After listening to patients experiences with weight loss over the years, I can say one thing I have never heard: “I re-gained weight, but have not changed my exercise and physical activity level”. Never, not one patient that I can recall has reported this scenario.
Because the two tend to go hand in hand. Lower activity level, increase weight. I am pretty sure you know this first hand.
Now, exercise is not the magic bullet for weight loss. Food habits have to be a main focus for weight loss success. However, physical activity and exercise add a huge boost that is hard to beat:
1)” Wiggle room” in your food intake for the occasional slips and celebrations.
2) Maintaining metabolism, which lowers as one loses weight without doing strength training.
Certainly, a consistent activity level is not a 100% guarantee that you will maintain weight loss – but it is a pretty good bet.
Life, however, is not consistent. How do we keep life from getting in the way?
- Keep your exercise program sustainable: The quick-fix exercise programs may have great results, but if you cannot sustain it, the results will quickly fade. When setting up an exercise program ask yourself, Is this sustainable?
- Plan A, Plan B…: Have at least one back up plan if your scheduled exercise time is interrupted. Schedule Plan A into your calendar. If there is a conflict – don’t delete – reschedule to Plan B. For example, you plan on exercising in the morning for 30 minutes, but hit the snooze one too many times. Reschedule it to two 15 minute bouts, one at lunchtime and one in the evening.
- Use lifestyle activity to fill in the gaps: Lifestyle activity is simply the amount of movement you do during your daily life. Its about taking advantage of those moments when you can take a quick walk, dance for one song, sneak in some exercises. It has been shown to work well for weight loss. Tracking with an activity monitor is helpful here when your regular activity level is lowered for some reason, such as a longer work meeting or caring for an ill relative. Armed with the information from your activity monitor, you can ensure you are burning about the same amount of calories by keeping your step level the same as when you are regularly exercising.
- Use movement to manage stress: With plenty of life stressors to go around, if exercise is your go-to remedy, you will have many reasons to keep moving. In your body, movement is the antidote for the response to stress – so this strategy is a way to naturally work with your body to lower stress level.
- Connect with your “why”: Why do you want to lose weight? Keep physical activity connected to your real, bottom line reason, instead of just exercising to make the numbers on the scale go down. Your “why” is your natural motivation. When physical activity is connected to your own personal “why”, your natural motivation will remain.
So, while it is great to challenge yourself with fitness goals – one of the best ways to boost your odds for lifelong weight loss success is consistency with exercise. Hows that for a challenge?
Keep Moving, Be Well,
Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery. Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center
These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.