Staying Strong: Finding an Activity that works for you

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

 

Beginning a new exercise or activity routine can seem daunting – especially if you were in the service where physical activity was part of your every day routine. Whether time has slipped away and a few years of inactivity have caught up with you or a fitness plan is completely new, you can approach this in such a way that makes the transition easy and effortless.

 

Make a Plan – take yourself to your local dollar store and buy yourself a notebook. A composition book works well. Why? Whenever you start a new endeavor, it is helpful to write down your goals – short term and long term – and track your progress.

 

Create Fitness Goals – what do you want to accomplish? Whether your goal is to walk around the block five consecutive days or run a marathon before you’re 70, these should be personal and specific to you. Don’t let anyone else determine your personal fitness goals! Up until about three years ago, I was an avid gym rat who loved to lift weights. Some significant all-day-sickness during my first and second trimesters of pregnancy #4 put a quick end to my daily gym-going activities. Since then, between work and children, my gym-going has been sporadic at best and it has been almost two years since my last real workout. My current goal: locate sneakers. My next goal: drive to gym. It’s ok to start small. Really small.

 

Make Note of Your Starting Point – this ties directly into your goals. Three years ago, I could walk in and easily jog a 5K on the treadmill. For my new starting point – I am going to walk for 15 minutes and see how far I get. For Day 2, I am going to add 2 minutes and try to walk just a little faster. Knowing your starting point (and writing it down) helps you to measure your progress. Strength isn’t always measurable on a scale and it is easy to take for granted that you have made progress.

 

Pick an Activity that Fits – for me, what I love the most is weight lifting. Weightlifting is not for everyone, though. I worked with a personal trainer who preferred resistance bands and body weight exercises. Here is a brief list of ideas to help get you started:

 

Swimming – the perfect exercise, being in the pool engages your muscles, is great for your heart and puts next to no stress on your joints. Whether you have arthritis from life or trauma to your joints (I have an arthritic ankle thanks to a break 13 years ago – I still have two pins left in my right ankle joint), the weightless water activity can take the pressure of those joints and bones. Water is naturally resistant, so activities like water aerobics help burn additional calories with minimal impact.

 

Yoga – I keep telling myself that I’m going to get into yoga, but the more I try it, the less I think it is for me! However, it is a wonderful activity for my children, so we have started doing some Yoga poses before school and before bed as a way of calming and centering our thoughts. Yoga is low-impact and very gentle on the body. Movements tend to be slow and deliberate, poses held for extended periods to allow for a maximum stretch.

 

Pilates – if you are anything like me, you didn’t know that there was a difference between Yoga and Pilates. Pilates focuses on core strength and stability and is low-impact.

 

Bodyweight exercises – you have everything you need to start this workout. Climb the stairs – push up off of a wall. Slow-sit into a chair (squats). Try a plank – or slow crunches. Engage those abdominals!

 

Resistance Band Training – You don’t need a gym to take advantage of resistance bands. Most big-box stores have a fitness section and you are likely to find a variety of resistance bands to help get you started. They are a great way to add a degree of difficulty to an exercise that might start to feel easy.

 

Cycling – whether you want to dust off the bike in your garage or find a cycling studio, biking can be a great way to get the heart pumping without stressing out your joints. A slow starting pace can keep your exercise low-impact and you can build as you feel ready.

 

Walking – get a FitBit, lace up your sneakers and hit the sidewalk. Walk for 10 minutes and see how many steps that gets you, then add to it the next day. The best part – walking is free!

 

If you are still struggling on how to get started, you might benefit from purchasing a few sessions with a personal trainer. A personal trainer will be knowledgeable in what exercise and activity program might best fit your likes and lifestyle.

 

Activity is so important – and finding something that suits you is a big key to your success!

 

Have you had success in implementing a workout routine? We would love to hear what worked for you! Are you a personal trainer who would like to share some tips of your trade? Submit your story and send your ideas to Kris@militaryconnection.com.

 

Healthy and Fit: Getting and Staying in Shape over 60

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

There is no doubt about it – the more you do in your 20s, 30s and 40s, the stronger you will be in your Golden years. However, it is never too late to get and stay in shape! The physical benefits of even a small amount of exercise will amaze you!

According to the CDC, daily physical activity will help maintain the ability to live independently. As we age, falling and breaking bones is a real fear. Strengthening muscles will absolutely help increase stability, which will, in turndecrease the chance of falling. Do you take blood pressure medication to regulate hypertension? According to Heart.org, more than 46% of American adults are on medication to manage blood pressure. The recently revised guidelines recommend that blood pressure should be less than 150/90. If you are over that number or on medication, the benefits of weekly exercise would outweigh the possible inconvenience of driving to the gym!

While diet is critical for managing weight and diabetes, just a little bit of exercise in your routine may increase your ability to stay off of medication. More than 100 million Americans have Type 2 Diabetes, so the disease is running rampant and exercise and a healthy kitchen are the two best defenses. Regular physical activity can also slash your coronary heart disease risk. Moving your body is good for all of your body! Healthy bones are important – but so are healthy joints! Incorporating movement, activity, and exercise into your daily routine can greatly increase your overall mobility and diminish signs and symptoms of arthritis.

So many of us need to keep up with kids or grandkids. We want to be able to tour the ruins of Pompeii or walk along the beach. Whether we are 35 or 65, we want to be able to hang with the younger crowd and keep up. Implementing a regular activity – even if it is just walking around the block to start – will help make all of those activities easier on your bones, muscles, and joints.

