Words and images promoting toning and sculpting the body through exercise seem to be everywhere we turn. The wonders of technology provide us with images of people going from flabby to firm arms and legs and from muffin-top to muscular core. The technology makes it look so easy… and possible.
Unfortunately these tout the wonders of computer science rather than movement science. The body does not burn more fat in an area when we exercise that area. So sit ups and triceps exercise will not but fat in these “problem areas”. We just do not have as much control over how exercise makes our body appear as the popular images lead us to believe. Fortunately there are real benefits of exercise and focusing on them keeps us motivated with real results!
What does work?
- A healthy attitude of self kindness for the body you do have! Research consistently shows that people who are kind and compassionate to themselves when making healthy changes are much more likely to stick to those changes than those who are critical of themselves.
- Let go of the idea that you can spot reduce (exercise a part of the body to lose more fat there). It is just not science based! As an example, go back to our discussion of the true job of core exercises as a guide for true exercise in this area of the body. When you see ads with images of changed bodies, know the images have most likely been altered to get your attention. Its just not reality based.
- Be consistent with a balance between cardiovascular exercise and strength training in the ways we have
been discussing here on Keep Moving Weekly.
- Set function goals rather than “form” goals. We have much more control over how our body functions than how it looks. What do you want to be easier? Golf? Playing with children? Climbing stairs? Travel? Housecleaning? Walking? Develop your exercise plan based on how you want to function better. Based on the reality of how the body works, these goals lead to lasting motivation.
- Work within your genetics. If your goal is to look better, instead of trying to “get a body” that looks like someone else, be the best you that you can be.
- Celebrate You! Keep yourself off the downward spiral of comparison, competition and self-criticism. Set your own goals based on what you want and what is really possible and celebrate each day what you accomplished to get there.
Keep Moving, Be Well
Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery. Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center
These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.