Welcome to the Age of Living Smart

One year ago today, the readers of Bodysmart News and I began a conversation about how our lifestyles can become smarter.

One year into this new beginning, the signs of a smarter health conscious group of people in our local communities are evident. Smarter thinking is creating a more sophisticated mindset of what it means to be truly healthy.

People Are Questioning
Eating healthy, exercising consistently, and living life in the present moment, is beginning to take off in our local communities. People are questioning the effectiveness of quick fix dieting practices, outdated modes of exercise adherence, and wavering self help practices aimed at seeing life as joyful and satisfying.

Awareness, it seems, is all around us. “I’m tired of eating these so called healthy meals found in supermarkets and restaurants. They are overly processed and loaded with sodium”, says one client in St. Augustine whose trying to live a healthier cleaner life. “And exercise”, one Serenata Beach Club member remarks, “is getting to be too much of the same old thing.” “Stepping out of the box of the same old routine is a good sign that people are aware”, one fit looking member comments, “that there is a need to progress physically and mentally in different directions.”

A Local Physician Notes
And, a physician here in town, reminds me that, “the need is there to work from the inside out with people by inspiring a more enjoyable process for living healthier. Health coaches are miles ahead of the game.” And, he states, ”those coaches that are armed with a background in kinesiology, physical therapy or personal training, are going to be the leaders in the next decade when it comes to infusing a sensibility into people that is effective in treating lifestyle induced diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, chronic pain, and premature heart disease.”

Two years into this conversation with Bodysmart readers, this new found perspective on health continues to take shape. Readers have progressed from asking, “What is the quickest way to lose weight?” to “What exercises should I be doing to be healthy?” “Is cardiovascular exercise better than weight training, and should I be doing both?” “I am exhausted after work, is it a good idea to exercise when I am so tired, as I have high blood pressure?” Questions such as these are inspiring to hear as they indicate a smart trend in thinking. A trend that recognizes that life is about feeling good about ourselves, our health, and what we can obtain that brings us a satisfying life.

Being Lean Makes Us Feel Good
However, as a trainer, I don’t want people to feel I am downplaying one’s desires to lose weight and look better. We all want this. Being lean makes us more feel alive, more in tune with life, more vibrant, and more satisfied with our physical appearances.

The reason I am so excited about this new trend in thinking is that positive psychology tells us that when it comes to weight loss, focusing on weight is futile, but focusing on behavior change is central to shedding weight for a lifetime. “With an emphasis on the power of mindfulness and positive lifestyle strategy planning we can actually begin to see people change their lives. In most cases body composition changes and people lose weight, feel better and become more satisfied with the way they are focusing their energies,” says health coach Sandy Moore of Boulder Colorado. “Health, Moore says,” is viewed more as changing behaviors vs changing body fat content.”

Changing Behaviors is Essential
In my 10 years as a personal trainer and health coach, I can attest to the fact that those that lose the most weight and keep it off, are the ones that have learned to change behaviors. In my practice people are aware of behaviors they do not want to change and they let me know. This is an important point, because we can’t change what we don’t want to change. And that’s OK. The important aspect is to get started on behaviors you feel ready to change. One should have no feelings of guilt. This is the old way of thinking. Just change what you want to change now, and keep it simple. You will progress. You will feel better. You will see results. There’s no hurry, but you must go into these changes with a positive spirit by making them manageable and meaningful.

Without a doubt this new focus on behavior strategies accomplishes the ultimate goal, which for most is losing weight. But many people still are not aware of how health coaches assist their clients. Everyone knows what a personal trainer does, but not everyone knows what a health coach does.

What is Health Coaching?
Health coaching can be described as a newly emerging profession that focuses on developing a partnership with individuals who are interested in improving their health status in order to enjoy a more vital and vigorous lifestyle. It has its roots in the findings of behavior scientists who have shown that one-to-one coaching is among the most effective approaches to helping people make and sustain improvements in their lives. A coach enables change by focusing on the client’s stated needs, values, vision, and personal goals in order to bring about his or her physical and mental best.

Weekly strategy planning with the client in a conversational setting is a large part of what a health coach does. At first glance, it often appears that “little work” is taking place. After all, most of us are conditioned to what we see on TV, for example, with the Biggest Loser television show, and how they have their clients exercise physically hard. It seems we are conditioned to think that the more physical exercise we do the, the more weight we will lose. This is rarely the case, and people are beginning to understand this fact. Don’t misunderstand me though, as health coaching involves quite a bit of strategy planning in exercise adherence. But for those that are most successful, balancing exercise with healthy eating changes is an absolute must in any successful weight loss plan.

Weight Loss is Best Accomplished in Collaboration With Others
For me personally, most of my clientele have a weight loss goal. “OK,” I’ll say, “you want to lose weight? Let’s set a three month weight loss goal. Now, forget about it!” Many look at me with questioning amazement. But only briefly. To tell you the truth, many are relieved. And that is exactly how I want them to feel. Think of all the times you were caught up in negativism while trying to diet. Wasn’t it a constant struggle of feeling good about yourself then bad about yourself? Now ask yourself if this is really the way you want to diet. Like so many things, learning new skills is best addressed with a positive spirit and with a collaborative partner that has an interest in you. Most successful businesses are those whose top people are coached and partnered in a collaborative effort to breed success. This idea, I am happy to report, is taking hold in savvy weight loss communities across the nation. And we fortunately, here in the Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine areas, are a part of that community.

Let’s continue to build a smarter community. Together we can realize a more abundant life. One that is free of obesity, lifestyle induced diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and all diseases that can be attributed to our lifestyles. Besides, looking good, feeling good and performing great is central to our continued good health!

