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10 efficient workout tips for 2016

10 efficient workout tips for 2016

The New Year is just around the corner, and with obesity rates at an all time high in the United States, it’s no wonder many American’s will be making resolutions for a healthier lifestyle.

In 2015 37% of American resolved to be healthier and fitter in the New Year, while 32% resolved to lose weight. That’s a lot of people. Unfortunately, a study by the University of Scranton suggests only about 8% of Americans make it to their goals for the New Year.

If you’re already into a fit lifestyle you know what I’m talking about. At the beginning of January the gym is suddenly packed with new faces and bodies. Then by February they start to trickle out and only one or two of those new faces hang around and become regulars.

Still, even if you have been a gym regular and are already working toward your healthier lifestyle, you may or may not have seen a lot of change in your body throughout the year. Keep in mind, that’s the greatest way to judge your decisions and improvement: how your body is changing. The workout tips below will help you make sure you’re on the straight and narrow road of working toward your goals efficiently.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just looking for a few results to better your workouts, or starting an entirely new regime in 2016, use these ten tricks to get yourself moving in the right direction and help set yourself up for success!

1. You should leave your cellphone in the car or locker

Very few, okay, probably no one can text, talk, or check their phone while in a full sprint on a treadmill, or while lifting weights over their head. Every time you slow down to answer a text or check an email it affects your concentration, heart rate, mind-muscle connection, and the intensity of your workout. When it comes to creating changes in your body and your life, you have to change the intensity in which you’re willing to work.

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If you lose intensity so you can check a text or answer a phone call which can wait until later, you short change yourself on your goals. Want to see healthy changes this year, then get off the phone while you’re on the treadmill and push it up to an intensity where you have to focus to maintain. One good way to tell if you’re working hard enough is to check your sentences. If you can talk in a full sentence, you’re not working hard enough to ask the body to change.

2. You should skip watching TV or reading during exercises

Want to see changes sooner rather than later in your body? Then stay focused on what you’re doing and why. If you can pay enough attention to what’s on the TV or on a magazine to really understand what’s happening, then you’re probably not working hard enough to really pay off. Sure, you’re moving, which is exactly what the American Heart Association recommends to be healthy, but, if you’re looking for a specific change to your body, then you need to be present.

Doing leg extensions mindlessly while you’re reading your magazine or watching your favorite show doesn’t have your body working hard enough to force change. Try to work at an intensity which demands your focus. This is also a great way to begin building mental discipline, which you’ll need as you get closer and closer to your goals. Sure your mind might wander to begin with, or you’ll get bored within five minutes, but have a mantra or affirmation ready to focus on.

3. You should have an action plan for motivation

The day is going to come when things get hard…this is when you know you’re moving in the right direction. On that day you’ll be tired and want to skip the gym, too busy to go, or you’ll forget your food prep and just want to eat pizza, or maybe your friends are headed out for a night on the town and you’re invited. Don’t let all your hard work slip away without a fight. Remember, you’re building a new habit and it needs to take a little bit of precedence in your life, until said habit is firmly in place.

Old habits will pop right up if we let them, and getting back on the goal wagon is always harder than making the decision to stay with it. Know these days are going to happen, and have a plan for them. What are you going to do if you’re tired? Super busy? Forgot your food? Or want to go out?

Remember why you started and then think of small ways to keep yourself moving forward. Maybe a shorter workout, maybe just a stretch session at the gym, order a salad, or plan to go out but eat before so you won’t be tempted by fried food. Whatever your challenge might be, have a plan in place to set yourself up for success.

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4. You should have a workout plan which aligns with your goals

How do you know if your body is changing, if you don’t know where you started and where you are? Better yet, how do you know if your plan is the best plan for you, if you’re not tracking it?If you’re wanting to lean out and get stronger, then a power lifter workout plan probably isn’t the best bet for you. If you’re wanting to build some muscle, and tone some trouble areas, then you’re going to need more than a treadmill or one loop around the weight machine circuit.

New Year’s resolutions are best achieved when linked to specific goals. Think: lose 15lbs this year versus just get in shape. To help you best reach whatever lifestyle resolution you have in mind it’s best to have a workout plan which lines up with your goals. There are a lot of different websites which can provide ideas, but make sure you find one with specific program and an administrator you can contact for help, if you need it.

Another great place to start is with a book such as Lou Schuler’s series called The New Rules of Weight Lifting.

5. You should have a workout which fits into your lifestyle

Life is busy. That’s just the way it is. Setting yourself up for success in the new year means making sure your new resolutions are achievable. If you work three jobs and start your day at 3am and end it at 7pm fitting in five one-hour workouts a week at the end of the day will probably seem a bit overwhelming. However, a couple nights a week you could pick a workout class, maybe a CrossFit program, a workout at home app, or even just chose to workout only two or three nights a week.

