Posts Tagged ‘Motivation’

DONT set your goal to be: I want to look like this person.  Shes a drawing!

DON'T set your goal to be: "I want to look like this person." She's a drawing!

This Monday’s Metro had a great article about setting fitness goals for yourself.  Personally, I think now is a great time to start working out, because many people’s New Year’s resolutions are slowing down, which means that gyms should hopefully be relatively empty.  Also, seriously people, any time is a great time to start getting healthy. According to the article, here are some recommendations from Jillian Michaels, one of the trainers from The Biggest Loser:  First, it is important to “establish a long term goal.”  She recommends that you even write it down so that it’s concrete and you don’t forget.  Importantly, make sure this goal is achievable: “If you set your goals too high, that is a sure way to fail.”  Second, you have to have confidence that you will succeed – “if you feel powerless and subconsciously believe you’re going to fail – you will.” In the article, Jillian also enumerates three tips to help you start getting healthy.  1 – keep a fitness diary.  Personally, I do this, and I love it.  Weight Watchers even has a point system based on exertion and length of time for each exercise, so I give myself points for every exercise I do, and the points add up over the week. It’s really fun at the end of the week to see how many I’ve earned.  You have to be a member to use their points calculator, but try coming up with your own system.  For example, 1 point for each half hour of cardio you do.  Try ending up with at least 7 by the end of the week so that you averaged the recommended one half hour a day.    2 – Remind yourself of your goals.  If you did actually write them down, put them in a place where you can easily read them.  When you do so, Jillian says, “reaffirm your belief in yourself and think of yourself as strong, healthy, and happy. 3 – Identify your emotional triggers.  Stress is a big one for me personally, so I try to think of other things besides eating to help deal with it.  I’m not always successful, but at least I recognize why I’m eating, and that it’s not because I’m hungry.

Taken from the METRO New York, Monday, March 2nd p7.

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We at Barbelle know that sometimes, before you can take care of your physical self, you need to take care of your emotional well-being. With that in mind, we offer you these words of comfort in our collective time of strife:

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When I was in fifth grade, I joined my town’s swim team and learned that I was a natural breast-stroker.  Unlike many of my teammates who had to run drills with kickboards to get it just right, the rhythm of the breaststroke was something that made sense to me innately.  Having never before excelled at anything athletic, I reveled in my newfound talent.  I didn’t mind the laps of free style or back stroke, because I knew if I pushed through those I could rejoice in my breastroke.

Unfortunately, with the introduction of the butterfly my delight with swim team practice ended. There was nothing innate about my ability to do the butterfly.  I didn’t understand how to lift my arms, the technique of the dolphin kick, or when I was supposed to breathe amidst all that splashing.  Practice after practice, I would break the stroke down, kicking the legs then stroking the arms separately, eventually, and unsuccessfully, trying to bring them together.  Not too many weeks later, I quit the town swim team.

Since swim team, quitting has been the unfortunate thread running through my athletic career.  I quit karate when I reached a level that demanded serious and more frequent practices.  I quit cross-country after an embarrassing finish at my first meet.  I quit volleyball because pre-season was too demanding.  I even quit ballet, an activity I had always dreamed of pursuing, because I decided the commute to class was too far.

I am not proud of my athletic record, nor do I completely understand it.  In most other spheres of my life—academic, extracurricular, work-related, social—quitting is not an option. I have realized, as most Barnard students do, that the good grade, the rewarding internship, the study abroad adventure, even the successful relationship, require perseverance through challenges.  So why, when I hit the pool or the gym or the ballet bar, does my dedicated mantra fly out the window? (more…)

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Our busy schedule sometimes prevents us from maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Lately, some of my friends have been complaining about all the work they have. They lament that sometimes they do not have time in their schedule to eat a meal in peace. Some of us walk around campus without our healthy eight hours of sleep, while others go straight to class without eating breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for us college students. A good breakfast sustains our bodies and minds during our busy schedules. A healthy lifestyle therefore requires that we eat a good breakfast that will provide us with energy and the essential nutrients we need to start our day right.

When I think of breakfast ideas, I usually aim for foods that will keep me full until lunchtime. These foods are usually high in protein and fiber. Protein is great because it provides my body with energy, while helping me build and maintain my muscles. Some good ideas for your morning protein are cheese sticks, yogurt, lox, turkey, or tofu. What I love about fiber is that it keeps me feeling full for a longer period of time. Another benefit of fiber is that it helps with digestion. The Tufts University Guide to Total Nutrition recommends that we eat a variety of fiber rich foods to get our recommended 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day. Good sources of fiber are fruits, grains, vegetables, and nuts.

I have found that planning my breakfast the day before will guarantee that I will eat my breakfast the next morning. I usually think about the time I have to wake up and how much time I will have available for breakfast before class. If I have enough time to sit down and eat breakfast in the morning, I usually make oatmeal with a boiled egg and some fruits on the side. If I know I have to run to class, I take fruit and yogurt to class. Most of the time, I have cereal while I check my email in the morning, or while I do some reading before class. A good cereal with fiber and protein is a good alternative to the usual meat and eggs breakfast. For example, I just bought the new Kashi Honey Sunshine, which I love. A serving has 100 calories with 6 grams of fiber but it only has 2 grams of protein. However, this is still a great cereal because when I add my serving of milk, the entire bowl will have about 10 grams of added protein. Adding fruit to the cereal will add more fiber and nutrients to my breakfast, so I like to add  blueberries. I recently discovered Fairway’s 100% Squeezed Orange Juice, which actually taste like fresh squeezed orange juice and not like Tropicana. When I have this juice available in my fridge, I have a cup in the morning with my breakfast for added vitamin C and calories to sustain me.


