Happy New Year! I know New Year’s Day was a while ago, which is precisely why I’m writing now. We usually start the year full of enthusiasm to achieve our new goals and New Year’s resolutions, but it’s about this time, shortly after the New Year, that we start to falter a bit and sometimes even give up on our goals completely. I recently wrote a few books all about your personal best; that, in fact, is the title of one of them. I’m a firm believer that we can be extraordinary any time of year if we find meaning in what we’re doing and have reasons to give the extra effort that it takes to excel. I don’t write just about motivation. I’m a health and fitness guy, too. In fact, my book, Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness comes out in late February. I’ve learned over the years that your personal best can be achieved in anything as long as you care enough to make it happen. To borrow a quote from my book:
It is my experience that if you truly love something, you will be willing to spend a lot of time doing it, will be willing to work harder than others to achieve it, and will have so much fun throughout the process that you will excel naturally. The joy and fulfillment you get from being regularly engaged in the activity you love will propel you to stand out in your field adapting and improving at rapid rates. You will look forward to practice, rehearsal, application, and action in whatever it is that moves you. Through your discipline and dedication, you will thrive in an environment you created that is perfect for you to succeed in. Because you’re doing what you love, you’ll be in a positive mood on a regular basis, will find the good in every situation, will get back up when you’re knocked down, and will time and time again overcome adversity when others with less passion will give in and give up.”
What should be understood is that we all have the power to change something in our lives at anytime, no matter what time of year. As always, now is the best time to start something new. What do you really want to get out of life? What does it really mean to you and how hard are you willing to work to achieve it? What steps need to be taken and when are you ready to say, “Today is the day I’m going to make it happen?”
To help yourself actually stick to the “New Year’s Resolutions” that you create , make sure you’ve answered the following questions:
- What are the activities I am most passionate about and that bring me the most joy?
- What makes me wake up every day excited to do what I get to do for my job?
- What can I do every day to bring about the most fulfillment in my life?
- What makes me smile more than anything else?
- What would I do if money and time weren’t limiting obstacles in my life?
- What does my dream life look like?
- What steps do I need to take in order to achieve what I really want in life?
Answer those questions honestly and sincerely.
Your personal best isn’t just about motivation and doing what you love to do. It’s about being healthy, happy, and well, too. My inspirational partner and personal wellness coach, Julia Abbott, has some helpful and healthful tips for being at your best this year:
Health & Fitness for the New Year – by Julia Abbott
I know winter is far from over, but it’s not too early to start getting your beach body back. I know; it’s tough to fight the hibernation impulse. A little hibernation is therapeutic, but make it your goal right now to take action, alter stagnating behaviors, and implement a few new tools toward shaping up for the new year. Here are 5 simple steps to get healthier, to be more fit, and to increase energy. What better way to start the new decade?
Eat fruit for breakfast. Fruit contains all the components needed to digest itself and requires little assistance from the body. Fruit for breakfast awakens the body and stimulates elimination channels. Proper elimination is the most important factor for improved health and weight loss. Breakfast is easy–just grab a piece of delicious, juicy fruit and bite in!
Step 2: Eat at least one green salad every day. Greens are so important because they contain an array of nutrients in perfect proportion to nourish the body’s tissues and cells. They even contain plenty of amino acids to help you build muscle! It can be difficult to eat that green salad every day. I love greens, but I get tired of them, too! The solution to getting your greens every day and loving it is the green smoothie. By making my green smoothie every morning, I knock out steps 1 and 2 at the same time: fruit first and greens every day! This is what my green smoothie was this morning:
- 1/4 cup of purified water
- Half organic cucumber
- 1 peeled lime
- 1 ripe banana
- Big handful of spinach
- Handful of baby lettuces and herbs
- 1 tbsp freshly ground flax seed or a carefully cold-pressed flax oil
- 1 cup of frozen pineapple
I just toss it all into my Vitamix and blend. Making breakfast and eating my greens takes 10 minutes tops. Fantastic! Note that it is important to rotate your greens and get creative with your smoothie ingredients.
Step 3: Find an enjoyable form of physical activity and schedule it into your day. Exercise doesn’t have to take a long time. I do enjoy going to the gym for an hour-long workout, but very often, I just don’t have that kind of time. I solve this problem by waking up 15 minutes early to perform a quick, high-intensity workout that gets my blood and lymph moving. If you haven’t discovered CrossFit yet, check it out because that is exactly what you need if you are short on time. By 9a.m., you can have 3 steps knocked out.
Try this quick and simple workout tomorrow morning:
- 5 push-ups
- 10 sit-ups
- 15 squats
Perform this set as many times as you can for 10 intense minutes. No money or equipment necessary.
Quit drinking sodas and bottled beverages. These drinks are full of highly refined sugar or toxic sugar substitutes that do nothing but subtract from your overall health.
If you are attached to the fizz factor, try drinking sparkling water with fresh lime. If you are attached to the sugar factor, replace the soda with kombucha, a fermented beverage containing beneficial organisms that aid in digestion and detoxification. When I get post-lunch sugar cravings, drinking kombucha knocks the craving out.
Feel a caffeine headache coming on? Sip Yerba Maté tea, an infusion similar to green tea. When I drink Yerba Maté for an energy boost, I do not experience negative side effects such as jitteriness, headaches, or nausea that come from drinking coffee.
Step 5: Eliminate fried foods. Fried foods are detrimental for two reasons: they contain trans fat and they are usually fried in polyunsaturated vegetable oil.
Trans fat is an artery-clogging fat formed when vegetable oil is made to be solid at room temperature. Read the labels on any packaged food and look for “hydrogenated”, “partially hydrogenated”, and “shortening”. Strictly avoid these foods to avoid gradual health decline.
Polyunsaturated oils (canola and soybean, for example) are highly susceptible to heat damage. Heat causes oxidative damage creating free radicals. Translation: after heat exposure these oils become cancer causing.
The bottom line is, there is absolutely no reason your body would want you to eat french fries or doughnuts. There is plenty of healthful, natural food to eat instead. For a mid-morning snack, try a slice of toasted sprouted-grain bread topped with nut butter.
If you start the new year by following these 5 steps, you will be feeling better and looking better in no time. Cheers to your beach body 2010!
Julia Abbott is a competitive runner, avid weight lifter and Author of The Lemon Letter – A wellness blog dedicated to a holistic approach to ultimate health.