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Go Tiny! Aim Big! 

The small boulder and the mighty mountain peak share a few things in common…

The small boulder and the mighty mountain peak share a few things in common…

“If you want to change your life, you’ve got to have a goal that’s big enough to inspire you. Go big, or go home!”

“Change only happens incrementally. The tinier the shift, the easier it is to modify a behavior. Tiny habits rule!”

I’m betting that a lot of you reading this right now have come across both schools of thought. However, despite being treated as dueling approaches, micro-habits and big goals hang out together on the same curb.

Tiny Habits, an approach developed by Stanford behavioral researcher, BJ Fogg, is based on the premise that if we adopt a new habit that’s super easy to stick with, we’ll eventually make our way to the bigger goal by encouraging a snowball effect. From his research, Fogg concluded that only three things will change behavior in the long term: a) an epiphany b) a new environment and c) taking baby steps.

Since most of us won’t be able to uproot ourselves and epiphanies tend to be sort of rare, we’re left with learning from our earliest self. 

Fogg’s outlined three steps to implementing a tiny habit: 

1) You need to GET SPECIFIC. What behavior do you want to change? What outcome would you like to have?

2)  You’ve got to KEEP IT SIMPLE. How can you make the behavior easy to do? 

3).  You’ll want to TRIGGER THE BEHAVIOR. For example, you might say, “every morning after I brush my teeth, I’ll do ten pushups.” The trigger is brushing your teeth, and the Tiny Habit is ten pushups. 

What will prompt you to engage in the behavior? Does your trigger already exist, or will you need to create it from scratch? 

Finally, Fogg emphasizes that after you complete the Tiny Habit, you’ve got to celebrate. That could be as small as yodeling “Woohoo!” or giving yourself a pat on the back.

I’m a big fan of Tiny Habits and have shared Fogg’s principles in many corporate wellness talks. Visualizing big goals, like quitting smoking and running a marathon, coupled with beginning your journey to that goal by implementing a Tiny Habit, like lacing up your running shoes each morning after you finish breakfast, is a sure path to celebration. 

Action: 

Check out BJ Fogg’s TED talk on Tiny Habits, and then try it out for yourself! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdKUJxjn-R8)

Power Question: 

What Tiny Habit could you cultivate in working toward a bigger goal? What’s the trigger for that Tiny Habit? 

This is post #3 in a long series on habit change. Do you have any thoughts on big goals and Tiny Habits? Have you tried the Tiny Habits method before? Leave your comments below! Thanks for reading!

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What's In the Fridge at Team Tangram?

Have you ever wondered how so called "health nuts" live? In this series, Team Tangram gives you an uncensored peek into our day-to-day. We hope you'll find it refreshing! If you missed part 1- "What's For Breakfast?"- you can check it out here.

The contents of our fridges can be a window into our general health, and will either support our wellness goals or sabotage them. One exercise we recommend to all health coaching and personal training clients is a thorough cleaning of the fridge and cupboards, removing any foods from the home that aren't doing your body good. As you'll see in this post, every body really is different, and we all have different needs and habits. 
 

Aimee, Director & Coach

"The contents of my fridge are pretty random, because my husband and I like to eat quite different things and we're always changing it up! I usually follow a Paleo-style way of eating called the Autoimmune Protocol, which helps reduce inflammation in the body. So, my diet is higher in healthy fats and protein, and lower in carbohydrates. 

In my fridge, you'll find lots and lots of leafy green veggies, as well as various fruits and berries. Every evening I have a green juice before bed which helps me sleep, and it usually includes papaya and celery. We're also big on preparing large batches of food for the week, so there's lots of Tupperware filled with antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken, beef, cooked sweet potatoes, and various salads. Some staples are sauerkraut, 90% dark chocolate, ghee or duck fat or grass fed butter, hot sauce, sparkling water and fish oil! I need to learn how to make fresh sauerkraut and kimchi at home- it's on the list of 2016 goals!"
 

Katheryn, Yoga Instructor 

Decisions, decisions! 

Decisions, decisions! 