A Better Approach to Healthy Living And Weight Loss?

Many of you have been reading my blog for a couple of years now. And it has occured to me that often times I write very differently than other health writers. This may be viewed as a positive trait by some yet a negative trait by others. Hopefully you are in the former group!

The reason I mention this is that one of my readers recently brought to my attention, that although my blogs are interesting( thanks!), they often lack “step by step approaches” to bettering his health.

Well this got me thinking, and what it evolved into was a 17 hour weekend of pondering and writing on the topic of ABOUT. I asked myself the question my reader was basically asking me “What are your blog posts about? And Why do you write the way you write?

Below is what I came up with. Many thanks to my questioning reader. If it wasn’t for him I may not have done the needed work to help me, and in turn help you get closer to your vision of what your healthy life can be!

What is This Blog ABOUT?
It is about becoming lean, fit, healthy, and strong by focusing on the 5 essentials of healthy living you see on the clipboard.

It is not about focusing on the gimmicks of weight loss tactics that surround us daily in the media. It is about the The BodySmartWay of bringing health, pleasure, and satisfaction back to the way we live by focusing on keeping our health needs simple, realizing that movement is life regardless of disabilities, surrounding ourselves with positive influences that encourage our efforts, understanding the need for human help in change, and progressing through lifestyle challenges without the high stress factor of desperate attempts.

Inside-Out Approach
Most of my adult life I’ve taken an inside-out approach to living. An inside-out approach to healthy living means focusing on all the areas of our healthy lives we have control over instead of those areas we have little control over. It means paying less attention to the goal, whatever it may be such as weight loss, decreased blood pressure, decreased blood sugars, increased bone mass etc. and emphasizing only the skills we have or can acquire to arrive at the goal.

What Did I Do?
As a young adult, I had a propensity to break everything involving fitness down to the most detailed of factors. When I was 14 and planning the outline of training runs I would implement to obtain my personal best 10 kilometer run, it occurred to me that there were many things I could control in aiming to achieve a faster time.

I listed everything that came to mind that I could control to give me a faster time. Here’s a peek at a partial list as noted in my journal of May 1977.

1. Eating better to run faster
2. Inspiring articles to run faster.
3. 8 hours of sleep to run faster.
4. Daily stretching to run faster.
5. Relaxation exercises and afternoon naps to run faster.
6. Appropriate recovery days to run faster.
7. Eating less to lose 8 lbs to run faster.
8. Carbohydrate loading to run faster.
9. Running faster shorter distances to run faster.
10. Keeping hydrated to run faster.

My full list included many more details of an ideal training regime. I tell you this for two reasons. One is to say that an inside out approach with all its controllable features is a great start for bettering ourselves and our individual goals. But the second reason I tell you this is to illuminate what I learned that is even more important than simply trying to control everything in my life. What I learned about myself convinced me that although an inside-out approach is great thinking, it must be a “Focused What Matters Most Approach” that ultimately aids in achieving healthy living goals. Let me illustrate.

Here’s What I learned About Myself
I learned there are many things I can control in my life and in running faster in general.
I loved writing a grocery list each week of healthy foods that could help me run faster. I loved just going out and running at an easy pace with no regard for time. I loved consuming just the right amount of water as suggested by the Runner’s World Magazine Team; I loved stretching my limbs out under the oak tree on our front lawn after a long training run. This was all good stuff as a child growing up. It set the stage for feeling confident that I could control my destiny.

I soon realized however, that for all my hard work in controlling the above features to become a faster runner, I was really taking the easy way out. It was a rough but needed reality. I conveniently got bogged down in all the minutia of how to run faster, and chose to ignore the 2 most beneficial controllable factors on my list that could make me a faster, more efficient runner. I’ll tell you what these are in a moment.

Within 3 months of implementing these two factors from my long list, I ran my first sub- 40 minute 10 k run. Always priding myself on taking an inside out approach to running and learning I finally came to terms with what was really occurring. I focused on those things I could control that were easy. That’s correct, easy. Those articles I read about in Runner’s World Magazine that were going to take me to the next level as a runner: stretching, drinking more water, taking naps, carbohydrate loading, and running slow and long were easy to implement. I enjoyed all this detail. But….

I was derailed in my thinking. I was derailed by all the seemingly important detail I read about. I allowed all the easy to implement information to become most important while ignoring the 2 most significant items on the list that were holding me back from reaching my 10 kilometer running goal. Sadly, I conveniently ignored these two factors :

1. More intense fast short training runs.
2. Eating Less.

Leaving the long list behind and scribbling a few sentences aimed at helping me run my first sub-40 minute 10 kilometer race, I wrote:

1. What Matters Most: Run faster, harder, shorter distances in training.
2. What Matters Most: Lose 8 pounds.

How Can This Blog Help Me, I’m not a Runner?
Many of you want to lose weight, become more fit, and increase your chances of maintaining the lifestyle you enjoy currently. You are aware that high blood pressure, high blood sugar, increased cholesterol, and high triglycerides are all markers of a poor quality of life to come if you do not make lifestyle changes now. You also may realize you are tired of living in the constrained box of life that comes with increased body mass indexes. You know a change in your body weight not only reflects better on how you look, but also in how you feel about your life, your relationships, as well as your attitude about life and living in general.

We Are Inundated With Too Much Information For Real Change to Occur.
On a daily basis we are inundated with do-this-don’t-do-that kind of thinking.
• Sip this juice to rid yourself of diabetes.
• Eat this fruit to drop a size in two weeks.
• Reduce back pain with this one super exercise.

