Falling Off the Diet or Fitness Wagon

Have you ever known someone that was working really hard to reach fitness goals, reached them and then fell off the proverbial wagon all to end up back where they started? You want to run up to them and ask what happened, but generally don’t because you know that they are likely to feel pretty upset by it being brought up.

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Falling Off the Wagon

As a personal trainer, I’ll bump into people where this has been the case. They are usually embarrassed or ashamed and will often try to avoid me. I don’t let them off the hook that easily. “We’ve missed you.” “What have you been up to?” At that point they will usually fill me in on what upset the cart. It often is a very understandable event that threw them off and then the inevitable, “I’ll get back to it soon….”

This is the important thing to note, we all fall off the wagon at one point or another. That should be something for everyone to expect (although most do not). It will happen. But, don’t wait until you feel like you can stick to it before you start back up. Start back up again as soon as you can. Don’t worry about how long the attempt will last, just get back up on the wagon. The number of times you try and fail doesn’t count against you. In fact, you will be far better off by repeatedly trying, learning from your mistakes, making new plans, and trying again, than waiting until the situation is perfect before you restart. What’s past, is past. You can’t change it. Don’t worry about it. Don’t feel guilty about it. Learn from it and move on. Start as often as you need and you will eventually succeed.

Want Results? Get Off Your Big Fat But!

No, no misspelling here. I’m not talking about your backside. I’m talking about the excuses we find to not do what we know we should be doing in order to improve our health and fitness. “I know I should _______, BUT…”

If you want something to change, you need to be willing to do something different (and that usually means something more difficult). For changes in our health and fitness levels, you need to make sure your diet is where it’s supposed to be, you’re getting in the right kind of workouts with the appropriate frequency, keeping your stress levels down, and getting enough sleep.

Excuses

Excuses outweighing your results?

When you’re not getting the results you want, you need to look at these areas and ask yourself which of those items aren’t happening and what it is that’s getting in your way. As you identify the area of difficulty, listen to yourself. “I know I shouldn’t be eating the doughnuts that work supplies, but it’s all they have there.” “I have every intention of getting to the gym, but something always comes up at work.” Those buts are your excuses, your scapegoats, and you have to recognize that fact. That’s not to say they aren’t a problem, only that knowing that they are a problem means you need to come up with a different solution as to how to work around them. You need to pre-plan for those occasions when your normal schedule is thrown off.

In example, normally your diet is good. You eat what, when, and where you’re supposed to. But, when your friends come to visit for a long weekend, you end up overindulging the whole time and feeling guilty. So, imagine they just called. You know how this weekend usually goes. Ask yourself what you could do differently that would make your weekend diet better. Could you have more fresh fruits and vegetables on hand? If you usually drink alcoholic beverages, could you alternate between those drinks and a glass of water?

The key to getting the results you want, reaching your goals, is getting rid of the big fat BUT that has been allowing you to think you had an excuse. Well, it isn’t an excuse. A but simply means you need to come up with a new way to handle those things that have been getting in your way. If it means enough to you, you can find a solution.

Please let me know if you need any help losing your big but.

Cheat Days May Be Cheating You

When contemplating dieting, most people don’t want to fully commit to suddenly eating healthfully and the appropriate amount of calories, so they like the idea of having cheat days. I’m sure that you’ve heard the concept of cheat days. These are days that are set aside that allow you to eat what you want. In example, you work hard at your diet all week, but on Saturday you can eat whatever you desire. The theory is that it’s easier to stay away from high calorie/high fat foods most of the time if you know that you can guiltlessly have it on your cheat day.

fast foodWhile that may sound reasonable, being better most of the time (and it certainly could help some people), here’s why I take issue with it. If you’re having a difficult time sticking to your diet, it may be too restrictive for where you are in your journey for lifetime eating and healthy weight maintenance. It should be a gradual process of tweaking you diet (and exercise) so that it’s not overwhelming.

My other problem with cheat days is that it keeps you desiring those less healthy foods. You can change what you desire by making small, better choices over time. Like going from whole milk to 2%, to 1.5%, to 1%, to skim. By the time you get used to skim milk, 2% tastes like cream and you don’t care about ever having whole milk again… no cheating even wanted.

So, while having a cheat day may help you lose weight, Id challenge you to simply be more gradual with your changes so that sustaining them becomes effortless.

The Problems With Physical Therapy

Before my physical therapist friends jump all over this, let me say that what I find problematic with physical therapy, is the limited coverage (number of visits allowed by insurance) and the patient’s understanding of their role in their physical well-being once they are released from therapy and are on their own.

physical therapy2Problem #1: Let’s assume you get injured on the job. Your primary care physician refers you to a physical therapist for treatment. The therapist takes you through various rehabilitation modalities that will most likely included some exercises that you will perform. Insurance only pays for “X” number of visits and then you’ll need to continue on your own. More often than not, you do not follow through with your therapy exercises. Without that follow through, the your physical level will begin to decrease from the point when you left physical therapy. This deconditioning sets you up to get injured again.

