Coast Lifestyle

TACKLE YOUR TO-DO LIST WITH THE SCIENCE OF SELF-MOTIVATION

Two-days’ worth of dirty dishes sitting in the sink. That stack of mail that’s been “on its way” to the post office for a month. And a nail-biting habit you thought you’d kicked is rearing its ugly head. Sound familiar?

You’re not the only one with a to-do list and no idea about where to find the motivation to start. But deep within you is the power to set goals and accomplish them. And you can unlock it with the science of self-motivation.

This intro course will provide you with the tools you need to get motivated to complete tasks and learn new things. Tapping into self-motivation is a talent in constant need of refining. So, get in the zone and learn how to get motivated—and stay that way.

What is Motivation?

Simply put, motivation is desire that focuses your behavior on a goal. It has roots in needs and wants, so it compels you to provide for your family and drives you towards personal improvement. And there are two main forces of motivation—external and intrinsic.

External motivation arises from factors outside of yourself. Money is a prime example of an external motivator because it’s necessary to buy food and have a place to live. External motivators can be thought of as rewards, too. A trophy, medal, or ribbon for competing in an athletic event. A performance bonus at work. Praise from your family members after you prepare a delicious meal. Each of these rewards are considered external motivators.

No surprise, intrinsic motivation comes from within. Curiosity, an interest in a particular topic, and desire to improve a talent or skill are intrinsic motivations. These types of self-motivation help you learn and become more capable.

Examples of intrinsic motivators vary from person to person. They are fostered by individuals and manifest themselves in many ways. Mastery of a piece of music. Reading for pleasure. Playing a game because you think it’s fun. Intrinsic motivation provides you with the power to do things you enjoy, simply because you enjoy them. And accomplish tasks you don’t enjoy because it will ultimately be good for you.

Biological Factors for Motivation

Whether it’s external or intrinsic, motivation originates in the amygdala—a grape-sized portion of the brain located in each hemisphere. So, like most things, the science of self-motivation starts in your brain. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, which controls your emotions and directs memory storage.

Your amygdala works with a hormone called dopamine. This neurotransmitter (a brain chemical messenger) is usually associated with pleasure. But dopamine has recently been linked to motivation, too. It’s still not clear exactly what the connection is, but researchers are continually investigating its role in the brain.

Here’s what is known: Brain-mapping techniques show that highly motivated people have lots of dopamine available in the right parts of their brains. When compared to less motivated people, go-getters don’t necessarily produce more dopamine. Rather, the hormone is concentrated in different areas of the brain; specifically, the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VPC) in the brains.

The striatum is located at the center of the brain. It performs essential functions related to decision making, planning, and motivation. The striatum works in conjunction with the VPC. Located toward the front of the brain, the VPC also plays important roles in decision making and self-control. Both are critical to successful goal-getting.

Dopamine can also concentrate in the anterior insula, a section of the brain associated with emotion and risk. For individuals who struggle with self-motivation, it may be the case that a concentration in the anterior insula exists.

There is also growing evidence that you may be able to train your brain to become more motivated. That means directing dopamine towards the key areas of the brain mentioned above. This branch of science is still young, so you won’t find any tips right now. But as the understanding of dopamine and motivation grows, more valid methods for directing dopamine could also pop up.

Opposing Forces in Self-Motivation: Willpower and Procrastination

Two kinds of behavior meet motivation head on—willpower and procrastination. The former provides you with mental strength and fortitude. The latter distracts from the important tasks at hand. Both are extremely effective and can lead to dramatically different results.

Willpower is the ability to resist short-term gratification while chasing long-term goals. Think of ignoring the urge to indulge in high-calorie foods when you’re trying to lose weight. Whatever the end-goal, willpower is a tool to help you get there.

Armed with willpower, you may enjoy several positive life outcomes in addition to meeting goals. People with lots of willpower are shown to have:

  • Better grades in school
  • Increased financial security
  • Higher self-esteem
  • A greater overall sense of well-being

Motivation and willpower are teammates in the game of personal improvement. Willpower fuels the self-motivation you need to set goals and achieve them. By setting aside behaviors or habits that can derail your progress, willpower can make you a champion of personal betterment.

