To Forgive; Divine

Most of my posts are often inspired by someone in my life or something that happens throughout the course of my day.  I was touched to receive a message on my CC community asking me to write about a specific topic that could hopefully motivate and encourage people.  Thank you for the message Susan (joyful)!

Think back to a week ago; a month ago; a year ago.  Many different people have said many different things to me.  I find it interesting that I remember a lot of the negative things that people have said to me or about me, but can’t remember any compliments that I have received in the recent past.  Negativity directed towards you, specifically from friends or family, can be haunting and put a major strain on even the best of relationships.  There are many people out there who have estranged family members, which could be due to a variety of different reasons.

A tense relationship with a friend or a loved one is stressful.  I’ve been there, as everyone has to varying degrees of severity.  It’s not fun, and as the stress builds up, the adverse effects of the stress will rear its ugly head.  Some people turn to alcohol abuse.  Others turn to other forms of abuse.  For others such as myself, we will rapidly gain or lose weight, often times to unhealthy levels.

If the mind is willing, the body will follow.  If the mind is unwilling, the body will still follow, just down the wrong path.  Can stress lead to eating disorders?  Of course!  How many times have you had a bad day and just wanted to come home and eat a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips in front of the TV?  To find the solution to this particular stress, you need only look at the causes.  Anger.  Fear of getting hurt again.  Resentment towards the negativity directed at you.

This is where forgiveness comes into play; the act of letting go of your resentment and your grudges and working to rebuild your relationship.  This is not to say that whatever wrongs have been committed are justifiable, but rather it’s a conscious decision to let go of your anger and try to rebuild a healthy and meaningful relationship.  What is the point of holding a grudge?  What are you gaining from not speaking to a close friend or family member?  The animosity and resentment is building inside you and building inside them, which doesn’t help anyone.

December is a month where many families gather for the holidays, and as such, here is my challenge to those that read this blog.  If you have a relationship with a family member that includes a large amount of hostility, I challenge you to improve that relationship, rise above the disharmony, and do your best to bury the hatchet.  While you may not see immediate results, don’t stop trying.  Keep at it.  Moving towards a more positive interaction can lift a huge burden off of you and your loved ones.

Let go of your resentment and your feuds and focus on building positive and enjoyable relationships.  Life is way too short to be holding on to grudges.

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Operation: Autumn Aggression

The winter puts a lot of people into a funk, and many people can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is basically a fancy term for the winter blues.  I have to admit, my motivation level has been extremely low over the last few days as it’s starting to get colder and darker every day.

When I was younger, my friend and I started running in November when the soccer season ended to prepare for the next season.  We ran 1.4 miles every day before school.  Sometimes, motivation can be found when you have someone who is battling the same fight that you are every morning in sub-freezing weather.

So it’s time to issue a challenge – a week-long “operation” – to myself and to others in the world who are impassioned enough to join me.  I plan to issue a different operation every Sunday to challenge and motivate all my friends, family, and readers out there.

Katniss knows a thing or two about overcoming challenges

Operation Autumn Aggression:
There is no “can’t” this week.  For those that are working to eat well and stay in shape… do you remember why you started?  Remember it now.  You wanted to better yourself, because you’re worth it.  So do it!  This week ends one month and starts another, and so we’re going to leave October with a bang and come out firing in November!

Primary objective: Workout harder than you did last week.  If you’re like me and struggled last week, get back on track and push yourself!  If you killed it last week, kill it even more this week!

Secondary objective: Hit your calorie targets this week with healthy foods.  Halloween candy may tempt you, but don’t let it consume you.  You don’t have to completely shut it down, but make moderation a priority.

Feel free to join me in Operation Autumn Aggression.  Monday through Saturday – LET’S DO THIS!  If you leave a comment for me, I WILL respond back, and will absolutely follow and support you as closely as I can during the entire week.

 

Good luck everybody!

-SharkStopper

Complimentary Breakfast

Actually, this isn’t a post about breakfast or food, so if you were looking for a free bowl of cheerios… sorry, I got nothing for ya.

Rather, this post is about the true power of a compliment.  Has anyone ever gone through a time in their life where they’ve felt a lack of motivation, confidence, or drive?  All hands should be up.  Everyone has their subtle insecurities; questioning your ability to do something, questioning your self worth; questioning your self-image.  On occasion, those insecurities will pile up to the point where your motivation, confidence, and drive will exponentially suffer.  For me, it sometimes feels like quicksand.  Sometimes the harder you fight, the deeper you sink.

But also like quicksand, sometimes it takes a compliment to help pull you out of it.  Compliments don’t solve problems or complete tasks for us, but they absolutely boost our self-confidence to be more productive.  A journey towards getting healthier and losing weight provides a perfect example.  I feel as though I’ve been working very hard to work out and follow a strict diet for the past 2 months to lose weight.  There are times where I’ve told myself, “Is it worth it?”, “Maybe I’ll just work out tomorrow.”, and “I just want to have some junk food!”.  All of those doubts are the quicksand pulling you down, negatively impacting your motivation and drive.

