When a woman feels she needs to be healthier, she tends to view the solutions as all negative. She needs to cut down on the food she eats. She must eliminate foods she enjoys eating from her diet. She needs to punish herself with exercise. When women take action to get healthier, it's usually to deprive themselves. I want to change that. Women (and men) who are unhappy with their weight would have more success if they take action in a way that is encouraging, supportive and empowering.
Instead of eliminating certain foods, increase intake of healthful foods.
Instead of trying to eat less, concentrate on eating better.
Instead of talking about losing weight, focus on gaining muscle.
The ultimate goal should be to achieve a better, healthier, happier life. Focusing on the positives and making movement and physicality a lifelong habit will inevitably lead to physical fitness and a weight that is comfortable and healthy.
To make this a habit, I believe in incremental changes. Fitness should be part of your current life, not a complete departure. No one should go from sitting at a computer all day and on a couch all night, to enduring a grueling two-hour gym session every day of the week. That much of a shift is a physical and emotional shock to the system. Long-distance runners have a 10% rule that should be adopted by all people embarking on any change: Increase your activity no more than 10% per week. That includes distance, intensity, weight lifted and time of exertion. This prevents injury and burn-out.
Also, activities tackled in the name of fitness should be enjoyable. Exercise should never be a chore. If it is, it won't ever become a lifelong habit. If you enjoy walking, walk farther and more often. If you enjoy dancing, dance more. Exercise should enable people to live their best life; it should make life easier and better.
There are many benefits to exercise beyond weight loss. Weight loss may be the easiest to spot, but it's not nearly the most important. Regular exercise improves your mood and fights the effects of stress. It fights heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, breast cancer, insomnia, and depression. It boosts your stamina, self-esteem, and learning ability. These are just the unseen benefits of exercise. There are also the noticeable changes to the ease of everyday tasks. If you build muscle, every task that requires lifting becomes easier. As your cardio improves, walking long distances or up stairs becomes easier. Running to catch a train or bus becomes easier, too.