Tag Archives: Weight loss

Is that fitness expert right for you? Three questions to ask yourself.

Most people struggle with getting enough exercise, but not because there is a lack of information. All you have to do is open a magazine, scroll through social media, look in the self-help section of the bookstore or do a quick internet search and you can get answers to just about any question about exercise. In this sea of information, how do you know who to listen to as a guide? Here are three questions to ask yourself when you get advice about exercise:

What am I looking for from exercise?

Exercise is one word with several purposes. You could exercise to:

  • improve athletic performance
  • achieve a certain ‘ look’ in your body
  • improve your health and function in daily life

Although you could get a bit of all three results from any form of exercise, it is difficult to get what you really want unless you exercise specifically for what you want most. Its just the way our body is designed; you get what you train for. Getting really clear about what you want most will help you narrow down the search for an expert in that type of fitness. Is looking better more important to you than feeling better? Is athletic performance more important than staying healthy as you age? These are essential questions to ask yourself before you even search for information.

Exercising for weight loss is tricky though because weight loss is not a goal, its a method for getting what you want. You might want to lose weight perform better in sports, to look better, or be healthier or function better. I have not met anyone who said they just want the scale to go down but they don’t care about how they feel, or how they function at that goal weight. This is why weight loss is not a goal, its a method for getting what you want. You might want to lose weight for all three reasons but you need to ask yourself which is most important to you about weight loss so you find the right advice to get it.

What is their experience and training?

Exercise is a field of scientific study. Just like any other field, there are specialties and levels of training. Since anyone can call themselves a fitness trainer or expert, you need to do a bit of digging to find out about their experience and training. Look at their bio, do an internet search, and if possible ask them where they went to school, what their degree was in, what types of certifications they hold. If their qualifications are based on their own personal story but no official training, be wary. If their career has been focused on training athletes and your main goal is to be healthy, that is not the expert for you. If you are looking to lose weight to be healthy and function better and you have some medical concerns or pain limitations, you want someone who knows medical as well as exercise science.

Is exercise within their scope of practice?

Scope of practice is a term used to keep professionals from wearing too many hats. For example, as an exercise professional, nutrition is out of my scope of practice. I took a nutrition course and have worked alongside some amazing dietitians, but I am not qualified to give you advice about your diet. Nutrition and exercise are two humongous fields of study with constant research to stay up to date about. This information is larger than one person could realistically master. When someone gives advice about many fields of study, you miss out.

This can seem a bit over the top because we are so used to getting advice about exercise from many sources; from chapters in books about being successful in business to improving mental health. ‘Exercise regularly’ is great advice, but the details are best left to someone who specializes only in exercise. Ask yourself if the person telling you how to exercise is out of their scope of practice. If so, head to a book or a site by someone who focuses only on the type of exercise that is right for you.

There is one last question that is helpful “what is my gut telling me?” You need to trust this person because they are helping you take care of your body. When you heed their advice, listen to your body above all else, because you are the best expert on how it is feeling. Only you know if what you are doing is giving you what you want from your investment in exercise.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | September 15, 2020 · 9:42 pm

You have permission to listen to your body

This is a brief post with a very important, message about exercising for weight loss success.

This week, at the end our telehealth visit, a patient said to me “thank you for giving me permission to listen to my body!”

At first I was so glad she heard the message about how to use what her body was telling her to find the right amount of exercise.

The more I thought about that statement though, the more uneasy I became. It occurred to me how many times I see that relief on a patients face when I tell them they can listen to and trust their body. It’s like the stress of exercise is finally lifted and they are free to just enjoy moving their body in its current condition.

The messages that your body is something to ignore or overcome are not meant for you, the person trying to lose weight, and be healthy. They are meant for the athlete, the military professional and anyone else who needs to push their body to the limit to compete.

I want you to know that you have permission to ignore all of those messages that your body is a problem, an enemy you need to fight against in order to lose weight. You can ignore the advice to distract or that you need someone to push you to get through a workout. Its simply not meant for you.

If you are trying to lose weight so you can be healthy, enjoy more of life, and live longer, listening to your body is the only way to get there and stay there! The irony is, you wont feel lazy or have to push yourself to get to the gym any more. When you listen to your body, you will find ways to exercise that are sustainable, that you want to do because they make you feel better now. That is the way to exercise for weight loss success (that lasts)

So from this day forward, you are granted permission to listen to your body when you exercise. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different!

Keep Moving, Listen to Your Body, and Be Well,

Janet

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by | September 1, 2020 · 9:48 pm

Attention All-or-Nothing Exercisers; this is your big chance!

