Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Secret to Successful Resolutions: Have Fun!

Remember those New Year’s resolutions you made 10 months ago? Chances are that for most part, you: a) don’t remember them b) wish you didn’t remember them c) regret making them d) are feeling guilty about not living up to them. If you are among the blessed few who actually accomplish all their New Year’s Resolutions, in which case I’m jealous, you don’t need to keep reading this post.

But for the rest of us, here’s the thing: those resolutions, and any other goals you set for yourself along the way, are much more easily and successfully accomplished when you actually enjoy what it takes to get there. An extensive study of a number of different goals, such as getting healthier (exercising & eating ‘healthy’), weight loss, and improved study habits, showed that when people enjoyed the process required to achieve their goals, they stuck with it. Whereas when people, for example, exercised for the sake of better health, but didn’t enjoy the treadmill/whatever else they chose as their method of getting there, guess what? Within about two months, all those good resolutions went down the drain.

Which is terrific news! Because now you don’t need to feel guilty about not succeeding with your New Year’s resolutions or other goals, you simply need to revamp how you go about them.

Certainly, knowing what your desired end result is matters hugely to goal setting. It actually is the goal: losing ten pounds, or firming up that tummy, or getting fit enough to run around after your kids/grandkids, or learning a new language or how to play the guitar (no, not air-guitar!). But having a desired end in mind just isn’t enough to give you the persistence it takes to get there. Not for most of us, anyway. You gotta make it fun!

The secret to fitness, for me, is dance. You can’t pay me enough to get me to jog, cycle or tennis my way into fitness, much less to NordicTrack or go Elliptical--despite all the infomercials that promise it will only take me 20 minutes a day to look like the fabulous models demonstrating the equipment (not even in my dreams!). However, give me a chance to contort myself into ridiculous positions at a ballet barre, jump (attempt to), turn (oy) and leap (sort of) across a dance floor, and I’m there! And I positively revel in the studies that reveal how much dance does for my brain as it shapes up my body.

Choose how you intend to get there as carefully as you choose your goal itself. Make sure you choose your method with having fun in mind. So maybe when it comes to weight loss, for example, enroll a buddy, or your S.O. or whoever else you can corral, sorry--encourage, to join you and make it a game! An adventure in finding the most delicious low-fat low-cal low-carb recipes on earth. Whatever floats your boat.

With that, your chances of accomplishing your goal are excellent. Then, happy and proud, you can announce to yourself and the world at large, “I did it!” Way to go.

Friday, September 1, 2017

I Want It NOW!!!

Within every last one of us, there is an inner 3 year old, proclaiming at the top of our lungs: “NOW!!! I want it NOW!!!” Doesn’t matter if it’s weight loss, improvement at the gym, a promotion, a raise, a new job, success with a project, or just getting your child to clean up their room, the primal cry is “I want it now!”

Only life doesn’t work that way. Chances are you’ve had to wait, be patient. Or take a step back, re-consider, re-vamp, take a different approach. And often it may seem like you’ve had to give up your hopes and dreams, because how long can someone wait?

But what if it wasn’t about waiting? What if is was more about trusting that if you’re doing the best you know how towards your goal, that somehow, some way, it will come through? And that maybe, you have some other desire that is interfering with your dream coming true right now?

I met with a very dear friend recently that I had not seen in decades; we live on opposite ends of the US. I’d known him as a young actor in Los Angeles. His acting career didn’t take off as he’d hoped, despite good reviews, so he went on to do other things – including move across the country. But his passion never waned. He used his acting talents to record books on tape, kept his craft up in other ways, and much to his surprise, now as he turns 50, he’s landed an agent and is consistently getting good parts in movies and TV.

I asked him about what he thought happened--apart from his never letting the dream die within himself--to bring about the change. He said, “You know, I’ve thought about it a lot, and I realize that hearth and home were more important to me than advancing my career. Whenever I’d see an audition call for a part that would take me away from home for more than a couple of days, I wouldn’t go for the audition. Which means that unlike my peers, who were getting parts in touring companies, amping their resumes, I was sticking close to my friends and family. Thus, a weak resume. But I didn’t think about it that way.”

Friends and family are still important to him, but he’s realized he doesn’t need to be with them all the time. He is free (within himself) to accept the roles that come along. My friend’s talent and true love of acting were never in doubt. I was so very happy for him that he could finally let them come through and enjoy the success he so very much deserves.

You may want to lose weight, but you don’t want to say “No” to dinner with friends. You may want to get to the gym, but you don’t want to be late to work. You may want a promotion, but you may not be willing to give up your family time to acquire the new skills you’d need. And you may really want your child to clean up their room, but you are reluctant to take the time for that conversation you fear may go nowhere.

