Tag Archives: Weight loss

Ready? Set? Spring!

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (14)

This weekend, we turn the clocks ahead, which means more daylight at the end of the day.  This is awesome news for those of you who (like me) crave outdoor time and feel more energy to move when the days are longer.

Before we jump into Spring, there is an important question that will make next Winter easier to manage.

What was your biggest takeaway from your exercise routine this past Winter? 

It does not matter if you exercised or not, there is still some great information to be gained by asking this question right now when it is fresh in your mind.

Take a moment right now to write down what worked well and what you want to do differently next Winter.  Tuck it away in your calendar for October 2020.   When the days get shorter, I will remind you to pull out that list and we will make a plan for your Spring Training 2021.

If your Spring Training did not go as planned this past Winter, forgive yourself, learn from what happened, and then give your body time to adapt before jumping into all the Springtime activities.

If your Spring Training went well this past Winter, get out there and enjoy the benefits of your dedication this past Winter.

Either way, keep learning about how to keep moving all year long.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | March 4, 2020 · 4:59 pm

How can I exercise to lose weight when moving is painful?

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (11)Many people want to lose weight because their body is in pain and are hoping weight loss will help. They know eating right and exercising are keys to weight loss, but when movement is painful, it seems even more overwhelming to lose weight.    If this catch 22 sounds familiar, let’s take a closer look to find how you can exercise  even when you are dealing with pain issues.  Ironically, it is not about pushing through pain to get to your goal weight. Here is why:

  1. Pain is complex and involves signals from the brain. The level of pain does not equal the level of injury, or any injury at all.   Evidence of this came from the fact that people who had a limb amputated still had pain in that part of their body. Its called Phantom Pain and inspired neurosciences to investigate the source of pain symptoms.
  2. Usually, pain is a signal from your body to your brain to tell you there is something wrong and it needs your attention. However, acute (initial) pain and chronic (long term) pain are different and need to be treated differently.
  3. The term “good sore” does not make any sense.   There is absolutely no evidence that muscles need soreness to get stronger, nor that when you are sore you are burning more calories, fat or making more progress.  Muscle soreness is only a sign of doing too much too soon.

The first thing to remember about pain is that it creates a ‘negative habit loop’ for your brain about exercise.  That means, if exercise leads to pain, it is much more likely your brain will start making excuses why you cannot exercise.  Pushing your body to do more than it is ready to do, only gets you more stuck.

The irony here is that when you learn to listen to your body and work with it, you end up exercising in a way your body and your brain can do long term.  That consistency with exercise that leaves you feeling better in your body, rather than worse, and is the way exercise will help you with weight loss and health.

The details of how to do that depends on many factors including where you have pain, how long you have had it for and the cause of the pain.

If it is arthritis pain, you need to find the sweet spot of moving often enough so your joints don’t stiffen up from lack of movement, but not doing so much that it increases inflammation and causes more pain.

If it is an autoimmune illness like fibromyalgia, starting at a much lower level that what you think you should do, and using a slower progression is the way to work with your body.  Also knowing different types of exercise you can do for different stages of the illness.  For example, stretching during a flare up so you maintain mobility and help lower inflammation.

If it is back pain, knowing how your core is designed to function is essential for moving in a way that reduces your pain.

The specifics here are beyond the scope of this blog, but the overarching message is to listen to your body by using mindfulness; presence with kindness.  Starting with that mindset, you will be more willing to listen to your body and give it what it needs to help calm the pain signals.

Living with pain is not easy, to put it mildly.  Thankfully there is so much great new information from scientific research that has given us a better understanding about pain.  The more you understand your body, and the more self compassion you can have for the situation you are in right now,  the better you will be able to move away from pain and toward more comfort and function in your body.   For all of you in this situation, please know exercising without pain is possible.  I have seen it happen over and over again. Stay curious, mindful and most importantly be kind to yourself.  

Keep moving, be well

Janet

 

 

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by | February 26, 2020 · 4:58 pm

Spring Training Check In: What direction are you heading?

