As the new year approaches, gyms start gearing up for the onslaught of seasonal exercisers, while diet programs click their heels in glee, the money season is upon them, CHA-CHING! They are grateful for the over-imbibing, procrastinating, excuse-making, will-powerless customer.
Magazines hope for record breaking sales as the latest fad diet or successful weight loss story graces their cover. But at the end of it all, what will people get out of the money and energy they put in to their weight loss efforts? Unfortunately, all but 1-2% of those desperately seeking miracles will realize there are no miracles and the only thing left is hard work and dedication. But for some, that’s not what they bought. So, come February they walk away, back to the lifestyle that hasn’t served them well, but seems significantly easier. By March, they’re regretting they gave up and by May, the cycle starts all over again.
I’ve seen this yo-yo pattern for years, so I decided to create my 2012 Wish List.
1. I wish diet companies would add to all of their commercials, brochures, and any other advertising the following: “Look, this takes a lot of hard work. Sure, you see the success stories in our ads that makes it look easy, but the truth is that our program only works if you’re willing to work- hard. You in?” That’s just honest sales.
2. I wish gyms would offer an incentive program at the beginning of the year as their way of increasing retention vs. making their money and running. I wish those “regular” exercisers and members would be more welcoming of newbies rather than rolling their eyes and saying, “God, I can’t wait til January is over so I can get my gym back.” I wish gyms would offer a mandatory program in January that would serve as inspiration to keep people coming to the gym long after their resolutions have passed.
3. I wish magazines would stop putting on the front of their magazines – “6 Ways to flatten your belly, NOW!” “How you can whittle your waist by the weekend!” “How you can lose 5 pounds in just one week!” None of these do anything to focus on ways to build esteem, self-acceptance or reality. I can flatten my abs right now by laying on my back on the floor, BINGO, flat! I can whittle my waist by wearing spanks and I can lose 5 pounds in a week by taking up a liquid diet for a day or two. But where is the long-term benefit? I wish for more education, REAL education that promotes women’s self-worth, talent, and beauty for REAL people not just the 20 something models that those of us over 40 will never look like (I’m speaking for myself of course).
4. I wish for women and men to rethink weight loss. In that I mean, don’t lose weight because of societal pressure, lose it because your health is at risk. Lose it because your quality of life is being limited by the things you can’t or don’t want to do because you’re carrying around extra weight. Believe that your health is the most important thing in the world and something as basic as walking most days of the week and focusing on whole foods more often can make a radical difference in your life. I so want that for you.
5. I wish health and fitness professionals would come together and STOP making claims that they can melt away fat, or shrink someone’s body. My job as a trainer is not to melt anyone or shrink anyone. My job is to educate. And the more that trainers perpetuate weight loss myths, the more our clients will expect unrealistic results. Speak the truth, healthy weight is a choice (I know, there are some medical issues, but work with me here), and they’re either in or out. I’ve seen too many trainers put people on ridiculous programs where they lose a ton of weight quickly, only to put it back on within the year, or worse yet get injured. My job as a trainer is to motivate and educate, not to perform miracles.
These are just a few of my favorite wishes.
Here’s to your good health in 2012!
By Nicki On July 12, 2009 2 Comments
The media has been all a quiver with the story about 650 pound hermit, David Smith, 32 who recently lost 410 pounds with the help of his live-in personal trainer, Chris Powell. Aside from the luxury of having a personal trainer with him 24/7, David lost weight without pills, without diets, without surgery (other than corrective surgery for excess tissue).
By Nicki On May 28, 2009 1 Comment
This last week I
By Nicki On May 3, 2009 1 Comment
I can hardly stand it, yet another celebrity on national television sharing her weight crisis. You’ve probably heard by now, Kirstie Alley, actress, past Jenny Craig spokesperson, has found the weight she lost with Jenny Craig. Not only has she gained the weight back, she admits to staying away from exercise for over a year. Hmmm, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again and again, DIET’S DON’T WORK! Even if a company is paying you to lose weight, what happens when the money stops? Kirstie Alley has shown us. It’s like any diet, what happens when the motivation is gone, the wedding is over, the reunion has passed? Oprah has shown us. If you’re not buying in to the reason you’re changing your lifestyle, it won’t stick. If you’re not making changes that make sense for you and your lifestyle, weight loss won’t stick. If you’re restricting yourself so much that you are unable to achieve any sort of balance, weight loss won’t stick.
