Fitness

5 Terrible ( Yet Common) Healthy Living Habits

Most people would agree that to make healthy eating and fitness into a lifestyle, you will need healthy habits. Helping people create healthy habits that stick long term is a key purpose of Team Quadzilla. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and examine if your healthy habits are as healthy as you think. Read on to see if you relate to any of these common habits that do more harm than good.

1. RUSHING TO THE GYM

Everyone is busy. Probably too busy, but that’s a topic for another time. Stressing, speeding, and leaving no time to shift your mind and body from work mode to exercise mode is not healthy. Give yourself time to warm up and mentally focus in order to prevent injury and get the most out of your workout.

Better yet, skip the gym altogether. There are fantastic options for all fitness interests and abilities streamed to your enabled devices at Beachbody On Demand – my go-to for efficient workouts at home. No frantic drive through traffic, no crowds, lunks, or gawkers, no sweaty machines, you get the idea. Ask me how to try BOD for free. You’ll save time and money and very likely get better results.

2. LOUSY GOAL SETTING

In a moment of inspiration, or desperation, you sign up for next month’s Tough Mudder, or half marathon, even though you haven’t exercised in a few years. Or maybe you realize a wedding or class reunion snuck up on you and you must shed 20 pounds, so you spring for a 30 day gym membership, or adopt the latest fad diet.

But that’s just part of getting motivated, right? Not exactly.

There is nothing wrong with setting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, but you need plan. Work backward from the event date to create incremental baby steps to help you get to your goal. Start small and slow, as going all gung-ho the first few days will likely end in injury, frustration, or burnout and you will fail to meet your goal. I am happy to help you come up with a plan that suits you.

3. IGNORING RECOVERY

Especially if you are feeling good and are highly focused and motivated to reach your goal, it sounds crazy to take a break. However, taking a day off can make your next workout more effective. Research suggests that planned recovery can improve performance and also help you boost intensity. Your body needs to rest and recover. It takes a lot of energy for your body to build and repair sore muscles, and you mind will appreciate the break as well. Recovery day can be complete rest or easy activities like stretch and relax yoga, or an easy cruise on your bike.

It’s not macho or impressive to workout hard every day, it’s foolish. Overtraining is a thing, and it will set you back. Plan rest days and work hard on the exercise days. Your body will thank you with excellent results.

4. WORKOUTS ON REPEAT

“I’m going to run a half marathon, so shouldn’t I just run?” Fair question. The answer is absolutely not. No matter the specific event you are training for, it’s best to mix up your workouts so you’re not overtaxing the same muscle groups. Supporting muscles need attention as well. Without a well-rounded plan, imbalances in the body will crop up eventually lead to injury. A running plan, for example, should include stretching/ yoga type workouts and total body strength training to optimize your results.

Further, you may stop seeing results if you’re doing the same workout every day. Your body gets used to certain exercises quickly, so changing it up can keep you on track to build muscle and endurance. By the way, the Beachbody On Demand programs are designed to incorporate necessary “muscle confusion” expedite total body fitness in minimal time.

5. LAZY NUTRITION

“I exercise every day so I can eat whatever I want.” False. Exercise makes up maybe an hour or so a day, but what you eat over the other 23 hours makes all the difference in your results. And I’m not just talking about weight loss or gain. Eating well has innumerable benefits to your overall human performance including more energy, increasing athletic performance, boosting your immune system, decreasing inflammation, improved mental clarity, etc.

You will never be able to out work a poor diet. Focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods — think healthy fats, lean protein, plenty of vegetables — and being aware of how and when you’re eating. Generally speaking, its helpful to maintain an even blood glucose level in your system which means eating smaller meals more often. Eating when you are bored or stressed is usually a bad idea.

Healthy eating habits are best done in baby steps. Change one thing at a time. I recommend to replace foods vs. cutting them. Instead of saying, “I’m going to quit diet soda cold turkey,” try “I’ll replace diet soda with a naturally flavored water.” Once that is normal for you, move on to the next item. Research shows that small, easy changes done over time create more consistency and long-term results.

