Author Archives: keepitmovingweekly2

Moving past plateaus; one patient’s story

Moving past plateaus; one patient's story.png

Mary* came in for an exercise visit last month. She was less than two months post weight loss surgery and she hit a plateau. Her weight would not budge.  Although this is normal, she began to worry she was doing something wrong.

We had spoken about strength training since before surgery  She had not started it yet though.  We reviewed how muscles are the largest contributor to metabolism. The muscles you are not using during weight loss down-regulate, to help your body conserve energy.  She decided it was worth giving strength training a try to see if this was part of the weight loss plateau.  

We reviewed a basic program, designed to help her use as many muscles as possible by ‘teaching’ them to work together in movements, rather than exercises for each muscle group.   This way she was learning to move better too.   We put some extra tools in place to help give strength training the best chance for helping her metabolism.

  1. Presence:  since your brain is what controls muscles, you need it to help you use as much muscle as possible while doing strength training. The more muscle used, the more chance of raising metabolism.  Lifting weights while your brain is doing something else, like watching TV, lessens your chance of using as much muscle mass as possible during strength training.  Your brain is one of the most important parts of your body for building strength.
  2. Consistency: The metabolism effects of strength training last for about 24-48 hours.  Doing strength training every other day helps you keep that metabolism benefit all week long, even between strength training days.  She set an alarm on her phone to go off right after her favorite morning-time TV show.  She has consistently been doing it when the alarm goes off on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  3. Gradual:  Like a plant, your body changes slowly.  Doing too much too soon is a sure-fire way to feel sore, strain your body and tell your brain to avoid exercise at the first chance it gets!  We started by reviewing how the body moves, how the core is part of all movements, and how the brain and nerves control it all.  She spent the past month focused on using light or no resistance in this muscle memory building phase.  By resisting the urge to ‘jump start’ her strength with heavy weights, and found she felt great, and actually enjoyed strength training.

Mary came in today for a follow up after doing strength training in this way for a month.  Her weight was down eight pounds!  The scale told us that this was just what her body needed, to re-activate muscles that had gone dormant to help her conserve energy.

Most importantly, she is feeling great and moving better. She has really embraced strength training with a sense of curiosity and engagement with her body and how it is designed to move.  I believe what made the difference is those three factors – paying attention rather than multitasking, a dedication to consistency, and patience while her body and brain worked together to learn how to move well.

“I always thought of strength training as going to a gym and lifting heavy weights.  I never thought it could be this simple to do at home”  

There are many factors that cause a weight plateau.  Strength training is just one part of the toolbox of things to try to help your body when weight loss stalls.   The beauty is in the details though.   How you do strength training determines if it will tell your whole-body to be strong and function at its best during each stage of your weight loss journey.

Keep Moving, Be Well,


*patients name changed to protect privacy

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by | December 4, 2019 · 4:02 pm

Happy Thanksgiving!

Why exercise for diabetes_ (3)

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by | November 28, 2019 · 4:50 am

How our supervisor keeps moving strong into her seventies

Linda Guerin is our supervisor here at the surgery clinic at UMass Memorial. Outside of work she is active with her grandchildren.   I have known her for many years and her energy level has not wavered.  Her secret?  Healthy eating and exercise!  Read below about what she does for exercise and how she keeps moving strong in her seventies!

Team blog series (5)

What do you currently do for exercise? I currently work out 4 nights a week and have been for over a year- I take a variety of classes including Zumba, P90x, and HIIT class.

What has been your biggest challenge with exercise in recent years?- I need to have both my knees replaced but it does not prevent me from attending classes

How did you overcome that challenge to keep moving?  I just keep moving, I was doing a fitness program with weights for over five years and decided it was no longer working for me and my knees and joined FIT Friendzy Studios over a year ago and I just over the variety of classes they offer and I love to challenge myself.

Why is exercise important to you right now in your life? I’m determined to stay healthy and fit especially the older I get it’s even more important to me. I will be 71 in January. I  work full time and I eat healthy.  Over a year ago I gave up junk food and sweets (sugar) and don’t miss it at all. It’s so important to me to be healthy, you never know what tomorrow brings but it will not be because I didn’t work on my health.  I have also lost 90 lbs since I changed my lifestyle.

I love spending time with my grandchildren and family and friends. I also love to tent camp for a couple of weeks in the summer when I’m visiting my son and family in Michigan. I need to be healthy to do that. I also found a way to exercise while camping. I truly enjoy being active, it’s a big part of my life.  I stay late at work just not to miss my classes. I truly love my life!

