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K’s 8 Tips for Weight Loss Success
Losing weight and adopting a healthier lifestyle takes such continuous mindfulness and dedication that it just plain sucks to work so hard, to give it your "all" and still not reach your goal. Believe me, I get it! If you are struggling to lose weight and / or adopt a healthier lifestyle, keep the following eight tips in mind.
1) Pay attention to what you eat, how much you eat and why you eat.
No amount of exercise will compensate for an unhealthy diet. Try keeping a food journal. Make sure you are not underestimating your calorie consumption and overestimating your caloric expenditure. Use the journal to measure not only your food and liquid consumption, but why and when you eat. Track your emotions. Did you eat because you were hungry, sad, lonely, bored?
Aim for lots of fresh vegetables, lower glycemic index carbohydrates (sweet potatos instead of white pasta, for example), lean protein, plenty of water and moderate portions.
2) Prioritize strength training.
Weight train three days per week. Do exercises that work large muscle groups like squats, push-ups and lunges. Strength training will build lean muscle, and the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism.
This is especially important if in the past you have lost weight by relying on endless amounts of cardio and / or quick-fix diets. The weight you lose during most rapid weight-loss programs is usually predominantly water and muscle. Then when you gain the weight back, it is often predominantly fat. Strength training will help break the cycle of muscle loss and fat gain, and help regain control of your metabolism. Running and other cardiovascular activities are catabolic in nature – they breaks down muscle tissue. Strength training is anabolic – it builds muscle tissue. To lose fat, you want to build lean muscle, which will increase your metabolism and help positively change the shape of your body.
3) Move for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.
Try to accumulate your 10 000 steps per day. Garden, play with your kids, walk: Whatever you do, don’t just sit at your computer or on the sofa for hours on end!
4) Do three to five interval-style cardio workouts per week.
These are three of my favorite Interval workouts.
Workout #1 – Easy Pick-ups
Warm-up for five minutes. Do 10 minutes at your regular speed (and regular level if you are on a machine like the elliptical that has levels). Then, cycle through the following pattern for 10 minutes: alternate 30 seconds at regular speed, 20 seconds slightly faster and 10 seconds fast. Finish with five to 15 minutes of cardio at your regular speed and level. Cool down for five minutes.
Workout # 2 – Pyramid Intervals
Warm-up for five minutes. Do one minute hard. One minute easy. Two minutes hard. Two minutes moderate. Three minutes hard. Three minutes moderate. Four minutes hard. Four minutes moderate. Five minutes hard. One minute easy. Five minutes hard. Cool down for five to 10 minutes.
Workout # 3 – Mini pick-ups
Warm-up for five minutes. Do five minutes at regular speed. Alternate 15 seconds hard with 45 seconds moderate for 10 minutes. Recover for two minutes. Then, repeat the intervals by alternating 15 seconds hard with 45 seconds at regular speed. Cool down for five to eight minutes.
5) Make sure your goals are realistic and specific.
Don't plan to workout for two hours everyday if you know your schedule will not allow it.
Take the time to plan how you will successfully implement the goal. For example, instead of stating a non-specific goal such as "I will exercise", re-frame the goal so it is more specific. Instead say, "I will walk home twice per week and on the weekend I will go for a 45-minute walk when my child is at swimming lessons."
Don't keep your goals a secret. Tell your friends and family what you want to accomplish and write your goals down so you are accountable to yourself and others. Every few months asses your progress. If you have not been successful, brainstorm why. Then form new goals based on the new-found knowledge.
6) Respect your genetics, the realities of your life, your current fitness level and your age.
This may sound obvious, but in my experience, actually respecting yourself enough to establish realistic body expectations (and not ones based on TV land inspired desires) is hard to do.
Don't expect that exercise will give you Serena William's body if you are 5 feet tall and 100 pounds soaking wet. Set goals that fall within realistic parameters. Exercise should make you feel better about yourself, not worse. Part of feeling better is accepting yourself for who you are.
7) Get an exercise buddy.
Working out with a friend will make the activity more enjoyable and will help keep you accountable.
8) Whenever possible, pick exercise activities you enjoy.
You are much less likely to skip the workout if you actually find it fun. Try joining a sports team or taking adult dance lessons.
The main take-away is that your lifestyle, genetics, age, metabolism, sleep patterns, weight-loss history and diet all impact the speed and ease with which you will lose weight. Instead of thinking endless cardio is the key to weight loss, try watching what you eat, doing interval cardio workouts and strength training.
Kathleen Trotter, MS (Exercise Science), BA (Honours) is an ironman competitor, personal trainer and writer. She is passionate about fitness and health and trains a wide variety of clients ranging from the avid athlete to individuals living with osteoporosis, Parkinson's and scoliosi. For more great articles and fitness tips visit: www.kathleentrotter.com and join Kathleen's newsletter.