This past weekend my mom, Rita, and I enjoyed some girl time at the Women's Wellness Weekend at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO. It was full of inspirational, informative, and fun sessions led by top-notch experts, many from the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in Denver. They delivered fabulous speeches and presentations about everything I've been immersed in over the last few months as I work toward my weight-loss goals.
I wish I could share everything I learned about eating right, dealing with stress, the mind-body relationship, and weight loss from these experts who have so much experience with others who have struggled to lose weight. There were a few moments that really stood out, however. Here are my top three takeaways:
1. Enlist a positive advisory board. The weekend kicked off in good spirits when the first speaker, Terry Eckmann, Ph.D., a professor at Minot State University, presented a lighthearted presentation on the power of perspective. She had us dancing and chanting to each other, "I am amazing!" and "You are amazing!"
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What really hit home was when Eckmann reminded us to choose our "advisory board" (those voices in our head) wisely and stomp out any negative thinking like it's an ant. The voices can be friends, family, old teachers, or simply our own critical selves. On the other hand, the more positive we think, the more positive the outcome of our lives—and that includes weight loss. You better believe that from now on, I will be paying closer attention to my advisory board.
2. Move every 20 minutes. Another highlight of Eckmann's speech was that if we sit too long, our bodies will think it is nap time, so make an effort to get up and move regularly throughout the day. My reaction was: You mean sitting on my computer for five hours at a time isn't healthy?
Further driving home the point that moving is key was a session entitled "How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off Forever" presented by Holly Wyatt, M.D., and James Hill, Ph.D., both from the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. During their talk they showed several slides, but one stood out. A 2004 study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise revealed that the average Amish man takes more than 18,000 steps a day, and the Amish woman averages 14,000 steps. A study from 2010 measured the activity of American men and women—both averaged at about 5,000 steps per day. That's a wide gap!
Obviously the Amish lifestyle is much more active than the life I live between carpool lines and tapping on the computer all day, but what was especially revealing is when they compared the two diets. In addition to healthy vegetables, the typical Amish diet is filled with many things we are often told to avoid: refined sugar, bread, baked sweets, meat, potatoes, gravy, and eggs, but, as you may have noticed, the Amish don't have an obesity issue. According to this study, it appears staying active is key to staying slim. This news encouraged me to keep watching my steps and do my best to walk as much as possible every day.
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3. Little changes DO pay off. On the last day of the event, I woke early to take the test for my Anschutz Wellness Report, which combines six areas of wellness: physical, metabolic, nutrition, sleep, stress, and quality and satisfaction of life. The results were tallied based on several factors including cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, body fat testing, flexibility, a handgrip test, a lifestyle quiz, and a killer physical fitness test (which, being that I was in high altitude, was no easy feat).
These last few months have obviously improved my health and wellness because I scored 90.7 out of 100. I can't help but wonder what my score would have been a year ago. My weight loss is certainly a work in progress, but this wonderful insight showed that slight changes have added up and are paying off. And you can bet I'll keep doing them.