The list goes on. The “How-To” articles are endless. We do not need more dieting techniques to try out, exercises to implement, more vitamin pills to swallow, more varieties of waters to drink, or a more abundant range of food items from which to choose.

“Experts” have told us what to do and how to do it for far too long. Ironically, we are not becoming any leaner as evidenced by our government’s 2011 health statistics. And paradoxically we are becoming less happy in our desperate attempts to lose weight and become lean, fit, energetic, engaging, and satisfied with our lives people

Through the BodySmartWay’s complimentary articles, online and telephone coaching/training sessions, and products, it is my hope you realize there is a better way of being while striving to obtain a more lean and fit body image. You will hopefully see that gaining a BodySmartWay perspective, allows you to smartly de-emphasize the actual weight loss goal, better health numbers, less body joint pains, or just a more physical way of being, and concentrate on the most important behaviors that Really Matter Most in reaching your personal lifestyle goals.

Having been in the fitness fields my entire adult life, and having worked with hundreds of clients of diverse backgrounds, I am excited to report there is a definite trend in a smart direction. Savvy people do not want to be anxious desperate dieters haphazardly trying out advertising dieting tactics and fitness tips with no clear vision of how it makes sense in their lives.

What is That Direction?
People are becoming smart about exercising. They are becoming smart about eating for health, and yes, for pleasure too. And people are relaxing and working in balance, forming meaningful relationships, and realizing the value of why dieting without perspective and with too much needless information is short lived.

Worlds are Changed by Perspective. Lifestyles Can Be Changed By Perspective.

We are gaining a new perspective and it shows. We know we need more inspiration, and less ineffective information. We know we need more people helping people make sense of living a life of health, pleasure and satisfaction, while improving in a meaningful manner that is sensitive to individual lifestyles, ways of learning, and ways of being. Fortunately, the more I engage with people, the more hopeful I am they are becoming increasingly savvier in their lifestyle approaches. They are realizing the old ways of dieting and striving to live a healthful engaging life are old style thinking. Increasingly, today’s consumers, I am happy to report are refusing to get inundated with all the healthy living hype and are focusing on What Really Matters Most in achieving healthy, fulfilling, more fit, lithe lives!

This Blog is about What Matters Most
I Hope it Helps.

Best Regards,
Kim Miller

Getting Fit and Keeping Fit the Smart, Savvy, New Generation’s Way

Do you ever wonder why you are successful at managing your career, your kids, your budget, and your often crazy social calendar, but for some mad reason, you can’t manage your weight? You’ve got what it takes – you just need a little coaching.

“Do not look for expensive cures, new age fads.
Examine your thinking.”

~ © Alison Stormwolf ~

This Advice from poet Alison Stormwolf, is projected on a screen before each health seminar I host. This candid saying serves as a reminder that healthy living is about controlling our minds. On first appearances, it seems out of place in a healthy living seminar. However, as the weeks progress, members within the group are not only more aware of the mindset needed for healthy change, but are more capable of producing the actions needed to live a more healthful, energetic, and carefree life.

With no mention of weight loss as an outcome of the group health coaching seminar, you may be thinking, “So…. tell me ….how much weight do the members lose?” Good question, since losing weight is on many people’s minds as we enjoy mid summer activities. Let’s revisit this question of weight loss for a moment though, as some perspective needs to be shed in order to get up to speed on why focusing on health living perspectives vs. dieting information results in not merely a leaner, lighter, stronger and more beautiful body, but is a more effective and savvier approach than the old school mentality of “munching on celery while secretly craving corn bread.”

A little healthy living perspective on information overload
“I Can’t Think!” is the title of a recent health article by Sharon Begley in Newsweek magazine. Decision Science has only recently begun to make sense of research on how the brain processes information, but scientific evidence is suggesting we are living in an age of info-paralysis that is very difficult to prevent. Scientists repeatedly show that increased information leads to objectively poorer choices, and often times down – right bad decisions. In our health information overload society where we’re inundated with “do this – don’t do that, eat this – not that” kind of logic, it seems we are doomed for failure when it comes to healthy living and weight loss attempts.

What is a person to do? Psychologist Joanne Cantor author of the book Conquer Cyber Overload and Professor emeritis at the University of Wisconsin, says, “it is so much easier to look for more and more information than sit back and think about how it fits together.” When it comes to dieting, you’ve probably surmised, this is what’s happening to many of us who read countless articles online, in our e-mails, in e-books, paper books, not to mention( sigh) all the dvd’s, cd’s and I pod downloads we listen to in the hopes, by osmosis, we’ll lose weight, get fit, and live happily ever after. If our busy lives could be that easy!

Growing body of evidence
There is a growing body of evidence concluding that a more reasoned, mindful behavior style approach is not only more effective to weight loss, but most effective in keeping weight off for good. Increasingly, many coaches today trained in the area of positive living and healthy weight loss are turning their clients on to a behavior style approach for lasting change.

Coach Kellie hall of Atlanta, Georgia explains to her clients how behavior change is most difficult initially, but that the results can be life altering . “Change is most difficult in the beginning, in large part due because our habits are ingrained in the neural pathways in our brain. By repeating a new behavior over and over, and in small increments, such as eating fruit for dessert instead of pie, we are forging new pathways in the way we think and act.” Thanks to neuroplasticity which is the ability of our brain to change in response to new experiences, we have the capacity to change our habits, creating new neuropathways, and experiencing life in a whole new, more engaging, more meaningful, and more effective manner.” This new behavior which was once monumental, she explains, “becomes automatic when a behavior style approach is fostered.”

