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Get Outside

By Paul Hunter

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Fitness goals typically accelerate when spring weather arrives, so as the air warms and the sun shines longer, head outdoors for some fitness fun.  Opportunity for fitness avails itself everywhere, you just have to be willing to notice the opportunities and get up and go!
 
Sidewalks are a great place to start if the couch has been too good of a friend.  Walking with a companion or listening to your favorite tunes or audio book is a great way to enjoy the spring weather.  Pay attention to your stride, your pace, and your foot placement.  Squeeze the glutes, stand tall, and tilt those hips for a straighter spine so you can lead each step with a powerful core.  After a couple of weeks, add a little circuit training and dynamic stretching to the walk by including walking prisoner lunges (holding your hand behind you head while you progress into a lunge), high knee forward steps (like running with high knees but, you are walking while maintaining your balance), walking while kicking your heel back to your glutes (rear-end) and a quick jog.  Try 5-10 reps per side of each exercise every 2-3 minutes.  Within 2-3 weeks you’ll be feeling stronger with more energy and can continue to pick up the pace as you gain joint and cardiovascular strength. 
Beach days don’t have to be about a chair, an umbrella, and a nap.  Now that you’re feeling stronger, challenge yourself with a 10 minute walk and lung combination in the deep sand.  Add upper body conditioning by digging a hole with the kids, or building a sand castle…and make sure you are the one carting the buckets of water back and forth.  When the water warms and you find your self waist high in the Gulf, try your own version of Water Aerobics.  Stand on one leg and swing the other forward and backward using the water resistance for both balance and power.  Do the same with your hands as you paddle you hands forward and backward.  Finally, try something new.  Stand up paddle boarding has become very accessible at our beaches.  Beach services along the coast rent boards, so when the water is flat, grab a board and discover the benefits of fitness when you realize that the little bit of work you’ve put into yourself translates into a whole new world of activities.  
 
Bike and hiking trails are plentiful in our area and a great way to add to your outdoor experience away from the sandy beaches.  Load up the family or invite a friend, and remember to pack a lunch, water and the binoculars to take full advantage of the benefits and enjoyment of being outdoors.
Bike and hiking trails are plentiful in our area and a great way to add to your outdoor experience away from the sandy beaches.  Whether an experienced hiker or a newbie to venturing out, search for websites like funforemeraldcoastkids.com to find and enjoy new trails. Load up the family or invite a friend, and remember to pack a lunch, water and the binoculars to take full advantage of the benefits and enjoyment of being outdoors.
 
Staying active is a key ingredient to staying young.  Fitness is a lifestyle that allows you to live stronger.  So accelerate your activity everyday and enjoy the warm air and sunshine in a whole new way.

Make it a great day!

New Year New You

By Paul Hunter

Happy New Year!  I am sure many of you have set a resolution to lose weight, eat better or simply lead a better life.  Resolutions that come to mind easily are made and quickly forgotten as we get on with our daily lives after the holidays.  Statistics show that after six months, half of us who have set resolutions have stuck with them.  After a year, 90% have fallen off the wagon, leaving 10% who have stuck with their resolutions for change.   Seems like the odds are against us.  Change is difficult, and as I heard someone once say, “The only person who likes change is a baby.”  

We are posed with many opportunities to forget about the changes we resolved to make or solidify these changes a little at a time.  Change is difficult for many reasons and we all have a variety of reasons why it is difficult for us.  What got each of us to this stage of our lives are our habits, habits that are now deeply engrained in who we are.  Let’s take a look at some common obstacles to our success and ways to overcome them.

Our engrained daily routines.   As we go to bed December 31st or early January 1st, we have our resolutions and the best intentions.  We wake up to the kids crying and needing to make breakfast.  The Franklin-Covey Institute recommends spending at least 15 minutes in “planning and solitude” the day before.  Why?   By the time tomorrow comes, it is too late.  The day’s events have taken over us and we react to them.  You may have to get up earlier, go to bed later.  Prepare the day before to make the next day easier.  Invest those recommended 15 minutes to plan what lies ahead when you are the most hopeful.

It’s not all or nothing.  Ate a “no-no” piece of cake or missed a workout?  Learn or figure out why you did it, and move on.  Our goals may be set in stone, but our plans should be set in sand because our days ebb and tide and we need to allow ourselves the ability to make adjustments.   Keep your sight on the prize and learn from the obstacles.

No support system.  Our parents told us we would become who we surrounded ourselves with.  These people take the shape of encouragers or nay-sayers.  Those who know the road to change is difficult and root us on, especially when things get tough or temptation is at its highest, are the people we need around us when change is our agenda.  

We let our history control our destiny.  Quite often when charting our course going forward, we inevitably look backward to see how we have done.  Frequently it is our unsuccessful moments that stand out and thus set the stage for our future.  The good news as mentioned earlier is that we can create a new tomorrow when we take time for planning and solitude.

Not keeping goals fresh and in front view.  When we keep our goals in front of us, we are able to chart our course according to them.  I remember, when learning to drive, I was taught to keep my eyes on the horizon, NOT the hood ornament.  Our daily tasks become the hood ornament while our daily goals become our horizon we strive for continually. I also learned what the windshield wipers were for.  Without them, I couldn’t see the horizon, where I am going.   Our daily planning becomes our windshield wipers helping clear our vision for the things we ought to do to get us where we set out to go.

Fear of success.  This sounds a little odd, doesn’t it?  Success is scary because it requires something of us.  With the new success comes change, responsibilities and expectations.  If you have made it far enough to want to change, you are ready for the change.   Embrace it and look forward to it:  You deserve the rewards of your newfound success.

