Archive for the ‘Ask Dr. Rachel’ Category

 

Goal Setting: Making Plans for Making them Stick

December 20th, 2011 by Dr. Rachel

With the New Year quickly approaching you may be thinking about the past year, thinking of what you have accomplished, and thinking of what you want to accomplish this year. Regardless of it being a new year or not, it is always good to think ahead, think about where you are at the present time, and where you want to be in the future. It is always good to have goals, but several things are important to keep in mind when setting goals because you don’t want to end up like the majority of people who make New Year’s resolutions and not adhere to them.

The first thing to remember is to always PLAN and set S.M.A.R.T goals. Your goals need to be:
- Specific. For example, instead of saying “I will be more active this week”, say “I will go to the gym 4 days this week.”
- Measurable. Goals need to be something you can measure. The above example also pertains to this. At the end of the week, you know if you were active on 4 days or not.
- Action- oriented and Achievable. Instead of saying what you won’t do, say what you WILL do. Additionally, the goal needs to be able to be achieved.
- Realistic. Is your goal realistic? Are you willing AND able to do it? For example, instead of “I will never eat fried foods,” say “I will only eat fried foods one time this week.” Also, is your goal realistic to achieve at this time? Maybe you can not be active 5 days this week because of other commitments, so maybe your goal for this week is 3 days.
- Timely. A goal needs a time frame. If you want to run a 10k, when do you want to run it? Someday won’t work and someday may never come.

Planning is important in order to achieve your goals. For example, if you say “I will run 4 days this week,” and you don’t plan, then Monday comes and goes, Tuesday you don’t feel like running…and before you know it there aren’t even 4 days of the week left. I always recommend picking one day per week, maybe Sunday night, look at your calendar, set your goals, and PLAN for that week. Know that your plan for this week may be different than next week.

Weekly goals or short term goals are very important. Long term goals are great to have, but they can be overwhelming and when things are scary they tend to not get accomplished. Therefore, if you have never run more than one mile and your long term goal is to run a half marathon, then break down that goal. Start with smaller, more realistic, more easily attainable goals. Once you have accomplished a short term goal, you have a sense of accomplishment and have the motivation to continue. If you only set a long term goal, for example, of running a half marathon and that takes a few months to train and work up to, then you don’t feel like you have accomplished anything for months and that can be very discouraging.

Now, remember life happens and sometimes your plan may not work. Maybe you got stuck at work and couldn’t leave early enough to get your run in, or maybe you had plans to run outside, but now you can’t due to horrible weather, or maybe you had plans to run with a friend and they cancelled on you. It happens- life happens. So, you need to be able to be flexible, think outside the box, and come up with a new plan at times in order to accomplish your goals. You could easily give up and say something to the extent of “it’s raining and cold”, “I can’t run by myself”, or “tomorrow is another day”, but instead re-examine your goals and find another option. It’s NOT what you CAN NOT do, but rather what you CAN DO. Some times things get in the way, some times there are road blocks, but that is not an excuse to not accomplish your goals. Next time you find yourself at a road block ask yourself what you CAN do….plan, be flexible, tweak your plan, and you WILL accomplish your goal!

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Surviving the Holidays: How to beat (not eat) your holiday stress- Part 1

November 23rd, 2011 by Dr. Rachel

The holiday season has quickly approached us and it is important to stay focused during this time. Holidays can be both stressful and enjoyable, but don’t let yourself lose sight of your goals and end up eating your holiday stress. First of all, the myth is that the average person gains between 7- 10 pounds between thanksgiving and new years, but several studies suggest the average weight gain is only about a pound. Here are a few helpful tips to keep that weight in check:

1. Focus on weight management NOT weight loss during the holidays. Your goal should be to maintain your weight. Holidays are tough, so don’t make them even tougher by also trying to lose weight.

 2. Set REALISTIC goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. Be true to yourself. You know what you are going to do and what you won’t do. 

 3. Keep an honest food diary. If you have been keeping track of your food, don’t stop now. Keep track of your food and be honest. Remember, if you bite it, write it!

4. Choose wisely – “What do I really want and enjoy?” Also, don’t deprive yourself. Remember MODERATION. It is okay to have a little bit. Maybe take a spoonful of everything you enjoy, but don’t over do it!

5. If you are going out and are unsure if there will be healthy food that you will want, make a healthy dish and bring it with you.

 6.  Plan on NOT dieting after the New Year. Remember it’s a LIFESTYLE

 7. Anticipate stressful or difficult situations and PLAN how you will handle these challenges. It’s easier to deal with a situation if you have planned ahead. Also, remember to set realistic expectations

8. Get Moving! Continue your routine and stay active. This is a great time to be active with the whole family. Encourage family or friends to take a walk with you. Start a new family tradition- sign up for a Turkey Trot or just take a family walk together while the turkey is cooking and/or after the thanksgiving meal.

