On Weight Loss (Part 3)
In my last blog, I discussed the importance of consistency in both diet and exercise in order to achieve weight loss goals. It is not about being perfect- it is just about being better than before. Exercise is often the hardest element in this equation for my patients, and the same was true for me. It took me a long time to be consistent with exercise. I think a lot of us think about exercise and wait for a moment of inspiration to hit. Unfortunately, motivation does not work that way. Action leads to motivation, not the other way around. Even the most fit individuals do not feel like working out most days, but they have put a system in to place that helps to keep them consistent.
I realized after going to the gym and different gym classes sporadically and inconsistently for years that I needed to make a change. I decided to hire a personal trainer which turned out to be a pivotal moment for me. I didn’t want to cancel on her because I would feel guilty, so I ended up making every session I scheduled. I always scheduled the same amount of sessions each week because I paid in advance. It also took a lot of stress off because she planned all the workouts. I didn’t have to think; I just had to show up. Additionally, we set goals and she would help me to slowly achieve those goals over time. I started working out with her 2 days a week, and then moved to 3 days a week after a year or so. Since moving home, I no longer have an in-person trainer but I continue to workout regularly at home. The time I spent with the trainer was invaluable because I built skills, strength, and habits that would carry me forward even when she was not there with me for every work out.
Not everyone is going to go out and find a personal trainer (although I do think this can be a great investment). However the principle should remain the same, which is to build new skills and stay accountable. You can do this with a set of classes online or at the gym. You can do this with a workout buddy. But it is not going to happen by waiting for the motivation to hit. You have to carve out time and create a plan to make this happen. Then if the plan is not helping you to achieve your goals, you should slowly adjust that plan until it does.
On a more specific note, I encourage patients who are trying to lose weight to include strength training in their workout program. Muscle cells burn more energy. The more muscles you have, the more energy or calories you will burn. This helps to make weight loss easier (going back to the calorie deficit idea that I have discussed in prior blog posts). There are other benefits to strength training too. It helps to prevent injuries. I haven’t had low back pain since I started strength training because I strengthened and balanced my weak areas. It prevents osteoporosis by building stronger bones. It can improve posture and capacity for every day activities. You will be able to lift heavier items, go on longer walks, and maybe do other activities you couldn’t do before. I I promise that you will feel better. When you feel better you are able to achieve more in all aspects of life.
Make an action plan, find accountability, and adjust the plan to achieve your goals. If you fall off the horse, that’s okay. Get back on and move forward. Weight loss and lifestyle change is not going to happen over night. This has to be a long term change to improve your life and feel better. We all need to keep working at it and we can continuously improve no matter the age or circumstance. If you are lost, struggling, or don’t know where to start then ask me at your next visit. If you are having success, then please share that with me too. My job is to help you get healthy and feeling better. See you in the office!