Archive for April, 2009

My Answer to the Question Why?

Five years ago, our family traveled out to Modesto, CA, as our oldest son Daniel married Erin. What a joyous time! Ed, our 20 yr old son Nathan, and I had planned an extended time after the wedding to drive south and explore Joshua Tree NP, east of San Diego. We started our drive-through of the park. When we chose to, we stopped, got out of the car and climbed on the huge outcroppings near the road. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day. I was with my family. We were healthy and able to be active. We took photos of us climbing and hiking.  We had no time constraints. We had just married off Daniel and gained a daughter.  Our family was growing!  All of a sudden it hit me. I KNEW WHY I WANTED TO BE HEALTHY AND LIVE OUTSIDE THE RESTRAINTS OF A JOB. I wanted to be able to climb on the boulders with my GRANDKIDS whom I knew were coming someday. I did not want to be stuck at the bottom taking photos because I couldn’t physically climb with them, or worse yet, be looking at photos of them climbing with someone else because I couldn’t be there because I was working. This was a defining moment for me. I had discovered a new level of motivation for success with my business and with the choices I would have to make on a daily basis.  I had to have optimal health and strong business success so that I could romp around with my grandkids the way I wanted to in the future. I found my deeper why.

What about you? Perhaps you know that you have to make a job or even a career change. Perhaps you know that you need to make some personal lifestyle changes to improve your health. Perhaps you know you need to make some difficult financial decisions that will change your lifestyle.

 Whatever your change, your primary reason for it may have a spiritual, practical, financial, intellectual, or emotional dimension to it.   I believe that if you take the time to explore why you need to make the change and then write down your discoveries, you will work through the change with more determination and better results than you have experienced previously.

My defining moment 5 years ago will take on flesh and blood this July as we welcome our first grandson to the family. How exciting to have stayed the course with both business and personal choices so that we can travel out to Phoenix and enjoy this new little one who is going to add another dimension to all of our lives.

Do you need to make a change that lasts? Be sure to ask yourself enough questions so that you can answer this question: Why am I doing this?


Why Am I Doing This Business?

 In January, the gym was packed…now nearing the end of April, the numbers have definitely thinned out…and I don’t think it is because so many people have accomplished their goals! Perhaps some of them never discovered their personal why: a strong enough reason for persevering and not quitting!

When I started my business as a personal wellness coach, my mentors told me I needed to know why I was doing this business.  It seemed that knowing the reasons why would help me see the benefits of persevering. So I started the process of defining my why.

Two reasons immediately came to mind that were in alignment with who I was.

First, a spiritual reason. As a Christian, I believe that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and as such, I have a spiritual responsibility to glorify, or bring praise to, God, through my body.  Purposefully sharing that message would allow me to be a blessing, to bring something good, to others.   This was certainly a great reason.

Second, on a very practical level, I looked at what had I been trained to do. My 10 years of experience as a physical education teacher and coach would certainly give me immediate credibility. I had a desire to help people get and stay healthy by making good lifestyle choices. A business in the entirely new wellness industry was a perfect fit for my degree and personal lifestyle.

Intellectually, I observed older friends who simply couldn’t function as they once did.  Although Ed and I were not in bad shape, I realized that this business could actually help us grow old gracefully! I could learn strategies for anti-aging, and put them into practice. We could personally benefit. Aha-  a new reason for the business.

Financially, the business model made sense to me.  I would be paid to stay healthy and teach and help other people do the same thing.  Cool. I didn’t have to go back to school and get another degree…I didn’t have to upgrade my wardrobe…I didn’t have to commute to and from work. Wow, getting a paycheck, assisting with family expenses while Ed was in school, but still being my own boss. Sounded perfect!

Collectively, I believed I had defined some good reasons for starting this business.

However, after several years, I sensed I needed a deeper why to make the necessary changes to move myself to the next level of leadership.  It took me some time, but I finally got an answer.

(Continued in next entry)



What about a buddy or a trainer?

Last time we talked about distractions. What about working out with a buddy? Since I walk/run for my cardio, I have noticed that if I am walking with someone, it does help the time go by much more quickly. Actually, I forget to count my laps!