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (10)

In November, we started Spring Training.  Staying active and consistently exercising through the winter is challenging.  It becomes more motivating when you realize you are doing it for a purpose, like to enjoy the activities you like to do on that first beautiful Spring day.

With are only five weeks until the first official day of Spring, it’s time to check in. Which direction are you heading in?  Are you on the path to a Spring that starts with soreness and limitations or are you on the path to a Spring that allows you to do the activities you need and want to do with ease?

If your motivation has taken you off the path to an easy and enjoyable time in Spring, lets renew your energy for Spring Training.

Close your eyes and fast forward to the first beautiful day in Spring.  Ask yourself the following:

  • What do I want to be able to do in Spring?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What do I need to do that activity – more strength, stamina,  mobility?
  • What is one thing I can do starting today that will tell my body to build more of that over the next five weeks?

The great news is, exercise does not need to take a lot of time, it only needs to be done consistently and your body will adapt.  Starting your day with one set of an exercise that you know will improve your strength.  Taking five to ten minutes before dinner to dance or walk.   Before going to bed each night doing that one stretch that you know feels so good.  These are so small you might think they are not worth it, but think again.  It’s the natural laws of nature that they will work.   Just like snow is designed to melt at a certain temperature, your body is designed to adapt to what you give it.   Let it know you  are in Spring Training and it will keep you on a path to a more enjoyable season ahead.

Keep Moving, Be Well, Think Spring!

Janet

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by | February 11, 2020 · 8:58 pm

How our supervisor keeps moving strong into her seventies

Linda Guerin is our supervisor here at the surgery clinic at UMass Memorial. Outside of work she is active with her grandchildren.   I have known her for many years and her energy level has not wavered.  Her secret?  Healthy eating and exercise!  Read below about what she does for exercise and how she keeps moving strong in her seventies!

Team blog series (5)

What do you currently do for exercise? I currently work out 4 nights a week and have been for over a year- I take a variety of classes including Zumba, P90x, and HIIT class.

What has been your biggest challenge with exercise in recent years?- I need to have both my knees replaced but it does not prevent me from attending classes

How did you overcome that challenge to keep moving?  I just keep moving, I was doing a fitness program with weights for over five years and decided it was no longer working for me and my knees and joined FIT Friendzy Studios over a year ago and I just over the variety of classes they offer and I love to challenge myself.

Why is exercise important to you right now in your life? I’m determined to stay healthy and fit especially the older I get it’s even more important to me. I will be 71 in January. I  work full time and I eat healthy.  Over a year ago I gave up junk food and sweets (sugar) and don’t miss it at all. It’s so important to me to be healthy, you never know what tomorrow brings but it will not be because I didn’t work on my health.  I have also lost 90 lbs since I changed my lifestyle.

I love spending time with my grandchildren and family and friends. I also love to tent camp for a couple of weeks in the summer when I’m visiting my son and family in Michigan. I need to be healthy to do that. I also found a way to exercise while camping. I truly enjoy being active, it’s a big part of my life.  I stay late at work just not to miss my classes. I truly love my life!

Thank you Linda!

Janet

 

 

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by | November 25, 2019 · 4:19 pm

It’s Spring Training Time Again!

Why exercise for diabetes_.png

It’s spring training time again! 

Each year as we enter the shorter, colder days of the year I invite you to take time to think about spring.  First, it keeps us aware that the days will get longer again and the weather improve.  Second, this is the time of year we find more reasons not to exercise, yet it is the time of year we need it most.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer.  Even if you do not have SAD,  it is easy for your mood to drop this time of year.  This, along with the weather and other seasonal challenges puts a drain on  exercise motivation.

Using a spring training mindset about exercise this time of year can be a reminder that it is temporary.  Considering yourself in spring training gives purpose and hope to each and every exercise session.

The fact is, your body and mind area always ‘training’ for something.  Your body is either ‘training’ for less stamina, strength and mobility or more stamina, strength and mobility.  Your body gets used to what you give it.  Since you are in spring training anyway, why not spend this time of year in a way that will make springtime even more enjoyable.  The  added bonus is, exercise is a powerful treatment for the low mood of the season too!

