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Daily Archives: April 16, 2013

Weight Loss – How Far Must We Go?

If we were to look at the typical person who wants to lose weight there is a never-ending list of things ‘they’ say we must do. Walk on a treadmill/stair stepper/climber hybrid, go for a walk, circuit train in a gym, diet, go vegetarian, cut bread… They come out with a new super diet every couple of years that is the answer to all of our woes!

We see nutritionists (some who are more obese than we are), fitness instructors, fat doctors tell us to get fit while fat politicians try to take away things that tempt us. The government comes out with fitness guidelines that are far too simplistic which leads to a lack of results and demoralization (walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week). It’s all so damned confusing!

With bikini season just around the corner the push is on to lose those hardest, last five, ten or fifteen pounds (I was there two years ago). Or maybe you’ve got some real weight to lose: 30, 40, 50 pounds (I was there more than a decade ago).

I started slowly but I increased distance and speed quickly. Jogging at first followed by running shortly thereafter. I got in with a great group of folks and we ran 3-4 times a week, up to 25 miles for the week. Now many people are under the mistaken impression that running is ‘high-impact’ and therefore bad so they don’t want to run. Additionally, running is a lot of work (it is) so many (myself included until my first run) want to look elsewhere.

There’s biking, but that can be expensive (especially if you get sucked into it like I did). There’s the gym membership but that’s expensive and takes some serious dedication just to keep a regular schedule. There’s running but let’s face it, running does hurt and requires extensive recovery time, especially at first. You have groups that push cardio and groups that recommend against it. Groups that want you to push hard and groups that recommend too little effort. What to do?

Weight loss can be complex or it can be made simple depending on what you want or more importantly, what you’ll stick to. And you don’t have to plunk down a bunch of money on equipment, sweat to the oldies, or push yourself till you puke. Those things help, but really aren’t necessary.

Here’s a list of helpful things to remember:

1. It only works if you work it. Pick something you like to do and will stick with. For me, that was running and now cycling.
2. Start slow and pick up the intensity as your body allows. This is a marathon not a sprint.
3. Calories In Vs. Calories Burned: Make sure the former is less than the latter.  This isn’t rocket science.
4. Cut the portion size. You will be hungry at first, this will be less of a problem after your body adapts (2 weeks or so).
5. Snack well (fruits, veggies & nuts) and eat a sensible breakfast.
6. It’s all in the heart rate… You want Zone Two, low-end to middle of the zone. This is said to be the fat burning zone and it does not require a ton of effort to get there. Getting these zones measured by a professional is not required but helpful – and you should always consult your doctor before taking up exercise (even I did when I went from running twice a week to cycling every day).
7. To understand your exertion level going by heart rate is not simple unless you have a heart rate monitor or a heart rate wrist watch but there are ways to cheat investing in the equipment. Be creative, I use an app on my iPhone.
8. While the US Government may recommend 30 minutes 5 times a week, that’s low-end: 45 minutes to 1 hour a day, 5 days a week will give you real results. Don’t think you’re going to jump into this pace though, build to it over a month or two.
9. Once you’re well into a regular exercise routine then start cutting things that are getting in the way of your progress: Soda, counterproductive snacking, etc. It was way easier for me to cut one thing at a time rather than shocking my system all at once.
10. Speaking of counterproductive snacking, if you can’t help but eat the entire bag/box once it’s been opened – of anything – it has no business in the house.

11.  This is the best nutrition tip on my blog:  When you drop soda, switch to water with a lemon and a lime wedge squeezed in.  This will take a glass of ice water from plain to awesome in two seconds.  I lived on this for months after I quit the cola.

Finally, take it one step at a time, one day at a time.  Done well, dropping weight will occur, sometimes quickly sometimes not so much.  Change what you can and allow the rest to happen.  It was with me, and hopefully for you as well, once I started getting fit the cutting of certain foods came naturally, and the more time I put in the less I want to wreck it with an overindulgence.