Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Weight Loss Journey: One Step at a Time

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight? Do you know what it really takes to not only lose that weight, but keep it off? 

Surprisingly, I’ve discovered that most of us don’t have a clue that weight loss/maintenance is a life-long journey, that requires focused attention to one measured step at a time...for the rest of our lives.

I was contemplating this and the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, as I mentioned in Sunday’s post, wondering how best to explain that there is NO quick fix. I hesitate to attempt to explain sometimes because I'm uncertain folks are ready to hear it. What I have to say is not what they want to hear, that's for sure.

I also hesitate because it's damn hard to describe what it takes to live well, as opposed to attaining short-lived, temporarily gratifying weight loss. That’s why I started squealing my head off when I read my friend Bridget's post the other day on Facebook. Seriously, ask my kids. She very succinctly and clearly described the reality of weight loss, and I could not have written it better myself. 

Bridget Scarbrough is a certified personal trainer and fitness coach, who has been working in fitness for the past 10 years. So I asked if she'd share her insights with us here and she said absolutely! Yay for us!

So without further ado, heeeeere's Bridget! 

                                                                                                                                 

It is no secret that the fitness/weight loss industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world. Everyone is looking for the quickest, easiest, and most pleasurable way to lose weight. The unfortunate reality is that the road to weight loss and better health is full of detours, construction delays, and other drivers who are determined to undermine you reaching your destination.....not to mention your own confusion and uncertainty.

If we take an all or nothing approach to better health we often find that we cannot maintain the standards that we have set for ourselves. "Cold Turkey" elimination, daily hour long workouts, and deprivation will most likely result in burn out, injury, and self- sabotage.

Greater success and long term change come from setting small but attainable goals. Starting out with a walking program of just 10-20 minutes 5 days a week and slowly adding more time will help you feel successful and give you more energy. It will also strengthen your cardiovascular and muscular systems. You do not have to work out for 60 minutes to get measurable and noticeable changes.

Nutritionally, try not to focus so much on low fat/fat free products and caloric restriction but instead lower your intake of sugar, processed foods, fast foods and beverages. Make a deal with yourself to trade out one thing every day for a healthier alternative. For example, a reduction of even one soda per day will save you thousands of calories per year. Most of us live in a state of perpetual dehydration and we don't even know it. Headaches, lethargy, cramping, and nausea can all be signs of dehydration. Your urine should be a very pale yellow. Be aware of flavored waters with added sugars, artificial colors, and flavorings.

Use the following SMART method when setting goals for yourself:

SPECIFIC
Make sure that you are SPECIFIC with your goal. For example, if you want to lose weight be specific about the amount of weight you want to lose. If you want to reduce stress, be specific about which stressor you want to focus on first. The more specific you can be the better chance for success.

MEASURABLE
Make sure that your goal is MEASURABLE. Using stress reduction as our example again, you may decide that you will measure your reduction of stress by how many coping skills you can incorporate into your daily routine. Or you could focus on reducing the instances of one or more of the following effects of stress: lack of sleep, short temper, anxiety, and food consumption.

ATTAINABLE
Ensure your goal is truly ATTAINABLE based on your current schedule, level of commitment, and emotional/physical abilities.

REALISTIC
Give yourself some time to decide if the goal is REALISTIC. Ask yourself if you are setting your goal too high for your current situation. Or are you short changing yourself?

TIME
Finally, give yourself a TIME frame to reach your goal. Using small goals in shorter periods of time will help you gain confidence and self-efficacy.

There is so much information to be learned and it can be overwhelming, conflicting, and confusing to say the least. You will stumble along the way and feel frustrated at certain points, but consistency is the key. Don't give up. Keep moving, give your body nutritious food that it will recognize (and you can pronounce), avoid deprivation, reward yourself (preferably without food), and find things that you enjoy to help keep you motivated and focused.
There are plenty of qualified trainers/coaches in most areas that can help you reach your goals, teach you proper movement patterns, and give you the tools to overcome the barriers that keep you from finding the best you that you can be.
Good health and a stronger body are possible

~ It's Up to You.

This week's Living Well article is brought to you by It’s Up To You fitness and it’s founder, Bridget Scarbrough. A passionate educator, Bridget herself lost 45 pounds and continues the journey of a healthy lifestyle each and every day. She's an incredible trainer and coach, as well as an awesome friend.

Ready to start your own journey? If you're lucky enough to live in the Culpeper County area, contact Bridget. Everyone needs someone to walk beside them.

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