In Exercise

Putting the Puzzle Together for Weight Loss Over Sushi

There is something about sushi. It makes you eat slower.

  • First, there’s the chopsticks. I now handle them better. Yet inevitably there is concern from plate to plate and then to my mouth that you will drop food. That could mean just embarrassment. It could mean the beautiful, delicately molded together roll falls apart. Not only do you have to try to pick it up again but you have to try to reassemble before you do.
  • Second, there’s the cost. When you color outside the lines with someone who loves rolls more than raw fish, eating a few bites is equivalent of eating a Jimmy John’s sandwich. By the time you’re finished you realized you could have fed your college age son for a week on those delicious little morsels. So you eat slower to savor each.
  • Third, there’s a process. When meals are beautifully prepared and presented on a collection of dishes you are wrapped up in the event as much as in the eating.
  • Last, as in last night, there conversation occurs only between bites. Each piece of a roll is small enough that you stuff it into your mouth in one bite, yet big enough that you must slow down in order to speak. I was catching up with a prior student from ISU. She was a student I had about three and four years into my return to work after having a son. So it had been 15 years since I’d seen her, likely at her wedding and I caught up with her for a girl’s dinner before a conference.

I was fascinated putting together the evolution of nutrition and exercise for she and I both. She now 35 with two small children and a thriving photography business was thriving. Her young family and minivan suburb life is her focus. As a student, she was a teacher’s dream. She and her roommate were two students I could count on to show up, work hard, in fact – do extra – and prove to other students going through the motions that there was more. In an activity class designed for entry level Kinesiology students, many of whom were football players, this was heaven. I didn’t have to point out the obvious lack of effort they were putting in: these two young women did it for me!

For mother of a young boy, she was a dream babysitter. Small town college student who’d grown up with horses – she was perfect in both my and my horse-raising husband’s eyes. She’d been over to our house after having taken my courses. Thanks to Facebook we’ve stayed connected. She’s watched my son grow up to college man and I’ve watched her son get to be the age mine was when she was in college.

Last night she shared how funny it is how when what seems like the all-important fades and your results actually improve.

At that point when she was taking my courses in college she said, she was so “strict” about exercise and food. Not to the point she had a problem but like many college students then and potentially it starts in high school students now, she flirted with overdoing it. It’s not something restricted to Kinesiology majors. But like dietetics students tend to be those who already like to bake, or are hypersensitive about what they eat Kinesology students tend to go all in when it comes to exercise and, in some cases, nutrition.

“I was one who had to exercise every day,” she said. She shared that she didn’t go out and rarely did any of the things that lead to the freshman 15. She wanted to avoid that.

“Now,” she said, “When I get stressed or short with the kids I know I need to get some exercise.” It’s totally switched for her. Instead of being stressed about getting exercise every day, she uses tension or lack of clarity and creativity in her work as the indicator she needs a little more exercise.

Before her photography business took off she admits, “I’ve logged some serious miles with my kids in the jogging stroller.” Now, though the occasional night out with friends and the workout she might sneak in alone while her husband has the kids are equally important. to her.

The lifestyle she has is active. She’s exercising for health and fitness and eating for the same. Yet, nothing like the daily regime she’d once been doing. For many fitness instructors past and present this is really an evolution process. But wait, you’re saying, I’m not a fitness instructor, I’m not even in a regular habit of exercise, how is this relevant?

Being addicted to the daily dose of exercise at a high intensity and to a rigid adherence to food logging and health didn’t increase the results. Even for a 20-something comparing to a mid-thirty-something or a 50-something. The energy and distraction about weight, body image, a need to exercise to effect change didn’t in fact positively impact changes in health or fitness, energy or focus.

Relaxing about the end result and focusing on the enjoyment and appreciation of having the time, the ability to move and potentially to be alone are getting better results. There’s a threshold of return. At any age, doing more just results in being more tired and potentially more at risk for injury or a decreased immune system.

Definitely, the woman before me was healthy, full of energy and life with a wide variety of interests far beyond exercise and nutrition. As we indulged in sushi rolls that certainly weren’t Paleo, not even Mediterranean, we enjoyed reflecting on how focused we both were at the time on exercise alone as a means for fitness. I from the lectern and microphone side of the room and she from the front row.

You get what you focus on.

When you let go of a focus on the scale, you’ll be more likely to start losing weight. Yet, it usually isn’t weight you want anyway. So watching the scale is a detour from your goals from the beginning. You could say that Siri is taking you the wrong way. I weight 15 lbs more than I did in high school. I weigh 5 lbs more than I did when I got married in 1992. But I fit into the same pair of jeans. I’m much more fit than I was in high school or in college and much less fatigued though I do much less exercise as a normal routine.

Having a plan matters. Being active all day is as good or better than exercise for an hour a day. The idea of creating a calorie deficit may hinder your results. Focus on quality food, quality exercise, and daily movement throughout your day. Let go of thoughts of the scale and focus on how you feel, how food helps or hurts your energy level and vitality.

My own journey from college Kinesiology (then Exercise Science) student to adulthood taught me much the same as Sarah’s. Growing focus on what you want the lifestyle you have to do for you boosts your ability to set new habits for yourself. A shift in your mindset from exercise being about covering miles or minutes or burning calories to it being a gift for your mental, emotional, and physical self, shifts the very results themselves into high gear.

It’s the difference between focusing on what you want and the opportunity that you have. You can’t read that from a needle on a scale.

~Debra


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