Capco NA Health and Wellness
2016 New Year's Resolutions - Special Edition
Resolution #1 - Don't Make Resolutions
Original Publication Date: December 1, 2015
As the year 2015 winds down in the midst of the holiday season, we have an ideal time to reflect upon the year that’s passed and the year to come. How’d it go for you this year? Did things turn out the way you thought they would? Did they turn out better or worse? Did you even have a goal for where you’d find yourself now?
Thanksgiving has come and gone and I hope you made a deliberate effort to express gratitude and realize everything you can be thankful for. If not, you should do so today and not wait another year. Holidays, year-end, and even birthdays provide nice demarcations throughout the year that in a way force us to stop, lift our heads up from our daily tasks, and see the bigger picture. The end of the year certainly seems to do it more for most folks than any other time.
When we re-launched the health and wellness committee, our first survey asked if you made resolutions and, if so, if you’d stuck with them through May. Research shows that most resolutions are broken in the first few months of the year, and almost all have given up by the summer. You can resolve to stick to your resolutions by following a few easy steps.
When it comes to actually making a resolution, state it as you would any goal by making it SMART: Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Believe it or not, above all else, focus on making your goals attainable and realistic. While it’s great to shoot for the stars, you’ll become discouraged quickly when you assess your progress toward a goal that is too ambitious. You’ll also be discouraged if you call them resolutions. Much like the word “diet”, “resolution” has this connotation associated with it that implies “can-be-broken”. So set yourself some new year’s goals.
Ambitious goals are admirable and if you have such goals in mind, break them down into smaller goals that you can attain more easily. By doing so, you’ll celebrate accomplishments frequently each time you reach a sub-goal rather than one time when you reach your primary goal. So promise yourself you’ll run the New York Marathon in November, but sprinkle milestones between now and then to stay motivated and avoid injury!
Once you’ve set weekly or monthly mileage goals, increase your chances of success by involving other people in your quest. Get a running partner and keep each other committed, tell someone or lots of someones about your goal, create incentives for yourself to help you make progress, create disincentives for yourself if you’re motivated by loss-avoidance. There are lots of studies that show that people prefer to avoid a big loss than to get a big gain. You know better than I what motivates you, so pick something that works.
Regardless of your motivation style, it will help a lot if you write your resolutions on paper. You don’t need to show them to anybody, but writing things down make them much more real than merely thinking about them. To be successful though, you must take action – today. Tasks without dates don’t get done. Starting today, make any incremental step toward your goal. Write your progress down alongside your goals and celebrate the mini-victories!
If it happens to be external motivation that you need, but you don’t have anyone to turn to, reach out to a health and wellness committee member and we’ll support you in whatever goal you set for yourself. If you’d like, we’ll publish your goal anonymously or not in the newsletter so everyone knows the commitment you’ve made. Peer pressure can also be highly motivating, especially at a positive workplace like Capco.
2015 is fading fast and you needn’t dwell on what you didn’t achieve. Re-focus for 2016 and treat yourself to the greatness you deserve!
Five Ways to Achieve Your Fitness Goals in 2016
1. Set a SMART goal
The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. In a previous article, we mentioned how more general goals such as “I want to lose fat” are a good start but it would be even better to say “I want to lose 15 lbs of fat by May at about 1 lb of fat per week”. This goal fits the SMART system and will be easier to track progress as time progresses. Be sure to write your goal somewhere to make it more serious.
2. Create a plan
Now that we have our SMART goal defined, we need a plan of action to achieve it. Taking the goal above as an example our plan will need to cover two major points, nutrition and exercise. For the nutrition piece, it would be best to start with an online calorie calculator to find out how many calories you will need each day to lose 1 pound every week. Once you know that number you will need to put a nutrition plan in place that will have you eating roughly that number of calories daily. Of course that’s only half the battle, next up comes exercise. Ultimately weight gain/loss is a factor of calories in vs calories out, exercise will help us eat more (which is ironically always the better way to lose fat) and still remain in a caloric deficit. Start with a SMART sounding goal for exercise like “Every Monday/Wednesday/Friday I will do 30 minutes of cardio exercise on my favorite machine”. This makes it easier to stick to the plan than just saying “I’ll go to the gym 3 times per week”. What will you do when you get there? Worse yet, it’s very easy to turn that into “I’ll go tomorrow”. We have all been there, tomorrow never comes.
