By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
In my last article, Three Rules for Succeeding the Last 3 Months of 2012, I described the value of three rules to help get across the Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Year’s finish line: 1. Focus on the process, not the outcome 2. Never give up. Ever. 3. Talk rationally to yourself.
Well, someone stopped me in the gym and asked me, “Only three rules? To get through the entire holiday season? Really? Only three?”
Well, miss-you-know-who-you-are, here are three more. Now you’ll have six to work on, and hopefully that’ll be enough to help you, and everyone else, enjoy the festivities, food and fun feeling fine and fit. Hey, that’s six “f’s”!
Here are three very specific, additional, tools you can begin using right away.
1). Intensify your activity and movement, if not actually increase your exercise. Wear a pedometer. You may not be able to spend more time at the gym, so find every imaginable way you can to increase your activity, even if it seems silly. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so that means a 200-pound person walking three miles per day even at a moderate pace for one week can burn about 2,300 calories. Park further away from your office than you usually do, always take the stairs, carry your purchases instead of using a shopping cart if possible and turn your house cleaning into pumped up aerobic activity. Dance, skip and hop while you vacuum! Take a jog around the airport if you are flying somewhere and have the time—who cares what “they” are thinking—you’ll never see them again anyway. Schedule training sessions now for throughout the holiday season.
2). Party smartly and healthy. That means eating more fruit, more protein and less refined carbs. Interesting gossip going on over at the buffet? Stay away from the dangerous nibbling that goes on unconsciously. Sure, go to the buffet line, but be when you pile up your plate, make sure you are doing so with fresh veggies, lean meats and other lower calorie goodies. Whatever else you do, become a dessert splitter. Those cupcake look great. Small, cute, only 500 calories! Don’t deprive yourself though. Allow yourself one small serving of your favorite treat and be as mindful as possible as you savor the look, taste and aroma of whatever it is that you “must have.”
3). THINK FIT. Plan your eating before you go out and stick to your plan. People have all sorts of unhelpful, irrational thoughts about food, diet, and weight-loss especially around the holidays. “Watching what I eat should be easy.” “It’s not okay to waste food.” “If I get hungry, the hunger will get worse and worse until I eat something.” “There is nothing I can do to make cravings go away.” “It’s okay to eat this food because I’m stressed, everyone else is eating it, it’s just a little piece and I’ll make up for it later.” “I’ve already blown it so it doesn’t matter what else I eat.” It’s important to ask yourself what evidence you have that any of these thoughts, or others you may have, are true. They aren’t. They are just thoughts. Before you go out armed with your food plan, have a strong counter response thought plan to each of your sabotaging, unhelpful thoughts and be sure you use them immediately.
There you have it. Three more wise, well-balanced ways to wade through the winter wassail…and yes, that’s six “W’s.”
By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
It’s that time of the year again when we all face the onslaught of holiday parties, festive food fests, drinking more than usual, late nights out, less sleep, and generally putting on a few pounds that we find more and more difficult to lose, come January. With three months of challenge ahead, I thought I’d share my three favorite rules to help you get across the goal line healthy, fit and happy.
Rule #1. Focus on the process, not the outcome.
Sure you want to set specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, timely, enthusiastic and rewarding goals (“SMARTER”) for reaching January in great shape, and still fitting into your jeans from this past summer. But my experience in working with athletes and fitness coaches has taught me that beyond developing a vision, being committed to goals, believing that you can achieve your goals and taking one step at a time, it’s getting involved with the “process goals” that have to do with the steps needed to achieve success that are most important. Too many focus on the destination and forget to enjoy the journey. The journey, in health and fitness, is what it’s all about. What steps, actions and techniques are you focusing on to help you assure you’ll reach your goals? Keep you eyes on your form, the strategies you are using for diet for example, and other types of processes needed to be successful. Examples include focusing on recording your diet daily, following certain guidelines for sleep, keeping your back in proper position while doing dead lifts, and enjoying the exercise, nutrition and sleep along the way to your goals.
Rule #2. Never give up. Ever.
“Winning means you’re willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else. ” ~ Vince Lombardi How’s that for inspiration to keep going no matter what? As long as you are alive, anything is possible. It’s not an all or nothing game during October, November and December, it’s about getting back up no matter how many times you’ve slipped. Make it a lapse, not a relapse. Don’t sell yourself short. OK, so you had that extra piece of cake or more pasta than you promised yourself you would have (process goal). Don’t let a slip destroy your plan. Giving up means settling for average, or worse. “Forget about it” is for people who are almost there but turn away from the finish line. Being your best is definitely available to you…if you don’t give up, ever. Seth Godin, author of “The Dip,” advises, that the “dip” — the boring, difficult, inconvenient time after the excitement, positive feedback, and the fun of a new goal has worn thin – is designed to keep you out of the inner circle of winners. He advises determining which dip is the right challenge for you and to stick with it, never give it up, no matter what. Ask yourself, “Am I panicking?” “Who am I trying to influence?” and “What sort of measureable progress (process goals) am I making?” Expect the dip, or lapse, gather your resources, find a coach, and keep going!
