Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Need help ensuring your resolutions stick?

Each year many people make New year’s resolutions, unfortunately only a small percentage of people are successful in achieving them. Hopefully these tips can help you become successful at achieving your goals.

There are various keys to making successful resolutions:
1. First and foremost, is it something you really want to achieve? or is it something you feel you ‘should’ do or worse is it something someone else feels you ‘should’ do? Only commit to resolutions you are passionate about and that align with your values. Make sure it is something you don’t need to rely on other people to achieve, it is your resolution, no one else’s.

2. State your resolution in positive terms – I ‘will’ … not I ‘must’ or I ‘hope’ – vow to eat healthier and exercise more not to go on a diet: I am going to look better, feel better and be healthier, not “I will only eat 800kcals a day.”

3. Keep the number of resolutions to a minimum – if you have several things you’d like to achieve, set about achieving one at a time, you’ll need a hierarchy, which change comes first? If you attempt to make multiple changes simultaneously, you make success very unlikely. Focus on one change then move on to another after the first one is integrated into your life.

4. Write your resolutions down and share them with people. Both increase your accountability and investment.

5. I recommend creating a mantra or motto for your goal and posting it on your bathroom mirror, at your workstation and/or on the fridge. Highly visible places that you will see every day. “I will exercise today” or “get moving”

6. Download a mobile app that supports your goal. I wrote a short blog post mentioning some apps that are useful for becoming healthier, saving money, or getting financially organized. Truly whatever your resolution, there will be a mobile app that can help, use one for reinforcement.

7. Slip ups happen – it doesn’t mean the resolution has failed and that you can scrap it. Recognize the slip, correct it and get back to your plan. A habit takes at least 21 days to be established and 6 or more months to be fully ingrained. Focus on the new habit instead of the old one.

8. The most important part of a successful resolution is the plan you create to achieve it. Your plan should break your goal down into small steps, as small as they have to be to allow you to be successful. If your goal is to lose 30lbs, have weekly goals that lead you to the 30lb loss.
Make sure the goals are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and are Time-bound. It isn’t realistic to lose 30lbs in a month so what is realistic for you? Perhaps 6 months? Set a certain time each week when you’ll weigh-in, meet your weekly goal as it will lead you to the ultimate goal and emotionally it is less taxing to lose 2lbs this week than have a constant focus on the 30lbs.

Have some ideas for what you will do when it gets difficult to stick to your resolution. One should consider potential ‘trouble spots’ and have ideas on how to avoid those spots or slips. If you find it really difficult to go for a run when you get home from work do it before work or stop at the gym on your way home. Create strategies to usurp your unhelpful tendencies.

And remember, lasting change is most often a marathon not a sprint.

Lastly so many of us focus on ‘us’ in creating our resolutions. We want to lose weight, reduce our debt, quit smoking, get a better job, drink less, etc. It would be wonderful if we also considered making a resolution that helps others – volunteering, charitable work, being neighborly, donating unused clothing and other items to appropriate charities, and do a good deed each week.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if each of us made a commitment to a resolution that benefited others?

Monday, December 26, 2011

mobile apps to help with New Year resolutions

I, by no means, am an expert on what mobile apps are available but here are a few that are helpful in supporting our resolutions.

First looking at weight loss and healthy eating:
The Daily Burn has several apps that provide a daily fitness plan, a tracker that keeps a day to day health profile, and two iOS apps that make use of the iPhone camera; Meal Snap (.99) (you take a picture of your plate and it tells you what food is on your plate and a rough estimate of calories, and a Food Scanner app.

A very highly rated calorie counter made by MyFitness Pal (free) has superlative reviews

Other strong apps in the health & wellness category are the Nike+ GPS and Fooducate (free calorie and nutritional value program).
There are so many excellent exercise apps - pedometers, Couch to 5k (a program to help you run your first 5k),the popular P90x exercise program, yoga, and personalized training programs that a short search on iTunes or the Android Market will get you what you need for your specific goals.

Want to quit smoking? Quitter or Quit Smoking Pro (.99) may help.

Another popular area for resolutions is around finance. Once again there are apps that can help you save money, such as Gas Buddy which locates the cheapest gas in a designated area, and barcode scanners that identify the best price for an item (online and locally) One of my favorites of the latter is an Amazon.com app, I can scan the barcode and it tells me the cost and options at Amazon as well as product reviews.

There is BillMinder BillMinder simplifies your life by bringing all your bills into one manageable place. You will know at a glance which bills need your attention. You can also track your expenses with comprehensive charts and graphs.
BillMinder works in collaboration with DebtMinder. Simply link your accounts and any payment you add in either app will be mirrored in the other.

