Several ago, I had a friend who relentlessly pumped me for information on diet and exercise. She wanted to lose weight very badly. She would constantly ask, “Please just tell me what to eat and drink and I will do it. Tell me what exercises to do and I will do them.” She was obviously desperate. I knew she had been on every diet plan out there and that she did lose weight on each plan. I also knew she always gained it back. I knew I could get her to lose weight, but I also knew that if we did it the way she wanted me to do it, by telling her what to eat without understanding the why’s of what to eat for weight loss and optimal health, she would gain it back. Her pleas were not pretty. Desperation never is.
Years later, I saw her at an event in town. She looked great. I mentally recalled how she had siphoned information from me. I decided to use her old technique to learn of her success. I asked her what she is doing specifically to look so good. I asked her what specific exercises she did and how many sets and reps of each. I asked her how much time she was spending exercising every day and how often and at what time of day. I asked her to be specific about what she is eating and how much she is drinking as well at what time of day she is doing her eating and drinking. In short, I was reminding her of when her highly focused attention to often senseless detail camouflaged the big picture.
I was happy for her but I wanted to magnify the point made years earlier that there is not one specific plan that is going to work for all people. Yes, many diet plans do work. Many are sensible. What tends to happen however is that once the structure of being told what to eat, without having your brain involved in the process, is weight gain. She confided to me that our conversations had made a difference in her life and that one day while alone in the confines of her own thoughts, it finally ‘hit her like a rock in the head’, her words not mine. Once she realized she had to get real, use her brain, and stop looking for the magic bullet of a special food or particular exercise, things began to take shape in her own mind.
You see, what this friend had done was combine many of the principals of the time instead of just one or two gimmicks. She instituted daily exercise adherence, portion control for all meals, protein at each meal, more water, less sugar, less alcohol and a few other time tested principals for weight loss at that time.
That was several years ago. Several years ago, science was not as advanced on best practices for losing weight as it is today. Fortunately, she lost the weight – but it took a long time because much of the then current information called for difficult behavior changes such as reducing portion sizes, and eliminating much. Today we know better. Losing weight is less about portion control and more about what we eat.
Congratulations to my friend for hanging in there and smartly combining all the principals of the time to lose the added weight and most importantly keep the weight off. She was one of the savvy ones who used the difficult to implement behavioral practices of the time to lose weight.
Luckily, today science has advanced considerably in what we know about the body and how it utilizes fat best. Fortunately for me, I have many more ways in which to help clients become healthy fit and lean. Thankfully we no longer have to embrace only difficult behavior changes like my friend did, that is, the hard way – a rock smack right to the head – knocking sense into her and giving her a will of iron. Weight loss advances now offer more than simple practices of exercise and eating behavioral adherence. Science has told us much over the last few years. And that’s good news for those aiming to lose weight quicker.
In my next post, we’ll take a look at some of the advances in science and see how you can quickly and easily implement those changes into your own weight reducing routine. One final thought. Weight loss is not about denial of foods, but in finding the foods you may eat in abundance! I like to call this “Eating Like You Mean It!”
Stay connected as I review common practices that keep people from losing weight. And guess what, they are not what you may think!
Are You Successful in Life, But Wonder Why You are Not Successful in Getting Fit and Losing Weight? Look at the image to the left. Healthy carefree competent, confident, fit people engaging in life. We see imagery in the media often used to stimulate our imagination and desire for a product or service. However, once the images and articles are out of sight, it is easy to dismiss their intended points. Is this to suggest there is no point in reading various health articles,health blogs,health books etc? Or in watching inspirational films or You Tube videos? Absolutely not! Reading can stimulate awareness and the desire for healthy change. Films and videos likewise stimulate increased awareness and thoughtful reflection which often lead to a desire for change. However, what often occurs because of the multitude of health information we consume, is that in our desire to pursue health and weight loss rarely take on the cause of becoming healthier and leaner.
What does this have to do with being successful in one’s life, yet not being successful in leading a more robustful, high energy, and lean – body life that we all desire? Everything. Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning writes, “Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success,like happiness,cannot be pursued; it must ensue,and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause. Happiness must happen,and the same holds true for success:you have to let it happen by not caring about it. Then you will live to see that in the long run – (in the long run, I say!) – success will follow you precisely because you have forgotten to think about it.”
