Lifestyle Fitness for the Good Life

 

Happy Over Perfect

What’s the one thing that gets to you about trying to lose weight, get fit and look great? For me, it was the realization that, no matter what, even if I got to the perfect weight, spent every day doing just the right exercises and ate the best healthy food, I am never going to look like a twenty-year-old in perfect shape. You know the ones; those young women who have the perfect hourglass figure, legs that go all the way up to that perfectly heart shaped, tight rear, perfect skin, shiny hair and beautiful white teeth.

If you ARE one of those women… count your blessings, girl! I’m truly thrilled for you! But even some of the perfect “10’s” I know of have said that the rest is part photoshop.  But for me, it’s not going to happen.

fI am in my mid-thirties and life has taken a bit of toll. Besides that, genetics has predisposed me to a flat butt, wide hips and big breasts on a thirty-something body that have been exposed to more than my fair share of gravity. So, by now it’s clear.

I’m never going to look like a superstar. And… I’m okay with that.

One of the first things I learned when I started on my journey of improving my life, health, emotional responses and mental well being, was that it is vitally important to set realistic, healthy goals and to take pleasure in achieving them.

It’s important to set realistic healthy goals and to take pleasure in achieving them.

It’s also very important to focus on a healthy lifestyle. For me that includes balance and moderation over extremes. It means enjoying hiking, walking and biking over pounding it out at the gym day after day. It means taking up dancing instead of running marathons. It means have a few treats throughout the week but eating healthy 80% or more of the time. It’s about living not die-ting.

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Realistic Goals

So why is it so important? I mentioned Photoshop a moment ago. In the 80’s it was airbrushing, in the 50’s it was just straightforward drawing, and now it’s digital manipulation – the bodies you see in magazines, on TV and the movies, and on many pages online, just aren’t real. They have been digitally manipulated to conform to an ideal that is dangerous and unhealthy, aside from being unrealistic. The funny thing is, most of us are aware of this, but we still wish we looked like that.1)http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3198325/How-beauty-ideals-change-world-Designers-asked-create-perfect-woman-Photoshopping-photo-different-results.html2)http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/is-your-weight-loss-goal-realistic

The Reality Behind the Image

Let’s examine the reality of these bodies we idolize and wish we had. The examples here are shown in BMI, or Body Mass Index, which is easy enough to calculate whether you work in metric or Imperial measures.3)http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

The average BMI of a working runway and photographic model is usually between 15 and 17. These are generally the women (and men) who teenagers and some adults view as the ideal in body shape and size. The average Hollywood actress falls in a slightly higher range – between 16 and 18. They represent the ideals that most adults aspire to. In both cases, though, the “ideal” body is underweight, often dangerously so.4)http://starcasm.net/archives/1385565)http://www.beautyredefined.net/weight-size-media-lies/

A healthy BMI falls between 18.5 and 24.9. If your BMI falls in this range, you don’t need to lose or gain weight. Sure, if you’re closer to 24.9 and you lose a little bit of weight, you’re fine. Likewise, if you’re closer to 18.5 and gain a bit, you’re also fine. But, generally speaking, this is the range to aim for.

Now we know that BMI is not the the only or best measurement for gauging a healthy weight. This article doesn’t go into the drawbacks of BMI calculations for bodybuilders, where BMI can appear to be over because it doesn’t take into account percentage of fat versus muscle. For more on that, read about body composition monitors.  Also why BMI doesn’t work if you want to learn why Body Mass Index is often not an accurate measurement of true physique, especially when it comes to fit and muscular people.6)http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1062684397)https://www.maa.org/external_archive/devlin/devlin_05_09.html

The Lifestyle Approach – 5 Simple Steps to Better Health and Fitness

  1. Set realistic goals (relax about it and enjoy it)
  2. Eat your favorite nutritious foods first and foremost (replace bad foods with favorite good ones)
  3. Cardio exercise for heart
  4. Strength training for muscles and longevity
  5. Fun activities that rejuvenate and energize
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Never let a hill go to waste. Run it!

So while six pack abs may or may not be in your future, what’s certain is that every step you take to get fitter, is good for you and will keep you looking and feeling awesome! So, keep it up and never give up.

Which level of fitness do you prefer and find most feminine?
A. More muscle definition
B.  Just slim
C. Neither, prefer more body fat

Visit our Facebook Page and share your opinion.

We all know most of the health risks to being overweight by now. But we tend to forget that there are also health risks to being underweight.

