Category Archives: Athletes

How Much is Enough?

enough-2Let’s continue to look at the difference between training for sports/military performance and training for well-being.

When it comes to fitness, how much is enough?   

  • How hard should I push my body?
  • How much weight should I lift? 
  • How many miles should I walk or run?
  • How many steps should I take? 

If what you are doing never quite seems enough, always feels like you should be doing more, you may have strayed from training for well-being.

In athletic training, there is always a next level to strive towards. That ‘never enough’ provides the motivation to push harder. For this type of training, then, we need to rely on external guides to inform about our progress. Numbers such as miles and minutes provide accurate feedback. Coaches help assess our performance, giving valuable information about how to keep pushing the limits to excel at the sport.

In training for health and well-being, enough is the level that allows you to achieve the definition of fitness for well being – “do activities of daily life with ease, having enough energy left over for recreation and to meet emergencies.”

For this type of training, you have a guide more accurate than the most advanced technology or experienced professional available. The best part is this guide is free and with you all the time! It’s your body! What your body tells you in the present moment is the most accurate and reliable information available for training for well-being.

What makes it not so reliable is when our mind starts dictating what the body “should” do.  I should not have pain with this exercise, it was fine yesterday. I should be able to lift that much weight, run faster, walk further. I should push my body harder to lose more weight. 

Our judgment about what the body is telling us right now squelches this most accurate guide. When we use the body as a guide, we realize we can have the ultimate “personalized fitness program” available. When we listen we might hear the body saying:

  • That pain you feel when you exercise is a warning signal… possible injury ahead!
  • Those tight muscles cannot tolerate what you are doing right now. The nervous  system has taken over and tightened the muscle to protect it.
  • That pain and stiffness you feel when I am still for a while means I need movement to help get rid of some of this inflammation.
  • When you feel exhausted after a busy, stressful, yet sedentary day, it is because I have been working hard all day, ready to move to respond to your stressor.  Please give me what I have been preparing for and move so I can really relax.  

It is really easy to get caught in the should’s when fitness marketing and the culture tend to mesh together sports training and well-being training. Using mindfulness is very helpful here for developing the skills for listening to our body without judgment, uncovering the most accurate and reliable guidance available when it comes to training for our own well-being.

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.


Leave a comment

by | November 9, 2016 · 6:32 pm

You Get What You Train For


Let’s take a closer look at training for well-being versus training for athletics.

There is a principle in exercise science of specificity that basically says “you get what you train for.” The body will adapt to what you give it. If you want to be able to run faster, then practice running faster. If you want to be able to get up off the floor more easily, then practice strengthening the movements you need for that skill. If you want to be able to sightsee with friends all day, then gradually practice walking longer distances.

In sports training, the focus is on the physical skills needed for the sport.  In well-being training, skills for being able to enjoy life are the focus.

In sports training, the goal is to excel in the time spent in competition, for several seconds to a few hours. Well-being training is for functioning the best you can 24/7.

It is pretty obvious that one would not do the training program for a body builder to excel in competitive dance. Why then, do we use these and other sports training programs as the basis for fitness programs to improve health and well-being??? 

You get what you train for.  What do you want to train for? Sports training is fine, of course, as long as you know the results of training are very specific and don’t cross over well.

Be savvy. Ask anyone giving you fitness advice: What is this program based on?  Why am I doing this exercise? What specifically am I training for?  (And please don’t take “you are confusing the body” for an answer, unless you want a confused body.)

If your goal is to be healthy and well for as many of your 24/7s as possible, then check out what you are doing during as much of the 24/7 as possible. You see, when training to live better, it all matters – sit, stand, work, play, exercise, rest.  The specificity of training does not apply only when exercising.  It is a principle. It applies all the time.

Sitting with rounded shoulders. Guess what? The body gets used to what you give it. Standing in alignment, the body adapts to that too. We are always training for something (mentally AND physically).

For the  “all or nothing-ers” out there, this does not mean you move perfectly all the time. Simply pay attention to your body, check in often.

Bottom line: Training for well-being is an all-day awareness of how to give this body (and mind) what it needs to be well.

The body gets used to what you give it. What do you want it to get used to?

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.




by | October 4, 2016 · 5:56 pm

What are you training for?

