Set Yourself Up for Success

by Michael Plank

 

It’s just about that time of year!

“New Year, New You.”

“It’s YOUR year.”

“THIS year will be different.”

We’ve been in this game for awhile now and have worked with literally hundreds of people on goals and resolutions over the last six years. Here’s the bad news right up front: roughly 80% of New Year’s Resolutions don’t last more than 6 weeks. But the good news is that it’s not that hard to be in the 20% that make it beyond that! Here’s how to do it:

1) PICK A RESOLUTION

One. Not two. Not five. Not nine. Pick one resolution. I’ve been in the lots-of-resolutions camp and started many January 1sts with 15 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of mobility, 4 meals that were all prepped and pre-packed, 5 minutes of journaling, a strenuous workout, prayer, scripture reading, more journaling before bed, and 8 hours of sleep. Guess how long that lasts? (I’ll give you a hint – you’ve got an 80% chance of being right). If the goal of a resolution is to make your life better, set yourself up for success by making it easy to focus. Pick one thing and it’ll be way easier to stay on track and not get overwhelmed by your new 14-step, 2-hour routine. One thing.

2) PICK THE BEST DOABLE OPTION

Avoid the Best Theoretical Option. Here’s what I mean: If you want to get more control over your in 2021, the Best Theoretical Option might be to work out 5 days a week, do 1-on-1 nutrition coaching, hire a house cleaner, hire an organizer, and start reading about personal finance and productivity. Great. But that’s a lot. You know what’s not a lot? Making your bed. But will coming home to a made bed at the end of the day move you one step closer to feeling like your life is under control? Yes. And would you actually be willing to spend 30 seconds in the morning do it? You probably would. Don’t pick the best thing that you could do (the Best Theoretical Option). Pick the best thing that you actually would do (the Best Doable Option). Remember that the goal is to move the needle, not to wake up on January 1st to a perfect life.

3) GET HELP

Get a friend who has a similar approach to progress (not necessarily a similar goal). Get an accountability buddy. Find social media groups for people doing what you’re doing. Read books, listen to podcasts. Best of all, hire a professional – someone who specializes in what you want to accomplish. For physical health, find a coach. For mental health, find a therapist. For spiritual health, find a clergy person or advisor. Or hire a guitar teacher, or writing coach! The point is to find someone who knows how to help people improve in the area that you are pursuing.

Remember that perfection is a myth. The route to real, lasting change is slow, maybe, but it’s steady. Ending 2022 a single step beyond where you are right now is progress that counts and is worth making. Progress is the magic.

Here’s to a 2022 that’s chock full of it!

Enjoy the Holidays

by Michael Plank

We are smack dab in the holiday season. Every year we talk to people who get so nervous about the holidays derailing everything they’ve worked so hard for. From January through the first half of November they’ve come to the gym 3 times every week, improved their sleep, transformed their nutrition habits, added stretching and journaling, and now it’s a nonstop cookie and party parade everywhere they look. EVERYTHING IS RUINED!

Here’s a Holiday PSA for you…

It’s possible that actually everything is fine.

Think of the first day you can remember that was one you were really proud of… a day where you got lots of sleep the night before, you managed your stress well, fueled and hydrated your body, and got in a great workout. A perfect day! Now here’s the follow-up question… did that one perfect day get you all the amazing results you were dreaming of? Of course not. One day isn’t enough to catapult you forward in your progress. It’s not enough to derail your progress either. Two days isn’t enough. Five days isn’t enough.

Four weeks is enough to put on a couple of pounds. But the only way that’s the same as derailing all of your progress is if you don’t ever step away from the nonstop cookie and party parade even after the holidays are over. But you will. Because the holiday season ends. And what you do for the 6 weeks from November 19-December 31 is way less important than what you do for the 46 weeks from January to November.

Enjoy the holidays!

7 Quick Things You Can Do Today To Build Momentum

by Aimee Wojtowecz

You’re on your way! You have a goal in mind, you’re working hard to get there. It might be you’re working on something personal, like a fitness goal, or it might be you’re concentrating solely on your career right now. Whatever it is you’re working towards, you’re ready for it. You can’t wait to see the culmination of all this hard work. 

…only everything seems to be moving soooo sloooooow…

What you might be lacking is momentum. Momentum is what pushes you into action. It speeds you up as you work the steps and keeps you going. So, what do you do when momentum is lagging? Easy. You find ways to build it. Try these quick tips guaranteed to get things moving:

Visualize the Future
Take some time to consider where you’ll be in six months. What about next year or the next five years? Seeing yourself in the future is a really positive way to keep your momentum going. If you can get excited about the you of tomorrow, you’ll find yourself fighting to become that person right now. Be as detailed and specific as you can here. What does that future you do? How do they fill up their day to reach their goals? 

