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