Author Archives: Janet Huehls

About Janet Huehls

Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC, CYT, is a registered clinical exercise physiologist and a certified health and wellness coach with the UMass Memorial Weight Center. Each week Janet posts information about how to exercise more effectively and efficiently, how our bodies (and our minds) respond to exercise, and importantly, how to stay motivated. She also posts comments and ideas from patients, as well as advice on the speed bumps” we all encounter along the way to success with weight loss.

Resolutions… Why Wait?

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Here is a link to a blog by an insightful career coach.  The blog is from last year and directed toward career goals, yet the message is timeless and crosses all areas of well-being – including weight loss goals.   She proposes three questions to ask yourself each January….instead of setting resolutions.  Why not set resolutions?  Because January is a great time for recovery from the holidays and reflection of the year past.  December is no time for reflection as the holidays fill our days with a longer to do list and more emotions to sort though.

Here are the questions revised for this year and for reaching your health and well-being goals.

  • What went well in 2017?  What were your accomplishments that you’re really excited about?
  • What did you learn in 2017 about what makes it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight?
  • What would you have done differently? This third question will begin to prepare you for  having some 2017 goals that are based on what you learned last year rather than just a reaction to the holiday stress.

So, enjoy a January free of pressures to set resolutions.  Take a walk to help your brain learn and be creative as you ponder these questions.  When you return, jot down the answers.  Let them “simmer” a bit until February 1st.

Wait to set resolutions and you will be ready to set goals for 2018 that are well thought out and and more lasting .

May you discover an overflow of health and happiness in 2018!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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.

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

 

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by | January 2, 2018 · 1:52 pm

Success Breeds Success!

Success breeds success
Mia Hamm

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Who doesn’t like a little pat on the back once in a while. Heck, who would not like one every day!  It is nice to be recognized for an achievement. It gives us a little energy boost, a bit of extra motivation to keep going, to try harder, to overcome obstacles.

Successful leaders know recognition is an important part of keeping a team going.  In fact, according to the book How Full is Your Bucket,  the number-one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated.

So, who is the CEO of your well-being?  Who is the leader of your weight loss journey?  YOU!  As a smart leader, who knows you do not want to quit your weight loss goal,  how often to do you recognize your achievements?

It can feel self-serving to recognize our own achievements.  However, research consistently shows that self-criticism lowers the chance of reaching a goal. Since finding our faults can be a knee-jerk reaction, we need to make it easier to recognize what is going well or we might automatically end up focus only on what is NOT going well.

Here are tips for making this most effective:

  1. Make it easy.  Keep a daily accomplishments list on something easy to access, such as on your phone or in your daily calendar.  Every day jot down at least one accomplishment.  Whether it is exercising that day, or eating a vegetable, give yourself credit for the achievement.
  2. In the moment.  As soon as you notice an achievement, no matter how small, jot it down so you don’t forget.  (enjoy that pat on the back!)
  3. Be specific.  Instead of just saying “good job”, note exactly what you did.  You might even make a special note if you overcame a challenge in that achievement.  For example, “I did my strength training routine, even though I was tired after work. I felt so much better after!”.
  4. Connect it with the bigger goal.  The more you connect what you are doing with why you are doing it, the more you harness the energy of this goal for you.  For example “I exercised after work giving me more energy for playing with my kids, and that is why I want to lose weight, to have energy to play with my kids”.

When looking back on this list, you will find you have a record of what works well for you.  This is like finding gold in times when you are struggling, looking for ways to get back on track.

I challenge you to try it for a few days, see how it goes for you. (Give yourself credit for at least trying it). Let me know how it goes!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort
Franklin D. Roosevelt

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.

 

 

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by | October 18, 2016 · 3:36 pm

Fitness: Part 2- Beware of Detours

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Protect yourself from getting off track from the true definition of fitness.  Stay aware of these “detours” that can waste time and can distract from the true goal of living better:

  • Most popular:  Fitness trends come and go. The tendency is to think if it is popular it must be good.   Just because everyone is doing it or talking about it being great, does not mean it is great for you.  Nor does it mean it is based on movement science. Even if they use the word “research” in the ad, it does not mean the research is well done or unbiased.
  • Most challenging:  We tend to think if there is a lot of sweating, muscle soreness and pain, it must be better for us than something more moderate.  The “no pain no gain” approach is for athletes who have to sacrifice comfort for winning.   For healthy fitness there is “no gain in pain”!   If you just want to be healthy and enjoy life more, a “comfortable challenge” is the goal.    Moderate intensity really does work for health, well-being and weight loss.   Extreme challenges in exercise get so much media coverage it can seem like discomfort is the goal.  Stay aware! If it is uncomfortable it is not sustainable.  Consistency is key for healthy fitness.
  • Most expensive:  Marketing professionals know – if something is more expensive, consumers believe it is better.  The truth is,  a bottle filled with water weighing 5lbs is the same 5lbs as the most expensive dumbbell.  Your muscles do not know the difference if you are lifting an expensive weight or a “free” weight. Walking and dancing are free, and great forms of exercise.

