Habits Die Hard

Our habits spill over into other parts of our lives.

This can work against us. Having your legs crossed when you sit for long periods of time will work its way into a hip rotation when you move. Rounding your back to look at your computer monitor will make it harder to keep a straight back throughout the day.

But it can also work for us. Good eating decisions while training will lead to better decisions when you aren’t. Being active early in the day will keep your metabolism up for a number of hours afterwards.

So empower years of change by practicing the habits you want to keep, and double up on your improvement by using your motivation to guard against slipping back into habits that contradict what you are working toward.

Take Advantage Of Nice Days

We are getting into some of the nicest months that Chicago has to offer, so try to take advantage of the weather while it is here.

Exercise outside for the added benefit of exposure to sunlight, and added resistance from the wind will make the workout a bit harder. Plan accordingly.

There is plenty of room by the lake or at a park to work on movement, which is a great place to work on agility and multi-directional movement.

Make It A Game

When training feels like work, it gets harder and harder to stay motivated. A workout does not have to feel like work.

One way around this phenomenon is to play a game, or make a game of what you have set out to do. A mini-obstacle course is a lot more fun than doing sets of pull-ups. Soccer and basketball are just as intense as wind sprints, but the mind is focused on the game instead of fatigue. Recruit a workout partner or join a group. Fun will make a big difference in your motivation and enable a higher tolerance for intense exercise.

Body Language

Your body is always communicating with you.

You could say that your body speaks the language of feeling. It speaks to you through sensations, through nerve endings that constantly register everything happening around you and inside your body. It tells you when you do things right and when you do things wrong, but are you listening?

More often than not, we pay attention when we are training and practicing movement. But that is a small fraction of the time for anyone that is not a professional athlete. Stiff legs from sitting for long periods of time, neck tension from viewing a monitor from an off angle, or a sore lower back after spring cleaning are all times when your body is trying to tell you that its position or movement was incorrect.

There is a lesson that can be learned from any post-activity discomfort, but you have to pay attention to the language that your body is using to communicate.

Back To It

Things come up. Life gets in the way. What was a daily practice is now something that never quite makes it off the to-do list.

It happens to everyone. While it can be frustrating, here are three things you can do to get back to it.

Schedule it. Whether it is the first thing in the morning, or stacked next to a part of your daily routine that gets accomplished every day; commit to it and make sure that you budget the time you will need.

Give yourself a reward. If there is a guilty pleasure that does not derail your goals, reward getting it done with something that hits the pleasure receptors in your brain. After a few weeks you will form an association between your practice and the joy of the reward that will make it much easier to continue.

Get rid of your excuses. Just stop accepting them as a reason to not practice. Those things will happen, getting in your daily work does not have to be impacted by them.

Finding Your Way

Every one of us has a road to travel, but we cannot perfectly follow in the footsteps of another.

Look for teachers. Look for individuals who have succeeded as both an inspiration and a guide that can help you with part of your journey. Keep your eyes open for ideas that can be applied to your endeavors; but there is no blue print that tells you everything that you need to do, because no one else is exactly like you.

When you succeed, remember that your experiences may help others, if you share them.

Stand Up for Yourself

How much time do you spend sitting?

How often do you stand up?

There has been a cultural shift to a sedentary lifestyle. We live in a time where the majority spends a greater amount of time sitting rather than actively moving. Unfortunately, this puts a lasting strain on our bodies that makes it harder to move in a correct manner; and can lead to pain or stiffness in the legs, back, shoulders, or neck.

Make a point to stand up and move around regularly throughout the day. With just a few minutes spent standing out of every hour; you can impact the negative effects of sitting for long periods of time, and your body will thank you for it.

Ready for Spring?

The weather has been getting warmer and spring is approaching. Many people are already out running and biking, on court and field, or at the driving range. Are you ready for Spring?

Whatever the sport, your body will thank you if you gradually ramp up your activity level from its current level. Start with drills that remind your body of what it will have to do when you compete. Make sure to take a rest day if your body gets really sore from the movements that it is not used to.

If you took the winter off and have just started to be more active, or you are about to start, take ten minutes a day to work on basic exercises.
You can focus on the motions that mimic your sport; just make sure to cover all of the basic movements of your body – push, pull, bend, twist, squat, and lunge.

When It Comes To Walls

When there is a wall between you and your goal, there are options; you can go over it, around it, or through it.

Going over the wall has the benefit of allowing you to stay on the same path. It means spending the least amount of energy and thought required to overcome your obstacle. Just make sure that you land on even footing after you go over the top.

Going around the wall might take you a lot longer. You may have to move laterally for a great distance before you can redirect your energy to your ultimate objective.

Going through the wall takes the most energy and has the most risk. Remember that the wall is there for a reason, and it may not be possible to rebuild. But it is the fastest way to move past the barrier.

Not every wall is physical. Some may be relationships, friendly or otherwise; some psychological; and others emotional. Whatever your wall, remember that there are a number of ways to approach, and there are tools at your disposal that can help.

Taking Breaks

Whether the goal is to get in shape or build a business, constant stress does no favors. It can lead to errors and missteps; a desensitization to the world that is both inside and around us; and pressure that slowly chokes the life out of dreams.

It is okay to take a day off; to go on vacation. Take a break now and then to decompress and revitalize yourself.

Different personality types benefit from different forms of break; and, of course, it depends on the pursuit. For a few, fifteen minutes here or there is enough. Some are better served with a few hours every couple of days. Others need a weekend, a week, or even longer.

If you are a planner, schedule time for it, and hold yourself to that commitment. If you are on the impulsive side, do not forget that the break needs a definitive end. Taking a break implies a return to the task at hand.

An important point to remember is that there is a time and place for it. Recognize the natural rhythm of whatever you are pursuing, and build the breaks according to both that rhythm and your type. Athletes take a break during the off-season, as opposed to the playoffs. Accountants do not take vacation during tax season. Surgeons do not stop for a coffee in the middle of an operation.

Whatever you decide, however you decompress; keeping that outlet releases the pressure of stress and will maintain your overall focus.