You’ve heard it ad nauseum – the benefit of regular exercise. It promises weight loss and increased energy. It is supposed to lift your mood and guarantee a longer life. It’s almost magic.
It’s not magic
Regular moderate exercise has been part of my life for decades. I make a habit of walking for an hour three or four days a week and working out with weights. At times I’ve added water aerobics or worked out at the gym in addition to walking.
This routine actually has helped to maintain my energy level and enhance my sense of well being. The longer life part remains to be seen.
When it comes to weight loss, however, I beg to differ. And while I haven’t been a candidate for “The Biggest Loser,” I still consistently met the medical definition of obesity even though I have been eating a healthy diet low in carbs, high in protein with plenty of vegetables and fruit for years. And did I mention exercising regularly?
I have outstanding numbers on every measure of health – except weight. Longevity runs in my family and if I’m going to live well into my 90s I would like to be healthy rather than fighting chronic disease.
What to do?
Knowing that if I didn’t make some changes I would be continue on my then seven year plateau, I took the plunge and started working with a personal trainer. What kept me from doing it before? Equal parts, “I SHOULD be able to do it myself,” and it costs a pretty penny.
Six months later I have:
- lost pounds
- lost inches
- decreased body fat
- increased muscle mass
- attained above average fitness for my age and gender
Nothing dramatic, mind you. But enough to drop a couple of jean sizes and to begin to look and feel better.
What made the difference?
My personal trainer kept me going through three long months of working out and not losing a pound. That’s the nasty little thing that happens when you replace fat with muscle because muscle weighs more. And he kept me doing ten more reps when I knew I couldn’t do even one more. Paying in advance each month kept me working out on a regular basis, and arranging an automatic withdrawal from my checking account kept me from having to decide each month to re-up.
All the above motivated me to begin logging my daily food intake on a free site (www.myfitnesspal.com) that details not only calories but nutritional content. And that keeps me thinking before I eat. I’ve discovered how far a few bites of some to-die-for treat can go when it’s a rare indulgence. A normal serving of a rich dessert is too much and a cookie or two is plenty.
I recently shifted to working out with a group – still with a trainer on hand to watch for form and keep us working beyond our comfort zones. I’m not done yet, but I’m on track and confident I can reach my goal and then maintain a healthy weight.
As I reflect on this process I am aware that in order to make significant change I had to do something different, something more. It required a commitment of time, money and energy. The same is true in any area of life.
What About You?
Whatever the change you have been longing to make, let this be the year you take the risk, make the commitment – and reap the rewards.
I am a North Carolina Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with 20 years experience in the field and many more years of life experience. I entered the counseling profession in mid-life after putting in time as a stay-at-home mom, a freelance writer, a journalist, and a United States-based missionary. I love walking alongside those who are seeking to find themselves, heal a relationship, or recover from trauma. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, writing, and hanging out with my grandsons.