Category Archives: designing your life

Lose 30lbs – PURGE

I recently came across a quote about letting go:

“By letting go, you will empower yourself. You are letting go of the weights that are pulling you down from seeing new possibilities.” – Vanessa Vandy

And at the time the quote caught my attention, I found it interesting and then I moved on to something else (I am sure that this will become a post in itself at some point).

Over the next week I felt the urge to purge. I purged my closet of all the clothes that my post-baby body is not yet ready for, my kitchen of all the gizmos, gadgets and random pots and pans, storage containers with no lids, lids with no storage containers, my carport of all the “we will use it someday” things. I purged the material aspects of my life.

And a funny thing happened. I feel so much lighter, more hopeful, more optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, I am typically an easy-going, the future is bright kind of person. And like everyone else I sometimes get bogged down in life. Since the purge I wake up feeling excited about life again, energized to do the things I love. Mentally, I feel like I lost 30 pounds.

Now, if your mind immediately goes to that place of freaking out because these are things you paid money for, things that maybe, one day, at some point in the future you just might use, here is a trick. Put all the things you think you don’t need into a box and date it. In 6 months, whatever you have not used in that box, give away. If you didn’t need it in the last 6 months you don’t need to keep it. It is weighing you down.

So, for those of you working with clients who are struggling, maybe suggest a material clean-out of their life. As the quote says, “by letting go, you will empower yourself. You are letting go of the weights that are pulling you down from seeing new possibilities.”

What would your clients be able to do if they mentally felt 30 pounds lighter? What would you be able to do?

Walk in your client’s shoes

So over the past month I have embarked on a couple of self-induced week-long challenges. The first was cutting out the sugar in my coffee (which I still do). The second was decreasing TV time to one hour per night and the third was to cut out TV completely (I am back to watching one hour per night).

The biggest impact this had on me was to remind me of how hard it is to change our behaviors.

As Personal Trainers we are paid by people to help them change their behaviors. And I think that it’s easy to forget how hard that actually is for them. They come to us, inactive. We ask them to become more active. They come to us with poor nutrition, we ask them to eat better. They come to us lacking sleep, we ask them to sleep more. Any one of these behaviors, on its own, is a huge undertaking to change. And many trainers expect their clients to start all those changes in their first week of training!

So I challenge you, the Personal Trainer, to change one of your behaviors, for the better, for a week. When we challenge ourselves to change a behavior we experience a bit of what our clients experience. Knowing what our clients might be feeling is a powerful tool to help understand where they are and how to move them forward.

Next time you are working with a client take a step back and really look at what you are asking them to change. Remember that change is hard, don’t expect them to tackle everything at once.

If You Don’t Design Your Life Someone Else Will For You

Last week I watched a fantastic video on TED. Nigel Marsh, who has written extensively over the past seven years about work-life balance shares four observations from his work and experience:

1. Certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged in a day to day basis with a young family – he talks about how there are so many people out there who are working long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.

Is this you? Are you currently in a job that just simply isn’t compatible with having balance in your personal life? If you are, chances are that you have tried time and time again to create more time with your family only to fall short. Take an honest look at your job – is it really possible to have balance with it and  your life?

2. Governments and corporations aren’t going to solve this issue for us – Nigel says, “if you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you and you may just not like their idea of balance.”

Who is designing your life, you, or the people around you? You have the ability to design your life the way you want it. It will likely mean making difficult choices but at the end of the day if you get to live the life that you want isn’t that worth it?

3. We need to be realistic about the time frame we use when judging the balance in our life, we can’t do it all in one day – it is about finding a realistic time frame without putting your life on hold.

What time frame would be realistic for you? For me, I look at balance on a weekly time frame. During that week did I connect with friends, was I physically active, did I take time for personal reflection and growth? For me a week is long enough to judge the overall balance in my life. Some days are completely out of balance but when I look at the week as a whole that is how I judge my level of balance.

4. We need to approach balance in a balanced way. The small things matter, balance doesn’t have to be a drastic upheaval of your life.

