Playlists you can move to

11 11 2010

Okay so as promised, a lighter, shorter, funner post.  Check this out:  This is a great app for iPhone, or you can download a desktop version to use with iTunes.  It analyzes the beat of all the songs in your iTunes library.  Then you can set playlists with nearly same beats to exercise too.  For instance I have a “running” playlist with a beat around 83 bpm.  Built around the song “Mama” by Genesis back in the day.  Incredible running tune.  Also some great adrenaline releasing tunes from Joe Satriani (Remember his album “Surfing with the Alien?”).  I have a power walking playlist and one for fast work on an elliptical trainer.

Take note:  the App was only able to analyze about half my playlist, and got a few wrong.  Sometimes it doubles or halves the correct number.  So if you run around 84 bpm like I do, see what songs have the bpm of 42 and 168 as well.  For songs whose beats change dramatically throughout the song… I just don’t know.  I will post my playlists in a separate comment below.  Enjoy, and move your butt.


9 Processes of Change

5 11 2010

This post represents further information from Dr. Prochaska’s book, Changing for Good.  It is a great follow up to the last post from a couple of days ago.  This will describe 9 processes, or strategies, that we can use to help us work our way through the 6 stages of change described in the last post.  As you will see there are certain stages where each process will be more helpful, and some where they would NOT be so helpful.  WHY IS ANY OF THIS IMPORTANT?  To increase our chances at successfully changing a habit or behavior, it will help us to know 2 things.  First, regarding the particular behavior in question, what stage am I in right now (contemplation, preparation, etc)?  Second, what strategies can I apply during this, and subsequent stages that increase my chances of moving forward, and ultimately, of lasting success.  So by taking the info from the last post and this one, we can consider ourselves armed and ready to proceed.  Read on.

1.  Consciousness-raising:   Raising your level of awareness, increasing the amount of knowledge, thereby improving your chances of making solid, intelligent choices regarding any problem behaviors.   The new knowledge might involve something like, “why I eat when I am in stressful situations,” or “what is it about my family that always makes me want to smoke?”  Or the new knowledge may be less personal like how exercise works to lower the risk for several different chronic diseases.  Consciousness-raising is very useful early in the change process, primarily during the precontemplation and contemplation stages.

2. Social liberation:  This involves any new alternatives that the environment can give you to begin or continue to move through the stages of change.  The easiest example is all the Smoke-free restaurants, clubs and work-places that have sprung up over the last several years.  Other examples include the “healthy menu” items that are popping up on many restaurant menus, and advocacy groups like Weight Watchers, mental health support groups and others.  I differ slightly from the book here, and feel that this process can be used beginning in the contemplation stage and continue really all the way through the maintenance stage.

3. Emotional arousal:  I had mentioned the importance of creating and using emotion in an earlier post.  Emotion is a powerful process and motivator.  It is similar to consciousness-raising but on a deeper and usually more personal, feeling level.  Like consciousness-raising, it too is helpful early in the change process, contemplation and preparation.  Examples may include watching videos showing the devastation caused by accidents involving drunk drivers, or shows such as the Biggest Loser for help with emotional motivation to lose weight. 

This is a good time to describe how using a process at the wrong time may be detrimental.  If emotional arousal is used too early, it may backfire.   For example, having a family/friend intervention with an obese person whose lifestyle is putting him at risk for diabetes, heart disease and other health issues, but who is still in the precontemplation stage, perhaps in denial about the existence of any problem at all, or not yet taking personal responsibilty for the problem, and instead blaming other people and circumstances for his eating problem, then he may strike out at those same people who are trying to help, and his wall of denial may be strenghthened and extended.  Likewise, if emotional arousal is used too late, such as during the maintenance stage, then the (usual) negative emotion may counteract any positive feelings and emotions associated with, and fueling,  the progress that the changer is currently making. 

4.  Self-reevaluation:  Involves assessing your values, and determining what kind of person you would have to become to  change you habit or behavior.   This enables you to see how your current behavior is in conflict with your personal values.  Personally, as a physician, with a special interest in health and wellness, I had to ask myself how would it look if I was advising others to be active, exercise and eat healthier if I was overweight, sedentary and running out to McDonald’s for lunch every day.  As I have started this blog and other similar efforts recently, I have had little choice but to start to exercise again, eat healthier, and lose the extra poundage I have been toting around for some time.  Just like emotional arousal, Self-reevaluation is useful during contemplation and preparation.

5.  Commitment:  Ever heard of this one?  Most useful during preparation, action and maintenance, this is where we accept FULL responsibility for where we are and where we want to be, and then consciously choose to make the change.  The first step is private, telling yourself you are going to change, and the second part is public, letting others know of your intentions to change.  Some try to keep their commitments private, but the shame, guilt or embarrassment of public failure make public commitments much more powerful.