And what about you? How many months, years, or even decades have you been wishing – aspiring – hoping to become fit and lean? If it has not occurred then why? Is it because you are still pursuing healthy living instead of letting it ensue you? Why have you been so successful in life yet fail to be successful at healthy living and weight loss? Can it be that your success in life is a result of your personal dedication to work, family, and/or other ideals rather than to the pursuit of the trappings of success?
Can you cease pursuing the trappings of healthy living and weight loss? Rather, can you imagine health as your dedication?
Today many people are savvy and realize that living well and losing weight must be done in the context of progressive behavior change. This article will help” get your mind straight” on what it takes to achieve a lifestyle change. You can begin today to lose weight and be more healthful by following the 4 steps outlined in this article.
When I was a competitive runner, my friends and I would “carbohydrate load” the night before an important race.
A carbohydrate loading diet also called carbo-loading diet is a strategy to increase the amount of fuel stored in the muscles to improve athletic performance in sports where endurance needs to be optimal. It involves increasing the amount of carbohydrates one consumes several days before an athletic endurance event while simultaneously decreasing energy output.
My friends and I would implement a modified carbo-loading diet for most races, which consisted of eating – “loading up” on many foods that today are considered taboo for a healthy lifestyle. If we were racing under 15 miles, we would implement a simple night before the race carbo-loading dinner. The night before the race we would have dinner at my house since my mom, being Italian, knew how to naturally carbohydrate load! She would serve us Rigatoni with red sauce, white-hot, fresh-from-the-oven bread, and vanilla ice cream drenched in chocolate sauce. All the foods were obviously high in carbohydrates! As endurance athletes running upwards of 60 – 80 miles weekly, we burned these calories immediately. I would like to tell you that I only ate this way prior to a race, but the fact is that I grew up in a family that celebrated everything that could be celebrated with food, drink, and pasta-craving friends and family.
People often believe I am “naturally thin.” This assumption negates much of the hard effort that went into changing lifestyle habits created by growing up in an Italian pasta and white bread eating family. I do not care to imagine what I would feel like had I continued eating pasta and white bread every night! In defense of our family eating habits, I will say, thank goodness my mom always made an abundance of greens and salads for “dessert” instead of the ice cream I would have with my friends on the night prior to a big race!
Why I tell this Story
I tell this story because I believe it can help you. In my coaching practice, I have observed that some client’s eating practices of the past are detrimentally affecting who they are and how they feel about themselves today. The lifestyles and eating practices learned as children are still haunting many people today. Notably, yet troubling, researchers continue to confirm, that unless we take focused action in changing many of our adverse lifestyle habits, we may live long due to continuing supply of pharmaceuticals, but we will not live well. In talking with people in my coaching practice, quality of life trumps longevity.
Why Is It Important to Know Our History?
It is important to know our history of eating patterns because the awareness it brings is necessary for change to occur. For example, I have one gentleman that I coach who was brought up with nightly bedtime desserts. He is in his early 50’s. And when asked to estimate how many times he has not had dessert in his lifetime before bedtime, he held up three fingers! Did it ever occur to him that this family lifestyle habit would be a problem? Of course not! Until we chatted about it and he reflected on the seemingly normalcy of it, he did not realize that it was a lifestyle problem that contributed to his pre-diabetic condition. This sounds ridiculous, I realize. Certainly, anyone who reads knows that nightly desserts are off-limits as part of a healthy lifestyle. What is important to understand is that until we confront the behavior, and bring it to the forefront of our awareness, we will not make any lifestyle change.
How Can this Help You?
Did you ever just wonder: How did that person lose so much weight? He has been overweight ever since I have known him! Now he is slim and muscular looking. What did he do?
I see this all the time. Here is what is going on. People are getting realistic. They have stopped duping themselves and ceased using every diet potion out there. In short, they have found their motivation and are dealing with the root cause – behavior. If you are at this point in your life too, and you want to get started now, read below. This little seemingly simplistic 4-step plan is apt to be snubbed by those who feel they need more packaging, more bells and more whistles, but do not be fooled. It works!
1. Tell a spouse or friend who cares. Tell them what you want to change and why.
2. Ask them to hold you accountable each day in the beginning, and then less often as your success grows in changing the behavior.
