November 23rd, 2009
12:48 PM ET

Staying focused on your goals during the holiday season

By Jillian Michaels
Guest blogger

The holiday season is upon us and this time EVERY year I write diet, fitness, and motivation tips about how to not gain weight and let your health spiral out of control. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before so honestly why the heck am I writing about this again?! Did no one listen the last 10 years?

You are not stupid. You know how to be healthy. Eat less and move more. It doesn’t take much to know that a second helping of stuffing and pumpkin pie and yams and biscuits is a bad idea.

You know all the obvious stuff… Eat white meat turkey, not dark. Do whole grain rolls instead of biscuits. Bring fitness DVDs with you if you are traveling so you can workout on the road. Create fun family fitness activities to do together such as touch football instead of sitting around eating or watching TV. And the list goes on…

Let’s get down to the bottom of it. The holidays are a time to be grateful. Grateful for the blessings you have and the ability to create new blessings symbolized by the coming of a new year. However, at a time when we should be celebrating our lives most, we are prone to depression and dysfunction. Eating becomes gluttonous. Family issues become magnified. The gym becomes a distant memory. Stress levels go through the roof and so on.

So how do we create that shift in our thinking, behavior, and overall holiday experience? Desire. The first step is to stay focused in the present tense on the things you want for yourself and in your life. Transformation doesn’t happen in the past or in the future. It happens right now. By focusing on the positive things you crave and deserve, you shift your focus from one of resignation to one of inspiration.

Start by picking a goal. Maybe the one you have been saving for January 1 and begin pursuing it immediately. Every day this season, I want you to wake up and think about that goal and how the actions you take throughout your day will bring you closer to that goal. If holiday parties create temptation for you, avoid them. Find a healthier way to celebrate with your friends like a night on the town dancing. If stressful family reunions throw you off track, set boundaries or stay away. Take a healthy vacation with close friends instead. If the memories of holiday seasons past cause you to feel lonely, channel those feelings constructively instead of destructively. Take them as a sign that it’s time to form new connections. Join a club, support group, or online community where you meet new people and make new friends. And with every decision you make ask yourself this question – “is my choice or behavior in this moment getting me closer to my goals?” If the answer is no, make a different choice.

Some of you are thinking “it’s not that simple. I have to go to my office party. I have to go to my grandmother’s house for dinner where she guilts me into eating thousands of calories. I have to let my in-laws stay with us even though they insult me.” Do you? Do you physically have to? Are you being held at gunpoint to engage in behaviors that upset or hurt you in some way? I bet 99 percent of the time the answer to that question will be no. So stop wasting time and start putting your health first, physically and emotionally. Let’s redefine the holidays as a time of inspiration and possibility one empowered person at a time. And remember, taking care of oneself is a gift to everyone else because everyone ends up having a happier and healthier holiday.

How will you maintain your health goals during the holidays?

Jillian Michaels is a fitness expert and trainer on the TV reality show "The Biggest Loser".

October 23rd, 2009
12:50 PM ET

Motivation secrets from a fitness expert

Jillian Michaels and Dr. Sanjay Gupta at a Fit Nation event in St. Paul, MN

Jillian Michaels and Dr. Sanjay Gupta at a Fit Nation event in St. Paul, MN

Editor's Note:  Four months ago, Dr. Sanjay Gupta began his “Four months till 40” quest to get in the best shape of his life by his 40th birthday, which is today.  Along the way, he checked in with personal fitness trainer Jillian Michaels, who is our guest blogger today. 

By Jillian Michaels
Guest Blogger

Motivation – "a reason for doing something or behaving in some way”. Motivation, it’s one of the most illusive American traits. Many of us can’t get motivated in the first, place let alone stay motivated.

So many of us go through our lives lost. Slogging away at a job we hate, in a body that is unhealthy, living a life that is unhappy. Some of us putting everyone else’s needs above our own. Meeting our “responsibilities” and doing what society tells us we are supposed to. The reason our motivation wavers like a candle dancing in a squall is because we have forgotten how to dream. You see motivation must come from an authentic internal desire to be and have more and we as Americans either don’t feel worth it or don’t feel capable or don’t feel worth it and capable. Sigh…

The way to get motivated and stay motivated is to identify, define, and emotionally connect to your dreams. Your dreams are your eternal motivation. They inspire us to our greatest heights, comfort us through hard times, and bring about the realization of our destiny. They are the first steps towards happiness and success and although dreaming is as natural as breathing, most of us have forgotten how. We are terrified to hope, paralyzed by thoughts of failure, ashamed of our desires and for absolutely no good reason.

Often, when we do get motivated it is a fleeting moment of bravado based in passion, but not practicality. In that moment of daring to try we are frantic for overnight results that will validate our ability to achieve the goal at hand. For this reason we engage in self-destructive behaviors like fasting, yo-yo diets, archaic surgeries where we remove parts of our internal organs. It would seem that nothing is unthinkable when we are in a place of desperation.

Sadly, these types of behaviors have the opposite effect- in some cases resulting in long term damage to our health and subsequently our morale to an even greater degree. Thus begetting the vicious cycle of hopelessness and helplessness that makes our health and happiness elusive.

Here is the good news: You DO have the power to change anything in your life, in any way you choose, at anytime you choose it.

People come to me on “The Biggest Loser” having hit the end of the road. Having tried “everything” imaginable to get healthy they show up weighing 500 pounds, with one foot in the grave. The reason I am able to help them is because I am able to educate them. You see with the proper information you have the ability to make powerful choices that affect positive change. Then, when contestants see results success begets success. Their self image is redefined as a person who CAN achieve and who IS worthy of all the good things this life has to offer. Instead of saying, “Why me? What makes me special? Why do I deserve health, wealth, love, etc?” They leave saying “why not me?”.

If they can achieve this empowered state of mind so can you. Start by writing down your dreams. Then educate yourself on how to achieve them SAFELY and effectively. Take deliberate action with your goals in mind. Then, take stock of your accomplishments and let them feed your self worth and self esteem for when times get tough. Success is a matter of attrition and when you feel your inspiration leaving you, know this: There is an abundance in this world. There are people who are rich, healthy, happy and in love. WHY NOT YOU?

How do you stay motivated?

Editor's Note: 
Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.