November 4, 2011

Living Actively May be the Answer to Good Health

There's a big difference between fitness and active living. One is about general health and the other focuses on exercise prescription for various goals. Be it increased strength, endurance, weight loss, weight gain, or strengthening the heart, fitness offers one prescription while active living offers another.

What I am finding, when working with a population looking for tips on starting exercise, is the fitness prescription may just be too much to realistically apply to their already-busy lifestyles. So I always ask; "Why not living actively and forget about the pressure on yourself knowing you "should be" going to the gym?"  The good news for people looking to lose weight is that a combination of diet and active living can increase your health, decrease your waist line and still leave you with enough personal time to have a social life and get your sleep.'s a promise. Would that be something you'd be interested in?

What do I mean by living actively? More research is coming out suggesting that we, in general, are sitting way too much. In fact, many people (including myself) can sit at their work desk all day and not even notice they haven't moved. Even a quick walk around for 5 minutes wakes up the legs, gets the blood pumping, and re-energizes the brain.

This would not be an example of living actively. I refer to this as "lazy fitness" and I'm a huge practitioner of it myself. People fighting each other to park as close to the fitness center as possible.  Perhaps one would get as much benefit taking the stairs and every other active living opportunity as they could as much as going to the gym. Just say'in.
I don't believe this is a Woodway,
but this gives you a great example
of active working. I would love
this in my office!
Living actively means being conscious of your movement. It does make a difference if you park your car further away from the store. It does matter if you take the stairs versus the elevator. Just standing instead of sitting takes more energy and uses more muscles. The good news is doing your daily chores is a great form of exercise. Mopping, sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, making the bed, and doing your laundry are forms of physical activity and all make a difference. Did you know that Woodway, a fitness equipment company that produces treadmills, has come out with one of the first treadmill desks? You can now do your work while you are walking? Is this the beginning of active working? I think so.

So if going to the gym or fitting in fitness isn't a realistic option for you, you can rest assured that just by moving your body more, taking a walk, or mowing the lawn will be beneficial to your health.  If your goal is weight loss, slowly start reducing the empty calories or take a little of the serving size. A little goes a long way there too. The first step to healthier eating is eating a wholesome breakfast combining a protein with a carbohydrate (complex carb like oats, bran, or multi grain). Oatmeal with fruit and nuts is a fine example and will leave you feeling full if, by 10am, you have already eaten your lunch (and by 2pm you are so hungry you start eyeing the crusty raisin stuck to the carpet in the corner of your office). The second step could be taking a long hard look at how much you are eating. Just by reducing your serving sizes can make a huge difference!

Don't like to walk and work? Try a
recumbant bike. You could totally
pad the seat and back rest and pedal
while you work. Wow.

Believe it or not, weight loss isn't impossible or even that difficult when done right. Unfortunately, our weight loss and fitness industry has created the myth that it takes hard work and dedication to loose weight. We need to stop eating our comfort food and start going to the gym! Nonsense. No wonder I am working at deprogramming my clients.

The key to any behaviour is this; awareness of current behaviours first, teeny tiny change over time second, and patience with yourself during this process is third. Of course, you couldn't fail if you had a Real Life Health Coach by your side (yes...that was my sheepish plug for the day).  That's what I do and I think I kinda do it well.....but I may be bias. Not only do I coach you through this process but I help navigate you through the challenges while providing you with valuable insights into how change manifests (believe me, it's nothing like the diet and fitness industry say it is).

At any rate, I'm off to Vegas tomorrow and will be back with many stories and pics of my adventures as I search out the gigantic, blue, girlie drink and the M & M store (I love that store...there's nothing like teaching a nutrition class wearing an M & M t-shirt and blazer!).

Have a great weekend.

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