Cultivating a Winning Mindset

Jannine Myers

Some days I really don’t feel like running, but I’ve learned how to override such feelings by simply reminding myself that not running feels far worse. For me it’s that simple, but others – I know – struggle to get out the door and get moving; the mind is willing but the body is not budging. So, for those of you genuinely wanting to win your daily mind games (whether exercise-related or in general), here’s a list of helpful tips:

1. Establish your own personal set of everyday “Non-Negotiables”

I have a few daily non-negotiables; they include waking up early every day, making my bed as soon as I get up, listening to or reading something positive before I start my day, and always exercising before breakfast. I call these my daily non-negotiables because that’s what they are; they are habits that are locked in and only occasionally compromised. I do these things because I believe that the act of practicing them daily sets the tone for an overall disciplined approach to life.

2. Plan, Schedule, Organize!

Former NFL punter, Steve Wetherford, says that his incredibly busy life as a husband, father, and sought-after spokesperson, would not be manageable if he didn’t plan each week. He sits down every Sunday evening and writes down what he intends to accomplish during the week ahead. With a broad over-arching goal in mind, he then breaks that goal down into daily tasks and objectives. He admits that sometimes his weeks don’t go as planned, but having a general map to guide him through each day of each week helps him to use his time purposefully.

I think one of the greatest dangers of not planning is a tendency to become complacent. A lot of people spend their days simply existing – they wake up, go to work, go home, watch TV or hang out on social media, go to bed, and repeat – it’s too easy to live this way if you don’t intentionally plan your days.

3. Learn to say “No!”

Lewis Howes, host of the podcast talk show The School of Greatness, encourages his listeners to get into the habit of saying no to people and things that don’t serve their vision. It’s not always easy to say “No” – especially if you’re a “people-pleaser” – but if you keep your focus on the things that matter to you and what you ultimately hope to achieve, you’ll find it easier to justify your response.

[On the flip side, don’t be all about yourself either; paying it forward by encouraging and helping others is where you will find the most joy and motivation].

4. Divorce yourself from the past – or, only look back if you have something to learn from it!

The key to forward progress is looking forward; visualize your dream and start moving towards it. Trying to grow and move forward – while hanging on to things that once held you back – is like trying to run while pulling a tire; in other words progress will be slow!

Tire-Prowler

5. Find something to be grateful for everyday!

Bob Harper, one of the personal trainers on the hit TV show The Biggest Loser, believes that one of the reasons some people fail to achieve long-term health goals is because they perceive the quality of their lives to be pretty dismal in comparison to that of others. His thinking is backed up by other fitness professionals, including bodybuilder Steve Cook who said in a recent podcast interview that if you can’t find things to be happy about today, then you probably never will. What he was inferring is that if you always see yourself as never having enough, or never being good enough, you’ll allow those thoughts to penetrate your mind and influence the decisions you make each day. He suggests starting each day with positive thoughts and actions that lead to feelings of thankfulness and happiness.

6. If you really want to win in life, stop thinking “short-term” and start thinking “long-term”

When most people set out to lose weight or get fit, they set themselves a “finite” goal; for example, “I just need to lose 20 pounds,” or “I just want to look toned this summer.” If there is enough of an incentive the goal will be achieved, along with a sense of pride and accomplishment. But sadly, that pride lasts about as long as the weight stays off, or as long those muscles stay nice and toned – yeah, not so long unfortunately.

Short-term food and fitness challenges are always a huge hit, but they are not sustainable and they produce only temporary results, causing participants to repeatedly sign up. You need to be willing to accept that long-term results call for long-term changes, in the form of daily choices that you’re willing to make every day, of every week, of every year. That’s why those everyday non-negotiables matter!

7. Surround yourself with people who love, support and accept you and your goals, and disconnect or limit your time with those who don’t.

Positive people draw positivity; negative people draw negativity. It’s as simple as that!

