Another year here and gone and chances are you’re still saying the same thing you said this time last year, “I really need to lose weight, but this year I’m going to do it!” Aren’t you getting tired of saying what you’re going to do instead of doing it? Good! Because we’re getting tired of hearing it.
There are actually only a handful of things that are absolutely necessary to start getting results right now. It’s likely that your number one resolution this year is to lose weight, right? I know this because it’s the top New Year’s resolution year after year. If that’s the case, you need to listen to me right now!
Throw away everything you previously believed to the be right way to lose weight from low-calorie fat-free diets to logging as many hours as you can on the treadmill and doing 1000 crunches per day to lose that belly fat. Instead, make an effort to incorporate these three principles into your life and I’m sure you will begin to realize your goals rather than just talking about them.
1. Stop focusing on calories to lose weight and focus instead on macronutrient ratios (proteins, carbohydrates and fat)- This can be a long complex topic but I’ll make it simple: Protein and fat should be a large component of every meal. Fat doesn’t make you fat, it makes you healthy, so don’t be afraid of it. Especially good fats, and I’m sure you know which ones I mean.
To lose weight you need to cut out sugar as well as many of the simple carbohydrates we all love. Primary sources of carbohydrates should be in the form of leafy green and cruciferous vegetables (spinach, lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, etc). While following a weight loss program, don’t eat a lot of potatoes, squash or rice but these foods are part of a healthy diet, especially before and/or after a good workout.
Combining fat and sugar will make you fat for sure, so stop doing it. Adding quality fat to a diet with limited amounts of sugar and starches will not make you fat if you’re not over eating. This is a huge topic that I’ll elaborate on in the future. But if you’re serious about losing weight then you need to drastically cut your sugar intake or eliminate it from your diet. You’ll see a dramatic difference when you do. This doesn’t have to be forever but it’s a must do to get a jump-start on weight loss and reduce your cravings for sugary, high glycemic foods.
2. Overcome your fear of strength-training. Educate yourself about the benefits of a weight-training regime, and learn to lift weights properly. For years, strength training has been associated with freakish looking bodybuilders, pro-wrestlers, etc. The truth is, if you see someone with an abnormally large amount of muscle mass, he or she didn’t get that way by accident. Especially in the case of women, that person made a decision to bulk up. You won’t build a lot of muscle unless you gear your diet and your workouts toward that end. Building a bit of muscle will, however, completely transform your body, your mind and your health.
Strength-training is a tool that has helped every last one of my clients to melt fat and change their shape. A full-body, high volume strength program with large, multi-joint exercises followed by short rest periods is an incredibly effective and efficient way to burn fat and improve your physique. In fact, it can be so metabolically demanding that your body will burn fat at a much higher rate for hours after the workout. Who wouldn’t want to burn more fat around the clock?
3. Stop the low-intensity, long-duration “cardio”. ‘Tis the season for every single treadmill, elliptical trainer and bike to be occupied by the misguided and misinformed fitness newbie and even veteran, moving along at a pace that even a turtle could outstrip. Listen, there’s some truth to the “fat burning zone” concept but the fact is it takes twice as much time and you burn less overall energy when compared to alternative methods like what I’m going to recommend to you. If you could reduce the time spent exercising and get better results, wouldn’t you want to know how to do it?
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a simple and effective method to kick your workouts into over-drive. I said this was a simple method, not an easy one. So if you’re in decent aerobic shape, and by that I mean you can walk up a flight of stairs without panting for breath or you’ve been exercising regularly for a few weeks, then you may be ready to try interval training.
Here’s an example of a very simple interval workout. You can use the treadmill, bike or elliptical; after a good warm-up try to find an intensity that will bring you to fatigue in less than a minute, then rest for two to three times that amount of time. The rest period would be based on, your goals, how conditioned you are, and how hard you’re actually working. Do this 10 times followed by a cool down period, and that’s it, you’re done! It doesn’t get much simpler then that.
The key is to work to fatigue within the given interval. Basically, this means that it would be VERY difficult or nearly impossible to go any longer. I use a scale from 1-10 (with 10 being the hardest) that you will use to estimate how hard you “feel” you’re working and help determine your fatigue level (this is called the “RPE” scale or Rate of Perceived Exertion).
For a really effective interval workout I suggest you bring yourself to a 9 or 10, if possible. Pick a time frame (preferably 60 seconds or less) and stick to it for the workout. I prefer 30-second intervals with a one-minute rest, but that’s me. A “10” on the RPE scale means you’re sprinting as hard as you can. So remember this when choosing your exercise intensity. A true sprint would only last a few seconds for most people and it’s quite hard to do on a treadmill. The incline comes in handy for those who are not comfortable running fast on the treadmill. A “1” on the scale would probably be equivalent to walking at a VERY slow, comfortable pace. I also suggest you recover to about a “3” or “4” before beginning the next interval. This will be different from person to person.
If you’re not familiar with your body or the machine you’re using then finding the right intensity and recovery period may take some trial and error. If you’re a de-conditioned person and you want to give interval training a shot, keep your interval duration to about one minute, intensity no higher than a 7 or 8, and then recover. This is a great way to train to improve your fitness level while getting familiar with your body.
If you’re like many Americans, it’s likely that you’ve been struggling to lose weight and keep it off. Many of us have been programmed to believe we can get what we want with little effort. This mentality can be very defeating when expectations are not met and results don’t come as promised. The hard truth is, it’s our lifestyle that will determine the outcome. Being prepared by planning meals; having the discipline to work hard; and setting realistic short-term and long-term goals are all elements of a goal-oriented approach.
I’ve given you a simple solution to change. I guarantee that if you make these changes this year and stick to them for at least three months, you will begin to reap the rewards and see the results you want.
Strength For Life.