The Virtue of Patience

El Pasoans have seen the plethora of infomercials on TV and one may even be able to fill up an entire library dedicated solely to diet and weight loss books by celebrity personal trainers, all promising losing substantial amounts of weight with minimal effort required on your part. While such promises sound great, and being able to look like a Calvin Klein model at this weekend’s trip to the beach would be awesome, we all have to constantly remind ourselves that those desires are unrealistic and unhealthy.

It is quite common for individuals embarking upon a new workout regimen to lose a large amount of weight in their first couple of weeks into training, and gradually begin to slow down as time progresses. Why is this? How come the weight loss doesn’t just happen linearly? Being able to lose weight in linear fashion would be a godsend to most individuals, but that is not the way it works. What happens is that your body has learned to adapt to your workout regimen, therefore, it has become more productive in its energy expenditure; this is why periodizing training plans are important. By making changes to a workout program every couple weeks or so, you are keeping your body on its toes, per se; therefore, when your body is becoming accustomed to a workout routine, and a new one is introduced, the “shock factor” remains, and you can continue to progressively lost weight.

In my honest opinion, I could not care less about how much weight one lost in a short period of time; what I care about is how much of the weight one lost will stay off over the course of time. Now, how do we make sure the weight you worked so hard to lose, indeed, does not return? If this has happened to you, or it is in the process of happening, do not worry, and, most definitely, do not beat yourself up for this. Basically, slip-ups happen—it can happen to the stay-at-home mom, corporate CEO or Olympic athlete; what we have to ensure is to keep the “slip-up” from converting into an annihilation of all the work you did and then some.

Is there a key to this? Of course--eat healthy and work out regularly! The only problem is that every single person has a different opinion on what it means to “eat healthy and work out regularly”. Some people can eat in accordance to the USDA’s guidelines, while others may opt for a vegan lifestyle. Whatever food plan you might be following, ensuring that you are taking in the proper amount of nutrients is paramount; if you find yourself unsure about your diet, your doctor or registered dietitian can be very valuable sources to guide you.

And, what does “working out regularly,” mean? According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), they recommend getting at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. If you are a parent or working professional, that may seem like quite the daunting task. One of the things we need to consider is that the ACSM is referring to exercise in general, so do not think you have to run two and a half hours of hill sprints and high-intensity circuit training. You can do your workout routines as you have been doing, and the remaining time can be spent on an easy jog or walking the dog. For the parents out there, think of making every night Halloween night by taking your kids out for a twenty minute stroll around the neighborhood, and do not hold yourself back from getting dressed up just because.

Let us not forget that off-days and rest is just as important to achieving weight loss goals as the workout, itself. In El Paso, we must learn to embrace our off-days by learning to pump the brakes. While high intensity workouts are great, recent studies continually support the fact that adequate sleep is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of injury.

In today’s culture, we have become far to accustomed to getting what we want, as soon as possible. When it comes to weight loss, while losing the weight rapidly would be nice, our focus should be on keeping the weight off, over the course of time. The common issue with adopting new diets that lead to rapid weight loss is that they typically result in regaining that weight, sometimes more. By maintaining a positive attitude, keeping yourself accountable, and adopting a healthy, active lifestyle, you will not have to continue your search for the “silver bullet” any longer because you will realize you are well on your way in achieving your goal in the healthiest manner.

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