Health Tip: Write a Letter to Your Future Self

Writing a Letter
Image from Flickr by Skippy Beresford

People like us, who are into health and fitness, apart from getting healthier and feeling better, all want one end result — to look good.

Slipping back into old habits

Sometimes, though, when we have achieved our goal, there’s a chance that we become complacent. Little by little, we start doing again the old habits that led us to where we used to be. Then, one day, we realize that we look like our old-selves again!

I’ve been there a couple of times myself. I felt that all my efforts had been wasted. What choice do I have, but to start all over again.

Right now, though, I’m maintaining a healthy weight. One day, I thought of something … Why not write a letter to my future self, just in case I’m — you know — getting fat again. I give an example of such a letter here.

A letter to my future self


Dear Whitebeltblogger,

I would like to congratulate you for coming this far. It’s been a long journey for you.

Can you remember the time when you first went to the gym? You looked in the mirror, turned sideways, and focused your attention at your big, bulging stomach. You said, “In 3 months it’s gonna be flat … 3 months.”

Well, it may have taken you longer than 3 months before you had a flat stomach, which you can be proud of, but it’s totally worth it, isn’t it?

So … just in case you’re getting fat again. I would like you to remember that moment when you looked into the mirror.

In short, don’t get fat because it takes a lot of effort to get where you are now. You feel and look a lot better, don’t you? Would you like to look like your old self again? Of course not! Keep on fighting! You’re a warrior!

Regards,
Whitebeltblogger


What else?

You can write a longer letter if you want, or a short one like this:

“Oh my! Look at you, you’re getting fat again … No. No. No. You gotta look good for [insert name of your crush here].”

You can write it on a notebook or index card, or store it in a file somewhere in your computer (or cellphone). Just be sure to read it regularly (every week or every month, depends on you).

To think of it, the concept of “writing to your future self” can also be used in other areas of your life. For instance, it can be also be applied to other habits, such as writing, areas of life like relationships, or even simple tasks such as finishing a book. Your imagination is your only limitation.

Summary:
Write a letter to motivate or inspire your future self; just in case you’re slipping into old habits again.

7 Reasons Why You Should Start Now (or As Soon As Possible)?

Start
Image from Flickr by JakeandLindsay Sherbert

Most people agree that the hardest part when doing something new (like losing weight, writing an article, etc.) is actually getting started. Why the resistance? There are reasons — like fear of failure, perceived difficulty of the task, being unfamiliar ground, and so on.

But regardless of the reasons we have, reasons we may not even realize consciously, once we force ourselves to what we set out to do in the first place, we may find that reality is a lot different from what we have expected.

So, why should you start now (or ASAP)? Here are 7 reasons why:

  1. There may be a lot of things to learn.

    If you want to become skillful in a craft (like writing), you definitely need to learn a lot of things. Sure, you might do with the bare minimum knowledge to get started, but who wants to stay a beginner forever?
  2. You can learn better by doing.

    You may have read 10 books on fitness, but without actually doing the exercises you’ve learned, you won’t be able to know them by heart. Just knowing the facts is a lot different from having a working knowledge of a given skill.
  3. You’ll make mistakes and will learn from them.

    Some people because of their experience in school have unconsciously associated making mistakes with failure. In reality, even the successful people we know have made mistakes as well — and they have learned from those mistakes; so when they tried again (and again) they already knew what to avoid and what to go for, and in the end, succeeded.
  4. There are things that require time.

    There are some movies that may trick us into believing that expertise can be achieved in a short amount of time. But in reality, we all know that to be good at something, we need to spend a lot of time honing our skills through study and practice.

    Sure talented people might need less practice than average skilled individuals to reach the same skill level, but in the end, persistence pays off and the tortoise beats the hare (unless the hare becomes serious and decides to give his best effort).

  5. If you like it: you’ll wish you have started earlier.

    Have you been doing a thing you love (reading for example) and you wished you have started earlier? I wish I could have, but I have to overcome false beliefs like it is difficult or not fun at all — only to prove those beliefs are unfounded when I started. The bottom line is: I wished I could have started earlier.
  6. If you don’t like it: you’ll wish you have known earlier.

    Do you always wanted to do something — and finally did it — but only after a lot of hesitation. For example, you thought skateboarding was cool since other kids are doing it. You have been thinking about it for a year already — before you finally tried it.

