Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fear as a “Go” Signal

Afraid to fail? Afraid to try? Fear is a powerful roadblock—one that is strong enough to keep you from success.

The thing about fear is it can hold you back, consciously or subconsciously. And, a big difference between people who fulfill their goals and those who don’t—is action—moving from thoughts and words to action. So, what do you lose if you begin to act? If we’re talking about wellness and weight loss (and in this Blog, we usually are), ask yourself if you’re perhaps not doing what you know you should be doing because maybe you’re afraid to risk a negative result? In other words, the fear of failure. And ask yourself this—won’t a life of fear keep you stuck in a place you don’t really want to be? A place such as:

  • More than 80 percent of people with diabetes are overweight or obese.
  • A weight gain of just 11 to 18 pounds increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes to twice that of individuals who have not gained weight.
  • Chronic diseases kill more than 1.7 million Americans annually, and account for 7 of every 10 deaths and one-third of years of potential life lost before age 65.
  • The foods we choose to eat on a daily basis contribute 80 percent to whether we will develop diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

Scared yet?

As a primal instinct, fear is also capable of invoking “fight or flight,” when our first reaction typically is to flee to our nearest comfort zone (home, a loved one, the refrigerator or pantry). So, let’s look at “fight” rather than “flight.” Even if it’s scary, “fight” is the only response that will provide the self-assurance to permanently escape the fear.

Fear is a powerful force and a primary survival mechanism. It isn’t a good feeling, and all things considered, probably isn’t really a healthy emotion to use as a motivator—except in cases of survival, and then, that’s about survival, not changing behavior. Changing behavior is the means that will provide the self-confidence to overcome fear of failure, bringing you that much closer to moving away from fear and toward achieving your goals.

We tell LoneStart participants to treat setbacks as “guides” not “brakes.” Fear of failure is a big brake. Instead what do you think might happen if you take the brakes off and make fear your “Go” signal?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thinking for a Change?

“I really need . . .”

“I know I should . . .”

“I know I shouldn’t . . .”

“Now what? . . .”

It’s that internal battle. Fill in the blanks, finish any of these thoughts, on any subject, and you’ll be surprised where it takes you. It’s a fun, interesting and sometimes eye-opening exercise. But, and this is the big “but,” when it comes to personal health, weight loss and wellness, a large percentage of answers follow the same path.

Real life example (really): “I’m serious about wanting to lose weight and improve my dietary habits. I know I should pay attention to what and how much I eat. I know I shouldn’t eat those (substitute your food weakness of choice) soft, buttery, cheesy bread sticks or the three pieces of mouth-watering, thick crust pizza that I can smell in my sleep. But . . . “And, here’s what this real person did. She thought about it.

Here’s the thing about attitudes, behavior and why thinking can change both. Attitudes are described as “feelings, beliefs or opinions of approval or disapproval toward something.” (What is your attitude toward pizza?) Behavior is defined as “an action or reaction that occurs in response to an event or even internal stimuli, such as thought.” (What happens when you crave pizza?) The relationship between attitude and behavior is a complex one, in part because both define how we go about the business of daily life. (So, what do you do about that craving?)

Confused yet? There’s more. In general, behaviors will reflect established beliefs and attitudes. (You’re going to eat the pizza because you always do.) At the same time, a positive attitude manifests itself in well-adjusted behavior. (But, think about it—maybe this time you don’t eat the pizza. You know, you don’t have to.) Research has shown that most individuals register an immediate, and almost automatic reaction of good or bad toward what they encounter in less than a second. So if you think about that reaction (is eating the pizza good or bad . . . what happens if you eat it or don’t?) you might find your attitude changes toward pizza—and that you’ve redirected your behavior. How do you feel now, if you don’t eat the pizza? Remember, this is just one example of thinking about routine behaviors.

Now think about this . . . if you re-direct your behavior often enough, you change your behavior. And, your attitude toward what influenced that behavior changes. You are thinking for a change. Literally. What do you think now? Where do you think it can take you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mix It Up

First, we’re not talking about a mix-up, that state or instance of confusion or muddle—although there is definitely some of that whenever anyone tries to define “wellness.” We’re not talking about a fight or confrontation—although you might find some of that too. We’re talking about taking what works, looking at it in new ways, making new connections, putting it in a new perspective—and making it work for each of us within the context of our daily lives.