I could go on and on about individual apps but the real point is that if you are trying to lose weight, quit smoking, reduce debt, learn a language, run a marathon, get organized, etc., there is a multitude of apps that can support you in what you choose to do.
The best part of any of these apps is that they work as a personal reminder to stick with it. They help you to improve your performance by keeping track of your best times or distances in running, they offer information on what foods are healthy and which are not, help you count calories, they send alerts when to pay your bills so you eliminate late fees, and much more.

So choose your goals, write them down, plan for achieving them, get an app to support you in your journey to success.

If you know of others that you highly recommend I would appreciate it if you let me know about them!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Random acts of kindness

"Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty"

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? Don't you feel just wonderful, makes your day or afternoon or what have you, doesn't it?

Have you ever practiced random acts of kindness? I have and its amazing how a SIMPLE gesture can bring so much pleasure to someone.

Perhaps a simple gift of putting a little more money in the parking meter as you are leaving so the next person pulls up and has 'free time'

Or leaving a sleeve of new golf balls on the first tee

In "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" (a great read) by Richard Carlson he mentions someone that paid the toll for the car behind them when paying theirs. Imagine how happy you'd be if you pulled into the toll booth and the toll collector said, "It's already paid"

Recently there has been the K-Mart Secret Santa who pays random lay-a-way balances.

Also there is a man visiting shops in Reading, PA and handing out $100 bills. This was the story that I saw LINK
Here's a synopsis of his intent and deeds.

Hopefully you can think of some original simple acts of kindness and throw a little kindness around

The world could certainly use it!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A season for shopping?

Don't know about where you are but around these parts things are chaotic. The usual friendliness seems gone and everyone is in a rush.
There's a constant struggle highlighted in the news about using the word Christmas or holiday. It appears that everyone is in a shopping, present-buying frenzy.
I'm sure that some are carefully selecting and thinking about a personized gift, but it sure looks like many people are buying for the sake of buying. Surely you've seen the news footage of people stampeding into the shops for the "ultra-deal". Is this truly the spirit of the season.? Is this really what it is all about?
I sure hope not.
Personally this has been a year of loss. And I am haunted by those who have gone as in each case they were people that were genuine, had strong beliefs which they lived by and in doing so inspired those around them. The loved ones they have left behind are lost. Slowly they try to put their lives together and at the same time take care of the young ones left in their charge.
There are no words to say. But if you could, you might say to them that the tremendous loss they feel is a reminder of the tremendous love they had and the true greatness of their now deceased loved one.
Their loss is a reminder to the rest of us that it isn't about being able to snag that XBox 360 on the day its released, it is not what we give from our wallet but what we give of our heart. It is the example we set by the way we act, behave and treat others AND ourself.
Actions really do speak louder than words.
So during this crazed time of celebration and excess - try to slow down, be polite and generous, show kindness and appreciate all that you have; family, relationships, work, home, children, dog etc.
If your life isn't what you want, take stock and consider what you can do to move in the right direction.
Give your time to someone who needs it. Love. Be grateful.
You'll reap the rewards.

Friday, November 18, 2011

K-12 Education via the internet?

I read this article the other day LINK and the idea has been running through my head since.
I truly can't see that young students - pre-college students - will gain all that they should from this type of education. And yes I know that home schooling has also been gaining momentum and I have similar issues with that which I will discuss later in this entry.
This article highlights that the test scores of online schooled students are lower in every category (quoted from a study of 2010 test scores in Colorado) than students that attend traditional schools. This doesn't surprise me nor should it surprise anyone who has 'attended' a webinar or taken online courses.

The academic aspect though isn't what most concerns me. It is the isolation and lack of development of social skills. It is removing the mingling with all different kids, it is removing teams and music groups and activities.
It is removing the need for communication skills and it is removing 'penmanship' skills completely. And yes I know, NOBODY can write in cursive any longer but when you start cyber-schooling as a 5 year old, when do you learn to hold a pen and write? I am sure many of you know that skill is a developer of fine motor skills.

I understand that bullying is worse than ever - well I don't know that - what I do know is that the consequences of bullying are worse than ever. And I honestly have wondered what factors are at play in these consequences becoming more severe. Those thoughts are for another entry I suppose.

Back to this one on cyber-education - I am deadset against it. I can't see how the students will learn as well and the isolation factor is not something I can see them overcoming.

I believe strongly that children LEARN social skills, communication, and emotionally and cognitively develop better with interaction. And learning to deal with the fact that one child may excel at math, another at languages, another at soccer while others find those tasks challenging. They learn the ins and outs of social communication and they deal with varying levels of competition. Not to mention the fun of the playground!