I am noticing a bit of confusion in fitness lately – confusion between sports and military training and exercise for health and well-being. I want you to be a savvy fitness consumer who gets what you want from your investment.  Let’s take a look at the difference between the two approaches and see what you think:

Training for wellbeing.pngIf you were an athlete or military professional at some point in your life, the switch may be challenging. Those approaches to exercise can be strongly ingrained in your approach to movement. If you have done a fitness program with a sports-minded approach in the past, or admire those who do, this approach can be so enmeshed in your thinking about exercise, they can seem to be one and the same. But clearly, they are not.

Here are questions to ask yourself to be sure you are training for health and well-being:

  • Am I pushing through pain and discomfort in my fitness class/program?
  • Who is my primary guide for what is right for my body – a “fitness expert” or how my body feels with a certain exercise?
  • How often do I ignore and “tough out” pain with exercise?
  • How often do I get injured when I am on a fitness program?
  • Am I consistent with exercise all year long?
  • Does my exercise program leave me too sore and exhausted to move more throughout my day?
  • Am I  feeling and living better as a result of my training?

Are your answers more in line with the training approach on the right or the left of the chart above?

If you are ignoring pain, listening to a trainer more than your body, feeling sore and exhausted more often than energized, inconsistent with exercise, have a love/hate relationship with exercise, and/or have sustained an injury as a result of your training – you may be using a sports approach to health and well-being training.

If you feel better mentally and physically, have less pain and injury, are listening to your body, are consistent all year long, have more energy and stamina and strength to enjoy life – congratulations! You have found a fitness program for well-being.

This is not to say  sports, athletic, or military training is wrong – it is simply a different goal than training for health and well-being.  Sure, there is some crossover between the two ways of training the body.

The big difference is that sports/military training has a higher risk of injury and is not designed for sustainability long term.  If you want your weight loss to be sustainable – you need a fitness plan that is sustainable as well.

Look back at the blog series on fitness I did a few weeks ago for more informative about fitness designed for health and well-being.

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.


by | September 19, 2016 · 3:26 pm

Know Sweat

sweat 4Sweat.  It seems folks either love it or hate it.

For some, sweat is a big motivator. They LOVE to sweat.

Others HATE to sweat (passionately).  It can be a major barrier for exercise.

Let’s sort the myths from the facts:


  • Sweat is one way the body cools itself.  When sweat evaporates from the skin, it has a cooling effect
  • The amount of sweat we feel with physical activity depends on how much we sweat PLUS how fast it evaporates from the skin
  • Sweat rate and evaporation rate has to do with several factors:
    • temperature of the environment
    • humidity of the air – more humid, sweat does not evaporate as easily so it seems we are sweating more
    • other environmental factors such as wind and sunshine
    • genetics, hydration level, and clothing all effect sweat level too
  • Sweat is a good tool for knowing how much to re-hydrate after physical activitysweat3. Weigh yourself before and after exercise.  For every pound lost, replace it with 16 to 20 ounces of fluid (water is generally best unless sweating has been excessive).  If you would like more detailed information about fluid replacement, check out the American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand.
  • After weight loss surgery it is vital to monitor fluid loss and replace.  Stay hydrated by drinking small amounts of water during the day and weigh yourself before and after exercise to ensure you replace fluids lost.


  •  “exercise until you work up a sweat”.   Truth is too many factors  affect sweating for it to be a reliable way to measure the quality of an exercise session.  Lets take biking for example.  Biking outside at a moderate to somewhat heavy intensity level but not noticing any sweat, you might think you are not getting enough exercise using sweat as an indicator.  In a spin class on a humid day,  exercising at the same intensity level with sweat dripping off you and you think what a great workout!.  Outside you probably sweat less because the temperature was cooler, and any sweat evaporated quickly in the drier air.  The exercise level was the same though – so the quality of the workout is the same regardless of the level of sweat.
  • ” sweat means more calorie/fat burning”   Truth is sweat does not mean fat is melting off the body!  Although it seems like it should be truth – this is a big myth!  Since “sweat suits” are still sold in many stores,  I will repeat this – Sweat does not melt fat!  It is time we let this myth go once and for all!

Using breathing level to monitor exercise intensity is a much more reliable tool.  Moderate to somewhat heavy breathing level is the goal.  At this level exercise feels  comfortable  or a comfortable challenge.  This level ensures you are burning as many calories as you can, at a level that improves fitness without increasing the risk of injury.

sweatsweat 5

Check out these images to the left that popped up when I searched for Sweat images. 