Fitness, Nutrition

Have A Snack – But Avoid These 5 Mistakes

Everyone loves a good snack. At its best, a snack can be the ideal pick-me-up after a really tough workout or a well-deserved mid-afternoon break at the office. But healthy snacking isn’t a slam dunk. At its worst, snacks can derail your healthy eating goals and ultimately sabotage your weight-loss. Here’s 5 common mistakes to avoid in your snack game.

Mistake #1 Skipping Snacks

One of the big problems I have with diets is they are always cutting something out. Whether it’s calorie counting, food restrictions, or obnoxious fasting rules, popular diets make us feel guilty for needing a snack. We don’t like being told we can’t have this or do that, especially when it comes to food. So dieters eventually cave for the thing they can’t have, get depressed that they failed, and quit.

I’m telling you right now – have snacks. In fact, eat like a Hobbit. At least target 3 meals a day with a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. Snacking helps you avoid getting hangry, keeps your energy up, and eating 4–5 smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day is a proven strategy for increased weight loss.

veggies-and-dip-1d96c27db1244efeab577ead84f3698aThe fix: Instead of snacking on rabbit food or some pre-packaged “low-cal” crackers or cookies that won’t satisfy you, try adding hummus or peanut butter to carrots or celery sticks. I eat an apple with peanut butter almost every day around 3 pm. Target a mix of protein and carbs in your snack choice. This more filling option won’t break the calorie bank and should help keep you from overeating later.

Mistake #2 Snacking When You’re Not Hungry

If you’ve ever reached for something sweet or salty out of pure boredom you’re definitely not alone. Such mindless eating can add up fast and prevent you from reaching your goals.

The fix: Before reaching for a snack, do a hunger check. Ask yourself, “Am I really hungry, or just bored, tired, stressed?” If you aren’t actually hungry, go for a big glass of water, take a short walk, or find something else to do. Being mindful about your food intake is key to reaching your goals. Remember your reasons why you want to eat healthy and let that drive you to make good choices.

Mistake #3 Incorrect Portion Sizes

Nuts, seeds and dried fruit are excellent, nutrient-dense snacks, but they can be easy to overeat if you’re not careful. Beware of portion sizes for such foods. Usually a handful is all you really need. Portion sizes are made easy when you choose whole fruits like apples, bananas, pears. Once you are used to using portion control containers, you won’t need to measure anything.

The fix: Instead of eating right out of a bag of nuts and seeds, serve yourself the appropriate portion size.

Mistake #4 Not Planning

Failing to plan is a plan to fail in your snack game. If you are serious about eating right, you need a plan. It includes bringing healthy food to work with you, and keeping the junk out of your kitchen at home.

apples-peanut-butter-cashew-butter-butter-snack-1296x728-header-1296x728The fix: Make snack prep a part of your regular routine. Keep some whole wheat crackers and real cheese or healthy homemade trail mix at the office. You can bring hard cooked eggs, egg cups, a small jar of peanut butter to go with your apple or banana, etc.

Mistake #5 Not Having The Right Macros

Both protein and fat are essential macronutrients that help keep you feeling full and satisfied. An ideal snack should contain a mix of both carbohydrates and protein/ fat. Your brain and central nervous system run exclusively on carbs (sugar) found in foods such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, milk and yogurt. You need protein such as meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, and seeds to sustain energy and fullness longer.

imageThe fix: Choose snacks that incorporate both a healthy fat or protein, like almonds for example, with your fruit. This will help you stay fuller longer and avoid extra servings at lunch or dinner because you’re starving.

What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Fitness

7 Healthy Habits for Your Second Half

Everyone knows one key to long term healthy living is to stay active. But many aged in their 40’s or 50’s find their body doesn’t behave like it used to — joints hurt, muscles are stiff and stamina is very different than when they were 20 or 30.

