Category Archives: Inspiration

It’s summer! Stop trying, start playing!

Dive-in-WaterThe drive to work is easier this time of year; no school buses or crossing guards, less cars on the road and, with the exception of the seasonal road construction, it is pretty smooth and enjoyable.   I was thinking this morning how it makes up for the months of traffic headaches with ice, huge snow piles, and more vehicles in the winter months.

Life is dynamic.    The challenging times come and go. The enjoyable times come and go.  Its all normal.  It can seem like the challenges come more often and stay longer than the easy and enjoyable times though?  We are not just imagining things when life seems more challenging than enjoyable.  Our brain has a “negativity bias”. It is set up to look for what is wrong, could go wrong, or did go wrong, in order to keep us safe.  Rick Hanson puts it this way “negative thoughts are like Velcro, and positive ones are like Teflon”.

This effects how we approach exercise.  We try really hard to exercise away what is wrong with our bodies.  We try tricks to fix our low motivation.   We try to fit it into our already full schedules.  We try to push our body to be stronger, faster, better.    With all this trying to fix what is wrong we forget that movement itself has been a resource for celebrating life for all of time.  rwanda-1229760.jpg

Its summer! Time for taking it easy, resting, having fun, enjoying life a bit!   How about we stop trying with exercise and just enjoy moving?  Put on music and dance.  Play with kids.  Walk to discover a new place.

Three years ago I wrote this blog on the health benefits of play. Could it be that all this “trying” is leading us to miss out on the true benefits of moving – to enjoy life a bit more?  What would happen if we stopped trying and start playing?  Simply enjoy moving in any way, for however long, and as often as your body allows you to.  No rules, just move in a playful way.

It might be worth a try.  What we have been doing to “try” to move more has not been working. In the past 18 years the amount of people who get the recommended amounts of exercise has increased from 16% to 20%!  4% in 18 years!  No business would survive with that growth rate!  Could part of the problem be that exercise has become more about guilt, dread, pain, and fatigue rather than  relaxation, recreation, and rejuvenation?

Lets see what happens between now and Labor day if we simply think of exercise as a way to play and enjoy life more!

Enjoy 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 5, 2017 · 6:34 pm

Success Breeds Success!

Success breeds success
Mia Hamm

achievement-star-transparent.png

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

The Magic Pill

Thank you, WBUR, for this new podcast series that started last week called “The Magic Pill.”  The positive news about movement as the most powerful medicine we have for health and well-being gets lost easily in the media. It is refreshing to see an encouraging approach getting some more air time!

Thirty years of prescribing this medicine has taught me one thing – the prescription is very individual. So take in the information and suggestions but above all trust your own knowledge about your body and what works best for it today. For example, they end the  first podcast with a cheerful “take the stairs” suggestion. Sounds easy enough, but for many, stair are a big challenge. So if stairs are not right for you at this time, try pacing while you wait for the elevator, or take an extra lap around the hallway before getting onto the elevator, or take a big morning style stretch as you wait. (You might just inspire the people waiting with you to do the same). You see … ALL movement is medicine – not just the ones that count on our Fit Bits!

The best medicine of all is enjoying movement.

Enjoy it and you will reap the benefits! Move in the ways that give your mind and body a lift. Because we are made to move, the body responds with a big “thank you” by boosting the immune system, giving amazing health benefits… instantly!

Check out the podcasts for The Magic Pill – they are brief (<10 minutes) yet full of inspirational science based information!

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 | September 6, 2016 · 5:16 pm

Fitness part 4: The power of enjoying the scenery

enjoy exercie 2Enjoyment of exercise is often dismissed as a n0n-essential part of fitness. It can seem frivolous, even counterproductive.  If I am enjoying it, it must not be hard enough to be worth it. Yet, research shows this factor can make all the difference in gaining long term benefits.

Why is enjoyment an essential part of fitness for health and well-being?

