Yes, but will it make me lose weight?

Will doing your new online course Simply Strong make me lose weight? 

Let me ask some questions that may help with the answer to that question.

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What do you want to lose?  The scale is an all-in-one gauge. If the gas gauge on your car measured your water, oil, wiper fluid, and gasoline, how would you know what you needed when it was low?  The scale is an all-in-one gauge too.  It measures everything in your body: water, bone, fat, muscle.  About 25% of weight lost without strength training is muscle.  Muscle is your strength, function, and metabolism.  Muscles support joints so they function better, even with some arthritis.  If you don’t want to lose muscle, strength training is essential.  

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Why do you want to lose weight?  Is it just to be able to say you weigh a certain amount, or wear a certain size? For most people it goes deeper than that. Our weight can affect how easily we move, how comfortable we are in our own skin, how confident we feel around others, and our freedom to do all we want in life. It does not have to, but for too many, extra weight limits life. However, at any size, you can be stronger and more fit. Your body still has all it needs to do that. Since some popular exercises are not as comfortable when carrying extra weight, having modifications makes it feel better for your body and that makes it sustainable.

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Do you find comfort in food?  Comfort food starts showing up on the front page of checkout counter magazines this time of year (winter, holidays). Those extra calories came in handy during winters long ago where we were working hard physically and didn’t have much heat. Today, however, comfort foods are designed to comfort our brain. Do they work? Sure they do, for a bit. They boost dopamine and our brain knows it. That’s why we crave them. However,  physical activity does too. It raises not only dopamine but serotonin and norepinephrine too. It releases this chemical cascade in a balanced way so our brain does not get a huge hit of one feel-good chemical that it will crave more later.  Movement is our natural boost for mood, focus, and optimism.   Not all exercise programs are designed for this, though, which is why not everyone gets the “comfort” from it.

So will Simply Strong help you lose weight? That depends on many factors. It is, however, specifically designed to help you achieve more of what you want from weight loss and feel better physically and mentally each step of the way.

Enroll now to get the pre-release rate of $40 (a 20% savings on the regular price of $50) and you will gain automatic and unlimited access when it is released on November 3, 2017.

Fit or Thin?

Single red barbell sits on domestic scaleOver the past twelve years as a clinical exercise physiologist at a hospital-based weight loss clinic,  I have asked thousands of patients “what makes weight loss so important to you right now?” Overwhelmingly the answer is “my health”! 

I then ask, “What does health mean to you?” They describe being healthy as: less worry about being debilitated or dying at an early age,  being able to live life more fully without being held back by pain or medications or doctors’ visits or illness, being able to travel, play with their kids/grandkids, to dance at a wedding with friends and family.

It has been known for some time that elevated body weight is a health risk. It has also been known for a while that low fitness level is a health risk as well. There has been an ongoing debate over which is more “important” and a better predictor of health and longevity. Weight or fitness level? Which really gives you more health and longevity for your efforts?

Over the past few years, there have been large scale studies and analysis of large scale studies to answer this question. And the answer (drum roll, please…):

“After completing the meta-analysis on the joint association between Cardio-respiratory fitness and Body Mass Index (BMI) on mortality (death) from all causes, the results indicate that the risk of death was dependent upon cardio-respiratory fitness level and not BMI. Therefore, fit individuals who are overweight or obese are not automatically at a higher risk for all-cause mortality” (Fitness vs. Fatness on All-Cause Mortality: A Meta-analysis)

Translation: Being fit provides protection from dying from any cause at all weight levels.

Plus, fitness has been shown to reduce the risk of, improve outcomes for, and reduce the re-occurrence of the most common medical concerns such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Bottom line: if you are seeking health and longevity, whatever your weight, keep moving!

Certainly being at a healthy weight has many important health benefits. But are we so focused on weight in health care and in society that we are missing out? 

When we say “I was doing so well with exercise, but not losing weight, so I stopped exercising,” we are missing out.  When we celebrate losing weight through dieting only, we are missing out.  (About 30% of that weight loss is muscle! Muscle  = the ability to do things. The ability to do things = health).  When we exercise just for the purpose of losing weight, we miss out on knowing we are already healthy, even before losing weight. When we assume that someone who is slim is fit and healthy, we miss out.

So, please do not sell yourself short! Don’t miss out because you have your eye on the prize on that scale. The scale is a very poor predictor of health and well-being compared to how fit you are.

Yet, weight is so much easier to measure than fitness level, it’s easy to get hyper-focused on those numbers to tell us if we are healthy or not.

How do we measure fitness? How do we know if we are fit enough? Stay tuned for the next blog for the answers.

Be Well Now!

Janet

Specificity 

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Let’s take a closer look at training for well-being  versus training for athletics.

There is a principle in exercise science of specificity that basically says “you get what you train for.” The body will adapt to what you give it. If you want to be able to run faster, then practice running faster. If you want to be able to get up off the floor more easily, then practice strengthening the movements you need for that skill. If you want to be able to sightsee with friends all day, then gradually practice walking longer distances.

