Tag Archives: exercise

Mind Trip Part III: What She Does and How She Does It

In March, I brought you the story of Rebecca Berger, who changed the way she thought about weight and radically transformed her body and improved her health.  In the first part of her story we looked at her struggle with weight gain and how she was eventually able to make a physical transformation after mentally reframing how she thought about eating and exercising.  In the second installment, I shared some what motivates Rebecca and her own insights into her inner life.  Today, we wrap up Rebecca’s story by delving into her process and how she stays focused upon it.

Now that Rebecca visualizes her day-to-day approach to eating and exercising as a journey, she sees each day as just one small segment of that journey.  A meal is a footstep along a path.  One workout is another footstep.  Eating the wrong thing is a simple misstep off the path that can be counteracted by taking the correct footstep at the next meal.  The important thing is keeping one’s mind focused down the road.  Know where you want to go and the path becomes clear.

Rebecca’s journey includes keeping a written journal of what she eats and her workouts.  Her day breaks down like this:

4:30am – Herbalife shake for breakfast
7am – Snack:  Greek yogurt
9am – Snack:  A cheese stick or clementine oranges
Noon – Herbalife shake for lunch
3pm – Snack:  Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or ham
6pm – Dinner:  Veggies and a small piece of meat, either chicken or fish
9pm – Bedtime

Number of calories consumed daily:  1350

You might notice that Rebecca’s diet is high in protein.  She says, “We live in a carb-rich environment.”  So, she intentionally eats in such a way so that if she does want to treat herself a slice of cake at an office birthday party, then the carbohydrates don’t tip the balance too dramatically.  Her mindset is always focused on reaching her goal weight, but she emphasizes that she doesn’t let weight be too much of a factor.  She sees this journey as being stretched out in front of her for the rest of her life, so reaching her goal weight next month or six months from now is less important that sticking to her path for the long term.

Her journey also includes exercising five times per week.  She loves cardio drumming and leads sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.  Each session burns about 500 to 800 calories.  She does strength training a couple of times a week.  Her favorite form of strength training is kickboxing on a heavy bag.  Sometimes her workout is simply walking for an hour.  Part of the journey is keeping exercise fun.  That means getting some variety and trying new things.  An aspect of exercise Rebecca has grown to love is that it gives her renewed energy and stamina – things that help her keep up with her young children by keeping her youthful.

When it is all said and done, the most important thing about the new mental framework Rebecca has created for herself around eating and exercising is staying positive.  Setbacks are temporary.  The future is bright.  Keep moving forward toward your best self.

Mind Trip Part II: Getting Inside Her Head

They say you are what you eat.  Some who have combatted weight problems and won would be more likely to tell you that you are what you think.

At the beginning of March, I shared Rebecca Berger’s story with you – how she had spent much of her life overweight and struggling to take it off; how she eventually made a mental shift that allowed her to lose weight, restore her health, and remain trim and fit.  This week, we delve deeper into what goes on in Rebecca’s head that helps her be the person she spent so many years longing to be.

First, Rebecca has completely reframed the way she thinks about eating and exercise.  She used to think of healthy eating as dieting.  She used to think of exercise as a chore.  Now, she thinks of the entire eat/exercise package as a journey.  Each time she eats or works out it’s a footstep along that journey.  In Rebecca’s words, “Inches add up to feet.  Feet add up to miles.  Every good thing you do is an inch in the right direction.  Don’t let one bad thing derail you.  So, you made a mistake and ate something you shouldn’t.  So what?  Get over it and move on.”

Part of Rebecca’s mental process is about staying focused, motivated, and positive.  She says that she loves the quotes of Muhammad Ali for this.  She has posters of him in her office.  Some of her favorites are:

  • “The only limitations one has are the ones they place on themselves.”
  • “I’m going to show you how great I am.”
  • “Champions aren’t made in gyms.  Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”
  • “Don’t quit.  Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
  • “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

To get more into her head I asked Rebecca the following questions…

  1. What is the first thing you think of when you get out of bed in the morning?

First, I give thanks.  When each foot hits the floor I say, “Thank you God… for this day.  Please help me to do your will.”  As I pack my lunch I think of the choices I will make for the day and think about improving over the day before.

  1. How do you picture yourself, mentally?  Like you are now? Slimmer?  Heavier?

I see myself as I am or slimmer – usually at my goal weight.

