Please consult with your physician before starting any fitness program.
If your goal this New Year is to lose weight for the long haul, then read on. The following information is based on exercise science, statistics and is completely practical for the general population. There are many companies that prey on consumer’s vulnerabilities and desire for short cuts to weight loss. These companies will market their product with unproven results and portray it as the all in one solution to weight loss. You will also find misleading weight loss information on food and beverage labels, magazines cover, the internet, and even from misinformed fitness professionals. These campaign remind me of the saying “… if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is” .
There is only one universal rule regarding weight loss that applies to everyone. You must burn more calories than you consume on a daily/consistent basis to see results. Similarly, you will gain weight if you consume more calories than you burn on a daily/consistent basis. Please note, you want to lose body fat not muscle if your goal is weight loss.
There are 2 roads you can choose to lose weight, the healthy path or unhealthy slippery slope. The latter is what some call “the rollercoaster ride” of weight loss and gain. This rollercoaster ride always begins with some product, service or program packaged with a lean super model proclaiming you can have this body in “3 weeks”! However, if you look closer at the disclaimer on the box it usually states the results are “atypical”. Meaning: “fat chance you will get long term results and thanks for the $19.95 plus s&h!”.
If you have not seen results in the past 1-3 months then you might want to review your program.
I have compiled 5 do’s and don’ts for weight loss that most of us have done at one time. You can learn from these experiences and use them to your advantage.
5. Buying equipment for specific muscles:
DON’T: I do not have enough ink in my printer to list all the equipment and fads that claim you will have a lean visible 6 pack by just working the abs for 5 minutes per day. It is NOT TRUE. Spot reduction is a myth; if you work one muscle group under a layer of body fat then you will have strong muscles under a layer of fat. This also applies to machines that isolate muscles.
DO: If time is important to you and your goal is weight loss, focus on total body workouts. The more muscles you work per exercise, the more calories you will burn thus MAXIMIZING your time and results. Here are a few suggestions for total body exercises: you can use your own body weight, dumb bells, Val Slides, Kettle bell, cable machines, resistance bands and even take a group class. I guarantee you will burn more calories if you do a squat with a dumb bell curl and press than a seated curl machine.
DON’T: If diets worked then we would not have a national obesity epidemic. The word “diet” is one of the most misunderstood and marketable words in our culture. Usually the person who is dieting is misinformed by the misinformed. We all know someone who went on a diet and saw results in 1 month, but 3 months later was struggling with more weight than when they began.
What happened? One answer is there was a drastic, unrealistic caloric restriction. This drastic drop in calories could have affected the mood/emotions of the person and when they decided to reward/indulge or find comfort with old treats, they found the boomerang of weight gain.
DO: Remember, nutrition is 1/3 of the formula for long term results. Without a fitness program you can not promote lean muscle development which equates to an increase in metabolism. Diets DO NOT increase metabolism. Rather than dieting consider learning about foods that are nutrient dense (low calories/low fat/ high nutrition benefits), minimize consumption of sugar (especially soda), white flour and red meat. Changing our eating habits is NOT impossible. Start with a daily nutrition journal and note where substitution for healthy foods can be placed. Visit www.mypyramid.gov
for great information on nutrient dense foods.
3. Not addressing muscle imbalances:
DON’T: Start a weight loss program without reviewing your current health. Muscle imbalances usually occur from injuries (e.g. ACL, rotator cuff.), repetitive movement patterns (sport specific, sedentary lifestyle). Most commonly, these imbalances arise from a culture of sitting in front of a computer/TV for hours at a time. Your body was designed to move, not to sit for long durations. Sitting will basically make important muscles of the torso/core weaker while promoting serious muscle dominance in others. This muscle dominance does affect our joint actions/posture and is commonly seen with low back pain, knee discomfort, shoulder/neck stress, poor posture and decrease joint range of motion.
DO: Get a fitness assessment, most health clubs offer this service free of charge! If you begin a routine without addressing these usually reversible muscle imbalances, then you are missing a great opportunity to prevent injuries and burn more calories!!! If you are not a member of a club, list your past injuries, current muscular/joint pains and make an appointment for a physical with your doctor. Inform them you want to start a weight loss program and follow their suggestions.
2. Excessive cardiovascular exercising:
DON’T: I must stress, if your goal is to lose weight (e.g. body fat NOT muscle) then doing cardio every day exceeding 60 minutes is counterproductive. The laws of diminishing returns can apply to the belief MORE is better when it comes to cardio. If you are doing the same cardio (e.g. treadmill) every day for more than 60 minutes and not seeing results, you are probably overtraining. Your body has activated its’ primal survivor mechanism and is not using fat and carbohydrates for fuel but rather lean muscle. Some overtraining symptoms are fatigue, weight gain, poor sleep, irritability, no appetite and injuries.
DO: Plan your week in advance. You should have cardio only days balanced with total body workout days that finish with a 15-20 minute cardio session (do not exceed 1 hour). Cardio only days should be 25 minutes to 60 minutes. Remember to begin at a pace where you can hold a conversation. Eventually, your conditioning will improve and your time will increase. For the first 1-4 weeks, time and consistency are the most important variables for weight loss, not intensity.
1. Realistic time table:
Don’t: Try to steer away from the diet fads, miracle creams and equipment that claim unbelievable results in 1 week etc... Fact, to lose 1LB of body fat you need to burn 3500 kilo calories per week. However, if you are trying to take shortcuts for weight loss with pills, supplements etc…chances are you are getting more than you bargained for. On top losing weight you are also losing important vitamins/minerals needed for cellular function, lean muscle and your hard earned money as well as the opportunity to experience the rewards of long term results.
DO: There is the healthy method of losing weight through nutrition awareness (proportioned macronutrients), cardiovascular exercise with strength and conditioning program. These are the 3 necessary ingredients to build a solid foundation for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. This formula will promote an increase in metabolism, increase in stamina, tone muscles, improved self-confidence, long term weight loss along with a host of other benefits.
Training for weight loss is not a linear process, meaning you will not see the same results every week. We live in a society that craves instant gratification at any cost. This article was written to counter that mindset, you can achieve your fitness goals without compromising your mental and physical health. By the way, results are not “atypical”.
For total body exercises, fitness videos and articles visit www.fitnessfoundry.net
Julio A. Salado, NSCA-CPT, R.K.C.
Fitness Foundry designed for healthy living.©
Assess, Initiate, Motivate
Copyright © 2010 Fitness Foundry designed for healthy living. All rights reserved.