Tag Archives: true goal

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.


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,


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

ENJOY the Holidays!

thCASYRORCIt’s the holiday season.

You might be expecting me to say how important it is to stay on your exercise routine.

Take a walk with family members instead of sitting around the table.

Exercise helps with stress.

Yada yada yada.

You know it –  I don’t need to say it.

So this is just a simple reminder to ENJOY the season –

in all its craziness, temptations, mixed emotions and stress.

As much as possible, take care of yourself.

Not because you are trying to lose or maintain weight

and you are “supposed to”

but because you know that when you take care of yourself

you  feel good,

 and when you feel good

you can really enjoy the season.

My wish for you  is that you take the very best possible care of yourself, that you feel great, and enjoy this season.

Happy Holidays!

Keep Moving, Be Well – and Enjoy!


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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Are you exercising to exercise better or to live better?

“Exercise was invented to help us move and live better.. not exercise better.” Kelly Dean from the Tummy Team

January 5, 2015 – Happy, Healthy New Year!

This quote really resonated with me. I am noticing a rapidly growing trend to make exercise a goal in and of itself instead of a means to an end.thCA80MXTA

When we take a step back, we can ask the basic question of “what is this all about anyway?” Why are we exercising?

If your automatic answer is to lose weight, I invite you to “divorce” the words diet and exercise. We use these terms so much together that it has become (in my opinion) an unhealthy relationship. One telling symptom of this is when patients tell me they lost motivation to exercise because they were not losing weight. They tell me “it was just not working!”. It was working!!! They just could not see it!”

When the scale is the end all, be all of why we move, it is time to get back to basics. If this unhealthy relationship has left the word “exercise” completely toxic for you, please exchange the word exercise with movement.

We start to become misdirected when focus exercising different muscle groups or specific parts of the body. i.e: I am working my chest muscles today. I am doing cardio to strengthen my heart. I am stretching my hamstring muscles. When we do this it is easy to forget the ultimate goal – which is to work many system/s in the body – not isolated parts. It’s all connected – work one part or system and another will be affected in a helpful or hurtful way depending on many factors.

thCACO6R9AAnother distraction is this trend toward “challenges” as a way to motivate – plank challenges, squat challenges, yoga competitions, etc. Although they can and do motivate folks to move more, they also can create muscle imbalances, overuse injuries, and in the end sap motivation or at least distract from the goal of moving and living better.   Don’t get me wrong – if a challenge got you up off the couch – awesome! Just as long as you remember they are not always healthy. Too much of one thing is not healthy. Replacing an annual pie eating contest with a broccoli eating contest would be a big improvement but still not completely healthy…. Catch my drift?

I am currently re-reading Move your DNA by Katy Bowman – considering this is the only book I have ever read two times in a row – I highly recommend it. As an exercise scientist, it has challenged my views of exercise beyond its impact on a few body systems and parts.

So…Over the next several emails, let’s take a deeper dive into movement science to understand the big picture better.  

Don’t worry if you are not the science-y type – we will break it down with the ultimate goal to move us from – exercising because you are just trying to be a “good” dieter to get that darn scale to move – to moving more because you have a better understanding how the systems in our body are designed to improve with movskiingement.

This week simply do a movement diary – notice all the various movements (exercise and non-exercise) you do during the day. Also take a mental image of your body position when you are not moving – that is really important too.

Keep Moving, Be Well


Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CYT, CHWC

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by | January 5, 2015 · 8:22 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 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 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

Exercise Motivation Week 8 – Mining for Gems and Setting SMARTER Goals


Last week we set some SMART goals based upon readiness to change. I have only one question this week: 

What was your best learning from last week’s goals?

Less of a concern is if you achieved them or not. Yes, that is important.

For kind of true success we have been talking about – most important is what you learned.

Many times we can get so caught up in the “score” – did I win or lose this week – that we forget that learning how to play the game is how we get more “wins” in the future.