  1. What do you think when you see yourself in the mirror?

I am much less critical of myself now than I use to be, when I look in the mirror.  I look for improvements in weight loss and muscle definition.  I must admit I think I look older now.

  1. How is your thinking different now than it was two or three years ago?

I think about things in a much more positive way.  I would get down on myself for every poor choice.  Now, I realize that it’s a lifelong journey and if I want something I plan and I account for it.  Plus, all things in moderation.

  1. What is/are your major motivator(s)?

I have sayings and signs everywhere.  But if you’re asking – what is my WHY – it’s my kids and family.  I want to be the parent they deserve.  My mom had knee problems that limited her from many activities as we were growing up, I don’t want my health and fitness to do the same.  Plus, the thought that if I continued to gain weight and not manage my health I would have risked being here for them – and that brings me to tears.

  1. Are you a happier person than you used to be?

ABSOLUTELY YES!  I have a much more positive outlook on life.  I have energy and I have confidence that I did not have before.  I often thought of things in life as a HAVE to, instead now it’s a GET to.  When you lack the energy to make it through the day so many things seem like have to do instead of getting to do.

  1. What frustrates you?  How do you work through it?

I occasionally get frustrated because I have slowed down on the weight loss, but then I think even if I never lost another pound I would still be a happy person.  I also still work with my [Herbalife] coach.

  1. What do you want more than anything else in life?

I really think I have found a passion with for fitness and exercise.  I would love to open my own nutrition club.  But again I think it is my kids and what I said in 5.

Is it possible that what goes on in our heads is what truly shapes the bodies we walk around in?  Rebecca Berger has reframed how she thinks about eating and exercise to transform her physical being.  Maybe, when it’s all said and done, when we are fighting the battle of the bulge, the real battle we are fighting is a mental one.  Maybe, before we change what we eat and how we work out, what we really need to do is change the way we think about all of it.  What do you think?

Mind Trip: How One Woman’s Mental Shift Changed Her Life

“I felt like I wasn’t even showing up for my own life.  I said, ‘This ends today.’

We are all given just one life.  What if you felt like you weren’t living the life you were meant to live?  What would you do if every fiber of your being was screaming at you to be something different than what you were?  Would you change?  Could you change?  Rebecca Berger experienced exactly that, made the change, and her transformation will inspire you.

Throughout her childhood, Rebecca had always been bigger and taller than everyone else in her class.  She was athletic and loved playing basketball and softball, but late in junior high she started having trouble with her knees.  Heredity and the strain of sports combined to put her in such a state that her right knee required surgery.  Suddenly sedentary while recovering, she started putting on weight.  Along with the weight came body image problems.  Through high school, even though she had become active in sports again, she continued to feel overweight.

Rebecca’s weight problems and body image issues followed her into adulthood.  “This will be the year I lose weight,” became her annual New Year’s resolution.  Still, she never seemed to be able to take off the weight.  She would work at it for a while, but she would slip and eat something she shouldn’t here or there and then next thing she knew – feeling defeated – she would be right back at the weight where she started or heavier.

In her mid-twenties, Rebecca was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also known as PCOS, a health condition that can affect fertility.  Now married and wanting children, her doctor advised her to lose weight, as it can sometimes help women with PCOS to conceive.  In addition to being overweight, partly due to the PCOS, her doctor also informed her she was also pre-diabetic.  Determined not only to have a child, but to have a healthy pregnancy, she redoubled her efforts to lose weight.  This time, for the first time, she had real success.  She lost 20lbs before she conceived in 2004.

After giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, Rebecca aimed to continue the weight loss journey she had started before becoming pregnant.  She was disappointed to find that she could only make it back to her pre-pregnancy weight before plateauing.

In the spring of 2007, Rebecca had a second child – this time a darling boy.  Her dreams of family fulfilled, she had little time to focus on herself.  Like so many of us, her life was dedicated to working and caring for her family.  She was happy, but something still wasn’t right.  At night, when the house was quiet, her weight and body image issues would put her into a funk.

On Thanksgiving Day, 2008, her neighbor introduced Rebecca to Herbalife, a health and nutrition company.  At that time she was the heaviest she had ever been and thought perhaps this would be the answer she’d been looking for.  It worked – sort of.  She was able to take off 40lbs, but slipped back into old patterns and 20lbs of that came back.