In my field of health coaching, potential clients are coming in restless. They know they need to lose weight, but they also realize changing behaviors is no longer an option. This is a good thing however, as it signifies a needed mind-shift that is necessary for real and lasting change to occur. In the past I would have to convince people of the merits of losing weight through behavior change, but now they are increasingly coming in with a driven sense of purpose for a smart plan that compliments their lives but yet is inspired by their own talents, strengths, motivations, and desires. I like to kid my clients and say what I do is make them smart. In reality, they are the smarty pants. I just nudge them along until they see how to make sense of applying the most personally meaningful health information smartly, just as they do with their own careers, families, and social affairs.

Stop the Busy work
In your desire to lose weight you may have found it easier to keep reading the vast amount of information, than to process what appears to be most important. If this is you, here’s where to begin. Make no bones about it, smart savvy readers know traditional dieting is not the answer to losing weight. We are looking for solutions to lose weight, feel better, and look better, and know that ultimately changing behaviors is a definite must do. Here’s how to begin. Read the following.

Note the mind-shift needed and start putting healthy living into action today!

Step One: Use movement to inspire you

Mind-shift needed
Movement has the capacity to inspire a vision of how we want to live and feel.
Move more daily. Tell someone. Start today. Worry about the details later.

On the opening day of my healthy living seminars, I encourage clients to begin their daily routines with exercise. The act of moving our bodies makes us feel better about ourselves, has the capacity to inspire a vision of how we want to live. And it makes us feel better about our lives in general. Movement sparks in us a desire to do better at whatever we do!

One client of mine illustrates this ability of exercise to enhance her life when she tells the group, “I went for a walk yesterday and without even trying I ate less at dinner.” This is the power of what exercise can do. “It makes me feel more alive”, says another member, “It makes me realize there are other things to do besides eating.” Don’t get me wrong”, she continues, “I still enjoy eating, and I know it’s ok to like to eat, but I am beginning to feel more satisfied and in control of how much I really need to eat. Eating is more enjoyable when you know you did a little work for it.”

As a health coach I encourage people to expand on these thoughts. Talking cements these connections in place so we’re more apt to continue healthful ways. We don’t get all emotional. We simply tell it like it is and carry on. This, to me, is the beauty of how others who are in similar situations can propel themselves forward. Exercise, combined with articulating connections undoubtedly helps us to see more clearly the possibilities of how we can, and will lose weight. Tell a friend. Tell a spouse. Your life is important. But just go out and exercise! We’ll work on the details later.

Step Two: Seek Progress Not Perfection

Mind-shift needed

Seek progress not perfection. Do not use perfectionism to quit trying.

Action needed
Take baby steps. Start small with exercise and healthy eating changes.

Coach Kate Larsen said it best in her book, Progress Not Perfection: Your Journey Matters, when she illustrates the importance of progress as a means of measurement instead of perfectionism Too often it seems we get caught up in this all or nothing attitude. You’ve heard it before, “I’m going to lose weight; I do nothing half way and this includes weight loss!” These people typically fail, and often are the ones that use this approach as an excuse to stop trying to lose weight and get healthy. “I’m a capable person. If I’m going to do this it will be with gusto – exercising 2 hours a day and eating nothing but clean food. That’s just the way I am!” It may sound heroic, but the truth is, ironically these actions reflect the opposite. They have used perfectionism as an excuse to stop trying.

Don’t let this be you. Weight loss is not about being perfect. The true heroes persevere, and do not use this mindset as an excuse to give up. A persevering mind is a strength. Let this be you.

Step Three: Focus on what really matters in weight loss

Mind-shift needed
Savvy people don’t get caught up in all the hype of dieting tactics. They get down to business and get the job done.

Action needed
Stop reading expert advice tips. Get real. Eat less of whatever you eat and get started now.
“Should I eat only protein and vegetables at dinner time? Should I eat fruit with every meal or just in the morning?” Here’s my best advice to you if you feel inundated with do- this not- that kind of information – stop reading. It’s paralyzing you into inaction. Here’s what you need to know. You will lose weight if you eat three quarters to half of what you normally eat during most meals of the day. That’s it. “Really”, says one client, “I am so tired of all the information out there.” When asked to describe what he feels is holding her back from losing weight, she pauses and says, “I just eat too much. But then sometimes I hardly eat, and then I eat again too much.” I can’t tell you how often I hear this in training and coaching clients. It’s ok though. Awareness is the first stage of weight loss.

We all know what to do. We’ve just allowed ourselves to get consumed with tidbit dieting techniques because that is how advertising affects us. However, advertising cannot get all the blame. Too often we use dieting techniques as a diversion to keep from doing the real work of eating less.

Make it your job to focus on decreased food consumption regardless of what you typically eat. As with exercise, we can work on the details later. It’s not necessary to change everything all at once. Eating less works! And it works with whatever foods you are familiar with eating. You will see beautiful results. You will feel beautiful results. Think about this. Really! We are silly. “We must start thinking rationally again!” By the way these are not my words, but the words of one group member that lost 17 pounds in 11 weeks.

Step Three: Weigh yourself to keep awareness

Mind-shift needed
Don’t be afraddy cat of the scale. It’s a valuable tool that keeps you aware. Recognize the power of accountability.

Action needed
Weigh yourself daily; naked if you must. Record to further cement your conviction.

