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Getting fit: Learn from my observations

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Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2011 11:00 am

We spend a lot of time and money trying to get healthy. We go to a gym, order a bunch of pre-packaged food, or even hire other people to whip us into shape. Some make the necessary life changes successfully. Others fail.

I've trained and/or coached teenagers, seniors, men, women, the deconditioned and the relatively fit. Working with them has provided me a generous opportunity to observe, learn and draw a few conclusions regarding the successful and not-so-successful. Occasionally, some of the not-so-successfuls teeter on the edge of quitting. Every once in a while, I'm sad to say, one of them even quits.

I don't ever want anyone to quit. It makes me feel like I'm the failure; I've failed them. Maybe I can help you not quit. You can benefit from what I've observed and learned. Something good can come from something sad.

So here goes ... three traits fall in the front line of my observations.

The first trait I've observed in the successful is a positive attitude. I've written on this topic before but it bears repeating ... and repeating. People who naturally (or even with an effort) carry an optimistic outlook tend to embrace, adopt and maintain healthy-lifestyle changes easier. When they are faced with a disappointment (an insult, injury or slight weight gain), they recover, regroup and move forward. They don't waste time on days of "woe is me" or "to hell with it." They learn what they can from it and keep moving. Seriously, I've seen it.

The second trait I've noticed is a pattern of consistency. Those who adopt a few new behaviors (even just one or two) and execute them consistently, every day, do really well. Those who go all out for a few days, then fall off the wagon, get back on, then repeat it all, don't do as well. They might make progress, but in fits and starts, often experiencing setbacks when they fall off the wagon. Couple a setback due to inconsistency with a negative attitude and you've got a recipe for quitting.

The third, main attribute I've seen in successful people is a lack of chaos in their lives. Some people live in a permanent, frenzied state. They are always a day behind and a dollar short. Crises abound. I don't know whether chaotic people do it to themselves or if karma has them targeted, but they definitely have a storm cloud over them all the time. Just when they get one crisis resolved, another emerges. Not only does the drama provide an excuse for not focusing on their health, it actually sabotages it in the form of chronic stress. I'm not describing people who tragically have an illness or suffer a great personal loss. I'm talking about people who live on the edge, spinning out of control - and you know who I'm talking about.

If you mix a negative attitude with chaos and sprinkle a little inconsistency over the top, you are almost guaranteed to fail. Those who truly want to succeed with a healthier lifestyle (which tends to involve major changes over time) need to honestly examine their attitude, consistency and the calm that comes without chaos. Fix those and enjoy the benefits that come with being successful.

My failures can become your something positive.

NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals as well as groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit

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