There came a point when Rebecca started to feel like she wasn’t the person she was meant to be.  “I used to sit on the couch and have my kids go and get stuff for me,” she said.  I thought, ‘this is not why I had kids – I did not have kids to make them my gofers.’  I felt like I wasn’t even showing up for my own life.”

She says that December 26, 2013 is the day it all changed.  That was the day when the mental shift happened.  “I got on the scale and it wasn’t good.  I said, ‘This ends today.’”

It was like at that moment a new Rebecca emerged.  It was as if the person that she had always wanted to be took control of the reins.  Between that day and June 1, 2014, Rebecca lost 50lbs.  And she has kept it off.  She says, “I feel like I’m back in my own life again.”

Rebecca Berger, Before and After
Rebecca Berger, Before and After

What changed?  Nothing… and everything.  Familiar with Herbalife and having had success with it before, Rebecca continued to use it to help her along her path.  But the real change was on the inside.  Rebecca transformed the way she thought about herself, about weight, and about exercise.  She says, “What’s different this time is a mindset.  It wasn’t a diet anymore; it was a lifestyle change.  It is a journey this time… I’m still on that journey.”

Later this month we will delve deeper into the mental process that has brought about Rebecca’s physical transformation, but for now we’ll leave you with this thought from her:  “I always say that losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is 80% nutrition, 20% exercise, and 100% mental.”

How I Lost 45 Pounds in Just Five Years!

Why should the title of this post impress you?  Clearly I haven’t discovered some “amazing weight loss miracle that will dramatically change your appearance in just weeks!” as so many diet plans tout.  So what’s the big deal?  Here’s the big deal – I’ve lost weight and kept it off.  I’m more physically fit than I’ve been in 10 years.  I’m the lightest that I’ve been since college.

So, this is my story.  Throughout my life, until I hit 30, I could eat just about anything I wanted and not gain weight.  In my 20s, people would give me warnings like, “Just wait until you turn 30, you won’t be able to eat like this then!”

Those people were right.  I kept on eating whatever I wanted and in my early 30s I started packing on the pounds.  I left my 20s at about 175 lbs.  At 6’1”, I was thin.  By time that I was 36 I had rocketed to 210 lbs.  That year (2009), I slipped on a tile floor and dislocated my left knee.  I had never dislocated a knee before and my orthopedist blamed it on both a genetic predisposition to bad knees, and being overweight and out of shape.

After a stint in an hip-to-ankle brace, my doctor put me into physical therapy.  The physical therapist’s office was full of mirrors and I spent many (ugh, too many!) hours in front of them.  I didn’t like what I saw.  I decided it was time to make a change.

Backing up for a second, I had tried the South Beach diet when I was 34.  I lost 12 lbs in three weeks, but as is often the case with fad diets, after getting off the plan I gained it all back… and then some.  This time, I went a decidedly different route.  I turned to medical science.  We’ve heard the medical advice for losing weight so many times that it sounds almost cliché – eat right and exercise.  Ultimately though, what I was committing myself to what was a radical lifestyle change.

Those two seemingly simple changes – improving my diet and exercising – would end up meaning myriad dietary changes and committing to getting off my butt for at least 30 minutes every-other-day and getting moving.  Some of the changes were easy.  Some took – and continue to take – serious discipline.

The first thing I did was set about educating myself regarding calories, saturated fats, sugar, and complex carbohydrates.  I cut out alcohol, sugary drinks, and fast food.  I added more lean meats and fresh vegetables to my diet.  And the hardest change – I gave up my bowl of chocolate ice cream before bed each night.  I started walking on my lunch breaks between three and five days a week.

In terms of educating myself about calories, I utilized an app for my smart phone called MyFitnessPal.  I credit this app for helping me understand how many calories I should be eating per day and helping me grasp what I was really seeing when I looked at the labels on food packaging.  I recommend checking out MyFitnessPal or something else like it (hey, it’s not like I own stock in the company or something).  You won’t need to use it forever.  Soon, you will learn how much of which foods you can or should eat; basically committing the information from the app to memory.

Exercise was a bit of a challenge for me.  I didn’t want to do aerobics and my now bad knee hurt when I ran.  So, as I mentioned, I walked.  It helped, though I’m certain that if I would have resigned myself to something more strenuous right from the beginning then the change would have been more rapid.  Still, I committed myself to a workout routine that I could adhere to and that – I believe – is the important thing.  First just do it.  Then just stick to it.