Yesterday, I was stopped by someone who I see in the gym regularly.  We don’t hang out outside of the gym, but we often talk, give advice, and share stories while we are there (and getting advice from someone who is pretty fit seems like a wise idea).  We exchanged greetings and chatted for a minute or two, after which they said, “You look like you’re trimming down a lot.”

How would this make you feel?  When you have put your time and effort – your blood and sweat – your heart and soul – into something, achieving positive reinforcement from someone else to affirm how hard you are working is exceedingly rewarding.  Those eight words made my day!  What I appreciated the most was the fact that this person didn’t HAVE to say that, but did.  Whether it be at work, at home, in the gym, or on the field, people can be motivated by acknowledging their efforts and achievements.

So here’s what I’m asking from you, my readers (do I have any yet?).  Make a concerted effort to give one compliment a day.  It could be a simple “Good job” after a tough set in the gym, or a “I thought that report you turned in was fantastic work.”  Never underestimate the power of a good compliment.  A few words can bring a lot of joy.

Complimentary breakfast for everyone!

Do Short Workouts Really Work?

Today’s words of wisdom come from none other than the man, the myth, the legend; Rocky Balboa.

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t what you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!”

 

Damn straight, Rocky.  Damn straight.

 

How many times have you gotten home later than you expected and, unfortunately, you only have 15 minutes before you have to start making dinner or (insert any kind of home chore here).  What if you don’t have general access to a workout facility?  Having traveled to a very wide variety of countries and having stayed in a wider variety of hotels, I can say that workout facilities in hotels are not as common as you’d think, and sometimes the term “gym” to a hotel actually means a 6×6 room with a TV and a stationary bike from 1972.  The point is that we’re not always going to get the most ideal conditions when we want to stay active.

 

A friend of mine who travels a lot recommended “The Scientific 7-Minute Workout“, and it seems to be fantastic for the on-the-go traveler who has no access to a gym or any type of workout equipment.  I don’t travel too much anymore, but I decided to try it out.  Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s only 12 simple exercises for 30 seconds each (with 10 second breaks in between).  This routine is a bear.  I don’t think I realized how painful the “Wall Sit” was until about 20 seconds in, and to go from that to push-ups and then to crunches burns your abs.  What I like about this workout is that it’s quick and it can be done in any location; even in the comfort of your own hotel room.  It’s easy to get into a routine when you go to the gym.  When I go to the gym, I have a normal weightlifting routine that usually takes me around an hour.  I still do that, but I’ve included this workout as part of the normal regimen.  This will make it much more comfortable if I’m ever away from the weights, and I will still feel as though I can have a successful workout.

 

If you’re a frequent traveler, or just want to get a good workout in wherever you are, give this a shot.  I think you’ll find that when you do it, it won’t completely wind you, but it’ll get you to work up a small sweat.  Once that’s accomplished, do it again, and maybe one more time for good measure.  You’ll be glad you did.

Motivation and Control

“Motivation and control…are fragile experiences that need to be worked carefully and attentively.” -Hazel

I hope you don’t mind that I took this quote from CC, Hazel, but I’ve been pondering the true nature of this quote since you posted it last week.

Everyone reading this blog can likely relate to this quote.  Sometimes you wake up in the morning feeling pumped, driven, and ready to tackle the day.  Other times… well… not so much.  What motivates us to act in a certain way?  What drives us to complete certain goals?  I honestly don’t believe that motivation just comes naturally.  It’s something that you have to crave and desire.  For me, there are multiple levels of motivation that are all inter-related.  I desire to have better self-esteem and a better self-image.  This motivates me to shed some pounds and be in the physical condition that I know I’m capable of, which drives me to eat healthier and stay active.  I’m not a runner, and trust me, I wouldn’t have run 5k’s on Saturday and Sunday if there wasn’t that driving motivation behind it.

If the motivation is high, control will follow suit.  I have certain weight loss goals that I want to achieve, and a defined time with which I want to achieve it.  Perhaps it’s the upcoming milestone birthday coming up, but I’ve never been as motivated to reach my goals as I am now.  As such, I have a level of control (around food, bad habits, etc.) that I have never had before.  That doesn’t mean I avoid all bad foods, but moderation and good eating decisions have become paramount to controlling my diet and exercise to ultimately hit my targets.

That being said, how do you keep motivation high?  I’m going to preface my answers to this question by saying that I am not an expert in the topic, but that I have read a lot into it and have tried a few methods that seem to work for me.  Also, I’ll be using weight loss examples, but many of these methods can work in other aspects of life as well.

1) Define realistic goals – My past weight loss goals sound like this: “My goal is to lose weight.”  The sentiment was good, but the goal was generic and unattainable with no defined end.  This is likely the reason that my past weight loss efforts have taken a nose dive after the first few weeks.  My goal now is: “Achieve my target weight of 185 pounds by December 31st.”  Once this has been achieved, the next goal may be “Maintain 185 every month for the next 6 months.”