A number of years ago, I was extremely regular with exercise because I had to get into my car in the parking lot (no garage) regardless of the weather, and pick up Susan at 6 a.m. to go to a nearby gym. I knew she would be waiting for me. She had 4 kids under the age of 8, and this was the best time for her to exercise and have her husband responsible for the kids. I sure didn’t want to call her house and tell her I couldn’t be there! So I started the process faithfully on the designated mornings. My buddy kept me going even when it was inconvenient.

However, intensity? I believe that suffers. According to my trainers, if you are in your target heart zone, you should be able to carry on a conversation- but would rather not. If you are unable to talk, and are gasping for air, you have crossed the line, and should back off. If you are carrying on a conversation like you are on the telephone, you are probably not at your target heart zone. (Please understand that I am talking about working on your general fitness and am not talking about training for an athletic event!)

An accountability partner, on the other hand, could be someone you simply report to rather than someone you work out with. Some of my clients have said that our weekly call was a definite motivation for action as they didn’t want to have to give a ‘zero’ report. If you need an accountability partner or coach, let me know. I can make a great recommendation!

What about working with a personal trainer? A great idea! I am working with Lauren from my gym. Lauren has a degree in exercise physiology, so she really knows her stuff! We make an appointment, and that elevates the commitment for me. We evaluated my starting point with various surveys and measurements, and talked about my goals. Lauren has a plan for my workout with her, and is focused on my efforts during our time together. She observes if what she is asking of me is not enough, or too much, and knows when I just need to push harder. She counts reps for me, and although that seems like a little thing, I’m very glad to hear her say, “Just one more.” She also says, ” OK, now let’s do that series again.”

Evaluate your own level of commitment. Will you make and keep an appointment with yourself? Do you need a buddy to work out with, an accountability partner or coach to report to, or a personal trainer who will be there to push you to your goals?

What’s your experience? You are invited to leave a comment!


This year I joined a gym for the first time in my life. It’s three stories tall! First floor includes a lap pool, locker rooms, fitness storefront, food/juice bar. Second floor has dozens of cardio machines, rowing machines, elliptical trainers, weight equipment, as well as free weights. Third floor has a running track and a cardio theater (about 20 cardio machines that face a huge theater with a movie playing). It’s quite impressive, to say the least.

As I walk/run my 30+ minutes on the third-floor track, I have had plenty of time to make observations. Here’s one: there are a huge number of distractions! What do I mean? As I walk on the track, there are eight video screens on the wall that scream for my attention. One of them plays the movie (minus audio) that is currently in the cardio theater (let’s see…have I seen that movie? …Wow, I really liked that movie and we haven’t watched it for a while…I’ll have to mention it to Ed for a week-end possibility…ooh, this is the intense part {walking stops as I stare at the screen!})

The second floor has 8 video screens that I can see as I walk, plus, of course, each cardio machine has an individual screen, and everyone has a choice about what s/he watches. The first floor has two quad-screens, both of which are showing the same music video as the screens on the other floors. 

People are visible on all three floors. Members are busily engaged on their machines, or in their little corner of the room with their trainer, balancing, pumping, pushing hard, whatever. 

It adds up to a lot of distractions.

I find I have to consciously focus to get the most out of my efforts. It’s a good thing to focus, but I didn’t know I was going to have to work so hard at it when I was walking!

When you think about it, as we are working to make lifestyle changes for better health, to preserve wellness, to get to our ideal size….there are always distractions. Work schedule changes, holidays happen, guests show up unexpectedly, kids get sick, parents require immediate attention, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, TAXES are due. You name it, it is a distraction!

Some distractions we can control, and some we cannot.

Visual distractions mentioned above- movies, music videos- may be helpful…or not. What about music? I have read that  those who are working out to music tend to stick with their workout program longer. Another advantage of music: different tempos can provide you with a built in program of interval training if you move to the beat of the music.

Suggestion: Recognize that distractions happen. Pray for wisdom and discernment to know the difference between those you can and should ignore, and those you can’t and shouldn’t. Then, deal with the distraction appropriately,  concentrate, focus, get the results you want to get. You can do it!