    You quickly learned the basics, but found out that you don’t enjoy it that much even though other people are passionate about it. You may have said to yourself, “I wish I could have known earlier.”

  7. You’ll be a lot happier.

    Before I started blogging, I was reading about it years before; I even have the luck of obtaining a book about blogging in a bargain bookstore last year. Even though I enjoy learning something new when I read about it, I didn’t become really happy until the day I wrote my first post. Also, I wish I started blogging earlier.

Those are some of the reasons I can think of on why we need to start doing what we want to do — now. Maybe not now, but as soon as possible because I don’t want you to start running outside your house (if you wanted to start running) while you’re in front of the computer reading my post and have just eaten a whole bag of potato chips (or maybe it’s a salad if you’re a health buff), if that’s the case, please wait for an hour or so, until your stomach has fully digested your food.

It’s time for some reflection… Do you have some things that you are longing to do — but have not started doing yet? Do you think it would be cool to get started now (or ASAP)?

Want a Better Life? Be Specific

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Image from Flickr by Rennett Stowe

Let’s face it — people like us who seeks self-improvement want a better life, period.

But how do we exactly define a better life? I have a tip for you, don’t let the media or other external influences define what a better life is for you.

For example, the image of success primarily portrayed in the media is to have lots of money. If that’s your goal, then, it’s fine — there is nothing wrong about desiring money — money only allows you to be more of what you are. Money can help people; in fact, there’s this funny question: “When was the last time a poor person gave you a job?”

On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who’s content on living a quiet life, with only the bare essentials to spare — then, that’s fine as well. I’m not saying that to get both types of people to agree with me. I’m saying that because I believe that self-development is purely a personal matter.

If you’re going to let others tell you what you want in life, might as well call your endeavor group-development, not self-development.

After we figured out what we want, the next step is to be specific on what you want. For example, if you want to lose some weight, don’t just say to yourself that you want to lose weight, that’s vague. Instead, have an ideal weight in mind. If you’re weight 200 pounds for instance, and want to lose 20 pounds, then your target weight is 180 pounds.

Once you figured-out what you want specifically, then all you need to do is to make a plan, and take action. Monitor your progress, if it seems that your plan isn’t working (after sticking with it for a while of, course), then, modify your plan, then take action again. Continue the process until you have achieved your goal.

I could have made the above paragraph longer, but what I really want to point out in this post, is for you to know what you want specifically first — before taking action.

Summary:
Know what you really want — not what others want for you — and be specific about it; then, make a plan before taking action. If what you’re doing doesn’t seem to work, then modify your plan, then take action again, until you get what you want. Then, celebrate for a better life!

The Difference Between Getting Fit and Saving Money in the Bank

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Image from Flickr by Lummmy

If you like reading blogs and watching videos about fitness, you probably read or heard some fitness experts claiming that getting fit is like saving money in the bank.

Which is true . . . to a certain extent. How? Allow me to explain.

Using the bank analogy, they claim that going to the gym is like depositing money in the bank. The more you exercise, the fitter you get; likewise, the more you deposit money in the bank, the larger your savings get.

That analogy is somewhat accurate—until we take into account one aspect of fitness that is different from how a bank operates. What’s that difference?

Consistency. The only way to stay fit is to continually exercise a given amount of times every week. In my opinion, the bare minimum is once a week, although I find it unnatural.

That is, if you stop exercising regularly, you’re fitness level will decline. If you’re lifting weights for example, and it took more than a week before your next session; most of the time, you’ll find that your strength level went down—even if only slightly.

Compare that to a bank, wherein, even if you don’t deposit money for months, or even years, the amount of money you have there will still grow because of the interest.

To conclude, the key to staying fit is to exercise regularly. Don’t be complacent once you achieved your fitness goals. Even if you only plan to maintain your current fitness level—remember that to stay fit you got to deposit regularly in your special fitness bank.

Everything is a Skill

I’ve realized that everything we humans do is a skill.

Breathing is a skill — if you’re used to shallow breathing, maybe you can learn to breathe deeply, which releases tension and massages your internal organs.

Walking is a skill — if you’re used to walking slowly, be reminded that any time during your stroll, you have the option to walk faster, so you can reach your destination sooner, or even burn a few more calories.

