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 December 18, 2011 No Comments
With the proliferation of weight loss programs, you have been “trained” to focus on results more than anything else. Think about it, when you start a diet, the motivation comes from the visual you have in your mind of being thinner, stronger and feeling like a new man or woman, right? But the natural course of this kind of focus, (solely on results) eventually leads to failure. Let me explain.
When you think about exercising or eating right, you do it because you have this picture in your head of what you want to look like. The visual you create in your head is inspired by what you’ve seen on TV or in magazines highlighting people who have lost a bunch of weight and well, it inspires you to lose want to lose weight, right? Unfortunately, these stories are unrealistic and unsustainable.
The problem is when you focus on the end result, you don’t take in to consideration the actual “journey”. Then, once you realize the work involved, it becomes too overwhelming. That thinking comes from the “fast-n-easy” promises we see in ads and magazines. It looks so easy, right? I think we can all agree that lean and fit does not happen just by wishing or visualizing, it comes from dedication, desire and determination.
Following are some ways that you can think differently about making positive, healthy changes come January.
Value is what you should receive from any fitness center you choose. In other words, you should feel an immediate connection with the facility or fitness professional you choose. There should be value in that facility which makes the time you spend and the dollars you spend all worthwhile. It might be the location, the staff, the “feel” of the place, etc. Whatever it is, there needs to a perceived value which will keep you coming back.
Next, benefits. Here’s where you need to change your thinking. Instead of focusing on the results (which are often unrealistic) focus on the immediate benefits you’ll garner from eating better and exercising more. Benefits are immediate, such as sleeping better, having more energy, being more connected with your body. Unfortunately, we’ve been programmed to believe that weight loss is the only valuable part of being active and eating well. It is this type of thinking that keeps your efforts short lived, why? Because weight loss (fast and easy) is not necessarily the first benefit that is derived from eating better and exercising. Unfortunately, if weight loss isn’t experienced right away, all hope is lost and it’s back to inactivity and poor nutrition.
So here’s what I’d like you think about, if you’re only going to exercise and eat well to lose weight, for your resolution, think differently. Think of 5 benefits (other than weight loss) that you will receive from changing bad nutrition habits and moving your body more. Those benefits should then become your focus. Those benefits are unique to you and matter to you, it’s not the generic “weight loss” reason which clearly doesn’t work.
Take time this week to focus on the sustainable reasons you want to become healthy. Remember, weight loss is a byproduct of being active and eating well, it’s not the other way around. Start today to make small changes and trust me, it will just grow from there. Not a single worthwhile thing in life is achieved simply by wanting it, you’ve got to take action!
Here’s to your health,
By Nicki On February 6, 2011 1 Comment
Let me say right up front, Celiac Disease IS real and does affect almost 3 million Americans according to the University of Chicago, Celiac Disease Center. Those that have it do suffer. In some cases, many are not even diagnosed for up to four years. However, given that 3 million Americans suffer with Celiac, that is only slightly more than 1% of the American population. Yet, gluten-free products have increased 74% from 2004-2009.
So here’s my beef with the whole Gluten-Free thing. Do you remember back in the latter 80’s and early 90’s the surge in popularity of Oat Bran? It was everywhere and touted as the new solution to reducing cholesterol. How about the early 80’s, when Fat-free products took over most pantry’s and refrigerators in households across the country. And then of course, there was a new found love for many in rice, pasta and bread, why? Because they were low in fat. You could eat as much as you wanted. Yet just 20 years later, eating a slice of bread was weight loss suicide. So many trends and where are we today? Fatter than we’ve ever been, less healthy than we’ve ever been and now Gluten-free is the new black. Everyone has been led to believe (ahh the world of marketing) that gluten-free is the answer to their weight issues. ‘Sigh’ here we go again.
According to Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters, “A study from the University of California at Berkley, reports that almost one-third of Americans’ total caloric intake comes from ‘nutrient poor’ foods like sweets, salty snacks and fruit drinks. 7% of our calories come from soda-more than from vegetables- with hamburgers, pizza, pastries and potato chips following close behind.” Gluten-free has it’s share of sweets, salty-snacks, etc. But hey, they’re gluten-free, it’s all good, right? Hardly. You see, people are forever seeking out the “secret” to weight loss and gluten-free appears to be the next “golden ticket” to the world of weight loss. But in truth, Gluten-free was never intended for weight loss, in fact in some instances, calories are higher. But the real crux of my issue is that just like Fat-Free and carb-free, gluten-free products include a wide variety of cookies, cakes, chips, etc. that are flying off the shelves. Do you see where I’m going here? I don’t care WHAT diet you’re on, if you’re eating the 100 calorie snack pack, the fat-free muffin, the oat bran cereal, the gluten free sugar cookies, IT’S STILL CONTRIBUTING TO AN UNHEALTHY BODY, it’s still “carbage” no matter how you slice it.
Weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight does not come from eating fat-free, carb-free, or gluten-free. It comes from eating more vegetables than processed grains, it comes from eating more fruits that “fun fruits” (plastic fun pretending to be healthy). Weight loss comes from eating high quality foods that the body processes normally. Smaller portions, decreased fast-food and processed foods all contribute to a healthy weight. Another quote from Bittman’s book, “1 Billion people in the world are chronically hungry, 1 Billion are overweight.”
Gluten-free is not the answer to weight loss, on the contrary, it is yet another distraction in the search for a weight loss miracle. NewsFlash, there isn’t one.