by: Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
Although meant for joy, the holidays may surface feelings of remorse, loneliness, and stress. And, that’s often in the name of accomplishing joy. Redefine this year’s holiday season. Cultivate that brighter world you’re dreaming of …
This time of year, we usually share gift ideas for the fitness fanatic in your life. We include ideas for the wannabe fitness buff– that person who tirelessly tries to get fit but stumbles with everything from lost sneakers to missing motivation.
Presents are great. The anticipation. The wrappings. The thought (that should be) behind them. Yet, after the exchanges, we are left with things. And, everyone who has experienced the gentleness of a hug or a pat on the back knows things cannot fill voids. This year, make your offering one of peace and gratitude. Presents, and even deeds, will be forgotten. People, including strangers, never forget the way we make them feel.
Maybe it is time we learned from the innocence of children. Make a list of wants– and go after them with fierce determination. Well-managed, desire can be a catalyst for a healthy, happy life. If peace on earth is your wish, don’t discount your role in obtaining it. It’s as within your reach as losing those last 10 pounds. (Don’t be cynical. That is possible, too.)
Start with your personal well-being. Nourish yourself with gratitude. By acknowledging life’s blessings and what we possess in this life, we invite wellness to dwell within us. Whether today’s challenge is battling illness or trying to afford a special holiday present, sit for a moment with all you already have.
Note the member who suffers from arthritis and emerges from a light aquatic workout feeling rejuvenated. S/he may not have accomplished a swim meet or kickboxing class, but is a winner just the same. This person finds happiness and fulfillment in acknowledging and praising the gift of movement that many take for granted. Contemplating this brings a new level of awareness to our lives. Priorities become redirected to focus not on what is needed, but on that which already exists.
The Positive Psychology Movement proves the effectiveness of gratitude in reducing depression. One study of participants who suffered depression required them to keep a daily gratitude journal. Three items for which they were grateful had to be recorded at the end of each day.
After only a few weeks of tracking, their depression significantly decreased. Trying to decide which three things to choose as the day transpires is a simple act that provides ongoing focus on the positive. Look for the good– in any form– and you’ll be determined to find it.
An Attitude of Gratitude
Once you realize all you have, sharing it with others makes the ideal present, year-round. It has a great return policy: The more you give, the more is gifted back to you. It is one present that makes a great regift.
Cultivating gratitude helps create optimism and satisfaction. It deflects our minds from that which may be missing in life and refocuses on the good that surrounds us. Frustrations and disappointments fade, which allows inner-peace and contentment. This is not to diminish a person’s acute feeling of loss during the holidays when a loved one is missing or a home is demolished by recent harsh weather. It is hope that the sad realities of life can be softened by recognizing the good, by being thankful.
Share this quality. Give generously this holiday season. This gift does not have boundaries. It’s free, yet priceless; it doesn’t require a trip to the store and wrappings; it fits any heart and can be given to all. There are many who touch our lives on a daily basis. The friendly smile on your daily commute, the barista who knows your unspoken coffee order, the check-out clerk– give, give, give. There is no limit to the joy you can bring through a simple statement of gratitude.
Take “thanks” a compliment further. Add how and why this person’s actions or words help you. It may feel awkward at first, but the bright reaction can quickly become your seasonal addiction. Who needs egg nog and cookies!
Thankful for Fitness
With a new year approaching, it is time to forget any 2012 fitness-goal shortcomings. Evaluate your year in sneakers:
- Did you journey far or hit many detours?
- What could you have done differently?
- How can you improve next year?
- Most importantly, where could you have gone astray yet stayed the path?
You may not have done a mud run or reached your maximum weightlifting goals. Don’t dwell. Rather, think of the obstacles you overcame and the goals you reached. Conjure up those times when you were in your fitness zone and give yourself credit. Be thankful. You own those times. You made them happen. If you aren’t thankful for those accomplishments, no one else can be.
Most days are spent performing a series of thankless tasks. Imagine if we took a moment and recognized their value. The mind and body accomplishes a great deal on auto-pilot. Become aware and you may find yourself in awe, energized to go farther in the everyday, which includes your fitness level, daily chores, career, and family.