See, Breakfast is Yummy.

See, Breakfast is Yummy.

In order to keep our bodies healthy, we need to start at some point and what better time than during breakfast time? Lets  kick start our metabolism as soon as we wake up by eating a balanced breakfast with protein and fiber. We all have busy schedules but we need a balance in our lives. We need to make time for the important aspects of our lives, which include the health of our bodies. We can’t complete our tasks if we do not take care of ourselves. If you can’t make time to sit and have breakfast in the morning plan ahead and have something handy that could provide you with a healthy breakfast, like a granola bar.


Gershoff, Stanley. The Tufts University Guide to Total Nutrition. Second Edition. HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.

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We all know the importance of attainable goals.  These goals motivate and challenge us without setting us up for failure due to our unrealistic expectations.  It is important to set training goals to keep ourselves focused.  Goals can be as simple as going from 7.5 lbs to 10 lbs when doing arm exercises.  Or working from running at a 6.5 mph to a 7.0 mph pace in a month.  Or incorporating 20 more minutes of activity into the day.

Attainable goals are:

Post it everywhere!

Post it everywhere!

1) Reasonable

Make goals that make sense for your body and fitness level.  If you are addicted to caffeine and want to start eating healthy, start by trying to drink one less cup a day for a week, then another.  Or you can try switching to caffeinated tea and wean yourself that way.  If you can only run a mile before you get tired, don’t set a goal to be able to run 7 miles by the end of the month.  Running 3-4 miles would be more reasonable.  Work yourself up slowly, but don’t give up!

2) Quantifiable

Use numbers!  Be specific.  Write down the number of reps you want to be able to complete, the amount of weight you want to be able to lift, the amount of miles you want to be able to run, the pace you want to meet, the incline or resistance you want to push through.  The more specific you make your goals, the more reachable they will seem.

3) Challenging

Don’t be afraid to push yourself.  Run for another half a mile.  Twist up the resistance another notch on the bike.  When your goal seems to be just beyond your reach, you will be able to find new levels within yourself.  Be excited about rising to meet a challenge.

4) Not bulletproof

Forgive yourself if you have a lapse back into your old habits or make an unhealthy choice now an again.  Being too strict on yourself will make your goals more daunting, leading to frustration and lack of motivation.  Be positive!  Don’t give up.  Tomorrow is a new day.

5) Written down

If you write down your goals and post them in a place where you will see them often (on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror), you will stay more focused.

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Jump up, jump up and get down! If you’re like me and you attended 40 Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties in the late 90’s, you probably danced to this jam by House of Pain. Some songs just always seem to get you pumped, though I admit “Jump Around” no longer does the trick…

Some days, though, when I can only manage to find 20 minutes to work out, I have an exercise “routine” that always manages to get me to the gym (and to stay there). Instead of convincing myself that such a short workout isn’t worth getting sweaty in the first place, I commit to an intense, impromptu, and improvised combination of strengthening, jump rope, and spastic dancing.

The trick? Creating the perfect 20 minute playlist. The first song must set the tone for the workout, so pick a song that you can’t sit still while listening to. My favorites include Beyonce’s now-overplayed-but-I-still-love-the-oh-oh-oh’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, Ne-Yo’s “Because of You”, Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone”, “Toxic” by Britney Spears, and please don’t laugh, Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” I alternate songs that make me jump around with songs that have a really strong downbeat. Then, I follow the music.

Start with something to get your heart rate up: jump rope, jumping jacks, high knees or running in place, or dancing around like a fool. I do this in the gym all the time, so don’t be embarrassed–the gym is a place where all movement is respected. When the song ends, switch to strengthening exercises: lunges, squats, push ups, bicep curls with 5 lb weights, ab crunches, or some pilates moves. I get bored easily, and since the whole point is to have an intense workout that hits every part of you, I do between 10 and 15 of everything and then move on. When the song changes again, start getting your heart rate up again. Try to mix everything up. We get stuck thinking that one or two routines are the only thing that work, but our body gets stronger when we throw new combinations at it! When the playlist ends, stretch it out and go shower, and enjoy the endorphins from your crazy “routine.”


1. You don’t have to go to a gym to do this. Anywhere with a body-sized floor space suffices.

2. Don’t have an expectation. Do whatever feels good, and if it doesn’t feel good, stop. With only 20 minutes, your worst enemy is getting discouraged and walking out. You’re not going to be accomplishing major training goals with this workout, so think of it as a maintenance workout or a way to get your metabolism going.

3. For even more fun, try it with a friend. My friend Claire makes up aerobics routines a-la-Jane Fonda for us to do together, and the choreography kicks my butt every time.

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The rumor on the street on Saturday was that a nice day was coming, but it certainly did not prepare me for the beautiful weather I encountered when I walked outside on Sunday. My immediate thoughts – what can I do outside today to take advantage of this warm day? Yesterday, my answer was tennis. It was a bit ironic, though, that while playing outdoors, with no winter coat in sight, I managed to slip on ice left over from last week’s winter weather.

Today, we have the same option. It is once again uncharacteristically warm outdoors, and so we should take advantage! In an earlier Barbelle publication (back when it was Fitbear News), I wrote an article about places to ride your bike  in the city. So inspired was I by my own article that I brought my bike back to school with me, and I have since gone riding many a time. Today is a great day for a bike ride, a run outdoors, or even a stroll in the park. Make sure to walk where it’s sunny (much much warmer)!

When the nice weather is here, take advantage, and get moving outside!


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