Thankfully, taking action right now can help prevent, and certainly delay those ailments so you keep doing your favorite sports and activities into your golden years. Let’s look at 7 things you can do now that your future self will thank you for.

1 REMEMBER: FOOD IS FUEL

Eating the right kinds of food helps you maintain a healthy body weight, gives your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs and keeps your immune system in tip-top shape. Eating the wrong kinds of food, however, can lead to weight gain and chronic inflammation, which could worsen aches and pains and impact your recovery. Your body is a finely tuned machine that requires premium fuel to function optimally. Focus on eating whole foods — lean meats, lots of veggies and fruit and good sources of carbs — and drinking plenty of water.

2 REST EASY

Many people struggle to get the necessary amount of sleep and ultimately rely on caffeinated drinks to help them get through the day. If you’re pushing your body week after week, year after year, then you need to make sure you improve your sleep quantity and quality. That’s because deep sleep is when your body repairs and rebuilds itself from all your training and exercise. Read How To Sleep for more specific tips. 

3 GET QUIET

Stress from work, family, finances, etc., adds up fast. Stress puts a lot of strain on your autonomic nervous system, increases your stress hormones and negatively affects your health. This makes it to harder to recover from exercise, limits the results you’ll see and may even contribute to injuries and health problems.

To prevent this, take at least 10 minutes every day to decompress. Turn off your phone, close your computer, put in some earplugs or headphones, close your eyes and focus on breathing from your belly. I prefer to have some quiet time first thing every morning, before the demands of the day hit me. Prayer, reading for personal development, and journaling are all great exercises to help you calm your mind and set your intention for the day. Mental health is super important, so don’t neglect this one.

4 “LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY”

If you are active and pushing hard, you will likely get hurt or injured at some point. Although it’s tempting — or even a badge of honor — to “push through the pain,” for long-term results, this is a bad idea.

Don’t just think about today’s game or today’s workout. Think about the long game. Your healthy living journey lasts for life. If you tweak something in the gym or on the court, shut it down for the day. Rest, repair, recover and come back healthy and strong.

5 MIX WORKOUT INTENSITY

Workouts like sprints intervals, heavy weights and intense circuits are great, but they can also be stressful on your body. Everything from your joints to your nervous system needs time to rest and recover after hard-hitting training. But if you do them all the time, it will lead to fatigue and potentially cause injuries.

Instead, add at least 1–2 low-intensity workouts every week. For 20–40 minutes, do easy aerobic work to get the blood flowing, (which helps your muscles recover and improves your cardiovascular health), and finish with some gentle foam rolling, stretching and breathing. Find a way to get some yoga into your routine. It doesn’t have to be all weird and spiritual, but the movements and stretches are literally the fountain of youth.

6 BE CREATIVE

The more you specialize in only one sport or one style of training, the more likely you’ll develop overuse injuries and muscle imbalances because of all the repetition. Instead, incorporate new sports, movements and skills into your life. For example, if you ski, try martial arts. If you’re a runner, then add swimming to your routine. If you love to lift weights, take do some yoga once a week.

7 STAY MOBILE

As we age, our mobility and flexibility naturally declines, which can increase the risk of injuries and make it harder to do the activities we love. To enjoy plenty of exercise — no matter your age — take the time now to improve the range-of-motion in your body. Take care of your hips. Before every workout, do a dynamic warmup where you open your body and move properly. On your off-days, take a few minutes to stretch to help your body stay loose and mobile.

Thanks to Anthony Jeung from My Fitness Pal for doing some heavy lifting on this article.

Fortitude, Personal Development

Productivity Habits for High Achievers

If I have learned anything in my 20+ years of project management experience, it’s that there is always room to grow and improve my skills as a PM. Some of the best things I’m learning about being a successful PM didn’t come from college, expensive seminars, or even on the job training. What I’m about to share with you are several simple habits and tips we can adopt to maximize our productivity on the job and in life. Since we are all managers of ourselves, these tips can help us be better no matter our profession.

