Tag Archives: Goals

How to lose ten pounds of gym guilt

how to lose ten pounds of gym guilt(1)

The trend in affordable gyms has made it so much easier for many people to exercise year round.

It has also expanded the problem many people have with a gym membership  – gym guilt!

In trying to get more exercise, you might be tempted to join a gym because it’s only $10 a month.    As you may have discovered, your exercise motivation depends on A LOT of factors so getting to that gym might be not so easy.   You may be busy right now and just cannot fit it in.    Often, when trying to lose weight, walking into the gym feels like a spotlight is shining on your extra weight. It’s just too embarrassing to go right now.   You might wait until you feel better about your body and then you will start.

The bigger problem with these low cost memberships is that they are not expensive enough to make you end the membership if you are not going.  When things calm down a bit, or when you lose some weight, you will go, so why cancel it?     In the meantime, that membership fee on your credit card statement each month is a constant ‘weight’ on your mind. Its a constant reminder that you are not exercisign the way you ‘should’.

(No, I am not reading your mind, you are just not alone in this. I see it all the time!)

Lets talk about how to lose the weight of that gym guilt.  Here are some questions to ask yourself so you can finally make peace with using, or losing your gym membership.

  • Is it the commute? Does it take more time to get to and from the gym than its worth?  If your time is limited, no matter how inexpensive the membership, you probably will not to choose to spend your time on a gym commute on a consistent basis.
  • Is it the environment? When you walk into the gym, how do you feel?  Happy to be there or counting the minutes until you can leave? That initial instinct about the gym is so subtle, you may not realize it is the reason your brain finds excuses not to go.  Either find a way to make it more comfortable for you or find a new place to exercise.
  • Is it the people?  There is a definite vibe in each gym.  Some are welcoming and friendly in a very authentic way.  Some are ‘friendly’ in a “my boss told me to say hello when members walk in so I am going to flash a fake smile and say a cool hello” kind of way.  Some gyms are meant for people with very definite exercise goals. If they are not the same as yours, you may feel unwelcome, no matter what you do.  Either give yourself a pep talk reminder that the attitude of others is not your concern or find a more welcoming place to exercise.
  • Is it equipment overload?  It seems that the less expensive the gym, the larger and more daunting it can be.    If you feel overwhelmed by the equipment choices in the gym, know that much of that equipment is not useful anyway.  Find the machines right for you and  stay focused on that.  You don’t need to do everything that is in the gym.  Get a comfortable routine going and do what you enjoy most. (well OK more than the sauna and massage chairs!) When you are ready for a change, learn only one new machine at a time to stay out of overwhelm.
  • Is it too crowded when you go?  Rush hour times at the gym are about as much fun as rush hour time on the highway.  If the crowds are getting in the way of efficiently enjoying your gym time, and you cannot go at another time, seek alternate routes to exercise.
  • Is your body not ready yet?   Some types of exercise are not great for starters.  The elliptical for instance starts at a higher intensity. If you are just starting out you are likely to feel like a failure in about two minutes flat.  Group exercise classes can be motivating but they also are more likely to make you do too much too soon. Gain skills in listening to your body before joining a group. Choose the types that feel best for your body to start and gain some stamina, strength and body knowledge before expanding to other more challenging forms.
  • Is it lack of know-how?  There is no time in adult life that we learn how to exercise correctly.  If you don’t know how to exercise, you are not lacking some skill that everyone else has.  There is a lot of useless exercise information available out there, much of it based on what is marketable, not how your body is designed.  If it does not feel good, it is not good for you.  If you are a UMassMemorial Weight Center patient, contact me to chat about how to strengthen your exercise know-how

Some times the healthiest decision is to let go of the gym membership and exercise at home or someplace else.  Most importantly, lose the gym guilt, it’s is not helpful for your mind or your body.  There are plenty of other options out there and exercising at a gym is not right for everyone.   Find a way to make it work or let it go.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

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by | April 17, 2019 · 7:13 pm

Exercise motivation from an unlikely source

How calorie burning makes it harder to lose weight(12)

This article gives a surprising yet research backed perspective about will-power and making changes that stick.  It is pretty clear that our old way of  making exercise a habit works against us.    If you think exercise has to be hard, and you just need more self control to make yourself do it until it becomes a habit, there is a much more effective way.

