Don't be left out!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

You Don't Need Another Meal Plan

Last week, I sat in my living room with a good friend discussing exactly what was included in the new program, Healthy Habits for Happy Moms, that I’m co-coaching with Mama Lion Strong and Moms Done Dieting. My friend was curious to know if…

...there was a meal plan included?
...there was a grocery list?
...I will tell her what to eat?

Asking questions like these have become fairly standard when buying a product of the fitness industry. In addition to answering questions about our new program, I’m often grilled about food in regards to my personal training services when meeting with potential clients (pun always intended).

In either case, the short answer to these questions is no.

No meal plan. No grocery list. And no, I will not tell you what to eat.

My friend sat in the rocking chair across from me with a look on her face that read, “What the hell? How does that work?” and finally said, “But...I need a plan to follow.”

I explained, “The only plan you need is the one you can stick to, and you know enough about food to start making better choices.” Now, that's not to say I wouldn't help my friend, because I would.  I'd be happy to help anyone in need.  I just don't think forking over the umpteenth meal plan is the solution.


And to all of you looking for the perfect meal plan, diet or weight loss nutrition program, I’d tell you the same thing. In case you missed it, here it is again….

The only plan you need is the one you can stick to, and you know enough about food to start making better choices.

Let that sink in for a minute.

For the average Jane or Joe, when it comes to food selection, most people don’t need more education, they need more confidence.

In an article for the Huffington Post, “You Know How to Eat, You Don't Need a Diet Company to Tell You”, author Marci Warhaft-Nadler says, “After years of being told that we don't know how to eat, we've actually started to believe it. This makes us completely vulnerable and therefore prime targets for any new diet plan or product that come our way.”

As consumers, we’ve lost faith in ourselves.

And I get why. No carb, low carb, high protein, vegan, paleo, grass-fed, organic, raw, low sugar, low fat, low sodium, high fiber, fat free, sugar free, caffeine free, preservative free, macros, calories, whole foods, good fats, bad, fats, GMOs, whole grains, simple sugars…..

It’s overwhelming, isn’t it?

While living in the information age has allowed us to quickly gain access to important nutrition information it’s also left many of us feeling incapable of making appropriate diet selections for ourselves. Gertrude Stein once said, “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”

Common sense. 
Go Kaleo's flow chart is a great no nonsense tool

If I put you in a grocery store and told you to buy foods you believed support a healthy and balanced diet. I am certain all of your carts would look a little different, but I’d be willing to bet that most of you would come back with a pretty rad looking cart filled mostly with awesome foods.

Or if I said cook a healthy and balanced dinner for your partner/spouse. I’d be willing to bet that most of you would cook something pretty amazing.

Sure, you may get a little tripped up when selecting “the best” peanut butter because there are approximately five million peanut butter choices and the hundreds of various yogurt styles and flavors is sure to leave your head spinning.

That’s okay. Don’t try to major in the minors by getting caught up in the finer details just yet. Make the best selection you can with the knowledge you have and chalk the rest up to trial and error.

And yea, this approach is simple but not necessarily easy.  Change, any change regardless of how simple can be difficult but I assure you, you don’t need to have all the answers to start.

Think of your first day at a brand new job. You didn’t know everything right away. All you really needed to know is, where is the bathroom, when is lunch, and what day do you get paid. You know, the really important things. The rest of the knowledge you acquire as needed. A reasonable approach to building your personal nutrition plan shouldn’t be any different.

Of course, there are situations where the aid and knowledge of a Registered Dietician or Nutritionist is an absolute must. In addition, individuals looking to change their body composition, improve performance, address medical concerns, etc will most likely require a more detailed discussion in regards to the breakdown of their diet but the average Jane/Joe looking to follow a healthy, balanced diet and maybe even lose a few pounds doesn’t need more knowledge but rather a boost in confidence and autonomy over their food selection.

I don’t want to hand anyone a fish when I can teach them to fish for themselves. And while there are a growing number of fitness professionals preaching a similar message of moderation, sanity, and sustainable changes (including but not limited to Go Kaleo, Disrupt your Diet, Healthy for 100, Mama Lion Strong and Moms Done Dieting) most diet companies won’t encourage a back to basics approach.