Procrastination is willpower’s nemesis. It’s the act of avoiding or delaying work that must get done. While willpower strengthens your drive to tackle your to-do list, procrastination is the ultimate challenger to that endeavor.

You may have a hard time recognizing procrastination. It has several forms. At the most basic level, procrastination is putting off a task to be completed until the last possible moment. You fail to start a work assignment until a day or two before it’s due. Or you ignore the low fuel indicator and wait until your tank is on empty to fill up on gas.

It’s possible that your brain uses procrastination to temporarily relieve emotional stress. There is some evidence to suggest that procrastinating important projects provides short-term mood improvement. But when the stress-reducing effects wear off, you’re left with a lot of work to do in a short period of time.

Procrastination in any form eats away at your motivation to meet your goals. So, do yourself a favor and shut it down early, before it snowballs out of control. Instead, ramp up your willpower next time you feel motivated to get something done.

How to Get Motivated with Temptation Bundling and Habit Stacking

There are lots of tips and tricks to improve your self-motivation and dedication to your goals. Two great ones are temptation bundling and habit stacking. Each method helps reinforce your motivation for a particular goal, habit, or behavior. Try each out and see what works best for you.

Temptation Bundling

It’s hard not to procrastinate when your favorite activities distract you from crucial work. Whether it’s exercise or household chores, these needs take a backseat to fun temptations. But what if you can actually mix work and pleasure?

Suppose you want to get caught up on your favorite TV show. Binge-watching TV is one of the least productive ways to spend your time. It’s relaxing, but spending hours in front of a screen dwindles your time to complete other tasks (and is terrible for your weight).

But if you pair your nightly TV time with something productive—like exercise or folding the laundry—you’ll fulfill your desire to watch the show and get things done at the same time. This partnering of activities you want to do with those you need to do is called temptation bundling.

It works like this: temptations (television) are only indulged at the same time as behaviors or tasks that need to be done (exercising or folding laundry). Associating necessary activities with a more pleasurable one helps essentials like household chores and physical fitness become more enticing.

This package deal is called a temptation bundle. And it can help you stop procrastination in its tracks.

Habit Stacking

This idea (also called habit chaining) relies on using old habits to support new ones. Daily actions that don’t require much effort (like established habits) can trigger the motivation to form new habits.

This concept relies on a phenomenon in the brain called synaptic pruning. Here’s how it works. Messages in your brain are carried across neurons via synapses. There are synaptic pathways all throughout your brain, but they are not all put to use. Some pathways are “pruned” or cut back, while others are used over and over.

Habits and routines are believed to mark the pathways you use frequently. That’s why it’s difficult to break old habits and create new synaptic pathways all at once. But this principle also allows new habits to “piggyback” on older, well-established ones.

Making small adjustments and adding new activities to your existing habit chain helps you take advantage of the previously developed synaptic pathways. Small incremental shifts in your daily routine allow for more manageable additions to stack on your brain’s well-established paths.

Soon, the struggle to begin a new routine is a thing of the past. Your brain is using its trusted synaptic pathways to support your growth and development.

Now imagine what habit stacking might look like in your daily life. Take drinking more water, for example.

Let’s say you have the habit of taking a 10-minute break each hour from your desk at work. You stand up, stretch, and use the restroom. If you want to work on staying hydrated, consider drinking a glass of water each time you head back to your desk. Adding a drink of water to your routine completes a new link to your chain of habits.

Pretty soon, drinking water regularly becomes second nature, just like your hourly leg stretch and walk around the office. Stacking new goals on top of existing habits supports their development and makes them easier to remember.

Here are some other examples of habit chaining:

  • Making a lunch for tomorrow as you put away leftovers from dinner tonight.
  • Adding flossing to your bedtime ritual after you brush your teeth and before you wash your face.
  • Hanging up your coat as soon as you walk in the house, then taking your shoes off and placing them in the closet, too.

Habit chains can be as long or as short as you need. After several weeks of practice, you may find your original chain has shaped a new routine of productivity. Put this motivational method to the test to achieve your goals.

Reinforce Your Motivation and GET. THINGS. DONE.