3. Make it a priority
Every year starts with the best intentions. I always feel a renewed sense of time. A lot can happen in a year and I can accomplish so much. Come December I’m usually halfway there, I’ve attained some things and fallen short on others. A year doesn’t seem so long in hindsight and now I’m back to planning for next year. The thing that frustrates me most about my unattained goals is that I essentially told myself “that thing you want to do isn’t a priority”. I definitely had the time to work towards it, but I didn’t plan well enough and therefore had nothing to measure against. It became too easy to push working on that goal to tomorrow, and now the year has passed by and I have an unreached goal. Time is precious for all of us, in an increasingly busy and connected world it feels like there is less and less time to go around. This is of course not true, we all have the same 24 hours to work with. Getting to the gym even for a half hour can be tough, but if we have a well-planned goal that we make a priority, those 30 minutes won’t seem so elusive next year.
4. Don’t be afraid to revise the plan
The human body has a remarkable ability to adapt to a large variety of stresses placed upon it. Unfortunately this makes attaining fitness related goals more difficult. What worked wonders at first eventually only works a little, and then frustratingly not at all. Don’t let this demoralize you! Ultimately it means you’ve done everything right, but now you just have to switch things up a bit. This is where a nutrition strategy like carb cycling could come in. Or for exercise, maybe you could add a Saturday or Sunday cardio session, or turn one of your Mon/Wed/Fri sessions into a more dynamic high intensity workout. Mix things up, but keep measuring progress! If you notice your fat loss continues then you know your revisions were successful, if not, that just means to keep revising! Remember, just because the plan needed to be tweaked it doesn’t mean it was a bad plan! This is exactly how it’s supposed to work.
5. Find creative ways to reward progress
Reaching a goal is a reward in and of itself, but the road to doing so can certainly feel long and insurmountable at times. Every now and then, it’s good to reward the little things. The small week to week progressions that ultimately adds up to the goal itself. Most people turn to eating their favorite junk foods when it comes to rewarding a successful diet plan. This certainly can work, but far too often people overdo it and undo all of the progress they have been working weeks to attain (this can happen in as little as a single sitting). Maybe you or a loved one has a birthday early in the year, you can say “if I can lose 10 of my 15 lbs of fat by then, I’ll have a piece of cake to celebrate”. One reasonably portioned piece would be a great reward, but remember a reward for good nutrition doesn’t have to be food related! You could go shopping for something you’ve wanted or take a day off from the gym and do something special to celebrate. The possibilities are only limited by what you actually enjoy doing! Be creative in 2016 and find new and fun ways to reward your progress and you’ll be smashing through your fitness goals in no time.
The Simplest Way to Save Money
Just write it down. Keep a money journal for one month. Writing down any goals, habits, and activities will automatically improve whatever it is you're tracking - with no extra effort required. Why? By making yourself aware of your day-to-day activities, you'll live more mindfully knowing that you're going to write down what you're about to do. This works great for eating, time management, sleeping, exercise, weight loss, media consumption, or anything you want to do more of or less of.
Keep a simple log of all of your daily spending to the penny. No rounding off, no estimating, no cheating, no judging. After about a week or two, you'll see categories of spending emerge that will give you a hint about the analysis to come. I'm sure you can guess the categories right now, but that's not the issue. By writing everything down, you eliminate the perceptions you have about your spending and replace them with the realities of your spending.
Writing is a powerful tool. We mentioned it in the resolutions articles above. The medium doesn't matter. You can use pen and paper, a word doc or spreadsheet, a memo on your phone or an app. As long as you capture every penny, you'll gain an accurate portrait of your cash flow. You'll likely spend less than you did last month when you weren't keeping track, but we won't know for sure. Once you have your data at month-end, the decision to make any changes or not is entirely up to you. It's not our place to wag our fingers and tell you what you should and shouldn't do with your money, but we'll gladly offer tips and suggestions to help you meet any goals you write down for yourself.
