The kids are back in school, the weather is cooling down, and all the stay-at-home parents let out a big sigh – some time! All to yourself! What to do with it?

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The start of school is a great time to start a new plan to improve your health. Create a new routine early on, and you’ll be on the straight and narrow to the healthy life you want. Here are 5 simple steps to help you get started.

1. Dream a little. If your life was exactly the way you imagine it to be – if you could be anything, feel any way, and do whatever you dreamed of, what would your life look like? Spend part of this time focusing specifically on your health and fitness. It doesn’t matter how unrealistic your dream may seem, you can address details later. This is time to think BIG.

 

2. Be honest. Now take some time to honestly and realistically assess the current state of affairs. What do your life, health, and fitness look like now? How much time do you devote to your health? Do you worry about your health or does your health limit the things you want to do? Take note of where things are at now. Compare your big dreams to your current reality. What’s different? Ask yourself what would need to change in order to gradually head you in the direction of your dream. Don’t anticipate that you will achieve the dream in weeks or months – the goal is to always be moving toward the dream.

3. Select your long-term goals. Choose some realistic goals (1-2 is usually a good number) to achieve in the next 3 months. Make sure these are designed to head you toward your dream. Give yourself a deadline to complete them! Note: If one of your goals is to lose weight, 1-2 pounds per week is a safe and realistic amount of weight to lose. Losing faster than that can cause some major long-term negative effects on your metabolism, and can cause you to lose muscle.

Examples of long-term goals:

Lose 20 lbs by December 15, 2017.

Play outside with my grandkids for 30 minutes without feeling fatigued by November 15, 2017.

Run 6 miles without stopping by January 1, 2018.

Lower morning blood sugars to less than 120 mg/dL 5 days out of 7 by December 31, 2017.

4. Break it down farther. Time to break the long-term goals into smaller, short-term goals (2-4 is a good number). These are the things that you will do on a daily or weekly basis that will inch you each day a step closer to your dream. Be very specific – instead of making a goal to “eat healthy,” say “eat 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit each day.” That specificity makes it easy to track and gives you a very clear target. Another key piece? Choose things that won’t make you miserable!IMG_3116

Examples of short-term goals:

Use a calorie tracker to eat 1600-1800 calories per day, 5 out of 7 days per week.

Begin walking 10 minutes per day, 3 days per week. Increase by 5 minutes per week to goal of 30 minutes per day.

Complete a Couch to 5K training plan.

Focus on limiting carbohydrate intake to 30-45 grams per meal.

5. Now go get your dream! Be diligent and faithful to complete your short-term goals. Share your goals with a couple of people close to you (or your 500 closest Facebook friends!) to help hold you accountable. If you need extra support, knowledge, or resources to create or meet your goals, find a Registered Dietitian, exercise physiologist, or personal trainer to assist you.

Once you’ve done these five things, lather, rinse, and repeat! The key is to continually create new goals – keep dreaming, keep setting goals, and keep smashing them. If you miss one, make a new one or try again. This is your one and only life and body – don’t give up on them!

Need some help? I’m having a back-to-school special! If you’re interested in getting started with a new healthy routine, call 360.358.3179 during the month of September and schedule an initial appointment, and receive a FREE body composition assessment!


Image from i.huffpost.com

Since my husband and I have met our wellness goals, we are not ready to watch our bodies creep back to where they were, but rather to maintain the progress we’ve made and go even further. How do we avoid becoming another statistic for weight regain or resume our couch-potatoing, Christmas cookie-eating ways? The vital keys to long-term success lie before and after the hard work of reaching your goals.

Key #1: Before you change anything

Decide carefully how you will achieve your goals. For many years, scientists have been studying methods for weight loss to find the “best” way to get pounds off. The surprising result of a lot of this research is that so many methods work. A lot of nutritionists have taken to saying, “diets don’t work.” It might be semantics but in general, if the goal is to lose weight – most fad diets do work. Whether it’s low carb, low fat, low calorie, or portion control – weight typically comes off.1-5  If they didn’t work at all for losing weight, word would get around pretty quickly and they would never become popular.

