Up the Down Escalator

An open letter to all our those in the Fitness Community
escalator
We recently came across a post from one of our 614Fitness family members.
Wils said:
“Some thoughts on aging. Staying fit takes effort. It’s like climbing up the down escalator: In order to maintain your current fitness level – to stay in the same spot – you have to keep climbing those stairs. The instant you slow down or stop, you start to go backwards. If you want to go higher, you have to climb faster.
The problem is, every year they speed up that f***ing escalator, so in order to stay at your current level you have to work harder.
(But) It’s worth it.”
It reminded us of a few things we wanted to share with everyone:
  • Staying fit is HARD!
    • There are no easy answers, no magic pills, unique gadgets or voodoo dolls. It takes hard work
    • excuseAnd…
  • You have to stay COMMITTED.
    •  If you don’t keep climbing that escalator, you are going to go backwards. There is no other way, no maybe’s, no if’s, no but’s.  Excuses are not part of a winner’s vocabulary.
    • So…
  • Surround yourself with like minded FIT-FRIENDS.
    • Relationships and commitments will make this medicine easier to swallow. The support of friends and family can be the elixir to get you motivated and fighting through the hard times.
    • And, as strong as you are…
  • You really CAN’T DO IT ALONE!
    •  That’s why you need to get yourself in here. Just like a lawyer should not represent him/herself, an athlete really needs a guide and an extra set of eyes, a trainer to push, pull, support and do whatever is necessary to keep you climbing the escalator of your fitness journey.
    • But still…
  • YOU’RE GOING TO SLIP BACKWARDS.
    • Give yourself permission and a little self-love … but then start climbing again, just a pause, not a period.

In summary … Stay strong, stay focused and stay committed. Get to the gym and crush that damn escalator!

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The 7 Things Only You Can Control

This is not an original article but a reprint from http://www.greatist.com article:

JANUARY 7, 2016 | BY CATHERINE GOLDBERG

But I think it is well worth reposting!

Image result for control

In my experience, life can be pretty complicated. Although most of us have plenty to manage in our day-to-day lives—jobs, relationships, family, exercise, sleep, you name it—there are really only a few things we truly have control over. I changed my life by identifying these variables and learning how to master them. And I think you can too.

Happiness and success (however you define either one) have a lot to do with each other. In fact, greater happiness has been found to lead to greater success. I think both can be achieved with some simple and straightforward habit hacking, or making small tweaks to your routine which, little by little, add up to major changes in how you’re living your life.

We make millions of little decisions all the time, and the result of each one is either net positive, net negative, or neutral. The more net positive decisions we can make (and the fewer net negative ones), the better. Net positive decisions—brushing your teeth before bed, eating healthy meals, and regularly going to the gym—help you feel good and bring you one step closer to your goals despite the effort they entail.

Net negative decisions, such as filling up on food that doesn’t make you feel good,

skipping the nightly teeth-brushing, letting that downer friend cramp your style, or forgoing the gym—make it difficult to reach your goals because your decisions don’t make you feel good, empowered, or confident. They take more out of you than they give, interfering with your energy levels, sapping your motivation, and clouding your focus.

Let go of all the stuff you can’t control and start using your time to master what you can control. While the healthier choice may seem harder, it pays off bigger. And you’ll be surprised by just how easy these choices can be once you make the effort. By learning how to master the seven things that are within our control, you will start to make more net positive decisions, fewer net negative ones, and find that empowering, positive behaviors become second nature. So let go of all the stuff you can’t control and start using your time to master what you can control. Before you know it, you’ll be living your best life ever!

1. Your Breath

Most people don’t even think about their breathing (I myself used to talk for many seconds at a time and forget to breathe!). Breathing is obviously important, but so is the ability to focus on it. Can you feel your chest expand when you inhale, and get softer when you exhale? Where do you feel the rise and fall most? Breathing is the ultimate hack to relax and slow racing thoughts. As soon as you experience something unpleasant, just take a few deep breaths and focus not on how horrible the situation was, but on your breathing. When you focus on your breath, you can count “one” as you inhale, “two” as you exhale. When you get to 10, start over. I bet you’ll start to feel better and more grounded immediately.

