Are you ready to conquer 2017?

This is the time of year everyone comes out of the gates swinging at their goals. You’re motivated, ready to take action, and begin to build momentum, but then poof! Something happens that throws you off track, and the habits you swore you’d change slowly begin creeping back into your life. Soon something else happens that further derails your progress, and by February you decide that you gave it your best shot, but maybe it just wasn’t the right time to make changes.

This cycle is exhausting and discouraging. I’m ready to throw resolutions out the window – how about you? It’s a new year, which calls for a new approach. If you want something different, you’ll have to start doing something differently.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that will hopefully shift your perspective on your goals, your habits, and the actions you must take to achieve them as we dive into 2017. Are you ready?

Any habit you try to build that you cannot perform even on your worst day is not going to work.

This applies whether your goals are focused in nutrition, exercise, relationships, career, finances, or just life in general.

You MUST be able to make progress even on your worst days. Your worst days are the ones that derail you!

You’re never going to wake up one day feeling so incredible that your new habit is magically going to be easy. How many of you have wanted to change your diet, but waited to start until “after the holidays”? In the U.S. there are holidays every 26 days. When you add in birthdays and special personal events, there really is no such thing as “after the holidays”!

Making progress and building positive habits that can be enacted even on the toughest day of your life is something to start thinking about. If you had a family emergency – could you still do it on that day? If you can’t, you may not have a strong enough motivation for the change, or it may not be simple, small, and easy enough to sustain.

It’s usually not the diet or the workout that prevents people from having success. It’s the fact that they don’t make the habit small enough or easy enough to do on their worst day. To put it another way: if you’re trying to make a nutritional change, it’s behavior, not food, that is the problem.

No nutrition or exercise program out there is letting you in on this little secret. Instead of focusing on a rigorous, restrictive, and temporary challenge, slowly build small, lasting habits. If you can maintain progress even on your toughest days this year, you will see great results. There’s a deep, invaluable self-trust that you’ll build once you know that even on your worst day, you can make progress towards the things that are important to you.

Make it easier on yourself to succeed! I can guarantee you will have bad days in 2017: days where you just don’t feel like it, days where life puts you over the edge. Are you prepared to still succeed when you are in the trenches? If not, you will constantly let life control your decisions. Instead, take responsibility for your life, your habits, and your choices. You’ve got this!

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JANUARY MEMBER OF THE MONTH: CRISTINA V.!

Before Cristina even joined Aleda, she would stop into the studio every few months to watch group classes in anticipation. Cristina had been immobilized by a serious vestibular issue (a small hole in her vestibular, or balance, system), which made it impossible to orient herself. Just over a year ago, Cristina was mostly bedridden and unable to do the things she wanted to do. She came to Aleda to get strong enough and fit enough to be able to go places by herself without assistance.

It was important for Cristina to be able to be mobile, independent, and stable. She has had to be patient with herself because her mind was ready to go faster than her body, but she has found a way to overachieve at every turn. Within the first month at Aleda, she was able to make it to the gym on her own, without any additional help – which had been her goal for the year!

Cristina has been an inspiration to all of us. Her attitude, mentality, and spirit shine brightly in the gym. She always steps up to a challenge, pushes herself to get better every week, and always sets her sights on achieving just a little bit more. One day she was pulling 198 lbs. backwards across the turf (while seated in her wheelchair!) and looked at Christine and said, “hop on!” Cristina proceeded to pull Christine all the way down the turf on “Santa’s Sled” in her wheelchair: 332 lbs., no problem!

Check out the evidence here: https://vimeo.com/197942850

When Cristina puts her mind to something, she gets it done and then some! Over the course of a year she wanted to be able to physically get to the gym on her own accord. Check. She wanted to be able to go places on her own. Check. She wanted to improve her strength, skill, and stamina. Check. She wanted to improve her activities of daily living. Check. She even rolled over a mile in her wheelchair, which is halfway to her 5k goal already!

Cristina, your dedication and ceaseless positive attitude inspire us all and push us to challenge our own perceived limits. We have been more than impressed with your progress and knew you could do it. You’ve got the world at your fingertips now…and you’re just getting started! Keep up the great work, because we can’t wait to see what you accomplish next!

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The holidays are here! Did you survive Thanksgiving? Somehow this part of the year either brings out the best in people… or the worst. As this year comes to a close and a new one begins, a lot of people fret about gaining unwanted weight over the holidays. I thought I would dish out a few helpful tips to get you through the holidays and beyond so that you can feel great and enjoy the time you spend around this holiday season.

