Life Time Weight Loss Getting Started Guide
Saturday, January 19, 2013
LifeTime WeightLoss in Exercise, Metabolism, Mindset, Movement, Nutrition, Stress and Sleep, Tom Nikkola, help losing weight

If you've spent any length of time reading the blog posts on this site, you've noticed we're not fans of the conventional advice given to people about how to manage their weight. Eat less, exercise more, eat more whole grains, avoid saturated fat, eat more fruit even if it's in the form of fruit juice - these are all common recommendations made for people trying to manage their weight and improve their health. In reality, these recommendations seem to be serving food companies bottom lines more than the bottoms of those who follow the recommendations. 

Nutrition certainly plays a key role in health and weight management, but the nutrition advice we've been given since the first version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans on January 14, 1977 is probably not the kind of advice we should have been following for the past 36 years. In addition, our focus on the calorie balance equation has taken peoples' eyes of other important components to a long-lasting weight management program.

When we address weight management at Life Time Weight Loss, we break down our approach into five major areas with any given individual. Each of these areas has been shown to significantly affect one's ability to manage weight and maintain optimal health. Looking at the diagram below, you can also see mindset sits at the center of it all. In this primer on Life Time Weight Loss, I'll take us through an overview of each of these components to our programming. In future posts, we'll get more in depth on each of them. As always, I encourage you to post questions or keep the conversation going in the comments area at the bottom. Our Life Time Weight Loss team is eager to share their insights online as well as in person, and sometimes the best way to do that is through a discussion that stems from one of our blog posts. That said, let's take a look at how we address health and long-term weight management. 


The term metabolism has become quite a buzzword. Look at most health-related magazines on the newsstand and you'll see on any given month, many of them use the word to draw your attention. Usually, it's in reference to "boosting your metabolism," which is the idea that a certain type of workout, food, supplement of lifestyle practice will cause your body to burn an increased number of calories. This is a very limited perspective of what metabolism actually is. Your metabolism includes all of the thousands of chemical reactions that occur to combat disease, fight infection, provide energy to the body, maintain proper body temperature and blood sugar levels, balance hormones and much more. The way the body manages everything to sustain life is all related to metabolism. Because it is so complex, there are many ways we can disrupt the body's ability to maintain an optimal metabolism. Our environment, lifestyle, nutrition habits, exercise, movement (or lack of it), genetics, toxins and more influence our metabolisms. 

While the type of foods we eat play a major role in determining whether we stay lean or gain rolls of extra body fat, there are other factors in one's metabolism that also play a role. When we get an individual started with any of our weight loss programs, the first step is a Metabolic Profile Assessment. This unique assessment looks at some basic blood prarameters, fitness measurements and an assessment of one's ability to burn fat and carbohydarte at varying heart rate levels. In all, a Metabolic Profile Assessment includes:

Once the assessment is completed, a unique picture of one's starting point is created. Our Health and Fitness Professionals then use this information to create a very personalized plan. Though this is a fantastic starting point, some people take the assessment of their metabolism to a much deeper level with additional lab testing. The bottom line is that the more one knows about his or her metabolic health, the greater the chance he or she will succeed. About one in ten women have hypothyroidism, and one in four men over the age of 30 have low testosterone. These are just two examples of factors that can impact one's ability to manage a healthy weight that has little to do with nutrition and exercise. Fortunately, these and other measures of metabolism can easily be tested through a simple blood draw. You can learn more here, check out some of the tests at Life Time Lab Testing, or talk with a Health and Fitness Professional at one of our centers. 