Problem #2: You, after completing your allotted physical therapy, continue to do your therapy exercises as prescribed, same weights, same repetitions, same number of days per week. I know, that doesn’t sound like a problem, but it is. If you do the same thing over and over again, you get really good at it. It gets easy, and… if it gets easy, you’re no longer challenging yourself. Without the challenge, your conditioning level starts to decrease. Now, it won’t drop as low as if you weren’t doing the exercises, but it will drop below the level that was when it was challenging.

The goal of reconditioning after surgery or injury, should be to get back to where to where you were prior to the event, AND THEN to continue training/conditioning so that you are more capable, more “injury resistant”, and better prepared to do any of the activities that you want. This is true at any age, but even more important as you get older. You can accomplish this by working with your physical therapist until released, then take your exercise prescription to a certified personal trainer that has post-rehab experience. Have the trainer show you how to translate the physical therapy exercises to your gym/health club. Then, come back to the trainer periodically to get an updated program, so you can continue to get stronger, healthier, and ready to tackle the rest of your life. After all, we don’t want to just survive as we get older. We want to thrive!

Get a Gold Medal in Consistancy

If I could give out a medal for working out, it would be given for how consistent a person is in fitting their workouts in. Olympians reach their level of strength, power, conditioning, and skill because they work at it, day in and day out, for years. That level of consistency creates the kind of results that can make you an Olympic champion.

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While we may never be Olympians, we can still achieve great results, IF… we can be consistent. Occasional super hard work outs will never give the benefits that even moderate intensity work outs on a regular basis can. Consistency creates habits, which means it gets easier to keep on a schedule and, ultimately, get the results that we want.

The commitment, the habit of working out also allows us to set a clear progression. We did X sets and reps on Wednesday, which means we can do Y on Friday. When work outs are sporadic, you are either going to have to lower the intensity or, at best, keep it the same. You’ll never reach your goals that way.

If the Olympic Games are motivating you, or if you’re simply motivating yourself, start by shooting for that gold medal in consistency.

Try This!!! It Worked For Me!?

What is probably the worst reasons to try something is because someone says, “It worked for me!” This is true with diets, exercise, supplements, or following some “guru”.

One story from my college days (yes, many, MANY years ago) is a perfect example of this. I was working in the university weight room and saw a huge bodybuilder doing concentration curls (one arm curls in which you’re seated with your elbow resting on the inside of your thigh). He had giant biceps. While curling with one arm, he held a metal pipe in the other and was hitting his biceps with it. I had to go ask what that was all about. He said that by hitting his muscle with the pipe, he was breaking down the muscle faster to build it up bigger…and who was going to argue with him, it must work, right. Whoa… big time wrong! That’s not how muscle breakdown and building works. “Well, (naysayers will say) if it didn’t work, why was he so big? Huuhh?” Well, let’s think of all the other things he could be doing. His diet was probably supplying the right amount nutrients. He was working out hard, even without the pipe. He probably had some genetic advantage, aaand… at that time, it was likely that he was taking anabolic steroids. Still, he said it was the pipe and people would surely believe him.

shake-weight-for-men-in-pakistan-Telebrand.pk_Any exercise program will give results to someone who hasn’t been exercising. It doesn’t mean it is the safest, most effective exercise program. It is just that now you’re following a program and doing some kind of exercise.

Almost all diets will give weight loss results short-term. Whether they are cutting out food groups (paleo, ketogenic, vegan) or managing when you eat (intermittent fasting) or has you track your points (weight watchers), they all will manipulate you into eating fewer calories. Fewer calories = weight loss (at least short term). (Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD, has a great post here.)

All that said, I do hope that all of our clients are saying, “Try Jiva Fitness! It worked for me!” What’s the difference? Do your research. If it’s an exercise program or a diet/eating plan, what is it based on? Is there scientific evidence to back it up. Who are the people that created it? Are they qualified professionals? Don’t go blindly into things that are in the popular news. After all, even the Shake Weight was popular for a short time.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

A friend of mine just had a heart attack. It was mild and he’s going to be ok, although it could have been much worse. For the better part of a year we’ve had the ongoing discussion about how he was going to start working out and eating more healthfully. Work and family always demanded too much of him and he could never seem to find time to start a program.

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This is such a common situation. I hear it all of the time. But here’s the thing, if you put it off too long and something happens, how much good will you be to your work or your family?

You will hear me say a thousand times that it’s never too late to start. Of course, that’s if you are still around to start. Please think about this. Yes, it is a scare tactic, but more than that, it’s a reality check. Life can be short and we want to have the longest, best quality life we can. Can you afford to put getting healthy off?

“Maybe it is true, that people only care when it’s too late.” – Anon

Do You Have a Dad Bod?

First time I heard the phrase, “dad bod”, I was a little confused. First, I didn’t really know what that meant, me being a dad and all. Second, evidently, many men sporting the dad bod were satisfied with the way they looked. Third, there was a significant number of women that were saying that they preferred a man with a dad bod.

21up-dadbods-superJumboSo, what is a dad bod? In a recent article from the New York Times, Losing the Fight Against ‘Dad Bod’, it is quantified as being 5 – 15 pounds over what might be considered ideal. It’s rounder and maybe includes a slight beer belly. OK, so, in the scheme of things, when roughly 70% of the US population is classified as overweight and 36% considered obese, 5 – 15 pounds doesn’t seem so bad.