"What's in my fridge? Honestly I couldn’t tell you.... because I have no idea.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a foodie. I know, shameful! It’s just not my thing and I’m consistently trying to make time in my busy schedule for nutrition. I see amazing results in my energy levels and overall physique when I focus on increasing my caloric intake - and especially when I eat more protein!

My relationship with food is like my relationship with my car. Some people LOVE cars (like my husband for example) and see them as works of art. Personally I couldn’t care less what car I’m driving as long as it gets me where I need to go and can fit all of my stuff in it. However, if totally neglect my car’s maintenance, it will break down. Similarly, even though I don’t really care about food, if I neglect my nutrition, my body won’t run as efficiently.

I also don’t cook - shocking, yes! Both because I don’t like to cook and because I’m terrible at it. So, the million dollar question, what’s in the fridge? Lots of milk for the babies, yogurt, eggs, bread, cheese, fruit, leftovers... pretty boring stuff!"
 

Anna, Health & Fitness Specialist

"So, we have lots of cans of soda water, which I just love when I come in from the heat. I try to limit myself to one daily as still water is a lot better for me but soda water is such a treat!

Quest bars, both myself and Nige adore, I prefer the almond vanilla as they're not as sweet as some of the others. I tend to chop a quarter in to my muesli in the morning, have a quarter after lunch as a sweet treat and then the second half in the afternoon if I'm feeling empty...such a good source of whey protein at 20g, with 15g of fibre and only 1g of sugar... Amazing and tasty, too.
I keep my fridge stocked with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, I buy them weekly at Tiong Bahru wet market so they're juicy and fresh. We also buy our meat and fish at the wet market, I find the quality is just so much better than supermarket brought. This week we've enjoyed snapper and salmon, tonight I'll be cooking pork loin (in the yellow bowl!) I marinade it in lemongrass, chilli, soy, ginger and garlic then grill to perfection.
 
I always keep eggs in my fridge as they're great hard boiled as a quick protein hit if I'm on the go! Similarly peanut butter is perfect as a quick yet satisfying snack; I tend to have a tablespoon of it with apple segments for an afternoon energy boost. I get my peanut butter from the UK when I have people visit...it's whole meal, very low in sugar and sodium and extra crunchy!

I use a dash of low fat milk in my morning coffee and soya or almond milk on my muesli. I'm not a huge milk fan though as I don't particularly like the taste.
We always have a tray full of fresh herbs ready for marinades. My husband and I love to cook and experimenting with different flavours is so much fun! Today I have lemongrass ready for my pork dish and mint which I'll use for my salad."


Yan, Metabolic Personal Trainer & Pilates Instructor 

"My fridge is so empty. I need to go to the supermarket! Oh, and I share the fridge with the family. 

The usual things I have in my fridge are Blueberries, Greek Yoghurt, herbs herbs herbs :)) , eggs, 
salmon for later, butter, lemon/lime infused water, unsalted natural peanut butter, butternut pumpkin, leafy greens, and mushrooms."
 

And, that's a fridge wrap! Remember, every body is different- find what works for you! What do you keep in your fridge? How can you have your fridge help you with your wellness goals? What do YOU want to know about how wellness pros live? As always, we'd love to hear from you. Leave your comments, and if you liked this post, share it! 

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A Resolution Recharge for Seriously Sticky Goals

It happens every year around this time: many millions of people across the globe vow- fireworks included- to turn a new leaf in the name of self-improvement, committing wholeheartedly to a fresh start. And then, around the second or third week of January, motivation begins to wane; the person they’d hoped to become eventually acquiesces to the comfort zone of where they’ve always been. Does this sound familiar? It certainly does to me! Every New Year’s Eve for over a decade, I’d vowed to quit smoking, only to feel more frustrated and beat down each and every time I failed. My list of resolution disasters continued to grow alongside my disillusionment and it was not until I changed my SYSTEMS that I was able to experience success with my goals. Here are my top 5 tips to give those resolutions sticking power:

1. Set SMARTER Goals
Many people make the mistake of setting half-baked goals like “lose weight” or “make more money”, often because they’re just not quite sure how to go about designing a success-oriented resolution. Give each goal you’ve set a real boost in potential by running them through a SMARTER checklist:
SPECIFIC goals are precise and answer the “who”, “what”, “when” and “where” questions. For instance, instead of setting the goal of “improve my health,” you would create a goal such as “go to the gym for a 45 minute strength training workout every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and pre-plan and prepare my meals for the week on Sunday evenings between 6-8pm.”
MEASURABLE goals require quantifiable criteria to track your progress. How will you know that your goal is achieved? How will you measure it? Generally, it’s best to set up a system to record your progress for each goal, whether that’s a spreadsheet, journal or in an app.
ATTAINABLE goals are built on self-respect and self-efficacy. These resolutions are achievable because you’re willing to put in the necessary work they require, whether that’s building new skills, talking to the right people, or changing your schedule around.
RELEVANT goals have the importance they deserve in your life, and are given the space they require. Exploring the real reasons behind setting a goal will let you know whether it’s relevant or not. Do you really want to complete a triathlon, or do you merely admire triathletes?  Is making enough money to buy a sports car really important to you, or are you just trying to prove something?
TIMELY goals are made with a specific time frame in mind, often broken down into a few components. For instance, if your goal is to train for a marathon, you may set a goal of running 4 times a week for 16 weeks and signing up for a race on a specific date.
EXCITING goals are key- if you’re not enthusiastic about what you’ve set out to do, your chances of accomplishing it are going to be pretty slim. Dig deep to unearth your true reasons for achieving your goal, and imagine yourself finally attaining it. How does that feel? Does this resolution make you excited about your life?
REVIEWED goals keep you on target throughout the process. By reviewing your goals each week, you’ll pinpoint what you need to do in order to improve your chances of reaching it, and make any necessary tweaks along the way. For instance, perhaps you’ve set a goal of building muscle by weightlifting 4 times a week in the mornings before work, but your boss has made a shift change and asked you to come in an hour earlier. Reviewing your goals gives you the opportunity to edit and revise as necessary, rather than dropping the resolution altogether.
                                               
2. Get Accountable

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a behavior change specialist and regular goal achiever, it’s that success rarely- if ever- happens in a vacuum. A support team can make all the difference in how far you’ll travel toward your dreams, and contrary to popular belief, they’re not so difficult to build. With the proliferation of social media groups, buddy apps, fellowships and meetup groups, you can easily link to motivated people who are traveling along the same path that you are, and who will be more than happy to establish a mutual accountability arrangement. Hiring a professional accountability partner like a personal trainer, coach or therapist can also provide an incredible motivational boost. These professionals come armed with an ample box of tools and skillsets to keep you on top of your game. For some reason, we human beings will often choose disappointing ourselves over disappointing someone else, and for this reason alone, accountability can be just the magic you need to fuel your resolutions.

3. Measure Your Progress
As a component of SMARTER goals, creating a reliable tool to measure your progress will keep you thoughtfully focused day-to-day while minimizing feelings of overwhelm. There are many options for measurement, and one I’m particularly fond of is behavior change guru Marshall Goldsmith’s method of tracking and accountability in the evening, as covered in his latest book,
"Triggers." Instead of listing each specific goal in a spreadsheet, he suggests reframing the goal by asking, “Did I do my best to________?” each day, and then rankiing the answer on a scale of 1-10. Additionally, he mentions enlisting a reliable accountability partner to review this list at the end of each day and briefly talk over any pitfalls. I was impressed to learn that one of the most esteemed coaches of our time actually hires a coach to phone him each night to go over his spreadsheet! It only takes about 5 minutes, and the benefits clearly outweigh the costs.

4. Put Your Money On It
If you want to put some real skin in the game, throw your money down! No one likes to lose money, which is why I recommend signing up to an accountability program like Stikk, an app that has users define their goal, set a timeline, and then put something at stake, whether that’s their hard-earned dough or their reputation through donating to a charity or a cause they vehemently oppose.  According to Stikk, using a commitment contract triples the goal-setter’s chance of success. If an app like Stikk doesn’t appeal to you, then consider parting with your beans by purchasing a service that supports your resolution. This could include a personal training or coaching package, a gym membership or a race entry packet for a 10km or triathlon.

