Tag Archives: Success

The Catch 22 of Exercise

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When it comes to the recommended amounts of exercise that we hear all the time, there is a huge Catch 22. Each time guidelines and recommendations are updated, there is more and more evidence about how much exercise can help us live healthier lives.  It should be very motivating.

For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) first put out guidelines  for physical activity recommendations in 2008.  A 2018 scientific report was just released to the public and it will be used for the updated guidelines coming out later this year.   The report highlights some updated findings about the benefits of exercise:

The Scientific Report demonstrates that, across the full age spectrum, regular physical activity provides a variety of benefits that help us feel better, sleep better, and perform daily tasks more easily. The report also demonstrates that some benefits happen immediately. A single bout of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can improve that night’s sleep, reduce anxiety symptoms, improve cognition, reduce blood pressure, and improve insulin sensitivity on the day that it is performed. Most of these improvements become even larger with the regular performance of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity…  There is newly documented health benefits” as well

  • reduced risk of excessive weight gain in adults, children, and pregnant women
  • improved cognitive function
  • a reduced risk of dementia
  • reduced risk of cancer of the bladder, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach
  • for adults who have a chronic disease or condition such as osteoarthritis, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes, a reduced risk of developing a new chronic condition and reduced risk of progression of the condition they already have, plus improvements in quality of life and physical function

We now have more reasons we should increase our physical activity and exercise regularly.  This is where we get into tricky territory, with that word “should”.   More should’s do not lead to more motivation. In fact, the opposite is true.  The bigger our “should” the lower our motivation.

choice-2692575_1280We as humans are motivated by having a sense of choice.  When we are told what to do, we tend to shut down.  Sure, we can tough it out for a while to “do the right thing” or because we “have to” or “make” ourselves do something we know is good for us.  The problem is all of this takes will-power.  As it turns out, will-power is a limited resource because it takes brain energy.  Eventually, we will need to use our will-power for another area of our life, without enough left over for exercise.   This is how “life gets in the way”  and our best plans to “be good” are out the window.

The things we want to do because they are important to us are instantly motivating.  Hobbies, spending time with family and friends, working for a cause you are passionate about, these are most likely instantly rewarding in some way.  Yes of course you want to lose weight and be healthy, but that is not instant enough.  Our brain likes instant positive “rewards” or benefits, a lot!   (which is why comfort foods are so attractive to our brain)

Life is dynamic.  We need will-power for those unexpected changes that are a normal part of life.  Everything from changes in weather to major life changes take will-power to push through.  We can’t rely on having the will-power to do what we should do for exercise in any sustainable way.

Those instant benefits mentioned above are a key. Pick the ONE instant benefit that you want the most each day.  Do you want to sleep better, feel better, elevate your mood or calm nerves?  Pick the ONE that is most energizing now and make THAT your reason to exercise each time. Design your exercise to get those results.  Let’s make exercise motivation easier.  Letting go of the should’s is one of the first steps to exercise motivation that lasts.

 

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by | April 17, 2018 · 7:47 pm

Read between the lines

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With so much information about exercise available everywhere, it is challenging to know what is the right advice for you.   I want you to be a savvy fitness consumer.  This means having skills for knowing what is myth based and what is science based.

It also means knowing what is the right advice for what YOU want from fitness.  If you were planning to take a trip to a big tourist destination, you would pick and choose attractions that were most important to you.  Some attractions would not be of interest to you, so you would not waste your time and money on them.  It is the same with fitness.  Knowing what you want is key for using your exercise time and resources well.  Sounds simple right?  But check out this headline that I cam across as an example of why we need to carefully read between the lines:

Healthy Outlook: Coping with aches and pains of muscle gains

Given the category “healthy outlook”, one might assume this is about fitness for health and well being.  However,  the title contradicts that assumption.  Aches and pains are a sure sign this is meant for people training for competing, not for health.    We know there is a big difference.  Be on the lookout for who the article is directed toward. The writer may not be clear about the type of fitness they are writing about.

And then there is the mention of science-based information to catch your eye:

We’ll take a quick field trip back to our anatomy, physiology and biology classes…

Keep in mind, sports training is a branch of exercise science too.  It is a very different field of study from exercise science for health.   This is definitely where being a savvy fitness consumer pays off.  Since you know there are different kinds of exercise science, you can decipher if the science based information is right for you.

If you click on the website of the expert interviewed, “strength and conditioning for athletes.” you would have another indicator this is not right for you. Here is your last two red flags, in the conclusion sentence…

“The road to getting ripped is long and winding. Here’s to manageable soreness, raising the bar and learning to love that fleeting agony.”

You may have heard the slogan many times… “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” (and if you are in a certain age group you have that image of a skier tumbling down a mountain in the Olympics).  Again, the reference to agony being a normal part of exercise is a great subtle clue.    If your goal is to “get ripped” then  you need to train like a body builder, which is an athletic event.

If your goal is to improve health, sustain weight loss, and feel better to enjoy more of life, stay aware.  Read (and listen) between the lines of everything about exercise and fitness, they are mixed up often in the media.   Look for the signs that you are being told what to do to be a successful athlete.  To keep moving and motivated, seek advice specific to your reasons – to be healthy and well.

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 | April 9, 2018 · 6:15 pm

Exercising with Asthma

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When doing cardiovascular exercise, there is a line between the level that is a comfortable challenge for your breathing and the level that feels uncomfortable for your breathing.  When you have asthma, the difference between these two levels is a very thin line.  It often does not take much to cause breathing that is not only uncomfortable, but also scary.  The fear of an asthma episode with exercise can really drain motivation to do it at all.

This recent study found that people with elevated body weight and asthma had fewer episodes of asthma when exercise was part of weight loss when compared to a group losing weight without exercise.  They also had less depressive symptoms, improved sleep quality and improved sleep apnea too!

