Tag Archives: Weight loss

What is the most effective exercise?

Copy of bake breadThere are so many choices of what to do for exercise. Who has the time to sort through them all?  Wouldn’t it be great to  know  what is the most effective exercise for the results you want?

Despite all the ways to exercise, one thing does not change.   Your body is a use it to keep it system.  What you do regularly, your body adapts to.  This of course works for both ways; it gets stronger when you are physically active and gets weaker when you are not.   No matter what results you want, what is most effective for getting there is what you can do consistently.

Start by asking yourself What do I want most from exercise?  Stamina? Strength? Mobility? Energy? Confidence? Calm? Focus?

(Important:  Notice that weight loss is not one of those choices. Why?  Ask yourself, would I want to lose weight and not be healthy, energetic, functional, or comfortable in my body?  The fact is, you could lose weight and not get what you really want from it.   Weight loss is not the goal, it is a method for getting what you want.     Ask yourself what do I  want from weight loss? Get to the bottom line of why you want to lose weight)

Consistency is the holy grail of exercise

Michelle Segar, PhD

Now you are ready to ask: What could I do consistently that would give me more _______(insert what you want from exercise)?   Could you walk 10 minutes each morning for a little energy boost?  Could you stretch mid-day to feel more comfortable in your body?  Could you fit in some strength training for 10 minutes every other day so you can feel stronger?

Keep in mind,  what you are able to do will change day to day, season to season, year to year.  What will not change is the fact that your body adapts to what you do consistently.   So, abort the search for the “best” kind of exercise. Instead, get clear about what you want and what you can do regularly.  That will lead you to the most effective exercise for the results you want.

 

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by | May 7, 2018 · 6:39 pm

Toning and spot reducing. Both are a myth.

Toning is spot reducing. Both are a myth..pngWe are constantly flooded with information about exercises that “work” to tone certain areas of the body.   We are told how we can “get” a body that looks a certain way.   It can provide motivation to exercise, (for a while anyway) believing you can change the look of your body.  But, what does it mean to tone?

Spot reducing is the idea that you can exercise a certain part of your body and burn more fat in that area.  Most people I talk to know this is a myth. But what many do not realize is that “toning” or “working” certain areas is just another name for spot reducing.  It is doing an exercise to change the look of a certain part of your body.

The problem is, this is just not how our body works:

  • Fat:   Exercising a muscle does not make it burn the fat in that area. The muscle gets its fuel from what is stored in the muscle and the blood supplied to it.  It does not use the fat around the muscle to fuel it during the exercise.
  • Muscles:  Whether the shape or “definition”  of a muscle shows on the outside depends on many factors including the genetic make up of your muscles (this is the main one!), the intensity and consistency of your strength training,  and the amount of body fat you have in that area.  The fact is, we just don’t have that much control over how much muscle definition we see.  Yes, you can work a muscle hard to strengthen it, but it does not mean you will see more definition.
  • Skin: There is some evidence that strength training can help tighten the skin. While this is limited, it is the only evidence we have that you have any control over your skin.  So do strength training for your skin if that motivates you, but don’t expect huge changes.

Then, what does happens when you “work” an area of the body?

You miss out on the chance to teach your muscles to work as a team.   “Toning” or “sculpting”  and bodybuilding style strength training  mainly trains muscles individually, separating areas of the body. (ie:  triceps exercises, thigh exercises, core exercises)  In life, muscles work together.

For example, the core muscles stabilize and allow the hips and shoulders to be stronger for lifting and carrying and reaching.  They do not work alone in daily life.     Doing core work to “tone” your middle means these muscle miss out on doing their job of stabilizing while you move your arms and legs.

You are also likely to miss out on your motivation.  Since “toning” is a marketing term, backed by many Photoshoped images, doing those exercises isn’t likely to give you the “results” you want.  This is a sure-fire way to lower your motivation to exercise over time.

If you try to tone while doing cardio, you could be missing out on the stamina building benefits. You could also be putting more strain on your joints.  Using weights during walking or aerobics strains the shoulders and does not “tone” the arms.  Choose the type of cardio you do that feels best for your body, not because it will “work” certain areas.

