Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How to Thrive in the Sedentary World

By Garrett Wood, Alpha Phi

As an online strength and nutrition coach, I work with Panhellenic women all across the country.

I am a huge advocate of movement: dancing, rock climbing, roller blading, you name it! My mantra is #daretomove.

After my time as president of Alpha Phi at Miami University, I started a website called Crossroads of Fitness. I founded my business to inspire people to move by writing about fitness topics and through online coaching. Many of my clients are young professionals trying to find sustainable ways to incorporate healthful fitness and nutrition habits into their lives to achieve their physique and fat-loss goals.

Post-graduate life can be more sedentary, stressful and challenging to manage than we realize going into it. It’s tough to really know how to stay active and develop hard habits when you are in a new city, juggling new job tasks, making new friends and getting acquainted with longer work days in new surroundings.

Here are my three tips to find movement when you feel stressed in the chaos of the sometimes-sedentary world.

1. Make small promises to yourself.

Treat your body like a good friend. Make mini-commitments on which you can't bail.

Set some weekly goals, such as:
  • Drink one extra cup of water.
  • Eliminate one alcoholic beverage.
  • Get one extra workout in this week.
  • Take the stairs.
It's good to practice mini-commitments. Once you commit to one little thing for seven days, you prove to yourself you are capable, and it feels awesome!

Here's the trick: you can't be too drastic and try to change your entire lifestyle all at once. Changing everything at once (such as adding five new workouts, trying a new meal plan, taking a different commute to work, and skipping happy hour) can be overwhelming and lead to failure over time. This is why I urge working on one new weekly habit at a time.

By tackling one new habit, you are able to see if it is feasible. Pretend you are doing a science experiment; you have one independent variable a week, and you do the experiment to see how it goes.

Once you figure out how to nail that habit into your lifestyle, you can work on a new one.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others. 

Seriously, stop. This only promotes negative feelings about yourself. If you are constantly measuring yourself against others, it perpetuates a constant state of unhappiness.

In the same vein, do not let others influence you negatively. Too often I saw co-workers in my first nine-to-five job eating cake in the break room just because their friends wanted to. "If she is eating it, it's okay for me to do it, too.”

It's not. You do you. You won't regret it.

Evading the group mentality and peer pressure is tough, but not impossible. I have three clients – all sorority women living in Los Angeles -- who have high-powered jobs and combat the happy- hour, group-mentality scene two to three times a week.

Here are some of their solutions:
  • Bring a Quest bar to avoid appetizers.
  • Nurse your first drink until the group is done with their second.
  • Wait to order a drink until everyone is on her second round.
  • Commit to a morning workout and let it be your (positive) excuse to leave … you have to get up early!
3. Set a goal and be the example. 

Even though co-workers are the biggest influencers on diets and the timing of workday
meals, they can also be the best cheerleaders. Everyone has an "ironman" friend... the one who runs marathons every month, who does crazy 5 a.m. workouts, who brings a new “paleo” recipe to work. You can be that friend to someone. You can make someone proud. Seeing others achieve goals is a huge factor in self-efficacy. Once you see someone else jump off a cliff into a lake, for example, you will do it, too -- just not first.

And setting a goal to run a 5k, climb a mountain or lose 10 pounds is easier to do when you have an entire crowd of people cheering you on.

Sometimes you don't know what you are capable of until you try. Don't let your nine-to-five bog you down; set mini-goals, make promises to yourself and challenge yourself publicly for accountability. Feel free to reach out for personal distance coaching. And always, #daretomove!

About Garrett Wood
Garrett Wood is a Precision Nutrition coach, an SFG certified kettle bell instructor, Barry’s Bootcamp instructor, TRX certified instructor and Madd Dog spinning certified instructor. She spends her time working with others to help them move more and better.

Garrett began her fitness journey through group fitness classes while studying business and journalism at Miami University. Throughout college she taught spinning and TRX classes. After graduation she continued to teach group fitness at Shred415 in Chicago. Her full-time job in real estate moved her to Boston in July 2014.
Currently, she teaches at Barry’s Bootcamp, competes as a powerlifter, teaches spinning classes and runs her online business, Crossroads of Fitness, doing nutrition and strength coaching online.