The Fit Student—Work, Weight-lift, and Willpower

For New Year’s Day, what topped your resolutions? To look as fit as bikini-clad Wonder Woman?  As fit as shirtless Ryan Gosling?  Or as fit as Michael Moore’s speedo?

Every New Year, I make resolutions for fitness—with failing willpower.   But this year, I got fit and healthy.   And magic happened.   My size-six executive wardrobe fits.  My sickness disappeared.   My body looks fitter than it did the last decade.   My chronic knee pain stopped.   My job interviewing made the fifth-round—for a fortune 100 company.

These are rewards for healthy living.   You, too, can make your health resolutions come true with the following tips:

Tip 1: Eat six meals a day—mostly plants—each meal 300 calories or less.   That way your belly will shrink and you’ll bypass big diseases.   Plus, you won’t panic from low blood sugar.   At a former job, I felt crippling panic.  Why?  Because for breakfast I’d eat a pear; for lunch, a granola bar.   I’d gorge at dinnertime.   So, each afternoon, my starved body would start trembling—and spiral into panic.   I may have stopped panic if I ate six daily plates of plants.

Tip 2: Eat probiotics like those found in yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi.   I treat these healthy bacteria like family: my sauerkraut kids.   I shower them with their favorite snacks (called prebiotics): bran and green bananas.   My sauerkraut kids serve many roles, such as battling worms and bad bacteria in the belly.   According to Scientific America, bellies—our second brains—make most of the immune system.   So, multiply your kids.

Tip 3: Weightlift and do cardio five days a week.   Buy a gym membership.   Then, get Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding encyclopedia.   Do his fitness routine, whether you’re female or male.    And start bouncing that booty: cycle, dance, kickbox—or run.

Tip 4: Train Your Willpower.   Joel Harper helps boost your willpower to reap health and fitness in his book Mind Your Body: 10 Core Concepts for an Optimally Balanced You:

  • Before we get to willpower, ask yourself, Why get healthy and fit? “I saw client after client reap benefits that fell far outside the health and fitness perks: happiness levels soared, relationships grew, and even financial and career paths flourished” (p.  xvi).
  • So, eat healthy foods, not Starbucks sugars and McDonald’s fats: “Your brain sends out signals in the form of chemical messengers, based on the nutrients you consume.  For example, if you eat sugar, your brain sends out insulin that tells your body to store fat and crave even more sugar” (p.  xviii).
  • Twist that torso to feel tantalizing: “When you move your body, it sends signals to your brain requesting more energy, and your brain responds by releasing feel-good endorphins and neurotransmitters” (p. xviii).
  • And do positive self-talk: “When negative people begin to practice affirmations, they start to lose weight because they are no longer partaking in emotionally triggered eating … suddenly they aren’t avoiding exercise … and so on.  And the benefits just continue to multiply: it becomes easier to sleep restfully, to be more productive at work, and even to attract romance” (p.  xix).
  • More reasons to do positive self-talk: “According to recent research . . . those who had the most internal motivation lost more than four times as much weight and exercised 85 percent more than those who were not self-motivated” (p. 7).
  • Willpower is easy! The more doughnuts you decline, the stronger your willpower muscle: “Willpower is increased over time by exposure to stress, just like a muscle.   For example, turning down the doughnuts at morning meetings may temporarily drain your self-control, but over time, exercising resistance strengthens your resolve, making it easier to turn down future temptations” (p.  9).
  • When your willpower weakens, give it gas: “You can extend and replenish your willpower with a restful night of sleep, with a nap, by practicing meditation, by going for a walk, with breathing exercises, and with positive self-talk” (p. 9).

A mother of five I know of started a ketosis diet.   She lost thirteen pounds the first month, but leveled off.   I urged her to buy a family gym membership, toting her tots and teens to the gym.   Besides, her kids could leapfrog from gym-going to school sports.   Yes, studies, sports, and spirituality—the three s’s of a well-spent youth.

As for adults, we need the three w’s: work, weightlift—and willpower.