Sometimes it’s not about waiting. It’s about sorting out “What do I really want, right now?” that stands in the way. Once you sort it out, you will still need to work towards your greater goal, but at least you won’t be stumbling over your own conflicting desires on your way to getting there.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Maximize Your Longevity with the Amazing Power of Yoga

In the course of my work as a trial consultant, I spend a fair amount of time in law offices working with litigators – lawyers who try cases in the courtroom. I had scheduled a work session with an attorney for 10:30 a.m., figuring we’d only need a couple of hours, and we’d be done before lunch. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from the attorney – a woman in her late 60’s -  requesting that we move the meeting to 10:00 a.m., so that she could make it to the yoga class her law firm held in their offices at noon!

My first thought was “What an enlightened law firm!” My second was “Yes, of course! I’d be delighted to change the appointment time” – even though it meant I had to re-arrange my morning to accommodate her. I was thrilled that this firm understood the tremendous importance of respecting the well-being of their attorneys, that it was willing not only to pay for the instructor, but to make a room available for yoga and forgo what would otherwise be “billable hours” from the attending attorneys. And doubly thrilled that the litigator I was working with valued herself enough to participate in the class.

Yoga does so much good for body and soul, especially for those of us over 60. Here are but a few examples of vibrant women whose dedication to yoga has paid off in joy, health and longevity:

Bette Calman, 90, a highly respected yoga teacher for 50 years, she’s now known as “Yoga Super Granny.” She shot to international fame when she starred in an Advil commercial during the 2016 Super Bowl. 

Tao Porchon-Lynch, 98, was recognized as the world's oldest yoga teacher by the Guinness Book of World Records at age 93 – and she’s still teaching! Her phenomenal background includes marching with Mahatma Gandhi twice, and helping people escape the Nazis as a French Resistance fighter during World War II. Besides yoga, she took up ballroom dancing at the “young” age of 85. Tao’s mantra is “There is nothing you cannot do.” It’s one she has taken to heart throughout her life and is a great example for all of us.

Anna Pesce, 87, corrected her hunchback posture in just 2 years with the help of a certified back-care yoga instructor. She says she feels wonderful now because she can drive and do many things she couldn’t before.

So how does it work? How, specifically, does yoga benefit your body and mind?

In terms of your body, yoga improves balance, which becomes increasingly important as we age. Yoga promotes bone strength, because the nature of the movements themselves improves bone density, which tends to decrease over time. Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise, which means that it strengthens your muscles gently, and in the process, prevents them from atrophying. Stronger muscles mean less stress on your joints, thus easing arthritis.

Yoga also lowers blood pressure without putting undue pressure on your cardiovascular system, which is why it is (for most people, always check with your physician!) particularly well suited as part of a lowering-blood-pressure program. Because yoga incorporates deep breathing as a part of the practice, more oxygen is circulated throughout your body, to the benefit of all your internal organs and systems.

On the plus side for your mental and emotional state, yoga stimulates certain chemical releases in the body that can diminish anxiety and promote an overall feeling of relaxation. Because yoga relieves tension, many find that it improves their sleep. Along with that, yoga has been shown to increase your memory and ability to process cognitively, something we all can appreciate as we grow into our later years!

Why is it important to know about the benefits of yoga? Because it lends itself to a little-known health trick: The more you know about how something benefits you, the greater the benefit.

Nowhere was this phenomenon better demonstrated than in the remarkable “Hotel Maids” study. The maids in two hotels did work that added up to more than 30 minutes of daily exercise. At the first hotel, the researchers told the maids how many calories they burned as they cleaned their way through the equivalent of 30 minutes of exercise. The researchers said nothing to the maids at the second hotel. After just one month, having made no changes to their diet or exercise routine outside of work (which was virtually nil), the maids in the first hotel weighed an average of two pounds less, had a smaller percent of body fat, and systolic blood pressure an average of 10 points lower. The maids in the second hotel experienced no change.
What happened? The maids in the first hotel now had information about specific benefits of their work beyond a paycheck. Their subconscious transmitted the benefits-message to their bodies, which resulted in weight loss, less body fat and lower blood pressure. Yet the maids weren’t physically doing anything different.
Of course, maid work is much different than yoga, but the concept is the same. Harness the power of your mind as you engage in the practice of yoga. Know the specific value and benefits that yoga brings to you, both physically and mentally. You cannot help but thrive!
Never tried yoga? Here’s a great place to start: Gentle Yoga For Seniors.
Noelle Nelson, PhD is passionate about personal growth, happiness and appreciating this amazing experience called “life.” She’s devoted the last three years to the study of longevity and wrote the book, “Happy Healthy  . . . Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong And How To Get It Right.” She continues to uncover many amazing  people who are in the 80s, 90s and beyond who are doing wonderful and exciting things with enthusiasm and gusto regardless of age or physical condition. Find their stories on Facebook at Meet The Amazings!