That sounds great in theory, but when it comes down to it, if you are concerned about your ability to breathe while exercising, this information still does not lead to motivation. The fact is we are motivated, or de-motivated, by what we experience, not what we think.   So exercising with asthma (or any breathing limitation) means you need to make sure your experience with exercise feels safe and comfortable for your breathing.

It is possible when you use your ability to self-monitor your exercise intensity.  Staying mindful while exercising means you can tune into the signals from your body as you start approaching that line, before moving into an uncomfortable challenge level.   The more in tune you are with those warning signals, the sooner you can slow down to bring it back to a comfortable breathing level.  Practicing the art of self-monitoring your breathing level while exercising means you are more likely to reduce your risks of an asthma episode with exercise.  That probably means you will have an easier time getting yourself motivated to do it regularly.

The bonus of regular exercise is your body adapts and with asthma the line between just enough and too much gets a little less fine.  You start building the ability to do more exercise before you reach the uncomfortable breathing level.  That can mean fewer episodes and freedom to do more activities at a comfortable breathing level.

If you have asthma, you know what triggers an asthma episode can change day to day and with different environments, so use this information in the way that is right for you.  But this skill is a key part of using regular cardiovascular exercise as part of the treatment for asthma and many other breathing limitations.

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 | March 19, 2018 · 5:51 pm

It’s that time again, part 2

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Back in October, we had to make a choice.  What is this winter going to be about?  Will it be about hibernating or spring training?  Will we let all those great brain chemicals from being physically active on the nice long days just fade away, or will we keep moving even when it’s cold and dark outside?

How did your spring training plan go?

If that question was met with an “eye roll”, that’s OK.  This blog is not about checking in to see if you have been “good or bad” this winter. It’s all good, as long as you are learning!  Really!

In October 2018, I will be asking you the same question – What is your spring training plan?   When I do, you will want to be fueled with personalized information about what works and does not work for you to keep moving all winter long.

Take a moment to jot down your answers:

  • What did I learn over these past four months about staying physically active through the winter? 
  • What did I learn about what gets in the way of staying active in the winter? 
  • Based on this information, what will help me stay active next winter?

Place this information on the October page of your 2018 calendar.  Now, give yourself a pat on that back, knowing your spring training plan for next winter just got an upgrade!

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

 

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by | March 7, 2018 · 3:47 pm

Do fitness tracker really track fitness?

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Does your fitness tracker really tell you how fit you are?

The definition of fitness for health is “The ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The ability to do daily tasks, meet emergencies and do activities you enjoy require a certain level of strength, stamina and mobility.   Getting steps does not train the body to have these three qualities.  Exercise does.

When we exercise, we help our body have the stamina, strength and mobility to be fit for what we need and want to do.
So why track steps?
The purpose of tracking steps is to avoid being inactive.   Prolonged stillness seems to increase the risk for many diseases. This recent study found that moving your body in some way every 30 minutes seems to offer the best protection for your longevity.
So, fitness trackers are really physical activity trackers.  Your fitness is measured by how easily you live your daily life and can do the things you enjoy. Your fitness can only be tracked by you.
Use your fitness tracker to remind you to move often.  Use your daily life to remind you to set some time aside to practice having the stamina, strength and mobility to enjoy it!

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 29, 2018 · 9:01 pm

Test your knowledge – answers!

list-2389219_1280This article , providing information about exercise and weight loss for people with arthritis was our first “test your knowledge” blog to boost our savvy fitness consumer skills.

What myths did you find?  Here are the ones I see:

  • The image:  Connecting information about exercise with images of “six pack abs” only increases the idea that the purpose of exercise is to look a certain way, and that having toned abs means you are healthy and fit.  This is just not the definition of fitness.   I know some very fit people who are carrying extra weight and have a strong core so they are able to do what the want and need to do in life more easily; that is the whole point of fitness.
  • The title:  “tighten up abs” in a way that is pain free.  The purpose of exercise for arthritis is to build strength around arthritic joints in a way that reduces inflammation and supports joints with movement.   Tightening abs is about how they look not how they function to reduce arthritis pain.
  • The exercises:  If you have arthritis, getting up and down off the floor is a challenge, if not impossible.  Most importantly, our core muscles are stabilizers that are used 99% of the time in an upright position, and need to be trained in that position, not while laying on the floor.  Check out this blog for more info on a truly functional core.

How did you do with your savvy fitness consumer skills?  We do these types of blogs every so often so we can enjoy exercise without the myths draining motivation.

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 | January 17, 2018 · 3:22 pm

Resolutions… Why Wait?

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Here is a link to a blog by an insightful career coach.  The blog is from last year and directed toward career goals, yet the message is timeless and crosses all areas of well-being – including weight loss goals.   She proposes three questions to ask yourself each January….instead of setting resolutions.  Why not set resolutions?  Because January is a great time for recovery from the holidays and reflection of the year past.  December is no time for reflection as the holidays fill our days with a longer to do list and more emotions to sort though.

Here are the questions revised for this year and for reaching your health and well-being goals.

  • What went well in 2017?  What were your accomplishments that you’re really excited about?
  • What did you learn in 2017 about what makes it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight?
  • What would you have done differently? This third question will begin to prepare you for  having some 2017 goals that are based on what you learned last year rather than just a reaction to the holiday stress.

So, enjoy a January free of pressures to set resolutions.  Take a walk to help your brain learn and be creative as you ponder these questions.  When you return, jot down the answers.  Let them “simmer” a bit until February 1st.

Wait to set resolutions and you will be ready to set goals for 2018 that are well thought out and and more lasting .

May you discover an overflow of health and happiness in 2018!

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 | January 2, 2018 · 1:52 pm