Exercise selection has less to do with weight loss than you may think.
It takes a total lifestyle plan that helps you burn more calories than you eat (but only by a small margin). Very low calories diets require medical supervision and are not recommended for those looking to lose a few pounds. Your body needs food to fuel an exercise program (like this one) and that is how you should think about the diet part of this program. The last section is Meal Planning, but first we start with two activity requirements: Regular Exercise and Extra Daily Activity.
Part I – Regular Exercise
Weight loss workouts are designed to increase endurance, burn calories and build muscle. Keep in mind that “building muscle” is not the same as “body building”. Regular muscle-building will not cause you to bulk up. With enough fat loss it could even make you smaller.
Increased endurance and calorie burning comes mainly from aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, stepping or elliptical training. A mix of different exercise modes is great for balanced aerobic training. Avoid repeating the same cardio workout day after day. It’s boring and it won’t train the full range of your aerobic system or your muscles. Instead, vary the intensity and duration of your workouts.
- 3 days moderate, 40 minutes (60-80% effort)
- 1-2 days high, 20 minutes (80-90% effort)
- 1-2 days low, 60 minutes (50% effort)
-Allow 10 minutes for warm-up and cool-down
-Take 1-2 days off per week for adequate recovery
-You can only start from where you are. Your body will adapt over time and it will get easier to train harder.
Resistance training for your all major muscle groups will tone & firm your whole body as muscle mass increases and body fat decreases. Twice a week is sufficient (3 is better) if you do a total body workout. You can also work different muscle groups on different days. Either way, muscles need 48 hours to recover before the next resistance workout for that muscle group.
Total Body Strength Workout:
- 15 exercises*
- 8-12 reps
- 1-3 sets
- 1-3 minutes rest between sets
*Suggested Exercises with videos from PhysicalFitNet.com:
plank (10 count -or- maximum hold; 3 times)
-Use enough resistance to challenge yourself without losing form
-Emphasize quality of movement over quantity, or heavier weights
-Stretch as needed before and/or after, or even during this workout
-Feel free to use machines or cables or free weights or medicine balls or tubing or body weight exercises or stability tools. Any type of strength training will work if the exercise is appropriate for your fitness level, if you have enough resistance and use correct form.
Part II – Extra Daily Activity
Most of the calories your burn every day come from your metabolism and routine activity. Exercise adds 20-30% more depending on what you do, how hard you workout and for how long. An additional 10-20% can come from extra daily activity.
The most convenient extra activity is walking, especially up and down stairs. Other activities are playing sports, dancing, housework, gardening, shopping – basically, anything but eating counts towards extra calorie burn. But there’s a catch! If these activities start to replace your workouts, you could be lulled into thinking you have an active lifestyle. This section is called “extra” activity because the workouts are the foundation of the program and daily activities are supplemental.
Part III – Meal Planning
When it comes to losing weight, failing to plan your diet really does mean planning to fail. Your food needs depend on your age, gender, body weight and activity level. There are countless resources on how to meet healthy eating guidelines. My Pyramid Tracker is a great place to start. It only takes a minute to set up your profile and get started.
Planning your diet is vital because most of us are far too susceptible to outside factors – especially when you’re trying to lose weight! Sights, sounds and smells surround us everywhere we go every day of our lives. Even the best intentions can be thwarted by triggers to overindulge. Mindless Eating is a great book and website on this subject. Think of it as self-defense against temptations and arm yourself with awareness.
The main point of meal planning is to determine your calorie budget and stick to it. Body fat is just what your body does with extra calories. When you stay within budget you lose weight.
Some final words on weight loss…
sticking to your diet is a skill that needs to be developed
quitting is not punishment for cheating
if you can figure out why you are overweight you can address the root cause (learned habits, emotional eating, unfocused exercise)
if you could lose weight fast there wouldn’t be so many success stories about people who worked hard to make permanent lifestyle changes for gradual results
regular workout reviews can reveal what works best for you
you don’t have to give anything up completely to be successful
try eating whatever you want but ONLY what you want and EXACTLY what you want (I heard this in a lecture as a way to reconnect with what your body is really asking for.)
a stitch (or a day off) in time really does save nine
fill your belly with 1/3 food, 1/3 water and leave 1/3 empty (Chinese proverb)
strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into 8 pieces and only eat one (heard at thy gym)
Life itself is the proper binge. – Julia Child