The Future is Clear When You Focus
Publication Date: January 7, 2016
Happy New Year!! For most of us, it’s back-to-reality after a short or long year-end break. There’s so much to do and seemingly no time to do it. We’re producing quality deliverables for Morgan Stanley and for Capco as internal contribution. We have personal interests that we could probably give more attention to as well. Did you accomplish everything in 2015? How best to get it all done? Divide your time among all your goals and dedicate time to focus on each one.
When you focus on a task, the lack of distraction will lead to much improved results. By giving your complete attention, you’re less likely to overlook details and more likely to provide added value. Last May when we examined mindfulness, you learned how to train your brain to resist distracting thoughts. When we refer to focus, we're really talking about decisiveness, prioritization and action.
"When we refer to focus, we're really talking about decisiveness, prioritization and action"
The client comes first, of course, right? But what about looking out for yourself – number one?! There’s a common lament that says when everything is a priority then nothing is really a priority. However, if only one thing at a time is a priority, everything actually can be a priority. Here’s a process to guide your focus.
First, make an assessment of the big picture. What do you want to accomplish this year? While a year may seem like a long time period that lends itself to an infinite list of goals, it’s really a small chunk of your life. A great way to illustrate this would be a goal to make partner which is a multi-year effort. Another popular example would be a bucket list which people write out as they look out across the span of their entire lives.
Most of us this year won’t focus on making partner or celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary with your spouse, but we can focus on an earlier step in either process if we choose. The focus required is top-of-mind, daily acknowledgement of what you value most. So let’s break it down.
What do you want to accomplish this year that would bring you the most joy and best align with your values? Some accomplishments may be precursors that pertain to long-term goals like we’ve been discussing and some may be stand-alone end goals. It doesn’t matter what they are as long as you’ll be happy making the effort required to achieve them and the achievements themselves. That effort is you taking action. Circumstances won’t fall into place by themselves to deliver your goals to you.
When you have your list, figure out what you need to do this month, this week, today, and even in the next hour if you’re crazy busy. I’ve found it extremely helpful to schedule busy days to the minute when I have a massive list of things to do (fortunately those days are rare). Too much time can be wasted when we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by an overwhelming volume of things to do and don’t know where to start. By deciding where to focus your attention, and when you’ll focus on each task, you needn’t worry about when everything is going to get done.
When we’re worried about everything that needs to be done, nothing gets done. When we’re focused on getting something done, eventually everything will get done. And since you’ve focused on what comprises the “everything” that needs to be done AND decided when you will focus on each item, your tasklist is much more manageable. Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t know where to start – or when”? Pick a “when” and focus.
Remember that “sometime” isn’t on any clock or calendar. Too often we meet an acquaintance and part ways saying “we should get together sometime” and, although we each mean it, there’s little chance of actually meeting up again because neither one of us set a date to meet or to follow-up with dates that would work. To do items without a due date are the items that never get done, or only get done while we’re procrastinating.
So welcome to 2016, the year is still young and you can make it the best year ever by deciding what you will focus on doing, and when you’ll do it. We’d love to publish success stories if you want to share yours for a future newsletter. I’d love for you to be one of those people who tells a success story and ends with “if I can do it, anyone can do it”. Good luck and have a great year!
The Virtues of Ben Franklin's 13-Week Plan
Benjamin Franklin, a printer by trade, is one of the founding fathers of the United States of America. He is responsible for many things that relate to health and wellbeing: he created of the first public library and fire department, wrote Poor Richard’s Almanack, and improved himself by focusing on 13 virtues he thought would make him a better person.
He decided upon his lifelong program in his early twenties aboard a ship crossing the Atlantic. He decided to focus on one virtue each week and track his progress living his life accordingly. At the end of thirteen weeks, he’d start over so that, by the end of a year, he’d have spent four weeks total on each. He continued to track his daily interactions until his death using a simple matrix with the days of the week across the top and the list of virtues down the left column. The tracking sheet in the image below covers one full quarterly cycle.
The virtues were as unique to him as your goals are to you. If you need a tangible reminder that you need not tackle all of your goals simultaneously, Ben Franklin’s method provides an excellent basis from which to craft your own.
For the curious, Franklin put his focus on each of these once a week each quarter:
A busy life can be had without the hectic craziness often associated with it when you know that you’ll address something at a particular time. Creating and following a plan will allow you to be just as busy, but with less of the feeling that you have a million things to do all at once.
