Celebrate Your Life – Experience the World
By J. “Kat” Loren ::
Sometimes, we make health and fitness harder than it needs to be and while we contemplate change, few of us go all the way to reach a new goal – especially as we get older.
One way to reclaim health is to develop an obsession with health and doing what it takes to lose weight with joyful anticipation of reaching the goal.
After losing 9 pounds in two weeks at the Wellspring Women’s Weight Loss Program in La Jolla, California last June, I adopted their phrase “healthy obsession” and continued to follow their program to the best of my ability, throughout the summer. I notched up the milestones in pounds lost and fitness gained, and my delight increased motivation to reach my ultimate goals. How much weight have I lost this summer? Stay tuned and I’ll reveal it at the end of this article.
Wellspring’s Weight Loss program is simple – walk 10,000 steps per day (roughly 4.5 miles) and exercise more; eat less than 20 grams of fat with calories mostly obtained from low density, healthy food sources; and write down everything you eat to hold yourself accountable. They are the basic tenants of almost any effective and sustainable weight loss program. These simple steps are easy to follow while you are in the company of others attending a full immersion program and sustainable when you go home – IF you develop a healthy obsession.
Developing a Healthy Obsession
Contemplating change is a great first step. You know that you want to lose weight, get healthy and feel better. But ambivalence sets in when actually trying to decide how to start.
My ambivalence faded when I saw the website for Wellspring La Jolla Women’s Weight Loss Camp set on the University of California San Diego’s campus. It seemed like a no-frilly place to focus on exercise and diet. A typical day included an early morning beach walk followed by breakfast, a cardio workout, a session with the cognitive-behavioral coach or nutritional class, lunch, another cardio workout, down time or personal training, dinner, yoga and an evening outing. By the end of the day, we had eaten (roughly) 1200 low fat calories and burned twice that in exercise, revving up our metabolism and shedding weight quickly.
According to Robert Weinhold, Chief Operating Officer of RiverMend Health LLC, the company that acquired the Wellspring Camps in February 2014, “Most everyone comes here knowing they have a weight loss issue but ideally, they leave here knowing that it is a life transformation issue.”
Full immersion programs help break through resistance to change and jump-starts both weight loss and fitness level. Such programs get you moving so that you are fit enough to join a gym, and make you mindful of what you are eating so that you can sustain it through programs like Weight Watchers. The sense of rapid accomplishment creates a momentum that is more easily sustained at home. However, maintaining and sustaining weight loss is tough.
Moving from contemplating changing your life to leaping into a two-week full immersion program may help you celebrate initial weight loss but it takes a good six weeks to break habits while forming new ones.
Adults and teens with more than 30 pounds to lose discover the most benefit from at least a six-week program. Many teens spend the whole summer attending a Wellspring Camp. They return home dancing a lot lighter and basking in the favorable comments of family and friends, ready to launch into the upcoming school year with greater self-confidence and self-esteem. The lifestyle changes integrated over a period of six weeks or more may enable them to naturally sustain a lifestyle of low-fat food and daily exercise, aware of their thoughts that could lead to sabotaging their success, and well on their way to greater health.
Tips for Sustaining Weight Loss
Over the past several weeks since I’ve left the Wellspring Camp, I’ve implemented the Wellspring tips to sustain the weight loss and drop a few more pounds. They may seem simple but they were certainly effective for me.
Keep in mind why you want to lose weight and get fit.
Are you having issues with sugar addiction and can’t break free? Perhaps diabetes, thyroid problems, or metabolic disorders are undermining your health. Studies suggest improved diet and fitness help combat these problems and reduce some of the symptoms and side effects associated with them.
The Wellspring Program had traditionally been a forerunner in behaviorally based weight loss. According to Robert Weinhold, upcoming plans for the Wellspring Women’s Weight Loss program include a medical component that will enhance weight loss and enable individuals to accelerate their metabolic changes their bodies experience. Individuals will receive clear direction as to which weight loss approaches will meet with the greatest results given their metabolic profile. This will not be restricted to the low fat intake approach that was utilized previously for all participating in the Wellspring Plan. In 2015, new science based approaches will become part of the Wellspring Program. These approaches will address sugar intake, differentiation of fat, and will add additional programs to support those with specific medical issues such as post-bariatric surgery, supportive weight loss programs.
Look ahead to where you want to be in the future and keep before you the image of a fit and healthy you. It took years to get into an unhealthy physical state. Give yourself the gift of grace and time to reclaim your health and shed the weight.
Write down everything you eat as well as how much you exercise – every day.
