Quick Takes

Last week, I attended a wellness event locally and I had the chance to meet some people in the community that I hadn’t previously known.

Most of the people attending the event were there for fat loss and each person had their own unique challenges that they shared with others.

I realized that many of the circumstances I heard about were simply glimpses into the lives of those who are struggling to improve their health in ways that make sense to them.

It’s a slightly different post than normal but I wanted to share some of what I heard at that event and my quick take on what each person could do to get a little bit closer to where they want to be. The names have been changed.

Sarah said she was attending because she wanted to lose weight. If I had to estimate, Sarah’s in her 60s. She said that she sits most of the day and doesn’t feel like she has a lot of motivation. By her admission, Sarah said she’s been told she doesn’t have a very good attitude about things and (her words): “I’m kind of a negative person.”

Sarah, I’d love to see you get some steps in. You don’t have to do anything too taxing. Just make a conscious effort to improve your step count and (if possible) get outside to do it. I think being outside would be good for you, even if you have to bundle up to navigate the cold weather. When you’re ready to tackle more than just steps, you can. But start small, and focus on increasing that daily step count. It could do wonders not only for your sedentary life but for your mental health as well.

Joel said he was attending because he is recently widowed. He’s lost his sense of identity since his wife passed and now it’s just him, alone at home with his dog. I would estimate Joel is in his 60s or 70s.

Joel, I think we need to get you in some type of community. Perhaps one with other widows so that you have a community of people who understand and can relate to your grieving process. But, aside from that, I think you may need to join some type of gym. It can be large or small but make sure it has enough of the amenities that you feel drawn to: cardio equipment, maybe a pool, a weight room, classes, etc. You need to be around other people and not have so much time, alone with your thoughts. Get your body moving, find a “tribe” of people you can connect with and start writing this next chapter of your life. It won’t bring your wife back but it will help you forge a new identity as you adjust.

Ruth remarked that she’s been called an “overexerciser”. She does a class based exercise program often 2x/day and walks with her husband several times a week. Recently, her husband has been diagnosed with a neurological condition which will dramatically change how their lives play out now that they are at retirement age. I believe Ruth is in her 60s.

Ruth, I love that you have no fear of exercise. However, I’d really like to see you do something that incorporates strength as a focus. If you could swap out 2 days per week of your two-a-days in the group exercise class for something that is strength focused (as opposed to cardio focused), I think it would be really beneficial for you. As your husband’s health continues to decline, you’ll appreciate and need that physical strength to help him. It will change the way you view your body, and you’ll never regret it.

Janice said she was looking for fat loss but felt like she had too much conflicting information coming in and didn’t know where to start: which diet is best, which way to train that helps with fat loss the most, and does she really have to give up chocolate?

Janice, you’re not alone. There is an overabundance of information out there and there is no sign of it slowing down. One person says: eat more protein, another says: protein is overhyped. One person says: do HIIT classes for fat loss and another person says: go for a run. My advice: start simply. Take your diet “as-is” and see where you can cut back slightly. You don’t have to go overboard. You can leave a little bit behind on your plate or you can opt to not have that snack. Just let those decisions compound over time. As for exercise, do what feels right to your body without overthinking “How many calories does this burn”? Exercise for your mental and physical health NOT because it burns a boatload of calories. As for chocolate: have it and enjoy it. Don’t deprive yourself of it but find a kind that you truly love and see if you can make it a part of your day.