Celebrate International Women’s Day: Be Bold For Change!


This year’s International Women’s Day theme couldn’t be any more timely and inspirational.

Being bold and determined to make changes is the first step to reaching our goals.

Take this time to draw inspiration from women who are recognized for their achievements which paved the way to creating awareness for greater equality.

The common thread among women who have succeeded through the years, is that they not only make decisions to change, they also see it through. 

For most of us though, making lifestyle changes is a process that takes time and may require support. Once we’re ready to make a change, the difficult part is committing and following through. So we need to make a plan that will prepare ourselves for success. Careful planning means setting small goals and taking things one step at a time.

Where the mind goes, the body follows.

Let us work on the psychological aspect of making lifestyle changes that last. Here is a list of tips from the APA (American Psychological Association) to help us get and stay on track.

Make a plan that will stick. Your plan is a map that will guide you on this journey of change. You can even think of it as an adventure. When making your plan, be specific. Want to exercise more? Detail the time of day when you can take walks and how long you’ll walk.

Write everything down, and ask yourself if you’re confident that these activities and goals are realistic for you. If not, start with smaller steps. Post your plan where you’ll most often see it as a reminder.

Start small. After you've identified realistic short-term and long-term goals, break down your goals into small, manageable steps that are specifically defined and can be measured. Is your long-term goal to lose 20 pounds within the next five months?

A good weekly goal would be to lose one pound a week. If you would like to eat healthier, consider as a goal for the week replacing dessert with a healthier option, like fruit or yogurt. At the end of the week, you’ll feel successful knowing you met your goal.

Change one behavior at a time. Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time, so replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Many people run into problems when they try to change too much too fast. To improve your success, focus on one goal or change at a time.

As new healthy behaviors become a habit, try to add another goal that works toward the overall change you’re striving for.

Involve a buddy. Whether it be a friend, co-worker or family member, someone else on your journey will keep you motivated and accountable. Perhaps it can be someone who will go to the gym with you or someone who is also trying to stop smoking. Talk about what you are doing.

Consider joining a support group. Having someone with whom to share your struggles and successes makes the work easier and the mission less intimidating.

Ask for support. Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and commitment. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking help from a psychologist.

Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body, as well as the factors that promote behavior change.

Asking for help doesn't mean a lifetime of therapy; even just a few sessions can help you examine and set attainable goals or address the emotional issues that may be getting in your way.

Making the changes that you want takes time and commitment, but you can do it. Just remember that no one is perfect.

You will have occasional lapses. Be kind to yourself.

When you eat a brownie or skip the gym, don’t give up. Minor missteps on the road to your goals are normal and okay.

Resolve to recover and get back on track.


Celebrity life coach Lauren Zander was recently quoted in the Experience Life magazine in her response to the question, “What are the biggest barriers to change?” Her response,

“I think being human is an amazing privilege”
and I think we are often really bad at it. People don’t know how to get unstuck.
They don’t understand that they’re a creation and a mystery, and that they can evolve and develop. It’s just not something we’re taught.”

So where does one start? With a vision, a dream, a goal, and tangible arrival point. So often we limit ourselves to what we think we can do rather than focusing on the possibilities of what might be if we just allow ourselves the freedom to go beyond our limits.

From a young age, we define ourselves as good or bad at certain characteristics. We label ourselves as intelligent if we are good at reading or we label ourselves as athletic if we are fast runners. Based on our experiences and how others describe us, we begin to set boundaries and limits for ourselves.

I see this most often in everyday women who come to me with the goal of losing weight. They see themselves as overweight, undisciplined, and inactive.

These women, however, get stuck in the thought process. They either assume they “are” or they “are not.”

But, being healthy and fit is merely a direct result of daily choices just as being unhealthy and unfit is a direct result of daily choices. It’s that simple.

Those who are flexible, stretch. Those who are strong, lift weights. Those who are full of energy, eat healthy food. Those who are hydrated, drink water. Anyone can stretch, lift, drink water or eat healthy. Change, therefore, is simply taking action in the same direction. Here’s a small exercise to help make my point.

  1. Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns.

  2. In the far right, make a list of characteristics you consider required of your “best self.” They may include a thin waist, firm thighs, pretty skin, etc.

  3. In the middle column, write the equivalent action required. For example, you might write: lift weights with Sandy 3 times per week, follow nutrition plan, or do cardio 5 times per week.

  4. Then, in the left column, write behaviors and choices the directly impact the action in the middle column. For example, schedule other appointments around workouts with Sandy, pack the entire week’s meals in advance, or wake up at 6:00 am an exercise before work.

You see, your "BEST SELF" is simply including daily choices and actions that magnifying those characteristics you like. If you start doing the activities in the first column you automatically get the results in the last column. It’s inevitable.

I’d love your comments about thoughts that “get you stuck” or “hold you back” as well as the simple action that can set you free to become your best self.

Ultimately -- 
That is the first secret.

If you make the right choice, you can look forward to a younger, more confident, and happier you

Embrace Change

Change is constant, but that doesn’t always make it easy.
We are all aware that change is a constant thing in life, yet many of us tend to resist it and whatever consequences it may bring. We should, however, keep in mind that without change… there would be no progress.
In writing this article, I was most inspired by this quotation from Esther Dyson, who as a journalist and author focused her career on health and technology.

“Change means that what was before wasn’t perfect. People want things to be better.”

Ergo, if we want things to be better, then we have to change. Perfection? Before we can even think about that, we have to know where to start.