8. Be prepared to dream, visualize, and actually work!

Here is the final kicker – and the one that I think is the most difficult. Almost everyone loves to dream and visualize their goals (goals of weight loss, improved strength and fitness, more income, travel opportunities, etc.) but beyond visualizing and planning, very little is actually done. Why? Because it’s easier to settle for what you already have today, than work hard for something that may take a year or more to come to fruition.

What it all boils down to is this: there are lots of dreamers in the world and only a few doers; it’s up to you to decide which camp you want to be in!

Should You Try to Improve or Change Your Running Form?

Jannine Myers

My oldest daughter came to visit a couple of weeks ago, and during one of our many conversations we talked a little about running. She works part-time at a fitness center on her university campus, and one day while running on one of the treadmills at her work, a fellow co-worker (and running coach/instructor) corrected her running form. My daughter said she was a little surprised – since she had been feeling great while running – but she took his advice anyway and attempted to apply his recommendations.

I’ve often wondered about running form, and how important it is in the big scheme of things. A couple of years ago when I was training for the 2014 Boston Marathon, I followed a training program prescribed by New Zealand running coach, Barry Magee. Barry’s training plan and tips were great, but I remember feeling a little skeptical when he assured me that my natural tendency to heel-strike was perfectly okay. I had been told on two previous occasions by different running gait analysts that I should try to improve my form by becoming a mid or forefoot striker; so confusing!!!

With so many “experts” and specialists all giving widely different views on which type of foot strike equates to best running form, as well as postural advice, correct arm swing, as well as stride length and frequency, it’s all a bit overwhelming. And yet it comes up in conversations and debate over and over again.

I’ve switched shoe types several times; I’ve tried correcting my exaggerated left arm swing by running with a stick in my hand and thrusting it straight forward instead of across my chest; I’ve tried counting my foot strike; and I’ve tried perfecting my stride length to where it’s neither too short nor too long. Guess what? Nothing has changed. I always end up going back to what feels natural to me, not because I mean to but because anything that doesn’t feel natural is too difficult to stick with.

My left arm always swings across my chest instead of straight forward

My left arm always swings across my chest instead of straight forward

So, do I have any great advice for those of you who are also throughly confused about correct or proper running form? Sadly no. However, I did come across one runner’s thoughts on a social media group page, and his advice made sense to me; he basically said that there are only two scenarios that would warrant an attempt to change running form:

  • 1/ if you are a competitive runner who is not seeing gains in performance, or 2/ you’re a runner who repeatedly suffers from the same injuries. Otherwise, he said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”.

But that still doesn’t tell us what we need to do If it is broke, i.e. if you feel that your running form is hurting either your performance or your body. So here’s my two cents worth (I never said I had no advice; I said I didn’t have any great advice):

  • Find another sport
  • Reduce either one, or all of the following: training intensity, workout frequency, and overall volume of running
  • Act like you don’t feel any pain and just keep running like you usually do
  • Pull up a bunch of articles on “proper” running form and foot strike, then play Eenie Meenie Miney Mo; whichever article wins is the one you should follow
  • Find someone who legitimately changed their running form and as a result saw improvements in performance or a decrease in injuries; ask them to show you what they did
  • Make room in your budget for regular massage visits and deal with your regular aches and pains that way
  • OR, ignore all of these and chime in to tell us what has worked for you

 

Don’t Take Diet Short Cuts and Expect Long-Term Results

Jannine Myers

In the New York Times best seller, Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell presents the 10,000-Hour rule, explaining that the ability to be great at anything hinges upon the need to devote at least 10,000 hours of practice time (about 90 minutes a day for 20 years) to whatever it is you’re wanting to be great at. Honestly, that’s a little discouraging for most people; the good news is that there are other reports out there that dispute the 10,000-Hour rule and give the average person hope of obtaining at least some degree of proficiency in new areas of learning.

That brings me to the subject of diet and nutrition, and the aspiration of so many women to learn how to lose weight and keep it off. One UK study, conducted by Kevin Dorren, Founder and Head Chef of Diet Chef, suggests that “the average woman diets twice a year, losing 11lbs each time.” If women are dieting twice a year on average, and each time losing 11lbs, the inference is that they keep dieting because they always regain the weight that they lose. Why can’t they keep it off?

