5 Energizers to Inspire Your Fitness

feetTis the season to be especially thankful and reflect on the wonderful gifts God has given us.  Thanksgiving Day will soon be here and we’ll all be enjoying precious time with our family and friends.  While the Fall season is my favorite time of year, I always find it particularly challenging to keep my energy level high.  The weather changes, work and travel, new school events to attend and family commitments make it somewhat harder to find time to stick with my fitness routine. I do my best not to give in to the comfortable sofa waiting for me.  In this TruthstoInspire post, I’d like to share some of my own tips for maintaining good energy (on the inside) all day.  None of these are new – I just added a few helpful twists of my own across each of them.

  1. Eat Oatmeal.   As a New Yorker, I get to enjoy the delicious tastes that come with bagels, pastries, pizza and other bread based foods.  For years, a morning bagel and coffee was a mainstay and not a habit I was willing to think about changing.  After putting on some weight, I decided to do something drastic and cut down on my bread intake.  Low and behold, I replaced my delicious bagels with oatmeal and a bit of granola.  Though hard at first, I started to prefer the oatmeal.  It kept me feeling full longer and I loved the fact that it was nice and hot every time.  Every now and then, I treat myself to an everything bagel, but get back to the oatmeal.  Trust me, even by swapping out one bread for a grain will make a difference.
  2. Download the MyFitness Pal App.  If you haven’t downloaded this APP yet, do it today.  It is awesome. I started to count calories using its very simple approach.  I became more aware of the high calorie foods and what to look for in servings.  Truth be told, I lost 10 pounds by just sticking with my calorie commitment each week.  The features are really cool too.  Check it out.
  3. Run or Walk Everywhere.  Distance running is a love of mine.  I absolutely enjoy the challenge of testing my endurance.  I don’t run to beat time, I run to extend distance reached with each run.  On a good day, I can run between 4 and 5 miles at a good steady 11 minutes per mile (on average).  I try to get in a good run or walk at least 2-3 times per week.  Saturday and Sunday mornings (early am) you’ll find me at the gym.  These are the best times to get there given my schedule.  The third run gets tricky and I don’t always get it in. So I make up for it by doing as  much walking as I can during the week.  Friends, the point is to keep moving as often as you can.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park a little further away from the store entrance etc.  These extra steps make a big difference.  I am now finding that I don’t like to sit for very long.  I prefer to work on my computer standing or take conference calls with a head set so I can walk around.  Sitting for long periods is not good for you.  Throw on a head set and dance to your favorite tune as often as you can.
  4. Give Your Brain a Break Please.  Few people realize that the brain is a muscle just like the others.  When you work the right part of the brain a lot doing intense thinking, creating, or problem solving, you will feel tired.  I am on a lot of conference calls during the day.  After just one tough one, I can feel tired and the day is just starting.  To combat this, I make sure I shift the “mental” focus from the intense to the light and enjoyable.  Taking a minute to visit your favorite blog, talk to a colleague about something interesting, or just finishing a good article you started the night before all help to keep you mentally fresh and feeling less drained throughout the day.  Of course, this isn’t a silver bullet.  One or two tough meetings will happen and there won’t be much you can do.  I usually take a  short walk or get something cold to drink.  Small things like these will help to get you ready to take on what’s coming up next in the day with the same vigor.
  5. Exercise.  After a run, I do about 20 minutes of weight lifting and exercise.  Sit ups are important for overall stamina.  I always make sure to get my crunches in and I love the feeling of pushing weights.  I keep them low and do lots of reps.  If I can’t get to the gym, I do my exercises at home. Sometimes it may just be a few crunches or a couple of curls.  I firmly believe that 2 sets of 10 reps of ANY exercise goes a long way.  Don’t feel like you have to give the full hour for it to be effective.  Do one exercise a night before going to bed or early in the morning at the start of your day.  You will find over time, your endurance increasing and you’ll be able to do more.

Thanks so much reading.  I hope you like the new look of TruthstoInspire.  Please take a moment to become a follower.  Best

Find A Special Place to Think

Our brain processes an unlimited amount of information everyday.  Think aboutFind Your Special Place it.  Data coming at us through our work, radio, social media, newspapers, commute time, television, video and the list goes on.  

How can anyone keep up with it all?  In Shawn Achor’s, bestselling book Before Happiness,  we can benefit from some very helpful tips he gives on how to separate the noise from the valuable. Before sharing them, I would like to first highlight something he doesn’t mention which I feel is really important.  That is to create a special place dedicated to helping you to do your best thinking! I have several “thinking places” because my topics vary and require a different kind atmosphere.  When it comes to thinking and planning around life and family, there isn’t a better place than my old brown leather sofa at home.  I love its big “end arm” that allows me to curl up with a warm blanket and my favorite tea with honey and just a pinch of sugar.  It is also here where I pray.  Not only is it important to have a special place to think, but the time dedicated to do the thinking.  For me, family and prayer thinking time usually happens very early in the morning (swap the tea for coffee) or very late at night. And for work – it’s the treadmill.  I am big Paul Simon fan and I love to think while listening to tunes like Me and Julio Down By the School Yard or She’s Got Diamonds in the Soles of Her Shoes. The music is fun, cheery with a great beat – and I always finish with some new ideas or possible solutions to whatever I am working on.  Yes, identifying a special place to think about things is really important.  But to be successful – you will have to block out the noise.  For family and prayerful thinking, the television is off and all is pretty quiet.  Treadmill thinking is the exact opposite – music is loud with lots of people movement at the gym.  But in either place, my mind is focused only on those things – I cancel any “noise” that could distract me.achor 

Now for Shawn’s tips on how to “cancel” the noise so that you are better equipped at taking in information that is going to provide some value:

Don’t Take in the Unusable: Only take in information that will REALLY alter some aspect of your behavior.  Sadly, most of the information that floods your brain on a daily or even an hourly basis fits into the “unusable” category.  For example, don’t dwell on news stories about events that you cannot do anything about through a continuous change in your behavior (something that would alter what you do regularly).

Avoid the Untimely: Don’t take in information that you aren’t going to use imminently. If you intend to hold stocks for the long run, why check the stock market each day?

Hypothetical: It is based on what someone believes “could be” instead of “what is.” Economic and weather forecasts head the list. “What if you could have back all the minutes of your life you’ve spent listening to predictions – 90 per cent of which have been wrong?” he asks in the book.

Anything Distracting: It takes you away from your goals. Things that distract me include dumb emails; meeting invitations that are not directly tied to my own work priorities and goals, too much “water cooler” chatter, annoying commuters (yes I will definitely get up and move if I am sitting next to Ms. Sniffles).

Shawn’s book is chock full of recommendations and tips on how to ensure happiness. The Happiness Advantage is also a great read. It is not that he wants us to shut the world out, but to focus on the things that are really meaningful,” And to bookend that, TRUTHSTOINSPIRE recommends that you create a special place just to think about whatever is really important after you’ve blocked out all the noise.  Thinking about prayer, family, home, or work matters are really worth creating that special place for you to do your best thinking.