We’re featuring a guest entry from Sheila Olson, who has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.
In all practices balance has to be negotiated, and remembering the fundamentals is the key to sustaining success. Read Sheila’s piece and consider what helps you keep going, what is your self-care routine?
Stigmas and Weight Loss in America
Headlines are often screaming at Americans about an obesity epidemic, and the theory that we are as a society overweight, lazy and unhealthy. While it is true Americans as a whole could eat healthier and be more active, characterizing a high body weight in the same way we characterize cholera and The Black Death is problematic. It is a way to attach moralism to something that is often out of a person’s control. The cultural byproducts of this attitude are stigmas such as fattism, sizeism, and the development of eating disorders and exercise addiction.
Yes, losing weight and becoming more active can have many health benefits. Losing just 5 percent of your body weight can lower your blood pressure, improve your insulin sensitivity and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. Losing weight helps reduce your chance of heart disease — the number one killer in the United States. Exercise and eating well also help fight off depression, anxiety, insomnia and inflammation. You’ll have better mobility and joint health, as well. These benefits ring true for everyone — whether you are in a weight zone considered healthy or overweight or obese.
Unfortunately, the body stigmas people feel often discourage them from exercising. They may start a diet and exercise regimen, but then give up when they have a relapse or fail to see results. On the other end of the spectrum, some people become too obsessed with their fitness routine and develop dangerous and compulsive behaviors. Neither of these options is acceptable. Exercise and healthy diet should be a tools a person uses to improve their life. By approaching your fitness routine with self-care in mind, you can strike a balance that allows you to pursue a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Self-Care and Fitness
Self-care is as personal as it sounds. Not every self-care technique is going to work for every single person. Finding out what helps you personally to create a more mindful and healthy life may take some trial and error. Look at it as an adventure, as you try new things and seek to fall in love with relaxing and healthy activities.
Here are some tips that can lead you along your self-care discovery journey:
- Experiment with healthy, plant-based meals that also incorporate plenty of filling lean proteins including chicken, legumes, fish and tofu. Seek out healthy takeout options in your neighborhood you can turn to on those nights where you just don’t know what to eat.
- The most successful people in the world turn to meditation to help center their minds and deal with the stresses of a hectic life. If it is good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for you! Set up a space in your home to function as a meditation area.
- Sleep is imperative for good health. Practice good sleep hygiene by eliminating screen time an hour before bed, reducing noise pollution with a noise machine, investing in comfortable pillows and linens and reducing light with blackout curtains.
- Find an exercise you look forward to doing. Try out different beginner’s classes to test new things without getting overwhelmed. Classes such as cardio kickboxing, barre, yoga and dance are so fun, you don’t even realize you are exercising. Keeping variety in your workout is also a great way to keep your muscles guessing, so they burn more calories and grow stronger.
- Use positive affirmations to encourage yourself on your fitness journey. You don’t have to change to please anyone but yourself. Exercising more, eating right and pursuing weight loss should be tools you use to build the life you want. You are making these positive choices to live longer, feel happier and gain confidence. You don’t have to look a certain way or weigh a certain number to celebrate your self-worth.
No matter what the headlines say, you do not have to lose weight in order to fit in. Eating well and exercising can help a person live a happier and healthier life. Fitness should be used to improve a person’s life, not punish them. To create a balanced, healthy lifestyle, one should use self-care while pursuing a fitness journey. Exploring healthy and delicious foods, meditating, getting enough rest, trying new workouts and practicing positivity help create a beneficial fitness experience that a person wants to stick to.