5. Visualize the Future
Without a clear picture of where you’re heading, how can you reach your desired destination? Being able to clearly imagine where you’d like to be in the future, as well as the person you’re working to become, is paramount to effectively reaching a big goal, particularly if that goal may take years to achieve. I have personally been using visualization to reach my goals for many years, and now lead sell-out workshops on a topic that drives my own life.  Instead of solely visualizing the end goal, I recommend first writing down the steps required to the goal, and actually visualizing each component of the process. For example, ifyou want to open a business this year, map out what it will actually take to do so, from waking up earlier to meeting the perfect business partner or investor to landing your first client. What does that look like to you, and how does it feel?
While visualization isn’t as easy as “The Secret” would like you to believe- explicit action is required- numerous studies prove that having a clear picture of the journey ahead can make a big difference, and athletes are notorious for mentally rehearsing their sport to ensure a winning outcome. If you’d like to experience just how powerful visualization can be while letting the child within come out to play, come join my next Intention Board Session.

Unconvinced? Still need some time to procrastinate? Then check out my top 5 book picks to help you get motivated in achieving your goals.

Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts by Marshall Goldsmith
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill
Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins


What systems have you created to ensure an awesome 2016? What goal gets you most excited this year? Are your resolutions still sticking? I'd love to hear from you! 

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Knock out Father Time With Turmeric Tea

Home Brewed Turmeric Tea 

Home Brewed Turmeric Tea 

Maybe you're at a true place of peace with aging gracefully. Or, perhaps you're like me and you already have your boxing gloves on, in the ring with Father Time and fully prepared to knock him out cold. While exercise- and more specifically, strength training- is one of the very best ways to cheat the clock- what you put inside of your body makes a massive difference as well.

Turmeric, a common medicinal "super spice" used in traditional Asian medicine for over four thousand years, is a fantastic natural anti-aging and anti-inflammatory agent due to the natural phenol curcumin, which gives turmeric its beautiful yellow hue. 

A recent review issued by the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University concluded that due to "its demonstrated chemopreventive and therapeutic potential, curcumin, the bioactive extract of turmeric, promises a great future in human clinical studies designed to prevent and/or delay age-related diseases." Three other studies made similar conclusions, and also found that turmeric was shown to be a preventative in post-menopausal breast cancer. 

In Okinawa, Japan, large amounts of turmeric tea are consumed, and it's no wonder that Okinawa is also known to have the most long-lived people in the world! 

Needless to say, I've been adding turmeric to my daily diet. Alzheimer's disease and arthritis both run in my family and turmeric is shown to help prevent or slow both. Being in my mid-thirties, I have the (mis)fortune of battling acne spots and wrinkles simultaneously and, guess what? Turmeric decreases fine lines and wrinkles while acting as an antiseptic. 

Try this simple recipe for turmeric root tea, which I'm sipping as I type this: 

Ingredients:
1/4 cup fresh grated turmeric root
2 tbsp. of fresh grated ginger
4 cups of water
lemon and honey to taste

Directions:
Finely grate the turmeric root and ginger root, and add to 4 cups of water in a pot on the stove. Bring to a boil and strain. Add lemon and honey to taste.

Sip slowly and enjoy! Do you have a natural anti-aging remedy that's working for you? If so, share it in the comments section!

If you missed my post on weightlifting as the Fountain of Youth, you can check it out here: http://tangramfitness.com/blog/2014/1/6/seeking-the-fountain-of-youth-head-to-the-weight-room

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Bodyweight "Belfie" Blaster Workout

I'm feeling a bit cheeky today, so how about a Bodyweight "Belfie" Blaster workout?  You've probably heard of the latest Internet craze by now- a "Belfie"- or a butt selfie, made popular by Instagram sensation, Jen Selter. While you may not be keen to post a photo of your buns online for all the world to see, this Bodyweight "Belfie" Blaster routine will get your rear in gear and, if done regularly, picture perfect as well! 

All of these exercises are included in boot camp sessions every Wednesday, when we focus on glutes and legs. Come join us! RSVP aimee@tangramfitness.com 

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