You Are Unique – Find What Works For YOU!

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Are you going low-carb because someone else said it’s the most effective way to lose weight? Are you using Twitter to increase business because it worked for a friend? Are you serving in children’s ministry at church because it seems like the kind thing to do?

If those choices are proving to be effective and bringing you life, then great! But what if they’re not? What if you’re lacking passion, feel out of place, or not getting results?

One of the most freeing realizations I’ve had in life is that there is no one “magic” way to achieve success.

one way sign

No “Magic Bullet”

After years of seeking “the best way”, or the “one solution” that would skyrocket a business, launch a non-profit into financial stability, please God, develop creativity, or attain the perfect physique, I realized that there truly is no magic bullet for anything.

Every person and every circumstance is unique, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

I just finished reading a blog by one of my favorite authors, Todd Henry, which speaks to this. He ends with this quote: “Two places people get stuck: emulating others, or emulating (a past form of) themselves.”

It’s true, and it’s exhausting. Many entrepreneurs and sales people make money by convincing us that their way is THE way. And many of us are convinced that what worked for us in the past will always work. But neither is a guarantee, and often doesn’t work at all.

Instead, you can find freedom in the fact that you are different, and another person’s solution may not work for you. What someone else does may help motivate and inspire you, and deliver some initial results, but eventually it needs your unique spin.

A Change Will Do You Good

When it comes to fitness, this is just as true. So many people watch videos and copy exercises, follow the same diet plan as an “expert”, and take the same supplements. But if you pay attention, every “expert” is doing something a little different from the next.

Some people thrive on high carb diets, other on high fat. Some can’t digest some vegetables well, and others can’t take supplements. Some do 30 minutes of cardio a day, some do 10 minutes of HIIT twice a week.

female fitness coach

Personally, my diet, weight lifting, and cardio plan has changed about 4-5 times over the last 9 months alone! Sometimes I want to gain muscle mass, other times I just want to be skinnier; sometimes I can spend 45 minutes on a stair machine, and other times I’ll only do plyos for cardio because I can’t stand even 5 minutes on a treadmill.

Your body – and your life – are ever-changing and evolving. My advice?

  1. Learn what works for others and try some of the same tactics for yourself
  2. Pay attention to what isn’t working for you and get rid of it. Test out some new methods.
  3. When you find what works, stick with it.
  4. Change it again by testing more new methods when you hit a plateau.

Remember, there is no “one way”, whether in business, relationships, or fitness. Part of the fun in the journey of life is exploring the complexity of layers God designed you with.

You are unique – find freedom and life as you embrace that!

photo credit: Always more than one way via photopin (license)

If I Made a Cheesy Christian T-Shirt…

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If I made a cheesy Christian t-shirt it would say, “God is my personal trainer” with an image of a super buff Jesus making someone do squats or push-ups.

You know what I’m talking about? Those t-shirts with Christian-ese slogans and images that genuinely attempt to share a great message in a creative way, but are mostly just awkward? the lord's gym tshirt

A friend and I laughed about this recently, because we both owned (and proudly wore) several of them back in elementary school or junior high.

We joked and brainstormed some of our own ideas.That’s when the “God is my personal trainer” one popped out, because it suits me in my role as a fitness fanatic and trainer.

Yet as I was reading through Revelation 7 recently, I realized that it actually has some truth, and parallels that I think are important to keep in mind.

In Revelation, God is speaking to various churches, and asks them/us to live with high standards of righteousness, to be set apart from the world, and to stand firm in faith no matter what is going on around us or how much the world tries to sway us.

There are also many glimpses into the future – martyrs who persevered in their faith until they stood before the throne of God. They’re given the promise of an eternity of protection, no hunger, living water, no tears. It’s a beautiful, joy-filled picture to imagine them worshipping with the angels after standing tall through tribulation. They stood firm in their faith through trial, and all the pain was worth it.

As a trainer, when I’m working with a client, I’m asking them to act in light of a future that is to come, which holds great potential for a far better way of living.

I intentionally have them do some very challenging things that make them sweat, grunt, complain, and exhaust their bodies. Because I’m masochistic? No, because I can see strength in them that they can’t – both physically and mentally – and know that if they keep persevering, they’re going to get stronger; their bodies will become more capable, endorphins will lift their mood, they’ll feel better, they’ll reduce medical bills, and their self-esteem and confidence will improve.

I know how badly they want to look and feel a certain way, andI have full faith that they can experience it. If they’ll just persevere…. chest press

I also ask them not to eat certain things. I ask them to give up a lot of delicious, comforting foods. Because I want to see them suffer and take away joy? Not at all. It’s because I know it will be good for them. That temporary sacrifice will ultimately lead them to a greater joy. I know they’ll see in the end it was all worth it.

Amazingly, they come back to me week after week, allowing me to put them through what feels like torture – and they pay me to do it! – trusting that I know what I’m doing even when they’re in pain.

But do we do this with Jesus? Do we really believe that he knows best and that if we go though the suffering life may require at times, that he truly works all things for our good?