  1. We are motivated by pleasure and reward.  This is just the way our brains are set up to help us survive and thrive.  When exercise is something to “get through” or “just do”, motivation is not as sustainable.  Working with our natural motivation toward things that are rewarding and pleasurable is much more effective than gritting our teeth just to get through a workout.
  2. Success breeds success:  Accomplishment counteracts laziness! Have you ever noticed that energizing feeling of finishing a project.  After exercise we often move on to the next thing without thinking, missing out on the chance to boost our motivation for next time we are stuck.    Or worse, we are left feeling like it just was not good enough, we should have done more.  Pause and savor how you feel after exercise, even if it is just that sense of accomplishment of doing something (always better than nothing).   Taking a moment to celebrate the small victories has big payoffs for sticking with your plan long term.
  3. The Belief Effect:  Research has shown that the placebo effect is so real it is now called “The Belief Effect” . What we believe about a medical treatment actually changes how the body responds to it.  Well now we have that evidence of the belief effect for exercise too.  Check out this study about how what we expect from exercise changes the benefits in the mind and the body.  What you are thinking when you are exercising can change what you get from it.  If you are exercising so you can gain the great benefits of fitness, it is worth taking the time to create a plan and a mindset for enjoyment!

 

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 | August 17, 2016 · 6:09 pm

How to Set Successful Exercise Goals

goals 3This time of year it is common to see all kinds of advice on goal setting.  As I read through the articles though, I realize there are some unique aspects of setting physical activity goals for weight loss.Goal setting is important.  There is a science to goal setting that increases the chances of success:

A study conducted by Gail Matthews, Ph.D., at the Dominican University, found three factors that increased success:
1. Written Goals:  Those who wrote their goals accomplished 50% more of their goals than those who did not write their goals.  Use the format below to write down your goals.
2. Shared Goals: those who told a friend about their goal accomplished more.
3. Accountability:    A regular check in with another person increased rates of success .  This does not need to be complicated, a simple text to an accountability buddy would work.

This is also supported by a recent study by our own Sherry Pagoto, PhD on using social media for support and accountability.

In the last support group meeting we chatted about the SMARTER acronym for goal setting.  The SMARTER system is a very useful formula for increasing the chances of success.  While there are several variations of this method, I find there are specific ways to make it most powerful for exercise and weight loss goals.
Specific – The more specifics in the way the goal is stated, the more chance your mind will stay focused on the goal. Goals that are vague are difficult for the mind to maintain focus on.   The nice part about exercise goals is we can get very specific.  What is one thing you can start doing regularly right now for physical activity that will have an impact on your weight goal?  Now make it as specific as possible, including the when, where, how’s.  IE:  I will walk every day for 15 minutes after work, I will do these three  stretches for my back every morning before breakfast, I will do these 6 strength training exercises every other day at 7pm after dinner, one set of 15 repetitions each.  Include in these specifics who will be your accountability buddy.What will I specifically start doing for physical activity?  Is this measurable?  Who will keep me accountable on this goal?
Meaningful – Why are you setting this goal?  Why do you want to do strength training, walk, stretch?   State what is important about it more that just to lose weight.    Make the connection between why you are exercising and the real underlying reason you want to be at a certain weight.  This taps into your natural lasting motivation.   I want to be able to play with my kids, be more independent, be around for my grand-kids, be more effective at my job, keep my home clean, feel good about myself when I get dressed.   The more important the “why” is to you, the more motivation you will have for the specific actions you need to take to reach your goals.Why is this goal important to me?
Achievable – Success is motivating.  Setting goals that are just within reach creates enough of a challenge to keep interest in them, but not too overwhelming to drain motivation.  I find most people set an exercise goal that is way to big to start.  We tend to need more practice with setting the small goals.    If you have a big goal,  set it as a long-term goal for one to five years from now.  Chip away a  much smaller version of that for a very short term 3 month goal.  Three months is long enough to achieve something but short enough to make it urgent.
How confident are you that you can achieve this goal?  If your confidence is low, go back and chip away some more until you come up with a goal you feel confident about achieving.
Relevant – This step reminds us to look at our goals in terms of what is important to us.  When our goals match with what we really want more of in life, the motivation to stick with them is easier.   Make your exercise program very specific to what you want to be able to do in the future.  Create a program that is training you for what you want to do in the future – kayak, ski, dance, climb stairs, get up and down off the floor.   When you are in training for your healthy future, you are as motivated as an athlete with his eye on the goal medal.How will this exercise plan train me for what I really want to do more of in life?
Time-Bound –  Start today!  Not on Monday or the first of the month.    Motivation will not be stronger later.  Waiting only reinforces the procrastination habit.  If you set goals with meaning and relevance, you won’t want to wait to start . So if you are tempted to put it off, it is a sure sign it is too overwhelming or not meaningful enough. Go back to the first steps and create a goal you cannot wait to start.   If there is some prep work like joining a gym or getting new sneakers make those the first goals, but still make your actual start date today.    Write the three-month end date on your calendar as well as on the top of your written goals.  This will be a reminder each time you look at them. My three-month goal date is______________?  In order to get there, today I will __________________________.
Evaluate Every Day – This daily check in will keep you close to your goal.  Again, goals that are set on meaning and relevance to your life are a tool for maintaining motivation. Review your goal every day to keep you focused on why you are making efforts.  With exercise goals especially it is easy to let a week or two go by without exercise.  Daily reminder will prevent them from becoming an after thought thgoals 4at just leaves you feeling guilty.  Evaluate in a way that you are observing  what works and what gets in the way without judging.  Simply notice what is going well and where you need some extra support. Keep it quick and easy so you can stick with this important step in the process.How will I evaluate this goal each day?  How will I include my accountability buddy in this evaluation process?
Readjust – The evaluating step leads into this.  As you learn what is working and what is not, re-adjusting will be needed.  We take our best guess on goals.  Learning only lets us be more specific and realistic.  Reworking the goal based upon what you learn is not a cop-out, it is a “smarter” way to achieve your true goals.

