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Welcome to my fourth and final installment of the 2016 Goal Series! I hope you’ve found the posts to be helpful so far, and that they provided you with perhaps some previously undiscovered information. This final installment will focus on the nation’s most common New Year’s Resolution: To Lose Weight/Get Fit. After working hard to get in better shape myself, I’m very pleased to have lost 30 pounds over the last 7 months, and am looking forward to meeting my goal later this spring. Having been through the struggles of feeling sluggish, uncomfortable in my clothing and just generally pretty “blah” health wise for several years, I finally found some success and thought I’d share a few resources and tips with you that have either helped me, or helped someone I know, to meet fitness and weight loss goals.
In August of 2013 I purchased my FitBit Flex fitness tracker. It’s been a great tool for tracking my steps, logging calories in vs. out, keeping track of how much water I’m drinking, how well I’m sleeping and how many minutes of rigorous activity I get in a day. I haven’t gone a full day without it since I bought it, and I even recently found a company that makes pretty FitBit Flex bracelets, so now I enjoy wearing my Flex even more. (I was never a huge fan of the rubber bracelets, but, it was a necessary evil before.)
While using FitBit alone was motivational for me for several months, it was my discovery of the app Pact that really kicked my drive up when it came to daily physical activity. Pact is a free app that allows you to set a healthy goal (such as eating vegetables, logging what you eat or exercising for 30 minutes or more) and the number of days in a week you intend to accomplish that goal – and holds you to it. How you ask? By threatening to take your hard earned cash if you flake out on yourself! That’s right! Each Monday, you set your Pact goal and your Pact value (standard value is $5/day) and when your Pact ends on Sunday at 11:59pm, you will be charged $5 for each day that you missed. Now hold on – before you say, “No way!” you should also know that every time you meet your Pact goal for the week, the money from everyone who had to pay gets split amongst you and everyone else who completed their Pact successfully! That’s right – you get paid to get healthy.
I’ve tried all kinds of things when it comes to fitness accountability, including getting a gym buddy, using the FitBit Challenges, making myself a reward chart – but, as it turns out – nothing keeps me going more that the threat of losing money! To satisfy my exercise Pact, I either meet my FitBit daily step goal of 10k steps/day or more, check in using my phone at the gym and check out no early than 30 minutes later, or I use Pact’s motion tracker and put my phone in my pocket while exercising for at least 30 minutes.
I’ve been using Pact, committing to working out between 4 and 6 days a week for over 2 years now. I’ve earned over $100 and have completed 681 healthy activities. If I divide that by the number of days I’ve been using Pact, I can find out that I’ve worked out at least 86% of all days in the past two years! That is the longest I’ve EVER been consistent with exercise in my life. If your goal is to exercise regularly, try the Pact app!
I recently learned about the TOPS (“Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) Club from a coworker, who’d joined along with her mother, with the goal of losing weight in a realistic and healthy way, with support from others in the same boat. TOPS is a health and weight loss club with meetings across the country, divided into “chapters”. Meetings are held weekly and include private weigh-ins, updated and medically based healthy education and tools and group support and encouragement. TOPS has been around since 1948 and is an affordable alternative to other Weight Loss programs that offer meetings at a significantly higher price. ($32/year + $5/month in local chapter dues) For information on a meeting near you, check out the TOPS website.
Fresno Mindfulness Walks and/or Walk with a Doc
For those just starting out on a healthier path, there are two great, free groups you can participate in, both with the intention of improving health while walking outdoors. The first is Fresno Mindfulness Walks. This group’s goal is to unite Fresno residents with one another, while learning the city, increasing mindfulness, energy, awareness and mental sharpness – all while engaging in practical exercise. Mindfulness Walks take place on Saturdays, in a different part of Fresno each time. This week’s walk begins at 8:30am at the new Betty Rodriguez Library at 3030 N. Cedar Avenue. For more information and schedule information, visit the website here.
Walk with a Doc is a larger, national program with a great local chapter run by the Fresno-Madera Medical Society. These free walks are led by local doctors, who you can chat with along the way. Free healthy snacks and medical tips are also provided, and there are monthly walks in both Fresno and Madera. What a great (and free!) way to access expert health advice while engaging in exercise! For details on dates, times and locations, visit Walk with a Doc online here.
Center for Medical Weightloss – Dr. Golden
Perhaps you’re like me. You’ve tried, and tried for years to lose weight, and despite doing everything within reason you can think of to make significant progress, you feel completely stalled. This was me last May, when I finally waved the weight loss white flag and admitted to myself, “This isn’t working. I’m not succeeding on my own anymore, I need help.” Turns out, I did. My body has a sluggish metabolism and doesn’t respond to more traditional diet plans. In the past, I was very successful with Weight Watcher’s point system, but in recent years, I’d lose just a few pounds then nothing for months on end. It was incredibly frustrating (and I was really hungry, like all the time).
A friend had started seeing Dr. Golden at the Center for Medical Weightloss in Fresno. She was seeing significant results, and at my wits end, I decided it couldn’t hurt to see what he had to say about me and my stalled progress. Within a week, I’d met Dr. Golden, had a body scan that provided me with detailed information (and a full report with explanation) on my body composition, BMI, appropriate goals, weight and muscle mass. It was tough seeing the numbers but Dr. Golden reassured me he felt he could help. He ran some bloodwork and checked out my overall health before helping me devise a plan that would really work for me, and now, I go to the office once a month for a body profile update and health counseling, and in my case, I do take a medication that has helped me even out some blood sugar issues that previously got in the way when I tried to reduce calories enough to lose a significant amount of weight. Each person and their needs are different, but Dr. Golden is an expert in bariatrics, internal medicine, and cardiology! (And he’s right here in town!) So if you’re completely stuck and feel like you’ve been doing the right things for a long time, and are still not seeing progress, I highly recommend making an appointment with Dr. Golden’s office. In most cases, office visits are covered by major medical insurance, too.
I still have a little ways to go to meet my personal goal, but I am on track to make it happen by the one year mark (May 28th, not that I’m counting…) and I have to say I feel SO much better! My energy is up, my ability to keep up with my son is so much better and I finally can try on clothing without leaving the store utterly frustrated. Best of all, my most recent bloodwork showed my health has dramatically improved – so much so that my general physician asked me, “Do you eat any fat at all? Your good cholesterol is so high and your bad is so low!” (Yes, I still eat some fat, though I try to choose the healthy kinds 90% of the time.)