6.  Countering:  Simply, substituting a healthy response for unhealthy ones.  So instead of the morning cigarette to help us wake up, we go for a nice brisk walk.  Instead of having to drink alcohol to socialize with family or friends, we choose  a delicious (diet) Shirley Temple instead (this was getting too serious, needed to lighten it up some, read on please.)  Countering obviously is used during the action and maintenance stages.

7.  Environmental Control:  Like countering, is action oriented, used during action and maintenance stages.  But instead of choosing different responses to external stimuli, we are manipulating our environment to decrease the exposure to the triggering external stimuli.  For instance, I choose a different route home from work so that I do not pass the bar where I stop to socialize every night.  I remove all alcohol (cigarettes, unhealthy foods, etc.) from my home.  I choose to change the people with whom I associate to further remove temptation.  Hey no one said this is going to be easy.  Sacrifice will usually be necessary.  To quote Prochaska, “Quitting a habit can require not only an enormous sacrifice of energy, but the pain of others’ disapproval…,” including their disapproval at seeing you choose a healthier habit while they maintain their unhealthy ways.

8.  Rewards:  Like the previous two, used during action and maintenance, and is fairly self explanatory.  Don’t be like me however, and think you can reward yourself just for contemplating change!  Rewards can be as simple as self-praise, but can be more substantial such as a vacation paid for with the money saved by quitting smoking, or one to show off the newly discovered 6 pack of abs that appeared after weeks of healthier choices.  Also rewards can be self-administered, or under the control of others.

9.  Helping relationships:  This one is easy.  This process is helpful throughout the entire process of change.  Even in Precontemplation, the constant encouragement from family and friends, the helpful, non-pushy suggestion of a book or movie, and letting a person know, in a non-threatening way how his habit or behavior effects them and others.  Once a person has voluntarily entered into the process of change, they can request support, and offer others specific requests on how best to help.  Remember, we may elect to change without “professional” help, but that doesn’t mean we should “go it alone” and fail to use the support and caring of those closest to us.  This process is used throughout all the stages of change.

By understanding all of the above, we can not only increase our own chances for success with self change, but can increase our effectiveness in our role of a Helping Relationship for others who are taking on the challenge of change themselves.

Until next time, blessings.

Stages of Change

3 11 2010

Be the change you want to see in the world. – Gandhi

Hello everybody.  I hope that everyone has recovered from any self-induced sugar comas that may have occurred over the weekend.  We were incredibly busy.  Emma, our daughter turned 2 on Friday, we celebrated Halloween both Saturday AND Sunday nights attending a couple of huge neighborhood events, had Emma’s major BDay party on Sunday am, and then got her off to her first day of school on Monday.  I need a vacation.

But first, here is the next installment that I hope will be helpful for you.  Last time we talked about a 7-step process you can use alone or with a helper/coach to help move you towards a goal.  Today I want to step back and discuss the stages that one must go through in order to increase the likelihood of successful, permanent change.  This material is from a book titled Changing for Good by James Prochaska, et al, a book I recommend if the following is interesting to you.  To summarize, there are 6 stages that one goes through when changing a behavior:

1. Precontemplation.  This includes people who do not even recognize that there is a problem, someone in complete denial, as well as people who may recognize a problem, but have no desire to even consider changing behavior.  Eg. a person may have 5-6 drinks most evenings, know that it is too much and not healthy, but feels it gives him an advantage with the business dinners he often hosts, or helps him unwind and “deal with” the demanding family life after a long and stressful day of work.  It could be argued effectively that anyone in precontemplation is exhibiting some degree of denial.  Many argue that we cannot completely consciously do things that harm ourselves, and so destructive behaviors must be at least on some level, unconscious or subconscious.  Let the debate rage on.

2.  Contemplation.  Here people acknowledge that they have a problem and start to think seriously about addressing it.  They may have some vague plans on doing something about it in the near future, but have not started preparing or taking any action.  On the other hand, they may be far from taking any action as many people stay stuck in contemplation indefinitely.  People who have successfully quit smoking by themselves (without counseling) stay in contemplation stage for an average of 2 years.

3.  Preparation.  Here people are often planning to take action soon, often with a date set within a month or so.  They are making final adjustments before they begin to change their behavior.  (The next step is “Action”, but often the preparation stage involves actions as well, such as emptying out the fridge of unhealthy items prior to starting the “Action” step of “eating healthier”.)  This is the stage where people will often make their intentions to change publicly known.  People who are UNSUCCESSFUL with change often skip or minimize this stage, failing to consider obstacles or planning a well detailed plan for success.