What has been your experience: do you do better (work harder, work longer) when you are watching something, listening to something…or not?

Easter Blessings and Holiday Success

It is Easter week-end, and this year that means we are deeply into April. 
Although I celebrate the Christian message of resurrection and future hope that is shared throughout the world at Easter, you may simply, or additionally, see this Easter celebration as another challenge to your quest to get lean.
So if this week-end seems to present some challenges, let me offer some observations:
Holidays can include: 
*time off of a work schedule
*in-home guests
*unusual food
*kids being around all day
*dealing with the demands of kids being around all day
*more food
*challenges to any daily routine activity (i.e. exercise!)
*more food
You get the picture. You are living the picture!
So what to do…
You have some options:
**Throw in the towel and say, Hey I’ll start again next week! (This is a choice- easy to make, very popular!)
**Wear a sign that says “I am trying to lose weight and I’m into depriving myself.” (This too is a choice and, in case you haven’t noticed,  it is pretty difficult to hang around a person who is displaying a martyr’s attitude.)
**Choose your activities and foods wisely (this gets my personal vote). Be flexible in your schedule and have an eye toward opportunities for activity at a different time, even if it is a shorter time. This morning Ed and I went out for breakfast…we were doing a belated celebration of his birthday. That meant I didn’t go to the gym this morning. On top of that, it is raining, so an outside walk at Highbanks Park is not an option, but a different time for workout is. So I’m heading over to the gym soon. Another thought: be the one to initiate a ‘walk after the meal.’ It might not be brisk, or even close to the same pace you would normally walk, but moving is better than not!
What about food? If you are providing food, you are in charge (yeah!): make sure that you are offering healthy alternatives as munchies, non-sauce vegetable dishes, etc. and plenty of good water. Read the labels of the “vitamin water” and similar products before you consider them as options to soda. I have discovered that kids will drink water- and so will adults- if that is what is offered. 
If you are bringing a dish to share to a family gathering, make sure it is something you can eat without hesitation. There will be plenty of options that are not on anyone’s “healthy” list: you can choose to have a ‘condiment’ size portion, forego it completely, or pile it on. 
Remember, you are not alone in your venture to your optimal weight/size goal. As your coach, I come with the program!
If I can help you in anyway, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing your Easter holiday success story.
Be blessed this Easter week-end, enjoy special family time, enjoy special foods…and realize that regardless of your situation, you always have a choice. It starts with your attitude.

Extra weight does affect your lifespan

This news might not be big news to you. Actually, it might seem like no big deal if you are in your twenties or thirties. However, at some point, you have to come to grips with the effect that extra weight has on your life. 

The article posted at  cites the results of a study that examined other studies to see a correlation between obesity, overweight, and lifespan. No surprise to many: moderate obesity shortens lifespan by as much as three years. Moderate obesity is fifty to sixty pounds overweight. Carrying around an extra 150 pounds can cost you ten years of living. 

The loss of a few extra years of living may not seem like a significant price to pay when you think you have decades ahead of you. I would offer another perspective, however. When your life is full, when you have passion, purpose, and people that you care about, losing a few years because of extra weight is an unacceptable thought. When you have children or grandchildren who love you, making the right daily choices seems very worthwhile.

In July, 2004, we traveled to Modesto, CA where our oldest son, Daniel, married Erin. As a special family vacation, ‘since we were out there,’ Ed, Nathan and I drove down the coast and hiked in Joshua Tree National Park. Climbing on huge boulders together inspired me to declare a new motivation for staying in optimal health. Grandchildren, I figured, were inevitable. I wanted to be the kind of grandparent who was climbing boulders with the grandchildren, not simply taking photos of them at the bottom. Five years later, that inspiration is getting some flesh and blood, as we are anticipating the arrival of our first grandson in early July. Whoohoo!

What’s your motivation, your inspiration for shaping up? Ultimately, you have to be doing it for yourself, no one can coerce you into making excellent lifestyle choices.  If you have not been able to get started, or keep going, you might just need think through and write down a new motivation for making the lifestyle changes necessary for you to get to your ideal size. Wouldn’t that be fun to discover a new reason for staying around for a few more years!

