By Miranda Massie on January 8, 2019
Set yourself up for success this year by rethinking the way you approach your fitness goals. Discover great tips and tricks for staying on track, feeling confident and building lasting habits.
Week 1: Assess your goals
We often look to the end results when determining the progress and achievements of our fitness goals. Instead, try asking yourself why you want to achieve your goals. How will the end result impact your life or benefit your overall wellbeing? This article from Greatist.com describes how to assess and re-set your goals. Level up for success!
Week 2: Mix it up
It can be difficult to stay motivated if we’re not enjoying the activities we take part in. The best way to resuscitate a fitness plan is to make it fun! If you don’t enjoy running, then don’t make this a resolution. Try UBC Recreation’s Free Week to discover what gets you excited to work out.
Week 3: Go social
Consider gathering a group of colleagues to join the annual UBC Walkabout. This nine-week step challenge is a great way to stay active, motivated and accountable. Attend the Jan.16 Kick-off Event or register now.
Week 4: Try low or no cost
It can be easy to pass on a fitness activity, especially if it comes with a price tag. But with the number of free apps, YouTube videos and open-sourced fitness classes available, there are countless low and no cost ways to stay active. Try exploring this list of 18 YouTube Channels to Get in Shape (Goodful by Buzzfeed). Or, read up on the best free fitness apps out there:
- 7 workout and fitness apps for tracking and planning (TheSportsEdit)
- 8 fitness apps that can help you get in shape — and what they’re best for (Business Insider)
By Miranda Massie on January 11, 2018
January has arrived and we are back to greet another new year at UBC.
Despite missing my morning sleep-ins and binge-watching true crime dramas on Netflix, I derive a certain satisfaction from returning to a routine. I feel more productive and organized, and I notice an immediate improvement to both my sleeping and eating habits. I even started writing in my Five Minute Journal. (It remains to be seen how long this will last, but I’m cautiously optimistic!)
We are primed for all things new and renewed at this time of year and often start out feeling strong and motivated. But is this sustainable? How long do our resolutions really last? Can our intentions stand the test of time, and should they? How do we avoid feeling like we have failed if things don’t go as planned?
When it comes to changing habits or taking action, I truly believe that the most important factor is a deep understanding of the self. “Sticking with it” or having a “can-do attitude” doesn’t work for me personally. I have learned that in order to avoid feeling like a failure, a specific set of factors must be in place if I’m to be successful. It starts with an examination of what gets me excited, what keeps me going and what can derail my good intentions. My musings might help guide your New Year intentions.
If it’s not right in front of me, I won’t do it.
I easily forget (or intentionally avoid) tasks, even when I chose them. For my 2018 workout plan, I wrote it out calendar-style, with colourful markers and check boxes. It will sit on my kitchen table to ensure that I follow it. It makes for a messier home, but also keeps me accountable. Check out some of my inspiration from Pinterest.
I get bored easily.
Times like these I wish I was a runner. I envy people who like to run: it’s so simple and accessible, but I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less. In order to stay interested and involved in my fitness routine, I need to change things up. I incorporate apps and different types of workouts including yoga, and I’m hoping to take up swimming again in our beautiful UBC Aquatic Centre.
I like a challenge.
The competitive streak in me shines when a challenge is thrown down, even when it is with myself. I like to win and want to win, so I turn my resolutions into mini competitions with myself or others. I’ll be joining the UBC Walkabout this month as a way of increasing and tracking my daily steps, and I use the Carrot app to get rewards for my walking because who doesn’t want more Aeroplan or Scene points?
I need a deadline.
The best way for me to fail at a new habit or resolution is to have it last forever. I am fundamentally unmotivated by anything that does not have an end in sight. My New Year fitness plan is currently set for 10 weeks. Once I complete that, I will celebrate, take a few weeks off and then re-assess what I want to do next. I also make sure to write out a list of rules (guidelines or criteria if you prefer) to keep me accountable, one that includes minimum time limits and what types of activity count.
Setting the stage for change has become just as or even more important than what my ultimate goals are. In being more intentional at the start, I find that I’m much more likely to have all the pieces in place to feel successful.
This month, I invite you to leave some room for self-compassion, inspiration and success in whatever form your resolutions might take. Find ways to manage your New Year energy, investigate ways to keep motivated and perhaps even step out of your comfort zone like Professor Ono.
Wishing you a wonderful start to 2018!
