Tag Archives: Ideas

Your body does not use math to solve a weight problem

Copy of bake bread(15)You are eating right and exercising and you should be losing weight.  The problem is, your body does not know this math equation.  In fact it really is not very good at something as predictable as math.  It must  consider all that is happening inside and around you, every moment of every day. Why? because this is its job, to keep you safe and well.  It may not make sense to a brain that likes logic and predictability.   But it makes sense to a body that is fully designed to sustain itself.  Your body is continually working to take care of you.  When there is pain it is for a reason.  When it is holding on to extra fluid, it is for a reason.  When there is fatigue, it is for a reason.

So when your weight loss stalls, know it is for a reason well beyond our basic math equations of calories in and calories out.  When you have to change what you are doing for exercise because of pain or fatigue, know that you are doing so to work with a body that is continually trying to help you.  When your brain and body are working together, both work better.

We like numbers because they are so concrete. We can work with them.  But our body does not go by the numbers, it has something more powerful – the intricate coordination of all cells and systems for the one single cause of keeping you alive.

Listen to your body.  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.



by | September 24, 2018 · 1:00 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




by | August 13, 2018 · 7:31 pm

How to keep exercising through the summer

Blog Title(1)Ahh Summer! The air is just lighter as we all take a collective sigh of relief that winter is over. We can relax for a while and enjoy being outside, recreating, vacationing.

As we do each year here on the Keep Moving Weekly blog,  lets pause and check in on how our exercise needs to adjust to this change in season.   Why?  Because….

Consistency is the holy grail of exercise. 

~ Michelle Segar, PhD

It is the consistency that makes it exercise. Exercise is defined assomething practiced in order to develop or improve a specific capability or skill”  If you practiced something sporadically, would you expect to keep that skill?    It is not how our body works.  Our body gets used to what we give it, in both directions. 

I find summer can be tricky when it comes to consistency with exercise.   We have this greater sense of optimism.  Life will be easier when the weather is better.  Well, parts of it yes.  But there is no denying  some changes in summer that make getting enough exercise a challenge.   Schedule changes, vacations, entertaining, travel and that “its summer!” mindset.  These are all wonderful parts of this time of year, to be enjoyed to the fullest.  We might justify taking time off from exercise because we are more active in the summer. However, we know that physical activity is not exercise.    We want to get to the fall feeling great because we have maintained our fitness level.  The good news it, it does not take as much time to maintain your fitness level.  It just takes some extra planning and attention during those lazy, hazy (sometimes crazy) days of summer.

  • Cardiovascular exercise:  do some form of cardio at least every three days.  If possible, exercise at your usual intensity, even if you can only fit in 10-15 minute sessions to maintain your stamina level.
  • Strength training:   one day a week will maintain your strength, twice a week will continue to improve strength.
  • Stretching:  frequency is important when it comes to stretching. However, Stretching is “portable” enough to do anywhere.  Stretching makes great movement breaks to  avoid the stiffness that comes from being still for a while (like on long car rides).

When the weather changes, its time to put some extra attention on how our exercise changes too.  Keep exercising through the summer by prioritizing consistency.  The payoff is enjoying the benefits of exercise year-round!

Keep moving, be well,


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by | May 29, 2018 · 6:06 pm

The Catch 22 of Exercise


When it comes to the recommended amounts of exercise that we hear all the time, there is a huge Catch 22. Each time guidelines and recommendations are updated, there is more and more evidence about how much exercise can help us live healthier lives.  It should be very motivating.

For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) first put out guidelines  for physical activity recommendations in 2008.  A 2018 scientific report was just released to the public and it will be used for the updated guidelines coming out later this year.   The report highlights some updated findings about the benefits of exercise:

The Scientific Report demonstrates that, across the full age spectrum, regular physical activity provides a variety of benefits that help us feel better, sleep better, and perform daily tasks more easily. The report also demonstrates that some benefits happen immediately. A single bout of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can improve that night’s sleep, reduce anxiety symptoms, improve cognition, reduce blood pressure, and improve insulin sensitivity on the day that it is performed. Most of these improvements become even larger with the regular performance of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity…  There is newly documented health benefits” as well

