The secret of getting ahead is started. Mark Twain
Getting into a workout routine can be such a challenge, particularly when we’re out of shape from the winter months! It’s time to shed the winter coat, get motivated and get back into your fitness routine! This week Happiness Weekly looks at some simple steps to getting started on a sustainable workout routine.
STEP 1 – Be consistent
- Make a time to workout and commit to it as you would a team sport
- Always stretch before you workout – avoid injures so you can work out regularly and enjoy it
- Learn to love exercising – committing to a fitness routine begins in your mind
- Don’t let anything interfere with your workout routine – it is your appointment with yourself: set reminders on your phone to stick to the schedule
- Choose your workout, keep it easy and get started on a mini routine. For example your goal may be a 5km walk, a 10km bike ride and 3km rowing – you would start with 2.5km walk, 5km bike ride and 1.5km rowing machine for the first four to six weeks
- Routine is the key – after two weeks, you will find it less of a chore.
STEP 2 – Challenge yourself
- Keep moving: maintain continuity in your workout by walking on the spot or doing star-jumps. Pace on the phone, take long strides to the station or work or do crunches while you watch television
- Time yourself, it’s the easiest way to stay motivated and set goals – keep trying to improve for next time
- Get a workout buddy, and work to outdo them – even if it means training when away from them as well
- Increase difficulty: run up hills or stairs, or add a steeper incline on the treadmill
- Take longer strides when you’re walking – it gives you a better workout
- Increase the weights to improve strength, complete challenging reps
- Try using new gym equipment every now and then to prevent your routine from becoming stale.
STEP 3 – Do something you enjoy
- Going to the gym isn’t for everyone, find something you enjoy that involves exercising and participate in that as often as possible
- Suggestions for social workouts may include: Zumba, team sports (netball, tennis, soccer, touch-football), cycling, fitness classes at your gym, indoor rock climbing… Even playing Nintendo Wii with a friend is entertaining and physical! You will probably be laughing so much your tummy gets an extra workout as well!
STEP 4 – Be accountable
- Start keeping a workout journal: record your weight, measurements, how long you exercised for and what activity you were doing. The more information you can record, the more specific your goals will be and the less likely you will be to stray from your routine
- Don’t start too big, in fact start small if you haven’t exercised in a while – go easy on yourself, at least you are now doing something! If you’re working full time, it’s recommended to start with 30 minutes, three times a week and work up to an hour three times a week before introducing another day
- Don’t overdo it – associating your workout with pain will prevent you from wanting to go back
- Remember to bring the following items to your workout session: gym towel, water, iPod, phone (for recording/tracking and keeping time)
- Reward yourself for good behaviour – when you reach your goals, give yourself a treat (not necessarily food – a nice perfume, new sneakers, a massage etc.).
STEP 5 – Review your diet
- No takeaway! Prepare to sacrifice a few things to gain the gorgeous summer body you seek. Cut down on bread, rice and pasta for a little while. Replace it with crisp breads instead (Cruskits or Vita Wheat)
- Drink plenty of water (2 to 3 litres of unflavoured water a day will trim you down and help flatten your tummy)
- Eat plenty of fish (NO batter)
- Before starting a diet consider: your budget, if you have any health conditions, whether your schedule allows for food preparation, if you have social support and what you have tried in the past that has failed and why (avoid them this time around – you want something you will stick to!).
Simple ideas to get STARTED!
- Leave the car at home where ever possible and walk, avoid elevators and take the stairs
- Channel your successes – exercise will only make you feel great! Remember that and the feeling it gives you before skipping a workout
- Cut out the alcohol! Alcohol only provides lots of unwanted calories
- Be patient with your results – it won’t happen overnight. Weigh yourself weekly to see a difference on the scales or measure monthly to see it in clothing
- Go to bed early and get plenty of rest you burn approximately 552 calories with eight hours sleep
- Keep yourself self-motivated with up-beat music that you enjoy. I always make a new playlist every time I’m trying to get into a new routine.
Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can. Martha Graham
Empowering yourself can sometimes seem particularly difficult, especially if we have suffered a battering to our confidence in recent times. Self-empowerment is interrelated with the way you conduct yourself, the image you project to others and the way you improve yourself. This list of tips and tricks will help you empower yourself and those around you in no time – because often the hardest part of self-empowerment is knowing where to start!
Know what you want
You need to know what you want in order to receive it. Sometimes it may feel like a process of elimination – we all know what we don’t want – but that isn’t getting you much closer to what you do want. It is worth sitting down and finding out what you want (brainstorm a list) to give you a clear understanding of your direction.
Discover your barriers
Find out what is blocking you from getting what you want. Listen carefully to your self-talk – you could be blocking yourself. Does it fit into the following catagories: mixed doubts, limiting beliefs, attachments (giving up something to receive it), resources? If so, what can you do about it?
Eliminate your doubts
One thing you have complete control over is your doubts – which is part of your self-talk. Visualisation may help with this. Tap into your senses and hear, see, feel, smell, touch and taste what it is like to achieve what you are after. Focus particularly on the sounds and colours. If achieving your goal isn’t satisfying you fully, make adjustments and use this visualisation technique again to test it and help eliminate all doubts.
Banish limiting beliefs
Another thing you can control is your limiting beliefs – however it can be difficult because these beliefs may have been with you since childhood and are now considered “core beliefs”. Limiting beliefs are often there as a protective mechanism from something that caused hurt in the past. If you can identify a limiting belief, figure out whether or not it is useful and what you would rather change the belief to, and work to change it or replace its intention (e.g. to keep you safe) with something healthy, and continue to work to achieve your goal. If you struggle with limiting beliefs, Schema Therapy may particularly helpful for you – see if you can join a local workshop to learn more!
Focus on your agenda
There’s a universal agenda among humans (and animals) and that is to maximise happiness and minimise suffering but everyone has their own strategies and not all are successful. Even those than appear unhappy are getting something positive from their misery, or they would have moved on. Unhealthy habits are usually initiated because a challenge appears too great. To move towards your goal, you must be clear on what you would like to keep from the present situation. Before making a change, ensure you keep the best aspects of your current situation and discard all aspects you don’t enjoy. If your problems relate to resources only, make an effort to access existing resources and create new ones.
Move at a pace comfortable for you, but not so comfortable that you get slack. Invest your time and energy into your goal and things will quickly change. You may need to re-evaluate your goal as you start moving towards it, your goal may even change completely, that is normal. It’s hard to know specifically what we want before starting out.
Strive for the best
When you are reaching to a big goal, you should feel some degree of discomfort, and perhaps a little unsure of yourself, as you are challenged. You are on a journey into the unknown. Be confident but not comfortable as you move towards achieving your goal. Dare to dream, and dream big, then concentrate your time on filling in the details.
Prepare to learn
Make every experience a learning experience. Be curious, particularly about the things that matter most to you. Expect to find valuable, useful knowledge in everyone and everything.
Don’t be discouraged over setbacks, be self-motivated and don’t give up. When you make progress, keep going! Take responsibility and avoid draining your energy by making excuses or assigning blame. Seek advice, assistance and cooperation of others and offer your own in relationships of mutual benefit. The achievements you seek to create are your responsibility, so be prepared to compete with yourself and work constantly to improve.
Gratitude will open your eyes, mind and spirit to the value that exists in everyone and everything. When you’re genuinely thankful, you make use of whatever it is in a meaningful, effective and positive way. A grateful attitude is also a positive attitude and being optimistic about your conditions and situation is essential as it enables you to see the best side in all the challenges you face. A positive disposition will trigger you to do better, find resolutions to problems and look for other support systems until your goals are achieved.
Focus on your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses
List all the qualities that you currently have which will lead you to your goal. Be honest. You could even brainstorm a word and write a short explanation as to how it will help you. It is equally important to realise your weaknesses and accept that you need to practice some measures to turn these into strengths.