Beyond Eat Well. Live Well., here are some additional blog posts that are good starting points on metabolism:


There is no escaping the fact that nutrition plays an enormous role in the ability to manage weight. The processed-food, carbohydrate and sugar-rich Standard American Diet is a good example of what not to do if you want to be lean and healthy. There are hundreds of articles on this site that cover the topic of nutrition in varying levels of depth. Those just getting started will find tremendous benefit from starting with reading our Eat Well. Live Well. nutrition manual. You do get a printed copy along with a companion journal when you take part in any of the Life Time Weight Loss program. You can also download a PDF version here

Of the hundreds of nutrition articles available on our site, here are a few good ones to check out first:


When I started my career at Life Time as a personal trainer, I didn't give movement much thought. I was on my feet for most of the day with clients or assisting members, and fit my own workout in during the middle of the day. I was moving for most of the day. The past five years I've been at our corporate office and have had to make a conscious effort to move during the day. The level of activity we have throughout the day has a major effect on metabolism. Spending too much time sitting makes the body more of a sugar-burner, reduces range of motion in the joints, causes the body to store more fat in the belly (the most unhealthy place to store fat), and can lead to other metabolic problems as well. To maintain optimal health, we feel it's vitally important to get up and move around many times throughout the day. We recommend people get at least 10,000 steps in every day to make sure they're getting up and moving around enough. Ideally, these 10,000 steps should be spread out throughout the day rather than forced into a small window of time.

To learn more about the importance of movement in your health and weight management program, these are a few recommended blog posts:


The exercise industry is filled with almost as much misinformation as the food/nutrition industry. You don't have to follow the most insane program advertised on television, sweat through your shirt with every workout, or limp around with muscle soreness for days after a workout to benefit from exercise. In fact, those examples mean you're probably doing some counterproductive to your health and weight management goals. An exercise session, or training session, should be designed as a stimulus to help your body change. Generally speaking, cardiovascular training appeals more to women and strength training appeals more to men but they are both important. In fact, you could even say that if it came to one or the other, the long-term benefits of strength training may outweigh those from cardio. As mentioned above when we talked about the Active Metabolic Assessment, the heart rate one exercises at when doing cardio or endurance can be more important than the type of activity one takes part in. Once you know what heart rate you should be training at, a heart rate monitor helps you stay in the right training zone to get the most out of your cardiovascular or endurance training. Most shoe commercials on TV leave you believing you need to run to lose weight, but that is not true. In fact, you'll probably enjoy running more once the weight is lost. Generally speaking, exercise sessions should be done three to five times per week and include a mix of strength training and cardiovascular training when weight loss is the primary goal. 

The following are some blog posts to help provide additional direction for exercise:

Stress & Sleep

We usually address the topics of stress and sleep together, as they tend to feed into one another. The high levels of stress people are under reduce their ability to sleep. A lack of sleep increases stress levels. Both can increase reliance on sugar over fat for fuel, increase cravings for junk food, cause muscle breakdown, reduce overall movement throughout the day, and increase belly fat and insulin resistance. We like to tell ourselves we manage stress well and we get enough sleep, when we actually track sleep and pay attention to our daily stress levels, it's worse than we realize. Getting eight hours of sleep on one weekend night doesn't make up for averaging five hours a night the rest of the week. Working exercise into your daily schedule may not offset the effects of the high stress levels you encounter throughout the week. 

These are some great posts to check out related to stress and sleep:


Finally, we have mindset. We don't see mindset as a physical cause of weight gain or poor health so much as we see it as a road block to making changes in the areas above. Self-talk and self-perception are important, but the reality is that most people just don't know what they don't know. What they've been told about nutrition, lifestyle and exercise isn't right. From a content perspective, most of the blog posts on the site related to correcting misinformation or trying to reinforce the right nutrition, lifestyle and exercise choices. Once you know what you should be doing, and can be honest about what you are currently doing, your set up to make change. Behavior change doesn't happen overnight. Group support or personalized coaching are  important to in helping you stick with the changes. We provide a variety of content to help shape your perspective on weight management and health, but Life Time Weight Loss also offers group support, like our signia and palara programs, or one-on-one attention through utopa or other weight loss coaching. The bottom line is, if you want  to live differently than you live today, you should surround yourself with the right people, who can help you maintain the right state of mind to make change over time.

Share thoughts, post questions and add comments below. Keep the conversation going.

Written by Tom Nikkola – Sr. Director of Nutrition & Weight Management

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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