Amid all the tears and shame, Alley is saying that she believes after this experience, she has broken the weight loss code and will be revealing herself in 6 months or so, but she can’t reveal her secret. What? Are you kidding me? I know the secret, eat less and move more and do it in private. Stop putting the eyes on you as your sole motivation to lose weight……again. Ahh, but then Kirstie revealed she’d be writing a book about it, now I get it, another celebrity weight loss book. That makes perfect sense for those of us so immersed in a lifestyle like that of Kirstie Alley.
The most disappointing piece to this whole sordid weight loss debacle is that Oprah had Kirstie Alley on her show recently. Part of me “gets” Oprah’s reasoning, to let people know that weight gain happens, many times. But if you’re going to have someone like that on your show, why can’t you point out to the millions of people watching WHY Kirstie failed, why you have failed, why millions of people fail on diets every single day? There has yet to be ANYONE that delves in to the why, other that dietitians on news programs, but Oprah and the other celebrities seem to turn away from the straight up truth about weight loss. You know why? Because there’s not one clean answer, it’s different for everyone, yet Oprah and Kirstie Alley and the millions of others who have gained and lost weight think it should be easy and therefore when they fail, they feel like idiots, “Shouldn’t ANYONE be able to do it?” Yes, anyone can do it but not just anyone can keep the weight off and that is where we miss the boat. ANYONE can lose weight, but the maintenance piece is always missing from the average weight loss program.
Here are my thoughts on why the diet approach continues to fail for so many.
1. Expectations are incongruent with the work that needs to be done. No matter how much you may want to lose weight, if you’re not willing to do the work consistently to get the results you THINK you want, don’t even start. It’s about having realistic expectations. You think you should lose 50 pounds, perhaps start with 10 and go from there. High goals that are not congruent with what you’re willing or able to do (as well as genetics) will set you up for failure again and again. I see it all the time, people think they know what they want, but when they realize the work behind it they quit and once again view themselves as a failure. If expectations are realistic, the work to follow should be as well.
2. It’s all about the exterior. You cannot try to create perfection because you will fall short every time and falling short means quitting, quitting the diet. If I had a quarter for every woman that came to me wanting a flat stomach or thinner thighs (these are typically genetic things that can’t be changed), I’d be a wealthy woman. Because we see magazine covers and celebrities, many believe that is what they should look like, not good. Focusing on the exterior will often result in disappointment simply because change happens from the inside out. Therefore, focus on changing inside first, outside will follow.
3. All you think about is the weight loss, BIG MISTAKE! The more you focus on weight, the less you will focus on health, trust me. Those that weigh themselves consistently become so obsessed with the numbers, they’ll do anything to get the weight off such as skipping meals, counting points (often selecting unhealthy options), cutting calories dangerously low, etc. If you want to get to a healthy weight and be healthy for the long haul, stop weighing yourself and simply focus on making healthy lifestyle changes, move as often as you can and work everyday to eat as healthy as you can. Therefore, making lifestyle changes for your health, that is something that makes sense.
4. You use the scale, BIG MISTAKE! How many times have you been having a really great week, eating well, moving more? You get on the scale after two weeks, (after all you’ve been gaining weight for 20 years and in 2 weeks you expect your body to transform) and you weigh yourself, you’re down 1/4 of a pound and want to scream. Instead of screaming, you eat ice cream or go out for fast food or simply ditch any further effort to lose weight. I know, I’ve been there. You cannot rely on the scale to tell you how you’ve been doing in only 2, 3 or even 6 weeks. As women go through the various stages of life, they lose weight differently, I know it’s unfair, but it is what it is. The best thing that you can do is listen to your body, it will tell you how you’re doing, don’t let the scale dictate your success or failure.
Look, I’ve been following this diet stuff for over 20 years and nothing has changed. Diets simply help people lose weight but rarely, very rarely do diets teach people how to maintain a healthy weight. Sure, there may be maintenance programs, but the reality is that once the diet is over and the weight is lost, people don’t know how to assimilate back to normal life and that’s where the trouble starts. You see, people use food for many different reasons, coping mechanism, comfort, reward, punishment, etc. And until there are other methods of dealing with those issues, food will always remain the obstacle to gaining control over the health. So above and beyond moving more and eating less, perhaps discover what role food plays in your life and how you can change it. I tell my clients all the time, it took you a long time to gain the weight and change your lifestyle habits, give yourself the same patience in getting back to health. As a client of mine recently said to me, it’s brilliant, “Better to be patient, than a patient.”
Here’s to a healthy you, explore, discover and become your best.
By Nicki On March 29, 2009 No Comments
I’m sure this past week you read about Valerie Bertinelli’s weight loss. If not, you were either hiding under a rock or wisely avoiding fluff news.