2) Maintain flexibility – Unexpected things in life can sometimes interfere with doing what we want to do.  If your goal is to save money to buy a new car by the end of the year, and then something unexpected happens where you have to delve into some of that money, don’t think that you failed your goal.  Simply update it.  Granted, this should only be used for events that are out of your control.

3) Know the external and internal reasons for your goals – On many occasions with weight loss/maintenance, I have often asked myself why I bother.  There are a dozen perfectly good brownies out there with my name on it.  What stops me is the knowledge of these external and internal drivers.  Internally, I’m doing this to boost my self esteem and my self image.  Externally, I want to look good for my wife, my family, and the people around me, and I want to be looked at as a role model and a mentor.  These reasons are much more important and long-lasting than a dozen brownies.

4) Find creative ways to increase your motivation – Earlier in life, I had a spreadsheet of good things to do, whether it be eating healthy, running errands, being active, and the list goes on.  I gave every item a point value and would do things to earn points.  For awhile, it worked, but it lacked the accountability, and eventually, I gave up on it.  I replaced that with Calorie Count because I was held publicly accountable for my actions and, in addition, it provided a moral support-group type atmosphere with other people going through the same challenges.

5) Make it fun – They say that “nothing good comes easy”, and I guess there is some truth to that.  Cutting out a lot of sweets and eating healthier foods isn’t always easy or fun, but making your good habits into a lifestyle will make it easier.  Keeping a positive outlook on things will also make it easier.  This journey certainly is a lot of work, but the day I started seeing solid results was the day the diet started getting a bit easier for me, and I think a lot of people feel that way as well.

 

Motivation is fragile, and may not always be 100%.  When it’s not, remember what drives you and know that what you are doing is worth it.  Keep at it, and don’t take no for an answer.  The climb up may be difficult, but the mountain-top will be oh so sweet!

Bringing Good Habits to Life

This is a call to everyone who has their heart set on getting something done.  Maybe it’s something that you’ve never done before.  Maybe it’s something that you’ve been trying to do for a long time and just haven’t had the motivation to complete.  Whether it’s a small job or a large undertaking, there’s absolutely nothing you can’t accomplish.

 

For the CC followers, I promised an update about the weight loss after a strong week of training.  The long and short of it is, I finished the week 3 pounds lighter.  My goal weight is still a ways out, but this puts me on track to achieve it by the end of the year, which I’ve said for awhile was the ultimate goal.  18 pounds to go, and by my count, 19 weeks until 2014.  Difficult, but doable.

 

Improving myself has always been a weakness of mine.  It’s so easy to say “I’ll get to it tomorrow” and then put that quote on repeat for days/months/years.  If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried a few times to lose some pounds, but eventually you get to the point where it gets difficult and you give up.  Don’t worry.  You’re not alone.  I’ve been there, and I know that there are millions of people like us who have been there before.  Now I’m no expert on self-improvement, so instead of pretending like I am, I’ll share with you what has worked for me so far.  I’d love to hear the thoughts and opinions of others, too, so feel free to write them in the comments section.

 

What’s worked for me:

A) Setting one goal that’s moderately difficult, but achievable.  In the past, I’ve overwhelmed myself with all these things I have to get done by a certain time.  It stresses me out to the point where the motivation declines, and once that happens, it’s game over.  One goal, however, is much less stressful for me.  I stopped flooding myself with “lift 4 times a week, run 3 times a week, lose 30 pounds, eat better” and turned it into “lose 30 pounds… doesn’t matter how, and it doesn’t always have to be the same way… just do it!”

B) Keep track of foods to the point of obsession.  This may not work for everyone, but I’ll be honest, I try to the best of my ability to log every food item on the menu.  It makes me feel like I have much more control over obtaining my goal.

C) Writing about it and receiving support.  The CC community has been a fantastic support group.  Being able to hear inspiring stories has been an incredible motivation boost.  I want to succeed and want others to be successful, too.  The general promotion of that team spirit goes a really long way.

D) Getting back to working out.  It used to be fun, then it started becoming a chore.  I’m trying to make it fun again.

E) And this is the important one.  Do whatever is necessary to keep you motivated.  A song, a punching bag, a movie quote… there are many different sources of inspirational motivation.  Find the one that you like and keep it on hand when the going gets tough.

 

Besides the weight loss, this blog has been another recent accomplishment.  Even as an introvert, I love to entertain and to be entertained.  A few years back, I did a bit of side work as a talk radio DJ, and dabbled into it again earlier this year on blogtalkradio.com.  While that medium has always appealed to me, I wanted a place to express more creativity with the freedom to get into a wider variety of topics.  For some reason, starting this blog was difficult for me.  What do I call it?  Are people going to visit?  Will this really be entertaining?  But I guess something finally clicked inside me to put all of the doubts aside and just go for it.

 

And that’s where the good habits can be brought to life.  Make a choice, right now, to overcome your doubts and start doing what you want to do.  Start living the life that you want to live.  Set a goal and make it happen.  Get excited about your goal, and get excited about what the future has to offer once you reach it.