“People of character do the right thing even if no one else is, not because they think it will change the world, but because they refuse to be changed by the world.”
– Michael Josephson
Fitness, Motivation and Commitment ~ Coach D
It is not uncommon as life progresses for our weight to start to rise and at some point we recognize that it has become higher than it should be. We exercise less than we should, and we find it difficult to overcome our inertia. We often get motivated for short periods to try to change but may then become frustrated by the slow progress and the amount of effort it takes to achieve what appears to be only minimal improvement. Then we lose our motivation and commitment, and our weight starts to rise again.
I believe a prime component of the problem most of us face arises from a basic level of misunderstanding of how to eat in moderation and how to exercise to be fit and healthy. Years ago our daily work was more physical and labor intensive, so making time and effort for exercise wasn’t necessary. Have you ever noticed on Staten Island, we aren’t happy unless we can park in our garage next to our living room and have our car parked near our place of business. In addition, we find ourselves overworked and fatigued, unable to find time for exercise in order to keep fit. As well, we find ourselves pressed for time, stressed, and hungry, which then leads to eating what is easy and fast. We often eat more than our necessary portion. That may come from ignorance about appropriate portion size, a stress release, or simply that eating is a social activity. We don’t cut ourselves off from eating, and this behaviour results in overeating and weight gain.
It is important to analyze this problem to better understand why success may seem so elusive. First comes motivation: As I’ve always said, the hardest part is getting started. Everyone needs to find some motivation to become lean and fit. Often people start by having an event they want to look good for or have gotten fed up with being stagnant at a particular weight, which they find unacceptably high. People become motivated to diet and exercise. Sometimes they reach their goal, but once they have reached their target weight they return to previous habits and then are surprised that their weight returns. For some, reaching their weight goal remains forever elusive.
Ultimately, we need to change the focus of our intentions. The goal is not just about an isolated weight loss event. The goal needs to be a lifestyle change. Surprisingly, we often take better care of our material possessions than our body. We need to look at being fit and exercise like we do brushing our teeth. For example, we would never leave the house or go to bed without brushing our teeth. However, we weren’t taught to care for our bodies in a similarly habitual fashion or to maintain this degree of dedication to our physical fitness. We need to recognize that the true objective lies in staying fit to be healthy. I would suggest that having periodic tangible short-term goals will make achieving this ultimate aspiration easier.
In order to better understand the variables at hand, one has to understand the relationship between what we eat and how much work is required to burn it off. Most people are unaware of how much they actually eat in comparison to how many calories they actually need. Nor are people aware of how difficult it is to burn off the excess calories. There are many websites that can help you calculate your actual caloric need based on weight, age, and sex as well as many sites that provide you with the caloric expenditure of various activities based on your weight and time spent at the activity. A rough estimate is that you must consume 10 calories/pound daily to maintain your current weight. In order to lose weight we need to burn off excess calories. Each pound is roughly equivalent to 3500 calories. That means to lose one pound one needs to burn off 3500 cal by either decreased intake or increased physical output. Thus, to lose 10 pounds one must lose 35,000 calories of stored body fat; likewise, to lose 20 pounds one must lose 70,000 calories of stored body fat. One way to lose weight and burn off calories, of course, is physical exercise. In order to lose 10 pounds, one must exercise 5 days a week with vigorous exercise (approximately 500 cal per workout) for 14 weeks.
Certainly, it is important to have realistic expectations. One of the first pitfalls to success occurs when after 2 weeks, with only 1 or 2 pounds of weight loss, you become discouraged and lose motivation, feeling that your efforts are actually not making a difference—and you doubt whether you can produce a change. But if you look at the calculated numbers, they are right on target with your projected weight loss. It then follows that in order to maintain an achieved weight loss, the appropriate balance between calories in and calories out must be adhered to.
Another common pitfall is that once people start working out they then sometimes allow themselves little indulgences, using the justification that, “Since I have worked out I can have a little snack or dessert.” Quickly, a bowl of ice cream or piece of cake becomes legitimatized by the 20-minute run. But when one looks at the true numbers with this sort of activity, one would find that they are no longer in a state of net loss of calories. The 20-minute run may have burned on the order of 120-140 calories, just a little more than the calorie content in a cup of coffee and an apple (and significantly less than the ice cream or cake).
Another common pitfall is not recognizing your triggers and weaknesses that sabotage your efforts to achieving your goal. You need to identify the triggers that spur you to eat and those that enable you to avoid exercise—and then change your habits. For example, if eating what is left on your kid’s plate is something you do, put it in the sink and rinse it off—after all, their food still has calories. If you tend to munch after hanging out for a while in the kitchen, then leave the kitchen and go for a walk, even if the dishes aren’t done. If you snack on candies left out at work, put them away; don’t buy any or don’t walk by that area. Box up half of your meal at a restaurant before you even start. You will find you are a lot less hungry than you thought. Have healthy snacks available to you, like an apple or a protein shake, so that if you are hungry you will eat clean rather than breaking down and eating junk. If you wait until the end of the day to exercise and routinely find yourself out of time or too tired, change the time of your program to make it the first thing you do every day. Every little bit helps, for example using the stairs instead of the elevator. These little interventions aren’t going to result in enormous differences, but they contribute to the ultimate goal of fitness.
Controlling what you eat is only part of the program. Exercise is the other key component. This is where the burn-off of excess calories occurs. We are best served when we view exercise not only as a way to burn calories but also to become fit and strong. When considering exercises, one wants to elevate their heart rate to burn calories. With Nxt Level workouts and the use of high intensity interval training exercises, not only does one increase their heart rate to have effective caloric burn, but also with the high repetition sets one develops muscle definition and strength. When we increase our muscle mass, our metabolic rate increases even when at rest. Furthermore, looking leaner and fitter improves how our clothes fit and how we feel about ourselves in all parts of our life. An additional bonus from the use of free weights and weight-bearing exercise is the benefit in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Over time you will grow to have more respect for your body—to have the conscious awareness to pass on overeating and to stay dedicated to your fitness program. Beware though: People will try to sabotage your efforts. They will try to offer you a little nibble or encourage you not to be so committed. Recognize this is something you are doing for yourself and that you need to pass on that “treat” for now. A good friend of mine once said, “Nothing tastes as good as being thin.” It is amazing how often I hear that ring through the back of my mind when temptation is lurking. In the same vein, if you know someone is trying to change their lifestyle, then provide them encouragement and praise. It is amazing how much that can fuel their fire to stay committed. I have learned that over the years as a trainer & coach.
This is going to take willpower and dedication. You need to apply the same kind of commitment and effort you put forth in all other areas of your life to the area of taking care of yourself with a program of diet and high intensity interval training. You will find unimagined satisfaction in being able to control your weight and be the fittest ever.
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