We’re using tools that aren’t only weak; they’re also potentially harmful. If using willpower to keep your nose to the grindstone feels like a struggle, that’s because it is.

It turns out too, this way also puts a drain on our health

Those who were better at using self-control did have more success when it came to resisting temptations, but at a cost to their health. Their bodies suffered not only from increased stress responses, but also from premature aging of their immune cells.

What is this unlikely source that is better for our motivation and our health than good old fashion self control?   Fostering emotions like gratitude, compassion and awareness of your own strengths has a better track record for both sustaining motivation and for promoting health.

This is one of the most challenging mindsets to change about exercise.  From my experience the belief in grit, willpower and self discipline comes from the place many of us learned about exercise – through sports.  Think about it, athletes make up the majority of our images and messages about exercise in our culture.    They have amazing self control and discipline and achieve amazing levels of fitness.  How could that model steer us wrong?

An athlete has plenty of reasons to push through and stay disciplined – the competition, team mates, coaches, records – all of these external motivators drive willpower.   We ‘regular folks’ don’t have all of those, so we replace them with other external motivators –  weight goals, challenges, competitions, social media, and accountability partners.

The research is pretty clear though.  Trying to make yourself have more discipline and willpower is stressful and not built to last.   That stress strains health and energy.  It works, but it is just not sustainable, nor is it helping with exercising for long term health.

The easier and more lasting way to motivation for exercise is to  practice the skills of gratitude, compassion and pride (awareness of your personal inner strengths).

If your New Years Resolutions have faded, it may be time to dust them off and look at them through the lens of our updated understanding of lasting motivation.  You could:

  • Keep a gratitude journal, writing down one thing each day that you are grateful for about how your body moved that day
  • Practice a brief self-compassion meditation a few days a week, so you are practiced up on your skill of self compassion for those times you might use self criticism to make you motivated to exercise.
  • Do a Strength Survey to raise your awareness of your inner strengths and how you can use them to keep you motivated to exercise when life tries to get in the way.

How to you use these tools already to keep yourself motivated?  What else could you do to move away from trying to have more willpower to applying these positive emotions to help you keep moving and stay well?

Keep Moving, Be Well,
Janet

 

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by | April 2, 2019 · 6:04 pm

Why all the hype about heart rate? Part 3

How calorie burning makes it harder to lose weight(8)

This is the last part of our series on heart rate.  Check out blog #1 and blog #2 for the full story. 

We have been looking beyond heart rate to see what is really going on in your body with cardio.  This ‘behind the scenes’ look is important because it lets you take charge of self-monitoring your cardio, so it feels right for your body.  When you know what is happening during cardio, it is clear that your breathing level, not your heart rate, is your best guide to getting good cardio exercise for weight loss, health and well-being.

When exercise feels light to moderate, your muscles are able to use oxygen to produce enough fuel. However when exercise starts to feel more and more challenging, it means your body is no longer able to produce energy using oxygen and needs to use other ways to produce energy.  This source of energy production is not as long lasting, so unless you slow down, fatigue will soon make you need to stop moving to let your body catch up.  

The more oxygen your body can use, the easier it is for you to keep moving without getting out of breath or tired and needing to stop or slow down.

The purpose of cardiovascular exercise is to build stamina in your whole cardiovascular system,  so you can move for longer periods of time without stopping.

When the level of an activity reaches a point where your body can no longer use oxygen to produce energy to fuel muscles, it has to go back to creating more energy through the process that does not need oxygen. The downside of using this non-oxygen requiring system is that it produces carbon dioxide. If levels of carbon dioxide get too high, your body starts to shut down, so getting rid of that carbon dioxide is really important. .

When you feel uncomfortably short of breath with exercise, it is because your body is getting rid of carbon dioxide, not because your body is trying to get in more oxygen. When you feel that uncomfortable shortness of breath, it means your body is producing energy in a way that is not sustainable. Its a sign you are not going to last very long at that level of movement. You either need to slow down, so your body is not using so much energy to fuel muscles, or stop so your system can catch up.