Why?

Because it doesn’t make money. You can’t put common sense in a box, slap a few of those aforementioned buzzwords on it and build an empire. It’s not sexy. It’s not exciting. You won’t lose 10 pounds in 10 days. It won’t provide fast results. In fact, it’s pretty anticlimactic with slow, sustainable changes.

Feeling overwhelmed with where to start? Take everything you know about diet and nutrition and dial it back. Waaaay back. There. Start there. As Brook Kalanick from Better By Dr. Brooke encouraged in an article, "I'll Have What She's Having Is Not A Great Fat Loss Plan", "Continue to educate yourself by learning from the pros, but sooner or later you have to get pro at being you. That’s not something any of us are experts in, only you can do that."

Trust yourself. And remember, the only plan you need is the one you can stick to, and you know enough about food to start making better choices.
____________________________________________________

Join our Healthy Habits, Happy Moms group starting Monday, March 2nd
 Get the tools you need to reach your goals on your own terms.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Running & Lifting Injuries: Q&A with a Physical Therapist

One of my many favorite aspects of working for my gym is that we have the opportunity to work in conjunction with the Physical Therapists at the YMCA Healthy Living Center if needed.  As a personal trainer, I've found this to be beyond helpful in approaching client programming when specific health conditions and/or injuries are present that are beyond my scope of practice.  

One topic that comes up often with clients and the general public alike, is how to tackle muscle or joint stiffness and soreness.  Ultimately, I felt this question was best answered by my physical therapist, Abbey.  And….since I had her attention for that question, I threw in a couple bonus ones too.  I love Abbey's well rounded approach to both lifting and running, and I think you will too!  

Annie: Stiffness, soreness, and sometimes pain seem to be reoccurring part of many gym goer's routines. When, if ever, is it ok to work through aches and pains and how do you know when to seek medical attention?

Abbey: It depends on where the stiffness or soreness is. For example, if the soreness is in a muscle (ex. quadriceps, gluts, and hamstrings) after strength training, it’s okay to work through that. Keep in mind that it’s suggested to wait 24-48 hours before working the same body part to allow muscles to rest and rebuild. It would be advisable to cross train as a means to ease up on the soreness, for example: swimming, Yoga, Pilates, and cardiovascular exercise.

If it the stiffness and pain feels more in a joint (shoulder, knee, hip, back/spine, elbow) vs in a muscle, you should NOT work through the pain. Commonly, continuing to "work through” the pain can lead to more complicated injuries and intensify the level of discomfort for the exerciser. For example, if an athlete’s knees are sore after or during running, it would be best to discontinue running at that time and focus on the cause of pain. Seeking medical advice from a physical therapist and physician can help to address the issues and correct any faulty mechanics or muscle imbalances unknown to the exerciser.

Annie: Your experience, what is one or two of the most common injuries you see in runners? Is there any way to prevent this injury from happening?

In my experience, I have treated mostly patellar tendonitis and ITB syndrome. Prevention is key since these are both overuse injuries which take time to heal. The best way to stay ahead of injury is to cross train. It is crucial that the athlete/ exerciser take both strength training and flexibility into consideration. Assessment of hip range of motion, hamstrings and quadriceps length is a good place to begin. Basic muscle length tests include: quadriceps= lie on your stomach and pull your heal towards your buttocks; hamstrings= lie on your back, flex your hip to 90 degrees and try to straighten out your knee; hip external rotation= flex and abduct the hip as you laterally rotate the leg (the figure 4 position). If any of these cause discomfort, it's time to incorporate them into your routine, especially post exercise.

Strength of glut max, glut med, quadriceps, VMO, hamstrings, and gastroc is also crucial. Weight lifting in addition to stability training should be incorporated into cross training to give the runner proper support. The muscular system supports the skeletal system so it only makes sense to work on strength training in addition to running. I personally believe core training is a crucial component in a well-rounded program as back pain can arise from spinal compression forces occurring as the runner impacts the ground.

