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Welcome to The Quest, a newsletter intended to inspire and inform those interested in experiencing optimal well being in body, mind and spirit. For archived newsletters and more information, please see my website at www.deborahlow.com.

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February 2004

In this issue of The Quest:

1. The Quest Quote
2. The Quest Question
3. The Quest Article: Is Atkins “Going on a Diet?”
4. News

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1. Quote:
Being inspired is fine for a week, and being motivated might work for a month or so, but to make any lifestyle change last a lifetime, you need dedication. ~ John Bingham, running columnist

How are your January goals progressing? The month of February is often a more accurate test of our dedication towards change. If you haven’t continued with your plan, spend some time today to reassess your resolutions to ensure that they are actually important to you and worth your energy. If they are, re-adjust your expectations or original plan of action in order to get back on track.

2. Question:
I have been doing an hour of exercise every morning for the past five weeks and have felt great, but lately I am not motivated to give it my all in each workout.  Is this normal?  What can I do to fix it? Michelle Allen, age: 28

Very normal. First of all, you didn’t mention what type of exercise you are doing, but an intense hour of any type of exercise, seven days a week is bordering on doing too much. Answer these questions: Are you tired? How is your energy level when you are not exercising? Are you sleeping poorly, or having a difficult time getting out of bed in the morning? Is your resting heart rate elevated? These symptoms, along with a lack of motivation, are key signs of over training. When we over train and fail to give our body necessary recovery days and adequate nutrition, our fitness improvements will stop altogether.

If you suspect that you may be overdoing it, take a break from your program at least one to two days a week. If you want to be active on your ‘rest’ days keep it mild, like a stretch class or a social walk. You may also want to look at your diet. Are you eating too few or too many calories? Eating too few calories zaps our energy, killing even the best intentions to exercise. The chronic dieter knows this only too well. Cut the calories in your diet too much and most fitness plans go out the window. How do you expect to have the motivation to exercise when you are merely meeting your body’s caloric requirements to sleep all day? Is it any surprise that after a long day at work the couch looks more attractive then your gym bag? For the well-seasoned dieter that struggles with motivation, increase your consumption of healthy calories by 200-300 a day, over the next few weeks and give your body the physical support it needs to help you meet your fitness goals.

Eating too much is also detrimental to our motivation level. Our bodies get sluggish and tired when they are required to work overtime—digesting and assimilating more food then necessary. Think: Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Most would agree that the hour after eating a rich, heavy meal is not the most energized moment of the day. Lighten the workload on your body. Feed it small, regular balanced meals throughout the day and watch your energy and motivation levels return.

Are you lacking protein, healthy fats or complex carbohydrates in your diet? Are you drinking water throughout the day and replenishing fluids after exercising? Few of us eat the perfect diet each day, but the closer we get to meeting the basic nutritional needs of our bodies, the more they will reward us with energy, mental clarity, and of course, the motivation to move. Address these issues first and see if your motivation at the gym returns.

If you have none of the above symptoms and eat a nutrition-packed diet, perhaps you are simply getting bored with your current routine. Mix it up and try something totally different. When we are challenged with taking a new dance class, or learning to play a racquet sport, you can’t help but work hard! Leave the stationary equipment in the gym, tune up your outdoor bike and tear up the neighborhood. Often our motivation to get physical starts as a mental exercise to quell boredom.

3. Article: Is Atkins “Going on a Diet?”
As most of you know, I am not interested in filling this newsletter discussing ‘new and improved’ diets. I strongly believe that good health and weight loss success comes from eating a balanced diet of natural foods (remember fruits & veggies, whole grains, lean protein sources and unprocessed, ‘real’ foods?). Equally as important, there must first be a shift in our attitude towards being healthy—one that feeds our mind, body and spirit. That said, I would be a fool to ignore the low-carb/high protein diet that is overtaking the nation this moment.

The notion of cutting sugar and white flour from our diets and ensuring adequate, quality protein intake is exactly what I suggest in my book, however, we can get into a lot of trouble, health-wise, when we lump all carbohydrates into one empty pot (an apple is not synonymous with a can of Coke). Likewise, the nutritional content of one serving of ‘chicken-fried’ steak cannot be compared to that of a lean piece of Ahi tuna. This recent article on WebMD addresses some of the issues surfacing around the Atkins diet. Hear what the representatives from Atkins say in defense of their regime now that the competition around ‘new and improved’ versions of Atkins-type diets climbs the best selling charts. I hope it’s helpful. Is Atkins "Going on a diet?"

4. News

With only a few weeks of my pregnancy left, I thank you for the book suggestions, tips, and overall warmth expressed in your emails. They have been an incredible source of information and inspiration for me. Keep them coming! I will (hopefully) have baby news in the upcoming March newsletter.

Please share this newsletter with your friends! I welcome your questions and comments and always love to hear what you are interested in reading about.

The new edition of the book is now available through: www.hyperionbooks.com. Or request it at any bookstore, ISBN: 0786888881.

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Please submit your comments or questions by replying to this newsletter at deborah@deborahlow.com. I look forward to your feedback.