So count me out for cyber-learning as an exclusive schooling method

Friday, June 3, 2011

Race for a Cure 2011

In one week I will be competing (more like completing) my third Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure 5k.
I've written about this race before in other blogs but I'll iterate here saying, it is far and away the most awesome 5k you could ever enter.
It is tremendously powerful to line up with so many others whose lives have been impacted by cancer; everyone is there because someone they love has been affected.
You can feel the emotional power of the crowds.
The race is superbly organized, incredibly well funded by sponsors and of course the attendance is beyond words. Add in the community support, the people that line the streets and spray the hoses and hold signs and cheer you on. It is all just...something.
It is beyond words for me.

Each year I cry at some point. Or several.
I cry for my personal losses to cancer, some as recent as September 2010.
I cry because so many are crying and there because of their personal losses.
Children running for their mom, who is gone.
And I cry because I am overwhelmed by the community that turns out and pulls together on this always steamy, hot morning in June.
From the survivors, runners, media, course attendees, sponsors, musicians, Meredith College, City of Raleigh, bus companies and the volunteers that drive the shuttles and every heart, hand and soul that does something to make this race what it is, there is a unified spirit.
We are all here to support finding a cure for cancer. We are all here because we hate cancer.

So even though my time will be worse than last year because my fitness isn't as good, I will run and no doubt walk a bit, but I will run.

I will sprint to the finish to honor all those who have battled cancer, surely my burning chest and heavy legs are no match for the fight they put up.

And I will cry when I finish and look at all the survivors wearing their pink tee shirts.

And I will cry when I see handicapped individuals being pushed in wheelchairs, handicapped individuals on their own, children, elderly and everyone in between, all crossing the finish line in however long it takes on this steamy June morning.

Everyone that is there on Saturday June 11th is a hero.

PS it is not too late to sign up, sponsor me, sponsor someone else, turn up to cheer others on. I do think you will never forget or regret being involved in this event.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's in your heart

On Saturday my 16 year old niece won her state championship at the 800m distance. I'm so very proud of her I could easily wax on about it but that isn't the focus of this blog post.
The focus is going to be on her description of what was happening inside her during the race, it is inspiring and a simple message.

I am not going to rewrite others work so I will direct quote and link to the articles.
From the Patriot-News
"I had my eyes locked on the first girl and I thought she’s kind of far away so I better make my move," Brown said. "I made my move a lot earlier than I usually do, but at states you have to do that. I came around the 200-meter mark, caught her at the 100. I had to do it and I believed I could do it … and I did."

What a simple message - I had to do it, I believed I could do it.... and I did.
When is the last time you had that thought string?
Personally its been a while for me. I tend to start thinking about why I can't or the factors I need to overcome or can't control.

I had to, I could, I did.
Simple stuff

Another quote from the above article:
"I thought about how my legs were killing me, but it’s what is in your heart that gets you to first, not your legs""

Truer words have never been spoken.
It is what is in your heart that brings you to success.
Remember that when you are struggling to think, "I can"

Thank you my niece for making it all seem so simple, yet glorious.

A few additional quotes from The Sentinel
"I saw it, it was right there in front of me," Brown said. "I told myself, ‘I can get it!'"

"I had to find a little bit extra (within myself) to help me pass (Weisner) and move on," Brown said. "If you put your head to it, your body can perform."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Susan G Komen Race for a Cure - Raleigh, June 11, 2011

Just a brief post stating that we've signed up to run the world's best 5k once again.
If you are local please consider joining us.  It is a life changing event.
We have all been touched by cancer through loved ones or ourselves - the camaraderie you will feel during this event is unsurpassed and highly motivating and flat-out powerful!
Here's a link to our page
Carolina Life Coaching

Join us, support us, join another team, just get involved!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Give yourself a compassion break

I read an article on this last week and its been on my mind since.
Do you treat everyone else better than you treat yourself?
Do you ensure that others eat the right things while you do not monitor your own nutritional intake?
I know that I had to admit that I cut others a lot more slack than I do myself.  I am the first person to tell someone who is feeling overwhelmed that they need to take a break, yet I will keep pushing myself even though I know I am on the edge.
Why?  Why do we do this to ourselves yet show others such kindness?
I'm not sure why it has taken researchers so long to start looking into this but it is no longer a neglected area.
There are books and websites and articles all dedicated to the topic.
Here is a self assessment link
The person who created that assessment, Kristin Neff, is a pioneer in the field, and shares information on her site.
The people most likely to score low on the self-compassion tests are those who are most likely to be supportive and understanding to others.
Research shows that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health.  People that score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. 
Self-compassion contributes positively to motivation, with self-compassion you do what's healthy for you rather than what's harmful to you.
So what can you do to improve your self-compassion?
Here are a few tips:
  • List yur best and worst traits, reminding yourself that nobody is perfect
  • Think of steps you might take to help feel better about yourself
  • Take mediation and "compassion breaks," which involve repeating mantras like "I'm going to be kind to myself in this moment."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Useful Calorie Trackers

Many of us know that if we are serious about losing weight we need to keep track of the number of calories we take in. We need to know how many we are eating (it's also good to know how many you are expending so that you can ensure that you are expending more than you are taking in.)