 

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

If you know someone interested in weight loss surgery, forward this link to the Weight Center website and online orientation video

If you’re in the process of preparing for weight loss surgery at the Weight Center and have questions about your status or next steps, call 774-443-3886

If you’ve had weight loss surgery at the Weight Center and you’re due for a follow up appointment with one of our providers, call 774-443-3886 or email to weightcenter@umassmemorial.org

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 Barriers, Goals, Holidays, Inspiration, Motivation, Success, support, Weight Loss

The Power of a Gratitude Habit

Well-done studies on simple practices of gratitude have shown it leads to measurable positive effects on health and well-being:

  • Enhancing mood
  • Deepening ability to connect with others
  • Feeling happier and more content
  • Reducing inflammation in the body
  • Boosting immune system
  • Decreasing rates of cancer and heart disease
  • Reducing stress response
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Normalizing blood sugar
  • Improving tendency to take better care of oneself
  • More likely to choose to exercise
  • More likely to choose to eat healthier
  • Reducing pain levels

Fascinating to notice that a regular practice of gratitude makes a difference in making healthy choices.  Participants in one study on keeping a gratitude journal were found to have started exercising more.   Hmmmm, very interesting….

An important point is researchers found a difference between gratitude and feeling more fortunate than others. When we focus on what we may have compared to those less fortunate, the benefits are not there. Actual gratitude for our own lives, our own experiences, rather than in comparison to others, is what creates the healthy shift in mind and body.

Just like other healthy habits such as exercise,   a daily practice of gratitude primes the brain to find the good and strengthens resilience in tough times.  This is why it is a habit that can support the ability to keep other healthy habits going too.

Simply jotting down three things you are grateful for each day is an easy way to gain the benefits.

Another tool is to write down one thing you appreciate about your efforts for making healthy choices each day.  Record things like choosing to eat healthy in the face of temptation, choosing to exercise in the morning, remaining calm and level headed as the holiday treats start to surround you.  This can really boost confidence and resilience for future challenges.

Thinking about these things is not quite as powerful as  recording them in a journal, app, or some other simple way.  It only takes a few minutes a day but will keep you on the lookout for what is going well all day long.  Studies show that’s all it takes to give a boost to motivation and confidence.

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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 25, 2015 · 2:54 pm

“I want to love exercise (again)”

love exercise Perhaps  you have never understood those people who love exercise.

