Sunday, March 31, 2013

Losing Weight

Hi, how wonderful that it is you have made it into the year 2013. A new year usually signifies a new resolve to do things differently with your life. One of these "things" almost always is to lose weight and achieve some higher level of fitness than where you currently are. This is a good goal to have. The benefits of achieving it are many e.g., longer life, good quality of life into the golden years, enjoyment of seeing grandchildren reaching adulthood, etc. But what often happens is that many of us fail to hold to this resolve beyond 2 or 3 weeks into January. Why does this happen to us? Why can't we maintain the strength of our resolve beyond this time frame?

I've come to the conclusion that the answer has a lot to do with how we integrate the notion of good health and fitness into a framework where all this becomes a habit. So with that in mind we should not approach our goal of losing weight and increasing our fitness singularly but to develop habits that promote this. How do we do this?

First of all if we analyse our past experiences with this resolve, we always jump into it with tremendous gusto and energy. We get on the treadmill, exercise bike, or whatever form of exercise you go into and go for half an hour, maybe even more; we pump up 50 lbs or 100lbs. Then we get tired out or we hurt ourselves, after this we begin to talk to ourselves that maybe this isn’t for us or we tell ourselves that we don’t have time for this. Pretty soon our resolve gets justified somewhere back into the recesses of our minds until it disappears all together. This is very sad.

So to have a measure of success, take it slow. You wracked up the weight over many years you are not going to take them off in two weeks. Be prepared to devote 5 years or more to reach a good weight and level of fitness that will take you well into your 70’s and 80’s in good condition.

So to start, every morning without fail get on an exercise bike or some form of exercise, maybe running in place at a brisk pace but not so much it kills you in 1 minute, and do this for 5 minutes for one week every day. At the end of the day take a brisk walk for 5 minutes for one week. Doing this won’t tire you out so much but you have to do it every day without fail. Also it feels easy to do; you won’t think that it is an inconvenience to do. Then the following week you add 2 minutes to the 5 minutes of the past weeks exercises for a total of 7 minutes. The next week you add 2 minutes for a total of 9 minutes and so on until you reach 30 minutes for each activity; that is 30 minutes for the mornings exercise whether that’s biking or running in place and 30 minutes of walking. It will take you a total of 14 weeks to get to 30 minutes. By this time you will have trained your mind that this is a way of life and that it is a good way of life. If you miss a day you will feel terrible because it has become ingrained in your mind that you just have to do the exercising. As time moves on and you maintain the new habit the exercising becomes effortless. Your focus on weight loss becomes sort of secondary to the need to have that good feeling that comes from a post workout session. 

Exercising is only a part of developing good habits that will actually see you shed weight. The way you eat will have a lot to do with actually losing more weight than you would if you were to just exercise alone. There is so much material in bookstores about good nutrition and so forth, which will help you in developing a plan for good eating for weight loss. The first step in this matter is to know you eat too much and that you eat all the wrong things. Believe you me this is a very hard thing to do. Nobody likes to be told they are doing things wrong. But it is the way to make real changes in one’s life; in fact it is the only way I think. How do we get started in doing this? Get a notebook and title it however you want, maybe, “How I eat, What I eat, and When”. For everything that goes into your mouth you enter it into your journal. Don’t try reviewing it, just enter it and be truthful about it always. At the end of 2 weeks or even 4 weeks review your journal. You will be shocked at what you have put into yourself in that time period. What will even be more shocking is the realization that you have been doing this for years and years. When you get over the shock you will no longer be able to deny that you may be over eating and eating all kinds of wrong stuff. It is at this time you will be so open to trying to find out what it is you need to do to change things. Again you have to be aware that you can’t change things overnight. Embarking on a self-abusing diet of some sort will not do it. You have to think that it will take some time to lose the weight just like the realization that you had in getting into exercising will take some time to show results. In any event I would suggest you read lots and educate yourself on good nutrition. There is so much material out there to help you. What I would strongly suggest though is to go and see a dietitian or nutritionist. They will help you in your planning how to eat well as well as be a source of accountability in your efforts to develop good habits for good eating.

I am hoping that I was of some help in your resolution towards good health for you and your family in this post-holiday season. It took me a while to figure this out myself. Intellectually, just like you, I’d always known exercising and good eating were the answer to good health but putting into practise was always something that eluded me. Over the last five years I have been able to lose a total of 50 lbs and have maintained a level of fitness that seems to have worked for me. It’s just a matter of forming good habits and thinking that makes the difference, and also finding good role models that encourage you in this endeavor. Mine was my mom who passed away a little over a year ago. She battled diabetes for over 35 years with exercise and good eating. An awesome mom I had.

May all that is good be yours in this New Year of 2013


Douglas Semple