Unfortunately it isn't always easy or pleasant to accurately track calories but now there are some quite good online calorie trackers that also make use of mobile apps.

Here is a little info on four good ones:

CalorieKing.com - $12 – the mobile apps (apple and android) are at gomeals.com

Features an exercise log and you can set nutrition targets. It is easy to use and has a thorough list, though some ethnic foods are not available. Great for browsing for additional info about healthy eating.

MyFoodDiary.com - $9 – mobile apps (all mobile OS's) included

Easy to read graphs and nutrition labels. Good quality database, searching can take time. To get an item's calorie count you have to click on it to get its nutritional information label

MyNetDiary.com - $9 – free version available but doesn't provide a daily food analysis – mobile apps included (apple, android, & blackberry)

You can customize to track nutrients and also features exercise tracking. Excellent, quick food input, large community database. As-you-type search feature guesses the item you want to select.

MyFitnessPal.com – free – apple, android & blackberry

Recipe builder and an active online community are nice extras. Easy-to-use, some irrelevant search results. Few bells and whistles made the information from the food diary easy to understand

All four are fairly accurate in calorie counting with MyFoodDiary and MyNetDiary the most precise. Although on a test day the four sites were within 311 calories of each other, which isn't too bad.

I haven't tried these myself the information above was taken from a WSJ article.

I do think that I will give one of them a try and see how easy it is and how beneficial. Although I am not sure I want to start today – it's St Patrick's Day and I am sure my input will be greater than my output!

Which reminds me – keep in mind not to obsess about calorie intake – the most important thing is that you are eating fewer calories than you are expending!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Embrace Detours

Many people are familiar with the brand Life is Good, it is one of my favorites for comfort but mostly for their wonderful logos and smile inducing sayings.  Today I saw a tee shirt that said, "Embrace Detours"
How wonderful is that!
Often we tend to see any deviation from the initial plan as a negative, however I am sure many of you have experienced some wonderful things because something outside your plans occurred.
I know I have many times over.
Sometimes in simple ways such as when on a car journey and I saw a sign pointing to a historical landmark or place of interest that was off my current route.
Other times its been a workshop I'm leading that clearly needs to go in a different direction than the one that was scheduled.  The planned topic isn't needed but an offshoot is, so as long as I feel competent to do so and we ensure the original learning has taken place off we go!

I have met people, received opportunities, and had wonderful experiences by following an unplanned route.

I recognize that sometimes detours are time consuming and fruitless but some can be excellent opportunity creating excursions.

Overall I believe in embracing detours and not allowing them to ruin your day.
Give it a try!

Friday, February 25, 2011

What is truly important

Much has been said and written about keeping your focus on what is truly important and keeping perspective in life; I personally love the Don't Sweat the Small Stuff books which to me are all about perspective and offer wonderful anecdotes. If you have not read any of them I highly recommend picking one up and having a quick read!

Still many of my clients, friends and family members often come to me emotionally frustrated over non-essential things.  I allow myself to become frustrated by unimportant things too, it is human nature to get caught up in the moment and forget the hierarchy of one's life.

There is to me no magic secret to keeping perspective other than developing an awareness and consciousness of your emotions and also being able to sort out that which is truly important and that which is not.

If you find yourself spread too thin, not enjoying time with the people you love, allowing work to destroy your personal life or allowing problems in a hobby or avocation to consume too much time or produce too much stress, it is time to evaluate.
Take stock.
Is it worth losing sleep over?
Are your relationships suffering due to your inability to be present, in the moment and not bringing oodles of baggage?
What do you value most? Are you devoting your best energy to that which you value most?
Is that thing that is ruining your every waking moment worth that much energy? Does it deserve that much status?

These are just some of the questions to ask yourself. 

If you find that on your own you are unable to sort through the various things on your plate to your satisfaction you might sit down with a good friend or your partner or a personal coach to help you minimize the drains on your time and energy.

I cannot recommend it strongly enough - now is the time to figure out what you can eliminate from your daily worries so that you can enjoy life to a much greater extent.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A new year, a new you.................again

I must admit that I find myself wondering why January 1st always gets people 'changing';
Whether it is a diet or kicking the smoking habit or starting new business ventures, January 1st always brings change.

Unfortunately by January 30th many people have already given up on the change they were so keen to make.

My promise to you is to share ideas on how to keep your motivation going and how to change your mental approach to the changes you want to make to help you create new habits that last a lifetime.

I, too am not immune to the 'new year - new start' energy - this blog and a new Facebook page devoted to Carolina Life Coaching are part of my new strategies.

Welcome to the blog and please check out our facebook page and website