 

Take a look at your list from last week.   What do you want and need to be able to do to enjoy life more?  Keep focused on that list.  Be aware of the lure of the quick, expensive, and most popular fixes – and you will stay on the road to true health and fitness.

More next week…

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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.

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by | July 25, 2016 · 7:20 pm

Follow-up After Weight Loss Surgery

roadWeight loss is a journey. And bariatric surgery is a milestone in that journey. Surgery marks a whole new chapter, a beginning of a new journey within that weight loss journey. Sure, it’s a faster, smoother ride after, than before surgery. It’s like getting onto a highway after driving for miles on bumpy, traffic light-filled roads. The appetite restriction makes it much easier to feel full with smaller meals. The quick weight loss in the initial months after surgery opens up a whole new world of possibilities for exercise. With your joints carrying less weight than before, moving becomes much less painful, and the increase in physical activity leads to further weight loss.

But even highways can be fraught with traffic jams and lane closures at times. The journey after surgery may be easier than before, but no one said it would be perfect. The stomach is an elastic bag, after all. And everyone is different. Some people experience appetite restriction for a longer time than others. Different people experience different levels of “hunger” at different points during their journey.

• Not eating 6 small meals a day, and sometimes skipping a few of those small meals, is one factor that can slow down weight loss, as it can lead to intense hunger, which can lead to eating fast and too much, which, in turn, can lead to stretching of the stomach. Skipping meals can also slow down the metabolism and cause weight re-gain.
• Not getting enough protein can be another factor, as protein helps with feelings of fullness and with preserving muscle mass that boosts metabolism.
• Usually consuming too little protein can lead to consuming too many carbohydrates – starchy foods such as bread, crackers, rice, etc. – which can cause weight re-gain. Starches are not only higher in calories, they are also notorious for causing “cravings,” as they spike blood sugar levels, sending hunger signals to the brain.
• Sometimes people can get off track with exercise, especially during the winter months. And, after not moving for a few days or weeks, they lose all motivation to get back on track because they have feelings of guilt and “failure.”

None of these things are easy – eating 6 small meals, getting enough protein, watching the carbs, exercising regularly. They take a lot of planning, time and effort. And, it is only natural to get off track with them after surgery, just as it is pre-surgery. Yet, a lot of people mistakenly think that once they have had surgery, there are “no room for mistakes.” People think, “I have invested a lot in surgery, I better not get off track ever again.” But holding yourself to such high standards, putting that kind of pressure on yourself, can actually backfire because it is self-defeating and leads to discouragement. Humans are not perfect, and neither is life. Even after surgery, you will still have good days and bad days, holidays and sick days, stressful days and vacations.

If you start the journey thinking “I cannot afford to fail,” then if things do go wrong, you are bound to chalk it up to “your fault” instead of examining what led to it.
Sometimes we spend so much energy beating ourselves up that we don’t see the complete picture, we don’t focus on the things that led to the lapse – some of which could well be out of our control.

For example, overeating could be the result of not drinking enough liquids or skipping meals, but we get too caught up thinking, “oh no, I’m back to my old ways” instead of back-tracking to see what led to it. Not exercising for a week or two could lead to a loss of motivation – but only if you had assumed in the first place that you were supposed to be perfect and not miss a single day.

Moral of the story? Success with weight loss isn’t defined by how many weeks, months, or years you can go without breaking down and indulging, overeating or not exercising. Rather, it is defined by how soon you can get back on track after a day, week, month, or even year of being off track. It is never too late to get back on track – ever. And the secret to getting back on track as soon as possible is having a curious, compassionate, non-judgmental attitude towards yourself. “It’s okay.” “I’m only human.” “What led to that?” “What can I do differently next time?” “What’s the lesson here?” This is the right way to talk to yourself, instead of “I’m so lazy” or “I failed” or “I’m back to my old ways.” Don’t forget about all of the pounds you lost before you start focusing on the pounds you gained.

