Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Surviving the Holidays"

I recently attended a super informative clinic hosted by both Echelon Cycle & Multi-Sport and Jill B. Nimble Multi-Sport Training Group. Sport and exercise mental skills coach Carrie Cheadle, M.A. / CC-AASP, presented a lot of helpful information and tips for getting through the holidays without taking too many proverbial steps backwards with regards to our precious health and fitness.

“I can resist anything but temptation” is the famous quote from actress Mae West. Carrie suggests that we establish a health goal or two through the holiday season, whether that be a goal weight or increased core strength. Making healthier decisions during these times of temptation has the potential to really boost our confidence and allow us to reach spring time with greater powers of self control. Let’s get specific.

Have a plan for how you will respond in those inevitable moments of temptation. A specific, goal oriented vision of exactly how you will respond to that stimulus. Keep in mind that our brains are wired for immediate perceived reward, i.e., instant gratification reigns supreme. Here are some of the high risk situations we get ourselves into at the holiday time: travel, injury, illness, weather, increased workload, increased stress. The only way to counteract the instant gratification monster in your head to plan ahead.

My favorite author Mark Helprin once wrote, “Anticipation is the heart of wisdom.” No doubt this is true. But it takes time and effort. Carrie says the same thing: “Plan your behavior.” Make decisions BEFORE the seductive situation comes up. VISUALIZE control. PRACTICE thought patterns and strengthen those neural pathways in the brain prior to entering into it for real. Because you have visualized responding in a proactive manner, the research is clear that you will be far more likely to respond this way in reality. Try it. It really is quite effective, for any situation that tests our self control.

“All or Nothing”

This holiday season, be aware of your Needs vs. your Wants. That is what does your body need versus what do you want. Still, this is the time of year to come together and celebrate with friends and family. The trick is not to go overboard. As people, we tend to slip into an “All or Nothing” mindset. We feel that if we break down and eat one or two pieces of See’s Candy, well, then, what’s five or six more pieces going to hurt. Likewise, with workouts, we sometimes feel that if we can’t get in at least an hour workout then what’s the sense of doing anything at all. Think about compromise. Always work to find a middle ground. Some workout is better than none at all. And you’ll most always finish with feeling better, with your sense of well-being restored. Be like Lao-Tzu and find the middle path this holiday season.

Carrie’s “Mini-Tips” to keep on exercising during these cold and dark months:
1. Just put on your workout clothes (and if that doesn’t sufficiently motivate you…)
2. Get out the door! Just do it. (you never get done with a workout and say, “Boy, I wish I
wouldn’t have done that!).
2. Some exercise is better than no exercise (don’t be such a triathlete!)
3. Maintain consistency!
4. Change it up. You know it: Variety is the spice of your winter training life!

My vision as both coach and athlete-

Do regular short efforts to keep your mind and body fresh and healthy. Go out of your way to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables this winter and in 2010. Drink water regularly. Your goal this time of year should be to optimize your sense of well-being!

So, in conclusion, have a clear vision of how you want to come out of this winter, write out a simple plan of action, and commit to it.

Happy Holidays!

-Coach Bob