Alice Greene
America's Healthy Lifestyle Coach

12-year health, fitness and
weight loss success story


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Discovering Satisfaction and Focusing on the Positives

February 10, 2010

Last week everyone started using a discovery food journal, where they kept track of where they were on the hunger scale when they started and stopped eating and any thoughts or feelings associated with each meal or snack. They were instructed not to write down their foods, but instead to write the type of meal or snack they were having. This allowed them to focus more on staying mindful and to start to see eating patterns and possible triggers for overeating or eating for reasons other than hunger. If you focus on the food, you get caught in the good/bad judgment and don’t focus on what drives food behaviors.

Putting the Emphasis on What Went Well
Our sessions started with a weekly check-in with everyone, in which they shared a fitness and food success. Some people wanted to also talk about ways they weren’t so good or didn’t do so well, but I asked them to only share what went well and any positive insights they got. The reason for focusing just on what went well is to avoid putting the focus on self-criticism or not being good or perfect enough, which most people do to the exclusion of seeing what they did in fact accomplish. You can feel like a failure and want to give up, when in fact you had a really good week full of positive changes and successes. This was eye-opening for several people who couldn’t see their successes at first and then realized they had been far more successful than they had given themselves credit.

Naturally Making Healthier Food Choices
As we did our check-in, again and again the group members shared how great they felt about achieving their fitness goals and making changes in their eating behaviors. They were having successes and ah-ha observations about food that was helping them make positive changes in their approach to food. A big change was the drop in overeating. If overeating happened, it occurred only a few times during the entire week, which was a big shift. They were also beginning to make healthy food choices and smaller portion sizes that were more satisfying than what they’d been doing in the past, and finding they were enjoying their food more. What they loved is they were doing this without feeling forced or because they should, but instead as a natural extension of their awareness of hunger and fullness levels. The real test was Super Bowl Sunday, and nearly everyone avoided overeating or being totally out of control that day for the first time ever. Some of them deliberately portioned out smaller amounts, others made healthier versions of their party foods, many simply stopped as they began to feel full, and a few discovered they didn’t really want any of the food after all.

Getting Motivated by How Good It Feels to Move
They were also getting excited about how much better they were feeling from being more active and discovering how to pick activities that were most enjoyable. A number of people got outside and walked, which they really enjoyed, rather than get on their indoor exercise equipment. Some parked much further way from their destinations and got in more walking and felt more energized. Several others got a Wii Fit this past week and loved it so much they overdid it. A number of people pushed themselves to do more than they had set as a goal, and several of them felt really sore as a result. Getting sore isn’t a bad thing, but it can be a warning sign that you are doing too much too soon. I’ve learned over the years in my practice, that doing too much can lead to overuse injuries, joint pain, lower immune systems that show up as repeated colds, or a feeling of frustration and giving up. There is time to build up to doing more and giving the body a chance to acclimate to the changes. The best way to progress is by incrementally adding no more than 5-10% more time (or intensity) each week and checking in to see if you (and your body) are ready to progress.

Setting Realistic Fitness Goals
The last thing we discussed was setting fitness goals for the upcoming week, and this week they got a fitness journal to track their goals and what they actually accomplished. You can get a copy of this from the contest website.

When everyone set new fitness goals for the week, I reminded them that exercising 7 days a week is not recommended. Our bodies need a day off to rest and recover. For those doing core strengthening or any type of muscle strengthening exercises to give their muscles at least 48 hours to recover, so don’t plan to do them daily. And again, I cautioned them to avoid setting goals they don’t believe with full confidence (being a 10 on a scale of 0-10) they can fully achieve. It is really important, especially in the early stages of building a new routine, that you have continual weeks of success, even if that means setting a lesser goal than the week before or keeping the same goal. There is no rule that says your goal has to keep going up. For those that were derailed by illness, vacations or massive toothache, we learned that it is best to regroup by setting a very small achievable goal for the week, so they could claim success and get re-motivated.

Having a Good Experience with Evaluations and Photos
At this point, all the contestants have had their fitness evaluations with Heidi Thompson and her associate Lauren at HEAT Training in Amesbury (in Market Square). Heidi and Lauren made everyone feel comfortable, and they were reassuring to those who felt a bit embarrassed about their low fitness levels. There was no judgment or criticism; instead they were patient, helpful and offered some helpful tips, which boosted confidence and motivation. Thank you.

I also want to thank Meg Manion Silliker of Bluelime Photography for her equally lovely way of making everyone feel comfortable getting their photos taken. This isn’t easy for anyone who feels overweight or out of shape. I know, from my own past experience of being heavy and unfit.

To learn more about HEAT and Bluelime Photography, click on their logos to the left on this page.

Hear what the group participants have to say about their individual experiences this past week by reading their comments to this post. To learn what the contestants have to say, visit Newburyport Today where you find another copy of this post.

Have a healthy and active week,
Alice