Live Happy

*Advance apologies for a ranty post*

I was cycling this morning and spotted a sign from a well known weight-loss club headlined “Live Happy”. The message of course being that if you are overweight you can’t possibly be happy, and that your only route to some holy grail of happiness is via this fat club.

Excuse me while I step onto my soap box.

So, we can’t be happy if we aren’t lining the pockets of the fat club? We can’t be happy unless we’re parting with £5 a week to stand on some scales? We can’t be happy unless we label all foods as “good” or “bad”? We can’t be happy in our own skin? Happiness is found in diet drinks and Muller light. Happiness is found in deprivation and guilt. Happiness is found in being “good” while other people enjoy their meals.

Erm, OK. But what about the fact that the vast majority of people who diet put the weight back on, with interest? How about the fact none of these fat clubs address WHY their clients are making the food choices they are. Well, obviously, if you address the WHY then people might stop coming. They might lose the guilt. They might make their own choices.

And what happened to generally living a healthy lifestyle? If your only measure of “healthy” is the number on a set of scales, there’s a lot that is being overlooked. Your blood pressure could still be through the roof, you may still have no energy, you might be at risk of seriously injuring yourself when you walk up the stairs, your mental health might be being neglected as you continually find yourself failing. And who decided what number was right for YOU?

I have a good friend who is the same height as me and wears the same dress size as me, but weighs 3.5 stone less than me. Hang on… same dress size but 3.5 stone difference? Indeed, just looking at my own weight (for interest, not for scales-obsessive reasons) I gained 6.5lb in a day according to the scales a couple of weeks ago. Imagine the guilt and self-loathing I would have had to go through in class for that!

The number on the scales is NOT a good measure of how you are doing health-wise, exercise-wise, energy-wise. It is a good measure of how fat clubs can find reason, week on week, to rob you blind.

Right, could someone give me a hand off this soap box? I need to go and  release some more feel-good endorphins (diet coke doesn’t do that, by the way), before I enjoy my barbecue this evening.

 

Oh, and all my clients will vouch for the fact I don’t use weight as a measure of success with them any more than I do for me. We work on fitness levels, energy levels, how clothes fit. Of course I’ll offer advice for clients who want me to review their food diary, but I am ALWAYS looking for positive changes that can be made, never guilting people into giving things up.

** Cheeky edit to add: wherever you are in the world, have a look at my Jumpstart – it just might be the key to helping get you or your friends out of the diet cycle 🙂

Perceptions of fitness

I find this really interesting – everyone has an idea of where they sit on the fitness scale, and yet this perception is often vastly out of line with reality.

If we define the scale as running from sedentary lifestyle (drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home, sit on the sofa) as a 1, through to 10 being professional athlete, where would you put yourself? I often hear different versions of similar statements: “I’ve got the dogs to walk so I know I’m a lot fitter than many of my counterparts” (maybe placing themselves higher on the scale than they are?); “I can only run 10k, so I’m really unfit” (perhaps underplaying what they can do?); “I literally do no exercise” (only for me to discover they horseride/ dog walk/ do an active job).

I’m as guilty of it – I know I’m a slow runner, so I perceive myself to be less fit than those who run more quickly. Is that a fair assessment? Probably not. I can still run long distances, I can still swim and cycle further than many, but not as far as others. I’d position myself at a 5-6 on the scale. Where’d you put yourself? And where do you perceive me to be?

Time

“I don’t have time to get to the gym”, “I’m too busy to go for a run”, “How on earth do you find the time to fit your training in?”. These are all things I’ve heard (and sometimes said) a million times. I get it, I hear you, we’re busy, we all have so many things competing for our time (and yes, Holby City is as valid a thief of time as work, kids, family) that exercise can fall by the wayside.

Not everyone considers 5am to be a sensible time for a run – although if you can get out there at that time you’ll be amazed at the birdsong you get serenaded by – so how do I encourage clients to fit exercise into their busy lifestyle? By breaking it down and adapting it. By making it so simple that you can’t not do it. By fitting it in to their life, not mine.

An example: one client commutes to London, so leaves the house before 6am and doesn’t get home until 8pm. What sort of fool would I be to expect her to get up even earlier to exercise or have any energy left when she gets home? I’d be a very unrealistic PT! So we adapt the exercises – rather than walk up the stairs at work can she run 3 steps in each flight, when sitting down to her desk can she slow the movement down so her quads really work, when waiting for the kettle to boil can she do some bicep curls with the bottle of milk, when brushing her teeth can she do some lunges in the bathroom. All suddenly very doable, very manageable. Suddenly time is available everywhere.

Next excuse…