2. Your Self-Talk

We all have a voice in our heads. That voice can often be critical and get in the way of our happiness and success. Try to count the times you engage in negative self-talk each day. It may surprise you how often you criticize yourself. If you can learn to recognize this Debbie Downer of an inner voice and replace it with encouraging statements, your attitude will start to change. Try talking to yourself with compassion. For example, instead of telling yourself you’re not good enough, remind yourself that you are worthy of love and attention, or that it’s okay to make mistakes—we all do!

3. Your Gratitude
If you can practice being grateful on a daily basis, your happiness and productivity will increase. Cultivating gratitude trains us to focus on hope, to remain inspired, and to be optimistic, lending us the courage and resilience to persevere in the face of setbacks (on top of giving us a mood boost that keeps us coasting).

4. Your Body Language

According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, you can demonstrate power and confidence simply by changing the way you hold your body. For example, adopting a powerful stance—arms on your hips and feet planted wide, causing you to take up more space—increases testosterone and decreases the stress hormone cortisol. The result? This “power posing” will make you feel more confident. Think about this before you meet with a potential client, go to a job interview, or even just before you leave the house.

5. Your Mental and Physical Fitness

I don’t know about you, but I come up with my best ideas while I’m on the elliptical. Exercising is a chance to just listen to my music and think about nothing. It’s glorious. You don’t have to go to the gym, but we all ought to take 20 minutes out of our days to get up and move. Motion helps free your mind and body to better tap into your creative potential. Walking has literally been found to increase creativity. Getting in some movement will help creativity and also focus.

Giving your brain a workout is as easy as it is important for you to do. Whether you play Sudoku, do crossword puzzles, or read non-fiction books, your brain will feel the difference. You can get a similar benefit from meditation. Just 20 to 30 minutes has been shown to increase focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and even dial down physical pain.

6. Your Diet

Even though it might taste great, junk food is a net negative. It makes your brain and body slow and sad. Consuming too much sugar has been linked to all kinds of medical conditions (including metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease), not to mention mood swings and crashes that kill productivity. Plus, processed foods have been proven to exacerbate, if not cause, chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and even breast cancer. Simple fixes like keeping a bag of carrots or a bowl of fruit handy help us pick up the healthier choice when we’re depleted and hungry and reaching for the closest snack. Easy-to-whip-up, convenient-to-carry portable snacks can be delicious and nutritious.

7. Your Sleep

Sleep is critical for focus, concentration, job and academic performance, keeping your appetite under control, and a host of other positive health outcomes. In order to hack sleep, you have to set a routine. I’m asleep by 9 p.m. and I wake up to watch the sun rise. Watching the sun rise is beautiful, and it’s a net positive that I’m grateful for. If your brain can’t calm down while you’re trying to fall asleep, tell yourself, “I’m proud of the work I accomplished today, I’m going to let my brain and body rest now.” Or try other trusted get-to-sleep-ASAP methods, including cutting back on alcohol (since people who booze more sleep less).

3 Tips to Achieve Your Goals

1. Visualize it.
Whatever it is you most want to be doing, you must be able to see yourself doing it. For most of us, the work we do while procrastinating is probably the work we should be doing for the rest of our lives. Practice visualizing this concept with your eyes closed for a few seconds. Where are you working? What’s the room like? What’s the temperature like? How’s the lighting? How do you feel? Are you drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of water? What time of the day is it? The more senses you involve the better. Keep imagining this for yourself in order to increase the likelihood of these visions becoming reality.

2. Believe in it.
You have to believe that you already have everything you need to be successful. Remember: You don’t need money to try out an idea. There are plenty of free and low-cost ways to get started with all kinds of projects—social media, blogging, smartphone apps, or fundraising sites, just to name a few. And when it comes to having the courage and can-do spirit to get going, well, that’s something you already have in spades.

3. Talk it up.
Talk about what you do everywhere you go. You won’t believe the people you stumble upon who are willing to help. Whatever pain you’re healing or problem you’re solving or project you’re launching, share your knowledge and experiences with everyone who can benefit from them. When you help as many people as you can, those people will connect you to all kinds of resources—everything you need to get started. Just let it happen, and smile as often as possible.

