Many people hold off on doing strength exercises when trying to lose weight. Some misconceptsion about strength exercises includes:
muscle weighs more than fat
weight lifting will make you ‘bulk up’
muscle turns to fat if you stop exercising
None of these are true. They can cause you to skip one of the most important things you can do when losing weight.
The bottom line is muscle is good! You need muscle to age well, keep your metabolism while aging, women going through menopause and anyone on restricted calories. The scale is will not tell what you are losing. Studies show weight loss without strength exercises is about 30% muscle loss. That’s quite a bit considering the function of your muscles predicts your ability to age well and live longer.
Gaining muscle is not a problem. It generally will not show up on the scale. Conversely , loss of muscle eventually can show up on the scale in weight regain from reduced metabolism.
However, you do want to consider what you are doing to ensure you keep your muscles functioning strong. Your body gets used to exactly what you give it. Strength exercises that mimic movements of daily life ensure you not just hold onto muscle but those muscles are able to do what you want them to do in daily life. Your ability to get up and down off the floor, carry objects up stairs, lift something overhead, etc all depend on how consistently you tell all those muscles how to do that.
So instead of thinking about muscles as weight on the scale, think about them working together to keep you moving well against gravity, as you age and as you lose weight. You likely want to lose weight to feel and function well and stay healthy as you age. Do strength exercises to tell your body what movements you want to keep, and it will thank you with a higher metabolism, lower risk of disease, and better tolerance of aging.
The bottom line is that strength exercises that challenge muscles to work together to practice movements of daily life tell your body you would like to stay physically and metabolically strong as you lose weight and age.
Despite the recent snow here in centeral Massachusetts, springtime weather is not far away. Is your body ready?
Back in the Fall we took time to do a Spring Training exercise plan. Now it’s time to check in and learn from what worked and what didn’t. Why? Because awareness is the first step for lasting changes. When you want to be healthier, feel better and function better through weight loss, the learning never stops. Each season of life brings new challenges and opportunities to being healthy. The change of seasons, especially from winter to spring is one of the best times to learn how to sustain weight loss habits.
Lets start with what went well this winter. Looking back over the past few months, what are you feeling good abou?. This can be in any area of your health or wellbeing, not just exercising. Noticing what is working in one area allows you to apply that to other areas. Jot down what worked well in your calendar in October so you remember to consider doing this again.
Now, consider what you wish you did differently. Keep the mindset of observing with curiosity, with a good dose of self-compassion. What got in the way? Was that a temporary challenge or is it a more long term change for you now in life? If it was temporary, is there anything you woudl have done differntly? If its long range change, what do you need from exercise now? What is possible now?
Also consider if what you were planning on doing was realistic and meaningful. Often we overestimate what we can fit in for exercising. Try reworking it as a range, like 5-20 minutes of walking 3-5 days a week. This allows for exercise to still fit in even when ‘life’ starts getting in the way. Keep it meaningful by connectign it with what matters most in yoru life. Exercising to burn calories so you can lose weight is too far removed from your Why. That connection to what you value most in life is a key to staying motivated.
In your October calendar, write down the insights you gained from what didnt work well this past winter.
Winter can be one of the most challenging times to keep moving . Before you jump into springtime activities, get the most from this is the moment of the year by noting what you learned. Write it down so each witner it becomes easier to stay healthy and ready for springtime activities.
Each year on Keep Moving Weekly we turn the struggle with motivation to exercise through the winter into Spring Training. We do it right before daylight savings time to be ready for that sudden change in daylight.
Spring is that great time of year when you WANT to get out and do stuff! But if you have been hibernating all winter, your “use it to keep it” body says “Nope!”.
This year, let’s add another layer onto that body training, to ensure your Spring Training keeps you mentally and emotionally fit all winter long too.
We are dealing with what has been lost as a result of the pandemic, in addition to the ‘normal’ life challenges. Winter can be a great time to recharge. Exercise that is not just for your body, but for your mental and emotional health too can be an all in one tool you can use to emerge in springtime feeling stronger all over.
Ask yourself what you need most right now . Just brainstorm and see what comes up. Better sleep so you have more energy? Calm anxiety? Feel more hopeful, less depressed? More confidence you can move with less pain?
Choose a type of exercise that gives you that. It comes from knowing how to exercise in a pain-free range, at a level that gives you energy and you enjoy. We often need to get creative, but there are many options out there, so don’t give up hope at this step. If you need help, post a question in the comments and I’ll offer some suggestions.
Put that exercise at a time of day when you could use it most. Maybe at the start of your day, or before dinner, or after brushing your teeth. Think of it like a vitamin you are taking to treat a challenge you are having right now. It may not be the cure, but if it helps even a little, you are moving in the right direction.
REMEMBER: Consistency is more important than intensity or duration! That ‘use it to keep its body and brain’ need constant reminders of what you want to keep. Even a few minutes a day is enough of a reminder!
Before you turn your clocks this weekend, make your Spring Training 2023 plan. Writing it down and sharing it with someone are two ways to boost your self-motivation to put it into action.
Post your questions and comments and let’s support each other to keep moving and be well this winter!