If there are goals you’re trying to meet or new habits you want to practice, know you have the tools to make it happen. You just need to put the science of self-motivation to work for you. Pull energy from whatever force motivates you (internal or external) and focus it on your goal. Draw on your willpower and put procrastination back in its place.

And if you need a little extra boost to see your motivation through to the end, implement temptation bundling or habit stacking. Make use of your powerful brain and the resources within you. They will support you and your dedication to achieving your goals.

It’s time to get motivated to do something great.

Many Thanks to Sydney Sprouse

Coast Lifestyle

ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS WITH THIS WEIGHT MANAGEMENT CHECKLIST

Journal, tape measure and apple - diet concept

It’s time to lighten your load—literally. Carrying around extra weight isn’t good for your body. You know that. But staying at a healthy weight is easier said than done. This weight management checklist helps you focus your energy on impactful activities. Start checking off items and building momentum to achieve weight management goals.

Maintaining a healthy weight is all about the balance of calories in and calories out. Use more than you take in and you lose weight. Do the opposite, and you gain. If they’re balanced, that’s how you maintain.

This means a focus on diet and exercise together. But this weight management checklist goes deeper and provides simple tips to get you started.

It’s time to start checking off some boxes.

Cropped image of businesswoman writing on checklist

Item 1: Set a Goal for a Healthy Weight

Determining your target weight isn’t a guessing game. There are many factors that can help you determine the right number for you.

The most common way to figure out a healthy weight is using the Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a ratio of your height to weight. This is going to involve some math, but you can do it (or use a BMI calculator). You can find your BMI with this equation:

Weight in Kilograms(kg)/(Height in meters)2

Here’s an example: Dave is 84 kg (or about 185 pounds) and 1.8288 meters (six feet tall). His BMI would be 25.1, which is just barely in the overweight range. (Here’s the math: 1.8288 squared is 3.345, and 84 divided by 3.345 is 25.1.)

The healthy range for BMI is 18.5 to 24.9. That’s what you want to aim for. There are charts available that will give you the healthy weight range for your height.

But BMI isn’t everything. It’s a very simple calculation that doesn’t consider different circumstances.

You can also use measurements like body fat percent or determining belly circumference (around the belly button) to help determine your ideal weight. Body fat percentages should be less than 31% for women and 25% for menBelly circumferences should be less than 40 inches (102 cm) for men and 35 inches (88 cm) for women.

If this is all a little bit overwhelming (and math can do that) you can always talk to your doctor, dietician, or nutritionist. They’re great resources.

Item 2: Assess Your Calorie Needs

Calories aren’t scary or mysterious. They’re simply the units used to measure energy in your food. And you need calories to run all the processes of your body.

Most of what you see about calories is based on an average diet of 2,000 calories per day for women and 2,500 a day for men. That’s a good starting place. But there are many factors to consider when assessing your daily calorie needs.

Weight and activity are probably the biggest considerations. A larger person needs more calories. That’s because you need more energy to move around more weight. And if you’re on the go a lot or you’re an athlete, you need more fuel to support that extra activity.

Age and sex are two other factors. Calorie needs decrease with age. And men need about 500 more calories per day (on average) than women. That’s mostly due to their overall larger size and the fact that they have a higher basal metabolic rate or BMR.

BMR is what your body burns at rest. About two-thirds of your calories are used this way—just to keep your body running smoothly. Those are like freebies. The rest of your calories are burned because of activities you do during the day.

There are calculators that will tell you your BMR and how many calories you need to maintain your weight. But for simplicity’s sake, if you’re a man, it should be around 2,500 calories. If you’re a woman, that number is around 2,000.

Use those as the starting point for maintaining a healthy weight. You can adjust your needs if you’re more active, larger, or have other health considerations.

Item 3: Design a Diet to Achieve Your Weight Management Goals

You know how much fuel (calories) your body needs. But counting calories is just a part of planning your perfect weight-management diet.

The foods you choose to acquire those calories makes a big difference. Think about how 300 calories of sugary treats compare to 300 calories of almonds and fruit. One will fill you up with fiber, sustained energy, and micronutrients. The sugary snack is empty energy that can lead to a crash.

Like any healthy diet, you should target a balance of nutrient-rich protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, plant-based fats, and foods with fiber.