4.  Action.  This is the money shot, where people make the move for which they have been preparing.  It is probably the busiest stage and requires the greatest amount of time and energy.  Commitment is important here.  Activities here are more visible and receive the most recognition from others.  As Dr. Prochaska points out, there is a danger with equating Action with Change, as it overlooks the importance of the stages leading up to Stage 4, as well as the important stages that follow.

5.  Maintenance.  Change NEVER ends with action.  This is never more evident than with people who have tried numerous diets, sometimes lost remarkable amounts of weight, but always regains the weight and sometimes more.  They failed to consider their changes as permanent lifestyle changes (who could stay on  the Atkins diet forever?) and overlooked the challenges associated with preventing lapses and relapses.  Commitment is very important here.  Maintenance stage can last from several months to a lifetime.

6.  Termination.  Many folks don’t even include this as a stage, believing that folks never can completely let their guard down or else they may relapse.  For addictive behaviors, this is most likely true.  But for the sake of the 6 stages, Termination is when the former behavior or problem presents no temptation or threat, and will never return, WITHOUT any further effort on their part. Likely whether true termination is possible or not is not just dependent on whatever the problem happens to be, but also the person who has undergone the change in behavior.

So that’s it, the 6 stages of change.  Next I am going to outline 9 processes that we can employ at different stages in order to help keep us moving forward in our efforts for successful change.  Hope you got some value from this.  I would love your feedback.

Brian Jeffs

29 10 2010

I am posting this great stuff from Brian Jeffs.  I was afraid that it might get missed buried under the comments of one of my earlier posts.  Thanks so much Brian for taking an interest, and the time, to put this out there.  I am including a second post of his under “comments” so be sure and click here as well.

Ok, so I am a few days late…but here goes. I feel as if 75% of getting back into shape is in your diet. Yes that 4 letter word, diet, but it doesn’t mean starve youself, eating like a bird etc…what it means is making small changed to what and how you eat. There are over 1 million “diet” books on the market as well as another million types of “diets”. If I could recommend any book it would be
the Eating Clean diet Recharged by Tosca Reno. This book is a great read. Its all about making small changes in what you eat, making “cleaner” choices and eating 6 smaller meals a day. First and foremost ALWAYS eat breakfast, I recommend oatmeal mixed with all natural applesauce, or fat free yougurt and a slice of wheat toast, or egg whites with applesauce/ Yougurt and wheat toast. If you are pressed for time throw two eggo multi grain waffles in the toaster, and spread all natural peanut butter or sugar free jam on them and go….another good breakfast choice if you just don’t have the time to cook is either a whey protein shake or an Ensure drink… all natural almonds are a great choice for snacks in between meals, they ahve the right kinds of “fats” you need in your diet.. For lunch and dinner try grilled or baked meats instead of fried, and try to eat veggies with at least two of your meals. Its not about cutting out meals, its about adding a few meals, and making “cleaner” choices…
Again if you have any questions feel free to ask and I will do whatever I can to help.



7 Steps to Success

29 10 2010

Good morning and Happy Halloween in advance.  I hope everyone is seeing some progress with their goals of improving their health.   Thanks to Brian Jeffs for contributing some great content.  Check his great recommendations out under “comments” for the “Baby Step” post.  And remember, if you haven’t subscribed to the blog through the RSS feed you might be missing good stuff.  If anyone has questions about that, please let me know.

I wanted to pass along a basic coaching model that we use in health coaching when working with clients.  I have used it with myself successfully as well.  Here goes:

1.  What do you want to accomplish? Set some goals.  Of  course we could spend all day talking about how to set effective goals, but that is a topic for later.  If you want some more info, research SMART goals.  Examples of this might be, to lose 25 pounds, to run a marathon, to eat 5 servings of veggies a day, to drink more water, to quit smoking, etc.

2.  Create Emotion. When you reach your goal, what will that feel like?  What will that look like?  How will you benefit?  What will your family (kids, husband, wife, etc.) say and feel about you?  What would it feel like if you didn’t reach your goal, and just stayed where you are now?  Don’t be afraid to be frank and honest with yourself.  Emotion is the primary mover.  Note:  there are basically 2 categories of emotion that can fuel action towards a goal – pain and pleasure.  We move towards pleasure, and away from pain.  Moving away from pain has been shown to be a more powerful motivator, and it is more appropriate early in the stages of change (more on stages of change later).  So don’t be afraid to use pain as a motivator.   What would it feel like if I continued to smoke?  How would this affect my family?  What is this doing to my health right now?  How will this impact me seeing my own grandchildren grow up? Find what has a powerful impact for you and use that!

