By Karyn Gallivan, MS, ATC, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CPT
Contributor, Sports+Fitness Network
In a recent blog post titled Obesity is Common, Serious and Costly , Craig Bogar, Ed.D. (Faculty Director, School of Health Sciences; Associate Professor, Sports Management at American Public University System) presented the facts about obesity and the health challenges that it presents. I immediately thought of so many things to write about to add to this information. But, since 2016 is right around the corner and the start of a new year is notoriously a time of new resolutions, I’ll address a few persistent myths that surround eating right and losing weight and the truths I’ve learned throughout my career regarding these.
By losing weight, there is less stress on the body and less of a chance that one will develop cardiovascular disease or diabetes (among others); but what is the best way to do this? There is not one specific diet that can help one to lose weight. What about Paleo? Plant-based? Atkins? Weight-Watchers? The list of “diets” (eating plans) is so long that I cannot possibly list them here. There is, however, a better way for each client/athlete/patient that we work with. The place to start is exactly where that person is –meaning, what are their current habits, food choices, ability to cook, willingness to make change? By addressing these behaviors with simple strategies such as changing just one habit, adding one vegetable, not taking second helpings, and sustaining this change over time (weeks & months), the body will become healthier and more efficient. As a result, the numbers on the scale change, as well.
To add to this, if folks are willing to make a change and are looking to begin an exercise program, what is the best advice? Crossfit? Training for a marathon? Boot camp? Body pump? Again, the list of “proven” exercise/fitness programs for weight loss is so long that I cannot possibly list them here. Suffice it to say that the best program for someone is one that they will do and sustain over time. The job of the personal trainer at this point is to help them to be consistent and to stay healthy so the workouts can continue. Many programs such as Crossfit are extremely successful. However, if not approached appropriately, folks do too much too soon and end up injured or burned out. Either way, there is no sustainability, so one’s goals of weight loss are not realized. What I like to tell folks who have their heart set on doing Crossfit, training for a marathon, or any number of activities, is that it may not be time for these programs yet –but it is possible if we properly train to get there.
Naturally, folks may wonder which is the best approach -exercise or diet. My experience a little of both, done successfully, will lead to bigger changes and long-term sustainability. So, yes to exercise; yes to dietary changes. And, remember, anything that is better than current habits has the potential to help folks reach their goals. It is about small, consistent changes. The ability of one to change their behavior patterns is challenging; so helping them to maneuver through the media frenzy of best exercises and diets will prove to be your most important job in leading folks to a healthier version of themselves.