Get Up and Do Something
It’s easy to grow stagnant. Less daylight and colder weather means more time inside than most of us would like. Rather than binge-watch the latest Netflix sitcom, how about getting up to create some mischief of your own? Go play a game, take a walk, spend time with friends. Do things that fill your cup. You’ll find yourself far more refreshed and ready to tackle those goals. 

Learn Stuff
An active mind is a creative mind. The act of learning, even in small increments such as 10-15 minutes a day, will still improve cognitive function. Grab that sudoku, listen to a podcast, sit down at your piano. In short, by keeping your mind active, you will pick up momentum.

Act When You Don’t Feel Like It
If you’re waiting for the muse to strike, stop. There will never be a perfect time to work. Momentum means keep going, even when you don’t feel like it, ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it. If you need help with accountability we have tools to help with that!

Put Your Phone Away
Giving yourself the gift of uninterrupted time does wonders for momentum. By turning off your phone for an hour, (yes that hour before bedtime is necessary!) you’ll give your brain the freedom to relax, recharge, explore, and move forward. If that seems like too much, start with 30 minutes… or 10… or 5!

Quit
When it comes to momentum, if you’ve found you’re slowing down, it might be because what you’re doing just isn’t working anymore. In this case, sometimes the smartest thing to do is to stop. Don’t waste time beating your head against a wall when you could be making progress elsewhere, set up a goal review session and let us help you come up with a custom plan. 

Do Something Scary
Sometimes you need a challenge that pushes you to new limits. When you do what’s easy, momentum can stall. This is why it’s so important to challenge yourself to do the things you never thought you would, like lifting heavier weights!

Remember, whatever you can find to help keep the momentum going, embrace it! If affirmations help, post a bunch of them everywhere. I have sticky notes everywhere in my house! Put on music to get you moving and dance around your kitchen while cooking dinner. Create a social life around people who support you wholeheartedly. You’re the one in charge, it’s up to you to act.

It’s Not All Uphill

by Michael Plank

Seth Godin wrote a great book called The Dip. It talks about the fact that anything worth doing – anything that takes effort – will not be a linear progression. When you first start, everything will go great, but there will come a point where the effort and the results don’t seem like they work together the way they should. This is “the dip,” and this is where most people quit things. For actors, the dip is endless strings of auditions where they don’t get the part. For doctors, it might be year 2 of medical school. For cooks, it’s year 1 of the restaurant they opened. The dip is the part where you’re still working really hard, but things seem to either stall or get worse. It’s the part where “the honeymoon is over,” and you realize that it’s not all roses.

But the dip is usually not a plateau, and it’s usually not a dead end. It’s just what it’s called – a dip – before you come out of it and things start moving up again.

The dip is A PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE PLACE to quit things. There are loads of things I’ve tried that were fun, and then I hit the dip and realized that I was not willing to do the effort it would take to get through the dip and out the other side. This is why I don’t practice the piano anymore, or study French, or do carpentry. It’s not because I think it’s impossible for me to get better, it’s because I know what kind of effort is required to get better, and I also know that I’m not willing to go through the effort to get better at those things if I’m not seeing the results of those efforts.

But there are plenty of places where I’ve hit that dip and have been willing to push through. Because I know that on the other side of that dip is the next big rise in results. So I still do CrossFit, after almost 13 years (there have been multiple dips on that journey!). I still bowhunt after 13 years. I’m still married after 12 years. I’m still parenting. We’re still running our gym. All of those things have had dips (sometimes more than one). And all of them have had massive improvements, massive results, and massive rewards on the other side of those dips.

As bad as we want it to be the case, progress is not linear. But if you know that going in, it makes it a lot easier to make it through the dip. When you hit the dip in your fitness journey (and if you’re reading this, you either have hit it, or you will hit it), just hang tight. Because a) it’s totally normal. And b) I promise that it’s better on the other side.

Test Your Sources

by Aimee Wojtowecz

You probably follow some social media influencers. On Facebook, Instagram or Tik Tok, there are countless people out there providing massive amounts of information; more information than any generation has ever had instant access to. Sometimes they’re flashy and loud, sometimes they present their information simply and clearly. Regardless of presentation, how do you weed through the countless nutrition tips all over the internet?