Let’s set your Spring Training plan in motion:

  1. Close your eyes and imagine it is the first beautiful day of Spring.  What physical activities will you be doing?  Brainstorm a list.
  2. What do you need for those activities?  Strength? Stamina? Mobility?  All three?
  3. Choose types of exercise that will build what you need for the activities you want to do.  When you do them, picture how they are helping prepare your body for the activities you want to enjoy in the spring.

This simple act of writing down what you want and your exercise plan to get it, improves your chances of achieving it by about 33% according to one study.   Writing down what you did along the way has also been shown to improve chances of success.   This time of year, we need all the motivational boosts we can get, so take this extra step to write down your plan and progress.

Your mindset matters here too.  Mindful self-compassion is a powerful tool for motivation as well.  I recommend tracking in a way that keeps you present to how what you are doing makes you feel now.  Tracking is a great way to recognize accomplishments of any size, because it is easy to forget what you did for exercise.  When you fall short of your own expectations, use self-compassion to keep you from giving up completely. Use positive self talk to remind yourself this is not about perfection. Something is always better than nothing and consistency is most important.

I will check in on how your spring training is going as winter approaches.  If you need a bit of extra accountability, post your plan in the comments below!

Keep Moving Be Well,

Janet

 

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by | November 13, 2019 · 7:45 pm

Stress and exercise

Why exercise for diabetes_(10)

All you have to do is watch the news, and stress level begins to rise.  Then there are the usual stressors of work and family, plus the bigger stressors that pop up and you have a mind and body that are working overtime.   These mental stressors are part of life, but they can also lead to weight struggles.

Within seconds of a stress response, chemicals (catecholamines) change every system in your body;  Your heart rate increases, blood vessels constrict in your digestive system and your skin, your liver pumps glucose into your blood, your brain narrows its attention to deal with the ‘problem’.

The catecholamines also signal your body to release cortisol.  This chemical suppresses appetite immediately but after some time it then stimulates appetite and the preference for food that is rich in fat and sugar (ie: comfort food).  Cortisol is also known to cause fat to be deposited around the abdomen. Cortisol also increases your body’s insulin resistance, making it more likely those sugars will stay in your blood system.  This chemical also also changes cells in organs in a way that can lead to asthma and eczema as well as pain, gastrointestinal symptoms and panic attacks.

When the stress response is prolonged, it can lead to conditions like: anxiety, depression, type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, hypertension, and heart disease.

When you are carrying extra body weight there are additional factors that can lead to chronic stress too.  Experiencing weight discrimination, having more health concerns and symptoms such as pain and sleep apnea all keep cortisol levels high.

Add to that other factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol use, and some medications like antidepressants and steroids also increase cortisol levels.

This can create a spiral where higher cortisol increases weight and weight gain increases cortisol.  When we think of weight loss as simply moving more and eating less, we miss this major hidden factor that is contributing to weight – stress.   Then, when going on a diet and exercising are stressful, it can speed up this cycle rather than reversing it.

While all of this may seem overwhelming, the way out is closer than we think.   It is found in understanding why your body does all of those changes in response to stress.

When you are in a stress response your body is preparing to protect you by preparing you to move; to run away from or fight a stressor.  We all have heard the stress response called the ‘fight or flight’, and that the problem is that our modern day stressors are not solved by fighting or fleeing the ‘danger’.  The bigger problem is that we have made exercise stressful, reducing the chances it will be able to take you from the stress response back to the state your body can heal and repair.

The answer is found not in more exercise, but instead carefully designing movement time so it is stress reducing by:

  • Focusing on what you are doing, not multitasking to just get it done
  • Moving the way your body was designed (hint: it was not designed to do sit ups)
  • Doing just the right amount for your body now,  not exercising to a point of pain or exhaustion

The fact is, only you know if exercise is stress producing or stress reducing.    It starts with knowing how your body is designed to move, staying away from marketing based exercise programs.   Then listening to your body so you know how it moves well now, at your current shape and size.

