It’s Not Change…It’s Transformation

When I think of the word ‘change’ I think about things that happen quickly like:

  • Changing my clothes
  • Receiving change from a payment and
  • Changes in the weather (if you live anywhere near South Bend, IN you know what I’m talking about)
From my experience there’s really nothing quick about making the necessary changes to achieve weight loss and fitness goals so instead I like to think about it as a transformation.
Transformation: a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
Rather than getting down about the time it takes for the transformation to happen, let’s talk about what it means to thoroughly transform your body and why the time itself shouldn’t be the focus.

Self Image

Health isn’t just about what your body looks like and readings like blood pressure and cholesterol. Having total health involves developing a positive dialog with yourself and respecting your body for the unique qualities you were blessed with. Believe me, if you don’t like yourself at your current weight shedding 10 or 20 pounds isn’t going to make you love yourself any more.

Think of it this way…is your opinion changed about someone who doesn’t treat you well just because they lose weight or get new clothes? Probably not. So why would your opinion of yourself change over night just because you lost weight?

As your body changes you have the opportunity to write a new script about what you tell yourself when you look in the mirror. Start complimenting yourself, start noticing the things that make you unlike anyone else and love yourself for those qualities, start being thankful for your current abilities and improvements, and start recognizing that you were wonderfully made.

Ability

If no training or true effort is required to achieve physical fitness goals what’s the point in even setting them? If hard work isn’t required what actually differentiates a couch potato from an olympic athlete?

Increasing ability is a process of training and preparing your mind and body to achieve limits you never thought were possible. It has just as much to do with gradually increasing your strength and endurance as it does developing the ‘mentality’ to keep you in the game.

Let’s take distance running as an example. It goes without saying that you can’t go from the la-z-boy to the start line of a half marathon without some training. A solid training program for a half marathon will include a mix of interval and strength training along with gradually increasing the mileage during endurance runs. The gradual increases and mix of exercises help to protect your body against injury while increasing your cardiac and muscle endurance for the race.

But there’s also the mental portion of the race that your body needs time to prepare for. You need time to develop the “I can do this!” attitude. You need the confidence and the courage to push through when it gets hard and all you want to do is stop. And just like developing muscle and endurance – being mentally prepared doesn’t happen over night.

Healthy Choices

Milkshake or apple? Fries or broccoli? Pasta or a salad?

For some of you the ‘right’ choice may be easy. They may be foods that you actually prefer. But for those who need a dietary transformation it can be daunting to give up all the ‘good stuff’ for the ‘right stuff.’

In order to achieve sustained weight loss you need to re-train your taste buds so that you appreciate the taste of foods without all the fat, sodium and added preservatives. If you think you can go from eating burgers to broccoli overnight and enjoy it, I think you’ll probably find yourself bingeing on a burger and anything else you can get your hands on in the not too distant future.

Slowly incorporating better choices will allow you to adjust without complete deprivation of everything you’ve become accustomed to eating. It will also help you to identify the true differences in taste between foods heavily laden with additives versus those with pure and natural flavors.

Sustained Loss

If you haven’t done it yourself you know of someone who has tried the latest weight loss fad and has experienced significant loss. At first everything is great! The weight is dropping off and compliments are abound! But it’s only a matter of time before the new clothes are suddenly ‘shrinking in the wash.’

Any diet or fitness program that guarantees immediate results should also caution of how quickly those pounds will come back on (and then some) when you deviate even just slightly from their program.

Quick weight loss is usually the result of starvation and deprivation and not a reflection of learning how to live within your limits. Where as sustained weight loss is accomplished by learning about portions, understanding calories in versus the calories you are burning and fueling your body with the right combination of nutrients.

Think about it this way…you lose a dramatic 10 pounds in one week. Great! But now you have to sustain that loss and possibly lose more. What happens the next week when you step on the scale to discover a loss of only a couple of pounds or worse none. You then will likely do one of two things – starve and deprive more (sending your body into a metabolic shutdown) or give up and pack back on the 10 you lost.

You didn’t gain it overnight and it’s not going to come off that quickly either. Accept the process and celebrate the gradual decrease because maintaining and building on a 1 – 2 pound weekly loss is much easier to do than a 10 pound loss.

These are only a few of the reasons that ‘time’ shouldn’t matter when transforming your body. If you are willing to change be willing to do it for all the right reasons. Embrace the process, but more importantly, learn to embrace yourself along the way so you experience a thorough, lasting transformation.

Learning to Love

Image

Think about the people and the things that you love. Certainly there’s a difference in the type of love you have for people than what you have for objects but every ‘love’ is founded in the relationship you have with the person or thing.

