Monthly Archives: October 2012

Step Away From The Scale

 

You’ve been thinking about eating a bit better and getting a bit more active for a while. You finally got yourself to get started, and are excited to start seeing results. You got yourself some cute new bright colored running shoes and some nice yoga pants. Or, you got the basketball shorts on and a t shirt with the sleeves cut/ripped off. IT’S TIME FOR FITNESS!!!

After a couple days, you take out the ollll scale.

“What?! I didn’t lose any weight?! But I ate brown rice and lettuce!!! I even ate a carrot!!!!”

Okay, okay. Maybe a bit of an over-dramatization of the internal dialogue that goes through your head when you weigh yourself often, while first getting on a consistent fitness routine. Or, maybe it wasn’t an over-dramatization. If it wasn’t, I feel your frustration about that carrot not making you meet your goals in two days. I mean seriously, carrot, help out a little.

A few things to think about when talking about tracking fitness process.

It’s going to take time. Time, as in, days, weeks, months, years. It’s unrealistic to think that your body will go through huge changes in a very short period of time. Our bodies are not built to physically change very quickly. It’s not healthy for it to happen. It’s also not helpful to expect such things, because then when it doesn’t happen that quickly, it can be depressing. How long it will take to meet certain milestones and changes, depends on many factors. This is not to bum anybody out. It’s just a reminder to manage one’s own expectations. If you stay committed and continue to educate yourself from credible resources, change will happen.

Take a break from the scale. It’s possible to make fitness improvements without it showing up on the scale right away. Many things can influence the number on the scale that don’t necessarily mean you aren’t moving towards your fitness goals. Instead, think about other ways to track progress:

  • How do you feel? How is your energy level? Do you feel a bit lighter on your feet? Do you feel stronger?
  • How do your clothes fit? Do you feel a bit more space where you didn’t before? Are some shirts a bit tighter in the back area, shoulder area?
  • Progress pictures. It sounds silly, but it can be a great motivator. The ol’ take a picture of yourself in the mirror technique. It may feel silly at first, but comparing a picture from when you start to eat right and exercise, to a few weeks or months later, can show a change in body composition. If you have been working hard and staying committed, seeing the change can be a great motivator to keep working hard. Plus, later when you are nice and lean or super buff (depending on your goal), you can put the pictures side to side and be like “LOOK FACEBOOK, CHECK ME OUT!!!.” Go ahead and do it. You deserve the attention.

Now, the scale can be a great tool to track progress. Keep in mind, that it is exactly that. A tool to track progress. If weight loss is a goal, then you will see the weight on the scale go down over time, assuming you are following a sound routine. What I’m referring to here, is not weighing yourself every few minutes. Maybe space it out over a couple weeks. Maybe don’t weigh yourself for a month, or more! If you are working with a fitness or health professional, they can help you plan out a realistic way of using the scale.

 

The take home message:

Be patient with, and stay committed to your fitness plan. Manage your expectations. Track progress in different ways.

Fitness is one heck of a journey that we are lucky to be a part of. Enjoy it!

What is HEALTHY?

 

Whoa there, champ. You wrote “healthy” in call caps. You must really like that word.

Well, critical reader, in a sense, you are right. I did write that word in all caps for a reason. I did want to bring attention to it. HOWEVER (woops, there I go again), I do think the term “healthy” requires some conversation and critical thinking.

Allow me to explain why using this term is a bit more complicated than we might expect.

The term “healthy” can be very helpful. It allows us to distinguish actions or foods that benefit our body. Or, at the very least, are less harmful than the alternative they are being compared to. It helps us describe a way of life we are trying to live. It helps us provide a framework for the choices we make, and the lifestyle we are committed to, or, would like to work towards.

The issue I want to point out, is that we must think critically when we hear something referred to a “healthy.” The term is so relative, I believe  we should not suspend critical thinking or close examination of what is being referred to as such. Someone may say, “these crackers are healthy.” Maybe they are referring to the fact that they aren’t deep fried. So, in this situation, they are essentially saying “these crackers are healthy, when compared to foods that are probably worse for our health.” But, what if those crackers were full of sodium? What if they were made with GMOs? What if they were made of starchy foods that may spike blood sugar?  Another example: A cupe of flavored yogurt. Yogurt is healthy, right? A small cup of flavored yogurt, may be referred to as being “healthy.” Again, this is relative. Many flavored yogurts have a pretty big amount of added sugar. If you’re not careful, you could be downing some serious high fructose corn syrup without meaning to.

