You’ve been walking since you were about one year old. So with decades of walking under your belt, you probably assume you know how to do it correctly. But if you’re walking for exercise, walking is more than just getting around. The right practices can protect your joints, help you burn more calories, and allow you to get the most out of your workouts.
Fitness apps are growing in popularity, and for good reasons. They’re convenient to use, are designed to help you stay on track, and take away the difficulty of making decisions about your workout each day. You just log in daily, do what you’re told to do, and (hopefully) start to see results over time. Plus, most of them are very affordable for almost anyone. Sounds great, right?
As you set goals to get healthier, walking is probably one of the first activities you will add to your schedule. It’s one of the most common forms of exercise, and even though it’s easy, it can be very effective at burning calories and supporting a weight loss plan.
But did you know that going for regular walks is also good for your mental health? Your walk can help you feel better in multiple ways, such as…
- Giving you time to de-stress by meditating during the walk
- Taking a break from a hectic office environment or the demands of parenthood
- Changing the route frequently breaks you out of a rut, both physically and mentally
- Serving as your alone time, allowing you to recharge
- And of course, a quick walk in the middle of the afternoon can energize you for the rest of the day’s tasks
For many people, working out alone can feel strange at first. Maybe you’re accustomed to workout classes, or prefer to walk and chat with a partner. And there’s definitely nothing wrong with either of those things! But when you work solo walks into your routine, you can take advantage of the alone time to fit in some self care techniques. For example, you can perform the following activities during a walk alone:
- Breathwalking – syncing your breath with your stride is calming and builds a stronger mind-body connection
- Listening to your favorite music can boost your mood or help you relax
- Listening to a podcast, self help book, or novel can add knowledge and entertainment to your routine
- Taking time to mull over important decisions or plans for the future
- Challenging yourself to a faster speed or more hills, or even jogging intervals (without feeling self conscious about a partner hearing your huffing and puffing)
And of course, we know that exercise in general produces endorphins, which boost your mood and help you to feel more energetic. So give it a try! Focus on self care during your next walk. And if you have any other questions about exercise or your weight loss plan, call us to schedule a consultation.
You know that a healthy eating plan is only one part of a successful medical weight loss plan. You also need to exercise… But for many people, that reminder elicits groans and eye rolls. Not everyone enjoys exercise, but that’s okay. We can help you try different strategies that will make your workouts more enjoyable, such as…
Choose an activity you like. Early morning boot camp classes aren’t for everyone. If you’re more of a salsa-dance-at-night type, then sign up for a dance class instead! Or try rollerblading, swimming, a spin class, or something else that has always appealed to you. The important thing is to get moving.
Try classes. If you’re the social type, sign up for a few different exercise classes. Experiment and find something that you enjoy. Not everyone wants to hike miles around their neighborhood, alone, and that’s okay!
Invite a friend. If you’re nervous about hitting up a new gym, recruit a friend to go with you. Or simply take this friend on your evening walk. The conversation and company will make the time seem to fly by.
Vary your pace. No, you don’t have to slog away at an activity you despise, huffing and puffing for 30 minutes or more. Vary the pace of your walk, jog, or bike ride. Add hills or change up the route to keep it interesting. Bursts of speed will serve to keep up your heart rate without wearing you out too early.
Train for an event. For some people, looking forward to a long term goal is highly motivating. If you train for a charity walk or run, you also earn a sense of satisfaction by helping a worthwhile cause.
Make a game of it. Fitness tracker apps don’t have to be boring. Turn your exercise routine into a game, by using an app that installs a storyline into your sweat sessions. Explore a virtual galaxy, run from zombies, or hunt for rare Pokemon on your hikes. And no, there’s no need to feel silly; no one knows you’re doing anything other than listening to music.
Try these ideas, and don’t be afraid to get creative! As for the dietary portion of your medical weight loss plan, call us to schedule an appointment. We can help you identify your nutritional needs and make a plan to meet your weight loss goals.
Ask yourself why we eat, and the answer seems obvious at first: Because we’re hungry, of course. But we all know there’s more to it than that. If we only consumed food as an answer to hunger, and then stopped eating when we were full, most of us wouldn’t struggle so much with weight gain. We probably wouldn’t ever need a weight loss plan, either. Yet, most of us need assistance with nutrition and weight loss at some point.
