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5 Irreverent Tips for Health and Happiness in 2013

    Workout Animal

    Exercise Animal

  1. If you are exercising 7 days a week, odds are you are being lazy.  Lazy with your recovery that is. Training does not make you stronger; it actually breaks you down at the cellular level. You become stronger only when you recover after the breaking down process. Elite athletes and committed recreational athletes typically have no problem with the grunt and groans of hard workouts, but too often avoid adequate recovery out of misperception that down time is goofing off rather than smart training. “Lazy” is a disinclination to engage in an activity that one intellectually knows would be beneficial.  Most folks are lazy with avoiding exercise; heavy exercisers are typically lazy with avoiding recovery. Recovery imbalance decreases performance, and increases the probability of illness, injury and burnout.  If you have any questions about the dangers of overtraining and the benefits of recovery, check out the January 2013 issue of Medical Science of Sports and Exercise. It has the first ever joint consensus statement on “Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of Overtraining Syndrome” by the American College of Sport Medicine and the European College of Sport Sciences.  Stay tuned for a webinar on “Balancing Stress and Recovery” sponsored by Get Your Head In The Game in February of 2013.
  2. Motivation is over-rated.  Motivation changes like the temperature; commitment is the key to making long-term change. For example, I know of no parents who are “motivated” to get up at two o’clock in the morning with a sick child.  They do it because they are committed. If you want to actually get the goals that you have set, commit to a SMART goal– one that is Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Reasonable and Time-oriented.  For example, a goal such as “working out more this year” is a lovely thought, but usually not very helpful in actually producing change.  By contrast, a SMART goal such as “getting to the gym three days a week for 30 minutes, for six weeks in a row” has a much higher probability of being achieved.  For more on SMART goals and effective goal getting, check out this video: http://headinthegame.net/resources/videos/#GoalGetting
  3. Take time to P to improve performance.  As simple as it sounds, performance (including sticking with an exercise routine) can dramatically improve if you simply Pause, get your Pulse down by breathing, put things in Perspective, and then work your Plan.  Often you do not need to learn anything new to perform better; you simply need to remember what you know.  The “P” routine allows you to slow down those pesky old habits, and be more intentional in your actions.  Try it and you will ‘Ppreciate the results.
  4. Commit yourself to an institution. A school, church or organization that is.  One of the keys to happiness (and simultaneously preventing burnout) is to use your strengths and talents in pursuit of something that is “meaningful,” i.e., bigger than yourself.  Many people consider volunteering with a local civic group, or becoming more involved with their place of worship; but then put off doing so until “things ease off a bit.”  Don’t kid yourself, your life will always be busy and that lull may never come.  Make the commitment and you will find the time.
  5. Stuff it.  The old adage of “count your blessings” as a means of promoting happiness is actually well-grounded in modern research.  Studies indicate that the simple act of reviewing the positive events of the day can have profound impact on improving happiness.  I recommend a variation that is geared towards a fantastic New Year’s Eve celebration at the conclusion of 2013.  Get a large jar (preferably one gallon or larger) and keep a small pad near it.  Take time every day to “count your blessings” and write down at least one positive thing that you experienced during the day, and stuff it in the jar.  On December 31st, take out the jar and review all the good memories of 2013 as part of ringing in the new year.  After the stroke of midnight, store the memories in a baggie (or a scrapbook if you are inclined) and repeat for the next year.