2011 Personal fitness plan

Stop thinking about weight … and start thinking about health!

We make plans for vacations, for purchases, for budgets … why not make plans for our health.

A personal health care plan should consider your mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing Your plan should include nutrition, diet, exercise, sleep, lifestyle habits, supplements, spirituality, stress management, emotional health and social interactions.

Often we use the numbers on the scale as the only measurement of physical fitness – but being healthy takes into consideration so much more than weight.

“Health is not just about the weight and body mass index (BMI). It’s about how fit you feel inside and out and where you want your fitness level to be,” said Traci Smet, ATC, CSCS, PES, Ministry Point Sports Medicine Center. “There is a direct correlation between health and physical activity … if you are doing one, the other will naturally follow. You have to make exercise and getting a healthy a priority.”

Choose to be fit.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following activity guidelines for adults.

  • 30 minutes of moderate-intensity OR 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise 5 days a week
  • Bursts of aerobic exercise performed for at least 10 minutes spread throughout the week.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities at least two (2) days a week

“These are just the MINIMUM guidelines to maintain your current level of fitness,” said Smet. “If you want to become more physically fit (and lose weight as a side benefit) you have to surpass these guidelines and increase the intensity and the duration of your exercise.”

Whatever exercise you choose do, remember to keep it fun. You won’t continue exercising if it is drudgery feels like work or is something that you dread.

Let’s get started on your personal health plan.

Consider BMI for a moment. BMI is a guideline calculation that determines one’s overall weight condition. Calculated by multiplying your height by your height and then using that number to divide your weight times 703. The resulting number puts you in a weight category – a BMI below 18 categorizes the person as underweight; 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight; 25.0 to 29.9 determines a person is overweight and a BMI of 30.0 or above is considered obese.

While this may be a great general standard, there are some people who are misrepresented using this calculation. Consider for example the person who is fit, healthy and active. Since muscle weighs more than fat, a very muscular person will naturally have a higher BMI and be considered overweight even though they are healthier than the person who has lower muscle mass and eats sparingly to keep the weight off.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Association believes that waist circumference is a good indicator of weight health. A waist measurement greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters) in men and greater than 35 inches (88 centimeters) in women increases a person’s risk for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

If you would like to make some positive lifestyle changes, why not talk to your health care provider. Ask about optimum nutrition (not diet) or join a health management program, if one exists in your area.

Set long-range goals

How fit do you want to be? Do you want six-pack abs, to run a marathon, to walk up two flights of stairs without feeling out of breath or lose enough weight to fit into the clothes you purchased for your son’s wedding? Think about your ultimate goal and write it down.

Create an ‘action’ plan

What do you need to do to get to your fitness goal? Obviously, we cannot just set the goal and run that marathon tomorrow or lose 20 pounds in one day; we need to create a series of small daily objectives that move us toward our final goal.

Make your daily fitness objective specific. Commit to walk for 10 or 15 minutes if you’ve never walked before. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Start working your body by doing simple stretching exercises; as your body becomes stronger add a theraband for more resistance.  Fit activity into your day where ever you can. Choose to make four healthy choices a day; Write them down and check them off when you complete them. After your daily goals become a habit, adopt some new challenges.

If losing weight is your goal, be realistic. Let’s face it; many diets feel like punishment. While diets may yield short-term results; they are about as much fun as a root canal and are seldom sustainable. So stop thinking about the food and start thinking lifestyle change.

Remember small changes count. What if you decided not to eat after 8 p.m.? When that became a habit, you could consider walking for 30 minutes a day. Small changes add up and yield major returns in an overall feeling of wellbeing and health. When introduced gradually they produce results, they inspire self confidence and most importantly they are sustainable.

If you have a weight loss goal, remember it takes almost as long to take the weight off as it did to put it on. “If you are diligent really stick with the exercise and are careful about the number of calories that you eat you will lose weight. A realistic weight loss target is between one-half to 2 pounds a week,” said Smet. “It really puts things into perspective. The rule of course is, less calories in and more calories out.”

Make small nutritional changes in your day. If you don’t eat five fruits and vegetables a day, start by eating at least one today, two tomorrow and so on until you reach five a day.

Choose fish or chicken instead of rib steak. The small choices that you make overtime will add up to healthy changes in lifestyle. “You have to psychologically change who you are and the things you are doing to make a lifestyle change,” said Smet. “If you think about every food and exercise choice with your health in mind, it is easier to make that change.”

Don’t forget to change your routine. Our bodies have amazing muscle memory. After performing an exercise for a while the body adjusts and that exercise is no longer effective. We need to change up the routine in order to realize the most benefit from our effort.

Plan for holidays and gatherings.

Don’t be sidelined by a family gathering or the holiday celebrations. If you plan in advance for the situations and the emotions that you will experience, you will be more successful. Each situation will provide you with an opportunity to make a choice for your health.

What are your options? If there are fruits and vegetables available, eat those first. Choose smaller portions. If you are at a wedding get up and dance, play with the kids, take a walk before or after the ceremony … or give yourself a cheat day … and a promise to get back on track when the event is over.

Recruit help. There are many tools available to help you succeed. There are fitness and health professionals in your area that can help. There are websites like www.eatright.org or www.myexerciseplan.com that can provide information and encouragement.

Find an accountability partner who has a similar but not necessarily the same challenge. One of you may want to lose weight, the other may want to train for marathon – while the end goal may be different the need to make wise food choices and exercise are the same.

You can also call your health care provider and ask for suggestions.

For more information about creating your personal fitness plan, contact Ministry Point Sports Medicine Center.

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