First Response Fitness Inc
56 Summer Street
Shrewsbury MA 01545

Phone: 617-967-0042
Monthly Motivator PDF Print E-mail

The Idea of Creating a “Peace-of -mind” Lifestyle

   Lifestyle. We have all used the word, mostly with our clients as we introduce regular exercise into their lives, maybe for the first time ever. So often though, with all the diet and exercise media and misinformation, lifestyle seems like formidable mountain to climb. The idea of FOREVER vs. lifestyle becomes overwhelming and certainly misunderstood.

   Creating one's own lifestyle is a completely individual journey and formula.  It is based on many factors, including wants, needs, desires, goals, dreams, and of course, realities.  Too often we accept what we believe to be realities, when in fact most of our goals can be achieved, despite the realities we perceive as limiting roadblocks.

   This concept, of “peace of mind lifestyle”, is especially timely during the holidays, which for some people, start on Halloween and end the day after Valentines' day, when that last final piece of chocolate is consumed.  And then there is JANUARY…., when most every American swings quickly from being hyper focused on food, to being hyper focused on “losing weight”, “getting in shape” and the whole new year's resolution pit fall. So far there then, is very little peace of mind in this type of lifestyle, despite spending time with loved ones, shopping and eating. By January, we are wiping the
crumbs off our faces and searching for the crumbs left in our wallets.

   What does peace of mind really entail? What is peace as it pertains to us on a personal level?  We speak of peace when we talk about a “war” or peace when it comes to the holidays and sharing with our friends and families. But whatever happened to peace of mind? Whatever happened to self-forgiving, and self-kindness, and feelings of safety and security for ourselves?

   Diet.  Exercise.  They are words that for many are akin to torture and punishment. We are paying our dues for sins of celebrating with abandonment - or in some cases, pure unadulterated gluttony. Sound familiar?  Indeed, it is THE American Cycle, and the end result, overweight, obese, unhealthy, and truly unhappy people.  Although it is sometimes reported that an American can gain 7 pounds of fat during the holidays, in reality the average is closer to just 1 or 2 pounds. If you are smiling and feeling relieved-the problem is that we NEVER take those pounds off, and again, as part of the “cycle” I referenced… every year we put on another 1-2 pounds. Combine that with lack of exercise, namely strength training, we are gaining weight and losing muscle, and it hurts, mentally and physically. 

   And by we, I am certainly including myself in this cycle as well. Even fitness professionals can lose sight of the balanced lifestyle, and find themselves maybe not in the physically unfit category, but more dangerously, a mindset that manifests negative body image thoughts and low self esteem. To change our body, we need to start by changing our mind. Stop the cycles that drive us over and over to the same results. Start by identifying if you are truly ready to be happy, and then ask yourself,
what are the thoughts I have that keep me from achieving my personal “peace of mind” lifestyle.

   What would it be like; if everyday you could wake up, go into your closet and fit into every piece of clothing you own? There were no “skinny jeans”, and no “fat jeans” lurking in your closet (notice I said JEANS vs., GENES)… Yes, we do all have some genetic predisposal to body type. Yes, some of us really are born with more fat cells than others- but I will save that for a different article.  What if every day your energy was on an even keel, and you looked forward to working out and taking care of yourself? Wow, that might be like having a whole new life.  Indeed, you can create a whole new life, or lifestyle, without the monsters of “forever” or “diet” derailing your commitment to your health and happiness.

   Throughout my life, I battled, privately, until recently-with my weight and poor body image. I lived a life that revolved around how I looked, what size clothes I wore, and how fat or not fat I was.  In other words, I had NO peace of mind. When your day starts off without clothes fitting you, your mind becomes consumed with self loathing. Certainly this is not a fertile ground for setting goals to create that happy lifestyle. In fact, the mind is so powerful your feelings of frustration and disappointment sit like a cloud on most every other daily event and activity. You feel embarrassed, ashamed, weak and unworthy. And this is on a good day. That was supposed to add a bit of levity…  But really we know it becomes that downward spiral.  For those of you reading this right now-I bet some of these words, feelings, and emotions are resonating loud and clear.

   So what did I do?  Remember, I am already a “fitness professional”, a personal trainer, a group exercise instructor, I am supposed to “have it all together”… but the mind is very powerful, my thoughts and feelings may not have been accurate illustrations of how the others perceived me. To most people, I have looked fit for a long time. They did not (maybe) notice the weight fluctuations. But I did. I took action. I wanted peace of mind, and to have energy and space in my mind for positive feelings that could propel me to personal growth and goals that I aspired to. But…my mind was too busy focused on the next diet, the tight jeans, and disappointment.