Annie: In your experience, what is one or two of the most common injuries you see in lifters? Is there any way to prevent this injury from happening?

Abbey: Shoulder impingement and tendonitis of the rotator cuff and biceps. Prevention and treatment should both include correct posture, body mechanics awareness, and strengthening shoulder stabilizers (rotator cuff, lower and middle trapezius, rhomboids and the posterior deltoids). Incorporate shoulder stability exercises into the workout or warm-up to prevent shoulder injuries and enhance performance. If a painful condition develops, an evaluation by a physician and/ or a physical therapist can determine the severity of injury and plan of care for treatment. An Easy rule to follow is RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Annie: Core stability is of course popular for many reasons and relevant to many actives. Do you have a favorite core stability move you use with your clients?
Abbey: Core stability IS popular with the general active community, and that’s a good thing!

I am trained in STOTT Pilates which will bias my answer.J STOTT PILATES emphasizes stabilization of the pelvis and lumbar spine (lower back) in either a neutral or an imprinted position. In neutral the normal curve of the lower back is maintained. When lying on your back, front of hip bones and pubic bone should lie parallel to the mat, and your lower back should not be pressed into the mat. This is the most stable and optimal shock-absorbing position for your back The imprinted spine involves flexing/ moving the lower back towards the mat with the recruitment of your abdominal oblique muscles. Avoid pressing your lower back all the way into the mat or tilting the pelvis too far by overusing the abs or glutes.  

After he or she learns the basics of pelvic/ spinal movement, I like to begin with basic exercises such as: hip bridge, hip roll, ab prep (crunches), prone back extension, and swimming or superman’s. Moving into more intermediate to advanced core exercises, my favorites include: Planks, Side Planks, rotating planks, quadruped position (hands and knees) balancing, and stability ball training.

A huge thank you to Abbey for taking the time to thoroughly answering these questions! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

No Thanks To #noexcuses

Over the last few weeks, an on going heated fitspo debate was sparked after mother and fitness model, Abby Pell posted a photo of her child, six pack abs and the hashtag "#noexcuses".


Both Jen Sinkler and Jennifer from Mama Lion Strong have done an eloquent job explaining why the "no excuses" message is not the most effective method of motivation in their articles here and here.
But after reading quite of few of the comments left on these posts like these and others, it's clear that some of you still don't agree.

The thing is, this really isn't up for debate.  The idealization of images of perfect bodies, perfect lives, and perfect diets via all forms of media is greatly affecting our confidence and self image.  Don't believe me?  Take a few minute and read even just the abstracts on studies like this, this or this.  It isn't helping. It's hurting, and that's a fact.

It's the message, not the messenger.  

The majority of the responses sounded something like "haters gonna hate" or "they're just jelly" in reference to the uproar about Pell's abdominals.

It may not be every one's bag, but I love the look of her abs.  I'll be honest, if they were handing six pack ab's out at the gym, I'd sure as hell take one because I love all the muscles.  I admire and respect the hard work I imagine it took her to achieve those.

However, I assure you, there is not a bone of hate or jealously in my body in regards to her abs.  It's her delivery I don't care for, not her.

Beyond that, this isn't really about a mom with a ripped core.  Founder of Habity, Coach Stevo writes in an article, "No Excuses", "It is important to remember that the difference between excuses and reasons is the feeling of justification. If people are telling you they, “want to change, but…” everything that follows the “but” is not an excuse; it’s an obstacle they want your help getting around."

We need to find a better way of motivating others.  A manner in which inspires people to overcome excuses obstacles, and doesn't leave them feelings lazy, less than and hopeless.

People should take it personally.  

One of the comments I read was from a gentleman encouraging people to just "get over it and not take everything on the Internet so personally."

Well sir, I get that it may not have personally offended you.  But I'm not just thinking about you or me for that matter.

I'm thinking about the community of hundreds of women who see fitspo images like this and feel deflated, never good enough.  I'm thinking about my young daughter and the positive messages I want to promote as she grows older.  I'm thinking about her friends and how they're affected by exposure to similar messages.