Keep track of your progress, both on the Exercise Floor and in life. Record it. To be thankful, it helps to see how far we travel and how much we truly “own.” Never underestimate your ability to inspire another by sharing your story and helping them recognize theirs.
Put that fit body to use! In addition to verbal gratitude, spread the wealth with actions. You toil all year on the treadmill or in high-impact fitness classes. Put the power out there by helping a cause. Decide to train for a spring marathon for your favorite charity. Close to home, get out there with rakes, shovels, and equipment to help those in need of yard and housework.
Do not discount your contribution at any level. A recent sighting was exemplary: a man in a wheelchair transporting carpet rolls to curbside. True resilience, the stuff that gets us through life, requires acknowledgement of what we are given. This man lives in gratitude for his arm strength when his legs may fail. Gratitude helps us be players, not sideliners who waste time on unfulfilled wishes.
Not ready to forgo traditional gift-giving in place of gratitude? It takes time and effort on your part, especially if hurt feelings or grudges are involved. While you cultivate gratitude, a process for sure, here are some additional gift ideas.
Fitness gear: Give a wardrobe that works out. The latest athletic wear is made of moisture-wicking material to consistently keep the body– and mobile devices– warm and dry. Touch-screen friendly gloves recently hit the shelves. These allow cell phone and mp3 interaction with gloved fingers. Keep your hands healthy this winter. There is no need to expose them to the elements.
Toiletries: For the person who always totes a gym bag, the supplies inside eventually run out. Pick up their favorites and perhaps a new water bottle and quick-drying hair towel.
A high-end lotion makes a great gift that is truly appreciated after use. Cracked, dry, raw skin during winter can cause bleeding and itching. Hands and face are most susceptible from exposure to winter’s harsh wind and temperatures. Find a healing cream and help your recipient stay healthy. Those cracks are an opening for bacteria. Pack these goodies in a water-resistant zipper bag to keep them fresh poolside or in the locker room.
Pump up the volume: Give them music to move by. A new playlist adds fun and interest to any fitness routine. Get personal and share your favorite songs or CD. Motivate a loved one to accomplish another set of reps, even when you aren’t there.
Membership: As a member, you’re aware of the Center’s many and impressive amenities in accomplishing a healthier lifestyle. Welcome family or a friend with a membership to deliver the ultimate message, “I care about you.” Often, those in our lives need a little push to get started. With a membership, you help them commit to a year of making smart choices for themselves. Plus, you can enjoy peace-of-mind knowing your friend or family member is living their healthiest life with an active membership. That’s a gift to you, as well.
Personal training sessions: Those with hectic calendars can schedule sessions at their convenience to help maintain, or start, a fitness commitment. Having a personal training session planned in advance helps assure loved ones make time for themselves and their health. Deliver your gift with a suggested trainer. View biographies of the Center’s personal trainers by clicking on Services on the Web site’s Home page, then Personal Training, then Staff. Find the ideal match!
Small group training and Pilates reformer sessions: Wrap up some group exercise camaraderie with personalized attention. Gift them to family or closest friends for a fun group fitness experience (which can include you).
See the Front Desk or contact a sales counselor to purchase.
Healthy Knowledge: At the holidays, or any time, share a subscription to Fitness & Wellness News, the Center’s e-magazine that brings you these weekly informative articles. It’s completely free and full of useful tips for living your healthiest life possible. It’s a great tool available at your disposal as a member. Simply go to www.fitnessandwellnessnews.com and follow instructions in the Subscribe box at the bottom of the Home page.
Heart’s Desire: Priceless
This holiday season, conquer overconsumption. Those who know happiness understand less is more than bigger (smaller today?), better, and faster. Be the flame that sparks the truest desire of humankind: the want of friendship, love, and peace. And the need to be appreciated. Make wishes come true. Gift your gratitude.
“Celebrate Thanksgiving for Weeks– Cultivate Gratitude,” by Elizabeth Scott at www.about.com.
“Holiday Gift Ideas That Pop,” by Jenna Autuori-Dedic and Melissa Freeswick at www.fitnessmagazine.com.