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Is exercise is the first thing to go when life gets stressful?  Do you feel like 10 minutes of walking or one set of strength training does not count as a ‘workout’?  Do you think unless you can’t work up a sweat or don’t ‘feel it’ the next day, why bother? These are all signs of being an all-or-nothing exerciser.  The good news is, when you exercise, you give it your all.  The challenge is, those stressful times when you need exercise the most to keep your body and mind calm, you think you can’t exercise.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us all many challenges.  For many regular and dedicated exercisers, the stress has shifted them into the ‘nothing’ state of being. This is an unprecedented time.  With so many parts of our lives changing at once, it defiantly has been a challenge for many to maintain an exercise routine.  This time has also presented us with many opportunities.  If your exercise routine was derailed by the change in your lifestyle, I invite you to use this as a chance to get off that roller coaster of exercise motivation once and for all.  Here are some facts that can help shift your mindset from all-or-nothing to the more sustainable and success-producing mindset of ‘something is better than nothing’.

It only takes…

  • ten minutes of exercise to churn up those great brain chemicals that make you feel better mentally when you exercise.
  • one set twice a week to of a good quality strength training program to improve strength and once a week maintains your hard earned strength
  • 15 minutes three days a week of cardiovascular exercise to maintain stamina

Clearly, something is way better than nothing!

There are three big myths that keep the all-or-nothing approach alive:

  • Myth: You need to work up a sweat:  sweat only means your body is cooling itself off. It does not mean you are burning more calories or fat.  Sweat is a byproduct of some types of exercise in some people, but if you don’t sweat it does NOT mean exercise is not worth your time.
  • Myth: No Pain, No Gain:  Pain is also a byproduct of working your body harder than it was ready to do. Being sore the next day does not mean you got a better workout, it means you did too much too soon. This saying was meant for athletes, to remind them that pain is part of the process. For you and me, who just want to be healthy from exercising regularly, pain is not required.
  • Myth: Go Big or Go Home:  This saying too is for athletes or others who are exercising for a competitive edge.  Those of us who want to be healthy, we can go ‘small’ and know it’s enough.  In fact, several studies show that a few smaller bouts of exercise spread out throughout the day can have a better result for benefits like blood sugar control and building bone strength.  Go small and go often could be our motto!

So,  for all you all-or-nothing exercisers out there, this pandemic creates a tremendous opportunity to leave that stressful roller coaster behind and strengthen your  ‘something is better than nothing’ mindset.  Rather than seeking bigger and better challenges to get you motivated to start again (and again and again), take on  the ULTIMATE challenge of exercising in this ever-changing thing we call life – being a CONSISTENT exerciser.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

PS:  If you have transformed yourself from an all-or-nothing exerciser to a something is better than nothing highly consistent exerciser, post how you did it in the comments section.

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by | August 4, 2020 · 9:55 pm

How to keep your new exercise habits in the new normal. Part 1, how much is enough.

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Healthy in the new normal blog series: 

The one thing every one of us has in common right now is that our lifestyle has changed.  For some, it is filled with more time demands and less time for self care. For others, the social distancing has been a great opportunity to do more self care, catch up on home projects and enjoy moving in the outdoors with family.   We will use this next blog series to take a look at what changes you want to keep and which ones you need to adjust to allow you to keep moving and be well for the duration of this outbreak, and beyond.  


In the past two blogs in this series, we have discussed how to have a healthy at home workstation and how to use exercise to take a healthy break from screen-time.    If you have been able to exercise more because things have slowed down during the COVID-19 outbreak you may be wondering if you will be able to keep it up as things open up again.  Let’s take smart advice from motivation and exercise science to learn what you can do to ensure you keep moving in the new normal.

How much is enough exercise?

This is an important question. That feeling that you are not doing enough is exhausting and is what drains motivation to keep going.  The answer needs to go beyond weight loss because exercising to burn calories can feel like a never-ending chase. The answer is guided by exercise physiology (the science of how the body responds to exercise), as well as what is important to you about exercising.   

Instead of exercising to burn calories, consider that the purpose of exercise is to improve the function of your body at any weight, so you can do what you want and need to do with more ease.  This way, you will  get what you want in the end without wasting time.  Basically, to keep our body able to do the everyday activities and have energy and strength left over for fun activities, we need a combination of strength, stamina and mobility.

  • Strength: The ability to move (your body and objects) against gravity.  This has to do with the muscles but also your nervous systems ability to tell those muscles how to do movements like lifting from the ground, climbing, lifting over head, pushing and pulling.  Doing strength exercises that mimic these movements, 2-3 times a week with gradually increasing resistance so the movement is challenging between 8-12 repetitions, for 1-3 sets is enough to keep your strength.  Even doing one set of each exercise has been shown to work.  Knowing that one set can work means you can do a shorter strength session on two days a week and still maintain your muscle and bone strength as well as metabolism when life gets busy.
  • Stamina: The ability to move your body for extended periods of time without getting tired and needing to stop.  Stamina is build through cardio, moving continuously for more than 2 minutes at a time at a breathing level that feels sustainable (moderate to comfortable challenge).  You can improve or maintain stamina in three thirty minute bouts a week, or the equivalent, (10 minutes six days a week).  As long as the movement is continuous and keeps your breathing at that moderate to comfortable challenge level (not uncomfortable), you can keep your stamina at a level that allows you to move without getting tired easily.
  • Flexibility: The ability to move your body freely without resistance, stiffness or tightness.   This is best done in small bouts thorough the day. As we mentioned last week,  stretching is a perfect way to take a healthy  break from screen time or any sedentary activity.  On days you are active, stretching at the end of the day can help reduce stiffness the next day.  Stretching is most effective when it does not hurt.  Pain causes more stiffness and resistance. So gentle mindful stretching works best.  Daily stretching in small bouts can help you feel good and reduce tension held in your body from stress.

