Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mind and Body Vacation II

In my previous post I told you about the yearly Mind & body vacation. A month later, I am looking at the pictures and I am admiring how bravely our wonderful participants surrendered to diet, training, hiking, practical stress games, and active learning on a daily basis.

Looking back at this vacation, and following up with everyone's results, I can say we've had better overall progress than any other year. We could take some of the rules, habits and behaviors of the vacation and adapt them to everyday city life. Why not?

Eat healthy, nutritious food, prepared with care

If you ask one of the participants to tell you what the food was like, they would say:
'' We had eggs, fish, meat, cheese, yogurt, butter, olive oil, honey, fruits and vegetables. They were prepared in such versatile ways that you could never get tired of them. We only used sea salt and we drank lots of water. Coffee was white or black, no sugar, thank you. We supplemented with omega 3s. Most of all, we ate in great company. We did that that three times a day. There was no white bread, no cookies, but we did have some dark chocolate. As for alcohol, we were allowed a drink a day, preferably a glass of wine. We all liked that. "

Start you day with activity

We started each day with a moderately hard workout. We started with yoga, then worked on posture and alignment, body weight movements, free weight exercises and lots of partner resisted exercises. We walked, hill trained, jogged and did interval work for finishers. It took anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. Back in the city, most of my clients who train during the day, shared that they have added yoga to their morning routines at home, because they loved how they energized they felt after some morning exercise and they also found it easier to comply with their diet if they did something in the morning. Whether it's 10 or 60 minutes, starting your day with activity sets the tone for healthier behaviors later during the day. If your glutes are still burning from the hill sprints you did in the morning, it's very doubtful you will reach for a chocolate bar after lunch.

Learn something new every day

The lectures and stress games during the vacation allowed all participants to organize their knowledge of topics like nutrition, training, healthy food preparation, stress and time management. There were concepts they had never heard of, new rules they adopted, old habits they had to leave behind, and all due to lectures and seminars that challenged the old and introduced the new and exciting. Back in the city, some of our participants shared they now read more health columns and went to new areas of the grocery stores to explore and find new foods. They met local farmers, created new connections. If you learn something new about achieving your goal every day, you will get there. If you don't, you will keep doing the same old thing and if that's working for you, then fine, if it's not, read above.

Work hard, play harder

There was time for serious workouts, hikes with challenging paths, lectures that racked your brain, stress practices that brought out our best efforts, but we laughed hard when we could, we spent time in the sun, we soaked in the pool, took afternoon naps and rested as much as we could during our time off. Back in the city, most of us have been able to keep with the balance. There is certainly merit in finding a way to balance your schedule around taking care of yourself, spending fun time with family and friends and finding time for recuperation, whether it's sleep, massage, or just being quiet for a while. Often, clients come to me and say they are too busy to have fun or to rest. I come back with the same answer: sooner or later your body will stop being patient with you and if you start to pay attention to how much happiness you fit in your schedule and how much rest time you fit in your schedule, you can make your busy times more productive. There is no way you can push your body with training, work, responsibilities and diet and not award it with the rest and fun it deserves.

Approach weight loss positively

Some of the people that come to me for help say things like " I hate my body'' or ''Look at these legs, there is no definition'' or " I am so frustrated with my belly. What's wrong?'' or ''I won't get married until I lose weight.'' While these complaints may sometimes be valid (it's very hard to imagine someone who is 300 lbs not needing to lose the belly fat), the person approaching appearance from that angle wants to get rid of something that they are not comfortable with, that they do not accept and embrace. What if that same person said something like:'' I would love to lose weight so I can run better and enjoy running with my husband'' or ''I would love to weigh less, so I can be happy to take my clothes off at the beach'' or ''I would like to celebrate how healthy and vibrant I can feel with a few pounds less''. When you approach weight loss from an empowering angle, rather than the angle of anger, frustration and guilt, you allow yourself to associate your goal with a happy ending. Make weight loss something you do with friends, laugh it off, play it like it's a game. Taking things too seriously and focusing on the negative only leads to weight gain and regain. Trust me, I have seen it and I am sure you have too. Optimal weight can be maintained, but only when you can maintain optimal spirits.

To wrap it up, take what you can from the vacation, whether you attended or not and design your own vacation. It can be a day, a week, or a month. If you have a goal that you haven't reached, take a vacation from the lifestyle that does not support your goals and start achieving them, one habit at a time. There is nothing stopping you from adopting the Mind and body vacation habits and making them work for you.

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