It seems that sometimes it’s easier to beat ourselves up at the gym for a physical accomplishment than it is to trust God when he allows suffering or pain in our lives. We tend to fight it with everything in us, get angry, even walk away because we think God is there to make life easy.

I can tell you this, God is much wiser than I am! He sees much more than I do. So, if I can be trusted to put people through challenges in order to grow, change, and find more joy, can’t God?!

I encourage you, the next time you face a confusing, painful situation in life, to think about the times you’ve overcome a tough workout, and remember that in far greater ways, God is using it ALL for your good!

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4

How to Form Healthy Eating Habits for Weight Loss: Proactive vs. Reactive Thinking

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Guest Blog written by Peter Han, a personal trainer and club manager at Anytime Fitness in Santa Clarita, California.

How often do you think about your thoughts about eating?

Probably sounds like a weird question, huh?

So often we eat and drink mindlessly…until the scale creeps up or our pants stop slipping on so easily. It is then that our body reminds us of what we consumed when we weren’t thinking about it.

After 12 years of consistently working out, I still have to adjust and readjust my thought process when it comes to nutrition.

Let me explain what I mean…

Reactive Thinking

The way we eat is habitual, shaped by necessity, routine, schedule, and values. We all have tendencies – good and bad – like skipping breakfast, snacking at work all day, or Friday martinis after work.Then we wonder how we gained weight, or why we can’t lose it, or assume our bodies “just weren’t meant” to look the way we truly wish they would.

Without an intentional approach to food, we are left reacting with guilt, regret, or painful hours of cardio for those calories we didn’t need or intend on. This is what I mean by “reactive thinking”. man staring at donut

Does This Sound Familiar?

Let’s say your food choices weren’t so great on Monday. You ate more than you should have and scarfed a few cookies that spiked your calorie count. Feeling badly about it on Tuesday, you skip breakfast, eat a small lunch, and have yogurt for dinner. Now your food choices have become a reactive measure rather than a predetermined choice made with intent. It’s as if food has the control over you, leaving you with shame (and a growling stomach), rather than you feeling empowered through choices.

If you eat less one day because your calorie intake was too high the day prior, when the weekend hits you’ll believe it’s okay to overeat because you “ate clean” during the week. But this disables any healthy habit from forming. Your thought process with food will not change, and consequently, neither will your weight.

When this happens with my clients, I tell them to go right back to their normal eating before the “splurge” – continuing to practice good eating habits and food choices with intent, being fully aware. Don’t allow the previous day’s calories to determine your calorie intake for the current day. This will not help change your behavior with food – and that is what must take place in order for lasting results to occur.

Proactive Thinking

If getting or staying fit is important to you, you must start thinking about what you eat, when you eat, and why you eat. This proactive awareness will reveal your habits and foods that you gravitate towards. Then you can begin making wise choices that put you in control and set you up for success.

fitness couple

For instance, maybe you find that you end up eating takeout multiple nights a week because you’re too hungry to cook after work; or you down a bag of chips late at night when you’re watching TV to unwind from a stressful day.

Once you can clearly see your tendencies, it becomes easier to prevent poor choices and change your patterns. And as they say, “Knowing is half the battle.”

So How Do You Apply This?

Here is what I do with my clients that I recommend for you:

1. Write it Down. Track what you’re eating – the time, type, and amount of food consumed. (You can also use an app like MyFitnessPal to take the hard calculating work out of it for you.) This will document exactly what your habits are for you to see and learn from.

2. Set a Goal. Start the process of eating “proactively”. The analogy I typically use with my clients is this: When we drive, we put on our seatbelts, check the rearview mirrors before changing lanes, and stay within a certain speed limit – we drive with intent. There is an end destination in mind, so we choose to act accordingly with the result we desire; in this case arriving safely at the determined destination.

Once a goal is set, whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle, or running a faster mile, everything you do is going to either help or hurt that goal. So eat with intent just like you drive with the intent of being safe. healthy breakfast food prep

3. Plan Your Meals. Preparation is your biggest ally when it comes to changing your food habits. It’s much easier to say no to pizza in the office if you have your lunch next to you, packed and ready to go. I’m not saying it makes it easy, but it does make it easier.

When you wake up (or the night before), plan your entire day’s worth of calories. This doesn’t mean you have to cook everything you eat. It means you plan ahead, with full awareness of what you will consume that day, and what you should avoid. Pack some meals and keep snacks on hand so you’re never stuck eating whatever is around out of desperation.

Renew Your Habits

The act of replacing a habit is not easy to do. You’ll hit some road blocks, and some days will be great and some days won’t be so great. These steps are not concrete and definitely not a one-size-fits-all method.

But increasing awareness, intentionally planning your food, and practicing those habits will help renew your mindset and change your relationship with food.

However tough it may be at times, if you plant the right seeds of hard work and consistency, you’ll reap the fruits of your labor.

Check out the video below for more discussion on this topic

photo credit: DOUGHNUT via photopin (license)