It only took me about eight months to go from 210 lbs down to 185 lbs.  That averages out to losing 1.28 lbs per week.  That’s not too bad.  Doctors say that you should not try to lose more than 2lbs a week.  This is because people who lose weight more quickly than that are more likely to gain it back.

That was where I got stuck.  I hovered between 185 lbs and 180 lbs from early 2010 through late 2013.  Basically, I had done all the better I was going to do with the diet and exercise routine that I had chosen for myself.  Frankly, I didn’t want to eat any better and I didn’t think I could work out any more.

In the late summer of 2013 I revisited my orthopedist to see if there was anything that could be done about the chronic pain, snaps, crackles, and pops in my knee.  This single doctor’s visit would end up being what set the stage for finally getting off my weight loss plateau.  My doctor’s advice about the pain and noise was simple:  ignore it.  He said as long as it doesn’t dislocate a third time (oh yeah, it dislocated again in 2012 when I was playing a too-strenuous sport for a guy who just walked a couple of times a week), then I should just work through the pain.  He asked me what I would do if I could do any kind of exercise I wanted to.  I said that I would start running.  He said, “Then run.”

And so I did.  After a few months of walking more often on more strenuous paths to build myself up, I felt confident start a running routine.  I run every-other-day.  I use the RunKeeper app to track my progress and I freaking love it (I don’t own stock in this company either, so use whatever you want, but it’s fun and encouraging to track your progress).  Full disclosure:  Sometimes the knee gets to hurting and I need to walk for a few days.  But mostly I run.  And mostly I feel great.

Today, I’m down to 165 lbs… and I’ve plateaued again.  I’d like to make it down to 160 lbs, but that is going to mean either running more or eating even better.  I’ll let you know what happens when I decide to commit to either one of those things.

So, there it is.  That’s how I lost 45 lbs in just five years… and you can too!

Weighing in on Weight

And now for something completely different.  I was considering calling today’s post “Super Eclectica:  A Retrospective” and doing a whole thing about what fun I’ve had joining the blogosphere this week.  I was going to take a look back and say things like, “Hey remember that time when I posted about 12 Things You Say to Your Preschooler and What Your Preschooler Hears.  Yeah, those were good times.”  But I’m not going to do that.  Instead, I decided to introduce another topic that I’ll be covering from time to time on Super Eclectica – lest you think that this blog was not going to be super eclectic.  So, here it goes… “Weighing in on Weight.”

The moment is forever burned into my brain.  It was blunt.  It was harsh.  It was irrelevant.

During the second semester of my freshman year of college, I took an introduction to Communications class.  Being an Intro class, it was a too-large class of 150 to 200 students held in one of the campus’ biggest lecture halls.  PowerPoint presentations abounded.  The professor was high energy, charismatic, and maybe a little bit full of himself.

He was introducing us to how marketers shape their message in order to appeal to consumers’ egos.  He argued that marketing leaves little room for honesty because – he asserted – people can’t handle the truth.  He said, “Take weight loss for example!  You can’t just be honest with people about why they are overweight.  You see, the fact of the matter is that if you are overweight it’s because of one thing – you just eat too much.  That’s it!  You just eat too damn much!

There was an audible gasp.  Two students got up and walked out.  Others looked like they wanted to punch him in the throat.

He was right, of course.  That marketing approach would never work.

Though the reason that it wouldn’t work is not because it is honest, it’s because it is wrong.

Many factors contribute to our weight.  Yes, how much we eat is part of the equation, but so are heredity, how well we eat, exercise (or lack-there-of), and about a-billion-and-a-half psychological factors from self-esteem to the chemical reaction that happens in our brains when we eat something that tastes really. freaking. awesome.

I’ll be discussing weight gain and loss in the coming weeks, among a plethora of other topics.  It’s an important issue.  I’ve had my own weight problems over the years as have many of my friends and family members.  I seem to see something about people’s weight concerns every day on Facebook.  And it seems we can’t turn on the news without being reminded of the fact that it’s a problem in the US and becoming so in other parts of the world.

We’ll explore the factors that make us gain weight and the healthiest ways to take it off.  I’ll do my best to be honest, and in doing so, you can rest assured that I won’t tell you that weight gain or loss is just anything.

So, stay tuned!  Let’s explore everything.