3. Focus only on one behavior change Do not try to change multiple behaviors. Stick with one.
4. Reward yourself immediately after accomplishing the task. Aim to reward yourself less often as the behavior gets easier.
Upshot: Do not think you are too smart for this kind of training!
It is a little known fact in the world of science that top CEO’s are rewarding their managers with paper gold stars! These updated thinking business people are reading the brain literature and applying it aptly. Hokey? Perhaps. Effective? Yes! ( To get the names of CEOs who are doing this – go to Scientific American Mind!)
What This Looks Like In Real Life. Tom Is Our Man
1. Tom to wife – “I need to lose 16 pounds. I cannot play golf as well as I did and I feel more tired than usual. I could use your help. Will you agree to me getting rid of all the junk in the pantry and in the refrigerator so that I am not inclined to eat junk after dinner?”
Wife – “Yes. Happy to do so. I will even help you get rid of things that are hurting your health. I need to lose a few pounds myself anyways.”
2. Wife to Tom – “Did you finish day one of not eating junk after dinner?
Tom– “Yes. I had 3 strawberries and some yogurt instead.”
Wife – “Nice work. I am feeling like I should do the same. Let’s resolve to do this daily and celebrate by going to the movies at the end of the week!”
3. Tom to wife – “I want to stay really focused on this one change because I’ve already lost 3 pounds in just 7 days! I know that if I try to change too many things at once, I will lose focus and not do anything at all. I am already feeling like I want to move more and be active. I’ll plan on walking more but will stay focused on the night time change.”
4. Tom to wife after 5 weeks – “My yogurt night time routine is really easy to do now. I enjoy the treat and I do not crave the chips and ice cream that I used to have. I have lost 9 lbs in 5 weeks and it is easy now. Best part is that I have more energy and I feel like I want to get even healthier. My energy is great!”
5. Wife to Tom – I feel good too. I lost the 4 pounds, and all in my stomach! Let’s pick another change and see if we can get to the point where it seems easy. Just like the yogurt and berries seems easy. You know, I do not miss any of the junk at night, and I feel like I have the confidence to continue getting healthier! I cannot believe that all these years of trying to lose weight and this is all we had to do! We made things so complex. It really doesn’t have to be like that. I’m ready to feel even better.”
6. Tom – “Me too! Let’s celebrate and go on a long weekend vacation!”
For those of you that need a nudge or do not have the support of a spouse or understanding friend, see me for my one behavior change program that is focused on you! Effective and economical, it is a great way to see much success and weight loss in 5 simple weeks!
Taking applications now
but only for those who
dare. Call 904 501 6002
5 weeks of telling you what to do!
Look at this guy! He’s sinking in mud! Too often people aiming to get lean and fit wait for the perfect moment that will spur them into action and motivate them to new heights.
Getting started on weight loss and fitnes is not always just about basic exercise and healthy eating skills. It’s about about motivation of course. Starting is about making the decision to move from desire to action. Many people get stuck in the “I want to lose weight and get healthy but now is not the time phase.” The thought of getting organized, beginning an exercise program, and eating healthy every single day is often overwhelming This phase can last weeks, months, and even years.
If you are experiencing the “I just can’t get started blues” with weight loss and healthy living practices, then ponder the points below to help get you jump started in a smart weight loss direction.
1. I’ll Just Wait Until The Time is Right. I often hear people say that they plan to do something about their weight and fitness levels when they have more time and less stress in their lives. “I will try to lose weight in the Fall because I’ll be less busy then and the weather will be cooler for exercise.” The problem with life is that we never really are less busy or have less stress later. The problem with the waiting game is that days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and months turn into years. The convenient time to make a big life change often never comes. And if it does come by chance, a delayed start delays your outcome. You deprive yourself of something that is important to you so why wait? Busy times and stressors will inevitably return just like bad weather.
Truly changing your lifestyle means living a different life under any and all circumstances, not just when you have free time and no stress. Why not go for it now? The minute you do, you’ll see that not only are you closer to your destination, but you are closer to having a clear head that isn’t always thinking about what you should and should not be doing. Ironically, people who make the decision to improve their lives and adhere to a start date actually reduce the stress in their lives immediately. There’s no right time. Make the decision and set a start date!
