Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Find Your Strengths: The Turtle Wins the Race

by Nicole Crimaldi

For those of you who decided that your new year’s resolution was to “lose weight” or “work out more”- I hope you’ll appreciate this post. For those who have other goals for 2011, consider working out to be an analogy for whatever your goal is: making more money, spending more time with family, growing your client list, paying down debt, etc.

For a long time I had the mindset that if I wasn’t running, spinning or lifting weights to the point of limping and total soreness, I wasn’t getting a good workout. I was on the high intensity, high burn out plan. But within the past 6 months my attitude has shifted thanks to some random info I read and put together.

1. Studies following large groups of people who have lost weight reveal that 75-80% of those who lost a lot of weight and kept it off were walkers (note: they were not runners or spinners).

2. Bethenny Frankel, founder of the “Skinny Girl” empire, mentioned in one of her blog posts that working out should be fun and moderate. She suggested that if you don’t feel like working out one day, don’t. If you want some cake, have a little bit. She suggested you congratulate yourself just as much for doing 30 minutes of yoga as you would for attending a 1 hour spinning class. No matter what you do or don’t do, ELIMINATE THE GUILT.

3. Successful dieting stories reveal that those who let themselves have a free day each week to eat whatever junk food they want lost significantly more weight overall AND kept it off. These successful dieters also say that their free day quickly became so un-rewarding that eventually they had no interest in the junk food they once did.

4. And then there’s Ramit Sethi’s belief in SLOW change, lifestyle automation and a belief that monthly memberships are a total waste.

After putting together these thoughts, I realized that the only thing my “high intensity” fitness mindset did to me was: A. Cause me to limp. B. Cause me to eat like a ravenous piglet. and C. Cause me to stop working out completely for weeks at a time.

So I decided to say bye-bye to all feelings of guilt, obligation and the belief that “only intense workouts are valuable!”

Here’s what I did:

• I didn’t renew my expensive gym membership, even though I loved it there. Apparently there many more ways to work out than in the gym.

• I decided that I’d only work out ONCE per week doing something fun. So for 5 weeks, I took one Bikram yoga class per week. I went every Wednesday and blocked the time out on my calendar as if it were a business meeting. I declined any extracurricular meet-ups on Wednesday nights, even when it was hard to say no. (Note: I have never scheduled work outs in my life but recommend it!)

• Eventually I went to Bikram twice a week, and tried out several new workout classes in my neighborhood. Whoa- you can actually ENJOY going working out and you can do it without stepping foot in a traditional gym?!!

This gentle “ramp up” process lasted a total of at least 2 months. Fast forward to today, I’ve been practicing forms of hot yoga 4x per week . When I’m not there, I’m craving it. Note: I’ve never worked out 4x per week in my life and I’ve never maintained the consistency that I do now.

So this month, I challenge you to think more like the turtle rather than the hare: while the hare may run faster, s/he is simply arriving at burn out and failure sooner. Think like the turtle instead: choose slow change and don’t bother looking around to see what everyone elses is doing.

Start by scheduling 1 consistent (and fun!) workout per week that you devote to “sharpening the saw.” Not only will you find your strengths, you’ll learn a lot about what motivates you and what distracts you from your goals. Devote yourself to a guilt-free life so that nourishing your physical and mental health no longer feels like a chore but a treat.

Nicole Crimaldi is the founder of and Nicole’s websites reflect her passion for female career development and her love for both Chicago and dogs. Nicole works full time at JPMorgan Chase, practices hot yoga regularly and is a bit obsessed with her yellow lab Giada. Nicole studied Finance and Entrepreneurship at Miami University (Ohio) and lives in Chicago.

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