Movement for Strength, Love, and Life

Last week we addressed why you can’t just go to the gym in order to compensate for your habitual overeating. I hope that idea has had time to sink in, and that you’ve accepted what you really need to work on instead.

BUT, as a personal trainer and gym owner, I still recognize the significant value and importance of regular exercise in improving your life.

So what kind of exercise SHOULD you do?

I have two BIG answers to this:

http://mastertileandgroutcleaning.com/blog Exercise that you will actually DO

First and foremost, a workout program that you can and will do on a consistent and long-term basis is FAR better than the perfect workout program that you resent and dread doing (for the entire 2 weeks you follow it, anyway). I’m a big advocate for buy viagra safely online uk daily movement for everybody, regardless of your gym membership status. Many of the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can be achieved with a 15-30 minute daily walk. Some simple calisthenics in the morning (pushups or modified pushups, bodyweight squats, jumping jacks, etc.) or a few Vinyasa sun salutations are both free and easy ways to add movement to your day without ever leaving your house. Check out the EES Handbook over on the right hand side if you need more activity ideas to get started!

A brief overview of a basic Sun Salutation. One movement per breath, and be careful on those back bends! You probably won't look like the cartoon drawing  there! :-)

An overview of a basic Sun Salutation. Perform one movement per breath, and be careful on those back bends! You probably won’t look like the cartoon drawing, but it gives you an idea! 🙂

Movement and exercise should ADD to your life, not detract from it. The key is to find an expression of movement that you actually enjoy. It should offer you a feeling of peace and accomplishment upon completion, and shouldn’t feel like yet another chore on your long list of daily responsibilites. In fact, try to find an activity in which time seems to pass too quickly, and you actually look forward to the next opportunity to participate. Pursuing movement you enjoy forces you to carve out time for yourself (or with others, if that’s your style) and gives you a chance to connect with your body. Making time for your health each day reminds you that YOU are deserving of your own love and care, just as you love and care for your family and friends.
Exercise that makes you BETTER

Now that you’ve eased your way in to a regular workout/fitness/movement routine and found that you CAN enjoy physical activity, the next step is to strive to improve your physical capacity. Given your current health status, quality of life, and fitness ability, figure out what elements of fitness you might want or need to improve. Do you get winded walking the dog up the street? Do you have a hard time maneuvering your body in and out of your car? Do you need to get assistance moving your groceries from the shopping cart into your trunk? Do you even try to lift something off of a high shelf, or do you immediately ask for help?

If you have no idea what needs improving or how to do it, here’s a hint:

Strength will help.

Being stronger is better, in almost every instance. The stronger of two retirees is likely to live longer, and with a better quality of life. The stronger athlete tends to succeed more often in sporting events. The stronger of two runners is usually faster. The stronger individual is less prone to injury in daily life. The stronger you are, the easier everything becomes.

Strength training also provides health benefits that are generally associated with other forms of activity, such as improved cardiovascular fitness (if you’ve ever performed a set of 10 relatively heavy squats, you know that strength training can get your heart a-thumpin’), injury prevention, body awareness, mobility and activity level later in life, muscle “tone” and (I know you were waiting for this)… fat loss.

Notice that I put fat loss LAST.

Yes, I know you are here to learn about how to overcome your emotional barriers that stand between you and a healthier and happier life. I know you were hoping for the best and most efficient fat loss exercise. If so, you’ve forgotten the message from last week: exercise is not the most direct and efficient path to fat loss!

One of the first steps in regaining your sanity around food and your body is recognizing that fat loss is not the goal to end all goals, and its pursuit should not dominate your life.

What else can you ask of your body, aside from it being smaller or skinnier or smoother or more toned? How about asking it to do more, to be more of a participant in life and less of an observer? I guarantee that when your physical body doesn’t hold you back because it’s strong and healthy, a whole new world of opportunities will open up to you.

Check out one of my clients, Loretto (along with her husband, Tom, another one of my clients), living fully and enjoying PARTICIPATING in a game of wiffle ball with her family. Before she started training at the gym, she would sit on the side and watch her family at play, declining any offer to participate. Her husband Tom (the pitcher, and another one of my clients who is moving quite well!), showed me this video and my heart swelled with pride….especially when he told me that Loretto actually VOLUNTEERED to play in this game!

In the pursuit of living and engaging more fully with the world around you, you will achieve enough fat loss to live a happy and healthy life — no obsessing necessary.

 

BONUS: Exercise that feels like a SPRINT

Sometimes, you just need to put everything you’ve got into your workout. You need to leave it all on the table. You’re required to be in your body, present, in that moment of exertion. You won’t be thinking about what’s for dinner, or reminding yourself about that mail that needs to get sent out today.