Lets stop chasing the “toning” dream and missing out on the benefits that add so much to life.   Do strength training to improve your function and keep your muscles, bones and motivation strong as you lose weight.   Exercise in the way that lets your body know it is not “a problem to be fixed”, but a miracle to be celebrated!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

 

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by | May 1, 2018 · 5:43 pm

What is yoga?

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Often, I am asked the question, “what is yoga?”

As a certified yoga teacher and exercise physiologist I love answering this question, because yoga is so much more than a form of exercise.    Yoga is one little word with so many approaches and interpretations.

The word yoga means “to unite”, to bring together all the parts of you – thoughts, emotions, body and heart to the present moment.   The purpose of the movements in yoga are to prepare your body for meditation, so your thoughts are less likely to be distracted in the past or future when meditating.    Five thousand years ago, it was understood that for our thoughts to calm we need to move first. 

Therefore, the movements in yoga are not about making your body look a certain way.  The power of the poses are in the mindset with which you do them.    Forcing your body into a position it is not ready to do and toughing it out, or criticizing yourself if you cannot do it well, is not yoga.  Moving your body into a position with the intention of listening to it, being kind to it,  by finding the level that is just challenging enough to hold your attention in the present moment is yoga.

Depending on how you do those movements, yoga can improve stamina, strength, balance, mobility – we can’t really put it in one category of fitness because it depends on how the movements are used.

But it is all yoga as long as you are moving in the present moment as an act of kindness to yourself.   It does not matter if this is done in a chair or on a yoga mat . It does not matter if you sweat.  It does not matter if you are very flexible.

“You can’t fail at yoga” is what I tell all my classes.   I find we need the reminder often because we tend to assess our ability to do an exercise based on our “performance”.  Because yoga is based on your mindset as you move, you cannot fail.  Yoga reminds us to shift our attention to how it feels on the inside, not how it looks on the outside.  Sometimes that shift happens easily, sometimes it takes a constant reminder to come back to the present moment and practice listening to your body.  This is why yoga is called a “practice”, not a “perfect”.

If you have ever felt like you “failed” at yoga, it was not yoga.  There are many yoga videos and classes that are designed to work with your body by using a chair or modifying poses to find what works best for your body right now.  Seek an instructor that teaches yoga by the true definition of the word.

Next blog we will answer “is yoga good for weight loss”?

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 26, 2018 · 6:25 pm

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

Weight and Heart Health

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It’s heart month so let’s focus on the great news about exercise and heart health.  When patients share that they want to lose weight in order to be healthy, I love sharing some great news.  You can improve your health while losing weight!   We connect being overweight with being unhealthy and thin with being healthy, yet the research does not support this when it comes to heart heath.

The “obesity paradox” is the term used when research shows people with a higher body weight have a lower risk of heart disease and premature death than those at a recommended body weight. But, when fitness level is included in the data, there is no paradox! In every weight category, people who are fit had a lower risk of a heart event and better survival, even if they already have heart disease!

There is considerable evidence that high levels of cardio fitness eliminates or significantly lowers the risk of cardiac death in people who are overweight and obese, even in those with heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Therefore, cardiac fitness is more important than obesity in long term prognosis.

Here are some more key findings:

  • People who are unfit had double the risk of dying, regardless of body weight.
  • Year to year changes in fitness were better at predicting future risk of developing hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and high cholesterol than changes in body weight.
  • When people remained fit, even when body weight increased, their risk of  heart disease and risk of dying from any cause did not increase.
  • People with heart disease and heart failure but with preserved fitness had good survival regardless of body weight.

If you are looking to lose weight to be healthy, and are exercising regularly, be confident you are reaching your goal long before the scale reaches your goal weight.    Certainly, there are added benefits of getting to your healthy weight. Based on the overwhelming evidence,  we can define a healthy weight for your heart as the weight that allows you to stay fit.

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

 

Source: Exercise and the Cardiovascular System

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by | February 7, 2018 · 3:38 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