Eating is a skill — if you like to eat quickly, thinking it’s just eating away your at your time, try eating slowly every once in a while, savor every mouthful; after all, eating should be a pleasurable activity.

Standing is also skill — if you like to stand with your back hunched, maybe you can try standing tall next time; studies show that standing erect affects your confidence level.

Even sleeping is a skill — if you like to think of your problems during the day before you go to sleep, later tonight remind yourself what you have read here; everything is a skill — just relax, close your eyes — and make tomorrow a better day.

Fitness Tip: Busy During Weekdays? Try This Workout Pattern Instead…

A lot of workout programs designed for ordinary people like us proposes a three times a week frequency for workouts, such as:

Monday — Wednesday — Friday
Or
Tuesday — Thursday — Saturday
Or
Wednesday — Friday — Sunday

If we would analyze the pattern — it suggests that we should workout 3 times a week and with a 1-2 day(s) rest in between workouts.

If you’re going to work during the weekdays just like me, you have to make time for those 2 or 3 workouts even during a busy day.

What if I told you that you can still train 3 times a week even if you have to only do one workout during the weekday? I guess you already kind of predicted the answer.

The days we could workout will look like this:

Wednesday — Saturday — Sunday

Sometimes I can substitute Tuesday or Thursday for Wednesday, just in case I’m not available to train on that day.

During Wednesday’s (or Tuesday’s/Thursday’s) workout, I can do a whole body workout, but sometimes I just perform an upper body workout.

When it comes to the weekend training days, I’ll perform a split. Which is either an upper body lower body split, but a pushing exercise/pulling exercise split is also possible.

The workout that I outlined above is a little bit unconventional, but it works for me. Will it work for you? My answer is … I’m not sure.

The reason is everybody is different. Some people especially those that are still beginning their fitness journey may find out that working out on two consecutive days tiring, but still it depends on other factors.

How will you know if it will work you? By trying it … That’s how I discovered what works and doesn’t work (for me) during my almost four years of training.

I hope you like my fitness tip. Good Luck on your fitness journey!

Fitness Tip: Be Prepared to Substitute One Exercise Over Another (Short Version)

If you’re to perform an exercise, but the equipment you’re suppose to use isn’t available, you can try using a substitute exercise.

For example, instead of:
Overhead Shoulder Press (barbell) [3 sets of 10 reps]

You can try:
Overhead Shoulder Press (dumbbells) [3 sets of 10 reps]

Also, you can perform the same exercise, but with a different rep range.

For example, instead of:
Lateral Raise (dumbbell) [3 sets of 15 reps] [20 pounds]

You can try:
Lateral Raise (dumbbell) [3 sets of 10 reps] [25 pounds]
Or
Lateral Raise (dumbbell) [3 sets of 20 reps] [15 pounds]

Fitness Tip: Be Prepared to Substitute One Exercise Over Another (Long Version)

If you have been going to the gym for quite a while now, you’ll notice that there are two categories of people — (A) those that don’t follow a workout routine, and (B) those that follow a prepared routine.

People who belong to (A) maybe novices who are just trying things out, or they may also be experienced gym goers who already know what they are doing, the reason they don’t need to follow any rigid plan anymore.

While the people who belong to category (B) has a routine either prescribed by a coach/personal trainer, a workout they created themselves, or stumbled upon the internet, etc.

Regardless of the source of their routine, I noticed that people in category (B) can be further divided into those that follow their routine “as is,” and those that who are flexible.

Flexible gym goers are the ones who substitutes one exercise over the other, just in case they cannot perform the prescribed exercise.

For example, an exercise in your routine is to perform overhead shoulder press using barbells, it just happens that there aren’t any free barbell bars in our gym because other people are currently using it.

What could you do in that situation? You can wait for the other guy or girl to finish using the equipment, or you can substitute another similar exercise like the overhead shoulder press, but using dumbbells instead.

The same principle can be applied if for example you are to use two 20 pound dumbbells to perform three sets of 15 repetitions, but someone else are using those dumbbells. Do you wait for him to finish?

You could try performing three sets of 10 repetitions using 25 pound dumbbells instead, or three sets of 20 repetitions using 15 pound dumbbells.

To sum it up, if you’re desired gym equipment isn’t available for some reason, you can substitute one similar exercise over another one. Also, you can try performing the same exercise, but with a different rep range.