Why? Because human beings eat for many reasons other than hunger. We eat for social reasons, emotional reasons, or even boredom. Sometimes sleep deprivation triggers cravings. So if you’re following a weight loss plan, one of your first tasks should be to learn about the different reasons you eat, and how to identify and manage those situations.
A hunger scale can help you with this task. On the hunger scale, 0 means you’re absolutely starving and 10 means you’re uncomfortably full. At most times you should fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Nevertheless, using the scale to identify emotions and then eat in a conscious manner can prevent you from overindulging in unhealthy or unnecessary snacks. Here’s how to use the hunger scale.
Before eating… Rate your hunger on a scale of 0 to 10. Obviously, you shouldn’t even eat if you’re feeling above a 5 or 6. But if you rate yourself 0-2, remember to eat mindfully. When you’re starving it can be easy to eat too quickly, and become overstuffed without meaning to.
Stop eating halfway through, and rank yourself again. You should stop eating once you begin to feel full (a 6 to 8) so that you don’t reach a 9 or 10 (uncomfortably stuffed). This step is especially important to those of us who were raised to “clean our plates”, so that you can learn to recognize your own fullness signals.
Rank yourself again when you finish. If you do continue to eat after the halfway point, rank your feelings again when you finish the meal. On the occasions that you find yourself overly full (a 9 or 10), refrain from judgement but do use the situation as a learning opportunity. Why did you continue to eat past your comfortable fullness point? What can you do differently next time?
This strategy might sound a bit unnecessary, but it can be a helpful tool early in your weight loss plan. By learning to recognize hunger and satiety, as well as other emotions regarding your eating habits, you can start to eat more mindfully and break old habits. Call our office to schedule an appointment, and we will discuss your weight loss plan in more detail.
When it comes to weight loss, there is no shortage of advice out there. And to be honest, a lot of it isn’t very good. One popular myth is that if you give up something (carbs, for example, or even entire meals) for just thirty days, you will lose a certain amount of weight. While that could technically be true in some circumstances, trying to follow this “deprivation myth” to the letter can actually backfire in a number of ways. At the very least, the plan just won’t be effective, because…
Feeling deprived triggers cravings. The minute you tell yourself that something is off limits, you start to crave it even more. It’s a funny trick of our psychology, in which focusing on a point of deprivation simply forces us to think about the deprived object even more! At the least, you’ll feel miserable. But in the worst case scenario, this strategy will actually backfire. Will power only lasts for so long, and once it breaks, you might binge on the object of your desire and undo all of your weight loss progress.
After the thirty days, you go back to your old way of eating. At the beginning of this “challenge” you promised yourself to give up something for thirty days. Your brain really hangs onto that little detail, and after thirty days, you feel “done”. Even if you’ve lost weight, simply returning to your old way of eating will usually mean that the weight returns, too.
Instead, focus on gradual and reasonable changes to your diet and lifestyle. Eat more healthy foods, exercise more often, and limit (but don’t completely eliminate) less healthy choices. Make a list of healthy foods activities you enjoy, and focus most of your habits around those. By directing your attention to a positive goal, you avoid the temptation and preoccupation with cravings that occur when focusing on a negative goal.
And of course, if you need help with your weight loss plan, please call our office to schedule an appointment. We can give you the tools you need to succeed, and keep the weight off in the long run.
As you pursue a medical weight loss plan, you will learn about the importance of protein in your diet. Protein serves a number of purposes in the body, such as:
- helping to build and repair muscle tissue
- making enzymes and hormones that regulate metabolism
- preventing spikes and crashes in blood sugar
- helping you to feel more full in between meals, preventing cravings
Clearly, protein is important to your eating plan, and you will need to take care in order to consume your target number of grams each day. But is all protein created equal? Well, not really.
A good protein source will contain other important nutrients like healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So you should also consider your protein sources in order to create the most well-rounded and healthy eating plan possible.
