Category Archives: Uncategorized

But, is that enough?

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Work when there is work to do.  Rest when you are tired.  One thing done in peace will most likely be better than ten things done in panic. I am not a hero if I deny rest; I am only tired.

—Susan McHenry

When I describe the basic goals for exercise and physical activity, most of the time I get the question “But, is that enough?”

We have discuses that exercise training is specific.  You get what you train for.  When exercising for the goal of weight loss, we easily get pulled into the “never enough” spiral.

The problem is, we make weight loss the reason for exercise.  Well, isn’t it?  I mean, don’t we need to exercise to lose weight?

Very few people are exercising ONLY to see the scale go down. Most people want to weigh less to be able to do more.  THAT is the reason to exercise. To be able to do more.  Yes, weighing less will make it easier, but fitness makes it possible.

So how much is enough exercise depends on what you want to be able to do. List all the activities you want to be easier.  What do you need? More strength, balance, mobility, stamina?

In general, gradually make these four goals as consistent as possible to build strength, stamina and mobility:

1. Avoid prolonged stillness by moving your body every 30 minutes during sedentary activities.  This helps your body reduce the inflammation that happens when your body is still, especially when it is stressed and still.   This can be a short walk or a stretch. Just move your body in some way, preferably taking a break and not multitasking so your brain gets a recharge too!

2. Do cardio at a moderate intensity for your breathing three days a week for 30 minutes.  This helps your body build stamina so every day life activities require less energy.   If you can’t do 30 minutes all together, break it up into smaller bouts that you can do, such as six five minute, three 10 minute, or two fifteen minute bouts.

3. Do quality total body strength training twice a week.  This helps your body learn how to move efficiently so daily life is less strain on your body.  What is involved in quality strength training? Basically learn how to work with how your body is designed to be strong. (These are all things we work on in a session together at the Weight Center):

  • Learning how to use your core to stabilize while breathing.
  • Learning how to do movements for your arms and legs while your core is stabilizing.
  • Training your nervous system by focusing on what you are doing
  • When starting out, keeping the resistance light so your nervous system can move muscles most effectively (instead of starting out with heavy weights to “kick start”).

4. Stretch after exercise and as movement breaks during the day.  This helps your body stay mobile and move with more freedom by reducing the tightness that can happen with aging and inactivity.

Notice, there is no requirement that you are able to run a certain distance,  lift a certain amount of weight or be able to touch your toes.  Those are fitness goals used when comparing your body to someone else, like in physical education classes or in sports.  When weight loss is about functioning better in your life, you don’t need to compare to what anyone else is able to do.

Let’s stay out of the “never enough” downward spiral that drains energy and motivation.  Let’s remember there is such thing as “enough” exercise  for the goal of weight loss to  function and feel better.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

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by | February 26, 2018 · 8:35 pm

Your immune system boost!

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The flu session is upon us.  The flu shot, washing  hands, eating well, getting enough rest  are all great strategies.  However… (you know what I am going to say next), exercise is one of the best ways to boost immune system function.

But, not always….

It is generally accepted that prolonged periods of intensive exercise training can depress immunity, while regular moderate intensity exercise is beneficial.

2015 Article in Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science

According to the research, the best way to boost your immune system through exercise is to avoid longer duration or high intensity exercise and do regular moderate intensity and duration exercise.   Exercise longer than an hour and/or high intensity exercises drains immune system function and increase the risk of illness.  But a thirty minute bout of moderate intensity exercise, where your breathing feels comfortable to comfortably challenged, gives immediate immune system benefits.

So truly, more is not better – especially this time of year!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CYT, CHWC

UMass Memorial Weight Center Exercise Program

Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist

Certified Health and  Wellness Coach


These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

 

 

 

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by | January 22, 2018 · 4:14 pm

Is stacking wood exercise?

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“Wood warms you many times” my friend said when we first got our wood stove. So true!  We had a truckload of wood delivered yesterday and I was “warmed” for the first time by this wood while stacking it into piles in the wood shed.

Whether you are preparing your wood for winter, raking leaves, cleaning your home, or running around after your kids, you might wonder – does this count? It must! I am tired after. I worked up a sweat. My muscles are sore. Look how many steps I got!  This must count for exercise. Surely I don’t need to go to the gym on top of all of this, do I?

I had these questions in mind as I stacked wood yesterday.  I did my strength training in the morning.  Did I need to do that if I was stacking wood in the afternoon?

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While stacking wood I could keep some of my attention on my body, but not all.  I had to pay attention to the job I was doing.   Knowing the days are getting shorter, I felt the pressure together this job done, so was driven push through fatigue and discomfort in order to get it done. Fortunately, once it is done, I will not need to do it again until next year!

