Thursday, November 14, 2013

9:02 PM
In response to my recent post about working out, I got the following email from a reader:
Love it or Hate it?

I have been morbidly obese for some time now. I began seriously working on losing 150 pounds the beginning of July. As of yesterday I am down 30. Cannot tell anywhere other than the fact my wedding ring now spins on my finger. I am not and never have been one to exercise and so I'm lost. Obviously I know just moving-walking is good. Are there special concerns because I'm still so heavy that I need to consider? I don't want to do any further damage to my joints if that even makes sense. I am also currently recovering from a broken elbow (3 weeks ago day after tomorrow). Any suggestions or advice you have I would greatly appreciate. I do read your posts and they have inspired me.

My first response to reading this was to think GOOD FOR YOU! Good for you for taking control of your life and good for you for being 30 pounds along the way to your goal.

My second thought was yikes! how do I respond to this? As I have made clear in many posts, I have no formal training at all in the subjects of nutrition, weight loss, exercise physiology, personal training, what-have-you. I have no expertise in these fields beyond that that comes of being a long-time athlete, yoga instructor and avid reader (if you want any water resources work done on the other hand, I am your woman).

So what can I offer you, reader, other than to share with you what to me seems to be a common sense approach to incorporating fitness and health into your life.

Firstly, it clearly seems that you are doing something right if you have managed to lose 30 pounds. I am guessing from your comment that you have done this mostly by changing your diet, which seems to be the correct place to start. I know for me what helps tremendously is just simply to not have the stuff around the house that is going to encourage me to eat unhealthily. I have very little will power when it comes to food, something I solve by keeping my cupboards bare of addictive, high-calorie and processed foods (i.e., cookies, crackers, chips, etc). That way even if I wander into the kitchen to mindlessly snack, there is nothing there that inspires an unwanted binge. I also keep a basket of fruit at my desk for snacking at work, which keeps me away (usually) from the cake and doughnuts in the lunch room.

From what I have read, small, balanced portions several times a day seems to work the best in terms of losing or controlling weight, as well as making incremental and sustainable changes. A crash or super-restrictive diet isn't sustainable in the long-term; eating fruits and veggies instead of brownies and chips is. Some people swear by apps that allow them to track their calories (my fitness pal seems to be a fave). Several good cookbooks and articles about eating and shopping healthy can also be found all over the web. Below are a few examples I just found:
Secondly, you also seem to be right on track with how you are thinking about starting to incorporate exercise. Walking is a very powerful tool in terms of improving your health and fitness. Friends who have dieted have also shared with me that they like walking above other forms of exercise because it does not make them ravenous afterwards (overeating after exercise is a common way that diets fail). Once you get stronger and your arm heals, I recommend also doing some resistance training (even with a couple of light dumbbells). Article after article touts the calorie-burning, bone-strengthening benefits of lifting weights. In my experience, resistance training also has the added benefit of not leaving you ravenous. As you get stronger/lighter, you can switch to a walking/running program.

What I also read over and over again though is that consistency is key.  I would recommend setting a defined schedule and then sticking to it (i.e., walk for 30-60 minutes after dropping your child off at school EVERY SINGLE DAY until you have gotten to love it so much that you can't imagine not getting your walk in). One way to do this is to set a goal for yourself in terms of consecutive days walking at least a mile (aka, a "streak" between Thanksgiving and New Years), or establishing a mileage goal for each week, or putting a 5K run/walk on your calendar that you can train for. Set a goal, shout it out to the world, and then hold yourself to it - posting to FB is a great way to do that :)

I always appreciate reading the success stories of those who have worked so hard and been successful at taking off weight. The Huffington Post always has success stories on their Health and Fitness website, as do Shape and Self magazines.  All of those people did what you are doing. They took a first step, and then another, and then another.  Keep up the good work. We believe in you.

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