All my best,
Photo credit: Miranda Massie
By Miranda Massie on January 10, 2017
New Year’s resolutions. At this time of year in particular, people spend a fair amount of time thinking about them, recording them and typically either loving or hating them. Unfortunately, we can also become de-motivated or discouraged if we perceive ourselves as failing for not completing them.
I chose not to set any resolutions this year, at least not in the traditional sense. In an effort to better use by mental energy, I’m adopting a new philosophy for how I view the world. I’m hoping this new outlook will provide me with more time and energy to re-dedicate towards things that I love (cooking, family and friends, and creative pursuits).
I’m hopeful that this new outlook might resonate with others and so I am sharing it with you today!
The 3 As for Managing Your Mind and Your Energy
Accept: Begin by acknowledging and accepting that there are things beyond control, and then move on. Time spent worrying or being angry over things that you cannot change is time you could better spend elsewhere. Consciously recognize what you cannot control, perhaps even saying it out loud, to shift your focus elsewhere.
No amount of yelling, worrying or complaining will make that traffic move any faster.
Appreciate & Attempt: Next, take stock of the areas in your life where you have some influence. Where possible, attempt to manage these as best you can.
You may not have control over getting a cold but you can influence your eating and sleeping habits to heal faster.
Alter: Finally, turn your focus and energy to things that are within your realm of control. We have the ability to alter aspects of our lives and effect change. That is empowering knowledge.
Spend your time focused on who and what you can change (hint: look inwards, this is typically you!)
Whatever and whenever you decide to make changes in the New Year, I hope you will keep this perspective in mind. We all deserve to spend some of our time and energy focused on the things that bring us fulfillment and joy.
All my best,
3 A’s of Stress Management and Spheres of Influence (Adam Rollins, The Neutral Zone, 2014)
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Mindful Moments | Tagged accept, alter, appreciate, Change, Control, editorial, Energy, Focus, manage, mental health, mindset, Miranda Massie, new year, outlook, resolutions, Support, UBC | 2 Responses
By Miranda Massie on January 10, 2017
The New Year has arrived and it is typically a time for reflection, resolutions and action. This month, discover ways to stay active and stick to those resolutions by weaving activity throughout your day.
Week 1: Join The Walkabout Challenge
Stay motivated to reach your fitness and step goals by joining the UBC Walkabout Challenge. Walk your way to better social and physical health in just nine weeks!
Week 2: Pedometer 101
Before you head out the door, make sure that you understand your step-tracking device. Learn more about how pedometers work.
Week 3: Indoor Home Walking Workout
Feeling deterred by the weather? Watch this video to get in your steps without going outside.
Week 4: Tips To Stay On Track
Check out this list of easy to-dos to help you keep your fitness on track well beyond January 31!
For more even fitness tips and inspiration, visit our Fitting in Fitness page.
By Miranda Massie on January 12, 2016
I rarely set New Year’s resolutions. While I find that a new year is a great time to re-evaluate and reset my health behaviours, I am jaded by many years of watching my resolutions fall lonely by the wayside as the weeks move on.
Human motivation is an interesting phenomenon. Our behavior is commonly described as the result of internal (intrinsic) or external (extrinsic) factors that push and pull us towards a desired outcome. We are motivated to act based on elements such as rationality, drive, incentives, self-control, cognition and reinforcement, but are often passive participants – acting or not acting without taking the time to understand why.
This year, instead of making the New Year about resolutions or goals, I am making it about my motivations to achieve these goals. My hope is that by focusing my attention on how and why I am motivated to reach my goals, instead of on the goals themselves, that I might actually create some long term changes.
- My goal: complete a one-month workout plan
- My motivations: more energy; diversify my current (and boring) workouts
- My focus: feeling stronger; increasing my daily energy levels; boosting my self-esteem
- My goal: eat out 2x per week or less
- My motivations: save money; eat less processed foods; try new recipes
- My focus: saving for my wedding; spending quality time with my partner and our wealth of underused cookbooks
Ways To Stay Motivated
Break down goals and use bite-sized steps to get there. This allows for celebration and achievement along the way and can help identify the deeper motivators behind the goal. “Be healthier” is a tough goal to achieve unless you identify what this means to you and why.
Share your goals
Share your motivation and goals with a partner or friend. They can check-in and help provide additional external motivation, reminders, (or nagging) when necessary. Posting your goals/motivators can also help keep you accountable to yourself. A friend of mine even framed his!