It’s not only possible for exercise to reduce stress, it is essential if exercise is going to lead to weight loss and improved health and well-being.

The bottom line is that exercise is the antidote to stress. It is what your body needs when you are stressed in this modern society.  Take time to move in ways that help your body lower your cortisol levels now, and it will thank you by getting back to its job to keep you healthy and well.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Source:

Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals? Eline S. van der Valk et al. Current Obesity Reports(2018)

 

 

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by | September 4, 2019 · 7:11 pm

The weight loss you don’t want

Why exercise for diabetes_(9)

When you are trying to lose weight, every pound down on the scale is exciting.  It’s an affirmation that what you are doing is working.

Or is it?

If the goal is just to lose weight, regardless of your health or how your body feels or functions at the lower weight, then yes, it is working.

But if your reasons for losing weight are to feel and function better, be healthier, live longer and look better, research is affirming the scale is not the best tool.

Weight loss can be up to 30% muscle loss. This the weight loss you don’t want! It turns out, muscle is more about our health and longevity then we ever thought. Here is some of the recent research backed connections between muscle loss and health:

  • Joint Replacement:  Patients who had less muscle mass had more complications, slower wound healing, increased risk of infections and longer recuperation after  total knee replacement surgery.
  • Cancer: Patients who had lower levels of muscle mass had reduced ability tolerance of treatment. Patients with less muscle mass having surgery for colon cancer had a higher incidence of both blood transfusion and complications after surgery.
  • Gastric Sleeve:  Patients with lower muscle mass were at greater risk of a leak after having a sleeve procedure for weight loss.
  • Osteoporosis:  The loss of bone and muscle have a huge impact on how a person ages.  Researchers now know that there is a strong connection between loss of muscle and loss of bone.  Researchers are asking we think of muscle loss and bone loss one disease because they know that increasing muscle mass has a direct effect on improving bone mass.
  • Others:  Reduced muscle mass has been connected to increased risk of falling, bone fractures, reduced longevity, fatigue, arthritis, as well as emotional health including depression, anxiety, and social isolation.

The medical name for muscle loss is Sarcopenia and it is now considered a disease.  However, this is not the kind of disease a medication can fix.  Muscle, like the rest of your body is a use it to keep it commodity.  The way to keep it, or get it back if you lost it is through strength training exercise.

sarcopenia

How do you know if you are losing muscle?  Well, that is part of the problem.  Measuring muscle mass has not been quite as convenient as getting on the scale.  Fortunately, researchers have found there is an easier way to test muscle loss. Its called a hand grip test.  It is strongly connected with how much muscle mass you have.  No tool is perfect, but this is one of our best ways to know if you are holding on to your muscle mass as you age and as you lose weight.

Soon, we will be incorporating this test as part of our measurements before and after weight loss surgery to give you another number to see how you are doing.  Since the connection between muscle mass and health has the potential for being a reliable measurement of true progress with weight loss for health, these numbers are ones to pay attention to as you lose weight.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

 

Sources:

  1. The impact of sarcopenic obesity on kneeand hip osteoarthritis: a scoping review Godziuket al. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (2018)
  2. Preoperative grip strength measurement and duration of hospital stay in patients undergoing total hip and knee arthroplasty A. J. Shyam Kumar. European journal of orthopedic surgery, July 2013
  3. Is sarcopenia a better predictor of complications than body mass index? Sarcopenia and surgical outcomes in patients with rectal cancer Colorectal Disease  SB Jochum, 2019, 
  4. Preoperative Detection of Sarcopenic Obesity Helps to Predict the Occurrence of Gastric Leak After Sleeve Gastrectomy, Martin Gaillard, Obesity Surgery August 2018
  5. Osteoporosis and sarcopenia: two diseases or one?, Jean-Yves Reginster, Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, Jan. 2016
  6. Interaction of nutrition and and exercise on bone and muscle, Endocrinology 2019
  7. Sarcopenia FDA report, April 2017
  8. Sarcopenia is a disease –  why are we looking for a medication.? The Conversaion

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by | August 27, 2019 · 7:30 pm