I heard this once at a conference, it has always stuck in my mind and I use it frequently. There are three legs needed for a well-balanced gastric band ‘stool’ (and I’m talking about the kind you sit on…we can address the other one perhaps under ‘nutrition’ :)). They are diet (eating the right foods in the right amount), mental status (having your head ‘in the game’) and exercise. If one of these legs of the stool is out of whack your stool will be wobbly and your success with your band will be limited. Each of these things is important, and sometimes it is easier to be more on track with one than the other.
Lets talk about exercise. I usually wind down my visit with a patient with “and how is the exercise going”? Sometimes I get a “great!” and other times I get the “ummm…ahhhh…..hmmm” response. Lets face it, if we could have all the wonderful benefits of exercising without having to DO it, I suspect the majority of us would be pretty darned happy. Who wouldn’t rather curl up with a good book or tune into their favorite mind-numbing sitcom after a long day, than go for a walk or hop on the treadmill? Who would CHOOSE to get up an hour early…especially when the normal work day wake up time is say 6:30, to go to the gym or go walk the dog? NONE OF US!!! ITS HARD!!! But it is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. Just as we wouldn’t skip brushing our teeth because we were too tired, so should we not skip exercising. It has to become a part of our daily life.
Benefits of Exercise and Setting the Bar
We all know the wonderful benefits that come with incorporating exercise into our daily lives: decrease in blood pressure, decrease in the ‘bad’ cholesterol and an increase in the ‘good’ cholesterol, increase in energy, decrease in depression, weight maintenance to name just a few (click onto to this article from the Mayo clinic for “7 Benefits of Regular Physical exercise” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676). The problem I think for many is getting the motivation to start. Dr. May Michelle, a wonderful motivational speaker and author who wrote the book “Eat What You Love and Love What You Eat” (http://www.eatwhatyoulovelovewhatyoueat.com) spoke at our yearly symposium last spring. She was entertaining and insightful and one of the suggestions she had was to not set the exercise bar (or any bar for that matter) so high that you can’t get over it. Inevitably that leads to discouragement and failure. She suggests instead that you set the bar so LOW that you can’t help but surpass it. She told about a patient of hers who would drive home from work, get dinner and then drive it over to her aging parents home. This patient made up her mind that in order to get healthy and lose weight she would start to walk to her parents home instead. Her parents lived 3 houses down the block. She was able to accomplish this and did it daily, gradually increasing her walks (after making her delivery of course) to around the block, to a few blocks, to eventually completing a 5K race (would have been a better blog if I’d made it Forrest Gumpish…”no one knows where she is today and her parents are hungry…”).
Git ‘er Dun!
Personally I like to ‘get it over with’ so I set my alarm extra early 3 days a week and head to the gym. It’s the perfect time to workout as only a handful of lunatics get up that early so there is never a wait for any equipment and very little socializing (no moms chatting to each other while they sit idly taking up a piece of equipment..pet peeve of mine) everyone is usually heading to work. Over the years it’s the same faces so some of us have come to know each other on a first name basis and it is really a rather nice way to start the day. It doesn’t have to be going to the gym however. Getting up and doing an exercise DVD that gets your heart rate elevated, walking on your treadmill while you watch the early news, taking Fido for a nice morning walk…anything as long as you are moving is good! But the early morning start definitely boosts your metabolism for the rest of the day, plus then you can rest on your laurels because it’s over!! (check out “The Top 10 Reasons to Exercise in the Morning” http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=468 ).
Some tricks to getting yourself out the door in the early morning:
- be prepared: have your gym clothes in the bathroom so that you can change right into them after brushing your teeth
- if you are going to the gym and then straight to work pack your bag the night before
- get a good nights sleep (and the bonus is once you start exercising more your sleep will improve)
- you may need a small (100 calorie) snack such as half a banana or a glass of juice if your band is tight, as you have been fasting all night (see: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1074&page=3 for information on snacks before a workout)
- drink at least 250ml of water as soon as you get up. (Hydration guidelines for exercise say you should try to drink 250-500ml of water one hour before exercise, and if possible 250 ml of water 20 minutes before exercise, then 125-250ml every 10 to 15 minutes during exercise. If I accomplished that I would spend more time in the bathroom than on the treadmill, however do your best and stay hydrated)
Some of you may have heard of the book “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, MD. It is a guide to living like you are 50 (I would have preferred 30) until you are 80. It is not rocket science but it appears to be changing people’s lives. Their pearls of wisdom? Exercise 6 days a week (4 aerobic and 2 strength) and ‘stop eating crap’. Wow. And these guys are making bags of money! The ‘stop eating crap’ we all know. But exercising 6 days a week…that seems like a lot. But really when you think about it, It doesn’t have to be 60 minutes of hard cardio. Don’t set that bar so high that you won’t get over it. If you are just starting out with the exercise try setting that bar so low that you can’t help but get over it. Set a goal of trying to move a bit more each day.
Try the 30 Day Challenge. They say it takes 30 days to make a habit and 30 days to break a habit. Why not try committing to moving a bit more each day for 30 days. Choose what you like to do and switch it up if necessary so you don’t get bored. If you are just starting out walking is a great way to go. Invest in a pedometer (Sportline is a good one, $25) and try increasing your steps. But if you enjoy biking dust off the bike, gardening get out and play in the dirt. If you are looking forward to golf season go and hit some balls. Do whatever gets you moving and do a little bit every day. Give yourself ‘The 10 Minute Rule’ where if you don’t want to keep going after 10 minutes you can quit. 9 times out of 10 people keep going. That 10 minutes turns into 15, which turns into 20 and suddenly you’re up to 30 minutes a day and reaping the benefits! It becomes addictive believe me. You start to feel so good that you miss exercise when you stop for a day or two.
Remember though always check with your doctor before hand if you have medical issues and listen to your body. The old saying “no pain no gain” is harmful and obsolete. Exercise shouldn’t hurt. Yes you may start to feel muscles you forgot you had but you should not be in pain. (I had an instructor who would say “you want to hear your muscles talking to you but not screaming at you”).
The weather is awesome and so are you…Now go outside and play 🙂
Yours in Health and Fitness,