I agreed to be the Health Coach for the BetterU Health Makeover challenge because it wasn’t a weight loss competition. I’m not a fan of “Biggest Loser” type competitions that incentivize people to focus on short-term weight loss at the expense of long-term health and happiness.
That doesn’t mean most of the women who apply don’t want to lose weight. Who doesn’t want to look good in their favorite pair of jeans? Maintaining a normal body weight is also a part of long-term health but it is not the ONLY number that matters.
Overcoming the emphasis on the scale is sometimes a frustrating challenge during the first few weeks. The BetterU ladies are highly motivated and do a great job of applying the 4 Keys to Real Fitness. They start to feel better and stronger right away but they sometimes get discouraged because THAT NUMBER doesn’t move much initially.
There are, however, other numbers that DO make big moves in the first few weeks of the program. Terri’s story is an excellent example of how we can redefine success by shifting focus from one number to another.
Terri applied for BetterU for many reasons but her family history was the biggest. She lost both parents to heart attacks. Her sister passed away just over 3 years ago after having a massive heart attack in her sleep. I remember our first meeting was on the anniversary of her sister’s passing and how she described everything she had been through since. She was ready for a new beginning, to come out of her grief and start living again. She wanted to be there for her kids and grandkids, to be for them what she was missing in her own life.
She had lost weight in the past with a popular Very Low Calorie diet program. For anyone coming off these types of program, the weight loss is incredibly difficult to maintain. When you are grieving it is nearly impossible. With a metabolism that had slowed down due to severe calorie restriction, Terri’s weight didn’t really change much at first. She knew she felt better but she shared with me one day after a personal training session how discouraged she was because THAT NUMBER wasn’t moving. We discussed the probable causes and I did my best to reassure her that while the scale didn’t show much progress I knew she was making big progress in her daily habits and how her body was functioning. It was just going to take some time to get her metabolism moving again.
We didn’t meet for the two weeks before and after the Fourth of July weekend. When we met the following Saturday for our BetterU group workout I could tell something was different. When I asked for “Went Wells” Terri shared how success had manifested itself with a different set of numbers.
My (initial labs) at Mercy were high, but not what I considered awful. My cholesterol was 251 with my LDL being 149 and HDL 52. My triglycerides were 253. A health issue sent me to the doctor (during our break). The doctor ordered blood work and the results completely shocked me. The blood work this time showed my cholesterol was 185 with my LDL 106 and HDL 57. And triglycerides had dropped to 109! I was ready to do the happy dance. I was shocked that everything could change so much in less than 30 days.
Losing weight was still important to Terri but an important shift had occurred. It was only part of the goal now, one of many numbers that could define health and fitness in Terri’s eyes. She now felt the success I was seeing the whole time! She was as proud of herself as I had been since day 1!
As predicted that other number also started to move as well. As we move toward the Go Red for Women luncheon I know Terri is still thinking about how she will look in her red dress. But I also know she is looking at her health beyond the dress size. She is looking forward to a life were she is there for those who love her and whom she cares about. That optimism, that inner strength and health, will make her glow as she walks the runway.