Awareness is Key Factor to Weight Loss
Weigh yourself. It’s ok. A daily “weigh in” compels us to be aware. You will hear different opinions on this, but those who weigh themselves daily hold themselves accountable increasing their resolve. Weighing ourselves helps because it compels us to be aware. If you don’t think this is true, then consider if you ever purposely did not weigh yourself after a day or two of eating too much. You did this because you did not want to deal with reality. Getting on the scale daily is a tough discipline to establish, not physically of course, but mentally.

We love to be weighed when we know we’ve lost weight, but the challenge is to weigh ourselves after a full day of eating too many calories. This is where most people stop.

Go ahead, get on the scale. Let reality set in and get going again. Keep in mind that it is all about progress not perfection. You will lose the weight you need to lose to feel better and look better if you keep this mindset and commit to simply continuing on. “Think of it this way”, says one client who lost 42 lbs, “It’s not like you are starting all over again when you get on the scale and your weight is up, you are just continuing with trying to reach your goals and life goes on. If I got upset about a weight increase every time it happened, I’d never lose weight. I have to keep on moving. It’s the only way. And the sooner you realize it, the better. “

It is insight such as this that has helped me as a health coach and trainer realize that weight loss is best done in the context of joyful living. And this is the 5th mindful connection that if acquired can help you not only lose weight and keep it off, but will elevate your life in ways you’ve never imagined.

Step Three: Live joyfully while losing weight

Mind-shift needed
We change best in the context of positive living.

Action needed
Exude confidence and good cheer as you go about your weight loss journey.
Live joyfully while losing weight. Sounds a little hokey I admit, but this field of health coaching changes not just those who I assist, but it has changed me as well. Years ago, I never fully realized the impact positive living and attitude had on our ability to change. Like everyone else, I did not discount its significance, but I never gave the idea that we change best in the context of positive living the status that it deserved.

Since the time I began coaching, I’ve learned much about what positive living really means, and especially what it means in changing some of my own behaviors. What prompted me to include positive living into my own seminars is that I was seeing a pattern of how people dealt with weight loss.

Many people literally tried to make their life miserable while striving to obtain a desired weight. One 40ish male said he was going to work out 3 hours a day until he lost 20 lbs. I thought to myself at the time that reality TV was making his life miserable.

Another woman said she was not going to go out with friends until she was thin. Another client admitted that in years past she would punish herself while dieting by not letting herself go on vacation until she weighed a certain amount. Maybe these extremes are not indicative of how you lose weight, but what I know is that we have to stop the insanity of punishment as a means to better ourselves.

During times of behavior change we need to be driving ourselves in the opposite direction. We need to ask ourselves how to establish an environment that is conducive for healthy change.

Scientists know rewards are central to continued behavior change. We should be rewarding ourselves after a day, week, or month of behavior changes. Our brain functions best with a reward system and scientists have unlocked the secret that cements the newly learned brain connections so necessary for lifelong change. I tell my clients, “Go ahead. Make your environment beautiful. Reward yourself for doing a fine job. Go to the movies. Go out and enjoy your vacation. Have a party for friends and enjoy it all. What really is the point of losing weight if we are not experiencing life as it is now?”

In essence, whether our goal is to lose a few pounds or many, waiting to be happy and content with all things in our life before we begin a plan of healthy living should not be a prioroty. Go ahead and begin today. Follow these five mind-shifts, and get moving with a more enlightened, smart, and savvy weight loss approach illustrative of today’s new generation of smart weight loss losers!

Our Wealth is in Our Health,
904 501 6002

Why Positive Environments are Key to Health Living and Weight Loss

The NYC metropolitan museum of art has an exhibit on how movies affect our reality. I have not seen it yet, but can only imagine that it has to do with how our realities are shaped by what we see, and in turn how we interpret these realities into our own lives.

Recently it seems, within the past couple of years, many people have chosen to read or watch the news in small doses. For many of them the thinking in favor of limiting news time is based on the idea that too much negativity inhibits positive emotions. Similarly, many people believe positive awareness creates positive emotions. I am embarrassed to admit that in the past, I have disregarded this type of thinking and instead opted for a more unyielding stance that no one can alter my emotions except myself. I think some people today have a similar stance. Unfortunately for us, such a rigid state of mind puts one at a severe disadvantage in our social everyday lives of work and play.

Emotions Are Affected by Environment
I’m glad to say, I’ve since softened my position on this “positive psychology stuff.” And, I might add, it comes at a good time because even though scientists have known for many decades that emotions are affected by our environments, it is now common place thinking to pay attention to how we can alter a healthier state of mind through positive thinking, and brain rewiring. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not referring to the Pollyanna personality where one may get run over by a truck and instantly see the positive points of being flattened by tons of metal. I’m referring mainly to what the scientists are now saying about how we can rewire our brain circuits to alter a multitude of habits that we would like to change. As of lately with books like The BrainThat Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D. and Perception, Memory and Emotion:Frontiers in Neuroscience edited by T. Ono, health professionals, including myself, are taking the brain circuit behavior change theory much more seriously.

In my case, I’ve used it not only on myself successfully, and continue to use it to replace non beneficial behaviors with added new healthful behaviors, but on people that I coach in creating more healthful meaningful lives. In fact, I feel so strongly about the use of it that it has formed the basis of my coaching. I no longer shun the idea of positive psychology as a gimmicky self help approach, but instead believe that the strength of positive thinking, because of it’s scientific proven credibility, is an approach that is going to gain momentum in the world of healthy living and healthy aging for many years to come.

