Category Archives: Inspiration

Finding Your Why for Exercise

Why exercise? There are so many reasons:

  • Lose weight
  • Stronger bones
  • Look better
  • Prevent heart disease
  • Manage diabetes
  • Reduce cancer risk

The list could go on for a long, long time.

We all know why we should exercise. But do you know Your Why for Exercising?

Your Why is not the same all the whys we could list. It’s personal, only you can find it. When you do find it though, you know it, not just in your head, you know it in your heart.

Here is an example in a German Holiday advertisement. (Warning: have a tissue ready).

Now THAT is a Why.

So what is Your Why for exercise? It’s is not to lose weight. If that were the why you would not care what you could do or how you felt when that number on the scale magically flashed your ideal weight. Its a sweet moment but if you felt more tired, weak and mentally down, what would be the point?!

The header of this blog is a whole bunch of personal whys. The ability to ski with your kids, play on the floor with your grandchildren, perform in plays again, do all the excursions on a dream vacation, dance at your daughters wedding, have the energy to be a passionate teacher again… the list goes on.

When exercise is missing Your Why, its just a task that is most likely to get pushed down on the list when life gets busy.

When exercise is carefully planned for you to get to Your Why, each movement becomes a statement “I am not willing to live without this one thing in my life anymore!”

Your Why will change, so if you had a Why and it is no longer motivating your exercise routine, time to go back and rediscover your new Why or rethink what you are doing so you are confident it will get you to Your Why.

How do you find your Why for Exercising?

You ask yourself, what do I want from exercise that nothing else will give me?

Write down your answer.

Now, ask yourself:

Why is that important to me right now?

Write down your answer.

Keep asking “why is that important to me right now” 5-7 more times and write down whatever comes to you.

Now, look at your answers. What is the common theme that brings a tear to your eye and some excitement to your heart? What is the one thing in there that is so personally important to you, you are not wiling to live without. That is Your Why for Exercising!

The next step is as important as finding Your Why for Exercising. Plan what to do for exercise so you know it is going to prepare your body and mind to get Your Why. The most important part of this commercial is that this man did the exact movement for exercise that he wanted to do for His Why. If he didn’t, exercise would not have worked for him, and it would not have been motivating enough to get him out in the cold to do it every day!

Exercise works like that. The movements you do are the ones that will improve. Do you need to walk for that dream vacation? Then walk, even if it is just ten feet at a time to start. Do you need to be able to get up and down off the floor to play with your grandchildren, then learn the right way to squat and step up with one leg so your body is able to lift you to standing with confidence.

Do exercises that strengthen the movements that mimic what you want to do, not the ones that tone body parts. If your why has something to do with looking better, go back and ask why a few more times. While its great to look better, but that’s an external why. You need to find the internal, personal why below the surface of looking better to get that kind of motivation to exercise and guidance for what to do for exercise.

Choose a word or image that captures Your Why and keep that front and center so you see it when you are in that moment of choice about exercise. This will help ensure that what you are doing is strongly connected to Your Why for Exercising.

If you are a UMass Memorial Weight Center patient we can figure this out in a session together, so what you are doing for exercise to lose weight is motivating because you know it is the way to Your Why!

Keep Moving, Be Well,


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by | February 2, 2021 · 10:57 pm

Adapting exercise after an injury

Team blog series (1)

Deanna Nole is our Weight Center Coordinator and one of our Dietitians.  She recently fractured her leg and shares her insights about how to keep moving while recovering from an injury. 

What did you do for exercise before your injury?

Before I had my injury, I enjoyed being outside and loved to go hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing. Being outside was always a way for me to deal with stress in my life. Whether it was taking a short walk in the woods or overnight backpacking trips, being outdoors has always helped me to feel good and stay healthy.

What are you doing now for exercise?

Since injuring my leg, I have had to become creative in the ways that I stay active while I am healing. Not only did I have to change my normal exercise routine to include exercises I can do safely that are non-weight bearing such as upper body workouts, stretching, and seated cardio exercises (I am now a HUGE fan of chair Zumba!) but also thinking outside the box on ways to include more exercise. For me, looking at different options other than traditional crutches helped to give me back some mobility, along with making simple changes in my house so I could stay more active.

How has your mindset about exercise/your body shifted as a result of this injury?

I think that one of the hardest aspects of an injury that is not always talked about is the emotional impact that an injury can have on a person, aside from just the physical limitation. As an active person, it was hard for me to see the change my fitness level and ability. But by staying positive, listening to how my body is feeling, and learning to love exercises differently, I have been able to stay healthy while healing.

What is your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My biggest takeaway from this experience is the importance of staying positive during any injury and with a little bit of creativity, you can safely incorporate exercises that you will enjoy and love.

Thank you Deanna!

Keep Moving, Be Well,



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by | October 8, 2019 · 5:57 pm

The exercise mindset shift of a new mom

Inspired by Dr. Gitkind’s story last week, about how he used his fitness to help others, I decided to do a blog series about the real life exercise challenges and successes of UMass Memorial Weight Center Staff. This week I interviewed Anna Grotevant, one of our amazing dietitians.  As many of you know, she had a baby last year.  I asked her about how being a new mom has shifted her mindset about exercise.

