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12 Things Happy People do Differently and how that Relates to Fitness

e730e68c0a3ea62309fbfc30b9aaef02Most of us have come across the “12 Things” info-graphic in our social media travels. It’s hard not to as it’s absolutely everywhere!  And for good reason.  It provides sage advice that is concise, easily digestible, and well supported by science.

What I truly LOVE about it is that it’s also applicable to our attitudes towards fitness.  We know, or at least I hope we know, that being fit isn’t a one shot deal.  Fitness is a part of part of a greater whole that is an ongoing component of our lives.

What I wanted to do with this post is to take a look at how these “12 Things” can be applied to our fitness journey.  I’ve listed each of the “12 Things that Happy People do Differently” and added my thoughts as to how they correlate to our fitness lives. Each one is linked to an article that gives scientific support for what it says. And because fitness is a journey of self-efficacy I’ve added an affirmation that might be useful for solidifying the thought in your mind. (And because science supports the use of affirmations for reaching goals :0)

Do you have anything to add?  Let me know in the comments!


#1 Express Gratitude  When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  If we aren’t thankful for what we already have, we will have a hard time ever being happy.

For most of us who are reading blogs like this and who have the luxury of living in a society where we can take the time to think about things like fitness, rather than say, where our next meal is going to come from or how we’re going to clothe our children, we can be grateful not only for the amazing resources that we have at our finger-tips but also for what our bodies can do for us presently.

The science.

Affirmation: I am grateful for the health, love and goodness that my life has revealed to me.


#2 Cultivate Optimism People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.

For us to successfully make fitness a life-long component of our lives we really have to adopt the attitude of “The Little Engine that Could”…. with a twist.  Not “I think I can. I think I can.” but “I know I can! I KNOW I can!” We need to be optimistic and know that we can reach our fitness goals.  No negative self-talk allowed! :0)

The Science.

Affirmation: Choosing optimistic thoughts fills me with renewed determination.


#3 Avoid Over-Thinking and Social ComparisonComparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  The only person you should compare to is  yourself before now.

This is a tough one!  Especially for young men and women.  We are bombarded with images in media about what we should look like.  The right height, weight and proportions with the right fashion, hair and makeup.  Marching to the beat of our own drums and not giving a flying patootie about what Ken and Barbie think or do goes a looooooong way in helping us to reach our fitness goals.  How?  By taking the pressure off so that we can savor the little successes, the big wins and the small joys of this journey. When we feel successful we move on to the next challenge unhindered!

The Science.  One more article.

Affirmation:  I am unique, strong and individual.  I am comfortable with my weaknesses.  I appreciate my unique characteristics that set me apart from everyone else.


#4 Practice Acts of KindnessSelflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.

There are many opportunities in the gym and when we’re out jogging etc, to be kind to others.  Let a newcomer to the gym know that it’s nice to see them.  Help someone who is struggling with their form.  Wipe down a piece of equipment that someone left without cleaning it.  Smile!  Be the good guy/gal in the gym and folks will gravitate to you!

The Science.

Affirmation: As I focus on compassion, I naturally relate to others with love and understanding.


#5 Nurture Social RelationshipsThe happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.

Sharing fitness with a partner or with friends is a very strong bond! But I also have friends who I am INTENSELY close to who have little interest in doing a 110k ride or a 15k hike.  But I’m nurturing our relationship by being fit and making sure I’m around for a long time so that I can continue to love them to bits!

The Science.

Affirmation:  Because I am compassionate and supportive I attract lifelong friendships and relationships.


#6 Develop Strategies for CopingIt helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.

Life can’t always be sunshine and lollipops.  Sometimes bad things happen and we have a tough time coping.  Sometimes we don’t reach our fitness goals.  Sometimes we find the scale has tipped in the wrong direction.  Sometimes we just really want to pig out because we’ve had a crappy day.  Part of the key is knowing that these things are going to happen and having some strategies in place beforehand.

The Science.

Affirmation: I shake the dust off my feet when life is a s#*t show. (okay…that’s my personal affirmation but it works well for me!)


#7 Learn to Forgive Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.