The word exercise means something performed or practiced in order to develop, improve, or display a specific capability or skill”.   Remember from a few blogs ago the qualities that make something an exercise:

  • structured
  • consistent
  • purposeful

My strength training was structured into my schedule,  every other day in the mornings.  It is done consistently year round, because I want the benefits all year long.   The exercises I do are purposeful with movements of daily life that I want to get and stay strong  – squatting, climbing, lifting overhead, pulling, pressing.  The sets, reps and weights are chosen for the purpose of strengthening my body and metabolism.

Compare this with stacking wood.  Structured only by the need for wood so I do it for about a week once a year.   (unless someone else decides to start doing it or I get rid of the wood stove).   It is only consistent for that one week of the year.  (thankfully!).  It is purposeful, but not for the purpose of strengthening my body even if that is a side effect for that one week. The purpose is to get the job done so that I can stay warm this winter.

pexels-photo-302810So, is stacking wood (or something like it) exercise?  Nope.  It is not consistent, purposeful or structured enough to keep my body strong all year long.  Is it still a great physical activity that will give me health benefits from moving more?  Yes!  Both add to health and well-being.  Both are important… but one does not replace the other.

Strength training consistently and purposefully made stacking wood easier.

The extra bonus is, exercise “warms” me up too!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

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by | November 8, 2017 · 4:00 pm

Post Bariatric Surgery Support Group Sept 14th

Hello all!

The September Post-Bariatric Surgery Support Group will be held on September 14th from 5-6 pm at the Hiatt Auditorium (second Thursday of the month).  I will be taking a break, and Dr Perugini will be facilitating this group.  He is actually going to make and bring a healthy snack for everyone to taste!  Our program must be the only one in the nation where the surgeon prepares and brings food to support groups!  Thank you Dr Perugini, you’re awesome!!

Please RSVP by September 8, email Narmin at Narmin.Virani@umassmemorial.org

Directions:  If you go past the Weight Center, past the cafeteria, take a left at the end of the hall, you will see the Hiatt auditorium to the right.

Warmly,

Narmin

 

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change” – Carl Rogers

 

Narmin Virani, RD, LDN

Clinical Dieititan, Weight Center
UMass Memorial Medical Center
55 Lake Avenue North
Worcester, MA 01655

774-443-3886

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by | September 5, 2017 · 7:49 pm

Coincidence? I don’t think so!

You may have seen this news story  about a couple who met at the gym. (If you haven’t check out this inspiring story.)   Couples meet at gyms all the time.   However these newlyweds met against the odds.  She is 98 and he is 94!  Is it a coincidence that they met at the gym?  Or is there a connection between the fact that they both exercise regularly and have the energy to start a new relationship in their nineties?

“People always ask what it is that keeps us young,” Mr. Mann said. “Of course, one part of it is medical science, but the bigger part is that we live worry-free lives; we do not let anything we cannot control bother us in the least.”

“Age doesn’t mean a damn thing to me or to Gert,” he said. “We don’t see it as a barrier. We still do what we want to do in life.”

Exercise has been shown to slow the aging process in everything from our muscles and brain and even our DNA!

For example, telomeres are the “end-caps” on chromosomes.  They shorten as we age as well as with certain health concerns such as elevated body weight, smoking and type II diabetes.   Studies have shown that they do not shorten as fast in people who exercise.  This discovery explains one way exercise slows the aging process in ways we can’t see by looking in the mirror.

These regular exercisers, slowed their aging process and thus are getting more out of life!  The bride was a two term mayor of their town at 71 years old.  The groom received his bachelors degree in history at 94!

Are they superhuman?

Are they just lucky?

Nope! They are fit!

 

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 15, 2017 · 8:19 pm

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

Resilience!

resilience

Some members of my family just returned from Haiti.  When I saw this picture I was just amazed.  It is impressive enough how people walk for miles and miles balancing heavy objects on their head. This woman is doing it with one leg!!!

Years ago I taught aerobics for people with disabilities.  I will never forget the woman  with a birth defect where the only limb she was born with was a left arm. I can still picture her in her wheelchair doing aerobics like nobody’s business!

Here at the Weight Center there are countless stories of resilience.  The images in the header above are just a few.  These are snapshots of success but in between I know were many days of challenges to overcome in order to get there.  cropped-keep_moving_banner_09-301.jpg

We all have our challenges.  Some days are much harder than others.  This is not meant to be an article to make you feel guilty when you skip exercise.  Just the opposite.  It is a reminder that resiliency only comes from our challenges.

When your life is limited by your body, it is a challenge.  It is those challenges, combined with a sense of purpose, that create resiliency. And resiliency is what it takes to keep moving forward.  We don’t move forward in one straight line.  We will have days the challenges win.  Resiliency does not come over night.  It is a gradual strength that only comes from being committed to doing the best you can at meeting your challenges day by day by day.

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.

Leave a comment

by | May 30, 2017 · 8:37 pm
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