Here’s the kicker (besides that many fad diets aren’t safe): the statistics for maintaining weight loss after a diet are horrendous. Long-term studies show that five years after short-term diets the result is an average regain to anywhere from a net loss of only 6 lbs to a gain of 10-21% of pre-diet weight.2,6 Yikes!

Many fad diets can be extreme, overly restrictive, or just plain miserable (or option d, all of the above). Most people beginning a diet program are willing to commit to short-term pain for long-term gain. Unfortunately, the reality is that long-term dieting is generally not sustainable, and weight loss from short-term dieting is temporary.

But fear not – all hope is not lost! The National Weight Control Registry is comprised of people who have successfully lost at least 30 lbs and kept it off for at least a year, though most participants have lost an average of 72.6 lbs and kept it off for more than 5 years.7 Their participants report that ongoing, long-term participation in sustainable habit changes has been key to their success, as opposed to radical, short-term dieting. You can read more about their habit changes at the National Weight Control Registry website.

All these studies show that a pivotal ingredient for long-term success with wellness, weight loss, muscle gain, or any habit change is sustainability. One of my favorite quotes sums up the wisdom behind this:

Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.”

-Charles H. Spurgeon

Some may wonder what the last phrase has to do with wellness, and personally I believe it is vitally important (and apparently so did Spurgeon since he tacked it on there), so I included it. Regardless of how you feel about God, however, the sentiment is to not even begin a habit change that you can’t commit to long-term. Find changes that work with your lifestyle, not against it.

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Recognize that temporary habit changes create temporary results.  You can tweak them, change them, or adjust to the fluidity of life as needed, but if your habit changes disappear completely, so will the fruits of your labors.

Key #2: After you’ve met your goals

You’ve done it, congratulations! You’ve met your goal! You’ve placed a new brick in the healthy foundation upon which you can continue building the life you want. Guess what? You’re not done! If you want to continue to enjoy the benefits of your progress, you must grab hold of the second key to long-term success:

Always have a goal and a sustainable plan to achieve it.

Achieving a goal merits celebration, and also the exciting task of deciding what your next goal will be. It doesn’t have to be intense – your goal could be maintenance and your plan might be walking – but you need to have both or you’ll watch all your hard work and health benefits slip away. Living a healthy life is swimming upstream in our culture – you can not coast into good health.

So what’s next for Charlie and me?

My new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength and muscular endurance (I want to be able to do 10 pull-ups or rock climb for an hour without getting pooped).

My new plan: Mindful, intuitive eating along with 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 times weekly, and 10-20 minutes of yoga 5 days per week.

Charlie’s new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength (he wants to be able to save people from burning buildings and stuff).

Charlie’s new plan: My Fitness Pal (with his calorie and macronutrient needs adjusted since he’s building muscle now), 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 days per week, and 10-15 minutes of yoga before each workout as well as a longer practice twice weekly.

Have a goal of your own but need help finding a sustainable plan that fits your lifestyle? Contact me or schedule an appointment to start building a healthy foundation for the life you want!

  1. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jc.2002-021480
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2001.134/full
  3. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/412650
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2004.61/full
  5. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/53/5/1124.short
  6. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2613427, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/74/5/579.short
  7. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/222S.short

Our three months on the Goal-Getter Package is complete! The Goal-Getter package is a package I provide that is designed to help my clients meet 3-month health and wellness goals. Since my husband and I both had goals for the New Year, we each started our own Goal-Getter package and we’ve been sharing the journey with you. Click here to read about it from the beginning. The common cold ran rampant through our house during the time we were supposed to complete our post-program assessment, so we’re a tad late, but here it is!

Did we achieve our goals? How far did we come? The Goal-Getter package includes pre- and post-measurements of body composition and cardiovascular health, muscular endurance, and flexibility. Read on to see how ours changed in the last 3 months!

Becki

  January 2017 March 2017
Resting pulse Elevated Normal
Resting BP Elevated Normal
Weight +7 lbs from my usual +0-3 from my usual (fluctuates)
Body Mass Index Normal Normal
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Average Average
Cardiovascular fitness Fair Good
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Very Good

 

Goal #1: Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
     • Use my daily food group checklist to stay within recommendations and get enough food from each food group each day.