The benefits don’t end with the physical – the emotional and mental benefits start to stack up quickly. People new to a physical routine will rapidly feel better, from head to toe, as the body releases endorphins.

ALL Adults can benefit from physical activity. If you are looking to add physical activity to your daily routine, here are some things to remember:

  • Find an activity that works well for you. Swimming is great for your entire body, but if you don’t like the water, then it isn’t the right activity for you!
  • Activity doesn’t need to be strenuous or high impact. A daily walk around the block is a great way to start.
  • Daily activity is key. Sporadic activity is better than none, but true health benefits are achieved when your schedule is regular.
  • Start slow! Walk around the block every day this week. Next week – make it two blocks.
  • Implementing a physical activity routine doesn’t have to be expensive. Not everyone can afford a gym membership. Use soup cans as weights to get your arms moving. Time your walk around the block to determine your “personal best” time. If you are ready for something a little more strenuous, go up and down the steps! Your home is full of items that you can use on your personal fitness journey.
  • The more you do, the better you will feel.
  • Star small and set achievable goals. Something is better than nothing!
  • Write things down and keep track!
  • Be safe, be smart and don’t forget to make sure your doctor is on board with your new plan!

 

It is never too late to start making your life and health better! Why not start today?

Mission Essential: Soft Skills & Your Job Search

By Alan Rohlfing

 

Soft skills. Whether you’re a supervisor, business owner, military leader, or employee, no doubt you’ve heard how important those are in the world of work. They’re defined by some as an individual’s ability to sense, regulate, and respond in a constructive way to other people’s ideas…as a way to explore resolutions to issues, problems or conflicts with others…and as a way to exercise influence and build trust. Organizations with an inherent appreciation of those skills often see their value reflected in the bottom line, and those that work in the Human Resources space will tell you that it’s the application of soft skills, or lack thereof, that keeps them busy. That said, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that there’s a great deal of attention on soft skills in the job search process, from the resume to the interview and beyond. Knowing how to emphasize your soft skill strengths can mean the world to a hiring manager.

The standard that was: historically, the goal of most resumes was to show – on paper – the hard skills that job seekers could bring to an organization, typically through education or experience. And for sure, those hard skills, those technical skills, remain a critical element that companies need in their ranks. The ability to learn the job, retain that knowledge, and perform tasks that meet or exceed expectations are essential for organizations to compete and succeed.

More and more companies, however, are placing great importance on soft skills in the workplace and their role in the overall culture of the organization. Leaders find that soft skills matter even in ‘hard’ disciplines…that it’s the interpersonal skills, the bedside manner, the ability to innovate and collaborate…that can give a company an edge in their market. Because of that, many employers are offering (or requiring) more training and allocating more resources on soft skills in the workforce, with some even admitting they give preference to them over hard skills. Studies show that companies with a focus on soft skills have higher retention, higher employee engagement, and improved business results.

On the other hand, workplace cultures that don’t value those soft skills, traits, and attributes …tend to reap what they sow. Companies that foster poor leadership soft skills like rudeness, hostility, and disrespect find that employees are less creative and produce a lower quality of work. Overall, good people leave the organization and the bottom line suffers.

What exactly are those soft skillsets that employers are looking for? Some that are common throughout many civilian organizations include communication skills, conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, the ability to work as part of a team, and time management. But what about for those of us from the military community? Back in November, I penned an article for this blog that identified my top 25 reasons that employers hire Veterans. I could have just as easily named that article the “Top 25 Soft Skills that Employers Want Today!” That list included things like leadership experience, performance under pressure, and a strong work ethic. And discipline, attention to detail, and a respect for procedures and accountability. And a commitment to excellence, a history of meeting standards of quality, and the ability to conform to rules and structure. Get the picture?

Soft skills, as great as they are, are very subjective. They are some of the hardest to master and are very hard to quantify, with no easy, standard measure of success. How do employers find out if a candidate that looks good on paper has any of those soft skillsets that might make them the most qualified for the open position? Most likely during the interview, where there’s an opportunity for personal interaction and follow-up questions. Be prepared for behavioral and situational interview questions, those that are open-ended and that allow you to draw on past experiences or talk about your approach to hypothetical scenarios. Be prepared for questions like:

 

– Describe a situation where you found you had a serious problem. What did you do to solve it?

– Describe when you had to present a proposal to your superiors. How did you do and why?

– Tell me about a time you did more than was required in your position.

– How do you develop short- and long-range plans?

– Have you ever given instructions that someone didn’t follow? What did you do about it?

 Did you ever have to deal with a co-worker who wasn’t pulling his or her weight? What was your approach to the situation?

– How do you confront underperforming employees?

– Give an example of an especially difficult project you had to complete. What was your role?

 

Soft skills. At the end of the day, these are the reasons why employers want to hire from the military community, why they value military experience in their workforce. Take inventory of what you bring to an employer’s open position. Incorporate those soft skillsets and experiences into your resume, your cover letter, and answers to potential interview questions. If you can make the connection between those skills – skills that you possess – and essential elements in the job description, you’ll be well on your way to making a positive and lasting impact on that employer’s workforce. Best of luck!

 

Do you have any experiences you’d like to share about your military-to-civilian transition? Anything that might benefit others in our military community, facing the same challenges? If so, email Kris@militaryconnection.com and tell us your story…