Set the environment to be productive

A quick internet search for “most productive work environments” will provide more than you need know about the pros and cons of every conceivable variable in your work space so I’ll just offer a few suggestions. The point is to minimize the distractions that keep you from focusing on your work.

  1. Since your optimum work environment is based on your personal preferences, try to personalize your space to suit you.  Display photos, inspirational quotes, or a trinket to help remind you of why you are working so hard and to offer a bit of encouragement when you look at it during a stressful time.
  2. Consider lighting. Most agree natural light is best, but if you are stuck under fluorescent lighting, try adding a lamp to soften the light at your work area. You can work better when you aren’t squinting all day from uncomfortable lighting.
  3. Your chair is important. Sitting at a desk all day is bad enough on our body. I’ve heard it said that desk work is as bad for your health as smoking. Get a comfortable chair, try a stand up desk, incorporate Deskercise into your day, and stretch your legs occasionally.
  4. Neat or messy work area? I’m not sure it matters, and everyone defines messy differently. I’ll say that if you struggle to find what you are looking for, then you need to tidy up. Remove items from your work area that you don’t use regularly, and make a sensible filing system. When organizing your files and work area, consider this question, “If I died tomorrow, would someone else be able to pick up where I left off and find what is needed to continue my job?”
  5. Temperature matters too. If you are too warm or cold at your work area, you will use precious energy to manage your comfort instead of your work. Dress in layers and use a personal fan or space heater handy if you need it.

Stop time wasting activities

We all have unique time wasting activities. Find a way to make the activity efficient, delegate it to someone else, or eliminate it. One example for me is social media. Mindlessly scrolling the news feed for “quick break” can end up being 20 minutes or more without realizing it. One trick I do is to kill my news feed on my work computer to eliminate the temptation. For work tasks that seem cumbersome or inefficient, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this a task I must do, or can someone else do it for me?
  2. When is the most convenient time for me to do this task?
  3. What value does this task add? If it’s not valuable, change it to make it valuable, or stop doing it.

Take notes

Write down the pop up thoughts to clear your mind and get back to it later. Sometimes these thoughts are important reminders to do something, but you are in the middle of another task. By writing it down, you free your mind from it, and guard against forgetting about it later. If I’m away from my desk, I’ll add a note or reminder with alarm on my phone. It feels great to clear my head of these pop up thoughts so I can focus on the task in front of me.

The 3 D’s of email

  1. Delete. Our inboxes get filled with worthless mail. If I don’t recognize who it came from, or the subject line is not related to my work, it gets deleted immediately. But first I mark it as spam and have my email service block them from sending me more.
  2. Deal with it. Some work related mail can be dealt with in 2 minutes or less. Those should be done upon reading, otherwise you are just wasting your time to close the email and reopen it later. Just reply and be done with it. Make your reply thorough so you don’t create unnecessary back & forth with the sender.
  3. Defer it. This is the hardest one for me. If I let it, answering email could fill my entire day, every day. To get any of my other work done, I must simply defer some email to a time that fits my day. I do this by blocking out time in my day specifically to handle email. This way, I only handle the email once and it’s done. This strategy helps me fight the urge to react to the “ping” when new mail comes in. When the sender realizes sending urgent email is not getting the desired response, they will call, or meet in person.

-Don’t be a slave to your phone

Unless I’m aware of some mission critical activity taking place after my normal work hours, I simply do not answer the phone. It can wait until morning. In my experience, there is often very little that can be done after business hours anyway. Everyone else is closed, so no action of consequence can be taken until the next business day anyway. Behaving this way teaches others how to respect your time, and your family will thank you.