In sports training, the focus is on the physical skills needed for the sport.  In well-being training, skills for being able to enjoy life are the focus.

In sports training, the goal is to excel in the time spent in competition, for several seconds to a few hours. Well-being training is for functioning the best you can 24/7.

It is pretty obvious that one would not do the training program for a body builder to excel in competitive dance. Why then, do we use these and other sports training programs as the basis for fitness programs to improve health and well-being??? 

You get what you train for.  What do you want to train for? Sports training is fine, of course, as long as you know the results of training are very specific and don’t cross over well.

Be savvy. Ask anyone giving you fitness advice: What is this program based on?  Why am I doing this exercise? What specifically am I training for?  (And please don’t take “you are confusing the body” for an answer, unless you want a confused body.)

If your goal is to be healthy and well for as many of your 24/7s as possible, then check out what you are doing during as much of the 24/7 as possible. You see, when training to live better, it all matters – sit, stand, work, play, exercise, rest.  The specificity of training does not apply only when exercising.  It is a principle. It applies all the time.

Sitting with rounded shoulders. Guess what? The body gets used to what you give it. Standing in alignment, the body adapts to that too. We are always training for something (mentally AND physically).

For the  “all or nothing-ers” out there, this does not mean you move perfectly all the time. Simply pay attention to your body, check in often.

Bottom line: Training for well-being is an all-day awareness of how to give this body (and mind) what it needs to be well. Yep…sounds like mindfulness to me too!

The body gets used to what you give it. What do you want it to get used to?

Be well now,

Janet

Fitness for Well-being

I am noticing a bit of confusion in fitness lately – confusion between sports and military training and exercise for health and well-being. I want you to be a savvy fitness consumer who gets what you want from your investment. I want you to stay motivated to be well.  Let’s take a look at the difference between the two approaches and see what you think:

Training for wellbeing.pngIf you were an athlete or military professional at some point in your life, the switch may be challenging. Those approaches to exercise can be strongly ingrained in your approach to movement. If you have done a fitness program with a sports-minded approach in the past, or admire those who do, this approach can be so enmeshed in your thinking about exercise, they can seem to be one and the same. But clearly, they are not.

Here are questions to ask yourself to be sure you are training for health and well-being:

  • Am I pushing through pain and discomfort in my fitness class/program?
  • Who is my primary guide for what is right for my body – a “fitness expert” or how my body feels with a certain exercise?
  • How often do I ignore and “tough out” pain with exercise?
  • How often do I get injured when I am on a fitness program?
  • Am I consistent with exercise all year long?
  • Does my exercise program leave me too sore and exhausted to move more throughout my day?
  • Am I  feeling and living better as a result of my training?

Are your answers more in line with the training approach on the right or the left of the chart above?

If you are ignoring pain, listening to a trainer more than your body, feeling sore and exhausted more often than energized, inconsistent with exercise, have a love/hate relationship with exercise, and/or have sustained an injury as a result of your training – you may be using a sports approach to health and well-being training.

If you feel better mentally and physically, have less pain and injury, are listening to your body, are consistent all year long, have more energy and stamina and strength to enjoy life – congratulations! You have found a fitness program for well-being.

Because the two types of training can be so cleverly intertwined in our society, let’s take the next few blog posts to dissect the differences a bit more and get really clear about how to train for well-being.

Please share your comments about your experience with this fitness trend.

Be Well Now,

Janet

PS: My mission is to provide resources for training for true well-being.  In the coming year, I will be offering more and more online tools for movement for health and well-being on this site.

The Magic Pill

exercise as medicineThank you, WBUR, for this new podcast series that starts today called “The Magic Pill.”  The positive news about movement as the most powerful medicine we have for health and well-being gets lost easily in the media. It is refreshing to see an encouraging approach getting some more air time!

Thirty years of prescribing this medicine has taught me one thing – the prescription is very individual. So take in the information and suggestions but above all trust your own knowledge about your body and what works best for it today. For example, they end the  first podcast with a cheerful “take the stairs” suggestion. Sounds easy enough, but for many, stair are a big challenge. So if stairs are not right for you at this time, try pacing while you wait for the elevator, or take an extra lap around the hallway before getting onto the elevator, or take a big morning style stretch as you wait. (You might just inspire the people waiting with you to do the same). You see … ALL movement is medicine – not just the ones that count on our Fit Bits!

The best medicine of all is enjoying movement. A recent study in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that “our belief in how much we will benefit from physical activity has a considerable effect on our well-being in the manner of a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Enjoy it and you will reap the benefits! Move in the ways that give your mind and body a lift. Because we are made to move, the body responds with a big “thank you” by boosting the immune system, giving amazing health benefits, and best of all, helping you be well now!

May you be well…now,

Janet