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 People are questioning the effectiveness of quick fix dieting practices, outdated modes of exercise adherence, and wavering self help practices aimed at seeing life as joyful and satisfying.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

Road to Weight Loss (Part 3 of 6 Weeks)

Lifestyle change is about progress not perfection. Today is the 15th day of a 6 -week journey on the path to feeling good, looking good, and performing great at any age. We begin the 3rd week of our trip by exploring today’s mind connection- progress not perfection. But pause for a moment before continuing and ask yourself these 3 questions –

+What cardiovascular exercises have I engaged in this week?
+What muscular strength training exercises have I begun?
+What stretching exercises have I incorporated into my day?

Congratulations to those of you who are actively following
by putting healthy living into action! You are doing well!

Get Focused Review your commitment to the following powerful instigators of lifestyle change. Use a 1 to 5 rating with 1 being a low level of commitment and 5 a high level.

Tally each category.
Use the following to assess your commitment to changing your lifestyle behaviors –
Total of 20 – 25
Signifies a high level of commitment to lifestyle change. I am confident you will improve nicely on your own. If you feel the need for technical training, have fitness questions that need addressed, or if you believe you are ready for huge gains in physical fitness and energy levels, then seek out a health coach/trainer. Motivation can wane so seeking a trainer/coach is always an option if needed.

Total of 15 – 19 Indicates you have potential for making some improvements on your own, but should consider a health professional if a minimum score of 20 is not obtained within 3 weeks.
You are motivated but too little for big changes to occur. Often people whose motivation is at this level tend to vacillate between seeking the help of a professional and not seeking help. When opting for the latter, discouragement abounds and feelings of a failure often cause further inaction. Hiring a professional is an option to be considered sooner rather than later.

Total of 14 or Under Signifies a lack of motivation. Do not despair. Often an experienced coach will help you work through finding motivation. While it is true that only you can do the work, similar to many important tasks in life, the support of a trained professional can make the difference between success and failure. So if you lack commitment, if you lack motivation, consider continuing along the road to lifestyle changes by enlisting the aid of a trusted coach/trainer

Rate Yourself In Each Area Use movement as inspiration – Rating 1 – 5
Think progress not perfection – Rating 1 – 5
Focus on what really matters in weight loss Rating 1- 5
Weigh Yourself Daily Rating 1 – 5
Live Joyfully While Getting Fit 1 – 5
Total _______________

Be reflective. Be frank with yourself. Rate yourself now before focusing on this week’s mind connection number two.

Progress not Perfection Too often we expect perfection when seeking to lose weight.
“I’m going to lose weight. It’s going to be all or nothing. I do nothing halfway and this includes weight loss!”
These people typically fail. Complicating matters, this approach is often used 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!”
Heroic? Questionable.

Perfectionism need not be used as an excuse for not persevering through lifestyle changes. We all fail in fully living up to our own ideal expectations. Those that assess and adapt their behaviors without judging too harshly will do well. Weight loss is not about being perfect. A persevering mindset is what matters.

This Week’s Plan/Review Assess your commitment, and act on plan by using the rating chart above. Continue designing a plan implementing the three types of activity; cardiovascular, muscular strength/endurance, and stretching. Remember, this is simply a beginning. There’s no hurry to figure things perfectly. You will figure it out as you go along. Most importantly, assess and revise -have fun-and eat less. I’ll see you back here soon.

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

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?