This post was written by Cat Goldberg, a Sarah Lawrence alum, San Francisco-based neuromarketer, and social media guru. When she’s not hacking her brain or working on her fitness, she’s exploring the Bay Area with her girlfriend and puppy. To learn more about Cat, visit BrainBuzz.

Originally published May 2014. Updated January 2016.

The Power of Perception

             perception

Take a moment and ponder the two beach scenes above. Fell the warm sea breeze, hear the rustle of the seagrass and hear the gentle sounds of the ocean kissing the sandy shore.

Now I want you to take a journey with me as we observe two families getting ready to take their youngster to the beach for the first time.

Family “A” is very careful to warn their youngster of some of the hazards at the beach: Sand fleas, sunburn, jelly fish stings, ocean contaminants and shark attacks.

Family “B” is very deliberate in telling their youngster about the joys of the beach: Sandcastles, sea shells, sea gulls and warm waters.

Now envision youngster “A” coming over that sand dune and imagine what they are feeling as they see the beach for the first time: fear, trepidation, worry, anxiety.

How about youngster “B” as they see the beach for the first time : excitement, anticipation. joy, expectations.

Look at the two pictures again.

perception

Same beach, same dunes, same ocean but our two youngsters have two very different experiences based on Perception.  Perception is a powerful tool of the mind. What we see in our mind first shapes what we see with our eyes second. The Talmud teaches us: “We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.” How we perceive the things around us influences our actions and reactions.

One of our favorite examples of that in the fitness world is the ubiquitous box jump. Almost everyone who approaches it the first time has a perception in their mind that “They can’t do that!” That perception is, indeed a reality for them. But it is no more a reality than the different views of the beach. By changing the perception “I can do that.” or “I can work and train to do that.” The box is at the same time an impossible impediment and an energizing challenge.

Step 1: Be mindful of your Perceptions: Be aware of those voices, doubts and dialogues going on in your head. Don’t try to exorcise those thoughts, be aware and mindful of them. You may even try writing them down.

Step 2: Embrace those Perceptions: Try not to over-analyze or judge them, just accept that they are there. By accepting (and not fighting) them, you begin to rob them of their power.

Step 3: Chose to create new Perceptions: Let those old perceptions just lie there while you hold up and build new Perceptions. Let “It’s impossible” become “I love a challenge.” From “I could never do that” to “I can’t wait until I can accomplish that.” And so on.


The Talmud teaches us: “We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.”

So, when you get ready to peak over that sand dune, you will see an ocean of possibilities and opportunities as vast as the sand and ocean.

Do not let your perceptions define you or your performance. Instead, use your perceptions to empower shape you and your performance. By building strong, positive perceptions, we build a platform for growth and success.

 

 

 

The One Thing

I don’t know how many of you remember the movie City Slickers starring Billy Crystal  and Jack Palance. It’s a good “buddy movie” and worth a trip to Netflix just for fun and laughs. Without going into the plot and premise too much, some city slickers go on a cattle drive to find themselves. Like many of the movies of this clichè, their adventures and travails along the way end up defining them in new, exciting and unexpected ways.

But one scene has stuck with me like a burr to my mental socks.

Curly, played by the late Jack Palance explains that..  “You city folks spend 50 weeks tying yourself up in knots and come out here for 2 weeks and ‘spect to get untied.”
“The secret of life is this,” holding up one finger. “One thing, you stick to this and everything else don’t mean sh*t.”

Of course I don’t mean to imply that it is that easy (or is it?)

About 4-5 years ago I was struggling with losing that last 10 pounds. I had gotten to 188-190 but was stuck. Little did I know that I was stuck in more ways than that. I made a fairly random decision to give up diet cola (soda-pop-soft drinks). Sure, I knew that sugar-y soft drinks were unhealthy and contributing to the rise in obesity in our society. And I had read mixed opinions about the efficacy of diet drinks on diet and health. So there was no scientific, health or medical reason compelling my decision to quit diet drinks. It was just something I wanted to do.

What I found was astonishing. It was a small thing. It was just one thing. And not really that difficult. But that one thing became the first domino to fall in a long chain of events. My mindset started evolving … slowly … incrementally. It kinda became fun, a game. If I could do this, what else could I do?

