I know you're worth the time it takes to exercise.  Because no matter who you are, where you're coming from, you make a difference to the world, today and everyday.

Our number one excuse for not exercising is time.  Being stressed out and not having enough hours in the day, exercise has become just one more thing that we have to do.  I think of all the times I'm 'trudging' out the front door to go to the gym.

There is insurmountable evidence on the benefit of exercising and innumerable research on why we should do it consistently.  Just do a Google search on the "benefits of exercise" or "exercise, health and fitness" and all sources of information will come up.

With that said, we have to overcome our mind, fight back and break through our firewall of excuses.  What ever the real reason why we, you, won't exercise, only you can know.  But I do know "I don't have enough time!" isn't one of them.

In the simplest of terms, the time we take with our apps, social media, PC, reality and popular TV shows, is the same time we can be exercising or going to the gym.  Period!

Realize you matter!  So take the time you have and exercise.

Here are some simple, albeit, banal tips to stay motivated to exercise:

1--Seek out a workout partner or walking buddy.  It's a great way to stay committed, plus a wonderful system of emotional support.

2--Make sure you have your gym stuff in the car before leaving for work.  The chances are if you have to go home first to change clothes after work, you won't make it back out.

3--Don't just sit watching TV, do some exercises or a great home fitness program.  Make this time count for you.

4--All that time you're thinking about walking, quit thinking, get up and go take a walk.

5--Take the stairs when possible and park a 'block' away when running errands.  If you get sweaty, that's what showers are for.

6--A friend of mine says "become consciously competent at what you do."  Do the same with exercise.  Integrate exercise as part of your workday, think about it, you wouldn't leave work without completing a project.  Don't leave your day without exercise--health takes work and it's worth it for you!

7--You know that things are changing all the time, however, get into a daily discipline of some kind of fitness routine.  Make it a point to exercise or go the gym at the 'same time' everyday, e.g. after work.

8--Eat something healthy before, as well as after you exercise or workout.  Find out what works for you.

9--Eat healthy, make fruit and vegetables, the right protein and drinking water as part of the norm, not the exception.

10--See your Doctor (if you have one) regarding any aspects of your health and fitness.  Find out what her or his advice and recommendations are.  The tips I have mentioned are only that, and are not health, medical advice and otherwise, in any way, shape or form.

I see people everyday, familiar faces, from all walks of life, all ages, at the gym, on the trails, bicycling and walking throughout their communities.  These are the millions of people who are putting their health into action through the indomitable power of exercise.  You are one of them.

I say this to you 10,000 times 10,000--You Matter!

To your success of a long lasting life of wellness!

Hello, my friends! It’s Griff, and I am excited to talk to you today about one of the most misunderstood topics of our day: setting goals for health and fitness. For some reason, most of my clients have a very hard time setting goals in this area of their lives.

I have asked myself the question, WHY? What is it that makes this area so difficult? I would like you to ask yourself this same question, and I am sure that you will discover the same struggles that most face. Is it because you just haven’t thought about it before? Is it because health and fitness is just too vague? Is it because you just don’t have the confidence in yourself to begin with? What is it?

I would propose that the answer is two-fold. Chances are good that the following apply:

1- You don’t know WHAT goals to set.

You may find yourself setting a very vague goal such as “I want to lose weight and tone up.” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this very phrase over the course of my career. This is very closely tied to Number Two:

2- You don’t know HOW to properly articulate them.

Many people have very broad and nebulous goals, and, consequently, they don’t know how to express them or translate them into a coherent statement.

However, even if you get to the point of setting health, fitness and nutrition goals, you have FAR surpassed the average American who settles for whims and surges of motivation guided by no vision.

What is a Crystal-Clear Vision?

I want to first explain what a crystal-clear vision is by telling you what it is NOT! A crystal-clear vision is NOT a dream! A dream is cheap and easy. We all have dreams, and we have hundreds of them each year. A dream is a form of cheap movie-like entertainment for the mind. It is a form of mental candy, but, as with all candy, it leaves you bankrupt of nutrients and substance. I am not saying that dreaming is bad . . . quite the contrary. The right dreams (meaning you have to be very selective of good vs. bad dreams) are the precursors to VISION.