I think that this is a point that is so easy to miss. We live in a society where everything has to be big, be dramatic. Because if it’s not big and dramatic how could it possibly have a major impact on my life? The jokes on us folks, it’s the small things that truly make the largest difference.

Take a moment to think about Nigel’s closing statement – we need to change society’s definition of success from the idea that a person who dies with the most money wins to a more balanced definition of what a life well lived looks like.

My challenge to you – find a quiet place, grab a pen and piece of paper and write down what your life, well lived, looks like. Then do one small thing this week that will move you closer to that vision of success.

To watch the full 10 minute video click here.

Making Time for the Things that Matter

I knew it had been a while since I wrote my last blog….didn’t realize it had been since October 28, almost two months ago! So I thought this would be a perfect time to talk about making time for the things that matter. As most of us have experienced, it is easy to get wrapped up in the day to day stuff and not make time for the important things. And it’s not that we aren’t busy, we are. The problem is that we allow our days to get so full of the busy work that there is little to no time for the important work. One of my favorite illustrations of this comes from Nora Sheffe, a consultant with the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS). Think about the following:

  • take an empty mayonnaise jar and fill it with golf balls, is it full?
  • now pour a box of small pebbles into the jar, is it full?
  • pour a box of sand into the jar, is it full?
  • then pour in a cup of coffee….

Here is the metaphor:

  • the golf balls are the important things (family, health, passions etc.), things that if you lost everything else and only they remained, your life would still be full.
  • the pebbles are the things that matter (job, house, car etc.).
  • the sand is everything else (the small stuff) – if we fill the jar with sand first, with the small stuff first, we will never have room for the more important pebbles and golf balls.
  • the coffee – no matter how full your life may seem, there is always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.

So, pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness, take care of your golf balls. Set your priorities, the rest is just sand.

For me this means scheduling time each week to blog so that my jar doesn’t end up full of sand leaving me with no room for my blogging golf ball.

Which golf ball will you take care of this week?

Want Change? Get Uncomfortable!

Listening to the radio the other day I heard someone on CBC say that discomfort causes change. I am not sure who it was or what program it was but boy did that sound bite get me thinking. I started to think about all the major changes in my life and if they were in fact as a result of discomfort. And to my surprize, every single one was. Here are some examples:

  • leaving a full time, salaried position for a 2 day a week contract – a result of personal growth discomfort – I was bored and uncomfortable with the lack of challenge in my job.
  • leaving one full time job for another – a result of financial discomfort – I loved the first job but could no longer stand the financial discomfort it put me in.
  • training for a marathon – as a result of discomfort in how my body felt – I needed to find some type of physical activity that would make me feel healthier and stronger. There was also an element of being uncomfortable with the fact that so many people around me had done a marathon and I hadn’t.

So, it got me wondering, how many other people are making changes as a result of feeling discomfort? And what level of discomfort do we need to experience before we will actually create change?

I had a tooth that the dentist needed to fix. It needed to be fixed for almost 10 years. But because it wasn’t painful, because it didn’t cause me any discomfort I did nothing about it. Until the day I woke up with an extreme amount of pain in that tooth. Once experiencing that discomfort it only took a matter of hours for me to get into the dentist to get it fixed. If you are struggling with physical activity or eating well do you need to actually develop a disease or condition before the discomfort is severe enough to motivate you to change?

Think about the things in your life that you would like to change. What kind of discomfort do you need to experience in order for you to make those changes a priority, for those changes to now seem like they are something you must do? Really think about that for a few moments, how bad do things need to get? Get specific, actually close your eyes and see yourself in that place. How does your body feel, what is the quality of your life? Now, consider a level of discomfort that is less extreme. Could you use that level as your warning signal? If you reach this less extreme level of discomfort that is your alarm telling you to get up and do something about it.

What do you need to STOP doing?

I had a very interesting weekend this past weekend. It was the BCRPA BCFit 2010 Fitness Conference, for which I was the conference organizer. My counterpart, Tracey, is an employee of BCRPA and has been my right hand woman through the planning and delivery of this event. Once the conference was over we went out for a drink to celebrate and reflect on what made the conference such a great experience for the both of us. It became really clear that, by chance, the tasks that she was responsible for were all the things that I didn’t like doing and the things I was responsible for were the things she didn’t like doing. We were a perfect match!

