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Guest Post by Dan Chojnacki New year, new you. It’s an annual phrase used by many to signal a change. The new year is a time when many people want to either hit the reset button and return to previous goals or decide to turn a part of their life in a different direction. Goals motivate us to keep moving forward, but what happens when they seem so far out of reach that we want to give up? Making a lasting change, especially changes to your health, takes more than a few days to accomplish, which makes the first couple of months of the year vital. The key to achieving your resolutions is staying consistent during the beginning portion of the year. This way, you stick to your plan long enough to form a habit. Once you develop these habits as part of a routine, you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing your goals. Write out your plan Success and motivation go together like peanut butter and jelly. Motivation leads to success, success leads to more motivation to continue forward, and so on. If you have small successes along the way, you’ll continue to be motivated to reach your long-term goals. So many people get caught up focusing on the destination that they forget to take notice of what’s happening along the journey. But if you set smaller goals for yourself as steps to lead to your ultimate goal, every time you reach one of your smaller milestones, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that will drive you forward to the next one. This could be something like losing one or two pounds per week on the way to a larger weight loss goal. Each time you lose even a small amount of weight, you’ll be motivated to continue toward your end goal. Write down your health resolution and then write down the small steps or milestones it will take to get there. Writing down your resolution serves two purposes. First, it makes it tangible. It is no longer just a thought in your head. You have taken the time to put it out there to be seen. Being able to see your goal visually makes it more concrete and more likely that you will follow through. Second, it serves as a reminder whenever motivation lags. Rather than trying to remember why you want this goal or what steps you decided to take to reach it, you have a place where you can look to restore your drive. Find a friend to hold you accountable Many of us are built with a desire to not let other people down. There are certainly times in which this can be a negative trait, but when it comes to resolutions, it can be a useful tool to keep you on track. Of course, we first and foremost want to accomplish our goals because they are important to us. However, if you take the time to share your resolution with someone important in your life, there is a good chance they will help you stick to it. Friends who know what you’re trying to accomplish can motivate you and lift your spirits when you feel like you should give up. They may even join you in your goals. You could start running together, shopping for healthy foods together, or preparing meals for the week together. It also provides motivation for you, knowing that if you decide to stop pursuing your resolution, you will have to face your friend. With any luck, your friend may be able to persuade you to reconsider. Put your goals in your schedule There are so many possible excuses, especially with health goals, that can hold you back. The excuse used most often centers on time. “I don’t have time to work out.” “I don’t have time to meal prep.” We all have 24 hours in a day and we need to make the most of them. You can make the best use of your time by scheduling the tasks that will help you accomplish your goals. If it’s a fitness resolution, scheduling your workout times in advance can help keep your week organized. And scheduling time on Sundays to prepare your snacks and meals for the week will actually save you time during the week. Whatever your goal is, planning it out to make it a part of your daily and weekly calendar will help you develop a routine. When this routine becomes a habit, the habit will lead to success. The next step You’ve made your resolution. It’s all mapped out. You have your end goal written down and you’ve made note of the smaller steps along the way that will help you feel successful and motivated. You found a friend to share your health resolution with. That friend is providing you with motivation and has even decided to join you because of the drive you showed. Now you are working together for the same goal. Every workout is written on your calendar. Your meals are planned and prepared in advance. Just like that, you’ve reached your goal. You’ve utilized these tips to stay consistent, form habits, and meet your resolution. Now what? New year, new you. Time to start again. Dan Chojnacki writes for EffortlessInsurance.com and has been a certified personal trainer (NETA) for nearly a decade. He currently trains in Green Bay, Wisconsin where he is also a group fitness director. In his free time, he enjoys running, swimming, playing tennis, and coaching youth softball.