Quality proteins do come from both plant and animal sources. Some of the best sources of protein include:
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Grass-fed beef
The above are certainly not the only sources of protein, but they are often considered some of the most nutritious. As you can see, several of them make for great snacks, so you don’t have to worry about carrying around a steak in your car or purse! Yogurt, cottage cheese, almonds and so on can be purchased in simple, pre-portioned containers for easy snacking at work or on the go.
If you’re pursuing a vegan diet, we should talk more in depth about balancing your eating plan around your ethical standards. A vegan diet can contain plenty of protein and other nutrients, but supplementation may sometimes be necessary for healthiest results (especially regarding vitamin B12).
As for your protein requirements overall, we definitely recommend setting an appointment to discuss your weight loss plan and goals. We can help you decide how much protein is adequate for your body type, and offer other supports to help you stay on track.
A medical weight loss plan can be very effective, but no one says it’s easy all of the time. Yes, you might experience cravings as your eating style changes. And no, you don’t have to give up your favorite treats forever. But in order for your plan to be effective, you must learn to conquer cravings most of the time.
One way to do that is by recognizing the flavor your body is craving, and then offer it something that is satisfying but more acceptable for your eating plan. Sometimes a craving even means that your body needs a particular nutrient, so it’s good to recognize when that is happening. Either way, these four tips can help you indulge your cravings just a bit, while sticking to your medical weight loss plan.
Salty foods. Believe it or not, a craving for salt often means you’re dehydrated. So when this craving strikes, drink a glass or two of water first. If the urge for salty snacks persists, avoid packaged junk foods and opt for kale or seaweed chips instead (they’re actually very tasty). Of course, another choice is to simply add a bit more salt to your next meal.
Do keep in mind that some people must restrict salt intake due to a health condition such as high blood pressure. If you’re in that category, continue to follow your doctor’s advice.
Sweet treats. Sweets are probably the most common and frustrating cravings. Remember that many options such as yogurt, fruit, and whole grains can often alleviate this feeling. Even pumpkin or beets contain a bit of sugar and can make a meal more satisfying.
Sour snacks. If you tend to crave sour candies, reach for fruit or fermented foods instead.
Spicy meals. People who crave spicy foods are in luck. It’s relatively easy to simply add some chili peppers and spices to a healthy meal, such as stir-fried veggies, without adding any unnecessary calories. Have fun with this one!
If cravings tend to strike at a certain time of day, go ahead and plan your snacks around them using the above tips. That way, you can ward off those urges before they even start. If you have any other questions about your medical weight loss plan, call our office to schedule an appointment.
Regular workouts are key to your weight loss plan, but so are rest days. On rest days, you offer your body a chance to recuperate from a week of hard work. In order to make progress toward building lean muscle tissue, or just to prevent soreness and overall fatigue, your body needs a day off. Plus, it can be good to give yourself a mental break from busy schedules and the constant focus on burning calories.
Of course, you want to make the most of these rest days, too. Here are five ways you can support your health when you take a day off from exercise, that also support your overall weight loss plan.
Eat protein. Continue to meet your protein goals for the day. Even though you’re not working out, protein carries many other benefits. And your muscles need it as they repair and build strength.
Hydrate. Without your regular sweat session, you might not feel as thirsty. But your body still needs plenty of water for digestion and other processes, so remember to keep that bottle filled and nearby for sipping.
Take a nap. You should continue your regular sleeping and waking times on rest days, so that you don’t throw off your overall sleep schedule. But if you feel the need for an afternoon nap, take it! This is your body’s way of healing and getting stronger.
Take care of your mental and emotional health. When you’re pursuing a weight loss plan, so much focus is diverted to your physical body. While mental and emotional health care should be integrated into your daily habits, rest days provide a great opportunity to do a little something extra for yourself. Schedule a spa day, meditate, or engage in some other form of self care that is soothing for you.
Get moving, but gently. Rest days don’t have to be entirely sedentary. You can give your muscles a break while enjoying more gentle forms of activity. Go on a leisurely stroll or play with the kids in the yard. The outdoor time will be good for your body and mind.
As always, contact us if you need support for your weight loss plan. We can help you set a workout schedule and eating plan that work for your body type and goals.