Believe Blog 6: E for Effort
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By: Javier Tuel, Certified Personal Trainer

E for Effort

The word effort is a word these days seems to be ignored. But, it is a word that can change how we feel about ourselves and the perception of those around us. The dictionary definition of effort is “a vigorous or determined attempt.” After reading that definition, it seems so simple- all you have to do is attempt something in order to put effort into achieving it.  That something can be a career, relationships, self-care, health, fitness, or anything else that you want to achieve. In today’s society, I wonder if the word effort has been replaced with the word expectation. Let’s look at the health and fitness industry. Over 70 percent of the U.S. is considered overweight or obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). This has led to finding the easy way out, the expectation that I should just get what I want instead of putting time and effort into working towards what I want.  Easy alternatives, such as fad diets, pills, surgeries, or justifying “this is just my health” becomes the norm and the expectation. We avoid eating healthy, working out, and positive thinking because those actions take effort and sometimes we feel like we can no longer give the effort required.

I want to share a conversation I had with a client about her goals and achieving them. After discussing a few of her goals, she started talking about having to use a scooter when she grocery shops.  We then started to discuss her handicap sticker, wheelchair she had bought for herself, and other concerns that she had. In this discussion, I asked her one question: How do you think people perceive you?  She replied that she felt people looked at her like she was fat and lazy. Unfortunately, this answer did not surprise me, but it did hurt me. What hurt me the most was knowing how my client felt about herself and how she felt about how others saw her.  My client continued to work out with me- putting in the time and effort needed. Two months later, she was able to walk through the grocery store without using a scooter- even parking farther away so she had to walk farther. Her confidence level in the gym increased as well. My client now sees the effort she is putting in towards achieving her goals. She has changed how she sees herself, believes in herself, and changed how she thinks others see her.  Her perception has changed. By putting in some effort instead of expecting the results, she is on the journey to actually achieve her goals.

I think in society today, we do not understand what it means to put effort into ourselves, how important it is, and the detrimental consequences that occur if we do not. A lack of effort can lead down a road that impacts so much more. I want to give you an example from an industry that is vital the United States and the economy: the trucking industry. The average lifespan of an adult in the United States is 78 years (Find a Trucking Job, n.d.).  The average age of a truck driver is 61 years (Find a Trucking Job, n.d.). That is a 17-year difference. There are many variables that make the life of a truck driver difficult- some factors that are modifiable, others that are not. Once this information was shared, the real questions came out. Is each driver willing to put in the effort to avoid this outcome? Is the industry as a whole willing to put in the effort to reverse this number? How can each individual trucker and the industry become healthier if a little effort is shown by each driver and the industry as a whole?  If a little effort was put towards a healthier lifestyle, fewer medical expenses could be incurred by each driver, leading to financial benefit for trucking companies and each individual driver. The benefits would also trickle into each trucker’s family life as well. From more time spent with loved ones, to fewer medical bills, to increased productive years, improving the health and life expectancy would benefit more than just each individual trucker and the trucking industry. If each truck driver put effort towards making healthier choices it would also have the potential to positively impact the health of his or her family as well. That effort could change the whole dynamic- making each driver’s home healthier.  The trucking industry has taken steps toward improving the health of the industry.

Steps have been taken towards improving the individual health of each driver and the importance of driving healthy, but not much has been done to educate the owners of the trucking companies. Several studies have highlighted that drivers’ poor health puts them at risk for poor driving to performance to other health issues such as heart disease, back pain, and diabetes (University of Utah Health Sciences, 2017). Putting just a small amount of effort towards educating owners as well as individual truck drivers will go along way in improving the health of the industry.  This is just an example from one industry. This problem is mirrored in industries throughout the United States as well.

In a more general view,  71.6 percent of adults in the United States are considered overweight or obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). This staggering statistic leads me to wonder if we truly understand the importance of putting effort towards our health and fitness. How much do we really value ourselves? How much do we value those that we love? Our health does not just affect us.  It affects those around us as well- most importantly, it impacts our vulnerable children. Researchers have found that if a child has one parent who is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that the child will be obese as well (University of California San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital, 2018). If both parents are obese, that child has an 80 percent chance of being obese (University of California San Francisco  Benioff Children's Hospital, 2018). Before these children even have the opportunity to live, their lives are negatively impacted and cut short by the choices of the adults in their lives.