Team blog series (2)

What was your mindset about exercise before pregnancy?

Before starting a family I exercised to stay fit and as a social activity. I wasn’t very consistent. I had more time to myself and tended to procrastinate. I didn’t really use exercise as a form of self-care because I had other forms of self-care that were more relaxing. Exercise felt more like something I had to check off on my to-do list. I would go weeks or months without exercising even though it is important to me.

What do you do now for exercise as a new mom?

After giving birth to my daughter a year ago, I spent time recuperating. I stopped exercising completely as I didn’t have the physical or mental energy to think about it. I also felt like I was so “out of shape” that my typical forms of exercise (running /yoga) were out of the question. Once I hit six months postpartum, I started with some walking. I built up from there, and now I’m walking, running, strength training and doing some yoga – usually something every day. I exercise on my own in the evening and with my sister on the weekends (we have “run dates”, which I really enjoy). I also walk on my lunch at work when it’s nice out.

How has your mindset about exercise shifted since having a baby?

My mindset about exercise has shifted. Since I have less time to myself, I tend not to procrastinate. If I’m going to do anything it has to be while my daughter is sleeping, so I get right on it as soon as my daughter goes down. I also have to multitask – I look at exercise not only as a way to stay fit but as a form of self-care and relaxation. I appreciate the time I have to myself a lot more. I’m a lot more gentle and forgiving in my workouts because it’s not about burning calories or running faster, but just about being able to move my body and have some time alone.

What is the biggest challenge about exercising as a new mom?

The biggest challenge about exercising as a new mom is the time that it takes. There’s always something I “should” be doing. Exercising during my daughter’s nap time means I’m not doing any of my household tasks. Having exercise dates with my sister on weekends means I’m not spending time with my daughter and husband.  That can actually make my life feel more stressful, especially if I’m falling behind in my responsibilities or it’s a particularly busy time of life. I try to manage this by prioritizing. I say no to some activities and requests from others so that I can preserve time for the people who are most important to me. I try to incorporate exercise into family activities on the weekends. Most importantly, I try to remember that no one is perfect. I can’t be the perfect mom, wife, sister, daughter, employee or exerciser. I can just do my best with what I’ve got and keep moving forward.

Thank you Anna!

Keep moving, be well,



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by | September 30, 2019 · 8:17 pm

“Exercise is Medicine for a Good Day”

consistency is the holy grail of exercise(1)

This is the patient quote of the week. I could not have said it better myself.  Design your exercise time, no matter how long or short it is, to be your medicine for a good day.  Enjoy!

Keep Moving, Be Well,


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by | April 10, 2019 · 6:45 pm

It’s summer! Stop trying, start playing!

Dive-in-WaterThe drive to work is easier this time of year; no school buses or crossing guards, less cars on the road and, with the exception of the seasonal road construction, it is pretty smooth and enjoyable.   I was thinking this morning how it makes up for the months of traffic headaches with ice, huge snow piles, and more vehicles in the winter months.

Life is dynamic.    The challenging times come and go. The enjoyable times come and go.  Its all normal.  It can seem like the challenges come more often and stay longer than the easy and enjoyable times though?  We are not just imagining things when life seems more challenging than enjoyable.  Our brain has a “negativity bias”. It is set up to look for what is wrong, could go wrong, or did go wrong, in order to keep us safe.  Rick Hanson puts it this way “negative thoughts are like Velcro, and positive ones are like Teflon”.

This effects how we approach exercise.  We try really hard to exercise away what is wrong with our bodies.  We try tricks to fix our low motivation.   We try to fit it into our already full schedules.  We try to push our body to be stronger, faster, better.    With all this trying to fix what is wrong we forget that movement itself has been a resource for celebrating life for all of time.  rwanda-1229760.jpg

Its summer! Time for taking it easy, resting, having fun, enjoying life a bit!   How about we stop trying with exercise and just enjoy moving?  Put on music and dance.  Play with kids.  Walk to discover a new place.

Three years ago I wrote this blog on the health benefits of play. Could it be that all this “trying” is leading us to miss out on the true benefits of moving – to enjoy life a bit more?  What would happen if we stopped trying and start playing?  Simply enjoy moving in any way, for however long, and as often as your body allows you to.  No rules, just move in a playful way.

It might be worth a try.  What we have been doing to “try” to move more has not been working. In the past 18 years the amount of people who get the recommended amounts of exercise has increased from 16% to 20%!  4% in 18 years!  No business would survive with that growth rate!  Could part of the problem be that exercise has become more about guilt, dread, pain, and fatigue rather than  relaxation, recreation, and rejuvenation?

Lets see what happens between now and Labor day if we simply think of exercise as a way to play and enjoy life more!

Enjoy 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.


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by | July 5, 2017 · 6:34 pm