Thank you Linda!




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by | November 25, 2019 · 4:19 pm

Why a busy surgeon makes time for exercise

Team blog series (3)

Dr. Perugini is our director of bariatric surgery here at the UMass Memorial Weight Center and an avid exerciser.  In this post, he shares why he makes time for exercise, what he does for exercise, and why it is an important part of his health and enjoyment of life. 

What do you currently do for exercise? 

Usually, I alternate between strength training and running.  I have free weights at home.  I do P90x routines.  I like the different routines.  I like the fact that they work different muscle groups.  They rotate between free weights, body weight exercises.  For me, I feel like I get a nice routine that works on big muscle groups, balance, core strength and flexibility.

I also love running.  I am presently training for a long race; for the last month or so, I focused on running.  This has been all on roads.  I love trail running. Finally,  I go to a great yoga center for classes.

What has been your biggest challenge with exercise in recent years?

Some small injuries.  I have some tendinitis that makes running on roads interesting.   Also, I ran a lot with my daughter.  She has left home to start college.  I felt a little sadness in losing my running partner.

How did you overcome that challenge to keep moving?

I found some directed stretching and strengthening programs that made the pain much more tolerable (Summit Medical Group has some great rehabilitation exercises available on line).  Also, I pay attention to the bevel at the side of the road.  If I run with my right leg on the outside towards the curb, the pain worsens.  If I run with the right leg inside, my ankle feels okay.   Also, if I need to lay off running, I switch to the strength training routines.  Similarly, if an injury keeps we from strength training, I switch to running.  I think it’s good to exercise in cycles anyway.

Why is exercise important to you right now in your life?

For me, it is a great way to relieve stress.  I don’t like to listen to anything when I run, so the run becomes a time for meditation.  I think it is good for me to let my mind wander.  Its great for creativity, too.  A lot of people describe getting their best ideas when they let their minds wander during exercise.

What advice do you give patients who are struggling with exercise motivation?

If we are struggling for motivation, I don’t think we are doing it right.  Exercise should be a time to feel good.  It helps to relieve stress.  There is a good buzz that happens during and afterwards. It should feel like play, and we all need play.  Be playful, and courageous.  Try something new.  Find the thing you love.

Thank you Dr. Perugini!

Keep Moving, Be Well


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by | November 18, 2019 · 3:59 pm

It’s Spring Training Time Again!

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It’s spring training time again! 

Each year as we enter the shorter, colder days of the year I invite you to take time to think about spring.  First, it keeps us aware that the days will get longer again and the weather improve.  Second, this is the time of year we find more reasons not to exercise, yet it is the time of year we need it most.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer.  Even if you do not have SAD,  it is easy for your mood to drop this time of year.  This, along with the weather and other seasonal challenges puts a drain on  exercise motivation.

Using a spring training mindset about exercise this time of year can be a reminder that it is temporary.  Considering yourself in spring training gives purpose and hope to each and every exercise session.

The fact is, your body and mind area always ‘training’ for something.  Your body is either ‘training’ for less stamina, strength and mobility or more stamina, strength and mobility.  Your body gets used to what you give it.  Since you are in spring training anyway, why not spend this time of year in a way that will make springtime even more enjoyable.  The  added bonus is, exercise is a powerful treatment for the low mood of the season too!

Let’s set your Spring Training plan in motion:

  1. Close your eyes and imagine it is the first beautiful day of Spring.  What physical activities will you be doing?  Brainstorm a list.
  2. What do you need for those activities?  Strength? Stamina? Mobility?  All three?
  3. Choose types of exercise that will build what you need for the activities you want to do.  When you do them, picture how they are helping prepare your body for the activities you want to enjoy in the spring.

This simple act of writing down what you want and your exercise plan to get it, improves your chances of achieving it by about 33% according to one study.   Writing down what you did along the way has also been shown to improve chances of success.   This time of year, we need all the motivational boosts we can get, so take this extra step to write down your plan and progress.

Your mindset matters here too.  Mindful self-compassion is a powerful tool for motivation as well.  I recommend tracking in a way that keeps you present to how what you are doing makes you feel now.  Tracking is a great way to recognize accomplishments of any size, because it is easy to forget what you did for exercise.  When you fall short of your own expectations, use self-compassion to keep you from giving up completely. Use positive self talk to remind yourself this is not about perfection. Something is always better than nothing and consistency is most important.

I will check in on how your spring training is going as winter approaches.  If you need a bit of extra accountability, post your plan in the comments below!