I do not like to use statistics to scare you, but without them, it is hard to see the problem and it is difficult to realize the importance of putting effort into you. Your health and wellness not only affects you, but it also affects your community, your job, your friends, your family, and your children. In society today, it is easy to turn the other cheek and hope that someone else will step up and start the accountability process so that the impact of a lack of effort can be fully seen.  This cannot be the case any longer though Today it is our turn to step up and start putting the required effort forward to live happy, healthy, fulfilled lives. Join me as I start to live intentionally and put effort into my life. Together, we can be the start of the change.

Believe,

Javier

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm

Find a trucking job. (n.d.) Average Life Expectancy for Professional Drivers. Retrieved from http://www.findatruckingjob.com/trucking-life/driver-life-expectancy

University of Utah Health Sciences. (2017). "How safe is that driver next to you? A trucker's poor health could increase crash risk." ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170117083849.htm
University of California San Francisco  Benioff Children's Hospital. (2018). Obesity. Retrieved from https://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/conditions/obesity/

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Believe Blog 5: Forgiveness
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By: Javier Tuel, Certified Personal Trainer

Forgiveness

I have a question for you today: How many times have you found yourself being held back, your growth and potential stunted, by something that has happened to you in the past?  Do you realize the major repercussions that can come from this? We have all set some standards in our lives, and those standards come from many different places. Your upbringing, societal norms, or just your own goal setting influence these. When we do not obtain those goals or milestones, we sometimes do not do the one thing we are taught at a young age: forgive. I look at that word, forgive, it seems so simple but it may be one of the hardest things to do. Especially when it comes to forgiving ourselves.

I am embarking on the ten-year mark in the health and fitness field. Prior to that, I spent several years in the mental health field. In both of fields, I saw the consequences of not forgiving oneself. Time and time again, I have seen a lack of forgiveness slow one's progress or even stop it dead in its tracks. Not forgiving can lead fear and doubt to set into one’s mind.  

It can lead to some major issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, obesity, and addiction, just to name a few of these issues. Without forgiveness of yourself and others, you put yourself in a vulnerable position where you might not be ready for the worst case scenarios that may arise in your life. You will start to think you are not right, not good enough, and not strong enough to continue to try new opportunities and go after your goals.  

It is difficult for me to open up about my personal life and the experiences I have gone through, but I truly hope and Believe that my life experiences can help and inspire someone else.  Around 2005, I found myself going through a divorce, having to figure out split parenting, and the end of my career path. I never dreamed these things would happen to me. I never thought I would put people I loved or myself in these situations.  Each day, I woke up feeling I had failed. This was devastating and almost made me give up. I started to feel like I no longer deserved to live. I had let those around me down. I had not lived up to what was expected of me. I was not the father, husband, son, friend, or employee I wanted to be. It became harder and harder to face myself each day. I had to find something that was going to change this. I had to stop doubting that I deserved to move forward and be happy and healthy.

That thing I started to do was forgive myself. I started with small things- forgiving myself for not eating the greatest, not pushing myself with each workout, or not getting all my water in.  After I was able to forgive myself for these little things, I noticed I was being more successful in these areas and did not get so stressed out about the little things. I also started to forgive myself for bigger things, the things that I had originally perceived as failures. Once I was able to forgive myself for these things, I started to realize that these were just stepping stones in my story that were leading me to where I needed to be. Practicing self-forgiveness and forgiving others in my life, allowed me to become happier and healthier. I was able to Believe again.  

Please remember, I am not sharing my story to receive sympathy or empathy.  I simply want to help you examine your story and see what is stopping you from achieving the goals you have set. Each of us has experiences and our own stories that shape who we are. I wanted to share my story to help you realize the importance of forgiving yourself and the freedom that comes along with this. I want to share with you some of the steps that led me to forgiveness.

  1. Face the truth of the situation that you are in and accept that it is real. Taking responsibility for your actions and accepting the truth of the situation will help you start to make progress towards self-forgiveness. A ton of emotions will come along with this, but I want you to embrace those emotions. It is okay to feel- to cry, to be angry, to be unsure, or to be sad. These feelings will help you heal.  