Ask yourself --
What could make the quality of your life better? What is the single power we are born with, that could change everything?
We may call it free will, or the power to make a choice. Arguably, we cannot always control the events in our lives or sometimes even the outcome of the decisions we make.  But we can take charge of changing the things we need to, and the steps to go about it.

What I am trying to point out is that, we cannot (for instance) stop the changing of the seasons. As we do not have control over the days turning into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, we simply find ourselves one day asking: 
•    How have I lived all these years?
•    What decisions did I make that contributed to how I am living right      now?•    Do I have any regrets? What would I like to change about me? 

Look into the mirror right now and see how the years have changed you. Do you like what you see? Are you physically, mentally, and emotionally fit?

There is no need to focus on the negative. 

Sure, you may have put on some weight and have a bit of cellulite here and there, but this may be just consequences of having two or three beautiful babies for instance. Ironically, the decision to choose is easier when life gets tougher.

My life was not going the way I had hoped when I found myself a single mom of two young boys, but the one thing I realized through hard times was I could control how I took care of myself. I could make the choice to do that for me and that choice would make my life and my boy's lives better.

When you do choose to make changes in your life that will make you fit and the healthiest you can, keep in mind that a strong and fit body will slow the aging process and reduce the risk of disease. Staying fit helps to build and maintain strong bones and muscles, all while boosting your immune system. Choosing to have a healthy lifestyle will enable you to be more active to enjoy activities with your loved ones, plus you can be with them longer.

The choices we make will depend on each individual as we determine the goals we need to set. But for most of us who are starting to, or have been feeling the passing of time and the effects of aging, it comes down to these two choices:

Do I stay young or continue aging?

Every decision you make in your life will move you in one direction or the other. This includes what seem to be mundane decisions like:
•    Should I go for a cheeseburger at McDonald's or grab one of the meals I prepared using only whole foods?
•    Should I just sit on the couch and watch a flick or do I roll out my   yoga mat and do some poses?
•    Should I skip my weight training and just go hangout with friends     over some drinks?

Aging has to do with several factors, your genes, your environment and your choices. You cannot choose the genes you are born with, but you can make choices that will make or keep you healthy. Being conscious about your decisions is also of the utmost important.

Ultimately -- 
That is the first secret.

If you make the right choice, you can look forward to a younger, more confident, and happier you

The Importance of Personal Assessment

Staying fit and healthy is not easy sometimes. In this fast-paced world where we’re often overwhelmed with work and other never-ending responsibilities, staying fit and maintaining a strong physique can be rather challenging. It’s one of those things we neglect frequently. And we shouldn’t. 

Being healthy is essential for many other aspects of our life and the way to achieve that is to take care of our bodies and work out regularly. However, there are many strategies that can be applied in order to stay fit, and personal assessment is one of them. A pretty good one, actually! 

Step One: The Present
Sometimes, in order to find the motivation and be able to take a step forward, we have to be realistic about the present. About where we are right now at this very moment. Motivating yourself is not as easy as it might seem and doing a personal assessment at some point in your life can be helpful for the long term. So, for example, a very good strategy would be to ask yourself a few very basic questions in order to determine your current stage in life. Take a moment and ask yourself about your own life. Are you happy with your life right now? How do you feel emotionally and physically? Is there anything you would like to change? And if there is, how would you do that? How do you feel about your health? Are you satisfied with your appearance or would you change it? 

Step Two: Making a Fitness Journal and Creating Motivation
Now it’s time to be honest. Brutally honest. In order to get you motivated, I would recommend starting a fitness journal and track all the changes that happen over time. Start with adding a photo of your current self. Write down how you feel about your current fitness situation, your mood, how you look, what it makes to feel like, etc. This is a great motivation technique as you progress because if you ever feel like you need extra motivation re-reading this will give you motivation to push through. I know you don't want to look or feel this way anymore, and as the time passes, you’ll be able to reflect and see the progress you’ve made along the way. Every beginning can be difficult, so take it a day at a time and do what is necessary for that day. Before you know it nothing will stop you in reaching your final goal and keeping it. 

A little tip: Make sure to write down all your current feelings now so they can be a reminder as you make certain progress over time. 

Step Three: The Future
Let’s focus on the next phase of the process. Now, when you’ve established your current stage in life and set your primary goal, it’s time to get imaginative! Think about your future self. Picture EXACTLY how you want to look and feel. Feel free to visualize and imagine who you want to be in the foreseeable future. Don’t be afraid to idealize your future self. If you stick to the plan, there’s no way you can fail. You just have to be persistent!

So, in order to get the whole picture of your future self, you have to ask yourself some basic questions again. Imagine it’s been a few months or even years since you’ve started writing your journal and set your goal. How have you changed? What feelings have you experienced along the way? What do you think of your physical appearance now? Do you like your life? How do you feel?

Again, it’s time for being brutally honest. Visualize your future self and write down the answers in your fitness journal. It will enable you to imagine your physical appearance in the future and help you boost your motivation to an even bigger level. It’s also a good idea to put some pictures of yourself as you are making progress, so you can check before and after photos every now and then. Nothing will motivate you better than seeing results in the form of pictures of the new and improved self!

Finding motivation for regular workout sessions can be difficult sometimes. It’s not easy to embrace another workout routine when so many failed to work prior to that. But, with little planning ahead and strategies such as personal assessment, it’s completely manageable. Just remember to always be honest with yourself and if you are persistent and consistent, the results will speak for themselves. 

Ultimately -- 
That is the first secret.

If you make the right choice, you can look forward to a younger, more confident, and happier you