Category Archives: wellness

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

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

Mindset Matters

Pause for a moment.  Notice what you are thinking.  Notice the quality of your thoughts; positive or negative, fast or slow.

Can what is going on up there really change the body?

Lets experiment – imagine going to the refrigerator and taking out a bright yellow juicy lemon. Cutting it in slices and taking a big bite of the juicy pulp.  What is happening in your mouth right now?

Same if you think of a happy event, a smile comes to your face? Think of a nerve wracking event, butterfly’s in your stomach?

Our brain 1mind and body are connected by a two way street. What happens in one affects the other.

So can our thoughts actually change how our body responds to eating and exercising?

Research is pointing to a big “yes!”.  Check out this TED talk by Dr. Alia Crum.

Great news because it means we could very well have an added way to improve our health and well-being – by switching our thinking – in any moment.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC

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 | February 24, 2016 · 8:16 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

Mindful in May

 

thCAUEFKSU

Just a quick post to let you know about Mindful in May global online mindfulness meditation campaign.

What is Mindful in May? It takes just 10 minutes a day to bring more focus and effectiveness into your daily life. Join a global community of people bringing mindfulness meditation into their lives and making a positive impact on the lives of others.

If you have been hearing about the great benefits of meditation, but need some extra support to make it a habit, this support could help.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | April 30, 2015 · 3:50 pm

Healthy New Year!

December 31, 2014

Just a quick check in this week, to wish each of you a very happy and HEALTHY new year.

If you are a resolution maker this time of year I invite you to review the series on motivation we did last month in this blog  (just search “motivation”)  Here we touched on many evidenced based tips for making goals and resolutions stick.

First lets think back to last year’s resolution(s) – what stuck? – what didn’t? What made the difference?thCAQUG8XC

Next, lets brainstorm ALL successes of 2014 – anything big or small – from walking 3 miles easily to moving more throughout the day – ANYTHING that helped you move forward.

Now, you are ready to set some successful goals for 2015:

Here are some recaps of what we can learn from “successful” goal setters:

  • thCAJVNYHLDefine YOUR success clearly – what do you really want? What could you be satisfied with? Give yourself a range vs an absolute goal.
  • Let go of striving for perfection – because nobody is anyway!
  • Let go of the “all or nothing” attitude – true success is most often found inbetween “all and nothing”
  • The beauty is in the details – plan for the details of any potential barriers ie: setting an alarm to remind you to go for a lunchtime walk instead of just saying you will do it
  • Set SMART goals: (see blog on 11/10/14)
    • Success Breeds Success: set SMART goals and look for all successes big or small as you go
    • Perceived failure drains motivation: Like the old saying “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” – Great!  except the TRYING gets harder and harder as confidence fades from memories of past failures
  • Enlist support from as many sources as possible
  • Absolutely believe you can do this!

thCAKJNX4ZNow, Let’s go and CELEBRATE all of our successes of 2014 to help us gear up for an even healthier new year!

 

 

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

 Janet Huehls
Clinical Exercise Physiolgist and Health/Wellness Coach

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by | December 31, 2014 · 4:19 pm

Fitness beyond the “Glamour Muscles”

December 17, 2014

“For every two minutes of glamour, there are eight hours of hard work”  Jessica Savitch

I heard the term “Glamour Muscles” for the first time the other day.   (guess I don’t hang out in gyms enough – ironic huh?)

Glamour muscles are the ones people like to “show off” – the superficial abdominal muscles that make the “six pack” abs (the Rectus Abdominals), the biceps, the pectorals (chest), etc.

In this busy holiday prep week it is a great time to work the hidden but essential muscles. It does not take much time but has a big pay off. Ready for your workout:

Feet – take off your shoes and let all the joints in your feet spread out. Take a tennis ball and place it on the bottom of your foot while sittingthCABS2ECL or standing. Roll the ball under your foot. If you have ever seen a picture of the bones in your foot you can see the complexity of the anatomy of the foot.  Giving the feet some freedom without shoes and sox and spreading out the joints over a ball loosens those little joints and muscles in the foot. Spread out your toes, gently stretch the top of the foot, the bottom of the foot, the sides. Ahh…

The human foot and ankle is a strong and complex mechanical structure containing exactly 26 bones, 33 joints (20 of which are actively articulated), and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments.” Wikipedia

Belly – When we are carrying extra weight many times we keep this area in our “blind spot” and would rather not think about it. However, holding stress in this area can create internal tension that affects organs and digestion as well as muscles of the hip and back. So, relax your belly all the way. Take some relaxing full breaths. Consciously let go of any tension there.  Imagine relaxing all of your organs in this area too. (more in a future blog on using the core in a functional way – for now let’s practice relaxing it)

Hands – Free your hands and wrists from the keyboard, driving, phone holding and texting position. The many joints in the hands need some movement just like the feet.  So, spread your fingers wide, make a gentle fist, move your thumbs in different motions. Move your wrists in circles in both directions.  If you have more time, check out this hand yoga video. thCA3UMP6S

Jaw – Notice how you are holding your jaw – another storage place for tension. These muscles of the jaw can get overworked and cause jaw pain and headaches. So simply let your lower jaw release and move away from your upper jaw. Consciously let go of tension there several times a day.

thCAJNN6N8Eyes – The muscles of the eyes can get “lazy” from only focusing up close. Go to a window or better yet get outside and look as far away as you can. Look in all direction with your eyes. Close your eyes and relax your eyelids, around your eyes, and the back of your eyes.  

All these muscles and joints need a “workout” and rest too –  possibly more than the glamour muscles because of the constant unconsciouis wear and tear they can receive all day long. Fitness is not only for the gym. True fitness is about taking care of the whole body – not just the “glamorous” parts!

Have a great week!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CYT, CWC
Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Certified Wellness Coach
UMass Memorial Weight Center

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by | December 17, 2014 · 8:44 pm