Click any of those links I mentioned above and you'll quickly find out why this is beyond a mom with a six pack.  Or take a peek at this extensive research, "Children, Teens, Media and Body Image".  According to this research brief, as early as six years old, both boys and girls in the US have expressed their ideal bodies are thinner than their current bodies.  In addition, by the time they are seven years old, one in four children will have engaged in dieting behavior.

I am certainly not suggesting Ms. Pell is to blame for these alarming statistics.  Her meme is one of tens of thousands out there, her photo just happened to go viral. It is clear however that media plays a role in our perception of self.  Statistics like this are why creating, sharing and re-sharing any fitspo image deserves more consideration.  

In an ABC interview, Pell said, "My message was about having a choice, and showing people that it can be achieved if you want to achieve it…”  In my opinion, that message is what should have been on the photo, not "no excuse".  While that may not have gone viral, I'm guessing that message would have been more helpful and encouraging than the original slap in your face, "no excuse".

Taking back fitspo 

Thanks to Mama Lion Strong a movement has begun.  A movement to take over the fitspo world with positive, welcoming images of everyday women doing their best to achieve their goals.  As Sinkler says, "come with me" images, not "look at me".

We're all in this together.  Join us.  Make and share your own meme with a photo where you feel your best.  That's all there is to it.

No shame, no six pack required.



     







Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mom Guilt: 4 Ways to Work Through It

Yesterday as I walked up the gym stairs to pick up my son from the nursery I noticed another mom doing her best to entice her little one up the stairs in hopes of a quick workout.

Once inside the nursery, the little girl clung for dear life with crocodile tears flowing.  Despite the welcoming gym staff noting that she quieted down quickly yesterday, I could just see the heart break on the mom's face.  She did her best to soothe the little girl, peeled her off and quickly exited the room.

When I left a few minutes later, I found the mom just outside the door listening to hear if her daughter had calmed down yet.

I gave her a smile, patted her on the back and wished her a peaceful workout, but man, my soul hurt for her.

Mom guilt.  It's a b****.

Whether you're a stay at home mom, work outside the home mom, part-time working mom, new mom, or seasoned mom...mom guilt sucks.

When is comes to health and fitness mommy guilt runs especially rampant as, to many mothers, workouts and self care time can feel indulgent, frivolous and can infringe already tight schedules.

I get it.  I really do.  I have left crying babies in the nursery to make it to a yoga class.  I've left my husband with a tantrum throwing toddler so I can take a walk.  I have gotten up before dawn (many times) to lift.  And even been in the gym as late as nine pm on a Saturday to destress.  To say I can sympathize with other guilt stricken moms is an understatement.

But ya know what?  Those workouts aren't indulgent or frivolous for anyone- especially for mothers.  Study after study have shown links to increased mother's activity levels to increased children's activity levels [1], lower stress levels, improve mood, and positively impact body image, all of which greatly impact not only yourself but your entire family.  Remember the saying, "If mama ain't happy, no body happy!".  There really is some truth to that.  It's not just for you, it's for your family too.

It's easy on paper to schedule 4:30 am workouts so you're finished before the first kiddo awakes, and I applaud those who have made that commitment but sometimes you have to part ways with the family to get in activity during the day. Plus, 4:30 is really early.  Ugly early.  

But regardless of why, if you're struggling with mom guilt over taking time out of the day for workouts, here are a few tips to help you get moving guilt free.

They will survive with out you:  Deep breathe, take the super woman cape off and hand it over to dad (or grandma, etc).  I know us moms tend to think the kids may starve, the house will fall apart and homework won't get finished if we don't do everything ourselves, but try putting some faith into whomever is responsible for the littles while you squeeze in some exercise.  More than likely, the to-do list won't be tackled exactly the way you would do it but they will survive while you're gone, and so will you.