Positive Psychology is Not Just Positive Thinking
Many people think that users of positive psychology simply add positive words to their vocabulary, and eliminate negativity in their environments to invoke behavior change. Perhaps this is why positive psychology advocates have often gotten a bad rap. Positive psychology like many concepts is part of a much broader manner of being. It may start out as simply changing thoughts from the negative to the positive, such as replacing the words,” I cannot pass up a donut at the office because everyone is eating them” to, ” I can pass up this donut at the office because I have the capacity to say no.” In actuality, the use of positive psychology is constantly evolving as the person is able to handle more difficult challenges. Such is the case with one of my clients who has made huge strides in weight loss. He is at a standstill. He is intuitive enough to know what is getting in his way of continuing to lose weight, but isn’t taking the leap to the next level. A positive approach to this as a health coach is to be patient and stay with him as he figures it out. Everyone learns differently and at different paces. The best approach is not to offer advice such as what a spouse or family member might try to offer, but to offer an ear and inspiration. Too often we may think we are helping by offering advice, but positive psychology is not about telling the person what to do. He knows what to do. In situations, such as with my current client who is at a weight loss stand still, letting him figure it out in a positive approach environment is central to continued progress. Positive approaches might include filling the gaps of information that he may not be aware of, but more often include approaches that get his brain thinking on another level that includes more right brained creative thinking and less analytical left brain thinking. For example, as will be the case with my current client, helping him connect with people that are similar in age and whom have succeeded in similar circumstances may be all he needs to move on to the next weight loss level. Inspiration within a positive and non judgemental context is often all that is necessary to help people continue to thrive with their healthy lifestyle efforts!

One Additional Note
The very nature of rewiring our brain circuits is not a quick fix plan. I like that it is a more sophisticated, long lasting, and intelligent way of changing ourselves, our habits, and our brain structures. I believe, that in the next five years, the idea of rewiring our neuropathways through progressive behavior changes to better our lives, is going to stand apart from all of the quick fix diet, lifestyle, and exercise gurus that we’ve been inundated with in the last twenty five years. The editors of USA Today wrote that 2008, is the “Year of Living Smart.” Can we envision that living smart in 2010 will include this more savvy positive approach to healthy living and healthy aging.

2009 Health Observations – A Trainer’s Perspective

”The main reason diets fail, and health, fitness, and wellness goals are not achieved, is that our mental discipline weakens in an attempt to lose weight and become fit in a small span of time. Ironically, we consider ourselves weak willed and undisciplined when our dieting and exercise goals fail.” K. Miller

As a Health/Fitness coach and trainer in the St. Augustine, Florida area for over 10 years, I’ve seen many health trends come and go. Until a year or two ago, I received many exercise and health related questions from people seeking to obtain the “single” best approach to health. For example, “What is the best exercise?” “What is the best food?” “What is the best abdominal exercise?” And Etc. To most of us today, even novice exercisers, these questions appear narrow in scope and too basic for real health change to occur.

With the New Year here, this is a good time to summarize health observations. Specifically, I’ve noticed an ever increasing number of people gaining a better sense of what it means to be healthy and fit. They, it appears, are taking a broader and less superficial view than in previous years of what it means to be healthy and well.
There are many health observations that I could write about, but the three featured below were chosen because they represent an awareness that transcends superficial fitness practices and provide a hopefulness that I believe is necessary for real health change to occur.


1. We Use a Multi Tiered Approach to Health. People are savvy in what they require from a competent trainer. Years ago, a trainer needed only to be competent in putting a client through a vigorous routine without getting him or her injured. Today, this approach is fast disappearing. Trainers today must have an awareness and appreciation for engaging their clients in a more holistic approach to health, wellness, and fitness in order to keep up with the increased needs of their client base.

2. We Understand Exercise Cannot be Used to Mitigate Poor Eating Habits. The new attitude today is, ” I worked out hard today, let’s not mess things up by eating poorly.” People have adapted this new attitude because they are looking at food not merely as calories to be burned through exercise, but nutrition to be gained through proper eating habits.

3. We Realize The Best Exercises Are The Ones We Actually Do. There are certainly best approaches to take as it relates to a well balanced fitness program. It should include various aspects of fitness from cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, to flexibility, balance, and body composition. And, they should include the more wellness oriented aspects of health, such as stress reduction, nutritional needs, and relationships with friends and family. However, if we are not ready to tackle the full demands of what it means to be healthy and well, then pick one exercise and do it well.

It’s amazing how focusing on one activity can change the heart and mind of an individual. In my earlier days of training clients, I used this singular approach successfully by putting one through an intense, but manageable workout with the hope that their minds would become open to engaging in other aspects of health and wellness. It’s still a great approach, and can be used as the basis of jump starting any lifestyle change! Try it yourself and drop me an e-mail at kim@bodysmartinc.com letting me know how you are doing.

Future of Our Wellness

What does your desk look like? Here's picture of my work... on Twitpic “We are not only what we read, we are how we read,” says Maryanne Wolf, a developmental Psychologists at Tufts University and the author of Proust and the Squid: The story and Science of the Reading Brain. Wolf contends that the style of reading promoted by the Internet puts “efficiency” and “immediacy” above all else and that we may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged shortly after the printing press came into play. When we read online, she says, we tend to become “mere decoders of information.” Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction remains largely disengaged.”

Google, and other search engines thrive on loads of information. Of course it has its pros and cons. As a writer, it is a godsend. I can get research, get quotes and not have to sift through any books or go to the library. The downside is that I have slithered down that superficial road of just finding information, but not really interpreting it or making the mental connections that are necessary for thoughtful reading to occur.