 **Celebrations are really about family and friends — not food.

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Race Day and Using Your Mind to Help You Succeed

October 19th, 2011 by Dr. Rachel

Congratulations, you have been training and now the day has arrived. You may have been waking up early to get your training in, planning your day around it, and have probably asked yourself on several occasions, are you really doing this? Well, here you are. The day is approaching and you have put a lot of hard work into your preparation for this day that you will be able to cross that finish line and say “I did it!” At this point you need to trust your body and all of the training that you have done, but you also need to trust your mind and use it to your advantage. So, at this point, let your mind do its job. 

There are a few mental strategies that are useful to use on race day. The first is imagery and visualization, which involves the process of creating ‘pictures’ in your mind and seeing yourself succeed. Additionally, you will want to use positive thinking and self talk. Our mind is extremely powerful and if you tell yourself something enough you will believe it. Also, our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are all connected. Therefore, if you have negative thoughts you are automatically going to start feeling poorly and not able to fulfill your goal. You may see that you slow down and all of a sudden feel pain that you did not feel before. So, the first thing you need to do is get rid of all of your negative thoughts. You can simply say “stop” if your mind starts going there. You need to approach the situation in a positive way, see yourself succeeding, and then motivate yourself utilizing positive self talk. In essence, your mind needs to be your own personal cheerleader. It is often helpful to also have a word or phrase that you can say to yourself that will remind you why you are doing this, what you are doing it for, and that you can do it. Perhaps something as simple as “I can” that you can repeat to yourself when you need that extra pick me up. Also, remember the facts and remind yourself that you ARE prepared and that you not only CAN do this, but you ARE doing it. Now get out there and have fun!

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Dr. Rachel is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in obesity and weight management. She also has training in sport and health psychology. She currently works at Bellevue Center for Obesity & Weight Management. She ran in the 2007 NYC marathon, several half marathons, and a sprint distance triathlon to raise money for RunBuddies. She continues to live an active lifestyle and enjoys helping others live healthier lives. Feel free to post a question or comment and/or email her at AskDr.Rachel@gmail.com

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A Healthy Selfishness

October 10th, 2011 by Dr. Rachel

A Healthy Selfishness by: Rachel L. Goldman, Ph.D.

We all have choices to make. You chose to change your life and live a healthy lifestyle- that choice is the beginning of a journey towards healthy. We wake up each day with a choice of how we want to spend each day. We may wake up and decide to do our morning exercise, or we may decide to skip it; we may decide to eat a healthy breakfast, or an unhealthy breakfast. There are many decisions that we make in life and every day we are confronted with several decisions. YOU decided to get healthy, but now YOU have to decide to continue on that journey. Sometimes your decisions may seem appropriate at the time, and others may not. We need to accept the decisions that we make, but we also need to constantly be revisiting our decisions and allow ourselves to be flexible. Maybe you decide to participate in your morning exercise, but then you feel guilty for some reason, for taking that time away from other things- maybe from your family, work, school, or other responsibilities that you could have been attending to. First of all, it was your decision, so own it. Secondly, think about why you made that decision to begin with.  Did you do it because it seemed appropriate at the time? Did you do it to make yourself feel better? We all deserve to do things in life that make us feel better and that promote physical and emotional health. We have needs and are entitled to fulfill them. This is a “healthy selfishness;” knowing what you need to do and allowing yourself to achieve it. You need to take control of your health and your life. Ask those around you for support and to cooperate with your efforts. It is not easy, there can be rocks in the road, but we can always step over them, or take another path to get to the same place. This is the beginning of your journey; don’t let those rocks become boulders; don’t allow others to take control of your life. You decided to get healthy for a reason. Think back to the initial reason you chose to pursue this journey. You may have thought “I wanted to fit into those skinny jeans.” Break that thought down into smaller thoughts. What would make it possible to fit into skinny jeans? Losing weight would, so perhaps you chose to make healthy changes to lose weight.  Keep breaking that thought down to the essence of what you truly wanted. What does it mean to lose weight? Inevitably you chose to make changes to your life to become healthy. You made a decision one day to become healthy and you decided to make changes to do just that- to get healthy; perhaps to lower cholesterol, to not have to take all of those medications, to be able to be active and enjoy your youth and your family, to be able to ride on an amusement park ride, or to be able to comfortably walk around the mall. You made a decision to get healthy. So, make a decision to be okay with your choice of becoming healthy and having a healthy selfishness. Accept it, own it, and do it! Allow yourself to continue the journey of health and you WILL succeed!

 

 

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