How I did: For the first two months, the food group checklists worked well and I (mostly) stuck to using them. I lost 5 of the 7 lbs in the first month and then stalled out for month 2. To make sure I wasn’t inadvertently missing my nutritional goals with the food group checklists (which, by nature, are not as detailed as complete tracking), I started using My Fitness Pal to track my intakes for the last month. I also conceded that it’s possible my body just wasn’t going to lost the last two pounds – it has been about a year or two since I’ve weighed that much. As it turns out, I lost  somewhere from 4-7 lbs total, as I’m noticing my weight tends to fluctuate about that much. I’m calling it a win!

Goals #2-3: Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges and increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
     • Complete 40-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (heart rate 115-155 bpm) 5 days per week

How I did: I’m most happy about achieving my goals with these numbers since they are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease! Doing the exercise was easier than I expected when I found the types of cardio I most enjoy. On rainy winter days, I have loved following cardio dance videos from Youtube…they are free and perfect for fitting your schedule in the comfort of your home. My standby favorite is The Fitness Marshall, but there are dozens of choices out there to spice it up with variety. As the weather improves, I’ll spend more time outside playing basketball, hiking, swimming, and kayaking. I definitely want to make sure to keep up these improvements!

Goal #4: Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles
     • Complete tailored yoga practice 5 days per week and strength training program 2 days per week

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How I did: I was so impressed with the improvements in my posture! Yoga has been rocking my posture world (follow me on Instagram @dietitianonadiet to see what kind of yoga antics I’m up to – I do an Instagram yoga challenge about once a month). My chest, back, and hips feel so fluid and you can see the difference throughout the three months in my progress photo. My flexibility assessment also improved! It is amazing how much movement we lock up when we sit too much and don’t move. I definitely have work to do still in my chest and shoulders, which are stubbornly remaining tight, so that’s next on my list!

Charlie

  January 2017 March 2017
Resting pulse Normal Normal
Resting BP Normal Normal
Weight +15 lbs from his usual +0 lbs from his usual
Body Mass Index Overweight Overweight (remember how BMI doesn’t account for muscle mass?)
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Poor Fair
Cardiovascular fitness Excellent Excellent/Superior (right on the line)
Muscular endurance (push-up) Good Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Excellent

 

Goal #1: Lose 20 lbs/Button wedding pants without “sucking it in”
     • Track intakes with My Fitness Pal, aiming for goal of 2000 kcal per day.

How he did: He lost 15 lbs, so he didn’t quite hit the 20 lb goal but he did return to his previous normal body weight. His clothes fit, he has more energy, and he didn’t have to buy new pants! My Fitness Pal worked great for him, and he continues to use it to keep himself on track.

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Oh, and check this out…

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Helloooooooo, wedding pants! And lookin’ handsome…might be time for a date night!

Goal #2: Increase cardiovascular fitness from “Excellent” to “Superior”
     • Follow the P90X workout program to do 60 minutes of exercise daily.

How he did: Charlie did great – and he bumped his cardiovascular endurance from “Excellent” to between “Excellent” and “Superior.” He’ll take it! Charlie nearly completed the P90X workout program, but reached a point where he was satisfied with his cardio and his weight, and opted to shift to a plan that involved more weight lifting about halfway through the last month. Charlie loves having more endurance and he feels great!

Goal #3: Improve flexibility from “Good” to “Excellent”
     • Do some yoga each day.

How he did: Charlie ended up compromising on this goal to do yoga only 2-3 times per week since P90X incorporates stretching into every workout. Sometimes he did yoga more often, sometimes less, but  he smashed his goal and can reach farther on the sit-and-reach box than I can now!

Overall, we had fun and are so excited about meeting our goals. If you’d like to meet some goals of your own, give me a call at 360.358.3179 or schedule an appointment on my website! I would love to help you build the healthy foundation for the life you want!


My husband and I are two months in to goal-getting! Here’s an update on how we’re doing:

Becki

Goal #1: Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight

  • Use my daily food group checklist to stay within recommendations and get enough food from each food group each day.

How I’m doing: As you may have read in this post, I put on about 3 lbs throughout this month and I have since lost them again. So overall, this month has been basically a wash as far as weight and I’m still about 1.8 lbs above my previous normal. I’m thinking a couple things: 1) I may switch temporarily to a more detailed form of tracking intakes (like My Fitness Pal), just to make sure I’m not missing my goals without realizing it. 2) My body may be happy at this new weight. I won’t try to force it, and my weight is in a healthy range and not negatively affecting my health. If it doesn’t want to go down any more, that’s okay with me!