In my experience and observations of women trying – and failing – to permanently lose weight, it seems to be largely due to a desire to lose weight quickly and at any cost. In many cases women seek to lose weight for a specific occasion, for example a wedding, a milestone birthday, a summer vacation etc., and so the motivation is there and hence also the likelihood of success. The problem however, is that the kind of diet strategies they employ usually involve either drastic calorie reduction or significant deprivation of some sort; these types of overly restrictive diets are simply not sustainable and eventually fail.

Getting back to the 10,000-Hour rule……… getting good at losing weight and keeping it off won’t cost you a “20-year” learning sacrifice, but at the same time you can’t expect to enjoy long-term weight loss by using extreme and unsustainable methods. Permanent and healthy weight loss is only achieved through improved and non-restrictive lifestyle habits; habits that are practiced over and over until the brain and body is conditioned to do them automatically.

If you truly want to get off the “yo-yo dieting” train, you need to stop buying into quick-fix diets and short cuts and start making baby steps towards permanent lifestyle changes. Yes, the changes may be difficult at first and the weight loss might be much slower, but just remember – when you were a baby learning to walk, you didn’t quit the first time you fell over! You kept getting back up and falling back down, and eventually you walked! So, go educate yourself on what habits you need to change and then with the determination of a stumbling baby, endeavor to take daily steps towards those changes.

With time and practice you’ll hopefully achieve your weight loss goals, as well as the type of lifestyle that supports a long-term approach to maintaining a lean and healthy body!

New-Habits-Take-Practice

Spirulina Breakfast Bowl

Jannine Myers

Are you familiar with the health benefits of Spirulina? Spirulina is a natural algae powder that’s impressively rich in protein, antioxidants, B-vitamins, and other nutrients. It’s often recommended to vegetarians because of it’s high protein and natural iron content, and that also makes it a fantastic food source for pregnant women, or for anyone recovering from illness or surgery, and most certainly for female athletes. 

Here’s a super nutritious “Spirulina” breakfast recipe for you to try:

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Ingredients

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 ripe nectarine, pit and skin removed

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Handful almonds

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

1 tsp organic spirulina powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt

3 ice cubes (or 1/2 frozen banana if you prefer a slightly sweeter taste)

 

Directions

Throw everything into a blender and pulse to the consistency of a smooth puree. Pour into two serving bowls, add some home-made granola, and top with a little shredded coconut.

[Recipe adapted from PoppiesandPapayas]

Don’t Be A Victim Of Facebook Envy

Jannine Myers

I spoke with a fellow WOOT member last week, and we both talked about our current training routines and how they don’t really reflect any impressive goals or achievements. That got me to thinking about “Facebook envy,” and how easy it is to look at other peoples’ training updates and consequently feel less adequate because you’re not out there doing what they are. If you’re someone who suffers from Facebook envy, I want to encourage you to stop; stop comparing your training – or lack thereof – with your fellow peers.

For me personally, my training is very “casual” at present; no fixed week-to-week workouts planned but more of a “play-it-by-ear” type approach. I’m getting ready to move soon and my focus is less on training and more on spending quality time with close friends and preparing for the move. I’m also not much of a summer-time runner – so running less through the summer months suits me just fine – however the main reason I’m able to feel fairly relaxed about not keeping up with my motivated running friends is because a) I accept that their goals are not my goals, and b) I make sure that despite my reduced mileage, I still maintain a certain degree of fitness.

Don’t allow yourself to be a victim of Facebook envy; remind yourself that you’re on your own training journey. Even if you admire what others are currently doing and wish you were doing the same, get your focus back on you! Ask yourself what you can do to maximize your time and potential given the circumstances that you’re currently in, and then commit to doing exactly that!

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Enjoying trail runs whenever I can and looking forward to my next season of training…..and, choosing not to feel bad because others are enjoying that season right now.