Protein (especially in the morning) and fiber are especially important. You only absorb half the available calories in fiber. And it helps you feel full for longer. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

Any diet should give you a foundation of vitaminsminerals, and beneficial plant compounds. It’s the starting point for getting your body all the nutrients it needs.

Item 4: Examine Your Exercise Expectations

The best exercise plan is one you can follow. That’s a popular saying, but it’s true (the same is true for your diet, too). You don’t want to make these common mistakes:

  • Starting at a higher level than necessary
  • Forcing yourself into activities you hate
  • Expecting results right away

Being honest with yourself about your fitness level will help you avoid jumping into something too hard. You really shouldn’t run before you walk. So, assess where you are and work—in steps, since health won’t happen all at once—to get where you want to go.

Taking an inventory of healthy activities you enjoy is essential to developing an effective exercise routine. You shouldn’t focus on running if you find it boring. Maybe playing a sport works better for you. Figuring out what you like to do will help you look forward to exercise instead of dreading it.

Also, properly set expectations. One trip to the gym isn’t going to reshape your body or improve your fitness. It’s a process. You have to burn 3,500 calories to eliminate a pound of fat. A good goal is using 500 more calories than you take in each day. That can lead to losing a pound a week.

And remember, exercise is only part of the equation. You can’t exercise your way out of bad eating habits. So, you need both as part of your weight-management plan.

Female runner tying her shoes preparing for a run a jog outside

Item 5: Plan Your Exercise Routine

You know what you like. You have properly set expectations. Now it’s time to plan.

Take the activities you like and figure out how many calories you’ll burn. Then figure out how many minutes are required to hit your goal for the day. You can find these estimates online or in a fitness tracker app.

Then carve out time in your daily schedule. Make sure to vary the activities so you don’t get bored or fatigue one part of your body too much. Ideally, you should get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. The easiest way is to split that up into five, 30-minute sessions.

Item 6: Get Going

This is the simplest one on paper, but the hardest in practice. It’s also the most important part of any weight-management plan.

Doing it.

Understanding your calorie needs is great. Planning the perfect diet and exercise routine is important. Crossing off items on the weight management checklist builds momentum. But you’ll need action and perseverance to achieve your weight management goals.

So, put your plans into motion. Get out and move. And remember progress and consistency—not perfection—is what you want. You’ll have successes and snags, but focus on continuing to move forward, in the direction of your weight-management goals.

A simple way to put it is to be good—eat right and incorporate exercise—the majority of the days of the week.

Here at East Coast Life Solutions we know how easy it is to get off track after a busy socializing season and have many solutions to help you curb your appetite. Hop on over to our Special Offering page to see how to start the year off right with special product pricing.

Healthy Cove

Winter Running Tips

For those of us who live where the snow falls or the temperatures like to drop low, we have to get good at adapting our training. Whether you are a new or seasoned runner, you have got to get yourself in a good place to handle the winter paths.

1.The Why in Winter Running Tips   Winter Running Tips: Amanda Bowmen

Before you even hit the ground running, I highly recommend that you know WHY you are running. Especially in the colder, more miserable seasons, where you may find yourself wanting to quit. If you have a reason, you’ll last longer than you ever thought.

2. Goals

Set some goals and milestones for yourself. As you reach and surpass goals, you’ll feel more motivated (and proud) to keep going.

3. The Buddy System

Find a running buddy or group. The accountability and motivation you’ll receive (and give) is priceless.

Winter Running Tips: Friends running

4. Endless Options

In the winter, remember you have options. You don’t actually always have to run outside. Running on a treadmill, cross country skiing or even Aqua Running (yes, it’s a real thing) are good alternatives to pounding the icy pavement.

I have trained many high-level athletes and teams who shifted their running program to the pool, and excelled because of it!

Running on the treadmill can be boring, so mix it up! Obviously, blast some good tunes, surround yourself with others who you can “race against” and be sure to adopt the “Fartlek” style, where you walk, jog, run… or simply add sprints to burn fat quicker!

5. Find the Right Gear

Get your gear prepared for the weather. Some people think because it’s cold you should “bundle up” before you run, but the secret is you want to “dress to sweat”. Do NOT wear heavy cotton materials. Instead, wear light, breathable, sweat-absorbable, running gear. You want to be more focused on blocking the wind, then feeling cozy in a cotton hoodie.

