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Enjoy better health without all the sacrifices.

Spring is here and with the increase in the amount of daylight naturally lifting most of our spirits, there isn’t a better time to make a few other changes to improve your health.

This is the best time of year to think about small and easy ways to make changes that will make a difference without requiring tremendous sacrifices along the way. And, we are not going to tell you what to, and what not to eat.

Stephen Phillips wrote: “In the Middle Ages, they had guillotines, stretch racks, whips and chains. Nowadays, we have a much more effective torture device called the bathroom scale.”

In a 2010 survey conducted by MSNBC.com, roughly 60% of men and women alike said they were “pretty satisfied” with their physical appearance, even though many of them admitted in the study that they didn’t think their bodies were “ideal.” This article is about changes that will help you get closer to the point you consider “ideal” without the sacrifices most of us are unwilling to make.

This is about setting your goals, the tools available to help you achieve them, and adopting a proper mindset. After all, the quote that we like best about the mindset we should all adopt is by Jillian Michaels: “When friends tell you how awesome you look, drop the ‘I still have more to go’ crap. You worked hard and you deserve the compliment!”

Goal setting

As the saying goes, it is a lot harder to break a goal once you have communicated to someone else what you are going to do. Simply communicating your goals shouldn’t be the first thing you do, though, and if you don’t take the time to consider an appropriate goal you dramatically increase the chances that you won’t reach it.

When you are choosing your goals, try to avoid setting the “absolute goal” such as a certain amount of weight you want to lose or number of kilometres you want to run. Instead, focus on what you are going to do to help you get there. One of the best examples is to commit to parking your car at the far end of the parking lot rather than in the closest available spot to the entrance. It is not only something that doesn’t seem too difficult to stick to, but the number of additional steps you need to take as a result will add up faster than you think.

The bottom line is that if you start with achievable goals that alter your life slightly and progress from there, you have a much higher chance of success. In fact, you will have a much better chance of reaching the “absolute goal” you originally thought of. Just remember Jillian Michaels’s quote that we mentioned above and you will be on your way in no time.

Available tools

There are quite a few traditional tools that are being redesigned to give modern technology everyday applications. These tools can be used to monitor the increase in paces from the far side of the parking lot, or convert them to many of the other statistics that you may want to keep track of. Although there are lots of available tools, two interesting examples are the Nike Fuel Band, and the fitbit ultra.

The fitbit ultra is a small tool that resembles a traditional pedometer and is small and sleek enough to wear inconspicuously. Like a pedometer, it records every step that you take, but the fitbit goes much further to help you asses your progress and many of the elements that may be impeding it. It has an altimeter that allows it to see if you are walking up stairs, it attaches to a wrist cuff (purchased separately) to record your sleep cycle, allows you to input your meals, and updates your online tools wirelessly. You can purchase a fitbit ultra online for $99.95.

The Nike Fuelband does all of the same things as the fitbit with the exception of tracking your sleep cycle. It is a wrist bracelet so it is a little less inconspicuous but it does include a LED display system that will let you know your progress throughout the day. You can also pair it with your mobile phone or computer via bluetooth and connect to the Nike Fuelband app (although only iOS versions have been released at the moment). Simply set your daily goal and literally watch your progress throughout the day. Even better, make it a game and see how much you can better your score. The Fuelband is set to arrive in Canada this spring. Other tools that offer similar features and options include the bodybuggSP™, JAWBONE™ UP, and Motorola’s MOTOACTV™.

As they say on the JAWBONE™ website, “The simple act of tracking activity increases activity by 26%”. Now that’s motivation!

Your mindset

A really great and motivational website named Fitness Mindset has a following mantra on their landing page, and couldn’t really have said it better:

“You can’t expect to see changes in your appearance or general health until you address your mindset! It’s about the will to change. Only you can find the internal motivation to change. Once you’ve found that will to change, you can then start implementing small changes in your current lifestyle that will eventually become healthy habits. The transition doesn’t happen overnight…”

Making changes to your lifestyle won’t happen unless you make it happen, and the only person standing in the way of making some sort of positive change, no matter how big or small, is you. It is a very easy concept to understand but the will to do it isn’t something that you only need to find once, but is something you require every morning when you start your day.

When you wake up each morning groggy and relatively unmotivated, one thing that can be incredibly helpful is a note to yourself, from yourself. It can be something dramatic or a simple sticky note positioned somewhere where you will see it at the beginning of each day. It should remind you of what you want to accomplish, and the motivation you had when you started on your journey and wrote that note in the first place. It should also remind you who you are letting down if you don’t follow your plan… and that’s you.

Soon enough, your reminder note to get you motivated each morning can be replaced with one containing the aforementioned quote from Jillian Michaels with a motivational note that says: You look awesome, you’ve worked hard, and you deserve the compliment!

 

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