Let’s fast forward a few years. I got the chance to work with an amazing trainer, Marie Miller in some group fitness settings. At the same time, all of my little retirement investments were tanking (think 2007-2008). I thought, “Isn’t there something better in which I could be investing?”

A series of nagging injuries and repeated bouts of physical therapies led me to invest in some personal training and the results were immediately noticeable. We reached out to Marie. Her enthusiastic embrace of the vision, energy and insight spawned 614Fitness.

Not to oversimplify, but “just one thing” has taken us down a path of fun, excitement and passion. Nothing is more rewarding than a 614Fitness member finding great success and fitness. (And, I might add, way more fun than watching a stock fund go up and down!)

Just One Thing.

The simple step of giving up soda isn’t what resulted in an amazing fitness adventure. But just one thing is often all it takes to get us out of a rut, out of our comfort zone. To allow us to see the possibilities, to shed our limitations and to move off center.

Just One Thing. I urge you to try it. Doesn’t matter what “it” is, and most often smaller is better, simpler, less complicated.

Find your One Thing!

Mindset: The Missing Link to your Diet and Fitness

Everyone knows the famous formula for weight loss: Diet + Exercise = Healthy Weight. But that is not the entire formula. The important missing link is Mindset. 

I argue, that you can never succeed, truly succeed in either diet or exercise without the proper mindset. For this article I want to focus on the particular part of the formula: Mindset. So much has been written about diet and exercise that there is little or no need to repeat it here. there are a lot more experts out there qualified to guide you in those directions.

But Let’s talk about Mindset.diet

In this illustration, Mindset is the base of the pyramid upon which diet and exercise are built. Almost all of us have struggled with our diet and/or exercise programs… yo yo’s of ups and down, successes and failures. Each set back seems like a failure and a blow to our self esteem. This is where mindset comes in. The predecessor to every action is thought. There is no action without intention. Descartes stated as we think, we are: “Cogito ergo sum.” Many great thinkers from Descartes to Buddha to Plato to Yogi Berra: (to paraphrase) “Success is 90% mental and 50% effort”.  I would venture that in your efforts to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle you put in 100% effort and significantly less time working on your Mindset.

Modern author Carol Dweck in her book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success asserts that we can control our mindset and thus control our outcomes. Having a successful mindset, resetting our thoughts and focusing on positive outcomes, is the foundation for success. For this reason, you must work just as hard on your Mindset as you do on your diet and your exercise.

When it comes to maintaining a successful Mindset for diet and exercise here are a few quick tips and hints:

  1. Surround yourself with positive messages and affirmations:
    • Write them on your mirror with erasable markers
    • Cut and paste them off the internet and post them on your refridgerator
    • Google affirmations and make one (or more) your screen saver
    • Make it your Facebook profile image
  2. Surround yourself with positive friends:
    • Find a group, a church/synagogue/mosque where you can hear those positive messages
    • Over and over again we hear this at 614Fitness and take great pride in affirming each other
    • Try to block out those who’s messages are no longer fitting your new dialogue
  3. Change your thinking by changing your language:
    • Try not to use words like “thin”, “fat”,”skinny”. Instead try “healthy”, fit”, “athletic”, “strong”
    • It’s not a diet nor an exercise program, it’s a lifestyle
    • “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” (Winston Churchill) – so embrace the failures as opportunities to start over.
  4. At least once a day, every day, be Mindful:
    • I am not suggesting you can “Think yourself thin”, but use some time to focus on the you you want to be
    • Find mindfulness in everyday, mundane activities. Washing your hands, sweeping the floor, chopping vegetables… each act can increase your mindfulness.
    • Visualize your successes, small and large
  5. Make corrections, but be gentle with yourself:
    • Catch yourself using negative words and images and correct them
    • Ask a trusted friend to give you gentle reminders to assert a positive mindset
    • Give yourself permission to falter, just get back on the horse and ride
    • And celebrate your successes, small and large

You may find that adding a healthy mindset to your diet and exercise regimen is the missing link to your success. You are in control of your own thoughts. Indeed they are about all you can control. Use your healthy Mindset to lead you to an even fitter, healthier you.