Lets abandon these myths and focus on what really matters.

So, enjoy sweating if you love it. Just don’t make yourself sweat more than needed.

If you hate to sweat, exercise in a cooler environment, dress cool, choose activities where you can stay cooler,  and keep a fan on you if you are indoors.

Keep Moving, Be Well,


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.

1 Comment

by | October 1, 2015 · 7:35 pm

Nutrition for the Bariatric Athlete (Endurance Events)

Hello everyone! I’m Anna Polucha, a registered dietitian at the Weight Center. I’d like to thank Janet again for allowing me to guest post on her athletes 3blog.

Let me just say, it’s exciting to know that there are enough post-bariatric athletes out there that we have to write a blog post for you! I’m so happy to see this population of people embracing exercise and fitness.

There is not a lot of information out there for bariatric athletes, so I’m going to try to shed some light on that. First, a big disclaimer: if you are exercising at a low to moderate intensity for less than 1 hour, you probably don’t need extra nutrition/calories to support your exercise or recovery.  In fact, taking extra calories in this case may hinder your weight loss. My advice for those of you who fall into this category would be to structure your existing meals and snacks so that they support your workout.

For example, after surgery you should be eating about 6 times per day (3 meals, 3 snacks). If you work out at 5pm after work, make sure you save one of your snacks to have about an hour before you work out, then have dinner within the hour after you work out. You’re not taking in extra calories, but the timing of your snack and meal support optimal performance and recovery.

When you start an exercise regimen or increase the intensity of the one you are currently doing, you may experience an increase in hunger. For example, going from light walking 30 minutes per day to doing a 45-minute boot camp class 5 days per week would represent a big increase in exercise intensity. Adding an extra 100-200 calories to your day would help to curb hunger but would still allow for continued weight loss. Try adding the following 150 calorie recovery shake within 30 minutes of completing your workout:
1-2 Tablespoons protein powder
½ cup frozen fruit
1 cup skim milk
(Blend until smooth)

Please use the following guide to assess your calorie needs after weight loss surgery:

  • Man or Woman less than 1 year out from surgery needs 800-1000 calories per day
  • Inactive woman, more than 1 year out from surgery needs 1200-1300 calories per day
  • Active woman, more than 1 year out from surgery needs 1400-1600 calories per day
  • Inactive man, more than 1 year out from surgery needs 1400-1500 calories per day
  • Active man, more than 1 year out from surgery needs 1500-1700 calories per day

Endurance Athletes
As a note, many of the below nutrition requirements are based on an athlete’s weight. If you are overweight, considering using your ideal body weight (IBW) in place of your actual weight when doing the calculation. IBW for women is 100 + (5 x every inch over 5 feet). IBW weight for men is 106 + (6 x every inch over 5 feet). To get your weight in kilograms, divide pounds by 2.2.

For those who are training for long distance cardiovascular events, you have increased nutritional needs. You will need more calories and carbohydrates to support the large amount of energy you will be using during your training sessions and the event itself. For this reason, training for an endurance event should not be used as a way to lose weight. Completing long training sessions without enough calories or carbohydrates to fuel your body can lead to sub-optimal performance, burn out, or injury.

If you are still trying to reach your goal weight but would also like to train for a race, try a shorter distance race like a 5k or 10k. You can still fuel like an athlete, but you likely won’t need so many extra calories during the day to support your physical activity. An extra 100-200 calories per day would likely be enough to combat the increased hunger that will likely come from adding an exercise regimen to your lifestyle.
Calculating calorie needs for a post-bariatric patient is difficult and should be very individualized. For patients who have reached their goal weight, we generally recommend 1400-1600 per day for active women and 1500-1700 per day for active men. Your needs will go above and beyond this on days that you have longer training sessions.

It is recommended that endurance athletes eat 60% of their calories from carbohydrates. To calculate this, take your calorie intake for the day and multiply it by 0.6. Then divide that number by 4. That is the number of carbohydrate grams you need daily to support optimum performance. For a 1500 calorie per day diet, that number is 225 grams.

athletes 2The bariatric athlete may not be able to hit such a high number due to pouch space constraints or fear of dumping syndrome. In this case, try increasing your carbohydrate count slowly over time and use a number of high quality carbohydrate sources. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products are good choices. Be careful not to sacrifice your protein intake for carbohydrates.
Protein requirements for the endurance athlete are 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight. For a 180 pound person, that is 98-115 grams of protein per day.