Goals #2-3: Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges and increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”

  • Complete 40-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (heart rate 115-155 bpm) 5 days per week

How I’m doing: Pretty well overall. I haven’t been missing days, but I’ve had a couple of days of workouts that have been cut short by a tighter time schedule. I recently had my blood pressure checked and it was normal! Yippee! I can definitely tell that my cardiovascular fitness is improving because I’m having to increase the intensity of my workouts to hit my heart rate goals. Plus, I made it up and down “the stairs” 10 times the other day! I had hoped to do that by the end of the three months, but I hit that over a month early! I’m so happy with the IMG_0990improvements in my cardiovascular fitness.

A few months ago, it snowed here and my family and I went out to have a snowball fight. I had only run around for a few minutes and my chest was tight and I was pooped. Three weeks ago it snowed again, and this time, I snowball fought with the best of them (my family is just a tad competitive) for 20-30 minutes with no trouble at all! That was very rewarding and a sign that I’m heading towards my “end game” of never having my fitness (or lack thereof) hold me back from anything I want to do.

 

Goal #4: Improve posture by stretching chest and hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles

  • Complete tailored yoga practice 5 days per week and strength training program 2 days per week

How I’m doing: I’ve been consistent with my yoga and I’ve been also completing some yoga challenges on Instagram that have been a fun addition to my normal practice. I love yoga!

My before-and-after pictures were really fun this month! I noticed primarily a HUGE difference in the position of my shoulders between February and March. Look how much less rounded they are! I’m so pleased with that. You can also see that each month my back is slightly less arched and my pelvis is slightly less tilted forward. It’s so crazy how you don’t notice the differences in your posture until you line the pictures up side by side.

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Charlie

Goal #1: Lose 20 lbs/Button wedding pants without “sucking it in”
     • Track intakes with My Fitness Pal, aiming for goal of 2000 kcal per day.

How he’s doing: Charlie continues to track every day. He finds it gets easier as time goes on to stick with using the app to track. It became a habit for him and he never forgets. Occasionally he intentionally decides to eat more than his caloric goal, but it is not very often and he still tracks it for awareness, accountability, and consistency. Tracking is definitely not right for everyone, but it’s working for him. He lost another 4 pounds this month for a grand total of 14 pounds. He hasn’t tried the pants yet – he’s saving those for the end of the goal-getter package!

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Can you tell he had just woken up in the last photo? Haha!

Goal #2: Increase cardiovascular fitness from “Excellent” to “Superior”
     • Follow the P90X workout program to do 60 minutes of exercise daily.

How he’s doing: He is doing well and staying consistent, but definitely ready for the P90X program to be over. He is finding the P90X videos to be very time-consuming and don’t leave enough extra time for other activities like weight lifting.

Goal #3: Improve flexibility from “Good” to “Excellent”
     • Do some yoga each day.

How he’s doing: Charlie has compromised to doing yoga three times weekly, and says his flexibility is WAY better than it used to be, which makes him feel better all the time and improves his workouts, posture, and the feel of his joints.

We’ve got one more month of our goal-getter package before we run all of the fitness and body composition testing again to see how far we’ve come! Check back to see how we did!

Want help meeting your own goals? Visit www.impowerednf.com for more information about meeting with me to set up your wellness plan!


Can you believe we have been goal-getting for a month already? It’s crazy! Here’s how we’re doing:

Becki

Goal #1: Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
     • Use my daily food group checklist to stay within recommendations and get enough food from each food group each day.

How I’m doing: I have been using my food group checklists (and loving them – they are so quick and easy!) and I’ve lost 5 lbs so far. Only two to go! The checklists make way more sense for my lifestyle right now than using a food tracker like I have in the past. They give me plenty of flexibility while still keeping me accountable. I think being home a lot makes it easier because I usually have access to something from all five food groups.

