2013 and had some surprising revelations.

1.  I only had 11 slips of paper. 11. That’s less than one good memory per month, which is pretty abysmal. Now, most of these memories were major events like going indoor skydiving or attending my first live sporting event. So, while I do feel like I need to step up my game a bit to have more fun, this year I will also try to add more experiences that may be small but are still meaningful. Perhaps when a random stranger compliments me and makes my day, or reconnecting with an old friend I haven’t heard from in a while. These things may not be memorable a year from now, but they do make a difference and qualify as a happy moment I can be grateful for.

2. I got a lot more out of the memory when I wrote an extra sentence or two describing the experience. Instead of reading a statement and thinking ok, so, that happened, the description helped me to recall exactly how I felt during that experience and invoked more emotion. This time I will make each deposit into the jar like a micro journal entry.

3. The majority of my memories were related to relationships I am no longer in. Even if you are lucky enough to be in a healthy relationship, this really made me aware that the good times in your life should not be solely dependent on your partner. It’s ok to have fun and make memories by yourself, or with your friends and family.

Have any of you tried this project before? I’d love to hear about it! If you haven’t, why not do it now while the turn of the year is still fresh? Include your happy moments, things/ideas/people you are grateful for, ticket stubs, photographs, quotes that speak directly to your soul, hopes, aspirations, or dreams. Make 2014 a year you will remember forever!

“I See A Healthy Me” Children’s Book

I See A Healthy Me!

I’m so excited because my mom, Lois DiMari, has just published her first children’s book!

The book, titled “I See A Healthy Me” is about teaching young children the value of building healthy habits from a young age. Adorable illustrations and fun, easy to read text make this a great book you can share with the little ones in your life.

This would make a perfect Christmas gift for under $10! Available in softcover or Kindle editions.

Please check it out at Balboa Press or on Amazon, spread the word, and encourage children to be healthy for life!

Why Giving In Doesn’t Mean Giving Up

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I originally moved to Austin a little over two years ago to start my own health & wellness business. I’ll give it a year, I thought. That’s enough time to get established.

I vastly underestimated the amount of time it would take to immerse myself in a new city and a new community. It wasn’t until at least a year and half went by that I really felt like I was finally starting meet some people and make friends. My business was going nowhere, but, I thought, I’m just starting to build my network so I need more time. Unfortunately bills don’t wait for you to build an established clientele so I started personal training at a major gym chain.

Nearly a year and a half went by working at the gym and clientele had slowed to a crawl for all of us. Looking at the accumulating debt and shrinking paychecks I decided I could no longer give the gym more time to make it work. I had dabbled in viewing Craig’s List ads and could never quite commit to sending out a resume that would chain me to a desk again. On a whim one night, I sent out a resume thinking nothing would come of it. I got a call back the very next day which led to an offer I couldn’t ignore.

Though I made it known how thrilled I would be to work with this company, a part of me rebelled. Why am I giving up everything I have worked for the past 2 years? Would I be selling myself out for the comfort of a steady paycheck? If I go back to an 8 to 5 job is the dream dead? Am I trading the potential to change someone’s life for a stapler and some white-out?

I wrestled with this for quite some time before I made peace with my decision. Here’s how. First, I had to accept that it’s ok to take care of myself. My mounting debt was a big source of stress for me and knowing I can reduce and soon eliminate it is like a huge burden removed from my life. It’s ok to do what you need to do to pay your bills.

Second, I realized my opportunity to work with clients or teach classes or workshops wouldn’t really be hindered. Most of my successes have come in the hours when the public is free, on nights and weekends. If anything, I now have more time for these opportunities since I was working nights and weekends at the gym.

Third, I now have the time to attend events where I can enjoy myself, network, and potentially meet new clients. I am now looking at my business as a hobby that brings me extra income instead of a job that I am failing at. This releases the negativity I have associated with it and allows me to have passion for health again.

So, I did give in to taking care of my needs, but I didn’t give up. If someone wants my help, I will give it with enthusiasm. I will still learn about the newest research and health trends. I will continue to blog about health, wellness or my experiences in life. And I will still let my hair down (well, if I had enough to let down) and dance with passion when the opportunities arise.

I am grateful for the opportunity that a desk job is giving me. The chance to be debt free and to have the income to GO! and DO STUFF! again. I am so excited about that. Call me sometime; we’ll go have coffee. My treat, because, I can afford that now.

How I Decided to Stop Being Miserable and Start Kicking Ass

When I tell people I am a personal trainer for a large gym chain, they usually exclaim how awesome it must be to be employed at a place where you can work out anytime you want. I thought the same thing when I started. A year and a half later I now understand that though I like working with my clients, the gym is still a job, and that means when my time is my own, the last thing I want to do is be there longer for my own workouts. This led to less and less motivation until I realized one day that my clients were becoming fitter than me.