Or maybe you long to love it again, the way you used to years ago.

Either way there is hope!

Many times I feel like a matchmaker…. I help patients find a form or approach to exercise they can fall in love with.  When they do, their face lights up, just like they found Mr. or Ms. Right!

Below are challenges that can eat away at your relationship with exercise and some ideas of how to patch things up:

  • Pain:  No one would argue that no pain, no gain is no fun!  With the exception of exercising with arthritis, exercise should not hurt.  Let me repeat that – exercise should not hurt!  Even with arthritis the pain should be the “normal” arthritis pain not the “uh oh Ive done too much” pain.   Pain eventually saps motivation
    • When you are choosing an exercise plan, as yourself how sustainable the program is in your life. Those high intensity programs we try in an effort to lose weight might work in the short term – but will you want to keep doing it to keep the weight off?
    • Address current or potential pain issues before starting a program
      • See a physical therapist to rehabilitate current pain issues and gain a better understanding of what to avoid
      • Most pain, because it is from strain on a joint that builds up over time, can be reduced by paying attention to daily activities.  Learn about how your pain is affected by your posture, footwear, sitting position, sleeping position, and how you do daily tasks
    • Find activities that don’t add to the wear and tear on that area, like seated aerobics.   Remember these are short term solutions to eventually get to back to enjoying the activities you love.
    • Start with several small bouts during the day.  Often pain from exercise is simply from doing too much too soon.
    • Start with strength training.  We often focus so much on cardio and forget that strength training burns as many calories.  Plus strengthening the joint in the right way is a great way provide support and reduce pain.  Start with light weights and build up gradually
    • Stretch!  Tight muscles pull on joints just like out-of-alignment wheels cause wear and tear on a car.   Stretching is about re-setting muscles to their resting length and reducing inflammation.  It is a key part of pain management
  • Self-conscious:  If you avoid exercise because you are uncomfortable around others, you are not alone!   It’s OK to exercise at home alone for a while and skip the gym if you just are not ready to exercise around other people
  • Fear:
    • Personal safety:  Pay attention to this instinct and find a place to exercise you feel safe
    • Injury:  Fearing a heart attack or joint injury with exercise can definitely keep motivation low.  Learning about how to keep exercise safe is important.  Generally it is much safer to exercise than to be sedentary,  especially when you find the right type and amount of exercise for your body right now
  • Fatigue:love exerise 2
    • Getting enough sleep is essential for weight loss and for enjoying exercise.  If you have sleep issues, like sleep apnea, get them under control before setting big goals for exercise
    • Exercise can improve sleep quality.  Try some light to moderate exercise in the morning or afternoon to see if it helps with sleep issues
    • Do the mental fatigue or physical fatigue test -(they can feel the same!)  Try 10 minutes of light to moderate exercise. If your energy increases, it was mental fatigue. If you feel more tired it is more likely physical fatigue. In this case stick with several small bouts a day until endurance is improved
  • Out of date goals:  Trying to get back to doing what you used to do may not be a realistic goal.  It might keep you in the vicious cycle of all or nothing exercise.  Instead, start slow and gradual with a type of exercise that feels comfortable for your body now.   Focus on what is possible right now.
  • Lack of Know How:  Learning how to exercise the right way is not easy.  There are so many exercise programs based upon myths, sports training, assumptions, or folk-lore. It can be difficult to know what is the right way to exercise.  Especially when carrying extra weight – the body needs different approaches to movement.   Truth is, you are the best expert on your body.  Learn from  exercise professionals with a degree in exercise or movement science and listen to what is right for your body right now.  The combination will lead you to enjoying exercise now and for a long time to come.
  • Lack of equipment/Money:   Look at all the commercials and infomercials out there and it can seem like it is expensive to exercise.   Movement is free and requires very little if any equipment.    Your dedication to sticking with it is more important than having great equipment.

I have seen the magic of making these small adjustments in approach to exercise.  They can create a strong and lasting relationship that leads to success with weight loss.

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.

3 Comments

by | September 4, 2015 · 6:37 pm