Be a leader
Leadership means you have a lot of abilities and a high tendency to empower yourself personally, that the excess can be radiated onto other people. As you find others succeeding or following under your guidance, you will discover that your support for other people also equates to more self empowerment. You will start to appreciate your talents and potential.
Associate with successful people
Just as your talents will radiate onto others, so will theirs. Successful individuals have a knack of empowering themselves, especially when trying times are present. Socialise and be around people who believe in their own talents and capabilities.
Talk to yourself
Positive self-talk is imperative when empowering yourself. Know how to build yourself up. Make a conscious choice to build yourself up as often as possible. Make it a habit to speak encouragingly to yourself and expressing positive thoughts about your abilities. Speak to yourself as you would a good friend in need of support and encouragement. Regularly commend yourself for a job well done and love yourself unconditionally. The more you allow yourself to feel your own love and approval, the better you will feel about your life.
Quick tips to be self-empowered
- Be confident in yourself. Your confidence will naturally project a more powerful image than if you appear uncertain or anxious. Identify what is affecting your confidence and take steps to improve it
- Look after yourself – maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly and manage your stress. If you feel good, you will be more self-confident and project a glowing energy to others
- Make a positive impression on people. People are more receptive to those who take good care of themselves, dress well, are neat and tidy and hold their posture. Focus on what you say and think before you speak
- Be constructive. Don’t be critical, gossip or complain too much. Avoid the temptation to whinge. Be positive and optimistic, provide constructive feedback and participate in finding solutions to problems rather than finding the problems
- Change yourself – not others. If you are unhappy with someone or something, change it to suit yourself. You can try to compromise but don’t expect anything to change for you
- Thrive on feedback. Empowering yourself means taking criticism constructively. Develop yourself technically, behaviourally and emotionally. Seek feedback and identify ways you can empower yourself. Criticism is always an opportunity to improve
- Focus on your goals, ambitions and desires. Don’t get tied up with your emotions, stay focussed on what’s ahead.
I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that. Gillian Anderson
Every day has potential to be the best day of your life. Make the decision that today will be a great day and spend your time working to achieve it. The following tips will make it easy for you to live each day to the fullest.
Select your alarm tune carefully
Setting your alarm tune to something peaceful or happy is always a great way to start the day! My alarm tune is set to the DuckTails theme song. It reminds me of Saturday Disney and being young, it gives me energy to start the day and it makes me wake with a smile. For those of you that think a song may be too much too early in the morning, try selecting something peaceful (but still enough to wake you) to get you out of bed each morning.
Wake up healthy
When you feel good, you’ll look good. Wake up and stretch, drink a glass of water, have a bowl of fruit and/or high-fibre cereal for breakfast and try to schedule some time for a brisk walk to get the heart rate up. Getting into the routine of slowing down your morning, properly brushing your teeth and taking time for yourself is a great way to start the day!
Dress to impress
It’s important to dress for success whether you have a long day of work stretching ahead of you or not. Did you know that a careerbuilder.com survey found that 41% of employers are more likely to promote people that dress better? It will also help you be more productive and people will be more receptive to you.
Smiling is universally recognised as an expression of happiness among all cultures: if you smile, other people will generally smile with you. Some studies support this, even suggesting that it is contagious. For example a study conducted in Sweden showed that people had difficulty frowning when they looked at other subjects who were smiling, and their muscles twitched into smiles all on their own.
Perceive everything in a positive way
Make the decision to take everything in a positive way – remember, you are only living today for one day only. If someone is trying to be negative and force you down, the trick is to try to find the lesson in what they are saying or doing. Learning from them will benefit you as you keep your head up and continue striving to be the best you can be.
Be kind to everyone you encounter. According to psychologist Og Mandino (1923-1996), “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again”. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice to someone, it’s easy to do, and it makes you feel good! So smile, start a conversation and remember to mind your manners. The Stanford Research Institute says that the money you make in any endeavour is determined by 12.5% knowledge and 87.5% ability to deal with people.