Write down your why:  When you're met with resistance at the first drop of the words "Mommy's going to go workout.", it can be easy to just say screw it, and throw in the towel.  But don't give up just yet, write down your "why" on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere everyone can see.  Why is it important to include exercise in your weekly routine?  What are you goals?  What feelings are you after?  Put it down on paper.  When contemplating skipping a workout in attempt to avoid troubling your family, remember your "why".  Keep the big picture in mind.

Surround yourself with support: If you haven't already, fill your inner circle with people who support your exercise efforts.  Find other supportive, gym going mamas at the gym, preschool, even on Facebook.  Those judgy moms who feel superior about spending all their time and energy on everyone else but themselves…you don't need those ladies around.  In fact, putting ourselves last on the to-do list has almost become a competitive sport many women brag about. Ain't nobody got time for that!  Build your tribe with people who support your healthy habits.     Be

Do something together: If all else fails and for whatever reason, you truly can't detach for your family, find something you can do together.  Family walks, bike rides, yoga, playing tag and even calisthenics in the living room can lead to great health benefits.  Your workouts may be interrupted or less than picture perfect but ultimately, it's a chance for your children to see you making your health a priority.  Now that's, time well spent.

Your turn:  Do you have children?  If so, have you been able to maintain an exercise routine?  What's your best tip?


Sources:
1. http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(05)80485-8/abstract



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

5 Daily Rituals To Improve Body Image

**This article was written by me for a self-embrace series for the Des Moines Moms' Blog.  You can read more from the series here.  

Ask any adult what they would change about their body and most of us will be able to give you a long list of dislikes and areas needing improvement. Even celebrities most would deem as perfect, like the long legged Taylor Swift and wildly successful Katie Couric, have openly admitted struggling with body image issues. 

I am no stranger to body image struggles myself.

Memories as early as middle school come to mind. In 7th grade I quit the volleyball team because I was too self conscious about wearing the short shorts. From there, it was a spiral downwards filled with workouts titled “thin thighs”, stressing over my weight, my curly hair, stretch marks, cellulite, and anything else I viewed as flawed.

Even as an adult, my perception and concern over others perception of my body controlled my world. I dodged full body photos. I started a new diet every other week. I was highly critical of not only myself, but other women as well. I let the jealousy of “fit” women eat at me to the point that I temporarily removed myself from Facebook and cut ties with a good friend just because she had lost weight, and I had not. I am certain most of my friends saw me as a confident individual but on the inside, I felt paralyzed by jealousy and dissatisfaction.

Eventually, after too much time spent worrying about my weight, huge quads, and thick calves, it came to a head after I had my daughter. I hit rock bottom. I was at my highest weight and lowest self-esteem ever, but with little baby eyes and ears on me I knew it was time for a change.

I am no body image expert, just a typical girl with a lot of personal experience in this department but looking back at my transformation from sad and insecure to confident and happy, there were a handful of practices I put into action.

The good news is you can make these changes too, right now. Feelings follow behavior. The simple, but not always easy, act of behaving in a body positive manner often leads to body positive feelings, even if you have to fake it ‘til you make it. 

Exercise: People who exercise tend to have a more positive body image than people who don’t exercise. I am not just suggesting this because I am a personal trainer either, it has been studied over and over again. Anecdotally, I have seen the focus, for many, of exercise shifts from what you body looks like to what your body can do. Today, I am adore my “huge quads” because they allow me to squat a crap ton of weight. (Yes a crap ton is a unit of measurement.) Beyond that, Elle Woods was right, exercise increases production of endorphins. And, we all know endorphins make you happy.

Stop using the F-word: Fat. I am talking about the word fat. Just throw it out of your vocabulary, especially if you have children. Stop calling yourself fat. Stop calling others fat. When we use negative descriptions (both in our heads and out loud) enough, true or not, we eventually start to believe them. When you feel the urge to use “the f word”, replace it with something you love about yourself.

Stay off the scale: Many of us give the number on the scale way too much power. Down a few pounds? You are thrilled, it is a great day! Up a few pounds? You are depressed, time to start dieting and exercising. Sound familiar? It can be difficult, if not impossible, to build a solid foundation of self love, respect and acceptance when you’re frequently seeking validation from the scale. Toss that sucker in the trash, or at least under the bed if you really can’t part with it. You can choose to have a great day, any day, regardless of what you weigh.