2. The One Day Experiment. We talk so much about how losing weight requires a lifestyle change–and it does, but lifestyle change sounds so daunting. The overwhelming part is the commitment of changing behavior for life, so it may be necessary to remove the commitment aspect to take some pressure off. By removing the commitment, you will get an accurate assessment of just how challenging the behavior changes really are.
But how do you remove the “commitment” from something that seems to inherently require one?! Try a “one-day experiment.” This is where you commit to only one single day of change. For that one day, toe the line: make the healthy choices, and workout. The next day go back to your normal routine. If you feel like trying another healthy day, then do so, if not, try another one the following week. Add a second day when you feel ready. The objective is to get some momentum going by accomplishing at least one day and only progressing further as you feel comfortable.
Making a lifestyle change is not an all-or-nothing venture. Work your way towards it and appreciate that even though the goal is to live a healthy life, it is a gradual journey that is built one day at a time.
3. 5 Minute Challenge. The 5 minute challenge follows along similar lines but is specifically for someone who is having trouble getting an exercise program started. If you are having difficulty getting exercise started then commit to a single 5 minute workout. Climb on a machine or go for a walk, pick any activity of your choice, but commit only to 5 minutes. If you end up doing more than 5 minutes— great, but the goal is just to accomplish the 5 minutes.
Once you have accomplished it, try another a few days later. Then begin to add a minute to the workout each week. Even though 5 minutes may sound like nothing, you are using this tactic to overcome the biggest barrier to healthy living of all—getting started.
For those of you that are the “all or nothing A personality types” then see me so I may plant a seed in that overly cognitive high energy head. For reasons unknown to me 90% of my cliental are the “all or nothing types.” Not sure why that is, unless they have sniffed out that I used to be an A personality myself. Take the Challenge and get started.
4. Forget The A-Ha Moment Fallacy. When I encounter people who have lost large amounts of weight I often ask if they had an A-Ha! moment that precipitated their change. Usually people will say yes, but interestingly these moments are rarely major things like heart attacks, being diagnosed with diabetes, or having some other serious health problem.
In fact, serious events like these are not always effective at creating a sea change of motivation but instead can result in demoralization. After a serious medical event I have heard people say, “It is too late to change now, the damage is done.” More often A-Ha moments are day-to-day instances such as a belt or pair of pants no longer fitting, feeling sick after a day of overeating, or catching a glance of oneself in a mirror. Are these really A-Ha moments?
Why is putting the belt on one day so much more meaningful than it was the day before? Who knows, but there might be no such thing as a magical moment of readiness— where everything seems clear and all doubts and fears have vanished. Even many of the people I train and coach have expressed doubts about whether they could do it, but they moved forward in spite of the doubts. The only way to dissolve doubts is through action. Motivation does not stimulate action, it is created by action. You will feel more motivated once you see the first signs of progress and that motivation will propel you to achieve a little more, and so on.
Don’t wait for motivation to arrive at your front door. The best way to lose weight and get fit is to put it into action. Don’t wait. Put healthy living into action today!
For many people trying to lose weight and get fit is a love hate relationship. You love the way it makes you feel after you workout, but absolutely hate the act of working out. You have the routine. You drag yourself through it. You feel pretty good once it’s over, but then have to build up the drive to get back to it the next day. You pick an activity that you don’t completely hate… be it walking, the gym, biking, or a class, and then stick with that routine with very little variation. You drag your way through the monotony because you feel like you have to. If you didn’t have to do it you would quit tomorrow.
If this describes you, your exercise regimen may be one of going through the motions. Going through the motions is an autopilot setting we put ourselves on when we are just trying to get through something that brings us very little joy. We all do it at some point in life, but when you it becomes a way of life, you have to admit, it’s a pretty lousy way to spend time.
As with anything in life, just going through the motions rarely leads to great endeavors. Going through the motions prevents you from feeling engaged and empowered. In fact, lack of engagement numbs the body, mind, and soul. And ironically, it’s the exact opposite of what we are aiming to accomplish with exercise and healthy living lifestyles.
Here’s a challenge for you as we launch into the summertime season. I dare you to challenge yourself to the absolute biggest project you ever launched with your exercise routine. Here’s how.
