Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It isn’t rocket science

Dyan, the engineer
In the early days of my career in engineering, I was talking with my mentor and boss at the time about one of the projects I was working on.  As he was giving me advice and direction on how to proceed, he stated, “It isn’t rocket science.”  I remember thinking at the time that he was right, it wasn’t all that complicated.  But, it sure seemed like the road that led up to that point wasn’t easy.  I have come to realize that the same concept applies to weight loss and getting healthy.  It’s not rocket science – its simple math – in order to lose weight, one must burn more fat and calories than one consumes.  But, apparently neither engineering nor weight loss are easy accomplishments.  If they were, everyone would don pocket protectors while looking like Halle Berry or Matthew McConaughey.  In all seriousness, Americans are struggling with their weight.  A 2010 survey reveals that over 63% of Americans are overweight or obese.  That means that nearly two out of every three of us are carrying around extra unhealthy weight.  Another interesting fact – the average American man’s waist size is 40 inches.  Let’s put that in perspective.  Remember the trapped Chilean miners last year?  The maximum waist size that could fit into the escape pod used to rescue them was 35 inches.  Could you have been rescued? 

While taking the first step to losing weight and getting healthy may not be easy, it is definitely worth the effort.  First, you have to make up your mind and your heart to get healthy.  No one can make this commitment for you – you have to commit to yourself and for yourself.  Most likely, you didn’t gain all the weight in a few weeks – it usually creeps on over months, years, or even decades.  So, you can’t expect to lose the weight immediately.  While many people are successful on quick-fix diets (Atkins, Slimfast, cabbage soup diet, diet pills, cleanses, etc), they are most likely to regain the weight because quick-fixes do not address the behavioral problems that put the weight on in the first place.  It is only by learning how to exercise effectively, eat better, and rest properly that we can live a healthy lifestyle and keep the weight off. 

Dyan, the health coach
I recommend setting a few general long-term goals like “I want to have more energy” or “I want to feel better about myself” or “I want to be able to be able to run around the yard with my kids”.  If you set unrealistic goals in the beginning like “I won’t eat anymore desserts” or “I will join a gym and workout every day”, chances are you will set yourself up for failure.  Instead, I recommend setting specific short-term goals like “I will eat a healthy breakfast each day this week” or “I will swap fruit for dessert twice this week” or “I will take a 30-minute walk three days this week”.  Once you accomplish the short-term goals, you have confidence to accomplish your next set of goals.  Taking small steps to getting healthy is the sure-fire way to stay healthy.  I absolutely hate the words cheat, fail, and restrict.  I also do not allow the word can’t.  When living a healthy lifestyle, there is no room for these words.  No matter what, you can always move forward and make better choices.  There is no reason to beat yourself up because you CAN do this. 

I work with my clients individually to set an exercise plan and a nutrition guide based on their personality, ability, lifestyle, age, and preferences.  Everyone progresses differently.  Eating five small meals a day may be effective for some, while others are better off with three.  Some may not enjoy running, or may not even be physically able, but everyone is capable of doing something.  Whatever your place in life, there is a way for you to lose weight, get healthy, and feel better.  Take that first step.  Don’t get discouraged.  You CAN do this.  And remember, it isn’t rocket science.

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