Goals #2-3: Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges and increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
     • Complete 40-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (heart rate 115-155 bpm) 5 days per week

How I’m doing: I’ve probably averaged 4 1/2 days per week but I’m hitting my heart rate goals and I’m enjoying the cardio options I have selected. Most often, I’m doing Youtube cardio dance videos because they are convenient and so much fun, but it’s been beneficial to have alternatives for the days when I’m just not feeling the dancing.

Consequentially, my resting heart rate is normal! I haven’t had my husband check my blood pressure or re-tested my cardio yet, but I’ll do that at the end of the plan. The lower resting heart rate is a good indicator that my cardiovascular fitness has improved – plus the workouts are getting easier!

Goal #4: Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles
     • Complete tailored yoga practice 5 days per week and strength training program 2 days per week

How I’m doing: Again – I’m probably more often hitting 4 1/2 days on the yoga than five, but I’ve done pretty well. The strength training is pretty quick and simple so I’ve been incorporating that more than 2 days per week. I took a comparison picture – not expecting too much difference only one month in – and I was really impressed with the improvements!

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My head is higher and not so far forward, my spine is in better alignment, and my hips are further back. My pelvis tilts less (still have a ways to go) and shoulders still roll forward but not quite as much!

Charlie

Goal #1: Lose 20 lbs/Button wedding pants without “sucking it in”
     • Track intakes with My Fitness Pal, aiming for goal of 2000 kcal per day.

How he’s doing: Charlie has been faithful with his tracking and though I don’t think he loves the discipline of doing it, he does love the accountability it gives him. He tracks as he goes and makes decisions for the rest of the day based on where he’s at. So far, he’s lost 11 lbs!

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I swear I did not intentionally make the “before” photo have poor lighting!

Goal #2: Increase cardiovascular fitness from “Excellent” to “Superior”
     • Follow the P90X workout program to do 60 minutes of exercise daily.

How he’s doing: He’s working out like a boss! Charlie has been doing P90X daily and if he feels like one of the videos was too easy, he tosses in a second cardio video and does two-a-days! He’s insane, but it works for him and he’s enjoying it. He’s definitely noticed that the videos are getting easier as he goes along.

Goal #3: Improve flexibility from “Good” to “Excellent”
     • Do some yoga each day.

How he’s doing: Charlie has compromised to doing yoga three times weekly, and has definitely noticed a difference in his flexibility. He can put his hands flat on the floor in a forward fold now!

We’re excited about getting our goals! If you’ve got some goals you’d like some help getting, check out www.impowerednf.com for more information about meeting with me to set up your wellness plan!


We are about three weeks into our goal-getting and we’re cruising along pretty well by now! Though I have to admit that the first week was rough. Holy moley.

Improving your fitness is tricky, in a way, because your body is trained for exactly what you have asked it to train for. If that is running 3 flat miles regularly, you’ll be trained for that and it won’t be tough. But add in an unexpected hill or try to push to 4 or 5 miles and that will be tough. Your muscles and cardiovascular system are simply not prepared for it. If what you’re trained for is couch surfing, you’ll be trained for that and it won’t be tough. Anything more though – climbing stairs, lifting boxes, or going dancing with your sweetheart – might be pretty tough.

So when you set a goal to improve your fitness, whether it’s cardiovascular or muscular, you can bet you’re going to be dealing with some discomfort.

Exhibit A: Becki and “The Stairs”

It was a cold, January morning. I had a “brilliant” idea.

“Charlie,” I said, “do you know of any long flights of stairs locally?”IMG_1171

“Sure,” he replied. “The 2nd Ave stairs. Why?”

“I was thinking I should start running stairs to up my cardio, ” said I.

Why? Why did I say that? I should have my head examined.

So off we go, to “The Stairs.” I in my new jewel-toned, patterned leggings thinking I can conquer the world, and Charlie in his excellent cardiovascular shape and 45-lb weight vest. Sickening, isn’t it?

So off I trot up the stairs, jogging all the way. I make it to the top with minimal protests from my quadriceps. Down the stairs I go. Lap one done.

Charlie is wisely pacing himself.

I, however, am feeling so good I immediately (no rest, who needs it?) turn right around and jog back up the stairs. Halfway. Until there is fire all throughout my chest and I think my heart is in imminent danger of fatal explosion.

“Am I dying? Is it all over? I must have some kind of undiagnosed heart condition!”