6. The Right Fit

Wear great shoes—not good shoes—great shoes. Find the pair that work best for your feet, and be sure to change them every 3 months. In the winter, you might change them twice if you are running a lot. They even have water resistance shoes now. 
Winter Running Tips: Planner

7. Make a Plan

Plan your week and map out your routes. You can do this in the summer or winter, but I find those committed to doing this, have a much bigger sense of accomplishment in the winter months.

8. Recovery is Key

Get smart with your recovery. Fuel for success (before and after) and make sure you are loving on your muscles. Foam rollers, stretching, water and adequate nutritional intake (eating carbs and protein right after a good run) are all key.

9. Play it Safe

Make sure you are safe when running outside. That pavement can be slippery and wet. Use caution and create alternatives for extreme days. Plus, if you tend to run on the road, be sure to run toward the traffic. As a firefighter, I must tell you how dangerous it is to run and not see the cars coming behind you.

Enjoy the ability to run and move in whatever your desired choice of movement is that day! Remember, you don’t have to be an Olympic runner, or be perfect, you just have to be a little bit better than yesterday.

Winter Running Tips: runner

 

 

We here at East Coast Life Solutions are firm believers in physical activities all year.  We have various programs set up to facilitate healthy lifestyle living.  Hop on over to our website to see our Offerings.

Healthy Cove

Resolve to Be Organized

For many people around the world, the New Year means turning over a new leaf and making a positive change. Below are some simple steps on how to organize your life.

Since January is Get Organized Month, there’s no better time to turn your attention toward developing the right habits for a more organized life—whether that means at work or at home.

How to organize your life

Here are 10 great organization habits to consider adopting in 2018.

1. Figure out and write down your organization goals

While there are multiple reasons to write down your goals, there are two that stand out. Writing them down makes your goals real. They instantly go from being dreams to being more tangible—in a manner of speaking. Additionally, research has shown that those who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them than those who don’t.

2. Follow a to-do list and track your progress

Keep tasks and goals in one easy-to-access place—it can be something as simple as the calendar or reminders app in your phone or digital resources like EvernoteTrello, or Asana.

How to organize your life

3. Plan your days a day in advance

Once you’re done with your daily tasks, take a few minutes to plan out the coming day. Each and every day should have its own to-do list.

4. Do what you can do now

You can always stay ahead of procrastination by accomplishing those little five-minute tasks that tend to build up over time—even if they aren’t on your to-do list. The longer you wait to do something, the harder it will be to actually do it. Don’t let little tasks turn into big ones.

5. Focus on one thing at a time

Although people might brag about their multitasking prowess, unitasking might lead to better performance, with a higher level of productivity. If you have a longer list than usual, plan a day to turn off your phone notifications and plow through, working on one item at a time.

6. Make your goals manageable

Keep your end goal in mind and be flexible by breaking bigger goals down into manageable bits. And as a bonus, you’ll have more boxes to check off on your to-do list. (I can’t be the only one who loves doing that, right?)

7. Stay optimistic

Things don’t—and won’t—always go to plan, but this isn’t a reason to lose your can-do attitude. Some of the best ways to stay optimistic despite issues are to anticipate potential problems, accept inevitable setbacks, and have back-up plans in place.

8. Establish daily, weekly, and monthly routines

Establishing routines normalizes behavior. Even though it’ll feel odd the first time you do something new, it’ll become more natural as you do it more often. This is the blueprint for developing new habits.

9. Reevaluate often

As you go about setting goals and establishing new habits, it’s a good idea to periodically take a step back to measure your progress and to reevaluate your goals. Take time to ask yourself if you’re on track to accomplish everything you set out to. If not, what can you do to get back on track? If you are on track, what are you doing right and what could you do better? If you’re already done, was the goal too easy to accomplish?

10. Reward yourself when you reach goals

Small rewards are a great motivation during difficult days. And the great thing is these rewards are totally up to you, so they’ll be extremely personalized. You can even have separate rewards for reaching weekly and monthly goals and a larger reward for achieving yearly goals.

How to organize your life