  2. Believe you can overcome this because you can. You have the power to pick yourself up to continue to move forward. No matter what you Believe, you are not alone. There is always someone there for you who will support you no matter what.  

  3. Respect the healing process. It takes times to overcome any situation that has left a mark on your life. You will not always have the right answer for how to get back on track. It takes time for your heart, mind, and soul to heal and grow stronger. This does not mean you are weak and cannot move forward- you just need time to heal. Be patient with yourself.  

  4. Understand that you are strong. Look at all the good qualities and situations you have. Those qualities and situations will help you realize that you deserve to forgive yourself for the things that might be stopping you. I know it sounds cheesy, but write down what you are grateful for each day. By focusing on the positives you will realize you have so much to be thankful for and that you do deserve to forgive- both yourself and others.  

  5. Finally, forgive yourself. A lack of forgiveness can steal your happiness. There is no situation that is too small or too big to forgive yourself for. Whether it be feeling unsuccessful for not getting a job promotion, or feeling like a failure because you did not give your everything to a relationship, or judging yourself for gaining weight, or whatever your situation might be- there is nothing you should not forgive yourself for. I am not saying to simply forget about these situations and act like they never happened. Instead, I want you to learn from these instances. Allow them to help you grow and make you a better person. It is easy to doubt, feel pity, or want to give up when these situations arise. But these are this times you need to forgive yourself and not let these things stop you. You deserve to be happy and healthy.   

In the world today, blame, grudges, and hate are everywhere, and it often seems easier to give up and give in. Here’s the thing- the world needs you to fight to be the best you can be.  You are important and so is everything you have to offer to those around you. Starting today, I want you to forgive yourself and not let anything hold you back.


Believe,

Javier


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Believe Blog 4: Healthy As Possible
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By: Javier Tuel, Certified Personal Trainer

This past September, new national obesity statistics were released. According to the State of Obesity report released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2018), obesity rates are on the rise. In 2000, 30.5% of adults and 13.9% of children were considered obese. Today, 39.8% of adults and 18.5% of children are considered obese. These numbers make me question if we truly understand the consequences we face and the harm we are doing if we continue this current trend.  

With these staggering numbers, I have been thinking about my drive and my reason for staying healthy. I have been thinking about what creates a sense of urgency and gratefulness for me to maintain my health. What steps am I taking to ensure that I can live a long, active, and healthy life?  We all have a different idea of what healthy means. For me, being healthy means doing everything I can do to stay around for my loved ones for as long as possible. I understand there are circumstances that I cannot control, but I will do everything in my power to take advantage of every opportunity to keep my body as healthy as possible.  

In my reflections, I have been thinking about what I can do to combat what has become the new norm. While I alone cannot change these numbers by myself; I can influence, motivate, and educate those around me. Together, we can make progress and fight back. Here are my suggestions and steps to becoming and staying healthy and active:

  1. Identify your reason. What is your “why” for being active, eating healthy, making changes towards a healthier you? My reason is thirteen years old.  I cannot imagine not being here for him, seeing him grow up, graduate, start his own family, etc. I do not want him to have to grow up without me.  I want him to know that I fight daily to stay here with him for as long as possible. I am also his role model. I want him to have the confidence, support, energy, and knowledge to live a healthy life.  My reason is my drive to live as healthy of a life as I possibly can. Identifying your reason for being healthy will be your drive and motivation to go after your goals.

  2. Be honest. Do you really want to change? How bad do you want it?  Are you ready to make the necessary sacrifices to actually change? There are times in life when you may not be ready. That is okay. If you are not ready to change, the chance of failure increases and maintaining a change is harder. Understanding this is essential to be successful. Be patient and understanding with yourself.

  3. Identify your obstacles. What has been holding you back?  Is there something that has made you believe that you cannot be healthy or achieve your goals? What is stopping you? Maybe you have tried before and failed. Maybe you feel unsupported and alone.  Maybe you feel lost and do not know where to start. I want you to grab a piece of paper and write down all of these challenges. Be honest with yourself. Identifying these obstacles will allow you to come up with a plan to attack these challenges.

  4. Understand the importance of you. You were given one body, one opportunity, one life.  You have been given a valuable treasure. When you look in the mirror, I want you to see yourself as an inspiration. I want you to see yourself as beautiful, you are important, you are needed. It may be difficult to understand how important you are when things get tough, but you are needed. Make choices based on your needs and do what you need to be healthy, mentally and physically. Remember, you are never too unhealthy to get back to a healthier you. You are never too far gone. You deserve to be healthy, active, and happy.  

