Irwin native JJ Flizanes says shedding emotional baggage key to weight loss, wellness
For JJ Flizanes, losing weight isn't only about shedding unwanted pounds.
It's also about the extra baggage you can't see.
“Most of the exercise, diet and weight loss programs out there focus on the exterior, or the visible — how many pounds you've shed or how many inches you've lost — but they fail to address the invisible,” said Flizanes, an Irwin native, who lives in Los Angeles. An author, her latest book is “The Invisible Fitness Formula: 5 Secrets to Release Weight & End Body Shame” (Motivational Press).
Flizanes is a Hempfield High School graduate who moved to New York City in 1996 to study musical theater before heading to Los Angeles in 2000. She says Western Pennsylvania taught her “a strong work ethic and the importance of being down to earth ... real.”
Flizanes wants to transform the meaning of the word “fitness” to include not just the state of a person's physical body, but also the emotional, mental and spiritual factors that affect a person's overall well-being. She designs customized coaching programs to meet those needs.
Flizanes is an empowerment strategist and host of the Fit 2 Love podcast. She has written two other books — “Fit 2 Love: How to Get Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually Fit to Attract the Love of Your Life,” and “Knack Absolute Abs; Routines for a Fit and Firm Core.”
Her recent book is a guide to inspire readers to heal the obstacle of body shame and claim a lifestyle of healthier eating and fitness, rather than merely following a fad, says Michael Bernard Beckwith, author of Life Visioning and founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles.
Chapters include Divorcing the Scale, Healing Digestion, Elimination Diets, Understanding Sugar and Smart Exercising, as well as Sex Hormones and Embracing and Processing Feelings.
Flizanes says recent research in mind-body medicine indicates that if we are truly going to heal the obesity epidemic that has tripled in the past 50 years, a holistic, mindful approach is key.
“Releasing weight is both scientific and psychological/emotional,” she says. “You have to be willing to follow each step fully to uncover the blocks and make real transformation. It's not about a diet; it's about a real lifestyle change.”
Each step in the Invisible Fitness Formula addresses a scientific health issue and the mind-body-soul approach. Weight loss is not the final goal but a means to an end, usually an emotional state.
Flizanes says change doesn't happen overnight and is definitely a process.
It's also important to pay attention to your body and changes as you age, she says. You can't be surprised when you turn 50 years old, behaving as though you didn't know that milestone was coming.
“You only get one set of joints, so take care of them properly,” she says. “You also have to take care of your mind and your soul. Look at it like when you were in school. You took each grade and each lesson plan one at a time to create your entire educational package.
“The end goal is to love yourself because you have to choose a path where you can sustain the choices you are making and keep it going.”
When it comes to weight loss, the most important part is establishing achievable goals and healthful habits, says Elizabeth A. Dubovi, clinical nutrition coordinator at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Oakland. She has a bachelor of science in nutrition and dietetics and a certificate of training in adult weight management.
“I recommend against daily weight checks and suggest individuals weigh themselves weekly at the same time each day,” Dubovi says. “Individuals should focus on achieving satisfaction with themselves and for themselves. They should focus on decreasing portion sizes and intake of empty calories. They should focus on the physical activity regimen that was never part of their lives before they started the weight loss journey. ... There should be more focus on establishing lifelong healthful habits rather than numbers on a scale.”
There is absolutely a physical, mental and spiritual side when it comes to weight loss, Dubovi says.
“I think the process of weight loss is mostly a mental experience. Individuals must be mentally prepared for both success and failure every step of the way. Being mentally prepared for both scenarios can help them to successfully lose weight,” she says. “The entire process of weight loss can be spiritual for individuals as it helps them to become more self-aware. As I mentioned before, weight loss and development of healthful lifelong habits is a journey. In many instances, it can take years to successfully achieve a desired weight and health status. By looking inward, individuals can achieve a more healthful lifestyle.”
Along with the foundation of a healthful diet and a regular exercise regimen, an inclusive weight loss plan should also include development of mindful eating habits and the establishment of a support system, Dubovi says. Mindful eating focuses on the awareness of the senses while eating. Individuals can become more aware of how foods taste and smell, and how the food makes them feel. Individuals should focus on eating foods that are both satisfying and nourishing.
“Finally, it is important to remember the path to weight loss is individualized,” Dubovi says. “One size does not fit all — no pun intended — diet and physical activity goals, strategies, and time frames are all unique to every person.”