Published at July 25th, 2016

Exercise & Healthy Eating: Staying on Track

I made a commitment to lose those extra pounds and I know I should eat healthily and exercise regularly. Why don't I stick with it? Most people know that healthy eating and exercise will help them lose and maintain a healthy weight, and be healthier. So why are we getting sicker and fatter as a society? Two-thirds of the U.S. adult population is overweight and one third is obese. Childhood obesity is at an all-time high. Twenty-six percent of U.S. adults over 20 years of age and 36% of adults over age 60 (over 57 million) are pre-diabetic or have metabolic syndrome. Statisticians estimate that the number of people worldwide with diabetes will increase from 175 million in the year 2000 to 353 million in 2030. A common challenge for my patients is staying consistent with their healthy eating and exercise programs. There are certain things that rise to the surface when it comes to staying consistent. One of them is staying motivated. How does anyone sustain anything without motivation?

If losing weight is your main motivation for exercising and eating better, you will have a more difficult time in maintaining your lifestyle changes once you lose the weight. Why do you ask? It's because you've achieved it. Being fit and healthy is a way of life. It is the type of goal that has no end. Goals are important, but they have a beginning and an ending. When I do nutrition counseling and lifestyle coaching with my patients, we set weekly and monthly SMART goals.  SMART goals are an acronym for:

Specific- Your goals must be clear and specific. I suggest they be written down and read daily.

Measurable-Goals must be measurable. I want to lose weight or be thinner has no measure.

Attainable-If your goal is not reasonable or attainable then you will become discouraged.

Rewarding- Does my goal energize me?  Achieving goals takes time and energy. Do I really want this? If you are procrastinating, you may want to reset your goal(s) to one that moves you!

Time-Bounded- A deadline makes it REAL. A goal without a deadline is a wish

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Examples - I will complete 200 spin bike miles this month. I will walk at least 10,000 steps daily for the next 7 days.  For the next 5 days I will eat fresh vegetables or fruit before I eat anything else.

Improvement and change occur when you do things often. Stopping and starting all the time will kill any momentum you need to succeed. You must find ways to stay in the game. Done consistently, moderate forms of exercise provide far better results than the occasional full-body pummeling (weekend warriors). A lifestyle that includes doing multiple forms of exercise 5 to 6 days a week guarantees results. Strive for 180 minutes of moderate intensity exercise weekly. Remember from my February article that diet makes up 80% of your body composition. So combining this with regular exercise is a winning combination to get and stay fit and healthy.

It's easy to create reasons not to work out, especially when you haven't exercised in a while. We travel, get sick, get tired, and often get discouraged. We work too hard, we under-sleep, and we get stressed out. So what do we do about it? It can be overwhelming. What about the people who don't quit? Who are they? Are they superhumans with something I don't have? What makes them so special? Why are some people consistent and others aren't? The answer is that successful, consistent, and motivated people have tricks. They have found a way to do it anyway. Here's my list of tricks that will help you stay motivated and consistent.

  1. Stop beating yourself up if you can't sustain and/or maintain your "perfect" plan. It's okay to miss a workout once in a while or that you don't eat healthy 100% of the time. The stress that you create from beating yourself up increases the release of our stress hormone Cortisol which over time makes you fatter not fitter. It doesn't mean you have to start over. Life happens. Priorities shift. Just start up where you left off.
  2. Celebrate your successes. This goes back to #1. We spend a lot of time beating ourselves down for what we didn't do, which creates stress. Celebrate what you did accomplish that day, week or month and keep moving forward. Small daily improvements done consistently, lead to exceptional results over time.
  3. Set 90-day SMART goals and break them down into monthly and weekly goals. When I do nutrition and lifestyle counseling with patients, we determine what they want and how to get there over time.
  4. Read your goals daily. This is very important as it keeps you accountable for what you want.
  5. Strive to eat a Clean Diet 80% of the time or 5 days each week. Go back to my March and April 2016 articles for easy strategies to revamp your diet.
  6. Schedule in your exercise like an appointment. I work out most days on my lunch hour. Some days I don't feel like it, but I get in my car and head to the Y because I've scheduled it. I always feel better after I get started.
  7. Take your gym bag with you every day. I always have my workout clothes with me. It reminds me of my commitment to myself.

Don't freak out if you don't see results in the first month or two. Some people will see results the first week. Most will have to wait a little longer, based on age, body weight, how out of shape they are when they start the program, flexibility, balance, athletic background, etc; this is normal. Be patient. Your body will adapt, and you will be amazed at how you look and feel. It takes time to make changes to our lifestyle and develop new habits. Remember, it takes about 90 days to create a lifestyle change. I recommend you use the 80/20 principle. Commit to 5 days each week where you do some form of exercise for 30 minutes along with a clean eating diet. Celebrate whatever changes you do make and not to worry about what you're not doing. We don't need that added stress in our lives.

Dr. Wendy Henrichs has been practicing with her husband Dr. Scott Henrichs at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander for the past 22 years. Drs. Wendy and Scott Henrichs provide comprehensive chiropractic care among other services including rehabilitation and wellness services. Dr. Wendy Henrichs specializes in pediatrics and women's health. Drs. Wendy and Scott Henrichs are board certified and licensed to practice chiropractic and nutrition counseling in Wisconsin and are committed to excellence in meeting your healthcare needs. Timber Land Chiropractic is located at 1 E. Courtney Street in Rhinelander. For a complimentary chiropractic, nutrition or lifestyle counseling consultation, call 715-362-4852 www.timberlandchiropractic.com or visit us on Facebook.