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How to Motivate Yourself: 3 Steps Backed By Science

via  LINK

You make goals… but then you procrastinate.

You write a to-do list… but then you don’t follow through.

 And this happens again and again and again. Seriously, what’s the problem?

Why are we so good at thinking of what to do but so terrible at actually doing those things?

The problem is you’re skipping an essential step. Here’s what it is…

The Mistake Every Productivity System Makes

Productivity systems rarely take emotions into account. And feelings are a fundamental and unavoidable part of why humans do what they do.

We can’t ignore our emotions. Because of the way our brains are structured, when thought and feelings compete, feelings almost always win.

And we can’t fight our feelings. Research shows this just makes them stronger.

Via The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking:

…when experimental subjects are told of an unhappy event, but then instructed to try not to feel sad about it, they end up feeling worse than people who are informed of the event, but given no instructions about how to feel. In another study, when patients who were suffering from panic disorders listened to relaxation tapes, their hearts beat faster than patients who listened to audiobooks with no explicitly ‘relaxing’ content. Bereaved people who make the most effort to avoid feeling grief, research suggests, take the longest to recover from their loss. Our efforts at mental suppression fail in the sexual arena, too: people instructed not to think about sex exhibit greater arousal, as measured by the electrical conductivity of their skin, than those not instructed to suppress such thoughts.

So what does the unavoidable power of feelings mean for motivation?

In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath say that emotions are an essential part of executing any plan:

Focus on emotions. Knowing something isn’t enough to cause change. Make people (or yourself) feel something.

We need to think to plan but we need to feel to act.

So if you’ve got the thinking part out of the way – how do you rile up those emotions and get things done? Here are three steps:

1) Get Positive

When do we procrastinate the most? When we’re in a bad mood.

Via Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess:

So procrastination is a mood-management technique, albeit (like eating or taking drugs) a shortsighted one. But we’re most prone to it when we think it will actually help… Well, far and away the most procrastination occurred among the bad-mood students who believed their mood could be changed and who had access to fun distractions.

Meanwhile, research shows happiness increases productivity and makes you more successful.

What does the military teach recruits in order to mentally toughen them up? No, it’s not hand-to-hand combat.

It’s optimism. So how do you get optimistic if you’re not feeling it?

Monitor the progress you’re making and celebrate it. Harvard’s Teresa Amabile‘s research found that nothing is more motivating than progress.

Via The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work:

This pattern is what we call the progress principle: of all the positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work; of all the negative events, the single most powerful is the opposite of progress—setbacks in the work. We consider this to be a fundamental management principle: facilitating progress is the most effective way for managers to influence inner work life.

(More on how to get happier here.)

Okay, so negativity isn’t making you procrastinate and holding you back. But what’s going to drive you forward?

2) Get Rewarded

Rewards feel good. Penalties feel bad. And that’s why they both can work well for motivating you.

Research shows that rewards are responsible for three-quarters of why you do things.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

Researchers find that perceived self-interest, the rewards one believes are at stake, is the most significant factor in predicting dedication and satisfaction toward work. It accounts for about 75 percent of personal motivation toward accomplishment. – Dickinson 1999

So treat yourself whenever you complete something on your to-do list.(Yes, this is how you train a dog but it will work for you too.)

Having trouble finding a reward awesome enough to get you off your butt? Try a “commitment device” instead:

Give your friend $100. If you get a task done by 5PM, you get your $100 back. If you don’t complete it, you lose the $100.

Your to-do list just got very emotional.

(More on how to stop procrastinating here.)

So you’re feeling positive and there are rewards (or penalties) in place. What else do you need? How about nagging, compliments and guilt?

3) Get Peer Pressure

Research shows peer pressure helps kids more than it hurts them.

(And face it, you’re still a big kid, you just have to pretend to be an adult most of the time — and it’s exhausting.)

Surround yourself with people you want to be and it’s far less taxing to do what you should be doing.

Via Charles Duhigg’s excellent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business:

When people join groups where change seems possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real.

The Longevity Project, which studied over 1000 people from youth to death had this to say:

The groups you associate with often determine the type of person you become. For people who want improved health, association with other healthy people is usually the strongest and most direct path of change.

And the research on friendship confirms this. From my interview with Carlin Flora, author of Friendfluence:

Research shows over time, you develop the eating habits, health habits and even career aspirations of those around you. If you’re in a group of people who have really high goals for themselves you’ll take on that same sense of seriousness.

(More on the science of friendship here.)

So we’ve got all three methods going for us. How do we wrap this all together and get started?

Sum Up

Got today’s to-do list? Great. That means the most rational thing to do now isstop being rational. Get those emotions going:

  1. Get Positive
  2. Get Rewarded
  3. Get Peer Pressure

You can do this. In fact, believing you can do this is actually the first step.

What’s one of the main things that stops people from becoming happier? Happiness isn’t part of how they see themselves so it’s harder to change.

Think of yourself as a motivated, productive person. Research shows how people feel about themselves has a huge effect on success.