No, change is not easy because it requires something different from us.  If it didn’t, we wouldn't have to change.  Then we’d be where we are right now, only wanting to change.  Set resolutions and change:  for the better, for others and for ourselves.

Vision for the Holidays

By Paul Hunter

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Tis the season for celebration, eating and drinking.  It also seems to be the season for letting loose and forgetting about all the hard work you set out to do for your New Year’s resolutions this year.  How did that go?  If you are like 97% of the population, 1) you’re not alone, and 2) you’re not where you’d like to be.  I have found a large majority of people “just want to get through the holidays” and then they’ll get down to it.  I challenge you to get a head start now.  Sure!  Begin your resolutions/goals now before the obstacles get a hold of you.

A client recently shared with me that on one of the popular weight loss reality shows, each participant was offered to eat six giant cupcakes, which provided that participant the opportunity to choose someone from the other team to leave the show.  The people who chose to eat the cupcakes were also the ones who had to weigh in, thus responsible for losing weight for the team.  These people had to choose between maintaining their vision of their goal or something that would derail them from their goals and vision.

Many of us have found ourselves in this position whether it is with food and weight loss, time on the Internet or watching television and getting things done, working and not going home. Hmm, French fries or the fruit cup?  Whatever it is, life is full of obstacles and objections to what we want out of life.  It is in the quiet moments that the changing decisions are made.

The trick to success, if there is one, is to understand what you want and want it bad enough that you are able to forgo those things that will hinder you from obtaining what you set out to do in the first place.

Goal setting in and of itself can be an art.  We must know what we want and put it on paper, not just in our heads.  Ask most people and they’ll mention they know what they want and it’s right in their heads.  Until we write the goals down, they never seem to materialize.    Ever heard of S.M.A.R.T. Goals?  These are goals that are (S)pecific, (M)easurable, (A)chievable, (R)elevant and (T)ime-Oriented.  When you find something you want, write your goal in such a way that it covers all elements of a S.M.A.R.T. Goal and you’ll be one step closer to success.  

Once you know what you want and have written it in such a way, you must keep it in front of you.  Reading through your list of goals at every meal will help.  Pictures will help, too.  Peruse through magazines and find pictures of things you want, cut them out and make a book to look through.  I recently read about a woman who did this and, when she moved into her new home, had a friend gasp as she looked through this woman’s “goal-book” and saw pictures of rooms set up the same way as the ones in her new home, including paint colors and furniture.  This woman knew what she wanted and kept it in front of her.

Two months from now, people will be asking what your New Year’s resolutions are.  Do you wait until Christmas to think about such things?  “Oh, what will I wish for this next year?”  Mom told me, “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.”   This next year, you have the opportunity to make it your best year yet.  Think about how many actual years old you are and all the knowledge and wisdom you have collected, and put it to good use this next year.  

I warn you to not look back and think of what might have been.  Rather, look head and work towards what will become and Make it a Phenomenal Year!

What is your Why?

By Paul Hunter

I have been working in the fitness industry for 27 years now and a few years ago was interviewed by a person who was instructed to get some questions answered from a “seasoned” trainer.  There were some obvious questions such as, “Why did you get involved in the fitness industry?” and “Do you feel a college degree made a difference?”  One question stuck out, however, and my answer could have gone in a few different directions: “What is your favorite type of client to work with?” Without hesitation, I replied, “The one who is willing.”  I shocked myself with what I thought was such a simple answer. 

Over the years, I have pondered my answer and thought, although the answer is simple, whether the person is or is not willing may not be that simple.  People come to me and other trainers because they want to make a change. One thing I have grown to accept is that whether it be in the fitness realm or looking into other parts of life, change is not easy for everyone.  

Why?  What are great questions to ask of someone requesting change?  A conversation can go like this:

Trainer:  So, what brought you in here today?

Client:  I want to get healthy.

Trainer:  Why do you want to get healthy?

Client:  I have gained some unwanted pounds over the years and I want to feel better.

Trainer:  This may be a silly question, but why do you want to feel better?

Client:  Well, my daughter is coming into town this summer with my grandson and I want to be able to get on the floor and play with him.  

Trainer:   Ah, now we are getting somewhere.  

Getting to the “Why?” as it relates to motivation and change is significant because it can bring along with it the willingness to change.  In the above example, it became not just about being healthy but having a relationship that became important.  The ease of mobility that coincides with getting stronger, becoming more cardiovascularly fit and losing some weight now seems a little more important and creates a willingness to work through things when they become uncomfortable, because they will at times.  

I have seen it written that life begins outside your comfort zone.  If you think about it, your comfort zone got you to where you are now.  You stopped doing certain things because they might have been too difficult to sustain on your own.  That alone can be difficult to think about, but if you’re missing out on goals you had set in the past, think about it.  Was your “Why?” big enough? 

Below are some questions you can ask yourself when you are ready to make some changes in your life.  Remember, you are not a tree, you do not have to stay where you are. 

  1. What is your goal?

  2. Why is that goal important? (You may have to ask yourself this a few times to uncover the real “Why?”)

  3. What will getting out of your comfort zone look like?

  4. Are you willing to listen and gain wisdom to grow?

  5. What habits will you need to change?

  6. Are you willing to be consistent?

  7. Are you willing to be consistent long enough to allow your work to have the effect that you choose?

This becomes a good exercise to do with an accountability partner, whether it be your spouse, a friend or even your family.  There is nothing like going through something challenging when you have a strong support system behind you and encouraging you.  

Make it a Great Day!