Give away positive energy
According to the law of attraction, the more positive energy you give, the more you will receive. Give compliments, let people know you’re thinking of them, buy people gifts, and always mind your manners. The easiest way to give and receive positive energy is to always have good intentions.
Have a positive attitude
Maintain an attitude of gratitude and you will attract all good things. Being thankful for even the small things will enhance awareness of your surroundings and it’s this level of mindfulness that will assist you in appreciating each day. You have 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts a day, changing most of them to be positive will be a challenge but it’s certainly possible!
Be open to learning something new. Accept a spontaneous opportunity. Do something you’re scared of (within reason!). Challenge yourself to achieve your full potential. By challenging yourself you will grow, gain awareness, skills and knowledge, achieve more, possibly advance in your career, become a better friend or partner, and gain new experiences.
Chat to loved ones
Schedule some time towards the end of each day to chat to your loved ones. Call your family for a general catch up or call your best friend. It’s a great way to vent, relax, unwind, and wrap up a busy day in the office!
Have an exercise routine in the afternoon that you look forward to after work, it will help you to refresh – and it’s great for your health! Studies have shown that just 20 minutes of exercise three times a week will increase your happiness by 10 to 20 percent after six months.
Look after yourself
Aside from the usual hygiene care (showering and brushing your teeth), try to do something nice for yourself each day. This could be grooming: getting a haircut, painting your nails or it could be something leisurely: planning a party, having a bath, reading the newspaper or a book, going shopping or to the beach, writing a letter, painting a picture, going star-gazing, listening to music etc.
Live for the moment
Time is something you can never get back. Avoid wasting it! While we can live to an endless to-do list it’s equally important to have time to think and meditate. Put your phone down and give your time fully when you’re socialising – it will allow you to fully enjoy the moment. Switching off and being completely present enables you to slow down a fast-paced life to fully enjoy yourself.
Respect your biorhythms
To help ensure tomorrow is just as good as today, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep may mean investing in earplugs to ensure your room is silent, a new pillow for comfort, or an eye mask to ensure no light will disturb you. If you find yourself awake at night, figure out what is worrying you and how you can overcome it.
A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be. Douglas Pagels
Making new friends can be challenging, even for the most extroverted people – and particularly if you are trying to increase allies of the same gender as yourself. Once you reach a certain age, you may feel that everyone already has their group of friends and you’ve been left behind – maybe you’ve moved to a new city and you’re finding it hard to get to know people. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can increase your current level of popularity and win some new friends!
Know why you’re low on friends
A good place to start is to acknowledge the reason why you are low on friends. If you establish your weakness, it may prevent a pattern and help you keep the new friends you’re about to make. Here are some reasons you may need new friends (and this blog!):
- You have moved to a new city
- You are in a long-term relationship and your social life has withered
- Your current friends are moving away, starting a family, busy with work, getting engaged, getting married
- Your current friends graduated from university (where you met) and are moving back home
- You have grown apart from your current friends and are ready to make new friends
- You need a new group of fresh people with solid values away from bad influences (this is particularly important if you are trying to break an addiction or habit
- You are at home all the time and life is passing you by – you want more friends to get out and about with
- You never really knew how to make friends and have always wanted a better social life but didn’t know how to go about it (Good news – you’re in the right place!)
- Have a winning attitude – you need to ensure that you drive potential friends towards you – and one of the ways to do this is to smile, be approachable, social, chatty and prepared to make conversation etc. Avoid criticising people, gossiping, and don’t compromise your standards. Be positive about … pretty much everything!
- Accept people as they are – everyone has a right to their own values and beliefs, and just because they may not be 100% in-line with yours or they may not come from a similar background, does not mean they won’t make a great friend. The more you accept people for who they are, the more friends you will make!
