Category Archives: Stress

Myth # 3: The Calorie Burning Game

calories burned.jpg

Have you been playing the calorie burning game?  Paying close attention to how many calories you burn during a work out or on your activity monitor? Letting those numbers tell you how much you can or can’t eat?  Relying on those numbers for your exercise motivation?  Getting frustrated when you don’t lose weight even though you have been burning a ton of calories?

If so, are you missing out?  The true benefit of exercise for weight loss is not the calorie burning!

The fact is that the amount of calories we burn during movement varies greatly.  It is relatively small compared to the amount we could consume in just a fraction of the time.  More importantly though, those number are a big distraction.  I often hear of patients suffering through exercise just to burn calories or so focused on burning calories without realizing how good exercise feels.

Stress is part of life!  There is no way around it. Whether it is a big stressful event or chronic long-lasting stress,  the response in our body is the same.  Stress prepares the body for movement.   When we don’t move in response to stress, it drains our energy, lowers our immune systems ability to keep us healthy, and adds unnecessary wear and tear on every system in the body!

comfort-foods-600x857When we are feeling down or tense from stress, we look for comfort. We naturally want to feel better.  Our brain learns pretty quickly that those easy to access foods with sugar and fat help the brain feel better.  Comfort foods increase brain chemicals that improve our mood, until… we realize we just blew our best intention to eat well.  Then feel crummy again, thus adding to the stress response.  It’s a vicious cycle isn’t it!

Enter the calorie burning game.  We might try to burn off those calories by fervently exercising.  Exercising to make up for a mistake keeps us in that vicious cycle.  We might be tempted to push too hard and feel more tired and sore after.  We are reminded how hard it is to burn off those extra calories and feel even worse.

Ready to end the game?

How do you know you are stressed? What does stress look and feel like in your life?  Tight jaw and stomach? Tension in your shoulders?  Trouble sleeping? Headache? Moody? Food cravings?  Great!  What? Yes, great!  These are your warning signals. It is your body telling you it is ready to move!   The fact is that exercise, even simply movement breaks, increases the same chemicals in our brain as comfort food, just in a natural way!  (minus the viscous cycle of extra calories and guilt).  Replacing eating in response to stress with movement gives the body what it really needs.  THAT is the real value of exercise for weight loss!

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 | January 31, 2017 · 7:15 pm

Attitude for Sustainability

sustainalbeLet’s take a look at one more critical difference between training for athletics/military and training for well-being.

Athletes and military professionals need to train right at the edge of a very fine line between improving skills and risking injury. Athletes and their coaches find that line and push the body as close as possible to that line, in order to stay in the competition. Step over that line and injury risk is greater than the training benefit.

This type of training does not consider what the body will be able to do ten or twenty years from now. It is focused on the next level, improving by pushing that limit as much as possible. There is only so long the body can sustain that type of training. At some point, an athlete needs to retire from competition, or at least semi-retire and take a few steps back from that line if they want to keep moving.

In training for well-being, choosing the level to train at considers what is needed to be well right now, as well as for the rest of our lives. This type of training does not require pushing to that risk/benefit ratio line. To the contrary, part of training for well-being is listening to the body to know when we are stepping too close to that line because we know an injury keeps us on the sidelines of life rather than out enjoying life. Training to be well considers how we feel, now as well as decades from now, by preventing injury, illness, and disease as much as possible. “Retire” from this plan too early, and that risk along with the rate of aging ramps up…fast!!!

Training for well-being means we find the types of movement that give us energy rather than drain it. You might be one who needs more adventurous types of physical activity, such as skiing or rock climbing. Remembering it is more important to be well than excel at that activity keeps it energizing and the risk/benefit ratio in check.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed the attitude of no, pain no gain, look better, be better, push harder, ignore the body, trick the body, is so enmeshed in the world of fitness we often don’t even see it! The confusion over these two very different ways of training the body has made exercise stressful (which is ironic because when we are stressed, the body preparing to move!). Even the word exercise overwhelms many people, which drains motivation in the long run, causing them to miss out on the great benefits of fitness for well-being.

Bottom Line:  It is not necessarily the activity, but the attitude that makes training for well-being so sustainable. The ultimate goal is feeling better on the inside (rather than getting better at some external goal). Let’s stay aware of activities that are more about proving ourselves instead of being ourselves, because when it is more about well-doing, it can take us away from well-being.

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 | November 14, 2016 · 4:18 pm

Mindfulness and Fitness

mindful walkingThis is a link to a brief audio program from the creator of the Mindfulness Summit about the biggest obstacle to mindfulness. 

Over the past 30 years that I have been teaching about exercise and fitness, I have seen a growing trend.  This trend is, from what I can tell, one of the biggest barriers to exercise motivation.  It seems to be getting worse, not better.

The trend?  Never enough.  The push harder, be stronger, go faster, be better, do more approach to fitness keeps us in the never enough trap.  And in that state of mind with exercise (or anything), contentment, happiness and thus health and well-being are constantly out of our reach.

Research on the mind/body connection is now way too strong to ignore that fact and longer.  Being fit but chronically stressed counteract each other. Fitness cannot work its magic on health if one is in a constant stress response.   If the mind is never content, if negative stress is the state most of the time, health is effected.  So exercising to improve health needs to now consider the state of mind as well as the state of the body.

Combining mindfulness with exercise is an antidote for the “never enough” trend while boosting the health and well-being benefits.

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is happening with an attitude of kindness, openness and curiosity, in the present moment.  Mindfulness means “to see clearly”.   It is not about being happy and content all the time, it is certainly not about stopping thoughts – it is about simply being in a mindset that allow us to recognize what is happening, so we can make an informed choice toward contentment.

In fitness and weight loss, we can get so focused on future results, on reaching the next level or taking off the next five pounds, that we miss what is happening right now.  And when we do, we miss contentment.

Many patients would say,  but I do not feel content at my current weight! As you will hear in this audio, the present is the only place to find contentment.  If we can’t practice it now, in the future there will be some other reason not to be content. The next goal, the next event, will keep contentment just out of reach.  Practice contentment now.  It is just a practice, and practice makes this skill stronger.

If you have not experienced mindfulness yet, it is difficult to understand with just words and descriptions.  Look into options in your area.  We are so fortunate to have our Center for Mindfulness right here in central Massachusetts.  They even offer online options for learning mindfulness.

The great news is that exercise, when designed to be, is a tool for mindfulness.   Mindfulness is paying attention with curiosity and kindness.  Movement is an opportunity to focus on the body, taking care of it, listening to it.  Movement is an antidote for the changes that stress cause in the body.  Stress prepares the body for movement. When we are in a stress response but not moving, those changes can cause damage.

Exercise and movement can be a pathway to contentment – right here, right now, when we practice mindfulness with movement.

Pause when taking a walk with a friend and notice what is good about that moment.  Pause after exercise and really savor the contentment you feel from movement.  Put on music and dance – and enjoy simply moving to music.  Move in a way that you enjoy, and really enjoy it, and you are more likely to find health and well-being in mind and body.

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 | June 6, 2016 · 4:06 pm

The Simple, Easy, and Free Way to Boost Health – Without Moving!

Yes! that’s right.  Your exercise physiologist is promoting a way to improve health without moving.  You can, of course move while you are doing this – so doing worry – I am not changing my passion for movement and health.

breathCheck out this blog post at The Connection.  If you have not seen the film yet, The Connection is a documentary of on the research behind the health benefits of the mind-body connection.  It is SO well done, with a  great balance between real life stories and science.  And the science is overwhelmingly impressive and motivating! Continue reading

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by | May 28, 2015 · 4:00 pm