Tag Archives: Weight loss

Three truths about exercise and weight loss

Its a complicated world out there when you are trying to lose weight. Here are three simple truths about exercising for weight loss that can save you some time, energy and stress.

#1: What you do to lose weight is the same for maintaining weight

Weight loss is not the kind of goal you achieve and forget about. Everything you do to lose weight needs to be sustainable to keep that weight off. Before you start an exercise plan, consider how sustainable it is for both your body and your lifestyle. For example, if you are doing a high intensity exercise program to get weight off, ask yourself if you want to do that for your whole life. HIIT training may ‘work’ to burn more calories, but if its not something you want to keep doing, it won’t really work.

#2: If it feels good now, it is good for weight loss

No matter what anyone tells you, even if they are a top trainer or have years of experience working with people in weight loss (myself included), if it does not leave you feeling better now, it will not lead to long term results. Why? because anything that makes you feel worse, sets up a habit to avoid it in the future. When exercise makes you feel better now, your brain wants you to repeat it.

The thing is, only you know how it feels for your physically and emotionally. Exercise that leaves you in more pain, or without enough time to do the things you need to do, or feeling shame about your body or yourself, will keep you struggling to stay motivated. It does not matter how many calories you burn, or how much weight you lose. The way exercise is most helpful for weight loss success is when its sustainable. Listen to your body and exercise in the way that leaves you feeling better physically and mentally and emotionally right away, and your weight loss is much more likely to stick.

#3: There is no one best type of exercise; your body needs a balance of all three

Every physical activity we need and want to do requires a combination of strength, stamina and mobility. If you want to function your best at every stage of weight loss and when you get to a goal weight, your body needs a balance of each of these abilities. That means no one type of exercise is better than the other. Stretching, cardio and strength all help your body feel and function well. Strike a balance between these three types of exercise each week and you are helping your body have the ability to move with more ease at every stage of weight loss.

Test this out for yourself. Look back at past exercise attempts and see what stuck and what faded away. See if these are true for you when it comes to just not losing weight, but keeping it off.

Keep moving, Be Well


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by | May 4, 2021 · 9:11 pm

Now that the weather is better… Learn how to be an all-season exerciser

This is the most wonderful time of the year to be an exercise physiologist! Everyone I talk to is more motivated to exercise now that the weather is better!

In this lovely time of year, you have two choices with how you think about exercising that can make all the difference in your future springtime enjoyment:

  1. Enjoy spring and summer and don’t think about winter. Hopefully next winter will be better…
  2. Enjoy spring and learn from what you are noticing right now to help you become a self-motivated all season exerciser

Option number two may seem like more work, but when you think about, its much less work than option number one. The discomfort of being in a body that is not ready for the spring activities you want and need to do takes a lot of mental and physical work. The guilt of not exercising all winter when you know you should is a big energy drain too!

Let’s make option number two easier. Take a few minutes to go through these three steps. Writing them down increases your chances of success:

  1. Write down what you notice about what your body lost this winter, based on how you feel now. Do you wish you had more strength? Stamina? Mobility? If you feel great and ready for spring, write down what you did that helped you keep your strength stamina and mobility through the winter.
  2. Write down what you want to enjoy now that is challenging. If you are able to enjoy what you want, write down what worked to keep you ready for that activity all winter.
  3. Brainstorm all the things you are thinking you could have/should have done this winter for exercise. If you did exercise all winter, write down what kept you active.

Tuck this away in your September calendar. In the fall you will be so glad you have a personalized guide to get you started with a motivating plan for exercising through the winter. I will remind you to look at this list when the weather starts getting colder and the days get shorter again.

Now, let’s get out there and enjoy this beautiful weather!

Keep Moving be well, and enjoy spring!


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by | April 19, 2021 · 7:09 pm

Ready for Spring 2021!

It’s hard to believe, but this weekend we “Spring Forward” on the clocks and we are heading back at longer, warmer days. Although it is not officially Spring, the anticipation of it is definitely in the air!