Keep Moving Be Well,



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by | November 13, 2019 · 7:45 pm

This dietitian reaps what she sows from exercise

Team blog series

Narmin Virani is one of our incredible dietitians here at the Weight Center.  If you know her, you have experienced her mindful and calming approach to eating.  She brings that same presence to keep herself moving, and reaps what she sows from exercise.

What do you currently do for exercise?

I love walking outdoors in the spring, summer, and fall.  I try to do this three to four days a week if I can. I love hiking on weekends.  I have also been getting into gardening seriously over the last few years, and love it!  I think of it as exercise for the body, mind, and soul, and I highly recommend it.  There’s something about growing food that makes you connect with it very differently.  In our culture, we sometimes look at food as something that needs to be controlled and feared; gardening can make you look at it as something to be nurtured and savored with joy.

 In the winter, I walk indoors, either at the mall, or simply at home, for 30 minutes, two to four days a week.  Walking at home may sound silly, but I find that if I get a 30 minute walk in, I sleep better at night.  I usually listen to music or a podcast while walking, if I’m walking indoors.  If I’m not in the mood for walking indoors, I dance.  I either do Zumba videos online at home, or I simply put on my favorite dance playlist and dance for about 30 minutes.

I also use weight machines at my local gym, an average of once or twice a week, to maintain strength and lean body mass, as I know we lose this as we get older.  I also do gentle stretching for 10-15 minutes most days before bedtime, to keep my joints flexible, and also because it helps me sleep better.

What has been your biggest challenge with exercise in recent years?

I had a shoulder tendinitis injury few years back.  The reason was unbalanced weight lifting – I was over-working certain muscle groups while not properly strengthening others.  Going through physical Therapy for this injury was an enlightening experience. It taught me the importance of listening closely to my body, and of targeting all muscle groups, while preventing injury.  Before this experience, my main incentive for weight-lifting was to have good muscle tone.  After this, it has become more about being strong, and less about aesthetics or “looking toned”.

How did you overcome that challenge to keep moving?

I took a break from weight training. I did my PT exercises at home for a few months until I healed, before I got back to the gym.  I discovered the importance of listening to my body during that time.

Why is exercise important to you right now in your life?

At one point, in my teens and twenties, exercise was a means to getting and maintaining a certain body shape and weight.  As I have got older, it has become more about keeping myself fit, strong, and energized.  My motivation has become more intrinsic and less extrinsic over the years. My biggest incentive is the significant improvement I see in my sleep quality when I exercise vs when I don’t.

Thank you Narmin!

Keep moving, be well,


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by | November 5, 2019 · 3:38 pm

A busy life does not keep this nurse from exercising

Team blog series


Robin Mason is one of our amazing nurse practitioners. Working full time and raising three busy kids has only made her more creative in finding ways to keep moving.  Check out the strategies she shares below.  

What do you currently do for exercise?

My favorite type of exercise is running. I try to run at least 3 days a week. To keep me motivated I sign up for races so I know that I need to “train” for these. The last race that I ran was the Peach Tree 10k in Atlanta , Georgia on July 4th. I ran with a group of friends and it was a lot of fun. On days that I don’t run I try to get a walk in. On the weekend it is usually 5 or 6 miles, shorter sometimes during the week.

What has been your biggest challenge with exercise in recent years?

As with many people having enough time has been the biggest challenge. Working full time and having three busy kids takes up a lot of my time so I have had to be creative with time management! For example, when my youngest is playing field hockey in the fall or lacrosse in the spring there is at least one game every weekend. Instead of sitting in a chair as a spectator I use that time to walk around the field on the track. I can usually get 5 or 6 miles done in about an hour and a half while still watching the game. In the winter if the weather is okay and she is playing basket ball my husband and daughter will drive to the gym and I will run there and get a ride back with them after the game. Thinking about my time management has allowed me to still be able to watch their activities and get my exercise in as well. The other change was switching from Planet Fitness to the YMCA so the whole family can go. At the YMCA everyone can find something to do whether it is shooting baskets, walking the track, using the weight room or swimming.

Why is exercise important to you right now in your life?

Exercise has become even more important for me as I have gotten older. I think it is so important to keep moving so that as I age I can be the best version of myself that I can be. I think exercise helps to prevent some of the difficulties people can have later in life with mobility. It sets a good example for my kids for sure. Most important it makes me feel good!

Thank you Robin!

Keep Moving, Be Well,



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by | October 30, 2019 · 5:06 pm