So this is what it’s like to have “fair” cardiovascular endurance. I gotta tell ya, I’m not a fan.

I slogged (no more trotting) up the rest of the way and managed to go down, and up, and down, and up and down once more before my lungs, heart, and quads could not take it anymore. Meanwhile a 50-something lady in excellent shape has been lunging the stairs two at a time since before we got there, and continued after we left. Impressive.

We walked back to the car and I flopped in the passenger seat, my inner drama queen insisting that I truly was going to die and that I should make sure my husband knew how much I really love and appreciate him.

The fire in my chest lasted for a painful thirty minutes, during which torture I had a succession of three different thoughts:

  1. “Man, I really, really, REALLY need to improve my cardio.”
  2. “I totally get why people quit exercising after the first day or two. This is horrific.”
  3. “I should write a post to help people get through this and get to their goals.”

So I decided to write up a few tips for others who are facing a fizzling New Years’ resolution in the face of a difficult new exercise program:

  1. Remember your finish line. What is your purpose? Why are you doing this? It usually has to be something bigger than the way you look to stick, so think bigger and in detail. Think health – how will your body feel when you are fit? What health issues will you not have to worry about? Think abilities – how will it feel when you can climb any set of stairs or take on any challenge with ease and confidence? Envision it in detail to yourself before you hit the gym (or the road or the stairs, etc) and keep that picture with you when it gets tough.
  2. Difficulty = progress. To an extent, anyway (caveat below). If it’s not at least a little tough, you might not be pushing hard enough to see improvement in your abilities. You don’t have to kill yourself, but when you push past what your body can easily do, that’s when the training comes in. You’re telling your body that the cardiovascular or muscular capabilities it’s currently trained for are not enough to meet the physical demands you’re putting on it. So when it rebuilds, repairs, or builds new cells, it will make them better. They will be more easily oxygenated or stronger or whatever is necessary to be more trained for the activity you’re asking your body to do.
  3. Work up to it. I was probably a tad too ambitious – power mad with the confidence of a new pair of leggings – to go trotting up those stairs like I’d been running them all my life. It didn’t have to be so hard. Some exercise is way better than none, so start slower and gradually increase to prevent some of the (very literal) heartache I experienced. It can be tough to admit that you’ve lost some edge or abilities you once had (oh, how the mighty have fallen!), but it’s better than quitting after 1-2 days and giving up on achieving your goals!
  4. Be patient. The first 4-6 weeks of a new exercise program (one you’ve never done before) produces mostly neural and cellular changes. That means that you’re building new nerve pathways. That also means that you may or may not feel a difference, and you also may not see any difference. That does not mean that you are not training your body. Does anyone have a guess as to the length of time the average person sticks with a new exercise program before quitting? 4-6 weeks. People are quitting because they aren’t noticing results, but that’s because their bodies are building the foundations for the results they are looking for! Hang in there – don’t give up!

It took me about three stair days and three days of other cardio before it wasn’t really miserable to climb those stairs anymore. All in all, remember that when you start any new exercise program, your body is totally unprepared for it – take it easy, push gently beyond what is comfortable, and be patient. You’ll get there!

 

 

 


Here’s part two of the guest post from my awesome husband Charlie! Go back and check out his first post if you missed it – that will help this one make much more sense. Now, to be completely honest, Charlie basically designed his program himself, so I can’t take too much credit. He did, however, discuss it with me along the way and has ended up selecting (mostly) the type of plan that I would have designed for him anyway. But I’ll tell ya, there’s some truth to the saying that you can’t help your friends or family! He was a little stubborn on a couple of points, but overall a good patient (hehe). Here’s (from the husband’s mouth…er…keyboard) how Charlie picked out the program that works for him:

 

So, I had a few goals of my own, in mind. Here they are:

1. Lose 20 lbs (bringing me down to about 180 or so)
2. Increase my cardiovascular fitness from Excellent to Superior.
3. Improve my flexibility by doing more yoga!
4. Fit back into my wedding pants (they are too tight, now)

Now, like Becki, my own goals are all pretty synergistic. Losing weight happens through diet and exercise – thus, I have to increase my cardio. In doing so, I’ll benefit greatly from stretching, and the net result will be me strutting around in my weddin’ pants again. Of course, there’s the whole getting started thing – which, as anyone who tries to “get into shape” knows, absolutely sucks. I have found that my body roundly rejects any change of routine. At least, it tries its dangdest. And my body and brain will work in cahoots against me.