Put it all together an you have complete exercise plan in less than two percent of your total time each week.

  1. Three days a week for thirty minutes (or the equivalent in 5-15 minute bouts) of moving continuously at a breathing of moderate to comfortable challenge.
  2. Twice a week strength training that incorporates movements of daily life, at a challenging but not painful resistance 8-12 repetitions, 1-3 sets each.
  3. Daily stretch breaks when doing sedentary activities (IE: TV, computer, etc) every 30-60 minutes for a few minutes of total body stretching and for a few minutes after times you are physically active.

Doing this consistently is enough to build and maintain your strength, stamina and flexibility at any stage in your weight loss journey.

Because your body is a use it to keep it system, exercising regularly makes sense.  This level is certainly not very time consuming and a worthwhile investment when you know it keeps you healthy and functioning well.

But when life ramps ups, how will you stay motivated to take the time to do even this little bit of exercise?  This is where motivation science comes in.  In the next blog we will talk about research backed strategies you can use that are known to make exercise habits stick.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | June 30, 2020 · 5:08 pm

More screen time? How to use exercise to stay well.

 

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The one thing every one of us has in common right now is that our lifestyle has changed.  For some, it is filled with more time demands and less time for self care. For others, the social distancing has been a great opportunity to do more self care, catch up on home projects and enjoy moving in the outdoors with family.   We will use this next blog series to take a look at what changes you want to keep and which ones you need to adjust to allow you to keep moving and be well for the duration of this outbreak, and beyond.  

Because social distancing is a key strategy for controlling the spread of COVID-19, many of us have started to meet with friends and co-workers remotely online.  The last pandemic in 1918 did not have this luxury.  We are fortunate to live in a time where technology can help us stay connected and do our work.  The downside however is more time looking at a screen which limits the movement of our whole body for more time each day.

You might have noticed in in greater tension in your neck or hands, more back pain or headaches.  When connecting in person,  movement is built in. When staring at a screen to connect, not only is movement limited, but your body is pulled out of alignment.  Your head weighs about 12 lb.  When you are looking forward, your head gradually migrates forward too and that pulls your spine out of alignment. (not a chiropractic alignment, but a positioning of your body so your spine is lined up).  Its normal to slip into a slouch.   But, as we discussed last week, sitting or standing out of alignment creates more work for muscles in your body  and those muscles then have to let you know they are over working.  The way they do that is through pain and stiffness.

When your screen time is stressful, it also strains your body.  Stress prepares your body for movement.   Like revving the engine in your car when it is not moving, sitting and being stressed wastes energy. This is why you can feel like you ran a marathon after a day of working on your computer.  Your body is working and draining your energy because it is ready to move.

But even if you do take walking breaks, your body is still missing something important – whole-body movement.   Walking is a limited movement.  Every part of your body that moves needs to move on those screen time breaks.   Taking whole-body movement breaks, with movements for everything from your eyes to your feet is how exercise can help you stay well even with more screen time.  Here is how:

  • Start by closing your eyes and bring your attention to your body and your breath to help you relax as you do the following movements
  • Look at the farthest distance you can, then move your eyes (without moving your head) side to side, up and down, all around.  Hold on to something as you do this if you tend to lose your balance easily
  • While sitting or standing, take off your shoes if possible, and move the joints in your feet and ankles
  • Bend and straighten your knees slowly all the way
  • Move your hips around by moving your legs in all directions one leg at a time sitting or standing and shifting your weight around through your hip joints
  • Face a wall, chair or table and hold on as you move your spine slowly in all directions
  • Hold on with one hand to something stable and then move your other arm through your shoulder joint, elbow joint, wrists and fingers
  • Sit or stand holding on to something and move around through your neck, lifting your head slowly up and down and side to side

Research supports the importance of using exercise to be healthy, both in one longer bout several times a week and by moving in several short bouts sprinkled thorough each day.

  • This study of adults ages 64-84 found sitting time was directly connected to lower muscle mass and those who took more frequent breaks from sitting had a  45% lower risk of sarcopenia- the loss of muscle mass that is strongly connected to longevity and health.
  • This study found that having lower back pain was connected with sitting time.  As sitting time went down, so did lower back pain.
  • This study found that breaking up sitting time every thirty minutes with three minute bouts of simple strength training exercises resulted in lower blood sugars after meals.

Bottom Line:  To stay well in this new normal that involves more screen time, one of the most beneficial things you can do is get up every thirty minutes and move each part of your body from your eyes to your feet.

Keep moving, be well,

Janet

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by | June 23, 2020 · 6:40 pm