Building a New You, Step by Step

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Stuck in the middle seat of row 8 on a long flight to Anaheim, CA, for the IDEA World Fitness Conference, I was reminded once again of the journey’s need for patience. I typically need to remind my clients of the same as they undertake the journey to achieve their health and fitness goals. Often the most difficult challenge during a comprehensive health and fitness program is the waiting. Notable “results” take time, but positive changes, both mental and physical, accumulate sooner, even immediately. I chose the name “Surround Fitness” for my business because I believe in a holistic program that looks across the spectrum of health and well-being to address:

  • Cardio fitness—fitness of heart/circulation
  • Strength—overall fitness of muscles, joints, and everything that connects them.
  • Flexibility—range of motion
  • Basic nutrition
  • Sleep, mood, energy level, etc.

However, instead of embracing my “surround” approach, new or potential clients often focus first on one particular element—and typically that’s weight loss. My challenge, then, is to divert their focus from a number on the bathroom scale to a more “whole life” goal of improved health through eating better, building muscle, and moving more.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), notable changes in flexibility require at least 4 weeks; musculoskeletal development, 8 weeks; cardiovascular improvement, 12 weeks; and body composition, 16 weeks.

The multiple factors and moving parts involved in building a better body often make it impractical or misguided to focus on weight as your measure of success. This is especially true in the face of more pressing concerns, such as not being able to: walk at a moderate pace without getting winded, get up from the floor, or turn your head to back the car down the driveway or out of a parking space. When fitness and well-being are the primary focus and nutrition is about nourishing your body and not merely depriving it of food and calories, weight loss often occurs as a natural by-product, sometimes after clients have forgotten to obsess on it! After all, the powerful combo of eating healthier, doing regular resistance and cardio work, and simply moving more builds muscle fiber, increases basal metabolic rate (metabolism), and enhances opportunity to burn calories for energy before your body stores them as fat. And even if the actual number on the scale holds steady or doesn’t plummet at your wished-for rate (muscle weighs more than fat, remember), your body will change. How can you tell without stepping on the scale? Let me count some ways:

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  • You have more energy
  • Your clothes fit better
  • You don’t get out of breath as quickly
  • You are lighter on your feet
  • You can climb stairs more easily
  • You can touch your toes, hold form in a pushup, or get down on the floor to play with your grandchildren.

I could go on. The point is: getting healthy by climbing out of old ruts and shaping new patterns into life routines is a process—yes, a journey. Pattern change takes mindfulness, consistency, and patience as synergies occur. When it all comes together, the new patterns that are created go well beyond the hoped-for dip on the scale to include increased strength and cardio fitness, greater range of motion, protection from injury, and more stamina to face life.

As Australian fitness guru and motivational speaker Craig Harper says, “switch your focus to your health, strength, flexibility and fitness (rather than your skinny-ness) and your body will take care of itself. If you’re fit, strong, flexible and healthy, you’ll look and feel amazing.” And finally, as with so many things in life, so it is with fitness, nutrition, and overall health where…
“Success is a journey, not a destination”—Arthur Ashe.

Keep moving! — Jen


Building a New You, Step by Step — 2 Comments

  1. Thanks to you I would say this is what I’ve done. Concentrating on better overall health has caused a weight loss that wasn’t even my goal.

  2. this is a good read Jen and so true.
    it’s taken me 6 months – and the way I’ve done it is to do something – grass, swim, hike, yoga, work out every day
    and i stopped red meat
    cut out sugary ice tea – just a few things and i lost it
    now the challenge will be when i go back to work –
    I hope and pray I will work out every morning early – it provides such a good start to your day emotionally and physically
    sitting all day really does kill us

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