Defining Vision

Vision is the by-product of a dream that has been emotionalized and deemed as reality by your sub-conscious mind. In other words, if a dream is laced with emotion and dwelt upon for an extended period of time, your conscious mind will take the next step by drawing you a very vivid picture of your intended outcome. At this point your mind becomes “obsessed” with the prospect of this vision, and your subconscious mind canonizes your vision as “reality.” More importantly, your mind begins to ACT on your “new reality.” It finds every method, means, resource, and avenue to make your vision into a reality.

In my 12+ years of experience as a lifestyle coach, public speaker, and Personal Trainer, I can honestly say that there is nothing more rewarding and beautiful than to watch somebody become captivated and driven by a crystal-clear vision. Their demeanor seems to change in an instant. Their countenance changes, and their zeal for life intensifies. Obstacles are no longer seen as permanent but rather ways of learning. Obstacles are viewed as nothing more than a temporary setback that ultimately rewards the goal seeker by teaching him or her how to overcome and become stronger in his or her quest. In short, it is awesome to watch people become “purpose driven,” rather than whim driven.

The Must-Haves

Listed below are some of the essential principles for forming your Crystal-Clear Vision of health and fitness. I will go into more detail next week about these principles and how to incorporate them in your life. Keep in mind that these are not intended to be comprehensive, but rather they are intended to give you some of the essentials to help in the development phase.

  • Start at the finish line!

-Envision what your life will be like when you have fully assumed your vision. Use your right brain function to “draw a picture” of where you intend to go. It is always easier to start where you want to finish!

  • Make your finish line your “present”

-A common mistake is to write your vision as though it is in the future. For example, “I will be 10% body fat, have a six pack, and excite my wife every time she looks at me.” This is putting your vision in the future. The problem is that your subconscious mind (which is the engine responsible for habit change) only knows the present and can, therefore, only act on commands given to it in the present tense. A better example would be, “I am 10% body fat, have a six pack, and I do excite my wife every time she lays her eyes on my sexy body!” Can you see the difference here? One statement is a wish and the other is a direct COMMAND to your subconscious mind.

  • Crystal Clear means CRYSTAL Clear!

-Think of the successes in life that you are proud of. Chances are that you started with the end in mind and that “end” was painted with a very vivid picture. For example, consider the difference in the following visions: “I am skinny and in shape. I eat well and have energy.” This is typical for most because we tend to take the path of least resistance. Here is how I would write the same vision: “I am blessed to look and feel amazing. I am 8% body fat and weigh 180 lbs. I have a six pack that is one of my most prized physical possessions. Most look at it in awe, knowing how rare they are, and I am proud to show mine off. My nutrition consisted of whole foods that are minimally processed. I respect my sweet tooth with natural alternative foods that are healthy and great tasting. My energy level is through the roof, and I exude a positive energy that is infectious and loveable.”

Well, there you have it my friends! In the next installment, I will go into more detail and give you more examples. I hope you can see the difference between what we think are our “goals” and what a true vision is all about.

Oh, and one more thing: Life is good!

Only 1% of people who successfully lose weight, and keep it off, do it with exercise alone. The other 99% change what they eat. So before you hit the treadmills in another attempt to (literally) work your butt off, take a second to consider your nutrition. Unfortunately, healthy eating has turned into a confusing and complicated mess. There are over 17 THOUSAND different diets, all claiming to be the miracle cure. There are news reports everyday about what foods you should or shouldn’t eat, and new products for weight loss coming to the market almost daily. If you think about it, shouldn’t America be the fittest nation in the world? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Obesity is still on the rise, and more and more people are trying to lose weight. And for those who do lose weight on a diet or “lifestyle change” program, I have bad news for you too. 80% will gain the weight back, or more, within the first year. There’s even evidence that those who gain the weight back will have even more difficulty losing weight in the future. Some researchers and medical professionals have thrown in the towel and are looking to drugs and surgery as the only options.

So there’s the bad news. Are you ready for the good news?

There is a ridiculously obvious answer to the weight loss question that isn’t even entering the conversation in the mainstream diet chatter. Rather than a quick fix diet, drug, or product, how about fixing the underlying causes?

Let me explain by telling you a somewhat boring story about an unnamed boy (or girl…for the sake of equal rights). This boy/girl is happy, active, and healthy without much effort. A year from now, this boy/girl will be overweight. The question is why. Will the child stop counting calories, points, or carbs? No. Will the child stop eating the (insert ridiculous program here) diet? No. Will the child stop eating a protein and a carb every 3 hours? No. Will the child stop taking a weight loss drug? No. So clearly, putting the child on a specific diet, counting calories, or taking a weight loss drug will not solve the problem. What will solve the problem is getting to the root of what caused the weight gain. So what is the problem?