Put an end to it
Studies have shown that long range and open ended goal setting can be problematic, even contributing to symptoms of depression. By setting a realistic end date (I might suggest 4-8 weeks), your goal is measurable, tangible and ultimately more achievable.
Identify your motivators
Tease out the specific benefits that you are hoping to achieve through your goals. This can help provide a deeper connection to the goal and a more personal motivation for seeing it through. Why are you setting this goal and how would you like it to impact your life.
Relapse, re-set and repeat
Forgive yourself if things do not go perfectly. Seeing your goals through to completion might require you to take a break, re-set or re-evaluate. Use this time to review goals, steps and roadblocks and then begin again.
I invite you to welcome the year 2016 with open arms. Take this month to delve deeper into the motivations that live behind your resolutions as it may provide you with the added value to carry on.
All my best,
Ways to stay motivated this month at UBC:
- UBC Recreation Free Week: Jan 11-17
- Dog Walkers Stroll: Jan 20
- Art Lovers Walk: Jan 26
- Free Bodyworks Fitness Consultation Sessions
Dickson JM, Moberly NJ. Reduced specificity of personal goals and explanations for goal attainment in major depression. PloS one, 2013, 8(5):1932-6203.
Litt MD, Kleppinger A, Judge JO. Initiation and maintenance of exercise behavior in older women: predictors from the social learning model. Journal of behavioral medicine, 2002, 25(1):0160-7715.
Harackiewicz, JM. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: the search for optimal motivation and performance. San Diego: Academic Press, c2000.
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie | Tagged 2016, attention, balance, editorial, Energy, Focus, goals, Miranda Massie, motivation, recreation, resolutions, set-backs, Support, UBC | 3 Responses
By Guest Contributor on January 12, 2016
Guest contribution from Dr. Thara Vayali
New Year’s Resolutions: love ‘em or loathe ‘em, they are a key discussion point in January; so let’s discuss. Dedicating resolve towards accomplishing something is commendable, as it is an indicator of what matters to us, what (given endless free time and motivation) we truly want to put our energy toward. Unfortunately, this resolve can fall to the wayside as the year consistently offers up challenges to us completing our goals.
The only way to keep from feeling annual defeat is to deconstruct why we keep making and breaking resolutions.
In 2012, Time Magazine published a Top 10 most commonly broken resolutions:
- Lose weight & get fit
- Quit smoking
- Learn something new
- Eat a healthier diet
- Get out of debt & save money
- Spend more time with family
- Travel to new places
- Be less stressed
- Drink less
Five major reasons that resolutions such as these can go awry:
Not Specific. Resolutions often come in broad themes rather than achievable actions. Eating healthy, getting fit, losing weight, saving money, spending time – all these are admirable goals, but they are vague because they are unmeasurable. When there is nothing to measure, there’s nothing to work towards. With open-ended goals one can end up under-motivated or overwhelmed and resigned to failure.
Over Sized. Riding on the coattails of non-specific resolutions, are oversized resolutions. A major stumbling block is the habit of making grand predictions of our capabilities within the year. With the goal of progressing quickly, we aim too high. Resolutions are a practice of patience. Think of goals in terms of Projections vs. Stretch Goals. Resolutions are projections of your desires matched to your capabilities, within a timeframe. Aspirations are your stretch goals that can motivate you to aim higher than predicted. Both are great to have, just keep them clear and separate.
Improper Targets. The desire to change something in our lives isn’t enough, as we often don’t see the obstacles en route. Our bigger goal is often so desirable that we forget to check what roadblocks we might run into. A great tool for staying on track is to backtrack your goal to your daily actions and habits and take inventory of inhibiting factors. If there are people, locations, or temptations that you know will impede your resolve, your resolution can instead be to circumvent or remove these variables.
Incentives. Don’t expect yourself to change habits based on the elusive goal of being a healthier, happier, better person. That is just not enough to get you out of bed in the morning. Giving yourself small rewards is key – whether the reward shows up through the action itself, or through a perk you give yourself after taking your daily step toward your goal. Immediate rewards are important to keep motivation high and will increase the odds of your success.
Lack of Support. When a goal is a secret, no one knows if you haven’t done it. With habit changes, having a cheering squad or a team of people on the same path will sustain your commitment Community matters. Instead of going it alone, find companions who keep you motivated, who you can motivate and with whom you can share the glory.