Rule #3. Talk rationally (accurately) to yourself at all times.
Recognize that your body hears your every thought. That’s right, whether it’s about diet, exercise, your self-image, your health, your fitness, it’s clear that your body has superb “ears.” I’ve written about this before here. Your body’s “ears” don’t hear words specifically, but rather forms of energy, pictures and emotions. The mind-body connection is so strong and the body’s “ears” so accurate, that every thought you have can be reflected in your health. It’s as if your body believes every word you think. So here are 7 thoughts that will help insure you’ll meet your holiday season health and fitness goals.
- I feel great
- My body is becoming leaner and stronger
- I find it easy to eat the right foods
- I love eating right
- I love working out
- I am healthy and have a ton of energy
- I have a fit body
By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
The headlines came screaming out: Obesity on the Rise! 36% of America is Obese Today and 60% Will Be By 2030!! That’s no surprise given the fact that newer technology brings more virtual activity and with it, a more sedentary lifestyle. Heck, even gyms are stuffing virtual games into treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes.
But a recent set of studies is worth looking at, especially if you are a bit overweight…ok, if you are obese. I wrote my thesis on obesity way back in the dark ages of the ‘70s and the data looked gloomy then for those who were obese for longevity, heart failure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Today, it’s as if obesity, as commonly measured by a simple ratio of heart and weight, is talked about as if it’s a death sentence. That is, unless you understand the “obesity paradox.”
Simply stated, the obesity paradox suggests that patients with a number of chronic diseases of normal weight are twice as likely to die as those who are overweight or obese with those same diseases. So is there a need to reexamine the assumptions we’ve all been sold on about the association between body fat and disease? You bet there is!
Whether it’s overweight/obese dialysis patients, coronary disease, diabetic patients—it seems that study after study points to a similar finding. Cardiovascular fitness is a far more useful predictor of mortality risk than simple numbers on a scale. Trouble is, in many studies, fitness is not measured as it relates to disease processes. But evidence is growing that’s compelling medical researchers to take fitness into account.
When studies do take fitness into account, they come up with a terrific finding for those of us passionate about our fitness—“being fat and fit is better than being thin and unfit.” Get that? Here, it’s worth repeating, —“being fat and fit is better than being thin and unfit.”
Need to pick one? Of course, not. Being fit and at a healthy weight (taking into account body fat, lean muscle mass, and metabolic abnormalities) are best. But the latest research tells us if you do have to choose one, it’s more important to maintain fitness than leanness. They gym is the place where fitness and maintaining a health weight can be combined best. With individualized personal training and nutritional assistance by one of the club’s highly skilled certified trainers, the correct program, delivered appropriately for you, means your best chance for healthy living.
Add the psychological components of knowing how to create positive emotions, being engaged fully in the flow of enjoyable daily activities, developing and appreciating healthy relationships, finding meaning in your life, and taking pride in your accomplishments, you’ve got it all right for a life that’s healthy, fit and happy!
Depending on who you ask, it seems almost everyone these days is “middle-age.” The US Census says it’s basically between 35-54 years old. Some say between 45-60, and others say it extends to 65 years old. Point is the idea of “middle-age” covers a whole lot of people, including a lot of members of The Sporting Club.
The visible signs of aging, including loss of skin elasticity, graying of hair, 10-20 lbs. accumulation of body fat, decrease in aerobic performance, maximal heart rate, strength, flexibility, and fertility, and of course, menopause, to name just a few of the common “ills” middle-age can bring, are seemingly universal. But the chronic health conditions associated with older age are more troubling.
Well, guess what? If you are somewhere in the middle-age range of life, you can not only foil these mid-life widespread conditions, but perhaps even more important, you can help reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses up to twenty years later! Want to delay biological aging by more than a decade? Get aerobically fit in middle-age and create an independent lifestyle.
Research at the Cooper Institute, University of Kansas and the University of Houston, have all looked at middle-aged people who regularly exercise and are physically fit. They all report similar findings—these people have a much lower risk of developing major chronic health conditions in old age.
Alzheimer’s disease, colon/lung cancer, kidney disease, COPD, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and congestive heart failure are tempered by a moderate increase in physical fitness during mid-life. Simply stated, the more fit you are in middle-age, the less likely you may be to face these chronic illnesses two decades later.
With an aging population along with increased obesity and a corresponding growing sedentary – virtual life – lifestyle, the incidence of chronic diseases among seniors will rise significantly.
The answer? It’s right here at your La Jolla gym, The La Jolla Sports Club. Increase your regular exercise and increase your physical fitness now. The research, and common sense, tells us clearly that fitness is, in fact, one important key to healthy aging.
By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
Do you ever wonder if the world you live in is normal? Given the vitriolic political scene where everyone is made out to be a bad guy, corrupt office and business politics, insane drivers and Coronado bridge jumpers, yet another massacre—this one in Colorado and with its very own San Diego ties, the economy flowing downhill (or is it?—depends on whether you listen to MSNBC or Fox News, I guess) and value clashes at fast food restaurants, you have to wonder how anyone can stay positive these days.