How do you build stamina so your body can use more of the long lasting oxygen using system for fueling muscles?  Simply getting your heart rate up will not make that happen.  Moving your body at a level that your breathing is at a moderate to comfortable challenge for an extended period of time, and repeating that on a regular basis will improve stamina. 

You could do this in three 10-minute bouts a day, two fifteen minutes a day, or three thirty-minute sessions a week. The key is consistently challenging your whole cardiovascular system to help your body build the equipment needed to provide fuel for your muscles in a sustainable way.  After about three days, your body starts to lose what it has started building, so do some cardio at least every three days.  

In the end, that consistently with sustained movement at a moderate breathing level will make  everyday activities are easier for your body so you have more energy left over for the activities you enjoy!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet


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 | March 12, 2019 · 7:50 pm

Ready for a Resolution Reset?

February has become the month for taking another look at your New Years Resolutions. Have you noticed there are more and more adds now in February for weight loss programs, gym memberships, and diets? We know that those who started out the year with a sprint toward a goal are by now losing steam. Reality sets in. Oh yeah, my life is a bit full and I don’t have time for what it takes to reach that big lofty goal. Time to make it more realistic.

I have a good friend who is a career coach. Her advice is to wait until February to set goals for the year. She recommends taking January to recover from the end of year craziness. It gives you a some distance from the previous year, so you can use it to inform you about what you want the new year to be about.

I like that idea. It is more humane. It allows some space to breathe and reflect. What is the rush anyway?!

Are you ready for a resolution reset? Fast forward to a year from now. Imagine it’s February 2020. What changes do you want to see in yourself, your life? What do you want to make sure you keep in your life this year? What is no longer serving your well-being and needs to go?

Here is the best part. You don’t have to worry about the answers. Let the questions hang around in the back of your mind as you go through your week. This mindset is enough to help you see what is working and what you need to change to be able to enjoy life a bit more.

What does this have to do with exercise? Your body and brain are ‘use it to keep it systems’. Every cell in your body – muscle, bone, connective tissue, nerve – are adaptable. All parts of you are made up of cells that adjust each day to what they are given. Think about that for a moment. You are made up of about 35 trillion cells! Each one of them can potentially improve when you exercise. They adapt to when you don’t move and when you do.

One perfect example is bone cells. After about 20 years old your bone mass is at its peak. That means that you are at risk to start losing more bone cells than you are producing. When you contract your muscles during strength training exercises, your bone cells get a signal to produce more bone cells. When your muscles don’t pull on your bones, more bone is lost than produced. Use it to keep it!

Enjoy the ‘pause’ this week. Check in on what is most important to you about your well-being. Then set your mind to exercise in a way that gives you more of what you want in the coming year. Then step confidently into the rest of 2019!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | February 12, 2019 · 6:12 pm

It’s that time again! Spring Training!

Copy of bake bread(20)Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox and to all the fans out there!  Quite exciting.

Well, the Red Sox get four months until Spring Training starts.  But what about you?  When will your Spring Training begin?

If you have been following this blog for a year or more you know what I will suggest.  Start your Spring Training this weekend!  Why?  Because when the days start getting shorter, its natural for your daily physical activity level to drop as well.  The loss of strength and stamina that naturally happens when we are less active is quite invisible. It is often only seen on that first nice spring day when you want to go and do all those great outdoor activities, but your body has other ideas!

You know that the way to avoid that humbling spring awakening is to keep moving through the winter.  When you live anywhere with weather like we have in New England, calling your winter plan “Spring Training” can be just what you need to embrace winter as the time you get ready for spring.

So, lets take that energy from the Red Sox win and turn it into a plan for staying energized to keep moving all winter long.  Write down your winter plan based on what you have learned from past winters about what does not work and what works to keep you moving.

In spring we can celebrate by enjoying the long days outdoors again.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | October 29, 2018 · 8:18 pm

How to listen to your body

bake bread.pngWhen the battery on your cell phone is low, you search for a charger so your phone does not lose power.  When your data is running low for the month, you probably take action to conserve data usage.  When your cell phone screen cracks, you might work around it for a while but eventually, if you want to get the most from your phone, you  replace it.