The journey into fitness can be tough for some of us.  Perhaps it’s a family member who says that you’re “fat”.  Perhaps it’s a coworker who keeps giving you unsolicited advice on how to lose weight.  Maybe it’s a snigger from a passerby.  Maybe you’re angry with YOURSELF!  Learning to let go is a skill worth developing.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t ever get upset or even mad…just don’t let it fester.

The Science.

Affirmation: I move beyond forgiveness to understanding and I have compassion and kindness for all.


#8 Increase Flow ExperiencesFlow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one  with the task.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.

I totally equate flow with runner’s high.  Back in my running days I was always amazed at how hard the first 10 minutes were for me.  Then I’d hit this magic mark where I would feel like I was floating and the next 20 minutes would just slip by.  It was beautiful!  You can achieve flow in any type of workout.

The Science.

Affirmation: As long as I keep my thoughts on my goals, I easily maintain my focus and momentum.


#9 Savor Life’s JoysDeep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.

Celebrate every little fitness success!  But along the way enjoy all of the little things that you come across in your workouts.  If you’re outdoors that’s pretty easy.  In the gym it might be that hot shower after you’re done.  It might be the awareness of muscles that you didn’t know you had.  It could even be seeing someone else really enjoying a workout.

The Science.

Affirmation: I clearly see joy in my surroundings.


#10 Commit to Your GoalsMagical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.

Nope.  It’s not magic. It’s S.M.A.R.T!  When you commit to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely you WILL reach those goals!

The Science.

Affirmation: I replace indefinite, vague dreams with specific, detailed goals and action plans.I recognize the barriers to achieving my goals and I move around them, over them and through them.


#11 Practice SpiritualityWhen we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.

Yoga anyone?.  The cool thing about yoga is that you don’t have to be religious, or even spiritual for that matter, but it brings the focus inward and, for me, it helps me to realize how incredible my human body is.  Meditation can also be a big part of fitness.  I used to meditate while I was running.  It was the perfect combo.  For those who want to take it a bit slower they may want to try a walking meditation.

The Science.

Affirmation: I am a spiritual being having a human experience.


#12 Take Care of Your BodyTaking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.

Need I say more :0)


If Sitting is the New Smoking, how Can We Quit?

desk-jobNo doubt you’ve heard the new catch phrase “sitting is the new smoking” being bandied about. You may even have heard me say it and, yes,  you might hear me say it again. The phrase has been credited to Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative. What he’s telling us is that sitting for long periods of time increases our chances of developing a variety of serious diseases including some types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This is supported by some pretty good research.

So what do we do if our job requires us to sit at a desk for the majority of the day? Hell I’m feeling guilty just sitting here typing this! One recent suggestion has been to stand at our desks rather than sitting. Okay, so how does THAT measure up. Well according to researchers at the University of Utah Health Sciences, it doesn’t. However, they haven’t left us high and dry, or seated and defeated as it were.

A new study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology says that if we can get away from our desks for two minutes of walking each hour we can decrease our risks. “Light intensity activities for two minutes each hour was associated with a 33 percent lower risk of dying.” As a matter of fact, that two minutes each hour can add up to the expenditure of 400kcal per week. That’s pretty good!

The study emphasizes, and of course so do I, that it is still important to include two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity each week. That can be walking, gardening, going to the gym, or a variety of other activities.  So if you’re sitting in front of a video game?  Get out and shake it!


  • Stamatakis E, et al. Screen-based entertainment time, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events: Population-based study with ongoing mortality and hospital events follow-up. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2011;57:292.
  • Dunstan DW, et al. Television viewing time and mortality: The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Circulation. 2010;121:384.
  • Levine JA, et al. Move a Little, Lose a Lot. New York, N.Y.: Crown Publishing Group; 2009:26.
  • Matthews CE, et al. Amount of time spent in sedentary behaviors and cause-specific mortality in US adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;95:437.


It’s So Good to be Back!

What a wonderful, event filled winter!  I’m so looking forward to seeing all of my regular clients in the coming couple of weeks and I will be taking on new clients in July.

In the interim, please be patient while I get this site up and running :0)