Thursday, October 24, 2013

Building Your Weight Loss Team

Let’s face it, it’s hard work to lose weight.  There are so many distractions in everyday life, it’s difficult to stay the course and reach your goal.  Have you noticed that like minded people tend to stick together?  Support from your circle of friends, family and sometimes coworkers can make a huge difference in any endeavor.  Weight loss is no exception.

Let’s start with the home life.  When one person makes a commitment of this magnitude, it can be nearly impossible without the support of their family at home.  I recently heard of a person starting their weight loss journey and was eating a healthy meat and vegetable dinner while the kids had pizza.  The temptation, especially at the beginning, can be overwhelming.  Try eating the same foods at dinner, even if it’s at a different time for some.  Same deal with exercising.  Make it a family affair; it can be as simple as family walks once a week, or backyard football games.  By demonstrating an active lifestyle, it will rub off on the younger ones and possibly become a habit for them into adulthood.

Friends can be a large influence in a weight loss endeavor.  Their activities, and those that they invite you to participate in, can shape your free time.  See if you can find a gym buddy, someone you can make an appointment with to work out, even if you do your own thing once you get there.  Just knowing someone is waiting for you might get you in the habit of going on a regular schedule.  This is good time to evaluate your friends and see which ones might be toxic, ie draining on your positive attitude and your current goals.  Surround yourself with people who support you, not ones that want to happy hour every night of the week.

The workplace is probably the one over which you have little control, and requires the most adaptation on your part (in my opinion). If your office goes out to lunch every day, try to steer them towards places with healthy options.  One of my favorites is Tokyo Joe’s.  Places that require a little walking are a great idea too, so you get in a little bit of exercise to and from the office.  If it’s a cocktail happy group, try limiting the happy hours you attend to once a week.

Your weight loss team, or the people you surround yourself with, are your cheerleaders.  They are the group you count on to help you make better decisions and help you when you slide off track.  Find these people in your circles and use them.  If someone else has similar goals, rely on each other for support.  It’s hard to do alone, but with a team who knows what you can achieve.  Ok, that was a little cheesy, even if it’s true.

See you at the gym!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Weight Loss with Illness or Injury

We all know it’s hard to stay in a routine without any distractions or interruptions.  Life happens, and when we have setbacks, we have to figure out how to address them with minimal disruption.  This will likely not surprise you, but it’s the same with weight loss.  September was not a pleasant month for my body…a lower back disc impingement, a good ole cold and a likely broken toe.  It happens to us all.  So, how do you cope with the situation and not slide back to the beginning?  Here’s some tips; please remember to follow the advice of your doctor if your condition has necessitated their professional services.

First, listen to your body.  It knows what it can and cannot do when you are sick or recovering from an injury. If it hurts, don’t do it.  If you get into a coughing fit trying to run, slow it down to a walk, or try again the next day. Know your limits for that particular day.

Next, figure out what you can do.  If you have an issue with your arm, you are able to work your legs and probably some good abdominal work.  Ankle sprained?  Work your upper body.  You might have to adapt outside of your normal routine for awhile, but that’s good for your workouts anyway.  Free weights might be more difficult with an appendage out of commission, so you may have to rely more on machines.  Same thing for sitting versus standing exercises.  Make the most out of the parts that do work!

Another tip: try to do something every day you would in a normal week.  You may not be able to go as fast or as long, or lift as much, but it keeps the body in the habit of exercising. 

Here’s the most challenging tip: watch your diet like a hawk.  Your activity level is likely down from a normal level, so your metabolism is also likely down.  Your body needs less energy to function than when you are at the top of your game.  Those pesky fruits and vegetables can actually help recovery, just like lean protein helps muscles recover after a workout.  Eat sensibly and you will be good to go.

Injuries and illness can be nothing more than a timeout from the regular routine.  Maximize the benefits, as strange as it may sound, to shake up your routine and give your diet a double check.  When you’re back in full action, you will have stayed the course.

Enjoy the fall weather readers!  See you at the gym!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What's Your Reason to Be Healthy?

Over the course of time, I notice that most people get the doldrums of summer about this time of year.  It’s not that everyone wants it to end, but rather they are looking forward to getting back into a routine.  Whether you have school aged kids or not, it seems like we relax more in the summer and then come Labor Day, get back in the groove and focus.  My clients often ask me about how to push through a lack of motivation.  Of course, you can change your routine, try new things or sometimes take a much needed break from pushing yourself.  Mainly, motivation comes down to Your Reason.

Your Reason may not be as easy to figure out as you might think.  Many people want to lose weight and get healthy for a particular event, to fit into a certain item of clothing, or to impress someone else.  These are all great (and valid) reasons to set a goal and get started on the healthy path.  However, it may not keep you on the path, especially when you are ready to give up.  The event passes, and then what?  Your Reason is what keeps you going.