When your body is tired, sending pain signals, or not able to keep up with a certain exercise, what do you do?  Our culture promotes pushing through pain.  It encourages distracting from discomfort.  The media implies that doing less is whimping out or not worth it.    No pain, no gain, right?

Hummmm?? I’m wondering?  Do we treat our cell phones better than our body?   When the cell phone tells you it is tired, injured or can’t keep up  – you take notice and give it what it needs.  Of course!  Trying to make it work harder, when it clearly needs some attention would just be silly, right!?   Why then, do we think pushing our body through pain and fatigue will help it?

Yes, if you are training for competing, you need to push through discomfort to stay competitive.    However, if you push your cell phone to its limit, you will be replacing it sooner than expected.  There is a reason the average age for Olympic athletes is 24.   The body is not quite as easy to replace as a cell phone.  If you are exercising to live better for longer, listening to your body is a key to getting what you want from exercise.

Listening to your body means paying attention to it. It means knowing that those warning signals, like pain and fatigue, are signs something needs to change.  There really is no such thing as a “good sore” or “good pain” with exercise for health and well-being.  Listing to your body means knowing that pushing through is not going to make it better or give you better “results”.

There is a fine line here.  Challenging your body will help it get stronger and more efficient.  Pushing past challenging to uncomfortable is not a plan for lasting health, fitness and well-being.  Pushing to uncomfortable is for short-term results.

The key is, in order to challenge it in the most efficient way, with the least wear and tear, know that what your body is telling you each moment is the most accurate and up to date information available.

It makes sense. But why is this so hard to do?  Because it is goes against what our culture says about how to get the best “results” from exercise.  Because the media all too often mixes up exercise for competing and exercise for well-being.  The trick is knowing what results are you looking for?  Short term fixes or long-term benefits?  If you want lasting results, tune out any exercise programs that promise “quick and amazing results”.

When it comes to exercise, let’s be smarter than our smart phone!  Listen to your body and it will thank you with more lasting and reliable health and well-being.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

 

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by | August 13, 2018 · 7:31 pm

What is yoga?

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Often, I am asked the question, “what is yoga?”

As a certified yoga teacher and exercise physiologist I love answering this question, because yoga is so much more than a form of exercise.    Yoga is one little word with so many approaches and interpretations.

The word yoga means “to unite”, to bring together all the parts of you – thoughts, emotions, body and heart to the present moment.   The purpose of the movements in yoga are to prepare your body for meditation, so your thoughts are less likely to be distracted in the past or future when meditating.    Five thousand years ago, it was understood that for our thoughts to calm we need to move first. 

Therefore, the movements in yoga are not about making your body look a certain way.  The power of the poses are in the mindset with which you do them.    Forcing your body into a position it is not ready to do and toughing it out, or criticizing yourself if you cannot do it well, is not yoga.  Moving your body into a position with the intention of listening to it, being kind to it,  by finding the level that is just challenging enough to hold your attention in the present moment is yoga.

Depending on how you do those movements, yoga can improve stamina, strength, balance, mobility – we can’t really put it in one category of fitness because it depends on how the movements are used.

But it is all yoga as long as you are moving in the present moment as an act of kindness to yourself.   It does not matter if this is done in a chair or on a yoga mat . It does not matter if you sweat.  It does not matter if you are very flexible.

“You can’t fail at yoga” is what I tell all my classes.   I find we need the reminder often because we tend to assess our ability to do an exercise based on our “performance”.  Because yoga is based on your mindset as you move, you cannot fail.  Yoga reminds us to shift our attention to how it feels on the inside, not how it looks on the outside.  Sometimes that shift happens easily, sometimes it takes a constant reminder to come back to the present moment and practice listening to your body.  This is why yoga is called a “practice”, not a “perfect”.

If you have ever felt like you “failed” at yoga, it was not yoga.  There are many yoga videos and classes that are designed to work with your body by using a chair or modifying poses to find what works best for your body right now.  Seek an instructor that teaches yoga by the true definition of the word.

Next blog we will answer “is yoga good for weight loss”?

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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.

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

 

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by | March 26, 2018 · 6:25 pm