Get Moving with Four-Facet Fitness


Part 10 of 10

By Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz


Look up the word “exercise,” and you’ll find it described as “activity requiring physical effort,” “training,” and “workout.” If you check out its Middle English origins, you’ll discover roots from Latin exercitium, meaning, “keep busy, practice.” In other words, whichever way you turn the kinetic kaleidoscope, it seems like a major effort and a lot of work. At the same time, most of us have learned to think of “exercise” as something you should do; for many, it’s yet another chore you should fit into an already-overloaded day. Might all these “shoulds,” admonishing us to do what many perceive as an unpleasant activity, be key reasons that only about 16 percent of Americans, aged 15 years and older, participate in sports and exercise activities on an average day?

Most of us know that burning calories and speeding up your metabolism helps you stay slim. But have you considered that there might be more to physical activity than burning calories? Many of us haven’t. Did you know that teamwork—using a “family” of fitness strategies—often unfamiliar ones—can increase your chances not only of losing weight and keeping it off, but help protect you from a plethora of other ailments—from breast cancer to depression? Most of us don’t.

Consider this: physical activity has the power to boost your immune system to help you ward off illness; enhance feel-good feelings; put you “in the zone” so you feel one with the world; and connect you with others. In other words, if you bring movement and motion that you actually enjoy into your life everyday, not only are you more likely to attain and maintain weight loss, you’ll benefit from what we call the “four-facets of fitness.”


Four-Facets of Fitness for the Whole Person

In the first nine steps of our BE A SUCCESSFUL LOSER series, we’ve been telling you about our “whole person” approach to nutrition, eating, and weight loss (see “The Program” for more about this). We call it “whole person” because we’ve been revealing a way of eating and living that nourishes you biologically (what to eat), psychologically (food and feelings), spiritually (eating with mindfulness), and socially (dining with others). If your intention is to lose weight and you stay with whole person eating, you’ll accomplish this and more: you’ll enjoy balanced emotions, spiritual well-being, and social connection. So, too, with four–facet fitness, meaning, exercise has the power to heal you physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. In other words, fit movement and motion into your everyday life and it could enhance your entire being.

Fitness Facet #1: Physical Well-Being. One of the most effective actions you can take to attain and maintain weight loss is to replace body fat with more muscle mass. Three types of physical activity allow you to do this: aerobic activity (walking, bicycling, etc.); resistance work (stretch bands, lifting weights, Pilates, etc.); stretching/flexibility (yoga, etc.) Integrate these three types of movement and motion into your life on a regular basis to achieve optimal results.

Fitness Facet #2: Feel-good feelings. Exhilaration, well-being, accomplishment: these aren’t words we always associate with exercise. But if you exercise regularly, and you take the time to tune in to your emotions while you’re in motion and when you stop, it’s likely you’ll be feeling pretty good. Ongoing exercise (thirty minutes or more) causes hormones (those naturally occurring chemical messengers in your body) to kick in. One of these is endorphins. Produced in the pituitary gland, endorphins not only decrease your appetite, but they also reduce tension and anxiety. Make exercise a regular part of your life, and after several months you’ll experience a super high from endorphins. And they’ll continue to circulate in your blood for quite a while after you’ve exercised.

Fitness Facet #3: In the Zone. Many athletes describe being “in the zone” as an indescribable experience. When it occurs, you may have a sense of being one with the motion and your surroundings. Could it be the endorphins that have kicked in, or the alpha brain waves that combat depression and put you in a state of relaxation? Or is it a mystery, the same life force that enhances digestion and somehow stabilizes your weight when you eat with sensory regard (see “Step #5: Nourish Your Senses, Lose Weight”) and in serene surroundings (see Step #7, “Stress More, Eat More”). In other words, being “in the zone” is a spiritual connection.

Fitness Facet #4: Social Fitness. Here’s a typical scene if you pass through San Francisco’s large Chinatown district early in the morning: a large group of people silently practicing tai chi (an ancient Chinese discipline that involves the mind, breath, and movement to create a calm, natural balance of energy) in a park in the cool morning fog. In unison and in super–slow motion, each person in the group would move through the ancient and exact movements of his or her tai chi practice. The image can seem like an oasis, something not quite real appearing suddenly and unexpectedly in the center of a major city. Whether the activity is soccer, dance, hiking, football, bowling, or ancient Asian movements, for thousands of years people have exercised with others.


Motion Possibilities

As with the other elements we’ve been discussing throughout our 10-step weight loss series, integrating movement and motion into your everyday life is yet another “way of being” from which we’ve veered during the last few decades. Our society has become sedentary. Television, computers, and video games contribute to children’s inactive lifestyles; 43 percent of adolescents watch more than two hours of television each day. The antidote? Look over the menu of movement options we’ve created for you, then follow your personal inclinations and lifestyle needs for getting into motion.

