Hello, Patch readers! I’m Becki and I blog over at Fighting for Wellness about fitness, nutrition, and leading a healthy life (including emotional wellbeing). I am a graduate student in counseling psychology and an aspiring personal trainer and counselor. A lot of what I write about comes from personal experience, but I try to find research and examples for specific suggestions I make to my readers.
As a somewhat recent Charlestown transplant (now officially a resident) I want to reach out to the community here with recipes, workouts, and general information about making the most out of our lives (and our neighborhood).
With obesity and overweight at an all-time high in the United States, it is no surprise that there is a huge focus on how to make Americans healthier. Multiple big name players, including the First Lady, have taken a personal stake in this effort. According to information on the Centers for Disease Control website, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. This doesn’t even take into account the children, adolescents, and adults who are overweight, but not yet obese.
So what can the average person do to lose weight, gain muscle, and become healthier overall? As someone who has lost 90 pounds to date, below is my very basic guide for getting started. I have recently helped readers set up individualized plans that we are still tweaking to their needs, but this is what I’ve found helps people who are just thinking about starting a path to wellness. I will be back with more specific ideas in the coming weeks.
Set Specific Goals
So you want to “get healthy” but either don’t know where to start or have tried and failed so many times before that it seems pointless. First you need to know what you mean by getting healthy. Do you want to lose weight? Are we talking 5-10 pounds or more than 50? Maybe you have more than 100 pounds to lose. Do you want to be able to walk up the Forty Flights without getting winded or do you want to run your very first race or set a personal record in a race you’ve run a dozen times? Are you struggling with depression or anxiety and think that living a healthier life may help you to feel better and have more energy? No two people have exactly the same fitness or wellness goals because every person’s experiences and needs are different and with different goals come different techniques and approaches to achieving them.
Know Your history
Now that you have thought about what you want to accomplish, think about how that relates to your personal history. Have you ever been where you want to be in the past or is this totally new for you? Were you an athlete in high school or college and have put on weight since getting married or have you been heavy for almost as long as you can remember? Are you a grandparent who suddenly doesn’t have enough energy to play with your grandchildren? Maybe you’re somewhere in between or none of the above. Take stock of what has worked for you in the past (if anything) and what is holding you back now. Arguably the most important thing when setting out on a path toward wellness is to “get your mind right.” You need a clear sense of why you want to change your life and what that’s going to take. Rather than making this change for others, it has to be something you are doing for yourself because you want to healthy.
Acknowledge Your Obstacles
Whether you were (more) fit and healthy in the past or are starting from scratch, there are bound to be obstacles. Just the thought of setbacks can be enough to keep a lot of people from getting started. In order to overcome those potential obstacles, you first have to acknowledge and plan for them. Are gym memberships too expensive for you to afford? Do you think you can’t afford to eat healthy? Are you struggling to find the motivation to get fit? Are you dealing with an injury or recovering from a surgery that took you out of commission? Are you so busy you can barely breathe, let alone work out and plan meals? Are you afraid of what things you might have to give up? Do you feel as though you lack the peer and family support to succeed?
Be Open to Change and Discovering Your Options
For every single thing that is holding you back, there is a solution (or a partial one). Whether it’s a workout modification, body weight exercises that don’t require a gym, taking small and inexpensive steps to gradually improve your nutrition, getting up half an hour earlier to get in a quick workout before starting your day, or joining a fitness-based meet up group or online forum for support, you have options. That said, to get something you don’t have, you have to change your approach and do something new.
I will be talking more about all of these different goals, setbacks, and options for improved wellness in the coming weeks so stay tuned! In the meantime I would love to hear from you. What are your healthy living goals and what do you see as your biggest obstacle(s) to achieving them?