The number one reason consumers consult with personal trainers, join gyms and try out the latest and greatest fitness class is to help them manage their weight. And lets be honest, Canadians are getting unhealthier each and every year. Health-related disease such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, and various forms of cancer are at an all-time high. Plus we must consider the effect of excess weight and unhealthy lifestyle on our joints and backs, not to mention the psychological effects on our self-esteem and confidence!
Even with all this increased focus on weight and weight-loss, the scale seems to be increasing versus decreasing. I'm proposing a new approach, starting immediately - focus on your fitness, not your fatness. What does that mean exactly?
Have you ever noticed that people who are active or play sports always seem to be able to do more things -- they just appear to enjoy life more than their sedentary, unfit counterparts. They are able to move their body with more ease and generally have no problem carrying out normal activities of daily living.
Of course, fit people generally do not smoke and tend to eat a little healthier, so they are less likely to get cancer than those who smoke or make repeated trips through the drive-thru. They also suffer fewer heart attacks than those unfit and tend to carry less overall body fat. Fit people have stronger lungs, muscles, joints, bones, immune system, and healthier hearts. We see this in their blood pressure and cholesterol measurements. It becomes a no-brainer that the benefits of fitness can have an all around positive effect on your lifestyle.
While weight loss is often an initial goal for many of us, when we shift our focus to our fitness instead of our weight, we begin to notice those extra benefits such as less stress, more powerful, better sleep and night and more energy. Overall we just feel better! Tapping into the feeling of fitness motivates you to keep going, to see more performance related results, and guess what... weight loss might just happen as a side effect!
Most people recognize the benefits of exercise and eating well. Many have good intentions and decide to make some changes. In fact, Canadians have no problem initiating the process. We have done it numerous times (like every January 1st, or you know, every Monday). We tend to lose the same fat over and over again. Our struggle isn't losing the weight, our struggle lies in the challenge of keeping the weight off. When the focus is solely on weight loss the complexity of the process is often missed. Focusing on fitness allows you to feel successful regardless of what the scale says and helps you to create a much stronger foundation.
Weight loss and fitness have become a million dollar industry. There are literally hundreds of exercises, nutrition, fat loss and health books on the shelves at book stores; with most of these books, you read them and then they go back on the bookshelf. By the time you start to initiate any of the changes, you have forgotten what those changes were in the first place and you have probably lost the motivation anyway.
Research demonstrates that the safest and most effective program for optimal health and ideal weight management is a program that combines exercise and a healthy diet. Often we'll here people say "abs are made in the kitchen" or "diet is 80% of weight loss", but in actuality, it's a 50/50 split. Fitness is more than weight loss and long-term sustainable weight loss is more than a 90-day program.
The only way you are going to achieve success is if you are truly involved in the process. You know your body and life better than anyone. I am a firm believer that there is no quick-fix solution. If you want something enough, expect to put forth a bit of effort. You know what they say -- if anything is worth getting, it is worth working for! So, it will not be a 'walk in the park', but I can guarantee that it is probably not going to be as difficult as you would imagine.
So start with something today: go for a brisk walk or bike ride, lift some weights, break a sweat, kick a soccer ball around, download a class on youtube. Commit to a performance goal: 30 workouts in 60 days, run a 5k, be able to do 10 pushups, sign up for an obstacle race. The possibilities are endless.
P.S. -- Accountability is always a great thing; feel free to share your performance goal with me below!