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Sunday, June 11, 2006

"Dr. Fitness, Please Help"

"Dr. Fitness, I'm stuck in a rut, please help," was the subject headline to a recent email I received from a female and that's all I am going to say to describe her. She had recently lost 40 pounds from her 1st pregnancy by good-old fashion sweat and exercise....and by exercise, I mean exercise. An hour and a half of walking outside in the morning followed by and hour and a half of treadmill walking at night. Three hours of exercise and she lost 40 lbs. 10 less pounds prior to her being pregnant. Her reason for contacting me was that now she was going back to work and those three convenient hours of exercise would not be so available and she was slowly starting to gain weight....and she was terrified! What should she do?

When I emailed her back for her to describe her eating habits, she told me she ate whatever she wanted and would rather exercise than feel deprived of her favorite foods. This is where her story became very common and one where most people fail to succeed. I call it "The All Or Nothing Principle." This means that whatever I am doing, in her case exercising 3 hours per day and eating whatever I want, I will be successful following these parameters. But if you change the parameters (Can't exercise for 3 hours), I will give up on the entire process because I know I will eventually gain the weight back since I can't be deprived.

I explained to her that she didn't need to exercise 3 hours/day to maintain her body weight. She did need to examine her diet to figure out what were her caloric needs, how to manage portions of her favorite things to not feel deprived, and being diligent about identifying caloric content. She was so convinced that she would have to give up her favorite things and she also felt like a slave to exercise. I told her how to break the "All Or Nothing Principle" and if you are in a similar situation, here's how you can break this very difficult pattern!
1. Take advantage of even the smallest amount of free time to exercise. If you like getting an hour of exercise but you have a very busy schedule, look for 15 - 20 windows of free time to do something.

2. Keep your exercise clothes and shoes close by. If some free time opens up, buy an extra pair of exercise shoes or clothes convenient for a quick workout.

3. Pay attention to every meal and avoid mindless eating. Most people eat under stress and you can add tons of calories by not paying attention. So pay attention especially at work!!

4. Avoid big gaps of time without eating. This happens to many of us, especially at work. We go the whole day without eating and as a reward for eating, we feel we can eat everything thus causing overindulging and over-consumption. Stay aware and you'll stay trim


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