That means it time to check in on how your Spring Training went over the past few months. In October 2020, I invited you to write down your plan for how you were going to use exercise over the Winter to be ready for enjoying Springtime fun. Here are the questions I asked:

  1. What do I want to be able to do in the Spring of 2021? Choose a physical activity that you enjoy or is important to you. Maybe enjoying a hike with family members or doing the gardening with more ease.
  2. What do I need to be able to do those activities? Strength? Stamina? Mobility? This will help you decide what types of exercise are most important to you this winter. We generally need a mix of all three but which is your body needing most?
  3. What types of exercise can I do indoors to get more strength, stamina, and mobility? Fortunately there is a wide array of online exercise opportunities right now for cardio and for strength . If you are a UMass Memorial Weight Center patient, you have access to our very own online exercise courses for free.
  4. When will I do these types of exercises? Make a plan a and a plan b so you have a set schedule with some flexibility for the normal changes in life. Remember, small bouts work just as well as one longer bout. Be creative with how you fit exercise into your schedule
  5. How can I connect what I am doing for exercise with what I want to do in Spring? A picture of someone hiking or a plant to remind you of your garden? In those short dark cold days of winter, you are going to need a reminder that spring is coming and you will be ready!

This week it’s time to check in. How did it go? Write down what worked and what didn’t work. Put it in your calendar for October 2021 when we plan our Spring Training again. Whether you achieved your goals or not, this learning means that in the Fall you will be setting smarter goals and plans.

If you accomplished what you set out to when you made your plan in the Fall, congratulations!

If you did not, there is no time like the present to get started. Start small and progress gradually, giving your body time to adapt but you can still help your body have more stamina, strength and mobility for all those fun Springtime and Summertime activities!

Add your comments below about what you discovered this Winter about how to stay motivated so you are ready for Spring.

Keep Moving, Be Well!


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by | March 9, 2021 · 10:24 pm

Your weight is up! Now What?

Weight gain that has nothing to do with  calories

You get on the scale and UUGGHH!, Up five pounds!!! What? How?

Your mind quickly goes back in time to scan for possible slip ups. Could it have been that cookie? Was it that day I only took 2000 steps? Ugh, I’m so stupid! Why did I do that?!

Then your brain jumps to the future and formulates a plan. I’m going to eat only vegetables and protein today and get on that exercise bike for an hour, twice today. Time to get back on track!

But wait! Before you race off to burn more calories than you take in, stop for a minute and consider what else the scale might be telling you.

Remember the scale measures everything. It will never give you an accurate measure of your success with what you want from weight loss. It is a general guide, best used for a big picture look at if your body weight is trending upward or downward.

The day to day fluctuation in weight are more likely showing your levels of inflammation; the level of fluid in your body. This is still valuable information, but only if you can calm your brain long enough to consider what has been going on recently that could be causing inflammation.

  1. Pain: Are your muscles sore? Have you had an injury lately? Pain is inflammation. Keep in mind, there is no such thing as a ‘good sore‘ from exercise. Soreness simply means you have made more work than your body can handle right now, and it is letting you know. There is no gain from pain caused by over-exercising. (except weight gain that is!).
  2. Sleep: Sleep is when your body heals and repairs and clears inflammation. If you are low on quality sleep your body is not getting enough time for this important task.
  3. Stress: Whether it is from external stressors, such as a family illness or busy time at work or internal stress like self-criticism and self-doubt, your body responds to real or potential threats by getting ready for a possible injury, and that raises inflammation
  4. Illness: You could be fighting off an illness or are you just recovering from one. Consider your energy level and other symptoms that may be telling you your immune system is working overtime.

Inflammation plays an essential role in healing and injury repair. It is there to keep your body safe and healthy. When it goes up, it is a sign your body needs more attention. Exercise is a great anti-inflammatory, in the right dose. Excessive exercise could actually make matters worse by giving your body more to recover from rather than helping it with healing and repair. Listen to your body to know how much is enough to reduce inflammation. Several short bouts of exercise at a light intensity spread out throughout your day, done in a way that lowers stress and helps you sleep can be a great tool for helping your body heal and repair.

When your weight is up, pause and consider all the possible reasons and then give your body what it needs to be healthy and well.

Keep Moving, Be Well


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by | February 16, 2021 · 6:50 pm

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


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by | November 17, 2020 · 9:21 pm