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Entries in exercise (3)


Rethinking the Calorie

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “To lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in.” But most people do not find weight control so simple. There are many problems with the simple notation that weight loss is just a matter of calories in vs. calories out. How do we know the number of calories we take in and more importantly, what do our bodies’ do with those calories? Here are some variables:

  • Measuring the number of calories in a food is extremely inaccurate.
  • How many calories each person extracts from a particular food varies from person to person and from food to food.
  • How the food is prepared changes the available calories.
  • The microorganisms in our gut influences how many calories get absorbed.
  • The time of day food is consumed and how much sleep you get can determine whether your body burns or stores the calories.
  • Nutrient density and meal composition, genetics, age, specific hormone levels, body fat, and stress all affect calorie absorption.

“Science has already shown that the calorie is broken. Now it has to find a replacement.”

(see full article The Atlantic)

While we wait for scientists to figure out how much we should eat (something our ancestors and wild animals have known forever), here are some tips. Choose whole foods like vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and fruit. Limit foods that are made from flour and sugar and follow the Best Calorie Control Guide.


Knowledge or Motivation?

Clients seeking my weight loss and fitness services can be grouped into two categories; ones who need knowledge and ones who need motivation.

Needs knowledge – A client looking to lose weight may not know which nutrition program is right for them or how to prepare well balanced meals. Another client may wish to begin exercising, but may have never engaged in prior physical activity and doesn’t know were to start. In either case, my job is to provide them with information they understand and can implement into an effective program in order for them to reach their goals. You can get plenty of practical information by down loading 3 Simple Tips to Losing Weight and Feeling Great (see right side bar)

Needs motivation – When a prospective client does possess the knowledge and knows what to do, but feels they lack motivation; I must determine if they are truly ready to begin a nutrition and/or fitness program. Is this person mentally and emotionally ready to take action? It is difficult to make what may be major lifestyle changes, when problems exist in ones personal or professional life or when someone isn’t prepared to fully commit. No amount of cheerleading, great program design or willpower will motive anyone under stress or dedicated for very long.

If things in your life are going well, then maybe you do just need a kick in the pants. But Dennis Bumgarner thinks, “Our understanding of the relationship between motivation and performance is backwards.” If we somehow decide to eat better or begin working out, and in doing so, we find ourselves feeling better, we see the value in our efforts. Maybe you stop eating sugar for a few days and lose weight or you go for a walk and feel energized or your partner asks you to join him/her in training for a 5-K run. Bumgarner says, “The crucial notion is this: we don’t get motivated and then do something. Instead, we do something and then get motivated. Motivation does not precede performance. Rather it is the opposite. Performance precedes motivation. It is in the doing of the act that we discover motivation.”

The bottom line is not to try to get yourself motivated or hire someone to do it for you; it is to take action and start changing your behavior. If you are unsure of what behaviors to change or how to implement the changes, then we are back to needs knowledge.  


Bumgarner, D. ACSW, LCSW, "Motivating your intellegent but unmotivated teenager" 


Don't Focus on Weight Loss (part one)

I realize many of you reading this are interested in weight (fat) loss. But in order for our body to lose fat we must first restore our health. How? Through good nutrition, appropriate exercise, managing stress and adequate sleep. Let’s talk about the first two.

Good Nutrition – Eat REAL food – While there is no official definition for “real food”, my definition is a one-ingredient food that has been minimally processed and that still retains most, if not all, of its original nutritional value. Even most real food has been processed to some extent. Thankfully we don’t have to buy a live chicken then pluck and butcher it ourselves! There are also some packaged products that would still be considered real food like frozen vegetables, organic dairy products and products made with only real food ingredients (i.e. salsa – tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper). Because real food contains essential vitamins and minerals in the right balance, it is more likely to promote health. While highly processed foods, which contain added salt, sugar, unnatural fats and things we have no idea of what they are or where they came from, detract from our health.

Appropriate Exercise is exercise that challenges our muscles and cardiorespiratory system, while taking into account our goals, current fitness level and physical limitations. For example, someone with the goal of losing 20 pounds, who has been exercising and has no health issues, a regime of strength training combined with higher intensity interval cardio training is a great way to build muscle and burn fat.

On the other hand, someone else with the same 20 pound weight loss goal who may be new to exercise, is pre-diabetic and has back pain, may need to start with walking 15-30 minutes per day. Both exercise programs will challenge each individual and is an appropriate place for each to begin.

In part two we will examine the effect stress and sleep have on weight loss.