Now is not the time to do anything extreme with your diet. Since the holidays can be stressful for a lot of people, it is important to understand that any new habits or behaviors you try to enact that you cannot perform even on your “worst day” is unlikely to be successful.

You have to be able to make progress even on those bad days, because those stressful days are the ones that derail you. So take it easy on yourself! Any habit that you are trying to form must be doable even on your worst day ever. If not, that habit may not be strong enough or simple enough.

Here are five helpful tips to survive the holidays, while still enjoying yourself and the food you eat:

Tip #1: Focus on adding in healthy options vs. taking things away

It’s natural to want to stay away from things that may not be good for you, but around the holidays I want you to instead think about what you could add that is healthy. Could you add more servings of veggies? Could you eat more lean protein? Could you drink more water? If you focus on healthy additions, you will be more inclined to enjoy yourself and be more realistic about how much of the “not so healthy” things you consume.

Tip #2: If you do splurge, enjoy every single bite of it

No guilt trips, no feeling bad afterwards. If you decide to go for it, go for it 100% and feel great about your decision without any negative judgments or emotions. Own your decision and enjoy every bite of it.

 Tip #3: Slow down and take your time

Food is meant to be enjoyed – especially around the holidays with the people you love. Take your time while eating, and appreciate what you have in front of you. By doing so you will better be able to tell when you are truly full, and you may find that you’re satisfied after that first piece of pie!

Tip #4: Start out with a smaller portion

Only put a reasonable portion for you to eat on your plate. If you put a little less than you normally would, you will probably be content. If not, you can always go back for seconds. Our eyes are often bigger than our stomach, which means we often load up our plates – especially when it’s buffet style! If you combine this with slowing down you will feel amazing and not hit the overly stuffed mark.

Tip #5: Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch before the main event

 A lot of people skip meals to save up for the main event meal. This sets you up to overeat during the main meal. It also messes with your metabolism! If you eat meals prior to the main event you are less likely to overeat, less likely to over-indulge, and less likely to feel sick.

BONUS Tip #6: Breathe!

If all else fails, just remember to breathe! Literally take a breather and create space for yourself. Breathing in through your nose for 2 counts and breathing out of your mouth for 6 counts can do wonders for your body, your sanity, and your ability to stay composed in stressful moments. Reset and re-center with your own breath. It feels amazing.

I hope you have an amazing holiday season and enjoy the rest of 2016. As we close another incredible year we appreciate you and love the opportunity to help you feel amazing in your body and in your life. Keep striving, keep thriving, and keep taking care of yourself in 2017. It’s simply the best gift you could give yourself.

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When Jennifer first joined Aleda a year ago she was in a lot of pain, afraid to exercise, and always felt like she had to scale things back out of fear. As a couple months went by at Aleda she began to see incremental increases in her abilities, and started to believe she could do more and more. “There’s a fear that comes with pain and taking on new challenges was scary, but making incremental changes and building up my strength, posture, and core was very significant to my success,” shares Jennifer. “I never thought I could do a plank without any pain and now I can do it!”

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Jennifer also believes that she is now stronger than her 15-year-old son! “I have confidence in my body, I have more balance, and am much better able to tune in and pay attention to what my body needs.” Jennifer can tell that she is doing everything better than before with her newfound strength and posture.

Jennifer loves the community at Aleda and has felt very welcomed since the day she joined. “It doesn’t have that gym attitude; there is a sense of comfort here.” She is enjoying being a little more daring and taking on new challenges not only in the gym but in life as well! Her next goal is to lose 10 lbs. and to stay off the “medication train.” Decreasing pain and gaining strength has helped Jennifer trust the process and see what’s possible for herself, and we couldn’t be more proud of how far she has come! Keep up the great work Jennifer!

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Susan has been an Aleda member for nearly two years. When she joined Aleda, Susan says she had really “stopped caring” for herself and she was worried about her commitment to an exercise program. At the time, Susan was scared just to walk, much less exercise in the gym!

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“Because the atmosphere is so warm and forgiving, I have been learning that I can restart when I’ve relapsed without giving up entirely,” Susan says about her learning process so far. “I still have weight to lose, strength to gain and balance to master, but now I know I can do it.”

Susan once took a break from the gym while experiencing leg pain and losing her motivation, but she realized her pain wasn’t getting better with rest and recommitted to exercise. She loves the accountability from friends and coaches at Aleda and appreciates the “nonjudgmental warmth and encouragement.” Since Susan lifted weights and did trail running when she was younger, she’s enjoyed regaining her strength and confidence once more!

Susan says she is looking forward to building on the progress she has already made, and we can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next! “The process is the most important part of the journey,” she reminds us all. You’ve come so far on your own journey, Susan – keep up the great work!

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