I sense that we all want spring!
When you’re feeling low and slow, all you want to do is curl up on the couch and hide out, but that’s only going to make you feel worse. Make sure to get in your workouts to pump up those endorphins and leave feeling happy and energized.
I see it all the time. People come into the workout tired and sluggish. They leave feeling energized and smiling.
That’s the positive and successful approach to exercise and healthy eating. It’s a valuable counter to the beat-yourself thin message the fitness and diet industry promotes. I see it and hear it from so many people who are struggling to lose weight or want to get in better shape: “Battle the bulge.” Fight fat.” “No Pain. No Gain.”
All these messages are negative.
Here are examples of the misguided beating people give themselves in hopes of achieving their ideal weight and positive alternatives to the negative approach.
- Most diets are about starvation and deprivation, setting limits of 1,200 calories a day for women and 1,500 for men. No wonder people fall off. The body doesn’t want to be starved, because starvation means slower metabolism and lower survival. Chronic dieters look at food based on how many calories/points they consume. The chronic dieter only becomes more frustrated as their metabolism gets slower and slower and their body becomes more toxic from eating “diet” foods. Food becomes a point of frustration. This person feels like a loser who can’t muster the “will-power” to stick with the low-calorie plan. They beat themselves up and finally lose hope they will ever achieve their weight loss and health goals.
- Focus on foods that balance your hormones and limit toxins. Once you “detox” your body from past eating habits, you can listen to the positive messages your body has to give: clear thinking, feeling awake, no cravings, feeling satisfied, sound sleep, better exercise, improved health, better skin and more. If you’ve ever dieted, you’ve been taught to block out the signals from your body. I’m telling you to listen. This is a mental shift. But you will become a conscious eater. When you eat the foods that make your body feel amazing, when you eat when you are truly hungry, food regains its primary purpose of nourishment. You leave calorie and point counting in the past and you truly make sustainable lifestyle changes to easily stay at your ideal weight.
- Shows like the Biggest Loser have people pounding out hours of intense workouts each day to lose weight every week on the show. What happens when they leave? Is it sustainable? Not really. When I go into gyms, I see so many people slaving away on treadmills and elliptical machines. They look bored and miserable, but they think it’s the way the best way to lose body fat. “Gotta burn my 500 calories a day.” However, their bodies never change because the calories in/calories off idea is not accurate.
- When you use smart exercise, it does not have to consume all of your free time and can leave you feeling energized, strong and happy. Were you ever part of a team? Think back to that time and remember how fun it was to work out with your friends. Community is so important when it comes to exercising and making it stick. It’s motivating and fun to be around other people working towards a common goal. Why not laugh, smile and grunt during the workout? Yes, you can have it all.
Exercising smart is also important. We were designed to lift heavy things and unfortunately our sedentary lifestyles have us doing less and less of that. We don’t need to spend hours a day on exercise. Anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes 4 to 6 times a week is ideal. Also using exercise like walking and yoga can be very restorative and balance our hormones. Exercise needs to be balanced. Hard or easy. Lift heavy or get metabolic. Push or pull. Front or back. Horizontal or vertical. It’s all about balance and it should be enjoyable.
So don’t beat yourself thin or fit. Instead, have compassion. Treat your body with only the healthiest and most nourishing foods because you deserve it. Have fun with your workouts. Enjoy the challenge of pushing yourself, not to be better than others but to improve on your own health journey.
Editor’s note: Amber Budahn was an All-American runner at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and competed in the Olympic trials in race walking. She majored in biology and chemistry and takes a scientific approach to fitness and performance. She has been a personal trainer and coach for more than 10 years. She now operates Wild Workouts & Wellness in the Bay View neighborhood.