Your Reason is typically more internal, or intrinsic, than external (extrinsic).  It’s a driving force that will keep you focused no matter what.  It may be that your family has a history of heart attacks at a young age, or that your parents didn’t live past 50. It might be that you feel so much better when you live healthy than when you miss a week of workouts.  Your desire to be a healthier, fitter you than you were last year could be part of Your Reason.

What’s mine, you ask? I want to age as best I can.  I want to be active well into my later years.  I am blessed with good genes in the health department, so that helps.  Staying mobile for a long time is important to me, so I do what I can now to encourage that.  When the gym seems like the last place I want to go, I think about this and head outside for a good walk, or try a workout program through the cable stations.

Sharing your reason can be helpful in staying on your path to healthy and fit.  Tell a friend, post it on Facebook or Twitter, or even put it on your refrigerator, so you can see it every day.  Stay active, stay healthy!  Enjoy the rest of your summer readers!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Clean Eating and Weight Loss

OK folks, it’s Monday and that means a whole new week for you to work towards your fitness goals.  It’s kind of like a do-over if you feel like you haven’t been great over the past week or weekend.  By now we know that diet is a key to your weight loss, so let’s take a look at a buzzword in being healthy: clean eating.

I searched and searched for some sort of formal definition for clean eating and couldn’t find an official one.  So I’ll discuss what the general idea is and what it may or may not include.  Clean eating typically results in weight loss and you’ll see why once I explain some of the details.

First, let’s look at what it includes.  Clean eating is eating fresh or unrefined foods, typically in five or six small meals throughout the day.  These fresh foods include produce such as fruits and vegetables, in an unrefined state ie not fried or processed.  Your small meals should include a lean protein, complex carbohydrates such as brown rice or oats, and heart healthy fats like avocado or almonds.  People who eat clean drink a ton of water.  The fewer ingredients in a food item, the better.  Label reading is big in clean eating, to ensure that minimal preservatives and additives are included in each food eaten.

Now let’s take a peek at what wouldn’t be considered clean eating.  Clean eaters avoid refined and processed foods.  Examples are refined sugars like soda, sugar, baked goods, white flour, and white rice.  The stereotypical junk foods and other high calorie foods are left out.   By this list, I’m sure you can see why this approach works well to help with weight loss.

Clean eating isn’t without its own struggles.  It takes more time and preparation.  Food labels need to be read.  Meals must be prepared, and often planned ahead of time to allow for grocery shopping and preparation.  It can mean more trips to the grocery store, since fresh items spoil quicker than canned or frozen items.  Cost is a factor as well, clean eating can be pricier in the checkbook than prepared foods.  For me, it’s worth the cost, since I notice a huge difference in my body, from higher energy levels to more efficient workouts and, yes, fat loss.

Clean eating is good for anyone, even if you don’t need to drop a few pounds.  If you are scared, try doing it a couple days a week and gradually add days as you go along. You’ll feel better!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hidden Benefits of Exercise

Well, it’s almost February.  How many of you are sticking with your goals for 2013?  I hope you are!  I’m guessing many of you have hit the gym with high hopes of toning up or dropping a few pounds.  Maybe you’ve noticed that there have been other changes as well.  Regular exercise has many benefits, some of which happen sooner than others.  Here’s a quick rundown:

1)      Increased energy.  I know this seems counterproductive, but it rings true for many people.  Ever notice that when you exercise and then don’t for awhile, you get sluggish and feel like you don’t have any energy, much less for a workout?  Regular exercise can make you more alert and energetic, helping you with daily tasks as well as fitness goals.  This is one of the first changes my clients notice when they start a regular exercise program.  Fight that tiredness and keep up your workouts, you know you will feel better afterwards. 
2)      Better sleep. Yep, that’s right.  Your body shuts down more efficiently when it’s time for bed.  People tend to sleep sounder and get a higher quality of sleep with regular exercise.

3)      Stress reduction.  People deal with stress in many different ways. It can be comfort foods (not advisable on a regular basis if you are watching your waist line), general venting to a friend or family member, while some use happy hour (another waist line killer).  Exercise provides an outlet for stress that is healthy for you, whether it’s a kickboxing session or a long hike after work.  Those endorphins kick in and people tend to feel less stressed after a sweat session.  It’s kind of the same effect as with increased energy, with an added bonus result.

4)      Better eating.  This might just be me and people I know, but I’ve personally noticed that my body craves better food when I hit the gym regularly.  The opposite is true as well; if I have to take some time off due to an illness or a funky schedule, my cravings change to not so great foods.  Exercise and healthy eating have a positive relationship, one is better with the other.

5)      Increased metabolism.  When you do strength training and work those muscles, you are creating a larger fat burning production in your body.  I won’t bore you with the details (it happens at a cellular level) but I can tell you that the more muscle you have, the more efficient your metabolism.  You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to have this effect; regular strength training does the trick.

Regular exercise is simply awesome for your body, in whatever form is right for you.  If you happen to reach your fitness goals along the way, it’s a huge bonus.  So get out there and stick to your routine…you’ll sleep better for it!