As you think about your ‘loves’ let me share with you a little about mine…

  • I love my God because He is my source of hope
  • I love my husband because we share a friendship and a bond deeper than any other person on Earth
  • I love my children because each of them uniquely challenges me every day to be a better person 
  • I love my friends because they help me to see the world through their eyes

Now for the ‘shallow’ loves in my life:

  • I love my truck – it’s big, it comes in handy and it has seat warmers
  • I love shoes – all kinds, can’t get enough of them
  • I love raspberry gelato – there are very few sweets that tempt me but I have a hard time resisting this one

I think it’s fairly easy to make a list of the things we love and why we love them. But have you considered the love you have for yourself? Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about indulging yourself with greediness or allowing your ego to get the best of you. I’m talking about the kind of self-love that allows you to look past the mistakes you’ve made and the perceived imperfections in the mirror. It’s the kind of love that isn’t tied up in actions or appearances but in the relationship you have with yourself.

Losing weight and improving physical fitness takes a lot of hard work. If your relationship with yourself isn’t founded in love excuses will be easy and perceptions will be difficult to change.

First, if you don’t love yourself you aren’t going to take the time necessary to see changes in your life. Aside from the time you need to exercise you also need to consider the adjustments you may need to make to shopping and food preparation time, as well as a potential increase in sleep and rest time. If you don’t love yourself it will be easy to find excuses to skip workouts, grab fast food or stay up late watching tv. A person with self-love stops putting poor excuses ahead of the quality decisions that will improve their life.

Secondly, without self-love it’s going to be difficult to make weight loss mean anything more than just a number on the scale. Let’s say your goal is to lose 20 pounds because you don’t like what you see in the mirror. Over a period of 3 months you modify your exercise routine and eating habits and you achieve your weight loss goal but you are still disappointed in the reflection in the mirror. While your physical fitness has benefited from the loss, your self-image didn’t improve so now the 20 pound loss isn’t a celebration rather a big let down because you’re still unhappy.

My suggestion is to keep that goal of 20 pounds because there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the goal. But to achieve satisfaction with the reflection in the mirror you will need to look at yourself EVERY DAY and find something you ‘love.’ At the beginning it might start with loving your eyes or hair but as your body begins to transform you will start loving the look of your bare arms or the trimming of your thighs. This exercise is not meant for you to become obsessed with the look of your body rather that you begin to become comfortable with it and you embrace the changes as they are happening.

Lastly, I would suggest that self-love is what will keep you from obsessing about comparing your look to those images promoted in the media. Instead of idealizing yourself through the images of celebrity air-brushed photos you will feel empowered to see the beauty in the uniqueness of your own body. We are all truly blessed with unique shapes and characteristics and I believe the more we learn to embrace them the more beautiful our world becomes.

So take some time today to love who you are now and with each passing day work on growing that love just the same way you find new ways to love the people and things in your life that mean the most.

Realistic Losses

In the age of The Biggest Loser, countless commercial diets and exercise programs and surgical weight loss procedures I have concerns that as a society we are losing sight of healthy sustainable weight loss.

Most people gain weight at a slow and steady pace over time and the best way to reverse that gain is to create goals and a plan that results in a slow and steady loss.

Sustainable weight loss goals should be based on losing a maximum of 2 pounds per week.

Did you know that one pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories?  That means if your goal is to lose 2 pounds in a given week you have to create a 1000 calorie deficit every day to reach your goal.

Caloric deficits are created through limiting your caloric intake combined with your caloric expenditure through physical activity. These things go hand-in-hand and you need to incorporate both of them to achieve sustained weight loss.

If you think you can just create a caloric deficit by just cutting calories you will likely run into two things:

1)   If you aren’t consuming enough calories your body will begin to hoard everything you take in to prevent you from starving – as a result this slows your metabolism and weight loss suddenly becomes much more difficult

2)   Your will power to severely limit your caloric intake is difficult to sustain and has the potential to result in binge eating episodes

Pairing physical activity with reduced caloric intake can ultimately bring about better results because:

1)   As you build lean muscle and lose body fat your metabolism increases (muscle is a metabolic tissue), which supports better weight loss and management

2)   You are not totally dependent upon your intake to create the deficit

Now that you know what it takes to lose a pound can you see why it’s not only unrealistic but dangerous to think about losing 5 pounds, 10 pounds or more in just one week?

 

Pick One

So how many of you made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight or get in shape? How are you doing 3 days in? Starting to feel overwhelmed? Craving something sweet or feeling unmotivated to get in a workout today?

I’d like to suggest that rather than trying to change everything at once you pick one thing and focus on making that your initial success.

Think about it…how manageable does this sound if you haven’t already been focused on healthy eating and physical fitness?
• Cut out all sweets
• Stop drinking soda
• No fast food
• No fried foods
• Eat more vegetables and fruits
• Wake up early and exercise for 60 minutes 6 days a week
• Drink 8 glasses of water
• Talk a walk after work
• Get to bed every night by 10:00
• Eat breakfast
• Keep a food and exercise journal

We all know that this list could go on and on.

I find that creating little victories, makes it much easier to put in the work for the more challenging and long-term commitments. So maybe the first step should be to select one item from you list and focus on succeeding with a that life change for two weeks. Once you have successfully made that change, tackle another item.

We don’t gain weight and lose our physical fitness over night – it’s time that we stop demanding our minds and our bodies to make a long list of radical changes over night.

Sustained weight loss and improved physical fitness is achieved over time. Make a plan and give yourself some time to be successful in making the necessary changes.