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Getting Healthier By The Day

6 Apr

Getting Healthier By The Day

Tim Skwiat, MEd, CSCS, Pn1

Recently, one of my clients offered some truly sage advice when she shared her recipe for health and fitness success: Getting Healthier By The Day. This approach—this mindset, this attitude—is a key component to a sustainable long-term, successful journey to improved health, body composition, and performance. Getting healthier by the day:

  • Highlights action (i.e., what can you do right now, today)
  • Emphasizes the variables within your control: your attitude and behaviors
  • Encourages a proactive mindset
  • Focuses attention on behavior-based goals
  • Highlights progress, not perfection
  • Encourages self-compassion
  • Emphasizes a sustainable, habit-based approach
  • Promotes awareness and mindfulness

The “Getting Healthier By The Day” mindset is really cool because it highlights action, and it emphasizes the variables within your control: your behaviors and your attitudes. It also helps you take on a more proactive attitude overall, instead of relying on being reactive. Along these lines, when we talk about goals, it’s important to distinguish between outcome- and behavior-based goals.

Outcome-based goals (e.g., lose ‘x’ pounds) specify what we’d like to happen at the end of a certain time period. Generally speaking, outcomes are usually out of our control. On the other hand, behavior-based goals are typically within our full control, and they specify what actions must be taken to get to the desired outcome. From an exercise standpoint, you might have a behavior-based goal of exercising for 45 minutes five times per week. From a nutrition standpoint, the following “cheat sheet” identifies some of the most important “behaviors” of good nutrition that you might practice:

5 Habits on Highly Effective Nutrition Plans: Cheat Sheet

This mindset is also key because it highlights progress, not perfection. In other words, good nutrition and being healthy is not about perfection; it’s about improvement. It’s about the process—the journey. It’s about making the best, wise choices, as often as possible. It’s about living with purpose and getting up each day being your “best self,” with integrity, and it’s about being self-compassionate and kind to yourself. It’s about pursuing health and wellness.

The “Getting Healthier By The Day” mindset encourages a habit-based approach, which is sustainable and breeds success. In his book, The Power of Less, author Leo Babauta demonstrates the power and importance of taking things one step at a time. Specifically, Babauta conducted some informal behavior change experiments, and he found that:

  • If he assigned himself one practice/task/habit, he could do it consistently 85% of the time, which is very good.
  • If he assigned himself two new practices at a time, his success rate dropped dramatically, down to 35%.
  • If he assigned himself three or more new practices at a time, he was barely able to do anything!

The take-home point is, for lasting change, it’s crucial to focus on one small thing at a time. If possible, it’s often best to make it a daily practice. The more conscious you are of your “task,” the more likely you are to be mindful of it and stick with it.

This attitude promotes a nonjudgmental awareness that encourages progress and growth. Awareness—paying attention to what is happening and why—allows us to:

  • Gain control
  • Lower stress and frustration
  • Prevent bad decisions before they happen, rather than feeling guilty afterward
  • Learn what we like and don’t like, what our “triggers” are, and how to work proactively
  • Recognize that we’re human
  • Bring out our best selves

Embrace the “Getting Healthier By The Day” attitude, and take control of your health, nutrition, and body transformation journey. As yourself, “What’s one thing that I can do today, right now, to improve my health, fitness, and performance?”

Feel free to share below. I look forward to supporting you in your efforts!

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Focus: Clear the Clutter

28 Mar

Focus: Clear the Clutter

By Tim Skwiat, MEd, CSCS, Pn1

We live in a fast-paced world with myriad distractions. It’s easy to get caught up in “multi-tasking,” continually investing only your partial attention to multiple activities (i.e., putting your eggs in many baskets). It’s not your fault; there are so many things demanding your attention that focus, to put it gently, is a challenge.

Focus is an essential mental skill, and those folks who can harness and sharpen their mental ninja skills are more likely to execute key tasks efficiently and effectively, stay focused on what they want, and are more likely to accomplish their goals.

The first challenge of focusing is to clearly define what you truly want. Pertinent to this conversation is that your behaviors, actions, and attitudes (the variables that you control) are a direct reflection of your identity (i.e., who you are or who you want to be), your values (i.e., what’s important to you), and priorities (i.e., what you think should come first).

In other words, focus comes from a clear purpose—intention.

In order to help you stay on track—whether it be getting in your workouts, sticking with your nutrition plan, being a better parent, or performing better at work—here are a few strategies that can help you stay focused on what truly matters.

The Morning Check-In

  • Write down your goals, values, and priorities.
  • First thing in the morning, review these stated goals, values, and priorities.
  • Do this every morning.

The Bookend Ritual

  • Write down your goals, values, and priorities and review them in the morning.
  • In the evening, do a “post-game” analysis to see how your behaviors matched up. If your behaviors didn’t match up with your stated goals, values, and priorities, make adjustments accordingly.
  • Using your “post-game” analysis, create an action plan for the following day.
  • Next morning, review the previous day’s plan along with stated goals, values, and priorities.
  • This is a great option for evaluating your golf performance.

Daily Goals in Your Pocket
A personal favorite, this involves writing down your small daily goals on a piece of paper and keeping it in your pocket.

Goal Check-In
Take a moment to “check-in” before making any decision that feels impulsive or compulsive. Ask yourself:

  • What do I want right now?
  • What do I ultimately want?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice my goals and values for what I want right now?
  • Could I wait a little while? (Sometimes it only takes about five minutes of “delaying discomfort” to stay the course. Check out the Marshmallow Test…if little kids can do it, so can you.)

It’s okay if you get distracted. We all do. The best athletes, meditators, and successful professionals do too; however, they’re really good at returning to focus. In other words, if your thoughts wander or you get slightly off track, realize that it’s normal, pick up the pieces, “notice and name” (i.e., important lessons, patterns of behavior, environmental circumstances), re-focus, and bounce back as quickly as possible—better than ever.