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Unlocking The Weight Loss Puzzle: The Importance of Habit

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The definitive keys to maintaining a healthy body weight are to exercise on a regular basis and make smart food choices. These are certainly not secrets and most people are well aware of their importance. Unfortunately, without implementing the proper habits, most folks will know what to do, but will fail to do what they know.  

Ultimately, everybody who succeeds at maintaining a healthy body weight and fitness level makes exercise and healthy eating a lifestyle. In other words, they have habits that they practice on a regular basis that lead to health and fitness. Their success is not achieved through occasional bursts of activity like crash dieting and short-term exercise programs.  It is through small daily disciplines that they succeed.  

It has been well documented that the key to success in almost any field is mounting a consistent effort in critical impact areas. For example, businesses that succeed are consistently excellent in critical impact areas such as marketing, providing an above-average product or service and managing cash flow. These businesses identify the areas that are most important to their success and become excellent at them. We must do the exact same thing if we are to achieve our weight loss and fitness goals.  

“Success Leaves Clues.” – Jim Rohn 

There is an excellent book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit, I highly recommend. The author has pored through research, conducted interviews and intensively studied the psychology and physiology behind our habits as human beings. As a corollary of his studies, Mr. Duhigg uncovered two habits that dramatically increase one’s chances of succeeding to lose weight and become fit. He refers to these as “keystone habits,” or habits or small changes that have a ripple effect on multiple areas of a person’s life. 

If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you will discover that I have discussed both topics ad nauseam. However, I feel it is useful to get a fresh perspective from someone who is grounded in academia. I find it is sometimes necessary to hear the same message from different sources before accepting its validity.  

Habit #1: Exercise   The Power of Habit:  “When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. It’s not completely clear why. But for many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.” (p. 109)  

If you just get out and exercise once per week it can literally change your life. This conclusion is based on multiple studies in publications such as Public Health Reports and Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health. I firmly believe the habit of regular exercise is the keystone habit for healthy and fit adults.  

Habit #2: Food Journaling   The Power of Habit: “It was hard at first. The subjects forgot to carry their food journals, or would snack and not note it…Eventually, it became a habit.  Then something unexpected happened. The participant started looking at their entries and finding patterns they didn’t know existed. Some noticed they always seemed to snack at about 10 a.m., so they began keeping an apple or banana on their desks for mid-morning munchies. Others started using their journals to plan future menus, and when dinner rolled around, they ate the healthy meal they had written down, rather than junk food from the fridge…Six months into the study, people who kept daily food records had lost twice as much weight as everyone one else.” (p. 120-121)  

Much like the exercise habit, study after study concludes that food journaling is a keystone habit that leads to weight loss success. I believe that even if this habit is discontinued after 6 to 12 months, most successful participants have developed the habit of keeping a mental food journal as they go through their daily lives, which leads to continued success.  

1+1 = 3  

If you truly want to get fit and maintain a healthy body weight start exercising just once per week and start carrying a food journal right away. Starting both keystone habits at once will provide a  powerful synergistic effect that you will pay almost immediate dividends. Plus, you will be light years ahead of anyone who is “spinning their wheels” on a crash diet or exercise program.

Kickboxing Summit NJ

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The Village Shopping Center, 1260 Springfield Ave., New Providence, NJ 07974

Proud to offer Kickboxing, Martial Arts, Fitness, Nutrition & Personal Protection Strategies to residents of New Providence NJ, Berkeley Heights NJ, Chatham NJ, Stirling NJ, Gillette NJ, Summit NJ, Kickboxing Union County NJ, Morris County NJ and all surrounding areas.

P.S. Visit our website at http://www.BeginKarate.com to learn about our Academy and our programs.

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March 28, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Self-Discipline: A Pearl Which Grows Slowly…

As featured on the New Providence Patch: Read our Blog on The New Providence Patch

“Self-discipline is a pearl which grows slowly.” – Chinese Proverb

In nearly two decades of working with adults looking to gain health and fitness, I have found that most people are generally well-meaning but easily overwhelmed. Many men and women start out with over-ambitious workout and meal plans, only to give up on their goals within weeks of starting. I believe the key to avoiding joining the masses with unused health club memberships, basements filled with dusty workout equipment, and shelves stocked with unopened workout DVD’s  is simply to practice small daily disciplines.

Small Daily Disciplines

Small daily disciplines are seemingly minor actions that relate to one’s diet or level of physical activity. For example, when approaching a weight loss goal, instead of drastically altering your diet and slashing your calorie intake (the “cold turkey” approach), start by committing to just having a healthy and sensible breakfast each day. Besides being a very doable goal, it can help build momentum leading to healthier choices of snacks and meals throughout the rest of the day. Even seemingly marginal improvements in eating habits can add up quickly.