The point is that we may be heading down that same superficial road with diet and exercise. We are, I believe, heading deeper and deeper down that road of trying to be healthy by educating ourselves incessantly with internet health information. Something is missing. It seems to me that we may be confusing the very act of reading health information with actually implementing the health information. Writing in the July issue of Atlantic, Nicholas Carr relates how the London Scholar Group from the University College in London has been studying the behaviors of internet users and that what they found was that people using the sites exhibited a “form of skimming activity,” hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to one source they’ve already visited.

Are we receiving a lot of information, but processing it the same way we are reading it – by skimming? Ironically diet and exercise for good health and wellness calls for just the opposite. We need to design a plan and stick with it. We tweak it only after we have sustained an effort for a considerable amount of time, and additionally have assessed it for it’s worthiness in helping us to achieve our health goals.

It’s ironic, as we get increased information on diet and exercise, we get more of the health problems associated with obesity. The state in which I live, Florida, one news station reports, is the most obese state in the nation. Do we need to consider that there may be a direct correlation between our style of reading health information and the future of our wellness?

Our Wealth is in Our Health
Kim Miller

Get Old Fast the New Generation’s Way

In past generations we got old and died. Welcome to the new generation. Now we get prematurely old and decrepit, and only after many years of being this way do we die. Want to get old and decrepit fast? Follow me. I’ll show you the quickest way to a long, decrepit, ripe old age. Read below, but before you do, keep in mind that I had a little fun with this post and I think you will too. It’s less formal than previous posts but it’s packed with my typical desire to get you looking your best, feeling your best, and performing your best! Go ahead and read on:

Be a part of the New Generation

1. Steadily gain 2 pounds per year beginning at the age of thirty. Your goal should be to arrive at age 60, sixty pounds heavier than when you were age 30.

2. Each year that passes celebrate your birthday by consuming more white flour and sugar than in the previous year. This amount will vary per individual. Strive for increased amounts in each passing year.

3. Exercise only if absolutely necessary. Shun those that promote it and hold fast to the position that those who teach it are crazy.

4. Enjoy friendships of similar mindsets. Stay clear of even casual friendships that entice you to eat in moderation, exercise with knowledgeable competent trainers, and or discourage you from overindulgences in any form.

5. Disregard overzealous doctors who exaggerate the significance of simple common diseases and “supposedly bad health numbers.” Disregard their hyperbole about high blood pressure, pre diabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, high LDL’s, low HDL’s, obesity, and a little inflammation in the body.

And if by Chance, you are not as “ambitious” as this new generation of prematurely old before your time fellows, but instead aspire to looking good, feeling good and leading a more vital lifestyle, then keep reading. Together, we’ll make sense of what you need to be doing to live a more vigorous lifestyle! It won’t be overnight and it won’t be gimmicky. I am confident you’ll thank yourself for changing your life in a slow progressive manner that focuses on healthy lifestyle changes that are meaningful and keep you from aging prematurely like our “new generation friends.”

Our Wealth is in Our Health,
Kim Miller

Smartly Use the Power of The Mind For Aging Well

In his book, The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, M.D. writes, “competitive plasticity explains why our bad habits are so difficult to break or “unlearn.” Most of us think of the brain as a container and learning as putting something in it. When we try to break a bad habit, we think the solution is to put something new into the container. But when we learn a bad habit, it takes over a brain map, and each time we repeat it, it claims more control of that map and prevents the use of that space for “good habits.” That is why “unlearning” is often harder than learning, and why early childhood education is so important-it’s best to get it right early, before the “bad habit” gets a competitive advantage.”

Not Surprisingly We Are Conditioned to Fail

Often we are conditioned by advertisers to believe feeling better, looking better, and achieving a vital vigorous lifestyle are easily achieved tasks. Unfortunately, this type of thinking leads many people astray and more apt to act quickly,rashly, and consequently with a high failure rate when looking to overcome various adverse health habits that have been learned over a lifetime.

Slow, Progressive, Consistent Behavior Achieves Results For a Lifetime

The reason many people eventually fail in their weight loss and other health goals is they have not achieved a healthy, slow, patient, and consistent behavior change process that allows the brain to adjust to it’s new neural pathway patterns and brain map. Mr. Doidge proposes we must make space for our new habits, but not only must we make space for these habits, we must emphasize the manner in which we do so. Care and consideration for how we implement changing our “bad” health habits is paramount to making lasting lifestyle changes, and fortunately many of today’s savvy consumers are not buying into self denial, superhuman willpower, and hard to sustain dietary and exercise routines. These smart consumers are leaving many of these “dark age dieting techniques” to their unaware counterparts.

Think about this analogy the next time considering losing weight or making behavior lifestyle changes: An amateur or professional golfer and tennis player learns not in one day, but over a lifetime of practice, can you consider that the future of our wellness is no different. We learn and unlearn best like the golfer and tennis player who practices and “unpractices” his skills for a lifetime.

Health and Wellness is About Letting Go

I read an article the other day by an author who intrigued me with a statement that seemed at first to be contradictory. He said that in order for big changes to occur, we basically have to say, ” I give up.” The article was a little more philosophical than I like, but the idea of giving up or giving in to change is something I can relate to in my field of health and wellness.

Before it appears that I am encouraging mediocrity in the area of our health, I should tell you that it is quite the opposite. If we want to make lasting improvements in our health and fitness goals than we need to consider there is much to be gained in starting off with a clean psychological palate. Can we forget about our past victories and triumphs and instead focus on where we are at this given time? Can we focus on what our healthy minds and bodies can achieve regardless of what we have done or did not do in the past? And most importantly in my mind, can we imagine how we will feel as we go about our daily lives improving and progressing in the area of our health? No doubt there will be challenges along the way but the good news is that people are resilient. Our muscles can grow at any age. Our bones can grow at any age. Our cardiovascular output can increase at any age. Our flexibility can increase at any age. And perhaps most importantly, our minds can grow and change at any age.

