After birthing seven children and basically not taking care of myself the way I should, I realized I needed to start taking my health more seriously. However, I was overwhelmed by all the information to wade through. I knew that I needed somebody knowledgeable to mentor me, so I decided to seek the wisdom and advice of my good friend Fawn, who is certified personal trainer through ACE (American Council on Exercise). Fawn is a busy mother of six and I am so grateful she took the time out of her filled schedule to answer my questions. (This is a follow-up post to a blog post I did a few weeks ago)
Me: Can you tell me why you work out? What is most central to you working out? How do you keep your faith central in this?
Fawn: Consistency, habits and a supportive friend/spouse. For many years, I was in a cycle of running inconsistently. I’d start up and be completely out of shape. It was pretty miserable every time I ran. About six years ago I started getting in shape. I signed my husband and myself up for a 5K. He was a great sport and did it with practically no training. He caught the running bug and never looked back! After that I decided that I never wanted to feel out of shape again. I ran (and eventually walked) throughout my next two pregnancies, which turned out to be my easiest of the six. With consistency and God’s grace, I’ll continue exercising regularly for the rest of my life. I like to focus on habits. Is it my habit to snack at night or am I hungry from a tough workout and my body needs a little protein? Is it becoming a habit that I skip my Tuesday run or is this an occasion when I’m truly needed at home? Things come up and there are definitely more important things in life than my workout or my next meal (that may be less than ideal), but what are my habits? My habits will lead to reaching or missing my goals. As I already mentioned, my husband has become a runner and it’s a common interest for us. He’s so supportive, giving some grace and kicking my tail when I need it! When you have a workout buddy (not that you do every workout with them, necessarily), make sure you are willing to let them push you and coach you. Everyone should have someone who supports and understands their goals and ambitions to be healthy. I think just seeking God in everything and yielding to the leading of His Spirit keeps my physical goals in check with His plans for me. Pride and vanity are two sins that can creep into our lives when we focus on physical goals for the wrong reasons. Two verses come to mind, Proverbs 3:5-6 and Psalm 139:23.
Me: If somebody wants to lose weight, how would one go about finding the best method to do so?
Fawn: Look at habits of eating and exercise. Cut the bad and replace with good. Everyone has such different hang-ups. Don’t try to do everything at once, but take a serious look at your biggest problem areas of eating and activity. You may need someone else to give input. Be honest and don’t be offended by their input. We often have blind spots in our own lives that may be very obvious to others. Typically an all-out diet will fail. You’ve heard over and over that you need a lifestyle change, not a diet, something that is sustainable. However, I do believe that sometimes we need a dramatic turning point. Steph, I know that you have kicked your diet pop habit. Things like that are totally reasonable to say, “I’m done with this.” I think that counting calories and tracking every bit of food is crucial in getting a realistic picture of your diet. Not that you have to count calories and track food for the rest of your life, but you need to see the real picture. I also believe that periodic fasting is important to relearn what hunger is and what hunger is not.
Me: What are your thoughts on diets that restrict certain food groups? Recommended?
Unless you’re talking about refined sugar and white flour as a food group, then I’m generally against cutting out an entire food group. I’m sure there are special circumstances when it may be needed. I do think we need to rethink portions sizes when it comes to carbs (especially white flour products) and processed protein. Certainly not all carbs nor proteins are equal in value. Things like un-whole grain pretzels and crackers along with hot dogs and low quality meat should be considered junk food rather than grains and protein, respectively.
Me: For a beginner or somebody who has been out of the loop physically (like me), how do you suggest getting back on track without getting overwhelmed?
Fawn: Again, everyone’s habits are so different…I’d look at adding a specific time goal for exercise and consider intensity. Set weekly goals that increase a little each week. Find any activity that you enjoy that gets your heart pumping, invite a friend and make it part of your calendar. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week as a minimum. Of course, if that is too lofty for you, set a plan to work up to that.
Me: Let’s say somebody has been working out and eating healthy, lost some weight, and gained some muscle tone; however, they have hit a plateau and despite all their efforts they the scale won’t budge or they are not seeing quick enough results. Any words of advice or encouragement?
I just read a great article about this! If you were on a journey, say a hike, would you prefer a straight, steep, upward climb or a more gradual climb with a couple plateaus for rest and refocus? Plateaus can be viewed as a good thing. You’ve accomplished part of your goal and you’ve gotten stronger. With a short rest (note: not abandon ship mentatlity!) and refocus (new plan, maybe with some new exercises or new healthy recipes) you’re ready to march closer to your ultimate goal. We all know that super-quick weight loss rarely sticks. Slowly, consistently work toward your goals without giving up!! After all this advice, I must say that it is a hard task. Sometimes when we find success, we think “how can I keep this up forever?” It’s true, “use it or lose it”. After all that work and discipline, it will all slip away without diligence and consistency. I really struggle to do what I need to do to finally hit that final weight goal of mine. Thank the Lord for His grace! Perfection is not the goal. For me, being free from things that hinder me from living for God, that’s what I’m working for. Don’t be deceived, it’s about more than just food and exercise! I believe there are many spiritual truths that are fleshed out in the struggle, but we won’t go there today. May you seek the Lord as you consider your goals for getting healthy and may He give you the victory over all things that hold you back. Personally, I am very inspired by reading this and realize I need to change my approach from thinking that losing weight is just about rules, rules, and more rules. As Fawn stated, one needs to be free from things that hinder us from living for God.