If you’re working on losing weight, weighing yourself once a week should be plenty. Remember, the number on the scale is not always representational of a healthy/unhealthy body.

Focus on the positive: Even the smartest, most confident, Katniss Everdeen-ish of women have their off days. You are going to have moments when you feel insecure, anxious, jealous, dissatisfied, and even angry with your body. Be ready. Arm yourself with positivity. Keep your attention on what is going well and what you love about yourself. Think of it as two voices. The voice of positivity has to be louder.

 


Sure, the famous Saturday Night Live character, Stuart Smalley, was hilarious but he really was on to something with his well-known mantra, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me.”. Have a mantra ready in your back pocket. Heck, steal Smalley’s if you want! When you are tempted to critique, pull out that short saying full of positivity and repeat as many times as needed.

Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love: You know all those negative things you say to yourself? Write them down. Look at them. (Do not read any further until you are done)

Now, let me ask you this. Would you say those things to your child? To your mother? To your sister? To your best friend? I did not think so. Now tear those bad boys up.

Even if you are not in love with your body, treat it like you are. Remember, feelings follow actions. Act out of love towards your body and with time you will feel love towards your body. 

++++++++++++++++

Years ago, I would have been beyond embarrassed to share my struggles in private, let alone in a public forum. Today, I see them as the peaks and valleys I worked to conquer on a road that ultimately led me to a profession I am passionate about. I have realized that my perception of my body had very little to do with my physical appearance and tons to do with the dialogue taking place in my head. I continue to practice these five changes because I believe self love and acceptance is a skill that should be exercised daily in an effort to reach optimal potential. Just as my big thighs are nothing to be ashamed of, neither are my battles with body image. I am proud to say that through many storms, I am comfortable in my own skin, flaws, and all.



Thursday, January 8, 2015

Get More from Group Exercise Classes

Group exercise classes come with a long list of benefits- a consistent class schedule, a safe and effectively designed routine, accessible to most gym members, and an opportunity to spend quality time with friends just to name a few.

I couldn't help but notice since New Year', group exercise classes at my gym have been filled to the brim.  As a former group exercise instructor, this warms my heart as I've seen many transformations (inner and outer) take place and friendships develop in group classes.

Whether you're new or old to group exercise classes here are five insider tricks to getting even more from your group exercise classes.

Don't follow the crowd:  While everyone in the class may be asked to perform the same movement, you're not all on the same fitness level.  If there is one downfall about group exercise classes, the pressure to "keep up" with your peers is it.  Just because the woman next to you is able to push the pace or perform perfect push-ups, doesn't mean you have to as well.  The same holds true on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Maybe you are the girl who can do perfect push ups on her toes but the instructor has recommended performing them on your knees.  Keep in mind, instructors have to teach what suits the majority of the class, and that may or may not include you.  Whatever the situation, stay focused on what you can do well and build from there.

Come early or stay late:  If you're new, have questions and/or are curious about modifications come early or stay a few minutes late to pick your instructors brain.  When you're in the middle of teaching a 20+ person class it can be hard to give personal recommendations without singling a member out.  Don't be afraid to ask for a quick form check or regression/progression if needed before/after class.

Find out what other classes your favorite instructor teaches: If/when you find a favorite instructor, ask him/her if they offer any additional classes.  More often than not, group exercise instructors teach multiple classes at the gym. If they don't mind, ask them to contact you if they're substitute teaching for another class or adding additional classes to their roster. You just might find yourself expanding your horizons in a new class with the same instructor you love.

Find a buddy: Just like any other workout outside of group exercise, everything is more fun with a friend.  But fun factor aside, friends can also help hold you accountable to your exercise routine, especially when that friend is Susan, who you just met but always on time to class and gives it her all.  Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to veterans of the class and swap emails or phone numbers, to help keep you honest.  