Fast forward through the general stresses of life like moving back and forth across town a few times, a couple of breakups, a nearly empty summer client schedule, dwindling funds, and lack of exercise, and I have to admit I put on a few pounds. Well, ok, more than a few. Even worse, my energy was lacking, my strength was waning, and the depression demons were starting to eye my growing discontent greedily.

My recent relationship failure was a wake-up call. I immediately decided that I didn’t want to be the person who reclines on a chaise lounge with the back of their hand to their forehead exclaiming “woe is me!” Nope, unacceptable. I decided to use this opportunity to become something better. I took a few days to process the sadness, then got to work.

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“Woe is me!” Hell no, not happening!

It was a convenient coincidence (or was it?) that during this time Groupon happened to offer two things I had been wanting to try: Kettlebell classes and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Both of these classes were close to me and even fit with my schedule. Realizing I needed to be out of my gym’s environment to succeed, I immediately signed up for both.

I have committed to going 5 times a week, as long as my schedule continues to allow it. Having an obligation each morning helps keep me focused and more productive throughout the rest of the day. Working hard next to new moms, overweight empty-nesters, cancer survivors or ultra-fit triathletes boosts me out of the depths of loneliness as we cheer each other on. Now, in week 4, I am starting to notice my endurance improving and my muscles becoming firm again, I am eating cleaner than I have in a year, and I have even lost 2 pounds so far. There are still bad days, but being healthy and strong makes them a lot easier to take on.

Want to hear the best part? The best part is knowing that I am doing this solely for myself. This is my practice, what I do that will lead me one day to say I’m proud of who I am and what I have accomplished. Like a catalyst in a chain reaction, this growing confidence will spread to other areas of my life, and to other people in my life. We’re going nuclear, baby, yeah! An explosion of greatness is about to happen!

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Effecting worldly change whilst kicking some ass. Go me!

Authors note: This post took quite a U-turn. The original intent was to write about injury prevention, but sometimes you just gotta go with the flow and express the message that needs to be given. This helped me process the past 4 weeks of emotional turmoil; I hope it helps you in some small way too!

Taking Action

ImageI had a conversation with someone about growing my business. She asked me a simple question: “What have you done this week to move forward?” It was a question to which I didn’t have an answer because I had done nothing.

If you are like me, you’re an excellent planner and researcher. I have spent years researching the heck out of marketing, social media and downloading “How To…” ebooks. My weakness comes in putting that knowledge into action. It seems so simple yet fills me with dread. Why would I not take the steps to succeed? Fear of failure is hard to overcome but it’s even worse when that failure comes from not trying at all. 

My friend’s reply to my situation was simple. For every hour of researching and planning you do, put an hour of effort into taking action. Still too much to handle? Here’s a simple exercise to build confidence while moving forward:

Make a promise to yourself today and make it a promise you can keep. It can be as simple as “I promise to breathe all day long.” By the end of the day you can say you’ve kept that promise and tomorrow you can take another step towards your goal. Repeat this every day and whether the task be simple or complex you will always be moving forward.

My promise to myself today was to complete and publish a blog post. After neglecting my blog for nearly a year, I can say I kept that promise and you know what? It feels pretty good! What else will I achieve today? What will you accomplish?

Learning How To Say Yes

Did you read the title of this post and do a double-take? Did you wrinkle up your nose and make that pfffft! noise while thinking to yourself, “That’s not me, I need to learn how to say no!” Trust me, this post is for you too. I’m talking here about learning to say Yes for yourself.

A few years ago I was sitting on my couch on a Friday night lonely and bored. I got a call around 10pm from a friend who asked if I wanted to go out. Ugh…that meant getting off the couch, getting dressed, making myself presentable and driving to the other side of town when it was already late. I said no. I then spent the rest of the night wondering what I had missed out on; at the very least I missed the opportunity to spend time with a friend I didn’t see very often. Why did I do that?

I began to examine my motives as these situations came up during the next few months. I realized that I said no quite a lot. The reasons why usually came down to two things: one, that I was just lazy, and two, that I was afraid. Afraid of what? Well, mostly it was just fear of an unfamiliar situation. It makes me uncomfortable to be placed in a situation where I might appear foolish or become embarrassed. This is a terrible excuse! It has prevented me from having a lifetime full of interesting memories and adventure. I have taken the safe path my entire life and it always made me sad to be unable to participate in telling those unique stories all my friends had.

January came around and I decided that my resolution would be to say yes more often. When that friend called again late on a weekend, absolutely I want to go, I’ll be there in 20 minutes! Do I want to run a 5k where you get dirty and messy? Sure thing, I’ll start training right away! Any situation where my immediate reaction would be to say No, I would pause and think about the reason. Will I benefit from sitting on my ass? No, definitely not. Will I be in imminent danger? No, unlikely. Might I have an awesome time and learn something new? Yes, probably!

I am just learning to seize all the opportunities life has to offer and you know what? I’ve packed more memories into the past couple years than I had in the entire previous decade! I have also found that the more you conquer these small trials, the more confident you become and the easier it is to say yes.

What will you say yes to today?