Give me a call if you need to talk to someone about this. I’m available.

Choose Your Extended Family Wisely

Last week I had the special privilege of meeting my son Nathan as he returned home from Afghanistan. He is serving with the 101st, stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY, and was due to return on Tuesday, March 24. I zipped down there on Monday, and then discovered…his flight had been changed. On Wednesday night, as I was ‘talking’ with him as he was in Shannon, Ireland and I was checking the Welcome Home ceremonies, we both realized that his flight was due in at 0425 Thursday. I confirmed…that meant 4:25 am. I quickly went to bed, having set the alarm for 3:15 am.

(The following is the story I shared with the rest of our extended family, spread out over the country from SC to CA)

I arrived on base about 3:45 am. As I followed the signs to the family parking area, in the darkness and the rain, I saw two moms ‘unloading their car’ and getting their three children situated in strollers. I stopped, rolled down my window and asked what was the next step. They pointed in the direction of the location of shuttle buses. I couldn’t see anything, just trusted they were there. I thanked them, continued looking for a parking spot, and finally got situated at the very end of the row. I walked briskly to the area the ladies had indicated, and then I heard, before I saw, the buses moving. I started to run faster as I saw them taking off, and then the first one stopped…and waited for me. I stepped on to it, and there were the two moms with their three kids. They had seen me running and wanted to make sure I got a ride. Wow….what a family!

I asked them whom they were meeting. They had joined forces to arrive at 4 am to greet a friend who had no other family to be there on that morning. Good thing it was dark, because I was getting teary-eyed. What a family!

We got off the bus in the rain, and the moms got their children into the ‘welcome hangar’ quickly. They had little strollers for the two smallest, and one who was already settled in reached out and put his little hand around the other stroller frame, connecting the two of them (I should have taken a picture!)… perhaps unconsciously a statement of how these families hang on and support each other. What a family!

We separated at that point, and I quickly found a seat.

There were banners and posters all over the place. Family of all shapes and sizes, and everyone looking their best. Wives were in heels and dressed beautifully as they were greeting their spouses home from a war assignment. It was an amazing experience- the sights and sounds  of family welcoming home family who had done well. The room was electric with great anticipation, deep pride, and a sense of purpose and accomplishment not seen in many assemblies of our country today.

The family next to me, I discovered, had come up from Jacksonville, FL. Parents and sister of the daughter/wife, parents of the soldier…with a homemade rain-stained sign that said “We love you, Paul” with hearts surrounding the words. Eventually, the father-in-law came in from the rain, as he had been standing outside as the soldiers got off the plane and got into formation. What a family!

(After the soldiers marched into the hangar in formation, and brief remarks, we had about 15 minutes together…that experience provided its own emotion. The soldiers were called back into formation, and marched out to turn in equipment, etc.)

I waited in the designated area with other family members, and waited, and waited…talked with Kim, Patrick’s mom…talked with FRG (Family Readiness Group) leaders- women who volunteer to be the liaison between those at home and those away, and provide support during the deployment. We got periodic updates…’looks like it will be another hour or so’…’we are missing 5 dufflebags’ (several waiting family members volunteered their services to locate them… we were a highly motivated group!) ….’another 50 soldiers to process’…

Finally, at 9 am, (so that was about 4 hours of waiting!) they were all released…for the day…

Now, why would I include such a personal story on this blog where I have been sharing insights about lifestyle choices?

What I saw last week was an extended family supporting each other. They were there for each other. They made sacrifices for each other. Together, they are a team, the Army, and they get the job done. They’re the best in the world. But they don’t do it alone.

Many overweight individuals try to lose extra inches on their own instead of finding help that can teach them how to get healthy. Increasingly, studies show that not only does the likelihood of being overweight increase among friends and family members, but the opposite holds true.

When people joined a group based on a weight loss program with family and friends, they lost more weight and kept it off better than those who joined the same program alone, according to research published in the Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology.

We are not able to select our birth family- that decision is made by our Creator. However, our choice of extended family is ours! That choice includes those chosen by marriage, as well as by activities and association. 

Is your extended family heading down the lifestyle path that you want for yourself?

Choose wisely!

BTW, what has been your experience?