Thursday
Sep242009

What is inspiration? 

I was a bit of a failure at high school. Seriously, I only went to school to eat my lunch. There are many areas that I could point my finger at to justify why I was so unsuccessful, but there’s one reason that really stands out in my mind, Michael Jordon. Yep that’s right, Michael Jordon!  

In my fifth form year while I was meant to be going to school to study History, English and how that whole Pi thing works, I found innovative ways to bunk school and watch the greatest basketball player of all time win some of the most exciting NBA finals ever.  

Looking back on that time now, the thing I find most interesting is - I never played basketball, I didn’t even shoot hoops with the boys! Here I was being consumed by this special superstar, but I was never inspired to actually play basketball. 

What is inspiration? The dictionary says; ‘The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. Michael Jordon definitely made me ‘feel’ something but he didn’t have the ability to make me ‘do’ something. That’s not to say that sporting superstars don’t motivate people to try their sports, I’m sure golf clubs have loved what Tiger Woods has done for their bottom line. But I believe the best inspiration comes when people who we connect with in our day to day lives suddenly grow in ways that seem amazing to us. It’s when your unfit workmate works hard and completes a Half Marathon, or when an overweight friend suddenly loses a lot of weight. When the people around us achieve big things - we think we can to. That’s inspiration! 

So what does it take to be an inspiration? It’s about doing the hard things that most others don’t do. It’s about deciding to say no when others say yes and yes when they say no. It’s about sometimes doing the hard thing, no matter how many excuses you can create for yourself. When you do these things you’ll start to realise that you are becoming an inspiration within your world. This will be shown by people around you asking questions on how you do it. 

My friend Dee, a 60+ year old female Marathon runner, has been ten times more of an inspiration in my life than Michael Jordon could ever be. That’s inspiration. Go on, give it a try!

Sunday
Aug302009

The answer I couldn't give

A few years ago I won a fitness industry award. As part of my glory, I was asked to do an interview with TV3. You know the type of interview, 'six tips on how to lose weight for summer' (Oh the summer dream). As we were preparing for the interview, I started chatting with the interviewer. She asked me one of those questions fitness instructors dread; "What's the best exercise for losing weight?" I could tell she was slightly disappointed with my answer, (reinforced by the fact that she asked me the same question two more times within the next forty minutes). The answer I gave her was this: "The best exercise for losing weight is the exercise you love doing". She obviously wanted me to be more specific, so she asked me about running. I questioned if she enjoyed running, to which she replied 'not really, but I heard that it's the best way to drop weight'. She had a good point here. The right type of running is a great way of losing weight, but if she didn't like running, I doubt that she would do it. 

Is there one exercise that is better than another when it comes to losing weight? Of course there is, but exercise is more about behavior than specific exercises. If you hate running, it takes a lot of motivation to get out there and run. If you can find a movement that you love, there is a much better chance that you will include it in your life.  

When you love a movement you don't want to read a magazine while you’re working out, you want to extend your physical limits and experience the highs within your body that comes with this.

This is when you get physical change! A shift in thought is needed - instead of trying to find an exercise or movement to achieve a physical result, try to find a one you enjoy, and the physical results will follow. 

If you are unsure of an exercise you love, spend a couple months just trying different physical activities. Write down a list of activities that you think you may enjoy based on what you know about yourself, and then commit to 'just giving them a try'. At the end of this period you'll find one exercise that you want to keep doing, because you love it.

Tuesday
Aug112009

Advice to my sister

I got a phone call from my sister the other day asking me about joining the gym. There are a few things you need to know about my sister before I get into the detail of my response to her. My sister is busy, not just busy, she’s stupidly busy! She’s a mother of three wonderful kids, works a 30+ hour week and still manages to feed the family, manage the household and be owner of that well known company ‘Mum’s Taxis’.

I asked her why she wanted to join the gym and she responded with answers like, ‘I feel I’m not getting any “me” time, I want to exercise for my well being and as a way to release stress’. After understanding her motivation I asked her when she would be able to fit the gym in. It became clear that while the idea of joining a gym was great, realistically she would only have enough time to fit three twenty minute sessions in a week, and even this would be pushing it. This was a failure waiting to happen. Half way through our conversation, reality set in and she became a bit despondent.

I knew that my sister hadn’t had success with fitness in a while and right now success was what she needed to get back on track. So instead of writing an amazing programme that would change her life, but would never be done, I ask her one important question: What exercise do you know you could fit into your life, that seems easy to you, right now?

Her despondent attitude made an instant U-turn. She went from worrying about how she was going to be able to fit the gym in to becoming being excited about getting a walk in during her lunch hour, being able to do some sit ups and press ups at night and maybe even trying to run a little when she walks.

When you first start back into exercise you need to feel successful. The targets you set for yourself should be believable and achievable. If you know that you can get out and do a 20min walk you will do it.

So ask yourself; What do I know that I can do right now that seems easy? Then plan it into your day. You don’t need to be Lance Armstrong, you just need to start the habit of being successful.