Guest Post by Billy Ferguson How can you stay motivated while training during the winter? With miserable weather day after day, maintaining motivation to stay fit can be a real challenge. Short days and long nights are filled with pitfalls that test your resolve and pull you back to the sofa. Most of us in the United States experience cold winters and miss the warm training weather. It may seem hard to justify why you continue your training, but maintaining and building your fitness throughout the winter and spring is important as you look to the summer. 1. Mix it up Trying to stick to a fixed routine can be a killer for your motivation. To avoid this, mix up your training with different types of exercise. Get out there and smash a 5K Saturday morning park run, go climbing, or try a spinning class. Find some activities that usually are not part of your fitness regimen and give them a go. 2. Make investments If you don't own a turbo trainer, now may be the right time to invest in one. A turbo trainer allows you to train indoors using your existing bike. Adding this to your training will allow you to have easy access to equipment to help get your heart rate into the training zone. 3. Set a plan With advice by Don Fink (an internationally known triathlon and running coach) on nearly every bookshelf of wannabe triathletes, it is no surprise that we are learning why it is so important to establish a plan. Whether you are training for a 5K or a marathon, a plan will help you succeed. Set out a plan that you can maintain. Use this plan as motivation to help you get out and accomplish your goal. 4. Set a specific goal Having a goal can always help you resist the temptation to hit that snooze button on a Sunday. When you set a goal, make sure that it is specific. A targeted goal will help you refine your training with the end in mind. Note: If you are planning to participate in an event, whether it be a simple community run or a competitive race, don’t delay your registration until you feel "ready." Signing up and committing will help you push harder get ready and achieve your goal. 5. Build a support group Allow your loved one to help keep you going. If you let them in on your goal, they will be able to help push you to achieve it. As you bring them into your plan and invite them to feel a part of what you are doing, they will be more likely to help you get up on those cold mornings and stick to your plan. For more tips on how to include others in your fitness goals, click here. 6. Find a training buddy Training is not only beneficial to your fitness, but it can be a great social outlet. You will find that your training becomes easier as you and your training partner push each other to do more and follow through with your commitments. If you can find a partner who is slightly better than you, you will be pushed to limits that you would not have achieved on your own. 7. Adopt a mantra Find a training mantra that is personal to you. For example, "No pain, no gain" might be a bit too corny for you, but you will find one that works for you. Once you have found the mantra that you would like to use, repeat it in your head while you are training. Let it become an empowering phrase that helps you to go a bit longer and a bit harder than you did the previous training session. Bonus tip: If you struggle remembering to use this phrase as you train, print it out and take it with you to the gym, put it on your bike, tape it to your water bottle. The more that you see it, the more effective it will become. 8. Reward yourself We all love new things. Don’t be afraid to sneak in the odd purchase every so often. Whether it be a pair of socks, some shoes, or a shirt, something new may help you to get excited about getting up off the couch and going for a run. 9. Make it personal If every event that you decide to participate in is for charity, you will burn out sooner than later. If you are working hard towards a goal to become more fit or stay active during the winter, make sure that the events that you participate in help you to achieve this goal. If you do participate in charity events, evaluate your reasoning and make your ability to participate personal and meaningful. As you do this, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment as you achieve your goals. Billy Ferguson is the Founder and CEO behind Trivelo and a triathlete for the past 10 years. Never a podium finisher, he still struggles to find the right mix of ingredients to ensure a successful winter base training regimen.