Here are some examples of small daily nutritional disciplines that can be easily implemented:

–          Have a glass of water with lunch each day instead of a sugary soft drink

–          Eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of an over-processed breakfast cereal

–          Replace white flour products with whole grain products

–          Drink a glass (or two) of water before meals so you will consume less calories

The same philosophy is highly effective for beginning an exercise routine. Rather than jumping into a hardcore four day per week workout program right away, begin with easier, less intimidating steps towards physical fitness. You can always add more daily disciplines or increase the intensity of your exercise regimen if things are going well.

Here are some examples of small daily fitness disciplines that can be easily implemented:

–          Begin a workout routine by going to the gym or taking a class just one day per week

–          Park further away and take the stairs when possible

–          Commit to taking a walk around the block after dinner each night

–          Start a weight training routine by doing just one set of each exercise

The whole concept here is to remember that a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing! In addition, as your self-discipline improves you can tackle bigger daily disciplines which lead to better results.

As an aside, the small daily disciplines concept can also be applied to folks who are already highly disciplined with their exercise and eating habits. By disciplining yourself to add incrementally more mileage to your runs, do one more set of exercises, or eliminate processed snacks from your diet, you can continue to take your health and fitness to a whole new level!

Martial Arts for Life

Making our community healthier & safer, one family at a time.

The Village Shopping Center, 1260 Springfield Ave., New Providence, NJ 07974

Proud to offer Martial Arts, Fitness, Nutrition & Personal Protection Strategies to residents of New Providence NJ, Berkeley Heights NJ, Chatham NJ, Stirling NJ, Gillette NJ, Summit NJ, Union County NJ, Morris County NJ and all surrounding areas.

P.S. Visit our website at http://www.BeginKarate.com to learn about our Academy and our programs.

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May 3, 2012 Posted by | Martial Arts & Fitness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soda & Heart Disease

By J. Yaworski – originally featured by Men’s Health.

You already know soda is a big fat problem for your waistline. But new research finds that it’s not too sweet for your heart, either. Just one sugary drink a day increases a man’s risk of a heart attack by 20 percent, according to a study in the journal Circulation.

Harvard researchers analyzed 22 years of data gathered from almost 43,000 men. During that time period, 3,683 men suffered from heart attacks. The men who consumed the most sugary beverages—like soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks—were at a higher risk of having a heart attack compared to non-drinkers. This increase persisted even after the researchers accounted for other risk factors like smoking, family history of coronary heart disease, and physical inactivity.

“The sugar-sweetened beverages and coronary heart disease is probably due to the large amount of easily digested sugar in these drinks,” says study author Lawrence de Koning, Ph.D. These cause higher levels of inflammation and harmful lipids in the blood, which are both indicators of heart disease.

The more you consume, the more your risk increases. For each additional serving of sugary beverages per day, the associated risk of heart disease increased by 19 to 25 percent. And that’s a problem for Americans. According to the American Heart Association, sugar-sweetened drinks made up 3.9 percent of our daily calories in the late 1970s to 9.2 percent in 2001 in the United States.

Don’t ditch all sugar, though. Natural sugars found in foods like fruit and milk are fine, since these foods offer plenty of nutrition (plus, in the case of fruit, fiber to blunt blood sugar spikes).

“Sugar-sweetened beverages should be treated as a rare treat,” says de Konig. Having a sugary drink less often—such as twice weekly or twice monthly—didn’t increase the participants’ heart attack risk, researchers found. Diet versions weren’t linked to cardiovascular disease either. (But choosing no-calorie diet over the regular sugary soda might not be the smarter choice. Research shows that diet soda drinkers have larger waistlines than non-drinkers.

Martial Arts for Life

Making our community healthier & safer, one family at a time.

The Village Shopping Center, 1260 Springfield Ave., New Providence, NJ 07974

Proud to offer Martial Arts, Fitness, Nutrition & Personal Protection Strategies to residents of New Providence NJ, Berkeley Heights NJ, Chatham NJ, Stirling NJ, Gillette NJ, Summit NJ, Union County NJ, Morris County NJ and all surrounding areas.

P.S. Visit our website at http://www.BeginKarate.com to learn about our Academy and our programs.

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March 27, 2012 Posted by | Martial Arts & Fitness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kickboxing at Martial Arts for Life

Martial Arts for Life

Making our community healthier & safer, one family at a time.

The Village Shopping Center, 1260 Springfield Ave., New Providence, NJ 07974

Proud to offer Martial Arts, Fitness, Nutrition & Personal Protection Strategies to residents of New Providence NJ, Berkeley Heights NJ, Chatham NJ, Stirling NJ, Gillette NJ, Summit NJ, Union County NJ, Morris County NJ and all surrounding areas.

P.S. Visit our website at http://www.BeginKarate.com to learn about our Academy and our programs.

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November 21, 2011 Posted by | Martial Arts & Fitness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment