We know our program works, and indeed, it works well. That's why it came as such a surprise when we recently had a new client train with us consistently through her free 2 week trial, then say that she didn't want to sign up for any more classes... we, of course, asked, "why?!" Turns out, she was disappointed that she "only lost 1 pound," over the course of those 10 vigorous workouts. I was a little surprised, but it's not all that uncommon. We proceeded to ask her if she'd wear a pedometer (Fitbit, technically) for the following week. Turns out, she was averaging less than 3,000 steps, and only expending around 1,100 calories per day... she needed A LOT more physical activity than just those 3-5 hours of gym time each week.
Sounds so simple, doesn't it? To be healthier: be more physically active!
But what's simple in theory is often difficult in practice, as known to everyone who's ever vowed to go jogging, or get to the gym 3 times a week, then somehow ended up watching tv, instead.
Based on our experience, and work done by researchers all over the world, we think that finding activities YOU ENJOY is the key for adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Here are our 3 BIG recommendations for improving your motivation to get physical activity:
Move in ways that make you feel good. Maybe you didn't stick to your three-jogs-a-week resolution because you actually hate jogging (like Sarah), so you might have better luck lifting weights, or doing a spin cycle class, or swimming laps, or something else you find that you enjoy. Also, remember that it could just be moving more in your seemingly mundane everyday activities that keeps you healthy and fit. Park further away, walk at a brisk pace, hold the occasional squat, and do the occasional chin-up. Our family is constantly going to parks and playing lots of physical games; like disc golf, laser tag, softball, and other fun things that also keep your heart-rate elevated. We have friends who swear by water sports in the summer, and snowboarding/skiing in the winter. Who doesn't have a physical activity that they like to do?!
The simple takeaway is: a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't work for exercise!
Focus on immediate benefits from exercise — improved mood, sleep, less anxiety, etc... Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to conflict with your other important priorities, like being a good parent, spouse, or working hard at your career. Instead, think of self-care — activity, nutrition, sleep — as helping with the things that matter most. Moving more, sleeping better, and eating healthier may give you more patience with your children at home, and more mental acuity while you're at work!
Some other important strategies for people wanting to lose weight and keep it off:
Monitoring your nutrition and physical activity. There are dozens of free apps to measure these sorts of things, but it can also be as simple as snapping a photo of what you eat, for example. By keeping track of things, a person can become more mindful of their health choices throughout the day.
Setting realistic, timely goals. I want to finish an obstacle course run in three months is a clearer goal than I want to get fitter, for example.
Surrounding yourself with supportive people. This makes a world of difference, and especially if it's a spouse, or someone who lives with you!
Give yourself a break if you mess up on your new, improved, super-active lifestyle. It's good to think of your health and wellness as a lifelong journey with the one and only body you're ever going to get. It's not possible to eat and exercise perfectly starting right now, but it is possible to improve, little by little. We'll continue to learn and evolve along the way!