- Be self-aware – it’s important that you are mindful of how you treat people, what you say, and your body language. You also must know who you are – your values, beliefs and attitudes to things. If you have a friend who makes you feel good when you are around them, use them as your role model. Consider how you like to be treated and do the same.
- You win some, you lose some – good friends aren’t made overnight. Be wary of sharing too much information too soon, and avoid talking about the negatives too quickly. Don’t be too disappointed if your decision to make some new friends doesn’t result in heaps of friends straight away. Some people may not be as they seem at the beginning and you may want to terminate what you think may be a close friendship, or someone may not be interested in your friendship for their own reasons. Making a network of friends can be quite a slow process but if you’re patient, you will be successful.
Where to meet potential friends
The hardest part about making new friends is figuring out how to find them. Again, this is particularly relevant when you are seeking friends of the same gender. Here are some great places to make new friends:
- Work. Open yourself to social occasions such as Friday night drinks, work lunches, birthday celebrations etc. Be sure the person is a friend before sharing too much personal information with them, as you may not be able to avoid them in the office.
- Study. Expand your interests by learning a new language, craft or furthering your self-development by completing a course. Look at TAFE, community colleges, sometimes universities also offer short courses that may be of interest.
- Join a MeetUp Group. This is a great way to find a group of friends that share that interest – the website attracts all different people and encourages people to participate in activities. Joining a MeetUp group is easy – just login to www.meetup.com.
- Volunteer. If you don’t work and have no particular hobbies, volunteering may be for you! Choose a charity that interests you and start contributing. Before you know it, you’ll be meeting other people, even some that will inspire you!
- Network. Use your existing network of friends and family to network your way into meeting new people. Whenever you are invited anywhere, always accept – you never know who you’re going to meet!
- Visit the local council. Your local council will have a stack of community groups that get together for various events and activities. Join one! Simply visit to your local council to find out more. (This is also a great way to make new friends in your area.)
How to maintain your friendships
Making new friends is one thing, but how do you maintain the friendships? If you already struggle to spark new friendships to begin with, keeping them may seem particularly challenging – but it’s easy!
- Appreciate – don’t take your friends for granted. Take time to thank them for enhancing your life, or showing them your gratitude e.g. inviting them for dinner
- Offer your time – friendships (particularly new ones) need nurturing, and the best gift you can give is your time and attention. Make your friendships a priority. Listen actively when speaking with your friends and show interest and enthusiasm in their lives
- Be compassionate – sometimes a friend may do something you don’t approve of, which is why forgiveness is an important quality of friendship. Try to put yourself in their shoes before you judge
- Be trustworthy – maintain a confidence and be the person that people feel they can openly confide in
- Be open and honest – avoid being jealous of their other friendships. If the person is a good friend to have, they may be popular. Accept it and join in!
Making the first move
The best way to move an acquaintance into a stable friendship is to invite that potential friend to do something with you. Take action to achieve your goal and win a friend. You can ease in by having a party or gathering and inviting your new friend along. You may even let them invite a friend to ensure they feel comfortable. This gives you a chance to get to know them outside your usual routine without any pressure. Here are some tips for asking people out and making the first move (including what to say!):
- Consider the most appropriate way to ask this person out: face to face, over the phone, text message, email, Facebook message or through a chat window
- Be direct with your invitation if you are asking someone out one-on-one, this will give you an indication of how open they are to the friendship: if they say straight “no”, then you have your answer, but if they reject you and offer a follow up “How about next weekend?” or even contact you again when they are available – then they’re clearly open to the friendship
- Ask an open question to gauge the level of interest in catching up: “Would you like to grab a coffee/drink sometime?”, “Would you be interested in checking out that new store with me sometime?”, “What days are you usually free? Would you like to hang out sometime?”
- Ask the question with a plan: “Would you like to grab a drink after work?”, “Are you free on Thursday night? Let’s go late night shopping!”, “Do you want to go see that movie in the next week or so?” If you make a more general offer to hang out, and the other person isn’t interested, they may say something like, “Yeah sure, maybe we could do that sometime soon”, but then they’ll change the subject, and they won’t follow up later. If you follow up, they may be “busy”. It’s advisable that you offer them a way out to avoid any awkwardness if they’re not interested.