   So, when I reached rock bottom, felt as bad as I could feel, I wanted the pain to stop. I set new goals, and surrounded myself with the best people I could find to help me climb the proverbial mountain. That's right, this personal trainer (and bodybuilder) got herself a new trainer and a nutritionist. Professionals that came not only highly recommended, but I saw for myself, the results their clients had. Most importantly I got honest. I became totally honest with myself and made myself vulnerable (like this article for instance) as I took my hopes, dreams and efforts and enlisted the help
of others.

   Now some of you are saying, well not everyone can afford both a trainer and a nutritionist, and I might agree, and I might not. First of all, in making a lifestyle change, I am not buying a quick fix. Diet now; gain it back later…no way, not again. I am making an investment in me. I have spent plenty of money on bigger clothes, vacations that come and go, expensive things I wanted at the time, but gave me no peace of mind beyond the initial enjoyment. The results far outweighed the cost. You would be surprised how affordable nutritional counseling can be, especially when you employ those tools for a lifetime.

   Also, for my goals, I had both long term and short term goals to analyze. The long term goal was, and certainly still is, peace of mind. That is a priceless gift.  There is no price tag or cost associated with that one. For my personal short term goals, I was picking two bodybuilding shows, one especially that was very competitive, and could possibly take me to the pinnacle of my sport.

   Now, for many of our clients, I would suggest establishing a consistent workout schedule as something to strive for, but be sure and ASK your client what it is they ultimately want. We can never assume that everyone will want to work out with the same delight and intensity that we as trainers might enjoy.

   Often, short term goals are as simple as planning one day at time. I found that to be a helpful technique in creating and achieving my goals. Achieve on a daily basis, one day at a time and that will eliminate the overwhelming thought of FOREVER. I will do my best today, to workout or eat for health, or whatever daily goal (or mantra) you or your client should employ. Although we might all be battling a similar fight, we have different goals and therefore different approaches.

   I am so grateful for the support that my trainer and nutritionist have been able to provide. They continue to be guides for my journey and have taught me more about personal strength and determination than I ever imagined possible. Remember, there is no end line, personal goals, your peace of mind lifestyle should continue to evolve.  The journey is a forward movement, a progression to enrich my life and develop new coping skills and strategies. I learn something new about myself everyday, because I no longer spend the time hating how I look and feel. This self discovery has empowered me to be a better trainer, a more inspired trainer, more passionate and genuine than ever before. I sincerely hope by sharing my thoughts I may have inspired you to change your life, by changing your mind. 

In conclusion-The 10 Step Checklist for creating the “peace of mind lifestyle”:

1. Get honest with yourself:
Are you consumed with feelings of guilt or frustration over yourweight/body?
Are you ready to take action?
Are you tired of beating yourself up?
Are your negative thoughts about your body impacting the other aspects of your life?

2.  Do the research:
Find the professionals (personal trainer, nutritional counseling, psychologist, 12 step organization etc.) that can guide your efforts.

3.  Allow yourself to be imperfect, and allow for mistakes. If we can forgive others, why not ourselves?

4.  Make your life and goals a priority.

5.  Take one day at time.

6.  Set small goals that are realistic:
What do I need to do today? Tomorrow?  This week?  The pressure of 6 months, 2 years, or FOREVER will undermine your focus.

7.  Write down your goals, keep a food journal and a workout log. Everything becomes real, once we put it on paper.  It puts things in perspective, and allows us to “get honest” and be accountable to ourselves.

8. Take responsibility for the choices you make.
As adults, we need to think about the fuel we give our body.

9.  Make choices that will make you feel good, not just for the  moment, but that are consistent with your goals. 
Eating something you are trying to avoid is only a momentary pleasure. Eating healthy lasts a lifetime. Once you eat it- it's gone. It's just food.

10. Decide to live a better life because you deserve it.

Bonnie Lefrak is a certified personal trainer and the FITNESS DIRECTOR at Team Fitness Franklin, in Franklin Massachusetts. She holds certifications from American Kettlebell Coaching, Madd Dogg Spinning, YogaFit, Physical Mind Pilates, KickBox Fitness, Reebok Core Board and many others.

Her bodybuilding titles include:

The USBF New England All Natural, Seekonk, MA, April 2005
1st Place Womens' Novice & 1st Place Women's Open Heavy Weight

The INBF North East Classic, Worcester MA, May 2005
3rd Place Women's Open Heavy Weight & 4th Place Women's Master's Class

The USBF New England All Natural, Seekonk MA, October 2005
2nd Place Women's Open Heavy Weight

The INBF Monster Mash, Putnam, CT, November 2005
1st Place Women's Open Heavy Weight

The INBF North East Classic, Worcester MA, May 2006
1st Place Women's Open Heavy Weight and OVERALL WINNER WNBF PRO Card Recipient

The WNBF Universe, Cayman Islands, June 2006
6th Place Women's OPEN Division

The NPC All Natural Northern Show, Hamden CT, November 2006
1st Place Women's Open Heavy Weight