What about exercise? Strength training is healthy, right? Cardio exercise is healthy, right? Yes, both CAN be healthy, if done properly.  However, if you were to jump into a random weight training or workout program without evaluating if it’s appropriate for you, it might not be the healthiest choice. Jumping into Insanity or P90X for someone who is deconditioned, is not a healthy choice. This is not to say that folks shouldn’t exercise. Don’t go huffn’ and puffn’ because FM told you to stop doing the latest dvd workout program. Exercise (that doesn’t cause injury), is better than no exercise. My point is; don’t suspend critical thinking. Compare these choices to you, at the present time.

 

 

I want to stress the idea of the term being relative. I don’t mean to say that when something is referred to as “healthy”, that it isn’t. I just want readers to make their own decisions as to what is being compared. Once you take a good look at how the term is being used, you can decide for yourself if it deserves the attention it gets by this categorization. Maybe it really is a healthier choice than the usual choices you make. Maybe it was an accurate comment, even while examining the relativity of it. Keep in mind, as well, that I often encourage folks to make small consistent changes in their lives. I don’t mean to suggest that if something is referred to as healthy, and is not the most nutritious food in the world, that you shouldn’t eat it. I always advocate that it is more important to make small, positive changes that last, rather than extreme changes that last half a day. It’s a matter of seeing the bigger picture. Depending on who you ask, people will have different ideas. Again, it’s relative.

The usage of the term for marketing purposes, must also be careful monitored. We constantly see adds about how this food is healthy, or that restaurant is healthy. Are they really? What are they comparing to? These are the questions we must ask ourselves when presented with such messages.

In the end, I am simply reminding readers that they are their own biggest advocates. You will hear many different things that refer to fitness and nutrition. You will hear that his is good for you, that that is good for you. You should eat this because it’s healthy. Or if you do this, you will be healthy. It makes sense that these statements get our attention. We want to be strong and healthy, so we may enjoy our lives. The thing is, in order to make that happen, we must continue to think critically.

 

Now THAT is a healthy way to think. Wait, unless you compare it to a possibly more healthy way to think. Aw mannn!!!

I should…

 

Sometimes we need a nice metaphorical kick in the butt. Sometimes we need someone to step in and say “Ok, ok, enough foolin’ around, time to get to work.” It’s natural. It’s okay to need that extra nudge. It happens to the best of us.

 

We’ve all said or thought this: “I should” blah blah blah. I should eat better. I should eat breakfast. I should go on walks after work. I should stop watching four hours of TV and play outside with the kids. I should not eat so many sweets. The list goes on for days.

Think about it. What “I Should”s have you told yourself lately.

I often have conversations with friends, family members, co-workers about what we eat and how active we are. I often hear, “I should.” Now, this is not to talk down on anyone who has said that in a conversation. Explaining what you “should” do is a good thing. It means you are not oblivious to the fact that you can make some changes for the better. It means you have the knowledge of a better way to treat your body, to treat yourself.

The next time you catch yourself telling someone (or yourself), that you SHOULD do something. Stop. Pause and think for a moment. Why haven’t you made that adjustment? Why have you continued to not do what you know you should? What is keeping you back from accomplishing that? Sometimes, all it takes, is a little bit of critical thinking, to get you one step closer to your goal.

Example. You know you should eat breakfast, but you have no time to eat anything before you leave the house. Okay, fair enough. Try this. Go to bed a half hour earlier the night before, and wake up a half hour earlier the next day. It will take a bit of getting used to, but it’s not a huge change. You will now have 30 more minutes to grab a quick bite. Greek yogurt with some berries. Maybe a slice of apple with some peanut or almond butter. Bam. Done. This would be much more satisfying than not eating breakfast, feeling hungry at work or school, and grabbing some nutritional punch in the face from the snack machine.

Before you think I’m a hypocrite. I also need to check myself with the “I should”s. A big one of mine has been, “I should get more sleep during the week.” I allow myself to stay up late researching different things. I’ll allow myself to stay up late, to catch up on The Walking Dead. I’ll stay up late looking up how to make a podcast and mapping out the episodes and who I want to have as a guest. That is all great. But it needs to be done at a decent hour. I need to learn to set a time for bed, and stick to it. Therefore, I am working on just that. My strategy is to get myself in bed at a decent hour and read a book. Reading has always calmed me down (and even causes me to fall sleep, sometimes). Also, I just received my copy of “Results Fitness.” It’s a book with articles from some of the top trainers in the world. It’s perfect. I get to learn about fitness while working on going to sleep earlier. Usually, I’ll read for a half hour or so, start to feel tired, and knock out.

It’s working so far, and I intend to do the best that I can to make sure it continues to work.

 

What “I should”s have you told yourself lately? What are your plans to stop that cycle?  Turn your ideas into a reality.

 

FitMentality started as a “I should.” I’m proud to say that I stopped thinking about my goal, and made it a reality. You can too.

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