couchPotato - Experts and Trainees Weigh In On Getting Off the Couch

IF YOU’RE OUT OF SHAPE, A SLOWER, GENTLER APPROACH TO EXERCISING AND EATING RIGHT WILL BE MORE SUCCESSFUL OVER THE LONG RUN.

“Getting started is the hardest part.”

That’s the report from most people trying to emerge from a “deconditioned state” – individuals who haven’t been exercising or eating right. And it’s not terribly surprising – it’s human nature to settle into behavioral comfort zones, those levels of activity, eating and drinking that work for us.

The wild success of the reality TV show, “The Biggest Loser,” may be making this worse. Yes, it illustrates that spectacular fitness success is possible. What’s troubling is the “fat camp” approach, suggesting that an all-out effort, a complete lifestyle change under controlled conditions, is what it takes to fight the fat, to achieve healthy conditioning.

If you’re losing your hair and decide your best way to combat the situation is to take concrete steps to get into better shape, that’s good. But if you can’t make it an all-out effort, don’t let that stop you. This article is about a slower, gentler – and probably a more successful over the long run – approach.

Crawl before you walk

The phrase “easy come easy go” often applies to fitness and diets. Go on a celery and cigarettes diet (not recommended) and you’ll lose weight fast, but in all likelihood gain it back just as quickly.

I randomly surveyed fitness coaches and their clients who instead believe in a measured, gradual and healthful approach. They provide the following points of advice:
The key is to make changes that you can live with for a lifetime! The first fitness step is to start moving. Buy a pedometer ($10-$30) and wear it. Whatever you start at, make a goal (increase by say, 50-100 steps per day) until you are at 10,000 steps per day. On the input side, start by increasing your fruits and veggies; your goal being 5-10 servings/day (a serving is what you can fit in your hand). It’s much easier to focus on needing more (more steps, more fruits and veggies) than feeling deprived and focusing on less (“can’t eat that, can’t have that”). Once these two changes are firmly entrenched, make restrictions if you need to: skip the afternoon cola (or change to diet) or the morning latte. If you eat out nearly every day, make sure one day each week you don’t. Try one vegetarian meal per week. Then add one fish entree per week.
-Jill Grimes, MD
Family Physician and Author
www.JillGrimesMD.com

The hardest part for many clients is just getting started. They might have the exercise equipment in their basement but they don’t go down there to use it. Some are too embarrassed to go to a gym so they stay home. Others are just so overwhelmed with the choices that they do nothing

[People] must do what they like to do. If they hate running, why would I possibly put them on a treadmill for 30 minutes? If an overweight person likes to dance, I suggest they play their favorite song and dance to it. Tiny changes, nothing extreme.
– Linda S. Jassmond Lanfear
Personal Trainer, www.FitnessLinda.com

I went through a transformation and was able to lose all my excess weight (60 pounds!). I got help from a mentor and friend named Roy Nelson (www.roylovesyou.com) to be able to do this. He taught me a way to live that allowed me to have the peace in my every day life to not have to use food as emotional support any more. He and his student of 20 years, Tricia Greaves (www.healyourhunger.com) have helped me every day for the last two years.
– Dr. Talia Witkowski

  • Aim to lose 5 pounds at a time. It’s a small goal that anyone can manage.
  • Once you get there, stay there for a few weeks. Then do another 5 pounds.
  • Walk a little more. Park at the far side of the parking lot at work or when shopping. Take the stairs every other time, instead of the elevator.
  • Walk around the block after dinner. Next week, walk around 2 blocks.
  • Keep upping the distance gradually. Then eat a little less. Cutting 200 calories a day is hardly noticeable.

I played around with some online nutrition software for meal planning, through mypyramid.gov, and found that I could have an unlimited amount of vegetables, fruits, beans, & legumes and three cups of cooked whole grains. I’d be stuffed to the gills with nutritious food and drop pounds.
– Krysta of Milwaukee

I recently launched the Synergistics Lifestyle™ Program that is an eight-week online learning program that teaches the essentials of health and fitness. The program starts participants at 2000 steps a day and 16 oz. of water, gradually increasing over eight weeks to 10,000 steps a day and 64 oz. of water.
– Helena Collins
Life in Synergy™
At age 22 I weighed nearly 300 pounds. Over the years, I did small things and lost small amounts of weight each year, with the trend being down and my overall health and fitness going up. It started out simply: I took stairs instead of escalators and I walked through airports instead of taking the monorails.
– Isa “GlitterGirl” Isaacs
San Francisco

It takes a great deal of motivation to go to the gym or for a jog. However a three-minute exercise done right at your desk is easy to gear up for. [Exercises include “sitting” against a wall with no support under the seat, and a sustained “plank” position, mid-push up, both held for 180 seconds each.] What we have found is that once a person starts doing just a couple of these three-minute exercises then they find themselves motivated to more.
– Phil Weaver
www.breakpal.com

Involve the people around you. They can help you or they can hurt you, and it all happens without your conscious thought. This makes the change permanent.
– Greg Mumm, personal trainer
www.HowToEnjoyExercise.org

None of these methods would make for a good reality TV program. But each of them worked for these people or their clients. And all of them appear to fit into a workaday life without it being a drastic effort.