Weighty Matters

These days, the question of how to lose excess weight has a multitude of answers. You can try out a special plan such as the South Beach diet, Weight Watchers, Atkins, Jenny Craig or others. You can join a gym and do Pilates, cardio, weight training and more. You can even try hypnosis.

But do any of these work?

According to personal trainer and weight-loss coach Mariah Wood, it's not about special diets or exercise. To effectively lose weight, you must look at your value system.

"If you have a weight-loss goal but health is not a primary value, it will make losing weight difficult," she says. "People don't look at their value system and what they believe in when they sit down and (try to) lose weight. They need to put health as a top value."

Looking at her values helped Wood lose 25 pounds. "For eight years, I struggled with an overeating disorder," she says. "I was 30 pounds overweight, depressed and self-conscious. Through suffering, I looked within and asked myself what my values were."

Wood determined that she valued helping others. "I'm here to empower others. The only way to do this is to have a healthy body. Because of my intention to help others, it motivates me to exercise and eat the right foods. ... I am living from a purpose to serve others."

Wood has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology from San Diego State University. In the program, she studied exercise science and nutrition. Wood conducts private sessions with clients to "discuss goals with weight loss, look at obstacles they may have and ways to work through them." But her true love is public speaking.

Wood will lecture on "Weight Loss: What You Really Need to Know" at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 7. The free lecture will be held at Physicians' Institute of Exercise Physiology, Rillito Business Park, 4570 N. First Ave., Suite 150. Call 780-8515 for more information.

Wood will cover several topics in her lecture.

"First, we look at where we are today and the health crisis--why more than 80 percent of Americans are overweight. We'll examine what we perceive the cause of the health crisis to be, how we are going about trying to fix the causes, and why those aren't working as well as we think they should be. That's when we look at values.

"You need to get clear about your values in life. Is health a value? Values are the foundation that we make decisions from. People may want to lose weight, but health may be way down on their list of values. You need to take an honest look at your top five values in life. With values, a habit system has to be formed. This is something to be practiced at least 30 days straight.

"You are presented with a decision when you go to dinner with family. You can have a salad or a hamburger and bun. If you are not clear on your values, you will select what feels good in the moment. When you eat, you have the opportunity to face your values. When I faced the craving to eat ice cream, I pulled out my values. I wrote them on a piece of paper. They empower me to make better decisions."

Wood has decided that her goal is "to empower people to take responsibility with their lives." She is doing this through speaking and education. "I am very serious about his," she says. "My goal is to become the Anthony Robbins of fitness."

Besides Wood's lecture, the Physicians' Institute of Exercise Physiology offers a free monthly program of lectures. The year-old facility is co-owned by Kent Waller. Waller has a master's degree in cardiovascular physiology and exercise science. He employs six master's-level exercise physiologists at the institute.

"We accommodate all different individuals," says Waller. "We see clients who are professional athletes, those with M.S. and Parkinson's; we deal with childhood obesity and offer generalized fitness (programs)."

At 10 a.m., Saturday, July 9, Waller will discuss "Nutrition Timing and How It Really Works." Waller will discuss when nutrients such as protein, fat and carbohydrates need to be ingested and what someone needs to do in order to metabolize them effectively.

"If you eat a high glycemic food and sit, it turns to fat. If you eat a high glycemic food and exercise, it's utilized, supplying energy to muscles versus being stored in fat cells. There's a proper time for protein and complex carbohydrates."

Waller says we can all follow this formula. Similar to Wood's value-system plan, the plan doesn't involve specialized diets or a particular exercise program. Perhaps the secret to effective weight loss is easier than we think.

For more information about Physicians' Institute of Exercise Physiology, visit piepnet.org.

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