Via The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People:

For most people studied, the first step toward improving their job performance had nothing to do with the job itself but instead with improving how they felt about themselves. In fact, for eight in ten people, self-image matters more in how they rate their job performance than does their actual job performance. – Gribble 2000

Still unsure if you’ll be able to beat the procrastination demon? Then skip right to #3, peer pressure.

Forward this post to at least two friends and start holding each other accountable.

Now you’ve got something outside of yourself that’s watching and motivating you. And everything is easier — and more fun — with friends.

http://time.com/2933971/how-to-motivate-yourself-3-steps-backed-by-science/

Trainer Joe’s at Lexington Athletic Club

21 Day Weight Loss Challenge Starts July 12

More info on Trainer Joe’s HERE

 

July 4 2017 Hours

Happy Independence Day!

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LAC cycling class app

Here’s a LINK to download the ICG app that compliments Lexington Athletic Club’s new spin bikes and programming.

Learn more about the app HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New bikes are here! For details on the bikes and new programming, click on link in profile!

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Exercise is as good for your brain as it is for your body

Human beings evolved to move. Our bodies, including our brains, were fine-tuned for endurance activities over millennia of stalking and chasing down prey. “We’ve engineered that out of our lives now,” says Charles Hillman, a psychology professor at Northeastern University who has spent decades studying the link between exercise and cognition. The toll our relatively new sedentary lifestyle takes on our bodies is clear: For the first time in U.S. history, younger generations are expected to live shorter, unhealthier lives than their parents.

While the myriad ways exercise can shape our bodies are well known, researchers have long suspected the same might be true of the brain. Decades of research have gone into examining the effect of exercise on attention, memory, and visual sensitivity, according to Richard Maddock, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Davis. “There is a very consistent finding that the brain works better after exercise,” Maddock says. But why that is has been harder to figure out.

“Few studies have really looked at what’s actually going on in the brain while we’re moving,” says Tom Bullock, a postdoc at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Only recently has technology given scientists the tools to zero in on the mechanisms at play. Aerobic exercise appears to lead to changes in both the structure of the brain and the way it operates, which together bolster learning in kids, give adults an edge on cognitive tasks, and protect against the cognitive declines that often come with age.

Here, we outline exactly what we know happens in your head when your heart rate rises.


Brain Waves Get a Boost

Your brain becomes much more active during exercise, “perhaps more active than at any other time,” says Maddock. One way neurons communicate is with electrical pulses, and sometimes entire networks of neurons fire in unison, like a group of soccer fans chanting together at a game. These synchronized pulses are known colloquially as brain waves. Different kinds of brain waves, characterized by the number of times they oscillate in a single second, are linked to one’s mental state and mood. Lower-frequency waves occur when we’re running on autopilot: brushing our teeth, driving, or sleeping, for example. Higher-frequency waves, known as beta waves, occur when we’re awake and mentally engaged and are associated with attention, memory, and information processing.

Using tools like an electroencephalogram (EEG), which pick up on these electrical pulses, researchers have found that aerobic exercise causes a shift in the amplitude and frequency of brain waves. More beta waves, in other words, means that exercisers may be in a more alert state. “The brain is in a different gear when the human being is in motion,” Maddock says.


You Become More Sensitive to the World Around You

During exercise, the brain becomes much more receptive to incoming information, leading to measurable changes in vision. Tom Bullock and Barry Giesbrecht, a professor of psychology and brain sciences at UC Santa Barbara, work in one of the few labs that have managed to measure the effects of aerobic activity on the visual cortex during exercise. Bullock says it’s taken him four years to figure out how to consistently and reliably record an EEG while a subject is in motion.

The visual cortex is designed to zero in on important features in the environment—the kind of features that might indicate, for example, the presence of a predator or prey—and filter out less important background noise. This year, Bullock and Giesbrecht found that low-intensity cycling boosted this feature-selectivity ability so the brain was able to better identify specific features during exercise.

Scientists have also administered cognitive tests right after exercise—for example, measuring the flicker fusion threshold (the rate at which a flashing light begins to look like it’s steadily glowing) and found the same thing: After exercise, one’s senses are heightened and thus can detect the flashing at a higher frequency than before exercise.

Taken together, these findings indicate that “people see more clearly and immediately after exercise,” Maddock says. “They can make finer visual distinctions; their perceptions are sharper.”


Your Brain Shores Up Neurotransmitter Stores

The benefits of exercise to your brain may begin as soon as your heart rate begins to rise. Imagine, if you will, climbing onto your bike for a morning ride and pedaling at a tough but sustainable clip. Your breath becomes faster and heavier as your lungs struggle to meet the oxygen demands of the body in motion. Your heart rate climbs as it pumps oxygenated blood around the body and into the brain. And in much the same way that your muscles demand more energy during exercise, the brain begins gobbling up glucose or other carbohydrates when the body is in motion.

