I watched a webinar featuring a trainer who has an association with a supplements company that specializes in products for people who’ve had weight loss surgery. The trainer is young, handsome, and totally RIPPED. His website includes such workout “tips” as investing in gymnastic rings for “easy and inexpensive exercise” and doing decline push ups.
I posed a few questions during the webinar, anonymously; I did not identify myself as a certified trainer. The young man made his agenda quite clear: He believes people should work out at a gym, with a trainer, and he thinks you won’t get very far if you don’t. Fair enough, he’s promoting his own profession.
I focused my book on what I believe to be the greatest barrier to taking control of obesity. As people at the higher end of the weight bell curve, we’re not stupid, we’re not ignorant, we’re not oblivious to health warnings. But we face a myriad of obstacles in doing what we know we need to do. We fight our genetics, we fight our physiology, we fight our brain wiring. And when it comes to physical activity, we fight what can be staggering limitations. Telling us repeatedly to join a gym or do decline push ups won’t accomplish anything. I still have trouble with pull ups myself; I may not ever be able to do much more than hang briefly off those “easy” gymnastic rings.
I guide people toward finding the physical activity that they are able and willing to do, on their own and on their own terms. We all need to find that way we can get started and be able to keep going. I come back to a story I wrote recently about Holly of 300poundsdown.com. At 417lbs, she had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. She was told she should start walking two miles a day. Who tells a 400 lb woman to walk two miles? Fortunately, Holly did not allow this kind of ignorant treatment to make her feel like a failure before she’d even gotten started. She began her exercise program by walking to her mailbox. She describes it as 30 seconds of exercise. She did it every day and as the days went by, she walked farther. Later, she devised a walking course at a Walmart, getting herself from bench to bench. Holly found a way to challenge herself and she kept it going. It’s been over a year and today Holly works out at a Crossfit gym. She loves it! She isn’t there because someone told her she should go. She found her own path to the door and arrived of her own will.
Exercise used to make me feel very beaten down. It reminded me of how weak and limited I felt. It took me years of trying and failing with various exercise programs and trainers and gym memberships before I found my own path to connecting with my body. After I began with some basic daily walking and doing literally ONE MINUTE on a recumbent stepper machine, it was about a year and a half before I was ready to join a real gym. But I got there. And five years later, I earned NASM trainer certification. My title might be “trainer” but I do not want to “train” people. I aspire to guide and mentor.
To get started, it’s not about the calorie burn; it’s about finding how you can connect with your physical self, feeling your own heart beat, finding the rhythm of your own deep breathing. The Point of Change is where you reach your own limits. Maybe it’s walking for 30 seconds or doing one minute on a cardio machine. Only you can take yourself there and only you can go beyond. The roadmap to where you want to go does not exist until you draw it. Where do you want to go?