For most individuals, weight gain is a multi-faceted problem. There are many different contributing factors. However, there does seem to be some commonality as to what the most likely causes are: 

1. Dieting – Yes, society’s go-to answer for weight loss is, in fact, a proven cause of weight gain. Many studies on adolescent girls have shown that dieting behaviors predict the onset of weight gain and obesity. So the more you diet, the sooner you will become overweight and gain weight. 

2. Mindless eating – What does that mean? It means that we eat the whole plate of food without stopping to ask ourselves if we are still hungry. It means that we eat the M & M’s on our coworkers desk, even though we don’t really want any. It means we eat while we’re driving, distracted, or distraught. It means letting TV commercials, billboards, advertisements, or the waiter at the restaurant decide what you are going to eat rather than your body. One study showed that individuals who ate while playing a video game ate more food than those who weren’t distracted and were hungrier two hours later as well. 

3. Inadequate food supply – Many people now grow up, from childhood to adulthood, eating convenience foods, prepackaged foods, and junk disguised as meals. Honestly, as a kid I believed mac-n-cheese was dinner, pop tarts were “part of this complete breakfast” (with OJ), and fruit snacks were a serving of fruit. It’s sad that so many people don’t see the difference between a bowl of lucky charms (“but it says whole grains on the box!”) and a bowl of oatmeal. Even lab animals, who are notorious for being able to self-regulate what they eat without outside influence will die of protein starvation in the presence excess fat or carbohydrate in their food supply. While not many people are dying of protein malnutrition, we do have an overall deficiency in essential nutrients and fiber due to the high calorie low nutrient foods. 

4. High stress – We live in a stressful society. From job stress, to life stress, to family stress, it just seems to be ever-increasing. Low level chronic stress has been related to increased abdominal fat and weight gain. 

5. Lack of sleep – The average individual gets less sleep than ever before, working later, waking earlier, and burning the candle at both ends. Studies have actually shown that lack of sleep increases appetite, leading to weight gain. 

6. Sedentary lifestyle – This should go without saying. We spend more time inside, less time out, about, moving, getting fresh air.  Our bodies are not meant to sit for long hours. We should be walking, moving, exercising. Studies are now confirming what we have always known about exercise: it is good for you. It not only burns calories, but alters the hormonal response of fat cells, improving the hormonal response to food and decreasing fat stores. 

Looking on that list, you may realize that most, if not all, of those factors are relevant to your life. It makes sense that the answers to the health and weight issues we face come from the causes themselves. Regardless of whether you are overweight or not, having a clear understanding of the following principles will help you easily maintain good health and work towards your optimum weight. 

1. Commit to fueling your body right – learn to listen to your body and the cues it is sending you and then give yourself permission to eat the foods your body is asking for rather than following someone else’s arbitrary rules of what you should or shouldn’t eat.  Although it might just sound like a bunch of fluffy dreamy ideas about “my body knows best” it actually does. 

2. Eat mindfully – make meals their own occasion. Chew well and enjoy your food. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, listen to internal cues about when to stop eating, rather than basing it on your plate size. 

3. Change your food supply – learn to cook with whole, real, and natural foods. Focus on adding in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and natural meats onto your everyday plate.

4. Sleep – This should go without saying, but I’m saying it anyways. Get enough sleep! 4 hours a night won’t cut it, 5 hours a night won’t cut it. In fact, most people need 8-9 hours of restful sleep a night.  Consider 7 the bare minimum, but shoot for 8-9. 

5. Exercise – if you’re reading this, you probably have this one covered, so I won’t go into details. Just don’t listen to anyone who tells you exercise won’t do anything for you. 

So there you have it: The basic plan for effective weight loss. I know some of you might be confused that this article entitled “what to eat” told you very little about what to eat. But that’s the point: your body will tell you what to eat better than any expert can. There are numerous scientific studies that all show that people who eat intuitively are the healthiest, happiest, and leanest people around. They have lower risk for cardiovascular disease, are more optimistic and positive, and have a lower body mass index and body fat percentage than their dieting counterparts. So start now, open a channel of communication with your body and start listening. Trust your body to know what it needs, and trust that it will be for your best interest. Be patient with the process. It isn’t a quick fix, but a lasting change. Discover your inner nutritionist, whose wisdom can help you and only you become the best you can be.