I haven’t seen any documented rationale explaining why men might be satisfied with a dad bod, but, taking a guess, I’d say it’s because it’s not so hard to maintain and allows them to enjoy more food and drink than their ripped body toting counterparts.

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And, yes, women do seem to like the look. This has been surveyed and the overall response as to why they like it, seems to be that men are “less neurotic” about their looks which means more relaxed eating habits and not spending endless hours at the gym. This leaves more time to be spent nurturing the kids, doing things around the house, and taking care of the wives.

Should you be sporting a dad bod? Well, it’s unlikely that 5 – 15 pounds over ideal body weight is going to present a health issue (but, that’s a decision for your doctor to make), so it really comes down to your own perception of how you look. If you are happy with the way you look, rock on. If not, then you need to take the dietary and exercise steps to get leaner.

Big final note: just because you are fine with your dad bod, doesn’t mean you can ignore exercise or diet completely. You still need to eat reasonably healthy and at least get a minimum of exercise to maintain your strength, stamina, and mobility in order to be able to do the physical things that we want as we get older.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Is Retirement a Good Thing?

People my age (I’ll turn sixty in December), plus or minus a few years, are either retiring or thinking about retiring. Isn’t that everyone’s goal, to retire, to not have to work anymore, to sleep in, and only do what you want to do? But, is retirement good for us? There have been studies through the years that have shown how people’s health, physically and mentally, decline once they retire. Retirement is also listed 10th on the list of life’s 43 most stressful events. In fact, the reason I started to write this post was because I believed that retirement was typically an unhealthy thing to do. In researching the topic, however, I found some surprising data.

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In order to understand this better, let’s discus some of the changes you may experience when you retire.

  • Your sense of purpose may change. If you have had a career in some field that inspired you, that loss can leave you unmotivated and depressed.
  • Your schedule changes. The time structure and hours you have kept disappear. Suddenly, you may find yourself sleeping late (not always a bad thing) and without a set schedule, you may find yourself not getting around to doing any of the things that you thought you would.
  • Your secondary social environment is gone. For many of us, a huge part of the social interactions that we have during the day are with co-workers, clients, and/or customers. Many retirees experience loneliness
  • Your physical life may change. While many people may have sitting jobs, there are also a lot of people that are physically active in their jobs. Construction workers to mail carriers will see a loss in the “mandatory” movement that their jobs required. Without regular physical activity, our health and ability to do daily tasks can be compromised.

Well those are some of the changes and some of the negative consequences that can occur when you retire, but… new research has been showing people are getting more out of retirement than they used to. It appears that the keys to their happier, healthier retirement are:

  • Finding a part-time job doing something you love (either for pay or volunteering) to give you a sense of purpose. This can also help you build new social connections, possibly teach you new skills, and give you a schedule that can get you up and out of your house.
  • Getting or keeping physically active. It’s so important for your health and physical independence to exercise, and now you have the time. Gyms, studios, or health clubs also offer another social environment.
  • Continuing to learn. Whether it’s learning a language, arts, or even going back to college, cognitive challenges help maintain brain health.

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So, if you are looking forward to retirement or are already there, these are the types of activities to incorporate into your vision of retirement to make the most of your health, fitness, and happiness. Live long. Live healthy. Live happy.

What Does It Mean to Be Fit?

My ideas for posts frequently come from something I see or read in the media. Finding a More Inclusive Vision of Fitness in Our Feeds, an article in the New York Times made me realize that it was time to talk about our perceptions of what it means to be fit. If a client tells me that they want to become fit, my first question is, “Fit to do what?” Being fit to run a marathon is not the same as being fit to lift boxes at your UPS job, or fit to comfortably get through your daily activities.

There is no one perfect fitness level for everyone. The models we see in commercials, print, and in social media, are either making or trying to make a living from being fit. Getting that lean and muscular (like that of a fitness competitor), is not only difficult to achieve, it’s also extremely difficult to maintain. So, as we look at the images of these individuals, whose job is essentially to look as fit as possible, why is it that we believe that we need to look like them? Well, the simple answer is that marketers try to convince us that we both can and should, through the use of their product or service, look just like them.

While you may desire to look like the models, it’s important to realize that you don’t need to look like them to be fit and healthy. There are some great pictures on internet that (I believe) were published by Sports Illustrated. They show the bodies of top athletes in different sports. Their body types vary widely, illustrating how you can be very fit, elite in your field, and still have a body that doesn’t look like those fitness models.

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The idea of being comfortable in a less than Adonis body, means that you are less stressed, less anxiety ridden about your appearance, which should allow you to enjoy life a little more.

 

1DB53F88-D145-469D-A558-0A778F5C07D4-2580-00000269638C2946The catch is that this doesn’t mean sit around and eat whatever you want. You still have to workout and eat healthfully. That’s what is going to help you get/stay fit (to do whatever it is that you want to do) and healthy by getting all of the nutrients you need for your body to function properly. But, you don’t need to look like a fitness model. Be fit, be healthy, but also be happy in knowing that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes.