Why Stress Management is an Integral Part of a Successful Weight Loss Program

Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

As the New Year approaches, many of you will start to think about weight loss. One area that you may not include in your planning is how you will manage the stress in your life. You can have the best of plans, but if you have a high level of stress in your life and you do not manage it well, it will be almost impossible to be successful in your weight loss efforts.

If you are constantly at a high level of stress, you may not sleep well or make healthy eating choices. You are probably living your life in a reactive manner. Stress also makes your body produce a constant stream of the hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol affect how your body metabolizes sugar, stores fat and has a negative effect on blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High levels of cortisol make weight loss extra challenging.

Stress can affect the quality of your sleep. A good night’s sleep is absolutely critical to weight loss. Recent studies point to a definite relationship between how much sleep you get and how this affects the hormones that control hunger and satiation. There is a negative cascading effect to not getting enough sleep. When you are walking around tired all day, you will tend to do more emotional eating: not only eating larger amounts of food, but often eating foods that are high in saturated fat, calories, salt and/or sugar. Although this may temporarily give you a good feeling, you will invariably get an energy and mood slump. That workout you had scheduled later for the afternoon? Who has energy for that!? Stress can sabotage even the best of weight loss plans.

Our clients typically have excellent success with their weight loss efforts. We have them address, up front, the level of stress in their life and how they are going to proactively handle it. We understand that stress is here to stay. What needs to change is how the client recognizes stress triggers and the resulting behaviors; and then work to avoid triggers in the future. At the same time, we also have them put viable alternative behaviors in place should the stress arise again. One thing that works well is to make a list of healthier behavior options and post these someplace where they are readily accessible.

Clients find that as they start to proactively manage stress, they can keep focused on the healthy behaviors that lead to weight loss. They can focus on healthy eating and making the time to work out. These behaviors, in turn, lead to a positive cascading effect. Workouts can be more intense, leading to a better night’s sleep. Endorphins released during the workout, help to maintain a good mood and energy for hours after the workout. Issues that seemed so stressful before a workout, no longer seem like such a big deal after one. Additionally, with improved sleep, they wake up with energy to spare and take control of their day. The scale becomes their friend and weight loss efforts turn into success.


The Top Ten Ways to Stay Motivated on Your Health Goals

Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

As January  approaches many of you are struggling to keep motivated with the health goals you set for yourself early in the New Year. As weeks turn into months, it gets harder to adhere to strict workout schedules and diet plans. All too often, the temptation is to just throw up your hands and stop working on anything at all in regards to your health. As personal trainers, we know a thing or two about how to keep our clients motivated, not just throughout the winter months, but for years and years. Here are some tried and true strategies that we have our clients practice:

  1. Have a realistic eating plan that will work long-term. If your eating is too structured, it is going to be too hard and unrealistic to stick to long term. Instead, create a plan that works for you, with your schedule, in your environment. Keep a food journal to help you stay on track.
  2. Find a way to seamlessly fit physical activity into your life. If you need accountability, work with a personal trainer who will help keep you to a structured, consistent program.
  3. Kill the excuses. Period. Read that line again.
  4. Examine your commitment. What is it, exactly, that you want to accomplish? Why? Ask yourself how committed you are, how hard are you willing to work, how much are you willing to sacrifice? Be honest with yourself. “Wanting” to lose weight is very different than being truly “committed” to losing weight. Understand the difference.
  5. Enlist a support system. Exercise with friends, a trainer or attend a class. Communicate with your family what you are trying to accomplish. Ask for their support and be specific with what you need.
  6. Put in the work! If you work hard, and consistently, you will get results. There is nothing that reinforces personal motivation like getting results. It gives you the mental and emotional boost you need to keep re-committing day after day after day.
  7. Re-evaluate your goals periodically. Adjust as needed to adapt to changing life situations.
  8. Reward yourself for attaining your goals with whatever is special to you. Don’t just say, “Great, I lost 25 pounds!” Give yourself something tangible to really celebrate: a spa day or nice outfit; etc.
  9. Register for an event. There is nothing like signing up for an event, for example a 5K, and plunking down your $25 registration fee. All of a sudden, you are “in training”, not just “working out” It gives you a whole new focus and can really energize you!
  10. Write down your goals on paper. Yes, in this day and age of technology, writing down your goals using old fashioned paper and pencil works like a charm to get you focused and motivated. Try it!
Participate in Life!

Dave Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist

I recently returned from our annual Dad/Girls trip. These are annual trips I take with just my daughters, Katelyn and Abby, that allow me to spend focused time with just them without life’s distractions. Deb does the same type of trip in July. This year we ventured a little further than usual to Sedona, AZ and the Grand Canyon. If you’ve not been, it’s a must do trip. I’m not one usually at a loss for words, but Sedona is a tough place to put into words. There’s a presence there like I’ve felt nowhere else. Likewise, the Grand Canyon is so immense that the brain can’t comprehend it.

While we were hiking the first day it hit me that trips like these are thebest reason to be in good shape. Because when you can do things like hike, bike, travel with your kids or with a friend or spouse you are Participating in Life! In doing so, you’ll experience a deep peace and satisfaction that cannot be duplicated in any other way. The memories and sites we experienced on our trip will be with us forever.

One of the hikes that stands out was our hike up into the Cathedral Rocks, one of the vortex sites. While it’s only about a mile to the top, it’s straight up the side of a mountain, all rocks, with 1076’ feet of elevation gain in that short distance. Once up there we hiked and scrambled around the rocks with ever-changing views.

While on this hike we came across a family that did not make it to the top. The Mom and kids (probably in their late teens) were both overweight and sadly the Mom was unable to even start the hike due to sore knees and steps she needed to go down. The kids started the hike, but did not seem to make the top. When we carry extra weight on our bodies, it prevents us from truly Participating in Life. I know, I was there 15 years ago, weighing 30 pounds more than I do now. There’s no way I could have done the hikes and bike rides I do today. If I had not lost the weight years ago, I can’t imagine how many of the amazing memories I have with Deb and the kids would have been lost.

You may remember we profiled Paul Colangelo’s amazing weight-loss journey in January. Paul continues to expand his limits and recently completed the Elephant Rock 27 mile off-road mountain bike ride. Afterwards he sent Deb and I an email titled Redefining Physical Limits talking about the positive impacts of being healthier. Paul is now able to participate in activities that before would have be impossible 21 months ago.

Losing weight, lowering high blood pressure or getting diabetes under control is incredible. But along the journey the true gem is being able to Participate in Life and create experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

Top Ten Reasons to Work with a Personal Trainer

Dave & Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer

Working with a certified personal trainer can provide multiple advantages over just working out on your own. This article will discuss the top ten reasons to work with a certified personal trainer, whether you have been working out for a while or are just starting a fitness program.

  1. Motivation – you will work harder with a personal trainer than you will on your own. When you have someone standing behind you and encouraging you, you will be pleasantly surprised about what you can accomplish.
  2. Accountability – when you work with a trainer and you have an appointment set up, it provides for a structured fitness schedule.
  3. A personalized program – a good personal trainer knows how to work around previous injuries and current weaknesses. He/she will also know how to design an appropriate and safe workout for those with chronic disease or conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  4. A support system for weight loss efforts – a good trainer can provide a structured program for weight loss including the proper combination of good nutrition, cardiovascular and strength training.
  5. Efficiency – everyone is so busy these days with jobs, commutes, kids, volunteer work, etc. A trainer will design a program that can be done in a focused period of time.
  6. Constant Change – it’s important that you challenge your body in new and different ways. A trainer will work to keep your routine creative and changing every 4-6 weeks so that you will stay interested and engaged.
  7. Customized workout for home/travel –a trainer can put together a plan for you to do if you will be working out at home or if you are a frequent traveler, no matter what equipment you have available.
  8. Correct Form and Technique – a trainer will ensure that you are doing your exercises correctly and with the proper amount of weight. This helps you avoid injury and make progress without being too sore.
  9. Specificity – A trainer will look at movements you make in life, at work and for outdoor activities/ sports and design a program accordingly. There is no “cookie cutter” workout when you are working with a trainer.
  10. Fun! Yes, you CAN actually have fun working out. A trainer can keep the workout creative and fun; and the rapport you develop with a trainer can make your workout time fly by. Before you know it, you have completed another workout and will be that much closer to your goal.