In case you missed it, according to People magazine, Valerie has done it! She has managed to drop 50 pounds and now graces the cover of People wearing a string bikini.
Bertinelli was on the Today show this past week talking about achieving her goal of wearing a bikini at 48 years old. If you recall, a few years ago it was Kirstie Alley that was the Jenny Craig spokeswoman. Then she told women everywhere, “You can change anything you want, at any time.” She even went on the Oprah show wearing a bikini showing off her “svelte” body.” She made fun of being fat and swore she would never go back there again. Never say never.
Recent paparazzi shots of Kirstie Alley prove that she has “gone back there.” There’s a part of me that is sad for her, but there’s also a part of me that knows she made bank when she decided to go with Jenny Craig and share her weight issues with the world. And of course we know that Oprah has “gone back there” many times over and continues to share with the world, “I don’t know what happened.”
Well, I do, it’s weight loss for all the wrong reasons, simple as that. The truth is anyone can lose a lot of weight for money. If someone told me tomorrow that I’d get a million dollars if I dropped 20 pounds, I’d do it but I’d never be able to stay there, that I know.
Thanks to Hollywood’s thin obsession, we continue to miss the boat over and over again. Losing weight has become a full time job for some, for others a dangerous hobby. The reason that success is consistently short lived is because it’s all about weight, nothing else. When the weight is dropped it’s “party time” but during the partying, there is no one keeping an eye on the bad habits that are sneaking back in and before they know it, BAM, the weight is back, and they’re saying, “I don’t know how it happened?”
You cannot pay attention just to weight, it’s a myriad of things including health and whatever motivational component that is important enough to keep you on task. Obviously, health is not a strong enough motivator or perhaps just not touted enough.
For those that successfully keep weight off, it’s often due to fear. I know when I lost my 50 pounds, the idea of feeling miserable, tired, and chronic discomfort was my reason for not gaining it back. I didn’t keep the weight off to be more attractive, or to brag about wearing a size 2, sure it helped, but I kept it off for my future. It’s unfortunate that the population at large just don’t seem to get it.
Do I really care that Valerie Bertinelli can sport a bikini on the front of People magazine? (Can you say touch up?) Don’t get me wrong, God bless the woman, but she should be holding up her doctors report showing her new and improved vitals, lowered blood pressure, lowered cholesterol, reduced risk of cancer, etc. But instead, she shows that at 48 she can wear a bikini. As a responsible adult, if she and others want to contribute something positive to women’s health and esteem, it should be this, “Lose weight for the good of your health. Lose weight for a better quality of life. Lose weight to be a stronger, healthier, smarter woman, not just to be hot or relevant.”
Those women, (cough, Oprah Winfrey), that claim they struggle with weight loss, (cough,Oprah Winfrey), should once and for all let the weight go and do the right thing which is address the health ramifications that come with extra weight. Do I REALLY want to lose weight to wear a bikini? Sure, its cool, but 20 years from now, who cares? However, if those superstars lose weight and appear on the front of People, they should be celebrating their new vitals versus their new abs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t sell magazines, sad but true.
Look, I’m a personal trainer, I understand all too well that vanity plays a role in the overall weight loss effort, but the problem is that vanity isn’t enough for long-term success. Yet, vanity continues to override what really matters, good health.
Isn’t good health the message that we should be sending to our sisters, aunts, daughters and friends? Losing weight for vanity alone won’t save you. Losing weight and making healthy choices that will eventually contribute to a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body, THAT will save you!! For the love of God man, we’re so missing the boat here.
There have been a number of campaigns in which women speak on behalf of breast cancer or abuse and the atrocities that women have suffered. At the risk of sounding as though I’m minimizing those two issues, I’m not, shouldn’t someone be speaking out about the atrocities of the “push” for thin? Valerie Bertinelli is a perfect example. Women should not be wearing bikini’s to show their self-worth, rather showing their vitality which is the result of living a healthy lifestyle, not sporting a bikini.
Although I applaud Valerie Bertinelli’s weight loss victory, I ask that she and any other women that “sport” their new body share that it’s not just about the size, or the bikini, it’s much deeper than that. Because my friends, I will tell you, unless there is a reason important enough to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle, people will not do it. Wearing a bikini, or sporting a pair of skinny jeans is a temporary feeling of victory, when you’re 60 or 65 skinny jeans and a bikini becomes irrelevant. Being healthy at 60 or 65 is a far greater victory. Until we are able to make that distinction, bikini’s at 48 years old will trump health every time and in my humble opinion, that’s an atrocity.