Look at the big picture: Many group exercise programs are structured to offer both cardio and strength based classes at similar times everyday of the week to help you included both aspects into your routine.  For example there may be cardio kickbox class at 9 am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while at the same time on Tuesday and Thursday a dumbbell strength class is offered.   If you enjoy group exercise classes and are able to visit the gym at a similar time each day, this may be a great way to get in both cardiovascular and strength workouts.

Your turn:  Do you attend group exercise classes on a regular basis?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tips for Making (Better) Resolutions

I never fails, as each year comes to a close, I can't help but notice bookshelves, television advertisements and new feeds are filled to the brim with self-improvement and weight loss products, and inevitably my husband and I get into a "discussion" over the effectiveness of making New Year's resolutions.

My husband, a self proclaimed "TCB-er" (taking care of business), hates resolutions.  From his perspective, if something needs changed, he just decides to change it, and it's done.  I, on the other hand, love resolutions and realize that if making changes were as easy as my husband makes it sound, more than the estimated 8% of resolution makers would reach their goal.  I love the idea of a fresh start, a clean slate, the new faces at the gym, and find the motivation from  new comers to exercise contagious.  

The truth is, resolutions do have a bad rap.  People often make lofty, elaborate goals without giving any thought to the who, what, why, when, and how they will get there.  But really, that's true about goals in general, not just New Year's resolutions.  Whether you're heart is set on making new goals for 2015 or you're you plan to wait until later in the year, here are four tips for making (better) resolutions.

Get rid of the "shoulds": Things you think you should do are not a resolution make. If you want to reach your goal, you have to passionately believe in it.  For example, I probably should cut out my beyond excessive use of coffee creamer.  But ya know what?  I don't really want to.  I like my coffee creamer.  I might be able to muscle my way through a few days without it but the minute that my will power weans, I'm certain I'd easily fall back into my old ways.   If you're beginning sentences with "I should…"  or "My husband thinks I should…." or "My mother thinks I should….", ask yourself if this is a goal you really want to work towards or as Carrie Bradshaw said, "are you shoulding all over yourself?".

Don't bite off more than you can chew: I'm going to lose weight, eat better, join crossfit, run a marathon, do a Tough Mudder, attend yoga once a week, utilize daily affirmations and eat only organic produce.  I am exaggerating a tad, but it's not uncommon for many to make a resolution list a mile long.  While all of those are worthy goals, your time might be better spent focusing on one or two main goals and layering in a new ones as you go.

Think of it like juggling.  When learning to juggle you start off with just a few balls and add more as you improve your skills.  Keeping ten balls (goals) in the air is difficult, and often when you drop one, you drop them all.  Pick a few resolutions to work on first and as you build confidence and momentum slowly add in more.

Focus on how you want to feel: In her book, The Desire Map, Danielle Laporte says,
"Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.  Generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life."  
So often we make goals, hoping in the end we feel more confident, happier, etc.  Sometimes that works sometimes it doesn't.

Focus on how we want to feel, instead of what we want to do, and you might find your goals change.   Ask yourself how do you want to feel  in 2015. Now, what do you need to do to feel the way you want to feel?  Chase a feeling, not a goal.

Consider what you're willing to sacrifice: Everything, EVERYTHING, in life is a trade off.  No choice comes without a price.  Everyday, I choose to workout instead of have free time, I blog during nap time instead of cleaning the house, and at night I play Trivia Crack on my phone instead of going directly to bed.  As a result, I'm short on free time, I have a less than clean house, and I could use an extra 15 minutes of sleep, but these are the choices I've made and I'm willing to go without these things in pursuit of my priorities.

Most likely, your goals will be no different. You will have to sacrifice something whether it be in the form of free time, sleeping, or nights out with friends.  As your plan your road map to success, look down the road to anticipate what working towards these goals might "cost" you.  Be honest with yourself.  If you're not willing to pay the price, this goal may not be for you, and that is ok!  Find something you are willing to sacrifice and work from there.

Your turn:  Do you "do" New Year's resolutions?  Share yours!