I have some answers, and no, exercise or protein shakes are not necessarily at the top of the list, though they do lots of good and will always head you in a healthy, happy direction. First, remember that as a member of The Sporting Club, you have already expressed hopefulness that life can be better. The team of trainers, sports medicine staff, and spa professionals—everyone who works here—is focused on helping you find the positivity and well-being that you sought when you joined.
So here’s my take on what you can do to build positivity in today’s not-so-positive world—ask me again a month from now and I might offer you a number of different answers, all with the same goal—living a healthier, better life, fit and happy. That’s what positivity is all about.
1. Change your mindset, use a different word, make a subtle change in your physical environment and researchers tell us it can improve your health and well-being. Positivity comes from embracing the “psychology of possibility.”
2. Find beauty in the people that fill your life and your days will be filled with grace and kindness. It’s reciprocal. Smile at everyone you see on the second floor of the club and ignore everyone on the third floor. Which floor “seems happier and friendlier” to you? Hmmm. Wonder why? Maybe it’s what YOU radiate. Want positivity in your life? Radiate a positive feeling of compassion, love and beauty and see what you are offered in return? Will it work every time? Probably not. But it will work enough to leave you not particularly caring when it doesn’t.
3. Along the same lines, keep smiling. Research tells us that during brief stressors, grinning and bearing it, holding a smile for a moment or two, helps to reduce the level of your body’s physical reaction to stress, get this, even if you don’t feel “happy.”
4. Corny, but enjoy the gift of nature. That sunlight vitamin D relationship has lots going on for it. The positive outlook you begin being aware of is not a coincidence of taking a walk along the beach, it’s the consequence of it. Stare our of the window of the Sporting Club between sets and appreciate the beauty that surrounds this club.
5. Be mindful that there is no “no.” Regardless of what happens in your life, traffic, flat tires, loss of money, wrong choices, bad decisions, work and relationship problems or worse—understand there is a reason, and always a good one, for the “seeming NO.” Fact is, there is a “yes” but as in all of life, it’s a matter of time and place—when and where will you find the “yes”? Just keep looking for it and understanding that what seems like a “no” is really just a message that will lead to the “yes” you are looking for.
6. Exercise your heart and lungs, stretch and build your muscles, feed them well and you’ll move along the health, fitness and performance continuum of fitness just fine.
By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
Looking for a way to cut calories, sugar and salt from your lifestyle but still want to enjoy your local pub? That means, still want to enjoy a couple, ok a few, drinks now and then, ok every weekend?
I’m no bartender, and my go to fave is Grey Goose on the rocks with blue cheese stuffed olives, but there’s plenty of wisdom out there that says cocktails, shots, frozen drinks and wine drinks can all be fully enjoyed…well, without feeling full of guilt.
First, use your common sense…that means before you start drinking, while you still have common sense, follow a couple of simple guidelines:
1. Reduce your sugar intake by using only fresh squeezed fruits if you like fruit in your drinks. 2. Reduce your salt intake by avoiding carbonated water and choosing seltzer water instead. 3. Reduce your sugar intake even further by making your own syrup if your drinks call for syrup, with ½ tablespoon of honey and ¾ tablespoon of warm water. 4. Light alcohol trumps dark alcohol if you want to lessen the hangover likelihood. 5. Reduce your calories by limiting your total alcohol content to one shot, even in a multi-cocktail concoction.
Here’s what San Diego mixology experts tell me are ten low-calorie cocktails you can enjoy guilt-free, well almost: Gin and Juice (pour over ice and use ½ cup of fresh squeezed oranges, a shot of gin and ½ cup of seltzer Vodka & Sprite Zero (or with a splash of pomegranates or cranberries) Appletini Mojito with the simple syrup recipe above Tequila with lime juice and seltzer soda Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut Champagne Watermelon Martini with agave nectar Margarita on the rocks (blend the syrup recipe, ½ lemon and 1 lime, leave out the Cointreau, add wasabi powder) White wine spritzer (diluted with water or seltzer soda) Mimosa lite with fresh squeezed oranges, sparkling wine and ¼ cup seltzer
Of course, it’ll be quite the party having all of these, which is why the Grey Goose and blue cheese stuffed olives are easiest…and still allow you to get to the gym in the morning.
Keep in mind that an average 12-ounce domestic beer contains about 150 calories, the same as a 3.5 ounce glass of sweet wine. 1.5 ounces of 90-proof alcohol contains about 110 calories, and when you add carbonated sugar-filled sodas and juices, you also add on the calories. Alcohol adds empty calories and is converted to acetate that hampers your ability to burn fat. Think of it this way, a hefty cocktail will double-cross you by cancelling out that heart pounding, fat-burning workout you enjoyed earlier in the day.
My advice? Be aware of what you are drinking and go for the low-calorie fun. Drink plenty of water between your cocktails, and plan your weak spots in advance.
You can either drink anything and as much as you want, OR you can keep your waistline. You just can’t do both.
Check out “Stress and Food” for great tips on curbing your appetite for unhealthy foods and drinks!