April 26, 2011

Get Beach Body Ready in Just 8 Weeks!

The concept of "beach body readiness"
in just so many weeks is as
unrealistic as these cats sunbathing
in my backyard. I mean, where would
they ever find bikinis like that!
OMG how I wished that were possible!  It's that time of year when the exercise and diet programs start revving their fat burning engines in search of new clients willing to spend money on the promise of a sexy, svelte, beach-ready body...in just 8 weeks (or your money back).

From pre-packaged food programs and support groups to personal training packages geared towards shaping and contouring, there is no shortage of choices for the modern-day fight fighter.  Interestingly, the challenge doesn't lie in the weight loss process.  In fact, following a guideline and losing weight appears to be quite achievable for most.  The challenge, however, lies in keeping it off for good. They don't call it a weight loss rollarcoaster for nothin'! The constant weight loss and weight gain over time leaves the fat fighter skeptical of the next plan of action just waiting for the weight to creep right back on again (and...if you don't mind me saying...that blows chunks in a major way)! So what happens next? The cycle begins again (not before a few bags of Doritos get involved chased by bottles of red wine....not that there's anything wrong with that).

Gone are the days where we
could wear a body suit to the
beach and be on the cutting
edge of fashion. Although I
do believe I wore something
like this only a few years ago.
As a health promoter, I see the vicious effects of this diet and exercise cycle all too often in the shape of frustrated, disappointed, and hopeless people sitting (sometimes rocking back and forth) in my office just about to give up hope. The truth is, most (if not all) weight loss programs do not teach the skills necessary for a lifestyle change and if they do, they don't take into account the psychology of change.  Let's face it, if it was as easy as just eating a salad instead of the pizza...there wouldn't be a billion dollar diet industry.

So for those readers who are ready to make a permanent change, I offer a few pointers (based upon sound research, health psychology, and 20 years of experience)...

  1. Take a snapshot of what you are doing now.  Record your food and drink for a week and compare it to the Canadian (or American) Food Guide.  The chances are good it isn't as bad as you think it is.
  2. Choose one change at a time. People fail to stick with diets because the changes are too much, too soon, too fast,  and too hard.  Add one healthy food a week; take out one unhealthy food a week.
  3. Think long term. I suggest working with one year vs. eight weeks. One year will allow you the time you need for the lapses and learning experience that come with change.  It will also take into account travel, holidays, social occasions, and those moments when a bucket of KFC is the only thing between you and temporary happiness.
  4. You must learn from your mistakes.  Falling off the wagon is a part of the change process.   If you can learn from it and create plans around your lapses, you will learn to live with the change and be less apt to fall back into old behaviours.
  5. Focus on health (not fat loss). If you are constantly checking out the scale and choosing behaviours because they promote fat loss, chances are good you won't be enjoying the process.  Without enjoyment your chances of changing for life are low.
  6. Avoid "biggest loser"-type programs, weight loss competitions, and other group weight loss programs (i.e. those work-place "motivational" programs that include weigh-ins, etc.). They only instill a sense of urgency, competition, and (ultimately) a feeling of failure when one person loses less than the other.  They aren't healthy, they don't take into account long term losses, and their appeal wears thin very quickly. Any weight loss program that includes staying on a ranch for weeks, in a special house, or environment that serves you food and trains you (like the military boot camps for examples) will lead to fast weight loss initially and long term weight gain eventually. It isn't real! Unless you can sustain it for life....don't get involved with it at all.
Weight loss and other health behaviour changes take time, commitment, and above all, patience.  Unfortunately, many of us want to see results now and will do what it takes to get it, no matter what the long term outcome (that's human nature).  Don't let the industry of fat loss win. Take your time, make small changes, and learn the skills necessary to keep your healthy changes intact when life throws you a chocolate covered doughnut (with rainbow sprinkles)!

Now this is my idea of a swim suit!
Although the weight of the material
would surely drag you down to the
bottom...Although in those days
it was believed that physical activity
made your uterus fall out..chances are,
these outfits were purely for looks...
and to drive the men crazy!

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