My Personality: I’m very much a free spirited type. While I will typically groan about routines and planning, the truth is that I just hate making plans – I don’t actually mind following through on them. I love accomplishment and progress, so as long as I stick to my guns, I’ll see results, snowball my motivation and continue to strive toward my ends.

My Lifestyle: Fortunately, being a Firefighter/EMT gives me the opportunity to work out while I’m at work – both in the gym and on the job – so I don’t have a whole lot of excuses to wriggle out of exercising. It also gives me a fairly stable schedule everywhere except at work, where I never know what might happen in a given day. Given that and keeping an eye on my diet with a food tracker and I should be well set!

My true confession: I love being fit and flexible. I love lifting weights and working out. Heck, I even love running. But I also love eating food. And not just any food. I love milk. Sausage. Steak. Pie. Ice Cream. Rich, creamy, sugary foods. Cookies? Yeah, I’ll take 6. Cake? Make it a double. You get the point.

So, while I have already been fairly active in my exercising in the past, I need to intensify it and, more importantly to my health and goals, moderate.

And I don’t wanna. But I’m gonna.

Goal #1: Lose 20 pounds

So, this is the one that takes the longest. It’s the first goal I’ve set but it’ll likely be the last goal I attain, because it’s really a culmination of the efforts I’ll embark on in my next couple of goals.

In order to do this, I plan on exercising for at least an hour 6 times a week and counting calories with MyFitnessPal, which I have used to great success in the past. After asking my fantastic dietitian wife, I will aim for a diet of around 2000 calories a day – which is basically a 500 calorie deficit daily for a man of my age and stature – and based on caloric intakes of 50% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 25% fats (Note from Becki: This was a compromise – see my comment above about his stubbornness – so don’t take these recommendations and run with them! Everyone’s body is different!).

This sounds complicated, but eating a basic diet of whole foods – milk, eggs, vegetables, fruits, meats and grains – tends to land me within those parameters on a regular basis without any direct effort of my own.

Goal #2 and #3: Cardio/Flexibility

These are the really tough part. I’m embarking on a 90-day workout journey with everyone’s favorite series, the P90X series. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the program, it is essentially a body weight fitness series that focuses on interval/circuit training. It focuses on a muscle group one day, then a cardio routine the next. Rinse and repeat. The first month or so looks something like this:

Day 1 – Chest and back

Day 2 – Plyometrics

Day 3 – Shoulders and Arms

Day 4 – Yoga

Day 5 – Legs and Back

Day 6 – Kenpo Karate

Day 7 – Rest or Stretch video

Repeat and so on. So you’re getting at least an hour a day in, and whether it’s a cardio based day or not, you’ll have a high heart rate regardless, thanks to the pacing. It’s a great routine for slimming down and getting used to using muscles you’ve been ignoring for a while. And I have lots of those.

This program, combined with my other activities, is what I’ll use to lose that weight!

Final Goal: Wear my wedding pants!

This is going to be very vindicating. I have a whole shelf full of pants I haven’t worn in a year – they’re just too tight. So I’ll train and moderate until they fit comfortably.

My Plan

Summed Up:

1. Moderate calorie intake to 2000 calories a day with healthy choices

2. Set aside 1 hour a day for active working out via P90X

3. Stretch properly and try to do a bit of yoga daily

4. Button pants without “sucking it in”.

Here’s to goals and go-gettin’! Thanks!


My Assessment Results: In case you missed the last post (or forgot!) I’ll remind you of how my body composition and fitness assessments turned out.

Resting pulse Elevated
Resting BP Elevated
Weight + 7 lbs from my normal
Body Mass Index Normal
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk
Body fat % Average
Cardiovascular fitness Fair
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent
Flexibility Good

My body composition overall is pretty good, with the exception that I happen to be up 7 lbs from what is normal for me, and I happen to know that it is not muscle gain.

My muscular endurance and flexibility have hung in there pretty well, but my cardiovascular system is asking for help!

My elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure are showing that my body is having to work harder to move blood throughout my body by beating faster and generating more pressure than it should have to. Definitely an area I want to improve!

