Three ways we can boost our workouts for effective weight loss?
There are three major themes to consider when you want to maximize your workout time for calories burned: regularity, variability, and likability.
If exercise is going to be meaningful, you have to do it regularly. For weight loss purposes, studies have shown that it has to be four or five times per week for at least 45-60 minutes at a time. That is a lot. It is definitely hard to do in our busy lives, but this is not really negotiable. If you want to reap the benefits of exercise, you have to put the time into it, just like you would anything else you want to bear fruit. Dedication and virtuous endurance is a must to establish body fitness and wellness. Your body will begin to get the message, and this will trigger it to prepare to burn calories each day. In effect this increases the basal metabolic rate (BMR-how many calories you burn while at rest). Increasing this is a good thing when it comes to weight loss. Consider it to be like interest on your money in the bank; that is, money for nothing like burned calories without exercise! If you are like me and have kids all over, all the time, then there is no time to go to a gym. So the best way for me to get into the habit of regular workouts is to do it at home. I cook dinner, clean house, break up arguments, and change channels on the TV between my weight lifting sets or at breaks in the cardio. It just means that when you find a way to work out in your home (whether it is an elliptical, weight, or dumb bells, etc…), you are more likely to do it. Having to leave our homes and workout in front of other people is not attractive to me at all!
The second workout boaster is variability, and it is critical to success. There should be some combination of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training throughout the week to be well rounded, and you should also throw in some relaxing leisure activity (like a simple walk) to break up the routine as well. There are different benefits to different exercises. Cardio increase the heart rate and can burn calories at a set sustained rate. The amount of time, not necessarily the intensity, is the key here. If I run two 8-minute miles, for example, I will run for 16 minutes, and I would burn around 120 calories. This is an intense cardio workout. If I run three 10 minute miles, I run for 30 minutes, and this burns three times the amount with less intensity and is about 360 calories (That’s my lunch!). The body responds to this high calorie demand by building up long fibers of muscle and the cardiopulmonary systems improves to allow your body to endure longer and longer periods of exercise. Cardio is a great way to burn lots of calories on a regular basis. It is the big bank deposit into the savings every week.
But cardio is not enough alone. Resistance training (lifting weights or weight bands, etc.) is very important too. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat (this is why men lose weight faster than woman on similar diets). Therefore, increasing the amount of muscle on our bodies will increase our BMR. While you probably won’t burn huge amounts of calories while doing resistance training (120cal/hour), it does add up over time. Think about increasing you BMR only by 50 calories/day. Over a month, that is 1500 calories less. That is 5 pounds a year for nothing. It all adds up! Plus, your body needs to see different kinds of exercises to change up the pace and keep it “on its toes.” Our bodies can get use to the same thing and we will build up only the muscle we need to the routine exercise. Once the muscles are used to the routine, they do not have to work as hard and the effectiveness of the exercise trends down. So keep mixing it up by trying new activities and involve different muscle groups. Building muscle is the interest you make off the big deposits you make every week.
Finally, you have to like what you are doing. If you hate working out, then you will never do it! However, exercise can begin a beneficial love affair with exercise if you can find something you enjoy doing. Most fitness fanatics exercise to extremes because they get a high after pushing their bodies to the limits. Maybe you are like me and rarely see such joys, but that does not mean I am not satisfied with getting it done and looking back at how I did something good for my body. I think of it like cutting the grass. Who likes to do that!? But after the lawn is cut, everything looks so nice, and I can sit out on the patio with a beer and enjoy my nicely manicured lawn. That’s what working out is like for me. I do it because I know I need to do it to be healthy, and after I do it, it makes me feel good that I did that for myself.
Before I finish, we need to briefly discuss diet. You cannot ignore eating a healthy diet when you are exercising with the intent to lose weight for a couple of reasons. First, unless you know how many calories you are putting in each day, you have no way to tell if you are burning enough off. So, a way to track calories in and out is very useful. Second, when you are burning calories, your body needs the right kind of fuels to keep it running well. High fat foods will make you feel sluggish which is not very motivating. Eating carbs and protein just before you eat can be a metabolism boaster and help you recover faster. Think about it like putting fuel in your car. The higher the quality and octane of the gas, the better the motor runs. Well food is your body’s fuel, and in order to run well, it must get good fuels. I will gab more about these subjects another time.
At the end of the day, the only person that can motivate you to get active is YOU. There is no trainer in the world that can make you feel good about doing well by yourself. Get out there and get active. Burn those calories, and remember to work out regularly, mix it up, and have fun!