Keep in mind, most whole grains and vegetables have small amount of protein in them, so you can count the protein in those items towards your daily intake. A half cup portion of cooked steal cut oatmeal has 27 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of protein. Try mixing in half a scoop of protein powder or a few egg whites and you’ve got a perfect breakfast for the bariatric endurance athlete!

Before the Endurance Event

Before a long distance training session or event, the typical recommendation is for an athlete to take in 1-4 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. For a 180 pound person, that is anywhere between 80 and 330 grams! Bariatric athletes may not be able to reach that number, so the goal would be to increase carbohydrate consumption before an event to a level at which you are comfortable and see performance improvement.

Carbohydrates before an event should be easily digestible. Bananas, figs and white breads are popular. Foods high in protein and fat are digested more slowly, and you may need to avoid them in the hour before the event. Liquid nutrition (sports drinks for example) may be preferred because they empty through the pouch quickly. Experiment with pre-race fueling during your training runs to see what works best for you.

During the Endurance Event

During long distance training or events, the athlete should take in 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour. The bariatric athlete will want to spread this out in smaller portions. Popular items for race fuel include carbohydrate gels and drinks. Gummy candies also work well for quick and easily digestible energy. Energy gels may have between 20 and 25 grams of carbohydrate per packet. Sports drinks have around 15 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounces. Bariatric athletes may consider competing with hydration back packs, which would allow them to drink small amounts continuously while racing.
After the Endurance Event
Nutrition during recovery is vital for good performance. Aim to have 15 grams of carbohydrate (equivalent to about 1 slice of bread or 8 ounces of a sports drink) within 30 minutes of finishing. One to two hours after finishing, have a larger portion of carbohydrate rich food with some protein mixed in for muscle recovery. Good examples include a banana with peanut butter, a glass of milk or a turkey sandwich.
Special Considerations for the Bariatric Athlete

Taking in too many simple carbohydrates can cause dumping syndrome and will need to be avoided in those who have had gastric bypass surgery. There is some thought that glucose ingested while exercising is less like to lead to dumping syndrome, but this should be tested individually and carefully. Try taking a sport drink or sports gel during one of your training runs with facilities nearby. As a general rule, foods like bread and fruit do not cause dumping syndrome and could be used in place of sports drinks and gels.

Dehydration is common in bariatric patients and should be monitored closely while training. Getting a before and after workout weight is an excellent way to determine hydration status. If the post-workout weight is lower than the pre-workout weight, that indicates water lost through sweat and respiration. Make sure to replace those water losses during the event and shortly thereafter. Consider using a hydration back pack while running, cycling or hiking so that small, frequent sips can be taken during exercise.athletes 4

Bariatric patients are advised not to drink 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after meals, so as not to stretch the pouch. This may make taking in enough nutrition difficult. Try using liquid nutrition, like sports drinks, protein drinks or shakes if this is an issue for you. Liquid nutrition often counts as both fluid as well as calories (carbohydrate or protein). In fact, chocolate milk is often touted as the perfect recovery drink for endurance athletes!

Micronutrient Considerations
Training for long distance endurance events can change the athlete’s requirement for vitamins and minerals. This is especially important to note for bariatric athletes, who may have altered or limited absorption of some of these micronutrients. Below are some micronutrients worth considering.

Micronutrient Recommendations

  • Vitamins C, E, A:   Increased needs may be found in some endurance athletes. Taking a complete multivitamin should offset any possible deficiency.
  • Calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride:  These electrolytes are often lost with excessive sweating, which is common in endurance training, especially in hot environments. Take a complete multivitamin with minerals. Rehydrate using an electrolyte rich sports drink (for example, Gatorade or Powerade).
  • Iron:  Runners may experience increased iron needs. Take a multivitamin with iron as well as the recommended iron supplement. Have your blood work done annually to ensure no iron deficiency has developed.

Check out this website  as an additional resource for recipes and advice specific for bariatric athletes.

Please post your comments on this topic…

Thank you!


by | June 11, 2015 · 8:06 pm