 

My Story: I’m suffering from desk job-itis!! I have worked at a desk job for the last 2 1/2 years and it has definitely taken its toll! For most of the last 2 years I have made it a point to go for a 30-minute walk at lunch at least 3-4 days per week, but it clearly wasn’t cutting it for keeping my cardio up to snuff. I’ve tossed in yoga and weight lifting along the way, which makes sense in my results, as my muscular endurance and flexibility are still okay.

The last 2 months or so have been particularly bad for my inactivity, because I was still working full-time at my clinic and spending out-of-work hours preparing to open my practice. I made the choice to temporarily prioritize that over my fitness and now that I’m no longer working full-time I’m ready to turn that around.
IMG_1127

My other concerns: As part of my desk job-itis, I have developed some postural issues from muscle imbalances. It’s hard to “stand naturally” when posing for a picture of your posture but I tried here.

See how my neck and shoulders tend to roll forward a lot, rounding my upper back? My chest muscles are tight and my upper back muscles are weak from all of my hunching over a computer screen (and phone and books).

The other notable issue with my posture is that, because of the weaknesses in my back, I tend to let my lower back arch forward. The midline of my hips should be further back, nearer to my spine so that my spine is a bit more neutral to protect my back.

On top of this, my hip flexors (the muscles in the front of my hips) are tight from all my sitting and lack of moving, so they are causing my pelvis to tip forward and down. They need some stretching.

These are all things I would like to make goals to address!

My end game: I often ask clients to describe their “end game” – what are you going for? Describe what life looks like when you’ve met all your health goals. How do you feel? What do you do?

For me, I want to be strong and healthy. Strong enough to push and pull my own body weight and then some. Strong enough to surprise other people, but mostly surprise myself. Capable to protect myself. I want to be healthy in that my lifestyle supports my body in what it needs to function well – nutrition, sleep, movement, and flexibility. I want to be healthy to do my part to prevent risk factors or chronic conditions. I want to be healthy enough to “go out and do.” By that, I mean no matter what opportunity I’m given, I’m able to take advantage of it and am not held back because of my lack of health, lack of strength, or lack of endurance.

 

My Goals

Using the information above, I have created the following goals:

  1. Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
  2. Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges
  3. Increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
  4. Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles.

In part 2, I’ll show you how I turn these long-term goals into a plan!

 

 


Alright, folks…a couple of days ago I ran my husband and myself through my Body Composition and Fitness Assessments to help us create our wellness goals for the new year. We have both put on a few over the Christmas season between less exercise (me) and more treats (him). We both are ready to see where we’re at, get on a plan, and meet some goals! The assessments we did include:

Body Composition

  • Body mass index
  • Bioelectrical impedance analysis for body fat/lean mass
  • Skinfold caliper assessment of body fat (for comparison)
  • Waist & hip circumference
  • Upper arm & forearm circumference
  • Thigh & calf circumference
  • Waist-to-hip ratio

Fitness Assessment

  • Cardiovascular fitness assessment (submaximal step test for estimated VO2max)
  • Muscle endurance assessment (push-ups and curl-ups)
  • Flexibility assessment (sit-and-reach box)

 

With his permission, I’m posting the assessments of our results here. We each completed everything, with the exception of the skinfold calipers. I can’t complete that assessment on myself, so I left those out of my assessment. For Charlie’s, I averaged his BIA and his skinfold caliper results. I also included measurements of resting vital signs like pulse and blood pressure. Since he is a firefighter, he was able to take my vital signs. Here’s how we each made out compared to recommendations:

 

Becki

Charlie

Resting pulse Elevated Normal
Resting BP Elevated Normal
Weight +7 lbs from my usual +15 lbs from his usual
Body Mass Index Normal Overweight (note here: husband lifts weights, so his muscle mass drives this number up, but he does also like Christmas cookies…a lot)
Waist-to-hip Ratio Low risk Low risk
Body fat % Average Poor
Cardiovascular fitness Fair Excellent
Muscular endurance (push-up) Very Good Good
Muscular endurance (curl-up) Excellent Excellent
Flexibility Good Good

 
Check back to see how we take these results and turn them into goals, then turn those goals into a plan!