What does a good sports coach do after a game? Study the game to figure out what happened, whether it was a win or a loss.   Just tallying up wins and losses can be fun if you are winning. The real pay off comes from learning, not just winning  

Bill Gates says,  Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning

Mr. Gates certainly knows what he is talking about. Some of the best gems are in the muck. We can learn the most from when we don’t meet our goals.mining

So, what did you learn that you would like to use when setting your goals this week?

Use that so set a SMARTER goal this week.  (see SMART goals from last week)

Remember!: You know more now than when you lost and re-gained weight lasgemst time! Use that information wisely and you can go forward with confidence that you will get to your goal of sustainable weight loss.

So dig in…. learn lots… and enjoy all those gems (especially the ones you found in the muck).

Using what you learn will keep you moving toward your goal.

Keep Moving, Be Well,




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by | November 12, 2014 · 7:51 pm

Exercise Motivation Week 7 – The Thrill of Victory….


“The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat” 

Wide World of Sports Intro 1978

November 10, 2014

I am dating myself by using this quote… I am guessing we can all identify it though.

Achieve a goal – motivation soars!   When we “fail” motivation drains!

The fact is: Success Breeds Success!

Shorter days are here… we need all the help we can get to stay motivated through the winter.

What better time to set some SMART goals.

How to use the art of goal setting to set yourself up for success momentum:

#1: Choose an action goal that is specific to your readiness to change. (see last week’s email/blog and below)

#2: Write your goals in a way that sets you up for success (SMART goals below)

#3 If you do not meet that goal – look at what happened – was it the goal (maybe you just were not ready) or outside circumstances

#4 Learn from what ever happened to refine your goal setting skills next week. If you learned – it was success.

To start, go back to last week’s chat. You have chosen a specific behavior you know will lead to success. What stage of readiness are you in? Set your goal according to the stage. Here is a guide:

Stages or Steps of change

Psych – Thinking about change in the next six months but you are not confident enough in your abilities or feel unprepared. Jumping into action here can really set you back. You just need to build a stronger foundation for success before you start. Here are some ideas:

  1. List the pros and cons of change and of staying the same
  2. Write a letter to yourself or to the problem
  3. Draw a picture of how would life be different if you changed this?
  4. Ask yourself, what are you really wanting/needing more of right now?
  5. What is important to you about this? How does it line up with what you value in life?
  6. What would you need to learn; new skill, more information?

Prep – you intend to do this in the next month. Again, not ready for action – still preparing to act. There is much you can do in this phase to make sure you are really ready for success.

  1. Gain awareness of current levels   ie wearing a pedometer to simply tracking activity level
  2. Plan for enough time, energy and support for new change.
  3. Set a date and a goal rather than wait for magic moment
  4. Tell at least one other person about your plan.
  5. Get substitutes ready. I.e.: finding lunch ideas that don’t take as much time to allow time to exercise during lunch break. Look at what you are doing now during the time you plan to exercise and make plans to rearrange that activity or let it go.

Perspire – Actively consistent for several weeks

  1. Learn the new skills that work for you right now
  2. Get/nurture the support/relationships you need
  3. Pay attention to culture and environments you are in that present challenges and/or support
  4. Track progress – what has improved?

Persevere – consistent for six months

  1. Create a plan for dealing with slips/lapses and achieving long term success (more on this in a future email/blog)

Based upon your stage of readiness – choose a goal this week. Remember, preparation goals are as important as action goals.


Set this goal SMART:

  1. How specific is it? (exactly what you will do on what date and time)
  2. How will you measure if you did it or not?
  3. Is it action based – meaning what will you do vs what you want. Ie: I will try to be more motivated vs. I will make a pro/con list
  4. How realistic is it? Giving all going on in your life this week, how confidant are you that you can do this – give yourself a score 0%-100%. If lower than 70%, rework the goal until you are more confident
  5. When will you achieve this by? Set a goal date

When your goal is set based upon your stage of readiness and written in a SMART way – you will know the thrill of victory… and that thrill is contagious. This takes practice. Give it a try this week and let me know how it goes…

Have a great week!

Keep Moving, Be Well,


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by | November 5, 2014 · 8:33 pm