1. Don’t Exercise. TRAIN. One way to snap out of going through the motions is to give your exercise meaning and purpose. Convert your exercise to “training.” Training is a goal-oriented way of exercising. Your workouts are laid out before you on a schedule of increasing duration and intensity, typically with a future event of some kind in mind. If you are just starting off, consider a Couch to 5k walk or run plan. If you have already accomplished that, try a 10K plan or a bike walk run plan. You can Google training plans for any activity, including walking, running, biking, or swimming. You may want to consider my movement is life plan designed to get you moving in the right direction and motivated over a 10 week period of time. Not to worry, it’s all done on your own. It’s simply slipped into your e mail box weekly and there you have it! It is individualized for you and ready to be followed. Go to http://bodysmartinc.com/?page_id=1281
Even if you don’t have an event planned, training schedules are a great way to structure your exercise and achieve increased endurance, conditioning and strength. Training also has built in milestones that once accomplished will give your workouts purpose and a sense of accomplishment.
2. Challenge yourself: Regularly. Every year I challenge you to plan a physical accomplishment you think you aren’t capable of doing. To really discover your physical capabilities, give yourself the opportunity to wow yourself. I guarantee you can do far more than you can imagine right now. You might consider hiking a mountain trail. A race event. A long bike ride. Anything. If you haven’t selected anything yet this year, consider selecting an activity for this summer. This gives you 3-4 months to get working on it. The feeling of accomplishing something you didn’t think possible is one of the greatest highs in life.
3. Cross train. We have a tendency to get comfortable with our go-to exercise but any single exercise only allows us to condition some muscles and will neglect others. Crosstraining is important to get a more comprehensive workout and also break up the monotony of your routine. I recently had an injury that forced me to take up easy walking, an exercise I have never much embraced unless I could crank it up with a few mountains to climb. Being in Florida, mountains are non existant, so I was shocked that by being forced to do it for several weeks, I built up a liking for it. I have even planned it in my regular exercise routine and walk routinely for an hour a day with my husband. If you told me before I was going to look forward to walking easy for an hour , I would never have believed you! Just by doing something over and over again can cause you to like it more, so don’t worry if you don’t like a new activity now. A new activity will allow you to work new muscles and also burn more calories. Our bodies get used to the same old workout and over time burn fewer and fewer calories doing it over and over again. Work in at least 2 different types of exercises each week (e.g., at least 1 day of a second exercise) to properly cross train
4. Set goals. Goals are a great way to have a purpose. Why are you exercising? What are you striving for? I realize most people have a weight loss goal but I find very few people have an exercise goal. Consider your current exercise regimen and each month set a new goal for yourself in terms of mileage, duration, and/or frequency. Beware of the “one goal wonder,” which is the act of setting a single goal and none other. I had a client who had a goal in mind to run a 5k race. She had set the goal in spring and the race was to be in autumn. With no goal following the race, guess what happened? She stopped exercising. The week you accomplish your goal, set a new one. Avoid ever having a time when you do NOT have an exercise goal in mind (even if you are in weight maintenance). Your goals don’t have to be huge, just a little more than what you are doing now.
5. Get a coach/trainer. Higher a coach/trainer. Years ago, many people regarded the hiring of trainers as mainly a way to be accountable to an exercise program. Today’s mindset is much different. People want a trainer that challenges them not just on the gym but in other part of their lives. Today’s coach/trainer combinations are much more sophisticated. A good coach/trainer helps clients build their healthy lives in a much more meaningful way beyond the gym setting. If you are hesitant to spend much money, you can get quite a bit out of even 2-3 sessions. The coach or trainer can help you set goals and devise a training plan. If you have a medical condition and can get exercise physiology or physical therapy visits covered by your health insurance, I highly recommend asking your physical therapist or exercise physiologist for help with a training plan.
You will know when you have truly achieved a healthy lifestyle when the pieces of it (healthy eating AND exercise), are things that you just can’t imagine living without. This is when you know you have arrived at a lifestyle change! If you are dragging your way through exercise or engaging in a love- hate relationship with your exercise routine then it is time to get engaged and give it purpose, direction, and meaning! Let me know how it goes. I love to be in the know