Often times people give up on weight loss programs because there is a sense of little or no control of results. Even with the odds against us, there are a select few who manage to take complete control of their weight and health. Instead of understanding how and why they achieved success, they are usually envied and the internal story of why it won't work for you starts spinning constantly inside your mind. Although it may seem counterintuitive, pregnancy is a fantabulous opportunity to take full control of your and your child's health.
Charles Duhigg states in his book titled Smarter, Faster, Better, "Figure out how this task is connected to something you care about. Explain to yourself why this chore will help you get closer to a meaningful goal. Explain why this matters and then you'll find it easier to start."
If you connect the importance of working out to the health of your unborn child, this can help in making decisions around your health and fitness in a deliberate way easier. Envision a stronger, healthier, leaner child with a parent (you) who is strong, is a healthy weight, feels good in their clothes, and is happier. Then envision the opposite, declining strength, weight gain, muscle and bone degeneration, increased risk for heart disease, etc.
Duhigg explains that seeing the bigger goal can help us to take action now. In our instant gratification culture, this practice can be challenging, but perhaps not as difficult when considering the health of your unborn child. The placenta, which is a temporary organ, transfers oxygen and nutrients from mom to baby. The demands of regular exercise cause the placenta to grow larger, making it better at delivering oxygen and nutrients to the baby. Exercise makes your baby stronger and leaner.
No better time to start exposing your child to physical activity. Natalie Digate Muth, MD, reported, "Few behaviors more significantly influence child health than physical activity," in an article titled, To Grow Healthier, Happier Adults, Raise Fit Kids. Waiting till your child has a weight or health issue to begin an active lifestyle is a huge disservice and is less likely to become a regular part of your child's life.
Exercising while pregnant is highly beneficial and encouraged by ACOG. Exercise has multiple benefits for mom and baby. There are certain guidelines to follow so working with a professional who is certified in pre/post-natal fitness instruction is important. If given the go ahead by your doctor, you can begin an exercise program, even if you are starting when pregnant.
If you are a woman who has struggled with losing weight and/or committing to an exercise program, pregnancy is a prime opportunity to consider how you will address weight and health issues with your child. Set your new baby up with good health right away with the added bonus of improving your health and fitness too!
When most of us sign up for a new diet or exercise routine that promises losing 10 or more pounds, we get excited and think, "YES! This is going to work for me this time. I am determined and tired of being fat." The problem is, when you hear a friend, a coworker, or even yourself say, "I'm on a diet", it is mentioned and thought of as if it were a temporary thing.
If you reach or get close to reaching your goal weight then the carrot is yours. This is the most dangerous time because we have thought of the diet as temporary, a way to reach our goal, and as something that isn't pleasant and has an end date.
BAM! Chances are, you gain all the weight back and then some, only to feel like a failure and try again with some other diet or routine. Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?
We were brought up on a rewards and punishment system and have tried to apply the same motivational system to induce weight loss. Rising obesity rates annually should show us that this way isn't working!
Intrinsic motivation is the best guarantee for success in any endeavor, not just weight loss. Quick fixes are probably something you will regret later on. For instance, a girlfriend of mine, her mother took a popular weight loss pill many years ago and it caused a valve in her heart to deteriorate; she now has the valve of a cow and was told that eventually it will need to be replaced. Nothing short of scary!
This is a great example of why you shouldn't just take or do something just because it is for sale. The FDA doesn't monitor most supplements, which means manufactures can add whatever they want, which can cause harm and death in extreme cases.
The moral here is to get tons of information; information about yourself, your body, your mind. Learn why you are unconsciously holding onto the weight, because we all choose what activities we participate in and what we eat. Learn what triggers you to eat unhealthy food; are you using food as a coping strategy? Have a coach guide you in seeing what is really the problem, because the "magic" diet is 1000% NOT the answer and never will be.
It is no secret we need to exercise. Dieting alone isn't good enough for overall health. Exercise builds healthy bones, muscles, organs, and is great for preventing a whole host of diseases. Many people think all they need to do is diet and exercise. So what does a comprehensive health program look like?
Fitness professionals are beginning to incorporate behavior change tactics into their programs. Mindfulness is being interweaved into fitness classes and practices. It is great that collectively, as professionals, we are acknowledging that diet and exercise alone are not cutting it for most.
A complete health program should include, good nutrition, adequate sleep (varies for each individual), stretching, self myofascial release, hydration, and rest between workouts. Beyond these, which are now pretty well understood by most fitness professionals, the deeper elements of the unconscious mind must be understood beyond just behavior change tactics. Without this critical component, the battle will always be uphill. An inside-out approach is the most effective and is the only way to achieve lasting results with greater ease.
To give an example, if you believe it is hard to lose weight and get fit and that it is a punishment that you have to take extreme measures to achieve those goals, then the chances are that you won't sustain any progress you have made. In fact, often times people end up putting back on the weight they lost plus more. The process is very defeating and leaves many feeling hopeless that there is any chance of success following any program.
Comprehensive health is preventative health and devoting an appropriate amount of time, energy, and focus into each facet naturally brings harmony and balance to all areas of you life; not just physical health.
It is easy to get into a groove of endlessly going through your to-do list day after day without considering what it is you really want. We are all conditioned from an early age to get a good job that will pay the bills. Many times we aren't considering what we want, and instead are only focused on staying afloat. Survival instincts are great and we need them but the whole point of our existence is not solely for survival. If you have a desire for something, such as a healthy body and weight, that longing doesn't come from a survival point of view. Therefore, if we want it, we have the capacity to have it; it is a matter of tapping into that higher knowledge.
It has been said that the path to success isn't a perfectly straight line. There are curves, ups and downs, and obstacles that we must face along the way. It often feels like the scariest thing we could ever imagine to take on and having faith that it all works out for our growth and development isn't always easy.