3.  Where are you now? In relation to your goal.  E.g. how much exercise do you get now?  What is your weight?  How much water do you currently drink?  What sort of activity and attention are you currently contributing to this area of your life.  How do you feel about yourself in relation to where you are now (creating more emotion).

4.  Uncover Blocks.  What have you tried before and why didn’t it work?  What is in your way of success now?  What are other hurdles you must overcome?  E.g.  All my buddies smoke.  Eating is a major social activity for my extended family, I will be an outsider if I change this activity.  I have to eat (drink, smoke) to relieve stress when I get home from work.  Nobody will help me in my efforts to exercise.

5.  BABY STEP: What one small step can I do, just above thinking about it, that I absolutely cannot fail at? E.g.  Research local gym memberships, find a near-by marathon several months away, find online support groups for smoking cessation, set aside a time to talk to your spouse about your goal, why it’s important to you , and what they can do to help.  After you successfully complete one Baby Step, it’s time to determine your next.  Build success upon success to keep you positive, motivated, and moving towards your overall goal.

6.  Support: Who can help you?  What resources do you need / have?  Are you willing to ask for that support / resource?  What kind of support and resources have you used in the past that have worked / not worked?

7.  Accountability: How will you hold yourself accountable?  Who will you let know about your baby steps, when you accomplish them, success and failures?  How will you communicate, and by when?

That’s the 7 steps.  For me, I have worked through the 7 step process for starting this blog (not a health-related goal, but it still works).  Steps 1-4 are mostly static, but steps 5 – 7 I repeat frequently.  Choose a baby step, decide what help I need to succeed, notify my accountability partner of when and how I plan to have completed the step, complete it and then go back to Step 5 and repeat the process.  I now need to do the same with a couple of health related goals that I have, and will make those public here, when I have.   Hope that there is some value there for you.  As always I welcome feedback and comments.  Please step up if you want to add anything or make suggestions as to how this might be more helpful.  If it is a personal comment and something you don’t necessarily want posted, just let me know – I have to approve all the comments before they show up anyway.  Have a wonderful weekend and most Happy Halloween.

Getting Started

20 10 2010

Okay, I’m officially 43 years young now.  The flowers have wilted and the cake is all gone.  (Alright, no one actually got me flowers.)

I figure that now is a good time to get started blogging.  I am wanting to get in better shape, exercise a little more and take a little better care of myself.  It occurred to me not long ago that I could use our 25-year class reunion as motivation to move in a positive direction.  Then it occurred to me  that the more people that knew of my goals, the more committed I would be, for fear of looking like a big boob.  It made perfect sense that “more people” could very naturally apply to all of you who I will see when we get together this next summer.  Finally, I thought that in addition to being curious observers, some of you might like to participate in your own little transformative process too, and might benefit from an ongoing conversation and supportive environment to help you achieve whatever goals you might have.  And thus I decided to create the BAHS Fit for 25th Facebook page and blog.  Blog is a funny word…  But I digress.

This will be a work in progress as I have never blogged before.  I promise I will try to do my best to adapt as we go.  I have WordPress for Dummies and will probably get the Blogging for Dummies title as well.  I will learn how to post articles and documents and pictures and all.  For you, the more that everyone comments and participates, the more fun this will be.  And it will give us a ton of stuff to talk about next summer.  I am going to work on some specific goals and post those soon.  For those of you who would like to participate, here are some ideas.  Think of something that you would like to work on or change regarding your health, broadly at first.  Then get specific.  It might be things like:

I want to quit smoking / I want to lose weight / I want to get in shape, start exercising / I want to get my blood pressure under control / I want to eat healthier.

Start thinking about some specifics.  These can be as private or public as you choose, but consider the extra motivation, and support, you might receive if you choose to go public and participate all out.  Also start thinking about what you might have to gain from achieving your goal.  How would it make you feel?  What would it do for your health, and your self esteem?  What would it mean to your family?  How would it affect how other people think about you?  And think about where you are now, and how you feel about that.  Start thinking, and we’ll start working on these things together.

Let me know any and all ideas that you have that will make this better, more fun, and more useful for you.  If anyone has any experience with WordPress or with blogging, don’t hesitate to make suggestions.  Looking forward to a little community building with a bunch of ol’ buds (and some I may have not known well at all) from BAHS.  Happy Hump Day!

Baby Step

2 10 2010

This is my first official “baby step”.  Looking to move forward with a web presence.  Want to use my desire to get in better shape, do it in a way so  it becomes part of my lifestyle, pick an arbitrary event – next summer’s 25th class reunion – to help accomplish my goal over a shorter period of time, and ask around and offer any help and support I might give to other’s in my class that may want to make some positive changes to their lifestyle as well. Congratulations.

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