Under or Overweight – the Health Risks

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We’ve all heard the dangers of being overweight; there are so many health problems that come along with extra weight that it’s no surprise if you want to lose some. Aside from the major diseases, such as heart disease, cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes, carrying even just a few too many pounds can cause back problems, knee and other joint issues, breathing problems, and issues with any or all of your internal organs. The list is very long. 8)http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/obesity-health-risks

Excess weight is a visual effect with so many hidden repercussions that reverberate to every cell in your body.

At the same time, the list of problems that comes along with being underweight is almost as long. Every internal organ suffers if you are too thin: heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, the lot. You know that being overweight can cause a heart-attack, but did you know that being underweight can do the same? You can easily suffer from skin problems, hair loss, tooth problems, issues with your bones, muscle loss, bad breath, more breathing problems… it’s another long list.

Being under weight could mean you are also under nourished.

So why trade one unhealthy lifestyle for another? Losing weight and getting fit should never be about attaining some unrealistic standard of beauty. That’s a recipe for failure. Of course you want to look good; who doesn’t? What you need to do, though, is define what that means, followed by a proper re-evaluation of your goals.

 

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Setting Healthy Goals

First, evaluate your body, the one you live in. Stand naked in front of a full-length mirror and go over every part of yourself slowly and carefully. Don’t get angry, disgusted or disappointed with yourself – you’ve already made the decision to change things, which is a huge first step, and you can congratulate yourself on that fact. Right now, it’s about analyzing your attributes and what needs to change.

Whether you start at the top or bottom, be honest with yourself. What shape are you? Hourglass, pear, apple, rectangular? Where does the majority of your fat lie? Upper body, lower body, stomach, back? What is fat and what is muscle that could do with some toning? What parts of you are always going to be bigger, and which smaller?9)http://auraimageconsulting.com/body-shape-calculator/

For example, if you are pear-shaped, you may have quite a trim upper body, and large buttocks and thighs, and even if you get to a healthy weight, you’re probably going to stay pear-shaped, at least to some extent. What if you have quite an athletic build hidden below the excess weight? You might have strong, fairly muscular limbs, which, if you stick to a healthy eating and exercise plan, will remain strong and muscular – that’s just what you’re going to be like; you probably won’t be able to attain waif-like proportions without doing serious damage to your health.

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What about the other, completely unchangeable factors, like height? Are you a six-foot Amazon woman? I’m sorry to tell you, you’re never going to look like a cute pixie girl, no matter how much you’d like to. Do you barely clear five feet? You’re never going to be the tall, willowy blond who stands out above the crowd. Accept these things now, and you will gain an incredible freedom.

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Accept who you are, and you will gain an incredible freedom.

Freedom? To do what? Stay overweight and just give up? No! Freedom to embark on a life-changing journey without ridiculous, unattainable pressure dragging you down and making the trip an ordeal. Freedom to set realistic, healthy goals for yourself that will help you not only lose weight, but keep it off. Freedom to acknowledge what has brought you to this point in your life, and how you can keep going from here. Freedom to jump off your old path and onto a new one that leads to somewhere you’ve never imagined before: you, the way you should be.

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Once you accept who you are, you can set a realistic, attainable goal. Generally speaking, a healthy rate of weight loss is around one pound per week. Sounds really little, doesn’t it? Put it this way: say you have twenty pounds to lose. That’s twenty weeks. That’s a scant four and a half months. For someone who’s been trying to shed those twenty pounds for years, four and a half months is not a long time, is it? The upside of slow weight loss like this is that you will have done it much more healthily, eating food that is nutritious and much tastier than fad diets like that horrible cabbage soup thing, or eating nothing but dry rice-cakes, or any of the equally restrictive, frankly ridiculous, programs.10)http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/11)http://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/healthyeating/8tips.html12)http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/nutrition-101-how-to-eat-healthy

Aside from the rate of loss, your goal needs to include a target weight, although it is far healthier to aim for somewhere within the healthy fat to muscle range for your body, such can be determined with a body composition monitor. The fact is, you just might not have the capacity to lose those last two or three pounds, and yet you may still fall within the healthy range. Or, you may need to just change your workout routine, such as adding in more resistance training or high intensity interval training.

Don’t despair about this! If you are within the healthy range, you can honestly and happily accept that you are now in shape. Focus on your body composition, not the number on the scale.13)http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/goal-weight

“My goal is for my “high” weight to decrease steadily, a pound at a time, each year, instead of the way it usually goes: a pound or two gained each year. Gaining a pound a year sounds like nothing. Until twenty years from now. But the reality is that most who gain weight tend to gain more that a pound a year. 