You don’t have to go all or nothing. Start with something which is achievable and enjoyable to you. If you’re not a bodybuilder or specific athlete you probably don’t need an exercise for each body part, but rather a more toned down program allowing you to be mentally present and push hard and make the most out of the time you do have.

6. You should get assistance with exercise form from a professional

There are a lot of people in the gym who look like they know what they are doing, but that doesn’t mean they are qualified to help or guide you. Yes, this includes your best friend who goes every day and will “help you”. Even if you’re a regular it never hurts to do a form check once a year with a professional. Spend some time writing down your favorite exercises and some struggles you’ve had and then check with your gym, a lot of times you can do a session with a trainer to help you spot any bad habits or weak areas in your form which could cause problems later.

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If you’re new to the gym, ask about an orientation. Many gyms provide a free orientation with a trainer for one hour and this will give you a chance to ask about machines, weight rooms, and form. Make sure you go over basic body weight exercises if you do an orientation. Including modifications and how to tell if you’re doing the exercise correctly on your own.

7. You should have a plan for distractions

The more you go to the gym the more people you’ll get to recognize and the more you’ll have gym buddies. It’s great that you want to share and make friends, but have a quick action plan so you don’t waste precious time in the middle of your workout (or lose your heart rate and intensity) with small talk. Make a plan to catch up, or have an exit strategy after a quick hello. Otherwise before you know it, the 60 second rest between sets might turn into three or four minutes and you’ll start to cool down.

If you’re using your phone to listen to music, then put it on “Do Not Disturb” or “Airplane”  mode to prevent any temptation. A good way to avoid getting distracted or talking too much is to know where you’re going and what you’re doing. Head in the direction of your warm up or first exercise with determination, this doesn’t mean you can’t smile and greet your gym friends, but don’t let it stop you from where you’re headed. They’ll understand and appreciate your drive.

8. You should use a workout log

How do you know if you’re getting better, if you don’t know where you started? A workout log will also help you to track your goals and progress. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a small notebook will do. Keep track of how long you ran, if you run, or how long you did cardio. Keeping track of your food here is a good idea too because it will let you see how what you eat impacts how well you feel and how well you workout.

Keep track of your reps and which weight you used. Doing so will let you know when it’s a good idea to increase weight, intensity, distance, or another variable in your program. It will also show you if your program is working or not. If you’ve been doing a program for 6 weeks and aren’t getting stronger, or your body is changing, maybe it’s not the right program for you. Keep in mind progress can be slow, but it’s still progress!! You’ll see progress if you’re tracking changes.

9. You should know your starting point and recognize what intensity means to you.

If you show up to the gym on your first day and go all out with a “no pain, no gain” mentality, you probably won’t be able to walk for a week and you’ll definitely not want to go back. Check with your gym and see if you can schedule a fitness test, or use one of the methods listed here. Five pounds may be more than enough weight for you, if the last three or four reps are really hard. If they are, then ignore the person next to you cranking out his own version of the same exercise.

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Also, keep in mind you only want to be sore for about three days, and that third day you should be feeling better. If you’re really sore for much longer, you probably pushed too hard and stressed the body a bit much. If that happens, do some active recovery and light stretching, maybe some easy walking, and then adjust your workouts accordingly. Keep track of your workouts and you’ll know when you’re getting stronger.

10. You should make sure your self-talk is positive and affirming of your goals.

This is a great thing to learn for your entire day, not just your gym time. Keep in mind your body will respond better to an encouraging voice (yours) than someone screaming at it. Think about it, when someone yells at you all day how well do you perform at your job? How good do you feel? How exhausted? You may not even realize it, but the person screaming and chewing on you all day could be you. Want to see and feel better in your workouts? Then talk yourself through them with an “I can” attitude. As you’re lifting use a mantra connected to your goals and your ability to finish your workout.

As you step forward into the New Year do it with confidence in your ability to make lasting changes this year. Remember, new habits are created with a cue and a reward cycle. When you experience the cue (getting to the gym), you do the habit (shutting off your phone) and get a reward (a better workout which leaves you feeling accomplished). As a newbie or a gym veteran keep in mind starting is half the challenge.

Taking the time to change even one small thing, your schedule or routine will reflect in your workouts and your body. Make sure to share your goals and ask for help, if you flounder as you work toward them. If you slip, don’t berate yourself, decide to make a better decision immediately, count the things you’ve done right, and cheer yourself on with the passion of a full blown pep squad!

I have complete faith you’ll be stronger, healthier, and more confident in 2016.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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