  5. Do your homework and make a plan.  If you are ready to change, it’s time to do some homework.  Research what options are available to help you reach your goals. What do you like to do? What can you afford and what is accessible for you?  What motivates you? What foods do you like? How can you fit this healthy lifestyle into your daily life? Who will support you? Don’t be afraid to try new workouts or foods. Make a list of all these things, set your goals, then make a plan. Attack that plan like your life depends upon it, because it does.  

I hope these five tips will help you find your sense of urgency or gratefulness to be active and healthy.  Together, we can stop the rising obesity trend in the United States. It starts with you and me. Find your reason, be honest with yourself, identify your obstacles, and understand your importance, then go after your goals. I Believe in you. Now go Believe in yourself.

Believe,

Javier


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Believe Blog 3: Overcoming Unhealthy Challenges
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By Paige Harnish, LISW

Licensed Mental Health Clinician & Behavioral Health Specialist

It’s true, we are creatures of habit. We follow very predictable patterns of thinking and behaving—how we have responded in the past is likely how we will respond in the future. This is why most people struggle to maintain consistent diets and exercise routines.

The first thing we can do to overcome unhealthy patterns is to recognize that fad diets and cure all exercise routines are not maintainable long term. Instead, we must focus on implementing a healthy routine of balance and moderation. Strive to establish a way of eating that suits your health and doesn’t make you feel deprived and an exercise routine that is both consistent and enjoyable. Feelings of deprivation with food—or anything else, usually leads to a spiral of negative emotional consequences. We must also be realistic with exercise and face the fact that the U.S. culture has become sedentary and everyone needs to increase physical activity and exercise to minimize physical and mental health consequences.

Motivation can be a catalyst to overcoming unhealthy patterns. The strongest source of motivation comes from within. Take time every day to slow down and reflect. Thinking about your “why” on a regular basis can help with motivation.

Another way to overcome unhealthy patterns is to better understand the patterns and routines you follow. Pinpoint what point in the cycle or what specifically triggers unhealthy patterns. A better understanding can help you recognize the pattern in the future and give you the ability to change the narrative. A change at any point of the cycle is the opportunity to establish a new, healthier cycle. For example, if you tend to eat unhealthy foods when you arrive home from work, and you recognize that eating is linked to work-related stress, take a few minutes to unwind after work. Excuse yourself, change your clothing, and take a few moments to transition to the home environment. You will feel less stressed and will likely have the ability to overcome cravings for unhealthy snacks before dinner.  

Talking to a friend or accountability partner can also provide the support necessary for change. We often make the mistake of failing to reach out for help when help is needed.  If you feel you have exhausted all other efforts, never be afraid to reach out to a professional. Professionals in your area are equipped to help you to overcome unhealthy patterns and to establish new, healthier patterns of thinking and behaving. Always remember that you have the power to change and the best time to start is now!

Javier Tuel
Believe Blog 2: Accountability
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By: Javier Tuel, Certified Personal Trainer

Something as simple as a positive attitude and accountability changed my life.

Once I started holding myself accountable for my choices and actions, I started accomplishing my goals. With each accomplishment came a sense of success and pride that I could do this. It started to become a lifestyle and over time, easier. I started to love myself and my life again. Accountability, along with patience and picking myself up after failing, has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.

When I first started on my health and fitness journey, I quickly realized accomplishing my goals was not going to be easy. I faced many difficult circumstances and failures that made me just want to quit and return to my previous lifestyle.

That would have been the easy way though. I had to be accountable to myself for my actions. Once I realized this, things in my life started to change.  I started to view my failures as just part of my journey and stepping stones towards my ultimate goal. Life moves too quickly and is too short to let everything slip by and to make excuses.

I started to realize that living the life I wanted, a life that I was proud of, was going to take work. The obstacles that I faced were not put there to make me fail- they were there to make me stronger and they were just a part of life. I started to view these challenges as opportunities to control my life- my health, my happiness, my dreams, my future. I decided I would no longer let the fear of failing stop me. I also had to stop justifying my failures by blaming my environment, past experiences, and other people.

