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Weight loss and health issues are a struggle for an increasing majority of Americans. But when we actually make an attempt to get ourselves together, we often become discouraged because of what we see (or do not see) happening on the scale. Well one of the best things we could possibly do is get rid of that scale. Yes I said it and I am not taking it back. Often times we will check it compulsively and gain false hope when we lose water weight. Weight loss and health are not always synonymous, yet our society tends to believe they are. In my quest to be fitter and healthier than I was for most of my adult life (with success), I have discovered indicators of being on the right track which are far more effective in measuring success than numerical validation. The following are both signs and rewards of an effective fitness plan.
Note: The actual plan I came up was a trial and error process, yet I still went from 230 to 170 within 5 months.
I know it seems a bit too simplistic, but I find it to be more accurate than a scale for a few reasons. Knowing you are losing weight and seeing visible results are two very different matters. I happen to believe we would prefer the latter versus getting happy over five pounds, yet still looking exactly the same. But beyond that, our weight may fluctuate on a day to day basis; which is entirely natural when losing weight. What we see in the mirror will not reflect this and drive us into the panic seeing a few pounds creeping back on the scale would.
When I say unsolicited, I truly mean unsolicited. When someone we know remarks about our weight loss, it is much more meaningful than from the person we asked. Out of politeness, someone we ask may say we look better, but it fails to really keep us in tune with reality. If we get down to business and do not kid ourselves by going halfway in, people will eventually notice the results. They will ask, “How did you do it?” or “What’s your secret?” In most cases they actually know, but hope what we tell them requires little work or sacrifice.
Fitting What Was Once Unfittable
Once again, I pose a question of which you consider more fulfilling. Would it be to see numbers drop on the scale or to put on those jeans without looking like a half open can of Pillsbury? Being able to drop sizes and tighten belt loops are quite the achievement. And for those of us with a wardrobe tucked away from a former life, we can now reinsert those items into our daily fashion rotation. Dropping water weight does not get us here, but burning actual fat does. And if I am not mistaken, burning fat is more desirable than losing weight.
The Ability To Survive Physical Activity
Just admit it. Most of us know what it is like to all but pass out from climbing a few flights of stairs or trying to keep up with our kids. And if we actually managed to jog for a mile straight, we would need to soak in a bucket of Icy Hot for the next 72 hours. To be honest, getting physically fit is initially hard and painful. But if we manage to push through that first week or so, it actually gets a lot better from then on. Unfortunately, many give up after that first painful recovery. The result is should they attempt to do so again in the distant future, it will be just as painful the next time since their body is starting from scratch all over again.
If there were any single factor I had to pick as the most indicative of weight loss, it would probably be metabolism. When it comes down to it, metabolism is just a fancy way to describe the frequency of our bowel movements. Quite frankly, if you go less than once a day you need to make some adjustments. The good news is, there are a variety of ways to stimulate our metabolic rate. The more we utilize these methods, the better. Eating foods naturally high in fiber, regularly doing cardio, lifting weights, getting more sleep and consuming fresh fruits and vegetables all get things flowing. What is most ironic is drastically reducing our caloric intake will actually slow our metabolism down. Our bodies will believe they are starving and go into conservation mode. This is the primary reason why a diet will initially be successful, but all progress comes to a screeching halt a short time later. Therefore, it is important to consume at least a couple hundred calories about every four hours. But even more important, you can monitor your metabolic rate every day and adjust accordingly.
If you are barely able to get out of bed despite having little to no work the day before, you may have laziness issues. When you catch yourself using your kids to fetch items only a few feet away, you probably have laziness issues. And when you circle a parking lot for 20 minutes when you could have been in the store 19 minutes ago, you definitely have laziness issues. But when someone decides to begin eating foods containing more beneficial nutrients and getting in exercise several times a week, both their feeling and perspective on doing simple activities will change. It is not simply about being more physically fit, but also being more actively minded.
Decrease of Sickness and Injury
Both eating more fresh foods and getting regular exercise greatly boost our immune systems. If you are someone who rarely goes more than a few months without having a cold, fever or some other passing ailment, a lifestyle change could be just what you need. You may notice going much longer without illness when taking your health and fitness up a notch. And even if you do become ill, you will be able to get over it much faster and with milder symptoms than usual. But another benefit is getting relief from chronic conditions. Before getting more fit, I began to have lower back issues and one time had it completely go out on me. But since losing weight and strengthening muscles in those areas, I have not had a problem. And speaking of muscles, that brings us to our next sign.
There are many people who want to be stronger, but go about it in ineffective ways. And then there are others who avoid weights and strength building altogether. For much of my life, I was a part of the group who did it ineffectively. Despite periods of working out on a regular basis and doing lots of weights, I did not see myself really getting any stronger. Well fast forward several years and I finally researched enough to get it right. And once I did, the rewards were great. Every workout results in not only becoming a bit stronger, but it also dramatically increases my metabolism during the time my muscles are rebuilding. And when you are able to pick up and move things without worrying about overstraining or throwing out your back, it certainly makes you appreciate the time and effort put into building strength.
Using exercise as a stress releaser is old news to most people. But some would be surprised to learn how much eating contributes to personal stress. When we examine the guilt following stress-induced eating and the low self-image incurred from the results, it becomes a bit clearer. This is even before considering the stress which can accompany medical problems which often result from poor eating such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. So it only stands to reason that eliminating those problems, and even perhaps the underlying issues underneath stress eating, will impact our overall stress load in positive ways. If nothing else it will decrease those doctor bills.
The final benefit which will be mentioned is gaining a boost of self-confidence. Most people believe that confidence primarily comes from looking better physically. However, that kind of confidence boost can also be achieved from cosmetic surgery. And when all is said and done, it is based far more on getting validation from others than churning out a sense of worth from within. The true difference between the two is committing to a difficult path and actually achieving the desired results causes us to feel far more rewarded in the end. Sure we may look better than we did before, but internally we feel a sense of accomplishment and determination we would have been deprived of by taking easier ways out. Besides, artificial methods ultimately fail to correct the behaviors which landed us in those predicaments in the first place. Thus we would eventually be lead right back to the same problems as before. And how much more crushing would that be to our confidence?
By Corey Dorsey