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The Bullhorn, Issue #022 -- Monthly Motivator for January 2008
January 15, 2008

Just the right push to succeed!

Creatures of Habit

Most of us have a daily routine that consists of a life-long compilation of habits. We wake up at a certain time, eat at a certain time, take the same routes to work, eat the same foods, sit on the same couch cushion, and curl up on the same worn spot of our beds. Face it: We’re creatures of habit…and we resist change!

Some habits are good ones and need not be changed, such as brushing our teeth and washing our hands. Other habits, however, can block progress or even take us in the opposite direction as our health and fitness goals. Habits such as that afternoon vending machine run, or the morning bagel with our cup of coffee may seem harmless, but those calories can really add up! Remember: 3,500 calories = 1 pound of body fat!. Take that daily bagel, for example. At 350 calories each, 3 days a week for 50 weeks a year, that bagel just added 15 pounds of unwanted body fat in a year…not so harmless, huh?

By changing one habit a week we can make lasting changes and create new and better habits that will endure a lifetime. Trying to starve ourselves or go on a crash diet may give us some short-term satisfaction, but sooner or later we’ll slide back into our comfortable habits and be right where we started or even worse. Changing our habits takes some willpower, so take the gradual path and build up slowly. Here are some quick examples of small habits that you can change and lose some significant weight:

  • Replacing soda or juice with water (1x / day) will shed 10+ pounds in a year.
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator (5 flights / day) can shed almost 3 pounds a year.
  • Having an apple instead of a candy bar (80 cal vs 240 cal) amounts to over 10 pounds a year.
  • A bowl of cereal instead of cookies (100 cal vs. 300 cal) could save you 20 pounds in a year.
  • And walking just 15 minutes a day could burn almost 10 pounds in a year!

The key to all of these habits is not in the one-time event. It’s in their reoccurrence over-and-over-and-over again. Just like years of compounding interest can build up your savings account, years of good habits can enrich your life account. It’s definitely worth the investment of time and effort.

To learn more about calculating your metabolism, adding up your exercise calories, and counting calories, check out the Fitness Plan page. Good habits can gain momentum over time and give you results that last a lifetime. Whether you want to fit into that bathing suit this summer or cut a few minutes off of your 5k time…try changing a few bad habits into good ones and before you know it will become part of your daily routine!

Don't Give Up!!

Sadly, this is the time of year when the gym parking lots clear up, our exercise equipment gets used as laundry storage, and our morning run get erased with a quick tap of our snooze bar. The momentum of our resolutions can lose a lot of steam around this time of year and it’s easy to see why. Many of us have taken on some big goals for the New Year and after a few quick weeks of hard work, we’re less than thrilled with the results. But Rome was not built in a day (as they say), so it’s time to get back on track!

So you took a day off from running…or ate a morning Danish…so what? Don’t let a down day or week mark the end to your fitness goals. Nobody’s perfect and the key to any success is not perfection…but rather persistence. Everyone gets knocked down once in awhile…the victors are the ones that get on their feet again!

The article above alluded to the power of repetition. So let’s say that you did push-ups and crunches every morning for a week and then quit. That’s 7 days of calisthenics. Now let’s say that you start back with something a bit more manageable, like push-ups and crunches 3-4 mornings a week. That’s over 180 days of calisthenics if you can re-start and keep it going through the end of '08! Most resolutions fail because we are overly aggressive and leave no margin for error. And when we miss a day or take a needed rest, we quit out of self-disgust and frustration. Don’t give up so easily!

I’m following a new marathon training plan this year that involves a lot more speed work and intensity than I’m used to. It’s kicking my butt…but it’s just what I need. And there are many chilly and rainy mornings that I lie in bed and torture myself with debate. And I’ll be the first admit that the first mile always stinks, but it’s that boost of energy and confidence in Mile 2 that gets me out of bed and lacing up my shoes. Have I followed every day of the training plan? NO! Why? Because some days I need a rest…and some days I just plain wimp out. But I figure if over the course of this 18-week plan, I take a few days off per month, I will still have run over 90% of the workouts…that’s an A, right?? ;-).

Don’t give up. Your health and fitness resolutions are too important to you, so get back on your feet and try again! If you’re still going strong…good for you!! Keep it up – you’re gaining momentum. There are plenty of workouts between us and our summertime goals. Each day is an opportunity that can take us one step closer to where we want to be. It’s January 15th…don’t throw in the towel…get back in the ring!

Exercise of the Month:
Turn up the intensity!

There are many, many exercises that we’ve recommended over the last several months such as push-ups, crunches, walking, running, crunches, lunges, pull-ups, etc… And all of these calisthenics can really boost your fitness routine. But sometimes what we really need is not a new exercise, but to turn up the heat on the exercises that we know and love. If your routine includes 50 quick push-ups in the morning, slow them down and take your chest all the way to the ground and slowly push back up to where your arms are extended. You’ll likely get more burn out of just 25 repetitions! Are you jogging the same loop? Once a week, try stepping up your pace a little each mile until the last mile feels at or close to your 5k race pace. An exercise routine is a great way to stay healthy. Turning up the intensity is a great way to get faster, stronger, and perform better. Try turning up the heat on some of your favorite exercises and you’ll be amazed at the improvements that a little extra exertion will deliver!

New Pages!!

Every month, The Fitness Motivator adds new pages and helpful resources to assist you in meeting your fitness goals. Some of these pages came about from YOUR ideas (thank you!), while others are based on personal lessons-learned. If you haven’t been on the site in awhile, here are just a few of the pages added since the last newsletter:

Delaware Marathon Review: Looking for a fast, and flat Boston-qualifier in the NE? Than this race is for you!

10 Mile Training Plan: The 10-miler is growing in popularity. Here's a 10-week plan to get you ready.

Strength Training Equipment: Here are some buying tips and guides to help you find the right strength equipment for YOU!

Low Calorie Meals: Tips and meal ideas that will fill you up on a lot less calories.

Sound Off!

If you have any feedback (positive or negative), success stories to share, or suggestions for future articles, please feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you and we take all feedback, suggestions...and yes, even criticism very seriously. We’ll use this information to improve our newsletter and The Fitness Motivator site to help you and others like you attain your fitness goals.

I hope that you and your loved ones have a wonderful Christmas season and a Happy New Year!!

Encouragement to Succeed!

P.S. - Please feel free to forward this to a friend!

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