- Inviting a group of people to hang out: “Do you guys want to hang out together some time?”, “Would you like to try the new restaurant down the road for lunch one day?” “What does everyone think about heading into the city for drinks after work on Friday?”
- If you invite people out with your existing friends it will certainly take pressure off because you won’t be as needy. “Some friends and I are meeting at the pub on Friday night for a friend’s birthday drinks if you’d like to join us?”, “I go jogging with some friends every Sunday morning if you’d like to come?”, “I’m having a party this Saturday night for my birthday if you want to come round?”
- It can also become awkward to ask an existing friend out that you haven’t seen in a while – but it doesn’t have to be: “Wow – it’s been ages – would you like to grab a coffee on Sunday morning?”, “What have you been up to? Would you like to grab some lunch and catch up?”
Six steps to friendship
Converting an acquaintance into friendship can be a challenge, but now you know how to make the first move, the hard part is over! Simply follow these steps to win the friendship:
- Invite people out – individually or as a group (as above)
- Get in the habit of receiving contact information. Ask for their phone number or email address or try to find them on Facebook. This makes it easier to contact them if there’s a group outing that comes up
- Make a plan. To avoid any awkwardness it’s advisable you have a plan when asking someone out. Once you ask if they want to hang out with you, you need to be ready with a time and place – or some kind of plan. This will also make it easier to ask them out because there’s something to offer them
- Learn to invite yourself out. For example, if you have been hanging out with someone who mentions that their friends regularly do something you’re interested in, while the topic is there, simply ask if it’s ok if you tag along one day
- Accept every invitation you can to meet new people. This is really important because if you come across as too busy, they will stop coming your way. Remember: the only way to get something you haven’t got, is to do something you’ve never done
- Maintain the friendship by keeping in touch, organising more events/catch ups, remembering important dates or events and following up about them, and assisting the relationship to grow. Sooner or later you’ll meet your new friend’s friends and things (including your popularity) will build from there.
How to make a group of friends quickly and easily
A few quick and easy tips to making a group of friends:
- Join a club (this could be a sporting club or just a club based on your interest)
- Start a new job (hang out in the lunchroom
- Take a class in something you’re interested in
- Join a sports team
- Participate in a regular activity such as Zumba or Salsa dancing
- Live in share accommodation
- Merge all your individual friends into a group (and hope everyone gets along).
Learning to be sociable
Some people lack the social skills to network their way into more friendships – but it’s as simple as asking people out:
- Watch and learn from sociable people
- Practice socialising
- Be a good listener (it’s more important than talking too much!)
- Appear interested (ask the person about themselves)
- Find out other strategies (e.g. a counsellor or psychologist may be able to assist you)
- Be bold – step out of your comfort zone. You need to interact with people to gain their attention
- Be friendly and sociable. Prepare to make short, friendly conversation with anyone in the room. Appear approachable and be pleasant so people enjoy being around you
- Talk to everyone who crosses your path. Make it a habit to know the people around you
- Keep a casual attitude. Choose light, safe topics to discuss – if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all
- Be polite and respect people’s privacy. Don’t be nosey or clingy. Read people’s body language and learn to understand the signals
- Be empathetic and a good listener. Try to relate to the people around you and be interested in them
- Lend a helping hand where you can – this will help you be on good terms with people. One of the easiest ways of building rapport is to listen to people and offer to help somehow
- Be yourself and simply mould the above qualities into your current situation
- Have something to say when you talk to people, particularly if you’re talking online or via a social media channel. Don’t just say “Hi – I’m bored”…
- Maintain your privacy – don’t tell everyone everything, it can come back to haunt you.
So now you’re set to make some new friends! Thank you for reading, and if you have tips, hints or advice to add, please leave your comment below!