So it got me thinking about the things that we need to do in our personal and/or work lives…..and the idea of talking with those around us to see if there is a way to swap out things we don’t enjoy (that someone else might) for things we do enjoy (things that others may not enjoy).

It is important to be clear about the difference between things we enjoy and things we are good at. Just because you are good at something doesn’t necessary mean that you enjoy it. Markus Buckingham offers us a different definition of such things. Tasks that energize us, fill us up, he calls strengths. Tasks that drain us he calls weaknesses. You could be really good at something and if that thing drains you it is actually a weakness. So in your life how can you use more of your strengths and less of your weaknesses?

I have this picture in my mind of a group of people coming together and sharing all the things they really enjoy doing and all the things they find draining. And then with that master list people in the group could start swapping tasks so that everyone gets to use their strengths more. Would this actually work? I don’t know and I think it would be fun to try……

Me, Lisa Kingston, Tracey

Markus Buckingham, NOW Go Discover your Strengths

A Simple Tool for Making Good Decisions

Making good decisions on a daily basis can be really challenging. How do you know what will be a good decision and what won’t? Over the past couple of years I have found a really useful filter to help me see good decisions from poor ones. I simply ask myself, will this decision move me closer to my greatest self, or further away?

On a recent call with a life coaching client we explored this client’s tendency to rationalize decisions that she makes. These rationalizations were basically excuses that that she used so that she could avoid acknowledging that she made a poor choice. When we make decisions that do not move us towards our greatest self, decisions that do not honor who we are, we will feel inner turmoil. This can show up as guilt, anger, frustration or sadness. Often times we then end up beating ourselves up for the decision that we made.

And everyday the type of decisions that move us towards our greatest self change.

Here is how rationalization shows up for me. It’s been a long day and I am sitting at home and want ice cream. Part of me says no, I don’t need it and I have not been eating well that week already. The other part of me, the rationalizing part tells me that because I have had such a long day that I deserve the ice cream. So which decision, ice cream or no ice cream, will honor who I am and what is important to me in that moment?

The answer is simple, it depends.

If that decision will move me closer to my greatest self, it’s a good decision. If it will move be further away it’s a poor decision. So, in my example, I want to eat healthier. Choosing ice cream when I have already been eating poorly that week will move me further from my greatest self, thus a poor decision. Now, let’s say I have been eating healthy all week and I choose the ice cream because it is something that I will really enjoy and savor, that’s a good decision. I want to be a person who can enjoy things in moderation. As you can see, depending on your daily circumstances what is a good decision and what is a poor decision may change.

So next time you are struggling to make a decision ask yourself, will this move me closer to my greatest self, or further away?

If it’s not exercise it’s not worth it……

Yesterday I went for a walk through my neighborhood. As I walked I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and my favorite artist on my ipod, Dino Dinicolo ( I chose to walk as I haven’t done any activity since the 1/2 marathon two weeks ago and wasn’t sure how m body would feel. As I walked I couldn’t shake the thought that if I am not exercising, if I am not burning a significant number of calories, then the walk isn’t worth it and I should just head home. WHAT???? Wow, where did that come from? It had me start to wonder at what point in my life did I lose touch with the idea of just enjoying being active, regardless of how may calories I am burning. I have collapsed the idea of physical activity into the quest for burning calories.
How many of you have fallen into this same place? What would it be like if we came back to simply enjoying moving our bodies? Part of me wonders if in the long term we would be more active if we actually found enjoyment in movement. And the bizarre thing is that we would reach the same goal of burning more calories. The difference is that the priority would shift from burning calories to being physically active doing things we enjoy.
Enjoying physical activity, what a concept. 
Fitness Professionals –  what are you doing to help your clients discover the joy in moving their bodies?
Everyone else – instead of obsessing about burning calories, obsess about finding physical activities that you enjoy. I challenge you to find 10 things in the next week that you enjoy that involve moving your body……