Of course, all this is easier said than done. We humans are hard-wired to be our own worst critics. It is so much easier to offer hope and empathy to our friends than to ourselves! That’s precisely why you need the objective, non-judgmental perspective of your provider. You could be unnecessarily scolding yourself when all you needed to do was make some small changes to your meal or exercise routine. You could be avoiding a follow-up visit with your doctor or dietitian because you are thinking, “How can I face them after having gained this weight?” when in reality, you are the only one judging yourself.

Here’s another reason to stay in touch with your surgeon, dietitian and exercise physiologist:
• Your nutritional needs – calories, vitamins, etc. can change through the years after surgery based on your medical conditions, deficiencies, and general health status.
• Your exercise plan, too, can need alterations based on your fitness level.

It is difficult to try guessing these changes yourself. Regular appointments and blood tests make it so much easier to always have an accurate sense of your needs and to make it possible to update your diet and exercise plan at regular intervals. So, regular check-ins with your healthcare providers are extremely important for permanent weight loss success after bariatric surgery.

Remember, no one said that weight loss is supposed to be easy after surgery forever, or that you are expected to be 100% prefect with eating healthy and with exercise. It is still a journey with traffic jams and bumps in the road. Support makes that journey easier, whether it is from your family and friends or from your professional and compassionate healthcare providers.

Special Thanks to Narmin Virani RD for writing, Kayla Scally NP for editing, and Robin Mason NP for reviewing this blog.  

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.

 

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Filed under Life After Weight Loss Surgery, Medical

Life After Weight Loss Surgery – Blog Series

As I attend surgery support groups and meet with patient both before and after weight loss surgery, one thing is for sure – surgery is not “the easy way out”.  Anyone who has been through this process knows, there is no quick fix to be found here.  Weight loss is hard work, with or without surgery.  The same lifestyle changes are necessary for lasting success with weight loss with surgery – plus many, many more.

This blog series will be a mix of patient and provider perspectives about life after weight loss surgery.  No two patient experiences are alike – as you will see in the patient stories.  The providers at the Weight Center have much expertise to share after working for over a decade now with many patients on this journey.

Bottom line…the journey does not end with weight loss surgery.  Follow up with medical providers, maintaining a strong support network, and staying aware of daily choices are keys for true success.

Lets kick off this series with an analogy written on a weight loss surgery community forum:

I liken my obesity to a person standing in a deep hole without a rope or a ladder. There are some people who are able to dig themselves out without the rope or the ladder, and others get part of the way up but then slide back down. All the while, there are people peeping down the hole, giving directions on how to get out or telling you that it is your own fault that you are in a hole in the first place. Or telling you how they know many people who have dug their way out of that hole successfully and telling you that a rope or ladder is not needed.

Some people are so convinced of their own inadequacy or defeated that even if the rope is made available to them, they don’t use it because they want to show the world that they can get out of the hole without it, or they are ashamed to admit that they need a rope.

If you imagine yourself in that hole, imagine how that would feel. It is easy to just sit in the hole and give up after so many attempts to get out. You start to feel that it is impossible.

Gastric bypass is my rope. It is a tool. If I use it correctly, it will get me out of the hole and keep me out. If I don’t use it correctly, I will remain in the hole.

Author Unknown.

If you have had weight loss surgery and would like to submit a blog entry, please email me at janet.huehls@umassmemorial.org.  All patient entries will kept confidential and shared anonymously on the blog. 

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC

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.

 

 

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by | March 3, 2016 · 3:56 pm

March Post Surgery Support Group

 

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by | February 24, 2016 · 8:16 pm

Mindset Matters

Pause for a moment.  Notice what you are thinking.  Notice the quality of your thoughts; positive or negative, fast or slow.

Can what is going on up there really change the body?

Lets experiment – imagine going to the refrigerator and taking out a bright yellow juicy lemon. Cutting it in slices and taking a big bite of the juicy pulp.  What is happening in your mouth right now?

Same if you think of a happy event, a smile comes to your face? Think of a nerve wracking event, butterfly’s in your stomach?

Our brain 1mind and body are connected by a two way street. What happens in one affects the other.

So can our thoughts actually change how our body responds to eating and exercising?

Research is pointing to a big “yes!”.  Check out this TED talk by Dr. Alia Crum.

Great news because it means we could very well have an added way to improve our health and well-being – by switching our thinking – in any moment.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC

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.

Leave a comment

by | February 24, 2016 · 8:16 pm