Monday, July 29, 2013

Meet our Member: Heather

When Heather came to us at Square One, she shared an inspiring story of how she had already lost over 300lbs ON HER OWN! Heather is an amazing gal, and now that she's a member we asked if she would participate in a monthly blog post to follow her journey with us. She has happily agreed, and below you will find her first post. Please extend a warm welcome to Heather!
My blogging is going to be about my journey. I feel this is the best way for you all to get to know the "real me".

My journey began 8 years ago when I was in a very bad place in my life. My marriage had ended and I was now a single mom weighing in at over 600lbs. My dad was battling cancer at the time, and my world completely flipped upside down. 

The day my life changed everything hit home. I went to stay with my sick dad so my mom could have a break. We were sitting there in the gloomy, dark hospital room, and my dad looks at me with tears in his eyes and I asked him what was wrong. He turned to me and said "Heather, getting cancer was a HUGE wake up call for me. I look at my children and am so scared that they may pass away before I do.... Heather I'm petrified that you won't be here to raise your son, you need to change your lifestyle. I love you, you're an amazing mom and daughter. I don't want Seth to grow up without you."

That conversation changed my life. The next day I walked into the Y and asked if they had financial services to help me get a membership. I was determined to be a healthier, better mom for my son. I met with a personal trainer and he put me on a diet and exercise program. I did very well for a few months, but then I was laid off from my job. 

Once again I found myself being an "emotional eater" and I turned to fried, sweet, fatty foods to comfort me. I went to the gym every day asking if there was any type of volunteer or possibly paid position I could come into. I landed a position there shortly afterward and that is where I met Marty & Amy Wolff. I did their Shape Up program and in my first week I lost 26 lbs. I was motivated and excited for this journey - finally something caught my attention and was keeping me focused on chasing my dreams to be healthy and fit!

During this program I got injured and had to leave the program. I was devastated, thinking "how am I going to lose this weight on my own? How I going to reach my goals?" 

After my injury was healed I was determined to make my dad proud. I made a bet with him if he did chemotherapy for one year & fought this battle I promised to lose 100lbs. I was motivated and so was he; I lost 163lbs and my dad beat colon cancer in that year. 

I was still on my journey; I wanted to lose another 163lbs. A year later our family got the news my dad had stage 4 liver cancer and I knew I had a purpose to make a difference for myself and my family. I continued my journey and I am still on it today. 

To date I've lost 353lbs. I lost my dad to his battle April 28, 2008, but I continue to honor his memory by moving forward with my weight loss journey.  My goal is to help others on their journey to be healthier, happier, and more powerful individuals. 

Thank you for allowing me to share my story. I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you all. God bless.

Want to know more about Square One? Check us out at . Stay tuned next month for another great blog post by Heather! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Weight Discrimination

As our society has evolved, there has been more and more awareness about discrimination. The internet and social media has allowed for protests and movements to go global, and opinions to become both louder and stronger.

But one area that isn't often explored or talked about is the area of weight discrimination. In fact, there are plenty of people who may find certain jokes about race or sex distasteful, but will laugh heartily at jokes about weight!

Recently, weight discrimination hit the news (and social media) with the revelation from the founder of Abercrombie & Fitch revealed that he specifically does not carry "plus sizes" because it "attracts uncool people," thus labeling all people larger than a size 10 as being "uncool." This came back into focus at the same time that Gov. Chris Christie underwent weight loss surgery and mentioned in an interview how weight discrimination was still considered an "acceptable" form of discrimination. "Weightism" has now made it into our vocabulary, and even has it's own Wikipedia page. A man even recently tried to sue an employer who actually told him that he was "too fat" to work there - despite the fact that "weight" does not make it into a protected class under federal work discrimination laws.

This perpetual stigma led to a recent study that showed that weight discrimination actually INCREASED individuals' risk to become obese! It discussed that there are often deep-rooted emotional and psychological issues involved with gaining weight, and by being discriminated against people often gain more weight rather than lose weight from these societal pressures. This just adds to a list of recent studies that have uncovered the various effects that weight plays when looking at likelihood of employment, health risks, and even whether or not a student is accepted to graduate school.

What do we do about this growing area of discrimination? The Council on Size & Weight Discrimination offers the following advice to fight discrimination:
"Freeing yourself from weight obsession is the most important first step.
2. Decide not to judge anyone based on their weight, size, or shape.
Recognize that you may have prejudices, and make an effort to rid yourself of them.
3. Tell your friends and family that you have decided to be happy just as you are.
Going public about accepting your body can make a big difference in your world.
4. Don't laugh at fat jokes. Tell the person you don't think it's funny.
We know ethnic jokes are wrong; we have to stop accepting fat jokes as well.
5. Pay attention to media images. Notice when people are put down because of their size.
If you want to really make changes, write to the media and say you don't like it.
6. Notice when an ad or program tries to make you feel bad about your size.
Becoming thin won't make us happy, but those ads keep trying to convince us it will.
7. Decide not to buy products from companies that disrespect people because of their weight.
Let the companies know how you feel about their ad campaigns.
8. Speak out against weight discrimination.
Talk to friends, family, schoolmates, as well as the media and businesses.
9. Remember that strong, healthy, beautiful people come in all shapes and sizes.
Every person deserves respect based on who they are, not on how they look."

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fitness: Myths & Facts

Fitness is an ever-evolving industry, where one day's fact can become the next day's myth. That is why it is important to work whenever possible with certified trainers who keep up to date on the latest industry news.

Here are some common fitness myths and the truth about them:

- Myth #1: You can "target" areas of your body for weight loss.
- Fact: Actually, when you are talking about workouts, you are NOT able to target areas. Yes, you can tone muscle groups, but over those groups there is a layer of fat that you will have to burn and that is not something that is able to be targeted. Our bodies decide where they want to burn fat from, and often those areas we'd like to get rid of the most (belly, rear) are the last to have fat burned off.

- Myth #2: Running on a treadmill is easier on your knees than pavement.
- Fact: Nope, it's actually your weight that has the most impact on your knees. Gravity forces your weight down on your knees when you run, so it doesn't matter if you are on a treadmill or pavement because your weight remains the same on both.

- Myth #3: If you want the best way to lose weight, you need to drastically reduce your calories. 
- Fact: Calories do impact the amount of weight that we gain or lose, but our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for and will begin to slow their metabolism and store fat if you drop your calories too low. Your best bet is to never dip below 1200 calories/day for a woman and 1800 calories/day for a man, and to eat well-balanced meals.

- Myth #4: Only fat people need to exercise.
- Fact: Exercise has health benefits that far exceed weight loss, and the Mayo Clinic estimates that over half of "normal sized" adults have more than 20 percent (for women) or 30 percent (for men) body fat. While they may "look" healthy, they still run the same risks that any other adult faces when their body fat is that high, including diabetes. Thus, people of every size should engage in regular exercise.

- Myth #5: Drinking tons of water will help you lose weight.
- Fact: You might burn a few extra calories running between the bathroom and the kitchen, but drinking water won't stop you from being hungry or help you to flush out fat. Scientists have determined that there is actually no real benefit to drinking excess water (except, of course, if you are sick), and that you should only drink when you are thirsty. 6-8 glasses of water per day is average.

What other myths have YOU run into?