I am often asked how I started holding myself accountable. It is actually pretty simple- I just started doing it. I promised myself that I would learn from my mistakes. I would be patient with myself. I would give my everything. I started to tell myself “good job” for each small success- eating a healthy meal, completing my workout for the day. From there it spread to all aspects of my life.  

Now, this does not mean that everything has been easy since I made accountability a priority- There are still days I want to give up, when I do not see the immediate value in what I am doing, when failure seems like the only and best option. But there is no magic formula or potion. My attitude towards these obstacles and how I conquer them has changed and that has truly made a difference. I no longer let my failures define me, I use them as learning opportunities to grow and move on to something better.

When I finally realized that only I am accountable for my choices and actions and that I, alone, am responsible for my happiness, my view of life changed. It was like a fog had lifted. I no longer let anyone else dictate my road and happiness. I am in control. I am accountable for me and my life. By being happy with myself and loving my life, I am able to be a better friend, a better trainer, a better son, and most importantly, a better dad.

Holding myself accountable for my actions, my failures, and my happiness has been life-changing for me.  I know it can be for you as well. Just remember to Believe in yourself and never give up. You can do this. Time is going too quickly.  

How do you hold yourself accountable?

Believe,

Javier  


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Believe Blog 1: How Does Working Out Help With Depression?
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By: Javier Tuel, Certified Personal Trainer

In 2009, I found myself in a place where I could no longer clearly see the purpose of my own life. I was at the pinnacle of my work career and I had a beautiful son, but I had hit what, one might say, was the rock bottom of my mental health. With so much going in my favor, why was I so unhappy?  

Many days I wondered if I was just going to make it through the day or if I would give in and stop by that bridge that enticed me just for a “leap of non-faith.” With the makings of a wonderful life happening in front of me, I figured at this point in my life, I needed to try anything to assist me out from this darkness I was living in.

I turned to something I had stepped away from for many years - exercise. My weight was at the highest it had been in many years and I no longer recognized the person in the mirror. I had lost myself. My confidence level and energy were at an all time low. The thought that I was too far gone crossed my mind more than once.

Giving myself time to work on me, also provided the chance to reflect.  I started working out but the way I felt did not immediately change. I started pushing myself and started to notice small changes, causing me to start to feel better about myself. The major changes came when I started to exercise consistently.

Between the endorphins released by working out, the encouragement from those I was working out with, and new positive self-talk, I began to notice more successes. Over time and with consistency, change came.

My eyes were opened to things I had not seen in a long time. I started to cope better with the waves of doubt that would sometimes come over me. Working out became my coping mechanism and my way to breathe.

It has been almost ten years since I started my journey of self-improvement. This journey has led me to a career in the health and fitness industry. Many factors contributed to me being successful but I believe consistency and believing in myself were my main factors. This is different for everyone though.

Looking back, I am proud of myself for making the decision to give back to me. I broke the cycle of self-doubt and despair that was suffocating me. I still struggle with these feelings occasionally, but I have the coping skills and relationships in place to help me overcome them in order to be successful.

I want to add a few findings from the Mayo Clinic and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. One thing I strongly suggest, and that I have found helpful, is to look for more information when something like this occurs. It will help you understand that you not alone in this process or the feelings that you having. These articles present several physical, psychological, and emotional benefits of exercise on your mental health.  According to the Mayo Clinic (2018), exercise:

  • Releases endorphins that promote a positive sense of well-being

  • Helps break the cycle of negative thoughts that often accompany depression

  • Improves self- confidence by achieving goals and positively improving body image

  • Promotes social interaction with people who have similar goals and interests

  • Contributes to the development of positive coping skills


According The Anxiety and Depression Association (2018), just five minutes of aerobic activity has anti-anxiety effects. Some other benefits include:

  • Decreased tension and stress

  • Enhanced moods

  • Improved sleep

Now remember, each one of us different. Take the time to research and find what works for you. Also, if you are currently working with a medical professional be sure to contact him/her before starting a workout regimen. I will continue to blog in the next few weeks about how being consistent with your health and physical activity can lead to an overall healthy lifestyle.  

Believe,

Javier


References: 

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). Exercise for stress and anxiety. Retrieved from: https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety

Mayo Clinic. (2018). Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495

Javier Tuel