-Own your morning

In my opinion, how you manage your first waking hours of each day has more impact on your personal performance and productivity than anything else you will do all day. This is the time before the phone calls, team meetings, and the barrage of email, reports, and decisions due throughout the day. Early morning is your time to take care of you so you can best take care of your other responsibilities. Use this precious time to renew your mind, workout, and fuel your body for the day ahead. Keep reading for more details.

-Read & reflect

High achievers read to learn and they take the time to process what they are reading so they can take action on what they learned. Choose any topic that interests you, but it should be for your personal and professional development. Read something that encourages you to be a better human; a better leader, employee, boss, project manager, etc. I like to read long enough to capture an idea to reflect upon. Then I write about it in my journal. The writing exercise grounds me. Thinking and writing about what I just read helps me to process what I read, remember it, and hopefully put it to action right away. I spend about 30 minutes a day on this activity and am convinced it yields the greatest return in my personal productivity for my time investment.

-Sweat

High achievers understand the importance of their physical health. Let’s face it, if we aren’t healthy, we can’t be our best. Ignoring your physical health may not seem like a big deal today, but it will in the future. You need to build healthy habits now to increase your probability of a long, healthy future. Spend some time to exercise first thing in the morning. Twenty to 30 minutes of exercise, 3-4 times a week is all you need. While some will say you must do this or that exercise, but I recommend that you just get moving. Get your heart rate up, break a sweat, and challenge your muscles. It will help clear your mind, reduce stress, and rev up your internal systems for the busy day ahead.

-The secret weapon

We have all experienced the energy and motivational slump that occurs in the mid-afternoon. Our mornings typically go by fast, but once lunch is behind us a couple hours it seems extra hard to tackle another pressing task. The reason we struggle at this time of day may not be what you think. Unless you are disciplined about how much water you drink throughout the day, it is very likely that you are dehydrated. The secret weapon to revitalize yourself is simply water. A decent rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. For me, that means by 3:00 p.m. I should have drank at least 60 oz of water. Trust me, this works. The sluggishness we feel, the headache that we blame on staring at the monitor, and the irritability we sense is not from “that guy” but from your body telling you that it needs more water. Stay hydrated and plow through your afternoon with vigor and clarity.

 –Create margin in your calendar

Have you ever experienced a work day when everything went as planned? Me either. Despite our best efforts to not double book ourselves for meetings, or to tackle that complex issue right after lunch, the day of a project manager is routinely hijacked by the unplanned, the interruption, and the hair-on-fire crisis. The days can be stressful and frustrating to say the least. That’s why it’s so important to create margin in your calendar. You must block out periods of time in your day and week that are reserved for important tasks. These are closed door, leave-a-message, I’m-not-available-right-now times so you can do your vital task. Block out the time for whatever it needs to be, but you must schedule it. Maybe you need an hour to catch up email or return calls without interruption. Maybe you need to focus on the budget report. Maybe you need to get a workout or eat a healthy lunch. Block it out on your schedule. Here’s what I’ve learned by doing this:

  1. The margin greatly reduces the stress of work. I feel more in control of my time and energy.
  2. I am more productive and produce higher quality work faster.
  3. Work “emergencies” are resolved better when I have uninterrupted focus to handle them, versus trying to multi-task.

While there are lots of good ideas here, I recommend trying just one or two at a time to start. Get those firmly ingrained into your daily/ weekly routine before moving on to the next one. Taking on too much at once is a recipe for failure and discouragement. What are your tips and tricks to optimize your personal productivity? Encourage us with your comments below.

Fortitude, Nutrition, Personal Development

ConQuer Your Mind – Part 1 “What You Feed Grows”

The following video expands on the chapter one idea “What you feed grows” from my e-book How To ConQuer Your Mind To Achieve Your Goals.

The truth is that until you get your mindset right, your success in any goal will be temporary and limited at best. Watch as I share some thoughts about how you can change your behavior with a focus on mindset first.

You can get the e-book for free from the Team Quadzilla Facebook page, or directly HERE. Stay tuned for more videos to supplement the e-book content.