So, take these factors into consideration and challenge yourself to some realistic resolutions this year. Here are questions and suggestions that can get you on your way.
First off, What? What exactly are you doing? Is your resolution simply a theme or is there a concrete action you can take from this statement? If you can pull a specific task that can be completed, you are more than half way there.
Then How? How will you do this action? If you don’t have a how, the resolution is a pie in the sky. Pick a method of action – if it doesn’t work, that’s okay! Regroup and try again. Trying is part of doing.
Who? Who will be part of assisting your decisions & actions? Begin by enlisting them as part of your goal. Do you have anyone to whom you are accountable to? Can you ask for their support and encouragement?
When? When do you plan on doing these actions, and when do you plan on assessing your efforts toward your goals? Give yourself a schedule and some lead time for a longer term evaluation of your goals and efforts.
Where? Where do these actions occur? Does this require prior organization? And if so perhaps sourcing the specific tools to proceed can be the realistic resolution.
Why? Why are you doing this? Big picture perspective will give you purpose and setting up desirable incentives for incremental progress will create motivation. You need both the big why and the small why.
Sit down with the resolutions you’ve already made and put them to the test. Ask yourself these questions and you might discover that you are better off with fewer, but more achievable resolutions. Banking on goals within your grasp will help you conquer the broken resolution repeat. Resolve to keep your resolutions!
Thara Vayali is a Naturopathic Doctor & Yoga Teacher in Vancouver and is also a UBC alumnus. She is obsessed with intestinal and immune health, hormones, and pain-free bodies. She is the creator of Change Natural Medicine: Budget conscious, membership based health consulting.
By Miranda Massie on January 7, 2015
Welcome to 2015! A new year tends to bring with it a sense of refreshment and revitalization. New commitments are made, slates are wiped clean and health is often a focus. Making and keeping resolutions, however, is a tall order that can leave us feeling let down and sometimes disappointed in ourselves.
This year, I have decided to re-focus the way that I think about my health. In the past, I might have spent a great deal of time and energy thinking about the What and the How. What will I commit to? How long will I try to make it last?
I am instead going to re-boot my resolutions and focus on the Who. Optimum health relies on a balance between all aspects of our personal wellbeing, and that person is me! Finding personal balance can lead us to achieve our personal best.
Below I have included a list of different dimensions of health with the hopes that it might help us all to re-evaluate what is important to your personal health. You might want to choose one and focus on optimizing that dimension of your wellbeing this month. Alternately, you might want to come up with one goal related to each dimension to work on improving.
Our feelings and moods. Feeling good and managing emotions can help us overcome challenges.
Work and Financial Health:
A necessity for survival. Sound knowledge and practices can Increase confidence and the use of important skills.
Valuable for performance and job success. Take pride in facing new challenges and developing a repertoire of skills.
Staying grounded is important. Developing a meaningful world view can increase our sense of belonging and help us when faced with problems.
Building and maintaining relationships is key. Ensuring a support system builds relationships and self-esteem.
Daily choices are a great start. Optimum physical health reduces stress and creates energy.
Having fun is fun. Time for play allows us to laugh, relax and recharge.
Listening to our needs. Personal needs and boundaries can work to prevent health difficulties.
The Who is key. Wellbeing is not a one size fits all solution. This month, I invite you to re-boot with me. Re-evaluate your health priorities, re-prioritize where you expend your energy and re-focus on what matters to you in this moment.
Here is to a healthy and happy start to 2015!
All my best,
Dimensions of health mentioned above are based on the areas of health from UBC’s Live Well to Learn Well webpages.
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Nutrition, Physical Health | Tagged dimensions of health, Energy, financial, health, new year, personal best, play, resolutions, spiritual, wellbeing, work | Leave a response
By Guest Contributor on January 7, 2015
Guest contribution by Dr. Joti Samra
The start of a new year seems to be a perfect time to make changes in one’s life. About half the population of North America makes New Year’s resolutions, with the most common resolutions relating to weight loss, exercising more, quitting smoking, and improving one’s financial situation. However, research indicates that by July, the overwhelming majority of individuals have failed in sticking to their resolution, or even remembering what they promised to resolve.
You are not alone in both making a resolution and feeling you have failed in the past. Most people fall into the trap of making unrealistic resolutions with goals that are overly ambitious.
The following steps can increase the likelihood that you make a resolution that actually sticks!