First, listen to your gut. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It’s probably also not safe or sustainable. Safe and sustainable weight loss is a slow process, much slower than weight gain (yes, bodies are weird like that!). We talk about an average of between half a pound and two pounds lost per week as a sustainable goal. And when we’re talking weight loss, we really should be talking fat loss. Losing weight is simple, but losing fat while maintaining or even increasing muscle is an art form. And on the other side of the coin, anything promising to add 10 pounds of muscle in 20 days is also probably not going to work. The average rate of muscle growth for males is 1-2 pounds per month and for females around 1 pound per month. This is with consistent weight training and an intentional nutrition plan. 

Second, do your research. By research I don’t mean typing into google “How to lose 20 pounds in 10 days” and reading whatever comes up. This is called confirmation bias, or looking for articles that already support the position you’re trying to research. If you’re into evaluating scholarly articles, you want to be using google scholar. It’s free just like google and not limited to only people doing academic research. You also want to be asking a more neutral question, for example, “What is a safe rate of weight loss”. Rapid weight loss can even trigger disease conditions such as stress-related hypothyroidism. Extreme calorie cutting and stressful conditions that result in rapid weight loss can impact thyroid hormone levels and how those hormones are converted into their usable forms. Sustainable and slow also equals safe here. 

You also want to be researching the credentials of the person presenting the information. Do they hold a professional certification? What’s their academic background? In the United States professional nutrition regulation is not universal between states. There are some states where it is a heavily regulated profession and there are other states such as New York, that are considered green states, meaning there are almost no regulations. This is where things get a little tricky with language. In NY anyone can call themselves a nutritionist and give out nutrition information with zero training or education in nutrition, but to be called a “certified” nutritionist they must be licensed through the state and have gone through extensive educational and professional training. Make sure you’re looking for someone who has some kind of professional nutrition certification and training. 

Lastly, use the resources around you and talk to a trusted professional. We have nutrition coaches here at the gym that you can talk to anytime, even if you’re not a nutrition client! If you have a question about some information you’ve heard, please ask. We would be happy to help you evaluate that information and have had extensive training to be able to do so. Better yet, sign up for a 15 minute FREE intro and ask us all the questions you want, EVEN if you never sign up for nutrition coaching! We can even refer you to Registered Dietitians if you have more complex health issues that need special concideration.

All this said, there are reputable information sources out there on social media if you can sift through the noise to find them. Some of the top nutrition influencers that we recommend are:

@kids.eat.in.color
@lower.cholesterol.nutrition
@andydoeshealthy
@elainaefird
@syattfitness

Check them out for some quality nutrition information and let us know what you think!

Why “Bright Spots” Matter

by Michael Plank

We do a thing in our private members’ group each week that we call Bright Spot Fridays. It’s an invitation to share “bright spots” – or highlights – from the week. People talk about new achievements they’re proud of, or about going to dinner with their spouse, or about reading a great book… anything at all really that stands out as a positive experience. On the surface it seems a little hokey. But it’s powerful. And here’s why.

There’s a part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System. Basically, it’s a filter. Your brain takes in mountains of information every day, and your Reticular Activating System sorts through it so that you only have to pay attention to stuff that’s important. A cool thing about that filter is that it’s easily trainable. It’s why, when you buy a new gray Honda Pilot, all of a sudden you see 40 gray Honda Pilots every time you step out of your house. Obviously they’re not all brand new since yesterday, but of all the hundreds and hundreds of cars you see every day, you’ve told your brain that gray Honda Pilots are important. So now, every time one goes by, your Reticular Activating System flags it so that you notice it.

It’s the same for your mom’s best friend who always finds 4-leaf clovers, when you’ve never seen one. Or your uncle who spots bald eagles every time he goes fishing. Or your gym buddy who can always find you a rower if you’re in the market (Oh yeah… we have a rower guy! You know who you are!). What that means practically is that at least some of those internet memes about positive thinking are actually true. You do find what you’re looking for. If you look for gray Honda Pilots, you find them. If you look for 4-leaf clovers or bald eagles or rowers, you find them.

That’s also true of intangibles.

Meaning this… if you look for negative things, you find them. If you look for positive things, you find them. It’s no accident that some of the people who most consistently post their bright spots are also the people with some of the best results. They’re looking for what’s going right in their lives and then, when their Reticular Activating System finds it and flags it for them, they double down on it and the results compound. (Note: This is NOT to say that when real hardship and tragedy strike you just need to look on the bright side – far from it. Nor is it to say that positive thinking is supremely powerful. It IS to say that positive thinking matters. More than many people think.)

Finding Bright Spots – or keeping a gratitude journal, or writing affirmations, or making a vision board – are all practices. And they all seem silly, at first. But don’t underestimate them. And for UPCF members, when Friday comes around and you see that Bright Spot Friday post, throw something up in the comments this week!