Gym Memberships for 2016
Publication Date: January 7, 2016
Last month, Capco partnered with “The Complete Body” gym, conveniently located right across the street from 77 Water Street! Discounted memberships are available through Capco benefits. If joining a gym is on your to do list in 2016, check out “The Complete Body” as part of your assessment.
Whether you select Complete Body or another gym is entirely up to you, and there are specific things you can look at when making your assessment:
1. Convenience – you want to join a gym that’s easy to get to and is available at the times you prefer to workout. Convenience factor also includes the number of other people using the gym during peak hours. It’s worth it to go 15 minutes out of your way to a less convenient gym if it means it will be less crowded when you’re planning to go. Most gyms will give you a tour of the facility before you sign up, try to go during a time you would usually work out so that you can see what a typical crowd will be like. There’s nothing worse than finishing your warmup to find a 20 minute wait for a cardio machine or a bench to open up.
2. Fitness offerings – decide what you want to do during your gym visits (e.g. work with a trainer, participate in classes, use particular types of machines like ellipticals, use free weights). Be sure to take a look at the variety and amount of equipment available. It’s always a good sign to see more than one squat rack, multiple incline benches and tons of adjustable benches. No matter how many “no curling in the squat rack” memes the internet creates, there will always be someone curling in the squat rack. This is an even bigger problem if there is only one squat rack! Also make sure the gym you’re looking for will support your goals. For example if you want to get big and strong but you’re training at a UFC gym with a few weights in the back, you’re probably in the wrong gym! The opposite is also true, just because your gym has a “Kickboxing” class, this probably isn’t enough if you actually want to learn a martial art.
3. Facility – look for what’s available before, during and after your workout such as locker rooms, showers, water, towels, or food.
4. Trainers – Working with a trainer can be a great experience, especially if you’re just starting out in fitness. Trainers are always going to be a large expense. Even at the less “luxurious” big box gyms like Crunch and NYSC, you’re looking at over $1,000 for roughly 3 months of training. If you’re training at a specialty gym (or Equinox because they upcharge everything) you’ll be looking at much more. This sounds like a lot but given the right trainer, it could literally be one of the best investments in yourself you’ll ever make.
5. That said, it’s important to be able to spot a good trainer from a bad one. Firstly, you should look at the education credentials of the trainer. While “book” smarts will almost never translate to effective practice, you do want to see someone coming from a physical education, military, sports therapy, or other sports medicine background. Also look for someone with a certification such as NASM. This shows you that your prospective trainer is interested in training people as a career and they’re dedicated to learning all that they can about that career. Unfortunately, most of the trainers you’ll come across in big box commercial gyms have backgrounds like theater or acting (trust me I’ve seen it all). These are probably not people you’d want to be trained by. While they could have just had a career change, it’s more likely that they just hopped on the fitness bandwagon (admittedly a career choice with relatively low barriers to entry) to pay the bills. Not someone you want to shell out over $1,000 for.
6. Also you’ll want to make sure your trainer actually looks like they practice what they preach to others. Your trainer doesn’t necessarily have to be a fitness model, but they should look the part of a personal trainer. As vain as this can be, this goes back to finding someone who’s interested in fitness as a career and lifestyle, not just a “job” between jobs.
7. When it comes down to their actual approach to training, your trainer should offer to sit down with you before you even start to give you an assessment of your current fitness state. They should listen to your goals and create a plan for you to succeed. Almost anyone can put together a generic, cookie cutter program. It takes knowledge and skill to customize a plan for a specific client. Your trainer should push you and hold you accountable for sticking to the program, remember that they also want you to succeed for their own purposes as well. Think of a tattoo artist, they want to showcase their best work to other potential clients.
A personal trainer wants to train successful clients because it’s really the only way to gauge their own ability as a trainer. This is slightly unfair because a large portion of your success will be resting on your shoulders. As such a good trainer will also be assessing you as a client. You both have to mesh for long term fitness success. Remember that the greatest form of success for a personal trainer should be the client who no longer needs them. We hope you become that client!
Stay Healthy My Friends!
MS Health and Wellbeing Committee Members: