Category Archives: Success

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

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,

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 19, 2016 · 3:26 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

Fitness Part 3: Choose a destination

many pathsWhen it comes to fitness, there are so many paths to take.  Not all lead to the same destination.  It depends on what you want from fitness. 

Remember the definition….

Physical Fitness= 

The ability to do activities of daily life with ease

and have energy left over for recreation and to meet emergencies.

Choose your destination:  Get clear about what you want from weight loss and exercise, then train for what you want.  If you goal is to do burpies better, then do burpies.  If not, skip the burpies!!!  If your goal is to have the stamina to travel and walk around amazing places with friends and family without fatigue – then walk often at the level your body can do now and gradually build up your tolerance of walking.  Even if you start with 15 seconds several times a day, you are training for YOUR goal.   These are the questions to ask yourself to know where you want to go:

  • What daily activities do I need to do?
  • What do I want to be able to do for fun?
  • What is important for me to be able to do to meet emergencies? (ie: get up off the floor if I fall, be able to climb the stairs)

You are here:  Where are you now?  Again, another important questions if you are going to get the destination you want.  What are you able to do? What gets in the way?  Awareness is key.  Taking a day or two to ponder these questions can make getting to your destination much easier.   Jot down some thoughts before moving forward with your exercise plan.

Stay on course:  How do you know if you are on course?  Expert advice is helpful.   However, what your body is telling you is  more reliable and accurate than any outside measure (like how much weight lifted, how many miles you moved, or the latest fitness trend).  Here are some ways to help you from getting caught in a detour:

  • Physical or mental fatigue:  Learn to tell the difference between feeling tired because you were physically active all day and feeling tired because you were more mentally active.  Mental and physical fatigue can feel the similar. When it is mental fatigue, give your body what it needs by moving in some way.  If you get energy from moment, it was definitely mental fatigue.
  • Tired or lazy?   A better term for lazy is just not motivated.  This is very different than being physically tired.  They can feel the same unless we really take a closer look.  If you are feeling lazy, check to see if your goal is too big and overwhelm is draining motivation. Lower the goal and see if that cures laziness.  Check to see if you have just lost sight of your destination,  the whole reason you want to get moving in the first place.  Remind yourself of your destination and see if that gives you some energy.
  • How do I feel after exercise? If you walk away from exercise feeling worse about yourself or physically exhausted, it was too much!  The right exercise for you right now is the one that makes you feel better physically and mentally. Choose what makes you feel better, and you found what is right for you.  Do that exercise as often as you want to feel better!

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 | August 1, 2016 · 5:43 pm

One Thing I have Never Heard a Patient Say…

walking long road

After listening to patients experiences with weight loss over the years, I can say one thing I have never heard:  “I re-gained weight, but have not changed my exercise and physical activity level”.  Never, not one patient that I can recall has reported this scenario.

Why?

Because the two tend to go hand in hand.  Lower activity level, increase weight.  I am pretty sure you know this first hand.

Now, exercise is not the magic bullet for weight loss.  Food habits have to be a main focus for weight loss success.   However, physical activity and exercise add a huge boost that is hard to beat:

1)” Wiggle room” in your food intake for the occasional slips and celebrations.

2) Maintaining metabolism, which lowers as one loses weight without doing strength training.

Certainly, a consistent activity level is not a 100%  guarantee that  you will maintain weight loss – but it is a pretty good bet.

Life, however, is not consistent.  How do we keep life from getting in the way?

  • Keep your exercise program sustainable: The quick-fix exercise programs may have great results, but if you cannot sustain it, the results will quickly fade. When setting up an exercise program ask yourself, Is this sustainable?
  • Plan A, Plan B…:  Have at least one back up plan if your scheduled exercise time is interrupted.  Schedule Plan A into your calendar.  If there is a conflict – don’t delete – reschedule to Plan B.   For example, you plan on exercising in the morning for 30 minutes, but hit the snooze one too many times.  Reschedule it to two 15 minute  bouts, one at lunchtime and one in the evening.
  • Use lifestyle activity to fill in the gaps:  Lifestyle activity is simply the amount of movement you do during your daily life.   Its about taking advantage of those moments when you can take a quick walk, dance for one song, sneak in some exercises.  It has been shown to work well for weight loss.  Tracking with an activity monitor is helpful here when your regular activity level is lowered for some reason,  such as a longer work meeting or caring for an ill relative.  Armed with the information from your activity monitor,  you can ensure you are burning about the same amount of calories by keeping your step level the same as when you are regularly exercising.
  • Use movement to manage stress:  With plenty of life stressors to go around, if exercise is your go-to remedy, you will have many reasons to keep moving.  In your body, movement is the antidote for the response to stress – so this strategy is a way to naturally work with your body to lower stress level.
  • Connect with your “why”:  Why do you want to lose weight? Keep physical activity connected to your real, bottom line reason, instead of just exercising to make the numbers on the scale go down.  Your “why” is your natural motivation.  When physical activity is connected to your own personal “why”, your natural motivation will remain.

So, while it is great to challenge yourself with fitness goals – one of the best ways to boost your odds for lifelong weight loss success is consistency with exercise.  Hows that for a challenge?

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 16, 2016 · 3:29 pm

Life After Weight Loss Surgery – Patient Perspective 2

patient_perspectives

I weighed in at my heaviest just after graduating with my Master’s in Education. I knew it was time for a serious life change. I started with small changes and ended up dropping just over 30lbs. It was great and I felt better, but realized I didn’t want this to be like all my other yoyo diets. I needed another tool.

I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy done in July of 2015. I’m just over six months out now. Lots of people knew but I didn’t widely publicize it. First let me start by saying, no I did not choose the easy way out, nothing about this process is easy. No one wakes up one day and says hey, let me just cut open my body and take out most of my stomach, that’ll be a quick fix. Seriously, no one does that.

I am a recovering binge eater who additionally had incredibly unhealthy habits that I am working hard to overcome. Having a tiny stomach helps, it’s one of the many tools in my box. Unfortunately, I still struggle with my eating disorder, I probably always will. However, I now know how incredibly painful it is to binge eat with a tiny tummy so I try to avoid that as much as possible.

I am very excited to say that I am now officially down 100lbs from my heaviest weight back in May 2014!  I am NOT an expert; I just know what has helped me. Here are some of the many things that I have learned on my journey in no particular order.