We need to the compound effect for weight loss, not weight gain. The small changes and wins over time add up to big progress. In the war on weight, the micro battles win in the end; not just because of the weight loss progress but more importantly, the steady changes to a healthier lifestyle that make a huge difference to your life.” LeAura Alderson, founder, MyTrainerFitness.com

“In the war on weight, the micro battles win in the end.”


Reward Yourself

Now here’s my personal favorite – the mini-goal. If you are sticking to your program – which should be a lifestyle-change program—not a diet—you should be steadily losing at a nice, healthy pace. Seriously, don’t follow some prescriptive, restrictive diet. Eat healthy amounts of healthy food and get a little exercise and you will get in shape. The thing is, if you have a lot of weight to lose, it can seem daunting, so break it up into increments.

When I started my program, I chose ten pounds as my mini-goals, or, as I like to call them, my milestones. Every time I lost ten pounds, I would celebrate. I did not celebrate by having something to eat, though! That defeats the purpose of both the healthy eating, as well as the emotional changes. I would, however, treat myself. I’ve had pedicures, bought a stylish new pair of trousers which were two sizes smaller than what I was wearing at my starting weight (and boy, did it feel good to pull those on!), got a brand-new hairstyle, and have even taken up belly dancing! Find something you consider to be a reward, and reward yourself for the effort and for the changes you’ve made in your life.

Change Your Rewards to Active Lifestyle Things

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At a loss for ideas on how to reward yourself? Here are a few thoughts.

Non-Food Rewards

  • Any kind of beauty treatment, like a new hairdo, pedicure, manicure, facial – these will help you enjoy the new, emerging you. And this goes for men too!
  • Try a different kind of date – if you and your partner have always gone out to dinner, treat yourselves by doing something entirely different that doesn’t involve food – go for a hike, visit an art gallery, couples massage, yoga, salsa dancing classes… anything that interests you. Expand your horizons while you transform.
  • Buy a special plant and plant it in your garden or, if you don’t have a garden, get a beautiful potted plant for your home. It serves as a living reminder of how far you’ve come and a motivation to keep going.
  • Take a healthy cooking class together and try new and exotic dishes made from scratch.
  • Make plans – choose a big milestone and make a plan for something wonderful that you will do when you achieve it; a weekend away, tickets to a show, whatever blows your hair back.

There is another side to these types of rewards as well: in the process of finding new ways to treat yourself, you will be finding new, wonderful things to do, which will help you on your journey to changing your life.

Choose active lifestyle rewards.

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Finally, understand the process to reaching your goals: the only truly successful programs, the ones that stick, are the ones that involve changing your lifestyle. Going on a crash diet will help you lose weight, sure, but it won’t help you maintain a healthy weight or lifestyle, and your chances of regaining all that weight are astronomically high.

The only way to really lose weight permanently is through a lifestyle change that includes:

  • Change of diet to healthy, natural foods
  • Exercise, including resistance training and an overall more active lifestyle
  • Persistence and consistency over time.

So eat moderately and healthily (which doesn’t mean a starvation and deprivation diet. Rather, it means getting to really know food and its nutritional value. It means getting regular exercise, dealing with the emotional aspects instigating overeating, or poor eating habits. If you put effort into it, you will succeed.

So… are six pack abs possible for you? Likely. The question is, how important is that to your overall life plan? For most of us, it requires an extremely aggressive fitness routine and dietary discipline that’s not a fit for most people.

Your abs are there. To reveal them means to build them and to remove the fat blocking the view of them. Everyone has abs, it’s just that most of the are covered in some percentage of fat.

If that’s your goal, you can find lots of high level trainers and programs who can help you make that happen. If you just want to be fitter, stronger and healthier, it’s a simple process of getting rid of the bad stuff and adding in the good stuff. The simplest, most painless way to do that is through substitution. Focus on what you can have that you also love. We call this “lifestyle aikido“.

If it’s a fit lifestyle you’re after, in the end, it’s really quite simple. Make decisions based on good nutrition, varied exercise and an active lifestyle. If you live a healthy, balanced life, one that is not focused on just food, but on living a full life, you will succeed… and… you will never regret every effort make to be healthier.

Health is the true wealth.


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Bronwen Bartlett is a freelance writer, children's book author, virtual agency director and performing bellydancer from South Africa. When she isn't bent over a keyboard, frantically crafting articles and stories, or touting the benefits of moving away from traditional offices into virtual spaces, she can usually be found hiking a mountain with her partner and their dogs, or trying to master rib-cage isolation patterns.