You need to feel your lungs burn, your heart pound, your legs ache, and then tell yourself to go even faster. You challenge yourself to push through your discomfort, knowing that the pain is temporary and the reward is worthy. Nothing creates more mental toughness, sense of accomplishment, and tired satisfaction than sprinting.*

…And also, in the right doses, sprinting just so happens to be an excellent tool for fat loss.

*Sprinting doesn’t have to be “running,” per se. It can certainly be done on a bike, a rower, pushing a sled, etc. Be sure to work hard while respecting your current ability and fitness level, and challenge yourself safely. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to consult a doctor or health professional before you begin an exercise program.

 

I could write for days on exercise, but you’ll have to keep checking back in for more! If you are interested in learning more about incorporating these types of workouts, then you should definitely sign up for the EES handbook and subscribe to my newsletter! 

Always here to help,

Jamie

PS – Let’s hear it from you! Let me know, either in the comments or back on the Facebook page, 1) What is your favorite physical activity, something you could do happily for hours and hours on end? 2) Do you strength train? How has getting stronger changed your everyday life?

Kettlebell carries and swings + puggle chasing feels more like "play" than exercise!

One of my faves: kettlebell carries and swings + puggle chasing feels more like “play” than exercise!

Your Fat is Not the Problem, and the Gym is Not the Solution

At the Anytime Fitness club where I play the double role of manager and personal trainer extraordinaire, people frequently come to me to inquire about why their new exercise regimen hasn’t led to significant weight loss. Often these clients are slightly older (beyond 40), and have had experience with and even success losing weight in the past. When they were younger, they tell me, all they had to do was start running or working out a bit, and mayyyybe cut back the portions a tad (if at all) on their normal diet.  They always expect (or hope) to find that if they simply make it to the gym regularly again, they can hold on to all of their poor eating habits.

Believe me, I wish it were true!

I wish that jogging for 30 minutes a couple of times a week could magically undo every piece of bread, pizza, fast food and alcohol that I could consume throughout the day.

I would prefer to bust my ass in the gym 5 or 6 or even 7 days a week just to get to eat a diet filled with sweets and treats and unlimited portions if I could still see the results I want…But unfortunately that’s not the case for me, my clients and most people struggling with fat loss. Personally, I can train hard regularly (because I love it) and still gain body fat because of my diet. (It’s not comfortable or fun, and I don’t recommend it!)

Running obstacle races requires a lot of energy (i.e. calories). But beer calories add up much faster and more easily than the ones you use racing.

Even while training for tough obstacle races all spring and summer, I can STILL easily out-eat (or out-drink!) all of my hard work in the gym.

I sometimes can’t help but feel a little frustrated with the individuals who insist that weight loss should happen easily for them, without making a single change to their eating habits. But in reality, it’s MY JOB to inform them that exercise alone will only get them so far. People wanting to SEE change without having to MAKE change which is one issue, but sometimes it’s simply a lack of knowledge holding them back.

To give you a better understanding of how hard it is to burn off what you eat, check out this awesome video that I first discovered years ago that has really stuck with me:

(For the quick version, check out the video at about 1:40 and 2:45, and you’ll see how many calories one man eating pizza and drinking soda is consuming vs. how many calories the other man sprinting on the treadmill is burning in the same amount of time.)

That being said, unless you are in the gym for hours and hours most days of the week (training for an intense  sport, for example), you will really struggle with your fat loss goals if you don’t address the eating issues that led to your weight gain in the first place.

So, to my Emotional Eaters out there:

If you think you can ignore your patterns of emotional eating and just “work off” your binges and mindless eating with exercise, you’re WRONG.

Another great way to think about this concept comes from Gillian Riley’s book Eating Less: Say Goodbye to Overeating. When people talk about wanting to lose weight, she explains, they are simply complaining about the symptom of a bigger problem. The problem is not your weight itself; your problem is that you eat too many calories for your body and lifestyle. Addressing the symptom without the cause will only provide a short term solution (i.e., losing and regaining the same 10 lbs over and over again). She compares this to a lifelong smoker who wants to figure out the best way to “stop coughing all of the time.”

This is such an awesome comparison!! The problem here is obviously not the coughing, right?  It’s the fact that the smoker keeps smoking, of course! Duh!

Focusing on weight loss (and fat loss) is the exact same misinterpretation. The pounds of fat on your body themselves are not the issue to be resolved, but the habits and actions that put the pounds on in the first place are.

If you truly want to feel, look, and perform better in your life, you MUST address the root cause of the issue:

You ate too much.

Why? Why did you eat so much? Because you were stressed?

Okay, let’s figure out the source of stress and if we can change it. If we can’t change it, then let’s figure out how else you might be able to deal with stress instead of using food to cope.

Did you even notice how much you were consuming on a regular basis?

Okay, let’s start there and use a journal to see the truth of what of your diet really is. Because your body is indicating that it’s too much food for what your current body needs.

Do you see the difference between THIS process, and the one above? THIS is where real, long term fat loss happens.

But that’s enough tough love for one week. Mull these ideas over, and start thinking about your diet and exercise habits in a new way. Stay tuned for next week when I’ll share why you still need to exercise, and how to do it in order to COMPLEMENT and ACCELERATE your efforts to change your eating habits and relationship with food.

If you are itching to take action and start addressing the real issues TODAY, check out my brand new guide to getting started on your Emotional Eating Solution by requesting my FREE EES Handbook over on the right side of the page!

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences below or over on the EES Facebook page.

 

Always here to help,

Jamie

Q & A: Breaking the Guilt –> Eat –> Guilt Cycle

 

For the majority of my private clients, we spend a few minutes each week addressing any challenges they experienced in sticking to their dietary goals . We also brainstorm obstacles they may encounter in the week ahead. Recently, a client of mine posed the following conundrum:

 

I’m fine during the week; it’s easy to plan my meals and snacks and eat well. On the weekends though, I just feel like I don’t want to work so hard. I want to relax with my spouse and eat grapes, cheese, crackers, and drink wine. But then I do that and I feel so bad about myself that I end up eating more snacks. How do I get out of my bad cycle of feeling bad, then eating more, and then feeling worse?

instaquote-guilt eat guilt

 

I loved this dilemma because the Guilt–> Eat–> Guilt cycle is such a tough issue, and a common one as well. Here’s what I shared with my client:

1) Plan for imperfection

If you are newer to the fat loss journey, you may want to consider planning out your meals, even for the weekend. This DOES NOT mean that you have to plan to eat only chicken and broccoli all weekend long! Plan your indulgences (in moderation) as a part of your lifestyle. If you want to enjoy dessert or alcohol or even a pizza with your family, THAT’S OKAY. It’s never a single meal that makes or breaks your fat loss goals.

So plan for the fact that you will probably have a glass of wine and a piece of bread at dinner and opt for a protein shake for breakfast, a big salad for lunch, and some raw veggies for snacks. Knowing that your “bad” meals are part of your plan should help to reduce the guilt factor.

In addition, remember to avoid the indulgences as a reward for your “good week.” Your reward for all your hard work will be the increase in self esteem, self efficacy and pride you feel in completing what you set out to do!

If you absolutely feel the need to munch, at least opt for high volume, lower calorie fare like popcorn, berries, or raw veggies. Yes, they are less satisfying than chips right out of the bag, but they will be much tougher to overeat. Or if you do decide that you need the chips, then portion out what you want to eat and put some water on for tea so you have something else to when you start looking for a second serving. (As you advance through your journey, you may even want to examine why you feel the need to snack mindlessly, but it’s good to have some habits to fall back on in the meantime.)

2) Address the real issue

Hopefully Step 1 will help you avoid feeling guilty for your weekend food choices, but sometime we get sucked into the Eat-Guilt-Eat cycle because of other negative emotional states, such as feeling weak, overwhelmed, insecure or unhappy. We attempt to numb ourselves from the experience of these emotions, which (as I’ve written about before) only dulls the pain for a brief moment. Eating as means for coping with uncomfortable feelings doesn’t change the underlying cause of the emotion, and exacerbates the negative emotions with the addition of guilt.

Try writing down when you have negative emotions that cause you to overeat, or emotions that create the desire to overeat. (Remember that overeating = eating in response to anything other than physical hunger.) Where were you, who were you with, what situation triggered your emotional response? What can you do to change the situation? How can you take positive action to change the situation in the future? If you can’t change the situation, how can you reframe it so that you change your reaction to the situation? Can you confide in your spouse or a friend? Making the effort to figure out your emotional triggers through journaling will be a huge step in overcoming the desire to eat as a response to stress.

3) Get your body moving

When you are feeling down on yourself and trapped in your Guilt –> Eat –> Guilt cycle, you ultimately have two options:

a) Spiral down until you feel too guilty or too physically full to eat more. Wallow in guilt and physical discomfort.

b) Do something to BREAK the cycle.

Since emotions are tougher to control, start with taking an ACTION that breaks the cycle: get your body moving!

Seriously, even if its standing up and down to your couch 10 times, it might just be enough to get your heart pumping and get your mind focused on something OTHER THAN your emotions or your next trip to the kitchen.

Or even better, step away from your fridge and out of your house if you can, and start walking! A brisk 5 or 10 minute walk is enough to clear your head.

I’m all for a lazy, relaxed Sunday, but if you find that your weekends are becoming increasingly sedentary on a regular basis, you might want to start planning in a workout first thing in the morning on one or both weekend days to help screw your head on straight for the day ahead!

 

I’d love to know: If you’ve ever experienced the guilt –> eat –> guilt cycle, how do you snap out of it? How do you avoid it in the first place? Let me know in the comments below, or over on the Facebook page.

 

Always here to help,

Jamie