Author: Brian Waldo MS CSCS CPT FNS WLS
As a fitness professional of over 27 years I have seen almost everything when it comes to efforts to lose weight, get fit and feel good. Every January new things come out of course that are geared to help those with big goals accomplish great things!
When my career first started I worked in a Chiropractic/Physical Therapy Clinic for a few years. My role was to help direct patients home exercise plan by teaching them the best practices for low back pain. My observation at that time was that many people with back pain also were dealing with one of two other issues. The first being overweight. Even with increasing efforts at educating the public, our hustle bustle lifestyle has not helped our waist line. The trend in both adults and in our youth is that of increasing obesity according to the Centers for Disease Control or (CDC) in Atlanta. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db219.pdf . This issue is going no where fast.
There is no shortage of intervention weight loss programs. Many of them touting dramatic results in a relatively quick period of time. In fact, I have past and current students/clients that have done these programs. Initially, no question if you follow the plan it works. However, many of these programs (not all) focus on mainly supplement use and dramatic calorie restriction. The math works on that if you stick to the plan. I do not know the exact data, but what I do know is that I have seen many people come to me after being on one of those programs. Normally, they connect with me after losing weight and then gaining it back. Why is it that we continue to gain weight when the knowledge of how to be healthier stares us in the face every day? Our society we live in now is more stressful than ever. We are constantly bombarded with media, marketing, work demands, kids schedules our family plans and keeping up with whatever is happening in our friends lives through social media. Our brains never stop processing all that is going on around us each day. This is where it starts but not where it has to end!
The second thing people seemed to struggle with is physical fitness. At the time, we spent most of our energy and time getting people out of pain. We would give patients\clients a few exercises in the wellness center we staffed for patients. We had an almost free membership fee for people to be able to come and exercise in our facility. What I observed however is that when the majority of people became pain free, they also became complacent with exercise and a better lifestyle! I believe it is safe to say that statistically more people pay for fitness memberships at 24 hour facilities than ever in history. That industry is making a crazy amount of money of people’s hopes that some day they will actually go to the gym. That recurring debit keeps going out of the checking account or credit card each month and to no avail, more than half of members do not use their memberships!
There is in many cases somewhere between 500.00 to 1200.00 spent on a fitness membership each year that they do not use. This is a minimal investment if it is being used! It is a significant divestment if not being used. You might as well drive down the road eating a pastry and throw a couple dollars out the window every day. In this instance, good intentions are costing many people big dollars and they are really getting nothing in return other than being able to say they have a membership at a health club. “Yep, I belong to ABC Fitness. I have been a member for 5 years and still can not get this weight off!” Or, so the story goes. Fun to talk about, but not productive.
So how does one stay engaged in a healthy lifestyle? Where do you start? How are you held accountable? Do you care? Are you on the brink of health concerns like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, poor A1C or maybe even have Type 2 diabetes due to your current life habits? Is now a time when more than ever you need to buckle down and make some kind of change that is sustaining? A change that is sustaining requires major shifts in how you think about life, how you manage your priorities and how you choose to spend your time. This is not easy with all the previously mentioned distractions and possible options that swallow up your day!
So where do you start? In my almost 30 years of experience, I have observed some things that work. If you follow them I can tell you that results that are sustainable are much more likely. Results that are meaningful and continue to pay dividends to your family and relationships are possible. It will take some resolve and determination on your part. You may even need some help along the way, but this is possible. I have coached thousands of people now in my career and I know when these principles are followed, positive things happen.
So here we go, the list goes as follows:
- Begin with the end in mind. Short term results do not mean long term success. Whatever you do should be sustainable for the long haul. Changes in nutrition, physical activity etc all need to be realistically maintainable. Slow changes over time are better than fast ones that only last a few months. In fact, it is well known that yo/yo dieting is actually worse or your health than being consistently over weight.
- Focusing on quality nutrition and food preparation is key. Eating whole foods that have low caloric density, yet high nutrient density is 80% of the solution. Learning how to cook well and prepare healthy vegetables and lean meats in a manner that is healthy is key to enjoying your new lifestyle. Embrace the time and energy you need to make this happen and exchange it for some other time suck that is not productive toward your healthy lifestyle!
- Adding some physical activity is next. This really should be secondary to eating better. If you have not gotten your meal prep and a serious start on cooking better and investing time in that, the time you spend exercising may be fruitless. You might get a little stronger, but you may not change your weight, in fact you may gain weight! Keep your priorities straight and keep the first things first. If you have that all set, then adding strength training, metabolic workouts, mediation, yoga, pilates or other popular programs can all be good options 4 or more days per week!
- Only use supplements to augment not direct your changes. I am not opposed to use of them, I use them myself. However, it is not how I get the lions share of my nutrients. How boring is it to drink a shake for 2 meals andeat a bar for a snack constantly? That gets old quick and is yet another reason many people do not stick with a good lifestyle habit. It is because they have not really learned anything new, they have not changed anything. Choosing to substitute a bar or shake to get through a rough spot in your day is one thing, but only getting your sustaining nutrition from those sources may just set you up for failure in the end.
- Finally, you may need to get some help at first. Most people with busy lives read a quick article like this one, think about how nice it would be to change things, yet never do. Why? Either, changes might mean if effects relationships, friendships, status at work or how people view you. There is almost a stigma in some circles of those that choose to care for themselves and their health. A change in mindset is required to adjust your perspective of reality and what is really happening. What is actually happening is that those not seemingly supporting you are actually scared you might actually accomplish what you set out to do! That means it is possible and they might actually need to get going and do something about their own health. You see misery loves company!
- Nutrition (what foods to eat, meal preparation etc)
- Priority management
- Mind set
- Augmented supplement program
- Physical Activity Recommendations and Programming
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