Follow your “fitness instinct.” Medical anthropologist and fitness expert Peg Jordan has created a unique personalized approach to working out. Her philosophy: make it something you love to do, and you’re more likely to succeed. To help you figure this out, Jordan has developed workout options based on what she calls your “fitness instinct,” that is, ways to move based on your personal, inborn preferences and personality.

When you’re tired…
Play with a hoola hoop.
Practice tai chi.
Take a yoga class.

When you’re wired…
Do a walking meditation.
Move to music.
Get a massage.

When you’re experiencing body boredom…
Take a salsa or swing-dancing class.
Take improvisational acting lessons.
Garden or build sand castles.

When you’re stuck in routine…
Take a kick-boxing class.
Go river rafting.
Take a rigorous nature hike.1

Mix It Up. Here’s a varied selection of movement options from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which recommends that adults exercise at least thirty minutes daily; children and teens should target fifty minutes of activity each day. The USDA Physical Activity Pyramid offers both moderate and vigorous physical activity possibilities.

Walking briskly (about 3½ miles per hour)
Golfing (walking and carrying your own clubs)
Weight training (a general light workout)

Running, jogging (5 miles per hour)
Bicycling (more than 10 miles per hour)
Swimming (freestyle laps)
Walking fast (4½ miles per hour)
Lifting heavy weights
Playing competitive basketball2


Get Moving with Four-Facet Fitness!

Both food and movement have the power to heal in multiple dimensions—physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. Here, step #10, for moving with the four facets of fitness in mind:

Step #10: Expand your vision of exercise to include yet another way to nourish yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially—each time you are in action.

Four-facet fitness tells us that movement and motion influence your entire being—including your weight. Consider using this wisdom to replace the “you-should-exercise” mentality with whole person exercise options that feed you multidimensionally—each time you are in action.

THANK YOU for visiting our 10-step weight-loss series.

This post, “Get Moving with Four-Facet Fitness,” is the 10th step in our 10-Step SUCCESSFUL LOSER weight-loss series. With each step, we’ve shown you how to eat optimally by explaining and demystifying seven overeating styles and other lifestyle changes that don’t show up on food charts.

The ultimate message is simple: the healing gifts of food are available each time you eat. Taking pleasure in food, eating fresh food mindfully, nourishing yourself with positive emotions as you eat, savoring flavors and surroundings, eating with others, quitting chemical cuisine, getting restorative sleep, and integrating movement into your life—these are at the heart of achieving and maintaining optimal weight and well-being.

Remember that it is a process, a lifetime adventure you can take to nourish your biological, psychological, spiritual, and social well-being each time you eat, sleep, and get moving. When you eat and live this way, you’re fed more than food. Each dining experience—indeed, your life—becomes an occasion to nourish your entire being, and to turn the tide of weight gain.


  1. Peg Jordan, The Fitness Instinct: The Revolutionary New Approach to Healthy Exercise That Is Fun, Natural, and No Sweat (Emmaus, PA: Rodale Books, 2000); WebMD Live Events Transcript Archive, “Exercise: Get Going and Keep Going—Peg Jordan, PhD, RN,” January 21, 2003, (accessed February 2, 2007).
  2. United States Department of Agriculture, “Inside the Pyramid: What Is Physical Activity?”, (accessed February 2, 2007).


Visit our free Whole Person Nutrition Program for more about what and how to eat to be a successful loser. It’s filled with practical guidelines, menu plans, recipes, and more.


“Step #1: Lose Weight Without Dieting”
“Step #2: Overcoming Emotional Eating”
“Step #3: Eat Fresh, Weigh Less”
“Step #4: The Weight Loss Power of Mindfulness”
“Step #5: Nourish Your Senses, Lose Weight”
“Step #6: Eat with Others, Eat Less”
“Step #7: Stress More, Eat More”
“Step #8: Chemical Cuisine: A New Saboteur of Weight”
“Step #9: The ‘Magic Sleep Number’ for Weight Loss”

“Sleep More, Weigh Less” in Make Weight Loss Last
“Quit Chemical Cuisine” in Make Weight Loss Last
“Dine by Design” in Make Weight Loss Last
“Enjoy Food with Others” in Make Weight Loss Last
“Focus on Food” in Make Weight Loss Last
“Get Fresh” in Make Weight Loss Last
“Access Your Appetite” in Make Weight Loss Last
“Jettison Judgment” in Make Weight Loss Last
“The Healing Secret of Socializing” in The Healing Secrets of Food
“The Healing Secret of Mindfulness” in The Healing Secrets of Food

You’ll get plenty of clarity about what’s true and useful—or not—by keeping up with nutritionist Deborah Kesten, MPH, and research scientist Larry Scherwitz, PhD, the writers of this post, by liking them on Facebookfollowing them on Twitter, or sending us an email.


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