Guest Post by Shyam Bhardwaj Corporate lifestyles are causing a significant proportion of the U.S. workforce to face lesser productivity. Sedentary lifestyles, poor nutritional choices, bad posture, improper work-life balance, and excessive alcohol use have all been identified as contributors to chronic illnesses among workers. Chronic illness has become a major burden on the workplace due to health care costs, absenteeism, and reduced employee productivity when at work. Work-load and associated stress levels undeviatingly impact mental as well as physical health. The American Heart Association uses CVH metrics to define physical health comprising several observations, including non-smoking, body mass index, blood pressure, and cholesterol, etc. Reportedly, CVH metrics + Healthy Diet + Physical Activity are arbitrarily linked with better engagement and performance. Many organizations have addressed these issues by inducting workplace wellness programs to inspire employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. Programs are either implemented directly by the employer or through a program developed by the company's health-care provider. Cited by the RAND report, nearly half of U.S.-based employers run a sort of wellness program. Most of these programs combine screening for risk factors with interventions to reduce risk. Individual's data set on weight, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and fitness habits are commonly collected by employers as part of these wellness initiatives. Interventions offered in the wellness programs involve smoking cessation programs, on-site weight measurements, on-site vaccinations, weight-loss competitions, nutrition educational activities, stress management educational activities, substance abuse counseling, and fitness promotion programs. About half of the employers with wellness initiatives also offer disease management assistance, with diabetes as the most commonly targeted condition. The biggest obstacle for employers to make these programs extremely successful is the ratio of positive participation from employees. The majority of wellness programs used incentives such as money and prizes to encourage employee participation in the programs. Organizational wellness programs might differ based on personalized goals and company-size, but usually, the following points decide the wellness plan structure: What is pushing the most extravagant claims onto your health care plan. Humanize your organization and set realistic expectations. Integration of workplace wellness with other benefits. Lead by example; Practice what you preach. Implementation is the key. Corporate wellness programs do more than just promote healthy lifestyles among employees. Aside from providing positive reinforcement to get in shape, they also boost the company's bottom line. In the past, employers used to do small things to encourage employee health like hanging motivational posters or encouraging employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Today, companies are shelling out significant sums of money for wellness programs because they really do work. The initial investment ends up paying for itself and then some over the long haul. Let's take a look at a couple of benefits of taking the wellness plunge. Fewer sick days Corporate wellness programs typically offer employees incentives for reaching health goals and sometimes even punish them with a bit of negative reinforcement for being unhealthy. The result is a significant improvement in overall employee health. When employees understand how to live a healthy lifestyle and are encouraged to do so through a corporate wellness program, they get sick less often. This helps the company stay profitable. Fewer workers' compensation claims Better levels of health are directly linked to fewer workers' compensation claims. Employees who are in shape are less likely to strain muscles, tear ligaments, and break bones while performing work activities. Healthcare savings Corporate wellness programs boost a company's bottom line by saving money on health insurance costs. In a study conducted by Richard Milani and Carl Lavie, over 185 couples were given cardiac rehabilitation training. Over 100 couples recovered from high-risk to low-risk health status at the end of a six-month wellness program. The savings is passed on to the company in the form of reduced healthcare premiums and fewer workers' compensation claims. Mutual benefits One of the best aspects of a corporate wellness program is that it has the potential to be mutually beneficial to both the company and the employees. Most employers will provide financial rewards to employees who hit health benchmarks for things like blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels. Increased happiness Healthy people are generally much happier people than those who are unhealthy. Happier people are also more likely to show up to work and take fewer sick days and personal time off. Beyond merely showing up for work, happy employees are also much more productive than their unhealthy counterparts and will boost the company's bottom line. Don't underestimate how contagious a positive attitude can be. Happy people liven up the workplace atmosphere and lift the moods of others, making the environment much more productive. External benefits One of the best ways to sell employees on a wellness plan is to stress the fact that it can benefit them beyond the workplace. Although the company's primary interest is maintaining a healthy workforce, it can also benefit from an employee who has a happy life outside of work. Those who enjoy their time off of work will be much more productive while on the clock. If employees understand that a wellness program will help them get in shape so that they can spend more quality time with their family and live a long life, they'll be more likely to participate in the program with sincere interest and effort. Long-term investment While a corporate wellness program will be a sizable initial investment, it will eventually produce results. The key is patience. Once employees get in the habit of taking care of themselves, they'll be more likely to practice healthy behaviors over an extended period of time. The result will be a healthier, happier workforce that lowers the employer's future healthcare premiums and workers' compensation claim costs. Group mentality One of the more interesting aspects of corporate wellness programs is that employees are much more likely to participate because their co-workers do. While it is difficult for an individual to motivate himself to sign up for a gym or start a workout routine all by himself, it is much easier for him to participate in a wellness program when his peers do it with him. Nobody wants to be the odd man left out. When asked, employers tended to be confident that wellness programs were effective and cost-saving for the corporations. It pays off in reduced absenteeism and boosted productivity, plus a fairly large discount on its healthcare costs from its healthcare provider. Shyam Bhardwaj has over seven years of experience in marketing and branding space. With background experience in software engineering, he also deals with IT and web development areas. He often writes about entrepreneurship journey, start-up success stories, marketing hurdles, and business operations.