For me personally, “giving up” has been a useful tool for me as my health, wellness, and sporting goals have changed substantially throughout the years. What hasn’t changed is the feeling that I get from the way I live my life on a daily basis. Although I may not be able to run a 5:30 mile today, I still derive the same feeling that I did when I was a kid even though running is not my main outlet today.

My question to you today is, “can you surrender your past victories and or past shortcomings and work diligently daily towards retaining the feeling of being an easy going healthy kid again?

Personal Training and Wellness Coaching – What You Need to Know

Reading the results of various studies in the health field is fascinating. However, being in the business of fitness and helping people obtain their health, fitness, and wellness visions, in addition to feeling and looking good is even more fascinating. I chose personal training and wellness consulting over group fitness because of the creative flexibility it allows me in meeting the unique requirements that each individual brings to training sessions.

I have both young and older clients ranging in ages from 11 to 84 years. Some of them are in good conditioning and like the added challenge of one or two hard workout per week. Some are in the beginning stages and want to tone their bodies, build muscle and bone mass, sleep better, or stave off health risk factors caused by inactivity. Still yet, and increasingly so, I have people who benefit from e-mail or phone consulting strategy sessions where walking and nutritional planning is implemented on their own.

This type of work never tires me so I thought it would be interesting for you as well and compiled a short list of insights and observations that I’ve observed over the 23 years I have been in the health field. By the way, in case you are adding numbers, my years in the health field started when I was two. Ok, twenty two if you are pressing me!

Getting Started Is Difficult – the most successful exercisers just do it, realizing the difficult feeling will disappear once the activity is started.

We are Smart to be Concerned About Belly Fat- men with a waist circumference over 40 inches and women over 35 inches are at increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. Proper eating habits and cardiovascular exercise trump abdominal exercise for reducing waist size.

People that Randomly Exercise Have a Healthier Mindset than People that Never Exercise – I’d rather train a person that is inconsistent than try to convince a person of the benefits of exercise. Those that are inconsistent realize exercise benefits and only need better organization and priority planning, whereas those that deny exercise benefits have no reason for change.

We Adapt – our bodies are highly powered machines that when progressed smartly respond appropriately regardless of age.

The Treadmill Gets Bad Press – walking is functional and we need to be able to continue walking regardless of age. After all, we can’t ride a stationary bike or get on an elliptical trainer to move about in our own house or go out shopping. The bike and elliptical trainer are soft on the knees, and serve an important role for those that ache. Use the treadmill or walk outside occasionally, but don’t eliminate this movement from your exercise routine.

Consistency is More Important Than Intensity for Healthy Living – however, both intensity and consistency need practiced if training for a specific muscular look is desired. Both can be done simultaneously.

Motivation is Key in Exercise Consistency – it doesn’t matter where we derive motivation. Using “looking better” as a motivating impetus is not a bad way to think. Training, regardless of our motivation makes us not only look and feel better, but gives us better health numbers.

Life Looks Better Viewed Through a Healthy Body – want to change your attitude? Train your body.

The Lateral Pull Down is the Most Misused Gym Apparatus – too much weight and bad form. Keep chest upright and not contracted. Never take bar behind your head.

Having a Personal Trainer or Wellness Consultant Does not Have to be a Lifetime Commitment – some people are reluctant to use the services of a personal trainer because they think the trainer is looking for a lifetime income and they don’t want to feel obligated. Trainers are utilized in multiply ways and most good trainers enjoy the variety of reasons that people come to them whether for one single session or a continuous program. Credentials are important. The following are various reasons people may hire a trainer.

1. Learn proper alignment and form on machines and free weights.
2. Weekly as an extra energy boost to typical routines.
3. Quarterly for changing routines, and offering more progressively challenging tasks.
4. After the Holidays as a motivational jump start.
5. Prior to special events to look and feel good.
6. Weight loss jump start.
7. E-mail accountability programs to boost fitness or wellness goal success.
8. Body sculpting program for swim wear season.
9. After cardiovascular rehabilitation to reinforce implementation in new setting.
10. Learn safe back strengthening exercises to decrease back pain.
11. Full body conditioning prior to or after surgery to decrease surgery complications.
12. Reduce blood pressure prior to deciding on taking prescription drugs. May be on own or in gym.
13. Increase bone strength prior to deciding on taking prescription drugs.
14. Design training routine for sporting competition.
15. Abdominal training exercises post pregnancy.
16. Target muscle training such as triceps ( back of arms), hip, and gluteus routines.
17. In home training or consulting on various fitness routines or health programs.
18. Home gym set up consulting and implementation advice.
19. Blood sugar reduction program on own or with trainer.
20. Nutrition and exercise consulting via e-mail, phone, or in person.

Some trainer’s offerings are not as diversified as others. Asking them about their qualifications and how they can make the program most convenient for you while reaching your goals should be top priority. You are hiring them, and attention to your needs and how best they can be met should be their number one priority. It should be offered, but always ask for a no obligation free consultation.

In an upcoming blog look at how one client saved a huge amount of money by hiring my consulting services over the phone and internet. Hint: It cost him only $240.00 dollars and he was done in a month. The best part is, he doesn’t need me anymore, and life and health are good! I’m out of a job, but that’s ok. Life is good on this side too!