“In the past, nobody had any idea what the brain was doing with all this fuel,” says Maddock. That is, until last year, when he and his colleagues published a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience. They discovered that the brain uses some of that fuel to build more neurotransmitters, the chemicals that relay messages around the nervous system. Maddock and his colleagues used MRI to measure levels of neurotransmitters in study subjects after a bout of exercise on a stationary bike and found that levels of glutamate and GABA—two of the most common neurotransmitters in the brain—had increased. The brain may be “filling up its stores of essential ingredients,” Maddock says. “Perhaps in order to deal with a sustained period of hunting, for example, or running or fleeing or war.” Exercise, in other words, may restock the brain with essential neurotransmitters that it needs to operate optimally.

This process might be why exercise has been shown to alleviate depression. Maddock’s team found that during activity, glutamate levels rise in the same region of the brain where stocks of the neurotransmitter have previously been found to be low in depressed patients.


Your Brain Becomes Younger

A few things happen in the exerciser’s brain that make the organ appear younger. First, studies in both animals and humans suggest that exercise sparks the production of growth factors that nourish new neurons and help existing cells survive. Budding neural cells also need more nutrients as they grow, and animal studies suggest that exercise promotes the release of other growth factors that promote blood vessel growth, which could deliver those nutrients. At least one study in humans has found that active individuals tend to have more and healthier blood vessels, or, in the words of the authors, a “younger-appearing brain.”

These structural changes in the brain generally take at least a few weeks to develop but lead to long-lasting improvements in regions of the brain associated with cognitive tasks, like working memory. “A lot of intervention studies that are out there show that aerobic exercise increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus, for example” says Giesbrecht. “The hippocampus is really critical for memory.”

Beyond that, research shows that aging exercisers have increased gray-matter volume in regions associated with general intelligence and executive function, which encompasses everything from attention to planning to problem-solving skills. Studies also show that fit adults have healthier white-matter tracts—the superhighways that connect various regions of gray matter—in the basal ganglia, a critical region for balance and coordination.


New Connections Between Neurons Emerge

Over time, exercise changes both the number of neurons in your brain and how they communicate. A 2016 study from the University of Arizona, for example, found that cross-country runners had increased connectivity between parts of the brain involved in memory, attention, decision-making, multitasking, and processing sensory information—the very same regions that tend to be hit hardest as we age—compared to healthy but sedentary controls. The networks that fire together as you run—coordinating your route, keeping tabs on traffic, trying not to trip on rocks, and maintaining your pace—strengthen as you use them, so that even at rest, runners tend to have greater connectivity between brain regions. It’s the kind of connectivity that musicians and cab drivers and other skills-based experts develop. At the same time, the runners had decreased connectivity with a region of the brain typically associated with mind wandering, which indicates runners may have increased focus or concentration skills.


So, Is Exercise Magic?

Hillman cautions that for now, exercisers should be realistic about what aerobic activities can do for the brain. “You shouldn’t expect to increase your IQ or anything of that nature,” he says. “We’re talking about small to moderate effects, which are potentially great for improving cognition and brain health.”

But Bullock and Giesbrecht envision a future in which doctors prescribe exercise instead of drugs. “Exercise is a potential prophylactic against some aspects of age-related cognitive decline,” Giesbrecht says. “When you think of the fact that we have an aging demographic and the high prevalence of depression, there might be simpler treatments out there, like exercise.”

Memorial Day Hours

Memorial Day:  Monday May 29, 2017

LAC Hours: 7am-3pm

Playroom: 8am-1pm

Group Exercise Classes:  canceled (or try THIS)

New Spin Bikes and Programming

Check out the new bikes in the Lexington Athletic Club studio!

New bikes are here! For details on the bikes and new programming, click on link in profile!

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The bike are top of the line IC7’s with optical watts meter and a gates drive belt.

Here’s more about the bikes and programming:

“coach by color”

 

Easter Hours 2017

LAC hours for Easter Sunday, April 16 2017: 1pm-5pm

Playroom and classes are canceled.

 

Yay spring!

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Want to lose weight in 2017?

Keep a food log.

“For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the No. 1 piece of advice based on these study results would be to keep a food journal to help meet daily calorie goals. It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating…”

 

Keeping A Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss, Study Suggests.

“Study of nearly 1,700 participants shows that keeping a food diary can double a person’s weight loss. The study found that the best predictors of weight loss were how frequently food diaries were kept and how many support sessions the participants attended. Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.”

 

It’s the 90’s, use an app to log your food.

“We believe — and medical studies prove — that the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to simply keep track of the foods you eat. Gimmicky machines and fad diets don’t work, so we designed a free website and mobile apps that make calorie counting and food tracking easy.”

 

And finally, just eat Real Food.

“If you eat food direct from nature, you don’t even need to think about this. You don’t have to worry about trans fat or saturated fat or salt… If you focus on real food, nutrients tend to take care of themselves.  A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”

 

P.S.:  If we had to choose one eating plan, This Would Be It.

 

 

Just eat real food #jerf #lac #lexingtonathleticclub #realfood

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Yoga at Lexington Athletic Club

Group Exercise classes are included with your membership at LAC, even Yoga.

Check out the new Yoga Basics class starting this Saturday.

 

Group Exercise classes are included with your membership at LAC, even Yoga. Check out the new Yoga Basics class starting this Saturday.

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