Thursday, December 30, 2010

Don't Ask "How Do I Lose Weight?" - Ask "How Did I Gain It?"

Well, its that time of year again, where the masses start talking about their own mass.  This of course leads to that all time number one New Years resolution - lose weight!  Sadly, most go no further than making a statement and of the ones that take it a step further, only a few will succeed.  Consider these statistics:

Every year 150 million Americans try it, they spend $42 billion to pursue it and less than 30% succeed at it! 

Thats kind of depressing... nothing like a bit of optimism to get you started.

But the fact of the matter is that instead of focusing on losing weight, you should start by figuring out how you gained the weight in the first place.  If you are like most, you gradually added the pounds through a combination of things, mainly eating more and exercising less, in other words your lifestyle has become the source of your weight gain.  Thus, if you can make gradual adjustments to your current lifestyle, you can slowly reverse course in the fat department.  Slowly being a key point, and lifestyle being an extremely key point.

Focus on losing the bad habits and replacing them with good ones!

Do not run out and join a gym or embark on some exotic diet.  These are typically short term solutions because you can't maintain the lifestyle you have chosen.  You may lose a few pounds, but once you return to your previous lifestyle, it all comes back... usually with a few extra pounds to boot. 

Change is hard, thus you have to focus on small but consistent steps that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine.  Anything that is too hard, will usually be discarded pretty quickly.  You need activities that you are willing to do forever!

For example, start taking the steps instead of escalators and elevators.  Park a long way from the entrance to buildings instead of fighting for a spot up close.  If you work at a desk, force yourself to get up and walk around at least once per hour.  These are simple things that get you going in the right direction.  Its probably not enough to burn off any existing pounds, but its a first step.

The next step is to take on some form of exercise that is not a pain in the butt!  Something you can easily do anytime, anywhere.  Think of your current lifestyle.  Does a gym make sense?  You have to get in a car and go there during the normal hours of operation.  Plus, a lt of people just plain hate mechanical exercise.  I of course walk long, hard and fast.  Its easy, works pretty much anytime and I can do it in any city that I travel to.  But it does take a lot of steps to burn off calories.

Eating has to be addressed as well.  You need to be aware how many calories you are bringing in versus how many you are burning off.  (My e-book goes into that.)  You don't have to starve and give up the food you like, just eat less of it.  Too many of us eat because its meal time and/or because we are bored.  These are things you can control if you focus on them.

Eating slowly is a key factor as well.  Some of us simply don't know when to stop.  If you eat slowly, very slowly, and listen to your body, you can learn how to stop before going overboard.

Weight loss is acheiveable, but you must focus on the process and adopt approaches that you can stick with FOREVER.  Do not waste your time on miracle drugs, get skinny quick schemes, intensive workouts that you hate or diets that leave you counting the minutes until you can eat real food again.  Take it one step at a time - EAT Slow and WALK Fast...

1Data compiled from US Census Bureau, WebMD, Journal of American College Of Nutrition, American Journal Of  Public Health.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tis The Season Of Weight Gain - Don't Let It Happen To You

The Christmas Season is one punctuated with decorations, celebrations, gifts, gathering with family and... unintentional weight gain.  We are all so good at using food as the centerpiece of our special occasions, which invariably leads to overeating, excessive calories and to put it bluntly: increased FAT!

But you don't have to let it happen to you if you maintain the balance between calories in and calories burned.

Today I enjoyed a meal of beef tenderloin and shrimp cocktail with a bunch of other fattening side dishes.  So what did I do afterwards?  Sit on the couch and watch TV while complaining about how full I was? NO WAY!  I went for a 5 mile fast walk on the Wrightsville Beach loop. And it felt great.  I may not have burned quite as much as I ate, but I certainly disposed of a good portion of that wonderful meal.

What did you do today?  Gain weight or control your weight?

That is the key - balancing what goes in against what goes out in terms of calories.  Don't let the holiday eating habits grow on you.  You can eat as much as you want, but just be sure to adjust your exercise accordingly.  It's not as hard as it seems, you just have to be vigilante and focused.

Tomorrow, it will be more of the same - the exercise part, not the eating...  ok, thats not totally true, I'm sure there will be more eating opportunities to tempt me!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hotel Walk - Beating The Weather

I am out of town on business and its still cold...durn it.  But I'm not going to sit on my butt and gain weight, so new walking approach.  I'm at an Embassy Suites in Charlotte, NC, which means 10 floors of opportunity with a view of the atrium. 