It takes time but become obsessed with logging everything pertaining to your health goals. This simple act keeps you mindful of what you eat before you eat it and motivated to keep moving. Several online programs such as MyFitnessPal.com and fitness trackers such as FitBit make the process easier.
Wellspring gives each participant a pedometer but also offers a techie option where participants wear a FitBit step counter that downloads into the tracker’s website. Reviewing the information online is a powerful motivator as it not only tracks steps but converts it to miles, enables you to log other exercise activities and converts the calorie expenditure. You can also log your food intake and it shows the calories, fat, fiber and protein totals for the day and the week.
The online information gives staff a way of monitoring how well a participant is doing during each day. Teens love the program as the website allows them to “friend” one another online, track how their friends are doing in logging their diet and exercise, and cheer each other on. It forms a more cohesive accountability group. Women love the techie option because it enables them to “friend” one another and form a post-Camp online support group.
I love the online bar graphs that show weekly calories in v. weekly calories burned. Other fitness trackers offer more details both on the wristband and on their websites. Look around and pick one to develop your healthy obsession.
Don’t bring food into the house that will sabotage your weight loss.
The beauty of a full immersion program like Wellspring is that the constantly available salad and fruit bar attracts healthy eating. Within a week or two, you lose your taste for butter, cheese, fatty meats, sugary sweets, and mind-numbing alcohol; and you should be able to sustain those dietary changes at home – IF you plan ahead before you shop.
If you like meat, add it to your grocery list but chose lean cuts. One study noted in the Journal of Nutrition indicated that low-fat, energy-reduced diets, either low-protein (15% energy) or high-protein (30% energy), are equally effective at reducing body weight and body fat mass in healthy individuals. The key to Wellspring’s successful approach is keeping your fats to a minimum.
Plan your weekly exercise routine at home and stick to it.
While attending Wellspring, a lap pool and a gym was constantly available to participants along with scheduled classes that we could attend or not, depending on how we felt. Some days, the body just wanted a little more rest. Other days, we could go full on into three cardio workouts along with lots of walking. At home, you have to be intentional to seek out the exercises that you enjoy – ones that will keep you motivated. Once I got home, I kept up the daily 2 mile morning walks, swam a mile four times a week, tracked at least 5,000 steps a day in addition to that, and added Pilates and stretching in the evening. I lost two pounds a week those first three weeks at home. I’m now swimming less and spending more time in the gym and on hiking trails, continuing to reshape my shrinking body.
Enlist the support of others and plan ahead.
Being in the company of other women courageously working to lose weight and get fit is empowering when you are all together at a fitness camp like Wellspring. But what happens when you go home to family gatherings and vacations?
I bought my sister a FitBit tracker and enlisted her support to help me maintain my weight loss prior to a two-week intergenerational family cruise to Alaska. She practiced logging her activities and diet online well ahead of the cruise; and was as shocked as I was during my first three days at the Wellspring program, to discover how little she had been moving and how much she had been eating. I knew I probably wouldn’t lose any weight with all that cruise ship food around but after developing a healthy obsession, I wasn’t about to gain any back either. Her support was invaluable.
Beware of self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors.
Do you go for the fattening comfort food because you are bored or lonely? As a stress release or because you don’t feel good about yourself that day? If you cannot launch into a weight loss and fitness routine on a consistent basis, or maintain weight loss on your own, consider hiring a Weight Loss Coach and Fitness Trainer.
Everyone needs someone to help him or her leap the hurdles of life and get to the finish line. A good Weight Loss Coach will help you plan for success, develop a plan of action, encourage you through the tough times, motivate you to persevere, and see you to the finish line of your stated goals. A Fitness Trainer will set you up with an exercise plan and help you change that plan as your fitness increases. They offer great support and training in proper exercise techniques. If you find one that specializes in your particular age-related or medical needs, that is a plus!
“Kat” Loren lost 9 pounds during the 2-week Wellspring Women’s Weight Loss Camp and an additional 6 pounds during her first 3 weeks at home. Wellspring doesn’t guarantee the same results for every participant. And no, she didn’t gain any weight on the 2-week cruise because she is maintaining a healthy obsession.
For more information see Wellsprings Programs for teens, young adults, and women at Wellspring Weight Loss and Fitness Program.
RiverMend, Inc. extended a complimentary experience at Wellspring for J “Kat” but the views expressed in this article and the weight loss are her own.
J “Kat” Loren is a Pacific NW-based journalist and author of more than a dozen books. She currently focuses on writing health, fitness, and travel articles. Her blog “Crazi Culture” is a popular read among those who like eclectic topics and travelogues about odd places and adventures. http://www.craziculture.wordpress.com
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