We all know healthy living doesn’t happen at the doctor’s office. The road to better health (wellness) is paved with the small decisions we make every day. It’s about the choices we make at the grocery store, where we park, whether or not we take the stairs, whether we walk the dog or watch TV, whether we pop a frozen pizza in the microwave or instead choose to steam some vegetables. And, it’s about how all of these choices mix together to influence our lives—and yes, our health. In a manner of speaking, it’s about weights and measures. We’re mixing it up.

In a post not too long ago, we pointed out that “diets are dead.” With most diets there are rules that clearly state what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat. They tell you when to weigh yourself, and how much you should weigh. They follow a specific path—low-carb, low-fat, high-protein, all natural, and specify a set number of calories you absolutely, positively cannot exceed. They go on to suggest how long you should spend at the gym or health club in all that spare time you have. But, this is not how most of us live our lives. It’s not how our world works. And it’s not how we will change behavior patterns in the long run to achieve sustainable weight loss / health / wellness.

When we think of a “diet” most of us think of inconvenience, deprivation and temporary sacrifice. In reality, there’s nothing temporary about it—once you achieve your goal, you have to maintain it. Now if we start to mix it up a little, and shift the focus from “diet” to, “lifestyle change,” we’re also shifting our focus from negative to positive. We’re breaking down the barriers between dieting and wellness and when we do that, we can move forward and create something new.

And, what if that something new is a new way to achieve what you’ve been after all along? Are you game to the idea of mixing it up?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Healthier Health

This post is going to take a slightly different track. Even being in the wellness business, I’m continually amazed by what I don’t know—sometimes it’s something brand new, and sometimes it’s something I see and say to myself, “I should know that.” So, read on . . . I’m going to share some of the more unusual health and food facts I’ve discovered.

Did you know . . .

You’d have to make 2 trips to the top and back of the Empire State Building to burn off the calories in just two pieces of KFC Extra Crispy chicken!

Liquid calories account for more than 21 percent of our daily calorie intake—more than 400 calories every single day, which is twice as much as we drank 30 years ago.

An extra can of soda a day can pile on 15 pounds in a single year. The average American drinks about 2 cans of soda per day. By cutting soda and those 300 calories, you could save 8,400 calories in four weeks—and lose about 2.4 pounds. And, this means you haven’t consumed the equivalent of nine cups of sugar!

How much sugar? Each of us will eat the sugar equivalent of 3,628 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the next 12 months.

According to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, people who drank one cup of black tea after eating high-carb foods decreased their blood-sugar levels by 10 percent for 2 and a half hours after the meal—which means they stayed full longer and had fewer food cravings.

Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books magazines, newspapers, video and recorded music—combined.

All things being equal, boosting fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories consumed results in weight loss of about 4.5 pounds.

The strongest muscle in the human body is the tongue.

Choosing organic foods can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 68 percent.

A six-pack of beer generates 7 lbs. of greenhouse-gas emissions. The average American’s daily carbon impact is 153 pounds.

Americans spend approximately $25 billion each year on beer.

The average American spends 120 hours a month watching TV. That’s the equivalent of five complete days in front of the television.

Every hour we lose 125 acres of farm and ranch land. Each year 90 percent of U.S. cropland loses soil at a rate of 13 times above what’s sustainable.

Eating whole grains regularly can reduce your risk of heart disease by 25 to 28 percent, and risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 to 30 percent.

The average diner underestimates his or her calorie count by up to 93 percent when eating out.

An average human drinks about 16,000 gallons of water in a lifetime.

A typical American eats 28 pigs in his/ her lifetime.

And, thinking about pigs, food and odd yet interesting statistics, Dr. Seuss wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” after his editor dared him to write a book using fewer than 50 different words. (OK, this one just has food in the title, but it’s still an interesting food-related fact.)

Have you noticed that sometimes it’s what we never think about that really makes us think?