Embassy Suites are unique,  because they are built in a rectangular shape around an interior courtyard.  All rooms open to the inside.  No hallways, just balconies on each floor that run along the inside perimeter of the courtyard.  And in many cases, the atrium is a combination of eating areas and water gardens.  Thus, each floor is kind of like a walking track with a view.  Pretty cool unless you have issues with heights and I do, but this ain't bad, trust me. (BTW- the atrium in the picture is INSIDE!)

Today I went with a twist.  Instead of just walking and looking down, I took my Nook e-reader and actually read a book while walking each floor.  And no elevators!  I took the stairs between floors.  Being a weekend, there is very little traffic in the hotel, so no obstructions or hazards to deal with.  Nothing worse than accidentally bumping a little old lady over the rail...

Hotel walks may not be conventional, but they work!  Weight management is a game of consistency, so you gotta do whatever you gotta do to stay on track.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Hate The Cold!

The coast of North Carolina is supposed to have a mild climate in late November early December.  Not so this year - its cold (at least by my standards).  Give me 95 degrees any day of the week, forget this 30's and 40's thing, topped off with a frigid wind - ick!  Guess losing all that extra insulation has a few downsides, huh!

So much for my great days walking at the beach - its all I can do to walk at all.  I know, I know, here I am making excuses, when I constantly preach against that.  So, its either start gaining back the pounds, starve myself to death, or find an alternative.

Ok, first step is that I pulled out my Under Armour winter gear cause it does work.  And thats fine as long as I'm not dealing with the icy winds, though the concept still stinks in my world, cause its the experience and enjoyment of being outside that keeps me going, not the concept of walking in general.  So I have solved the issue of cold, just got to deal with the motivation factor which is really low right now. 

So its back to finding inside locations when the outside doesn't work.  And being the Christmas Season, the Mall works pretty well.  You can get a lot of traction without braving the elements, though you do have to watch for the wide eyed masses wandering aimlessly through the mall who don't pay a bit of attention as to where they are going or who they are stepping out in front of.  Running over a little old lady is a great way to escorted out of the mall by security which means back to dealing with the winter... did I mention that I hate the cold?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

If No Pain = No Gain, I Must Be Superhuman!

Ok, so I got some new shoes since the last pair was killing my shins due to the soles being blown out.  I figured a 6 mile walk was just the thing to break them in... yeah right, well the only thing that really got a good dose of breaking was my feet - BLISTERS!

You just can't win!  From shin splints to over sized blisters, there always seems to be some kind of pain issue going on here.  But its still better than being fat! 

Blisters heal and shoes do get straightened out pretty quickly.  The real issue here is my lack of planning.  Its not like I don't go through this every 3-4 months when I have to replace my shoes, just this time I figured I would take a shortcut. Bad idea, especially when there is a fairly simple solution to this problem.

Ok, so what is the solution?  Sit on the couch and avoid exercise...NOT.  Prepare your feet for the onslaught by using Moleskin. Basically its a large area padded bandage, but what makes it so unique is that it will actually stick to your skin and survive the rigors of power walking without coming loose.  The trick is to figure out where to apply it BEFORE you get the blisters.  Its obvious afterwards, but then its too late.  This may take some painful experience to get it right.

So what if you already got the darn things, then what?  Again, sitting on the couch is not an option.  Don't look for excuses not to exercise, figure out solutions to keep on track.  You can apply Moleskin over an existing blister, but, it can be a real mess to remove it later, cause its going to pull all that loose skin with it. 

One trick I use for using Moleskin over a blister, is to first apply a small does of vaseline to the blister itself, so the Moleskin won't stick to it.  Works pretty well and keeps me on the go.  I've also been known to just forego the moleskin and go with a heavy dose of vaseline.  Kind of icky to tell you the truth, but I've gotten some decent results. 

If you are just starting out with casual walking, you probably aren't going to have a lot of painful blister issues initially.  Remember that I walk to the extreme at a very fast pace for extended distances, so don't start looking for a reason to avoid this simple exercise options. 

If you do have worries about getting blisters you might also consider Runners Lube, which is a product designed specifically for lubricating the skin to prevent blisters and chafing.  There is some good info about this subject at