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Mentors Make The Journey A Little Less Lonely

Posted Oct 25 2008 4:48pm
In the last year, I’ve gotten several emails from people who seem to have no one to talk to about losing weight, no one to guide them or show them the ropes. I know there are countless books out there, programs to follow, websites to read, but there’s something about having one or a few people you can talk to, ask questions of, and follow their example that takes weight loss from a lonely, sometimes scary proposition to a successful venture.

I’ve been thinking about the people who mentored me in this journey. I’ve received a lot of good (and some bad) advice over the last four years, but mentoring goes beyond advice. It’s a relationship, either formal or informal, in which someone more experienced teaches or models behavior or concepts to someone less experienced.

I owe a great deal of gratitude to a few folks I met on the Weight Watchers message board I joined in early 2005 who patiently answered my questions about food and exercise. They went beyond advice and offered not only their personal experience, but directed me to other sources of information as well. They also took the time to follow up with me to see how I was doing.

Mentors are more than role models. It’s the personal interaction between two people that gives the relationship depth. I know it’s possible to lose weight and exercise without mentors, but perhaps alone is what makes the journey more difficult.

I’m curious: Who were/are your mentors? Is there someone who got you started or keeps you going on your weight-loss or fitness plan? How did you find them?

In the spirit of mentoring and offering help to those who are just starting out, I thought I’d throw a reader’s question out to you for your feedback. Jo wants to know about strength training. Because of my arthritic feet and knees, I don’t do much lower-body specific strength training (I’d never get up again if I tried a lunge!) so I’m wondering if you could help her with some advice on what you do, both upper and lower body.

Here’s what Jo wrote: “I am anxious to introduce exercise into my daily routine, but like you, I don't jump out of bed looking forward to it. (I've never exercised in my life!) I intend to start walking this week, but I'm also interested in some weight training exercises. I have a torn rotator cuff, too, so I'd be curious to know what you do. Could you possibly share that with me?”

I first need to caution Jo not to do anything until she talks to her doctor, particularly about her rotator cuff injury. After an MRI and diagnosis, I chose not to have surgery, but rather I consulted my chiropractor who recommended Active Release Muscle Therapy and physical therapy exercises to strengthen my rotator cuff muscles. I have been doing both for more than a year now and while I still have some pain and weakness in my shoulders, much of that is related to arthritis and not the tear, something surgery will not cure.

I have found several exercises – using dumbbells, a barbell, and my own body weight – to strengthen my abs/core, biceps, back, triceps and shoulders that don’t aggravate my condition. I recommend the books “ Body For Life for Women ” by Pamela Peeke, “ The Body Sculpting Bible for Women ” by James Villepigue, Hugo Rivera, Nicole Rollolazo, and Robert Kennedy, and “ Strength Training For Women ” by Joan Pagano. Also, look to your local gym for personal trainers who specialize in training people with arthritis or sports injuries. Be very careful not to overdo it and always, ALWAYS listen to your body. While some pain is to be expected when you first start to exercise, excessive and long-lasting pain isn’t.

Thanks, as always, my awesome readers for inspiring me and keeping me on the right path. I can’t imagine walking this path alone
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