  1. Make one small change at a time that you can live with, forever. Changing too many things at once was always a recipe for disaster.
  2. It has to be a lifestyle change or it will all come back, plus some… I did it many times.
  3. High protein, low carbs, low sugar. If you really want it, eat it. Moderation is key. If you are a binge eater and seriously can’t control yourself, know your triggers. I cannot keep cookies in my house. I WILL eat them, ALL of them.
  4. Measure your food; it’s amazing to see what a “portion” looks like. Be honest with yourself about what you are actually eating. Start a food journal, or use an app. You don’t have to share it with the world, but don’t lie to yourself. Write in EVERYTHING. Did you really need that entire box of chocolates? No, probably not. The difference is I don’t lie to myself about what I’m eating or drinking. I’m making a conscious decision about what I’m putting into my body.
  5. Meal prep with healthy things you like. Start small, you don’t need to plan your whole week. That’s overwhelming in the beginning.
  6. Have a somewhat boring diet. I don’t mean eat gross things that aren’t appealing. I eat basically the same thing all the time. I know what’s in it nutritionally and I enjoy it. Yes, I occasionally venture outside of my typical foods. However, I also know that if I don’t let myself have what I want then I will binge eat. I have learned my triggers.
  7. DO NOT reward yourself with food. You are not a dog. Find something else that makes you feel nice. This was incredibly important for me to learn. It was one of those major light bulb moments. Now I save money for fun experiences when I reach a certain goal.
  8. Don’t get on the scale constantly. It can have way too much control over your life. Focus on how clothes fit, and how your body feels. Don’t let the numbers control you, it’s way harder than it sounds. Who knew 3 little numbers had so much power? I wish I cared more about the numbers on in my bank account that that scale.
  9. Exercise. I know that word sounds terrible and scary, but it really just means move your body more. Start with small steps like parking further away, or going for a walk between episodes on TV… Find something you enjoy. If you don’t like it you won’t keep doing it. I started running. – I know, you can’t picture it. I couldn’t either – I also started strength training. I am so thankful to my coworker who suggested it.
  10. Know your support system. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive. I am forever thankful for their support. Also, build a supportive circle of people who you aren’t necessarily close to such as on social media. Family and friends can be a great support, but can also say things that don’t help but hurt. Having an outside network of supporters is incredibly helpful.
  11. Set realistic goals, you don’t need some daunting monster goal hanging over you. Lots of short small ones. You’ll feel accomplished and keep going. There is nothing worse than feeling as if you failed yourself.
  12. Don’t tell people what you’re doing. Suddenly everyone is an expert and trying to “help” you. Initially tell the people who mean the most to you, whom you feel would support you, or whose support you feel you need. Other than that, people don’t need to know until you feel like no one can stop the path you are on.
  13. Learn to say no. I promise it will help. No to yourself, no to others. No is a complete sentence and doesn’t require an explanation.
  14. Instead of saying I don’t have time, try telling yourself that it isn’t a priority. See how it makes you feel. Sometimes I’m OK with it. Other times I realize that I should be a priority and I need to make time. There is always something we can cut back on. Maybe it’s scrolling mindlessly through social media?
  15. Make sure you have a good reason, something that you are fighting for. If you keep that in mind then it makes it so much easier. Mine is that I want to be healthy enough to have children and raise them. I want to be around long enough to watch them have children. I’m going to do anything I can to be healthy for that possibility.
  16. If you post comparison pictures, try to brand them in some way. People will undoubtedly use them to sell their stuff. Yes, it has happened to me. On that same note, take lots of pictures. Don’t delete all the ones you don’t like how you look, you don’t need to show them to anyone. It’s helpful to look back and see the change when you are feeling like a failure for one reason or another. There have been plenty of days when I felt like I wasn’t making as much progress as I wanted, or as quickly as I wanted it. I look back at my pictures and am always shocked.
  17. Think about what you are scared of in the process. Is it failure? It could happen, but you could also succeed. Is it how much money you will spend being healthy? You might be surprised. Better food is more expensive. However, I eat less of it. I also pay significantly less medical bills because of how sick I used to get. Yes, clothing is expensive. Clothes tend to get cheaper the smaller you are, unless you are into name brands. Is it excess skin? Skin has some elasticity, but we are being real honest here… Yes, I have excess skin. Yes, it makes me somewhat uncomfortable. However, I can tell you that I am way more comfortable in my own skin than I have been in years. What is scaring you away from trying? Is that you might actually be successful and don’t know what to do when you are? I know, strange concept, but I was really scared of that. Take a leap of faith, you can do this.
  18. This one is important. I would say the most important – Love yourself and be proud of yourself at every stage of your journey. I can’t even begin to explain how important this part was for me.

This journey has been a crazy one, and my lifestyle has completely changed. I eat healthy, and honestly unhealthy food doesn’t even sound that appealing to me anymore. I do active things for fun now and am looking forward to doing so many more. I feel healthy and have energy at the end of the day now. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I may look different and lead a different lifestyle but, I’m still 100% me, sarcasm and all. Just a lighter, healthier version of me. I am still very much a work in progress, but that will never change.

Thank you to the patient who submitted this post – if you would like to share your perspective after weight loss surgery, email me janet.huehls@umassmemorial.org

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.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | April 13, 2016 · 3:40 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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