- Pick an attainable goal
The goal should be something that, based upon the life you are living, is something that you can achieve.
Ensure that your goal is measureable. To change your goal, you will have to know where you are headed, and how to determine if you are getting/have gotten there.
Ensure the goal is realistic and time-limited. You may want to lose 30 pounds, but a realistic goal may be to lose 15 pounds this year and 15 pounds the following year. Set a specific period of time in which you will accomplish your goal. As you accomplish your time-limited steps, you can reward yourself for successes.
Remember that small change is better than no change. Get support as you start to make the change.
- Identify Barriers
Anticipate setbacks. If you have tried to make this change in the past, what got in the way of the change being successful before? Problem-solve the barriers that you have encountered in the past.
Identify the pros of not changing the behaviour (this can often help you appreciate why the change has not yet happened). Identify the cons of changing (the reasons the change may be difficult to do).
Establish a specific contingency plan for each of the barriers you identify.
- Implement Change
Obtain a baseline of your behaviour. Track your usual activity for a week. This can often help you to identify patterns in your day and help identify times when it would be easier to implement the change.
Be aware of the powerful impact that conditioning plays in activity and behaviour. Actively working to change habits that you may have gotten into that are not conducive to achieving your goal.
Approach behavioural change gradually. Make small, specific changes.
Make a schedule with yourself to build the activity into your day-to-day life.
- Revisit & Revise
Do not get discouraged by setbacks. If you are not on track with the changes you identified, work to identify the barriers. Were your expectations too high? Was the specific goal you set too ambitious?
Revise your goal as necessary.
Expect & visualize success.
- Reward yourself: Set milestones that can help you track your progress. Ensure that you schedule in regular rewards for each milestone that you achieve.
Reminder: UBC Staff and Faculty have access to a number of health related prevention services through the Employee and Family Assistance Program. Staff and faculty who are enrolled in UBC’s extended benefits plan also have $1,200 coverage per year to see a Registered Psychologist.
This article is adapted in part from an article Dr. Samra wrote for The Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/fail-ive-already-given-up-on-my-new-years-resolution/article1355420/).
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational and media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” and was the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s “The Bachelor Canada”. She has also served as a psychological consultant and expert to a number of other TV shows and news outlets. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra.
By Guest Contributor on January 7, 2015
Guest contribution by Sasha Tymkiw
In January, resolutions are everywhere. Fitness resolutions, however, tend to remain more secretive than the rest, probably due to failed attempts of New Years’ past. Creating a healthy support network with which you can share your goals will increase the likelihood that you stay motivated and turn your resolutions into reality.
Here are a couple simple but helpful methods that should have you feeling supported in no time.
1) All of us have people in our lives whom we consider to be negative or positive influences. From frenemies to loyalists, we can all name at least one off the top of our head.
A good exercise is to make a list of those who have been consistently supportive of you in the past. These friends and colleagues are the ones who you can always count on to support you, especially when you feel your inner die-hard dwindling. Whether it’s a co-worker with whom you’ve forged a strong bond, or an old friend who never fails to pick up the phone, these are people you have never had to question and never will.
It’s a good to provide each individual with specifics on how they can help you, as a personal matter such as fitness can be awkward to approach without a clear direction. Also, keep in mind that supporting you shouldn’t feel like a part time job: something like a quick daily check-in through text messages can be enough.
2) New activities are always easier with another person, and making a friend into a gym partner will provide a socially rewarding aspect to your sessions. Favour people who don’t have a history of standing you up or backing out at the last second.
Since scheduling between two people can be tricky, it’s often easier to make your gym date reoccurring (say every Saturday at 10), as a standing appointment is simpler for two schedules.
Now is a better time than ever to create a support network as everyone is in the same boat and likely to help each other out. So profit on this good cheer because we all know: it only happens once a year!
Sasha Tymkiw is a certified Personal Trainer and has been involved in sports (competitive swimming, snowboarding, horseback riding) since childhood, making the natural progression to personal training in her early twenties. With a bachelor of psychology, numerous fitness certifications and years of experience, Sasha views pushing one’s body as an integral part of the human experience. Sasha works both independently as a trainer and teaches around Vancouver, becoming one of the first instructors who offered boot-camp style workouts in East Vancouver. Sasha is sponsored by Garden of Life Protein Powder and will be competing in her second figure competition in March 2015, promoting a long-term, balanced approach to the sport.