With that said, the path not clearly defined is less traveled for a reason and basically that internal voice to have what you deserve has to be loud enough for you to begin taking steps. I have heard it takes 10 years to become an over night success. It is easy to look at someone else and devise a very convincing story of how and why they have what they have and why you don't and never will have it.
Coming out of the mental fog you have been "surviving" in for all of these years is a step by step process. Resistance will come up and is part of the process; seeing everything as an opportunity for growth, and thereby another stepping stone on your journey, is a change in perspective that will help you stay the path. In the beginning, it is tempting and easy to turn around and slide right back into old patterns. If those patterns are making you miserable enough to want real change in your life then your unconscious mind will lead you to where you need to start. "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."
Ah, it is that time of year yet again. Halloween is coming, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. Chances are you have parties to attend, whether it be with family, friends, or colleagues. Even if your schedule isn't booked with tons of events, there are probably treats at the office lined up. It may feel as if they are begging you to eat them and the only thing that is holding you back by a tiny thread is your dwindling willpower.
An interesting fact I just read states that Christmas and New Year's Day are the two days of the whole year that heart attacks are most likely to happen (Kloner 2004). Make no mistake, stress affects your heart and often the holidays bring with it a big side helping of stress. There is lots to do, not enough time to do it in, and not to mention the emotional triggers that we all face.
Is your habit to binge eat during the holidays and then spend the New Year beating yourself up with your resolution to work it all off? Rising health care costs and increases in obesity show us that our approach to weight loss and an overall healthy lifestyle aren't working. How can this be? We exist during a time where information is available at the touch of a button. What if the way we have been going about it is all wrong?
What if we are attempting to work on a problem from the outside in instead of the inside out? Every single one of us has been conditioned to seek pleasure and avoid pain. As we understand what has been driving our behavior over the years on a deeper level, while making SMALL healthy changes, offering nothing but compassion, we begin to step into a new world of possibility.
The only problem with this is, stated the way I just did makes it almost insulting because it is too general. What does a small healthy change mean? What does compassion really mean and can we really, I mean really, have compassion for ourselves? Well, it is a process. Is that an annoying answer? Probably, but when you reframe your thoughts about how annoying the process is, it helps a lot.
Think about it; if you have been practicing something like self-loathing thoughts and behaviors for 30, 40, 50 years, would there be anything or anyone who could magically snap that out of your mind? Nah, and we all know it. Good news is, once you start cracking at it, there is a natural compulsion to continue more self exploration (if you have a good coach). Trust me, you will be fascinated by what you learn about yourself and as doors start opening, you will look back in a year or more and be so surprised with how much different of a person you have become. The feeling is hard to explain, but is by far, hands down, the most rewarding effort that I have ever spent my time or money on.
A common reason people begin new fitness/health routines is because they begin to feel the effects of aging, whether that be weight gain, achy joints, or experienced weakness. Many people fear aging for these reasons but it doesn't have to be a fast slide into the prison you imagine it to be. A good preventative medicine plan includes strength, mobility, flexibility, and balance training. Sometimes it may seem counterintuitive to think of regular resistance training as a method of reducing discomfort, particularly because it may not seem like a comfortable activity while working out.
This is where a good coach comes in, so you don't have to design your own balanced, properly weighted program; your coach should be someone you enjoy working with, someone who inspires you and pushes you beyond what you thought was possible. I have never been stronger, felt better, and been pushed harder than when I was trained. We all have blind spots and a good coach illuminates those areas for us.
Even if you aren't ready to begin a full program, begin stretching yourself in your workouts. If you aren't accustomed to doing any exercise, that's ok; begin small by taking walks in the park or around the block. Start slowly increasing your distance and pace. As you feel more comfortable with these strides, begin incorporating some body weight training, such as squats and wall push-ups.
A common misconception about exercise is that you have to commit to a program that is going to kill you, and that simply isn't true and in fact will lead to greater rates of burnout. You are much more likely to stick with and enjoy an activity that you have slowly acclimated to.
Peak bone mass happens in our twenties and slowly declines as we age. Strength training helps slow this process, as weight bearing activity increases bone density. Studies have indicated that aerobic activity has a positive impact on those prone to or who have Alzheimer's disease. The best bet is to incorporate both aerobic and strength training into your lifestyle at a pace that works well for you. The payoff is priceless in the long run.
Chances are you have been on the health and weight loss hamster wheel for a long time. Every new diet and/or exercise routine you try brings nothing but more of the same.
If you start a new technique or go back to one that has brought you positive results in the past with the same mindset you can guarantee that your results will be the same. With that said, there are weight loss methods that aren't healthy and can actually exacerbate health issues or create new problems. For this reason it is best to not assume that a program or technique is safe or healthy without doing research.
Diets that entirely cut out macronutrients (e.g., carbs) can have health implications that you may not be aware of. Exercise routines that do not balance the body's entire muscle system or do not take into account preexisting conditions can create injuries or make existing injuries worse.
Once you have determined that a program or routine is best for you, the next step is to check what other assumptions you are bringing to the table.. By this I mean your mindset. Are you spending your hard earned money and your limited time and effort on this program but deep down you really don't believe it will work, or you see it as deprivation and punishment?
We all make assumptions and when they go unchecked, we fail to see where the root of the problem is and therefore are constantly stuck on the never ending wheel. Healthy eating and exercise are two excellent modalities but usually aren't enough to get us to reach our goals. Understanding your conditioning is crucial and no one can address what they cannot see. Make a list of all the assumptions you are making about diet and exercise before you start another program so what has been unconsciously stopping you is finally illuminated and can be worked with.