Tag Archives: Weight loss

Balance, falling and weight loss success

After my shower yesterday, I stepped one foot out to grab a towel, and as I was moving back into the shower my foot slipped. It was that slow motion “oh my God, I really am going to fall and die in the tub”. There was a little floundering, and then it was over… I actually caught my body in a back bend position – I didn’t hit my head or bang up anything, and today I am feeling no pain or strain. Yay!!

UMass Memorial Weight Center Patient

This was a Non-scale Victory (NSV) from a UMass Memorial Weight Center Patient. She attributes her ‘success’ with sustaining a slip in the bathroom to her regular strength and stretching program.

A Non Scale Victory is a term we use to highlight the benefits of all the nutrition and exercise changes made along a weight loss journey that do not show up on the scale.

There are many NSVs that go unnoticed. This is a perfect example.

One might think it was luck that kept them on their feet, but regaining balance is a skill that can easily be lost without practice. Having a body that is free and able to move quickly is something you only keep with practice too.

Fear of falling is a big deal, especially with aging. Its not just a big deal because of the risks associated with falling. There is a greater risk underlying every thought that you might fall – the risk of moving less.

When you move less because you are afraid of falling, your body adapts and gets weaker, lowering your ability to move quickly and freely when you fall off balance, so you move less, and so on, and so on.

The fact is, we humans are going to fall off balance. Its just part of being a human living on two feet! Exercising to improve balance is just one piece of preventing injury from falls. The other equally important skills to practice often is stretching so your body is able to move without resistance and strength training so your bones can withstand impact if you do fall.

The thing is, you cannot get this from taking more calcium, getting more protein or eating super foods. You can only get supple and strong by telling your body often that you want to stay supple and strong!

Every time you catch yourself when you fall off balance, or don’t sustain an injury when you do fall, celebrate that your body took care of you because you are taking care of it! That is a Non-Scale Victory worth more than its weight in gold!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | November 17, 2020 · 9:21 pm

Does exercise really need to be painful to see results?

Despite our ingrained belief that exercise needs to be painful, sweaty and uncomfortable to get results, there is no evidence that pain is needed to improve fitness. Yet, the belief lives on through media images and tough exercise programs all based on the four word mantra “no pain no gain”. Interestingly, there is plenty of evidence from neuroscience that pain will most certainly keep you from staying motivated. Do we really need to be in pain, exhausted and sweaty to get results from exercise? Lets take a look.

What results do you want from exercise?

The first question to ask yourself is “what results do I want from exercise?”. If you want to be an athlete and gain a competitive edge, yes, you will need to endure some pain. If you just want “aesthetic fitness”; to look better in a bathing suit or body building stage, ye,s pain and fatigue are likely going to be side effects of your training routine. If you are exercising to feel better mentally and physically, be healthy and well, both now and in the future, pain will actually take you in the opposite direction, leading you away from the results you really want.

“No Pain No Gain” Is Not Meant for You

The saying “No Pain No Gain” was invented for athletes to remind them that if you want to gain a competitive edge, pain is going to be part of the process. It was NOT invented to mean that you have to be in pain to get gain. If you are not exercising to be an athlete, this saying is simply not meant for you.

But What About a Good Sore?

The term a ‘good sore’ was born out of the misuse of the saying “no pain no gain”. It comes from the belief that muscle soreness means you are burning more calories and fat, getting more muscle tone and making progress toward losing weight and getting ‘in shape’. Yet, there is not one published study that shows muscle soreness is necessary for improving strength, burning calories or fat, or improving muscle tone.

Not a single study!

The term ‘good sore’ is really an oxymoron. There is no good reason to be sore.

Isn’t Soreness Part of Getting Back in Shape?

I often hear from patients, “yes it’s painful but its because I am overweight and out of shape”. When we take a step back from that statement, and see that there is no benefit to pain, we realize that it is not your body that is the problem, it is the exercise you are doing to get back into shape. When you adapt exercise for your body, rather than thinking your body just has to get used to an exercise you think you need to do, the pain goes away, enjoyment goes up and so does consistency.

Science Says: No pain, More Gain

So the body scientists agree, there is no gain in pain. The brain scientists also agree that pain is a sure sign motivation will fade. Your brain is hardwired to avoid what makes you feel worse, and repeat what makes you feel better. When exercise is painful, your body is telling your brain this is something to avoid. No matter how much you tell yourself it’s a good sore, your brain is going to believe what your body is feeling and eventually your will make excuses why you cannot exercise.

When you know how to adapt exercise so it does not cause pain, and instead leaves you feeling better, you gain something much more valuable for results – the ease of staying motivated! Consistency is how we get results that last.

Bottom Line About Pain and Exercise

If the ‘No Pain No Gain” mantra rattles around in your head when you are exercising (or thinking of exercising), trade it for a way of thinking about exercise that is meant for you. There is no gain in pain. Pain is simply a sign something needs to change.

  1. Learn how to move the way your body is designed to move so exercises feels good
  2. Notice when your brain is telling your body what it should be able to do and instead let your body tell your brain what it can do now.
  3. Notice when exercise makes you feel better physically (less pain, more energy, less anxious, not sore, etc). That will help your brain want to choose to do it again.
  4. Use a slow gradual progression when increasing exercise. Your body can adapt to only 10% more each week. Slow and steady gets you results.

Whew! Isn’t it great to know you don’t have to endure pain to get results!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | October 6, 2020 · 8:51 pm

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