  • reduced risk of excessive weight gain in adults, children, and pregnant women
  • improved cognitive function
  • a reduced risk of dementia
  • reduced risk of cancer of the bladder, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach
  • for adults who have a chronic disease or condition such as osteoarthritis, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes, a reduced risk of developing a new chronic condition and reduced risk of progression of the condition they already have, plus improvements in quality of life and physical function

We now have more reasons we should increase our physical activity and exercise regularly.  This is where we get into tricky territory, with that word “should”.   More should’s do not lead to more motivation. In fact, the opposite is true.  The bigger our “should” the lower our motivation.

choice-2692575_1280We as humans are motivated by having a sense of choice.  When we are told what to do, we tend to shut down.  Sure, we can tough it out for a while to “do the right thing” or because we “have to” or “make” ourselves do something we know is good for us.  The problem is all of this takes will-power.  As it turns out, will-power is a limited resource because it takes brain energy.  Eventually, we will need to use our will-power for another area of our life, without enough left over for exercise.   This is how “life gets in the way”  and our best plans to “be good” are out the window.

The things we want to do because they are important to us are instantly motivating.  Hobbies, spending time with family and friends, working for a cause you are passionate about, these are most likely instantly rewarding in some way.  Yes of course you want to lose weight and be healthy, but that is not instant enough.  Our brain likes instant positive “rewards” or benefits, a lot!   (which is why comfort foods are so attractive to our brain)

Life is dynamic.  We need will-power for those unexpected changes that are a normal part of life.  Everything from changes in weather to major life changes take will-power to push through.  We can’t rely on having the will-power to do what we should do for exercise in any sustainable way.

Those instant benefits mentioned above are a key. Pick the ONE instant benefit that you want the most each day.  Do you want to sleep better, feel better, elevate your mood or calm nerves?  Pick the ONE that is most energizing now and make THAT your reason to exercise each time. Design your exercise to get those results.  Let’s make exercise motivation easier.  Letting go of the should’s is one of the first steps to exercise motivation that lasts.


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by | April 17, 2018 · 7:47 pm

Is yoga good for weight loss?


Last week we looked at what yoga is (and isn’t).  Let’s look at how yoga may (or may not) help with weight loss.

First, when we are asking if something is good for weight loss we need to be clear what we mean by that.  Many things can be good for making the scale go down, but not necessary “good” for the reasons you want the scale to go down.  As we mentioned last week, there are many different ways to “do yoga”.  Some burn a lot of calories, some not so much.  But we also have discussed that for any exercise to truly help with weight loss, it needs to be about much more than burning calories.

Most people are looking weight loss to make them feel and function better. Feeling and functioning better is truly how exercise helps you reach a weight loss goal.   When we feel better, we are more likely to eat better.  When we function better we are able to enjoy more physical activities with ease.   When any form of exercise makes us feel and function better, it creates an upward spiral that is “good” for weight loss.

Yoga is unique in the ways it helps us feel and function better.  First, it requires mindfulness.  Yoga is set up to help us pay attention to our body with a mindset of being kind to it, listening to it, learning how it functions best.  So yoga can help us develop a healthier relationship with our body; a relationship that may be “strained” from years of weight loss efforts.

Yoga also moves your body in ways it might not do in daily life.  Since we only get to keep the movements we do often, moving in a wider variety of ways means you are more likely to have more, rather than less, freedom of movement as time moves on.

Yoga can reduce the effects of stress on the body and brain, helping with anxiety, depression or just the normal life stress that can sabotage our best intentions with eating healthy.  This can lead to less stress or emotional eating, better quality sleep, and more resilience to stay on track.

As with any form of exercise it is only good for weight loss when it is designed to work with your body’s abilities right now.  The challenge with yoga is that because it is so different from other forms of exercise and daily life activities, it can be more straining than stress relieving.  If the form of yoga you try does not feel right for your body, it won’t help you reach your weight loss goals.   If yoga leaves you feeling worse about yourself it is definitely not good for weight loss (nor it is really yoga).

Fortunately there is chair yoga!  I love chair yoga because it allows us to gradually get used to poses without strain (and embarrassment).  Now, if you have an image of chair yoga as nursing home yoga, think again!   Chair yoga is great even if you have been practicing for a while. There are many great chair yoga videos free online that are worth a try.

So yes, yoga, when it is done in a way that works with (not against) your body, helping you feel and function better, can be a unique resource for helping you reach your healthy weight.

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by | April 2, 2018 · 7:49 pm