How to Exercise for Weight Loss
Let’s be honest: starting a fitness regimen is easy. Maintaining it long-term? Now that’s the hard part. Most of us will be familiar with the enthusiastic early phase of a health kick, when the rush of endorphins and the feelings of self-righteousness post-workout leave you on a permanent high. Then, a few weeks or months in, it all starts to fall apart. Why?
1. Time to get real.
One of the main reasons many exercise novices lose motivation and lapse back into old habits is because they set themselves unrealistic, unachievable fitness goals. After all, there’s nothing more demotivating than failing to see results and feeling like what you’re doing isn’t making any difference. Starting small and gradually working your way up to more challenging goals is a much more sensible approach, particularly if you haven’t worked out in a while.
Rather than obsessing over weight loss goals, focus instead on actual achievements, such as walking a certain number of steps each day, and increase these incrementally over a period of weeks. For a more positive way of tracking your progress, take photos of yourself in the mirror every month to see how far you have come.
2. Change up your routine
Choosing the right type and frequency of exercise is also a big factor in achieving long term results. Your regimen needs to be tailored to your fitness goals. Exercising for weight loss requires a very different approach to exercise for muscle gain, or training to improve your speed or stamina. If you feel like your exercise routine isn’t getting you anywhere, try the following:
Flex your muscles!
Lifting weights is a great activity if you’re trying to lose weight, because it increases our basal metabolic rate (ie. the amount of calories we burn) following exercise. This means your body continues burning fat long after your workout has finished. But that doesn’t mean you have to be able to benchpress like Arnie! As long as it feels challenging to you, it’s doing the trick.
Studies have shown that taking part in medium-intensity resistance training just three times a week may result in significant overall health benefits, from increased lean body mass and strength to greater aerobic capacity1 – which roughly translated means a fitter, trimmer you.
Go fast, then slow, then fast again
Lack of time is one of the most popular excuses people give for falling off the exercise wagon. But the good news is that shorter, more intense periods of training are actually more effective at helping you lose weight (and keep it off).
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is characterised as short, strenuous bursts of physical activity of between ten seconds and four minutes, alternated with rest periods two to five times the length of the active periods. An entire session can be completed in less than half an hour, making it easy to incorporate into your routine.
HIIT works by placing the muscles under extreme stress for brief periods of time, forcing the body to undertake activity that it simply not used to. Muscle cells react to this stress by increasing their endurance, which then enables the body to cope with the next bout of intense training more efficiently. This is why we tend to see faster, more dramatic results with HIIT than with gentler forms of exercise.
3. Do what works best for you
Another classic reason fitness routines fail is when we try to work our lives around them, instead of the other way around. If you’re not an early riser, don’t commit to doing regular 5am yoga sessions in the hope it will change your life – it won’t. You’ll most likely just hide under the doona feeling bad about yourself. Instead, pack your gym bag the night before and set aside some time for a workout at lunch or straight after work.
Morning peeps, set your alarm for an hour earlier and go for a walk – or better yet, walk or cycle part or all of the way to work. Another way to avoid losing your fitness mojo is by combining it with social time – choose a fun class like boxercise or zumba and convince a friend to come along for a laugh and moral support.
4. Stay energised
This is all great in theory, but in practice it’s a very different story. Finding the motivation and energy to even begin a workout can be half the battle – which is why it’s so important to make sure your body is getting the right kind of fuel.
A common mistake made by people trying to lose weight is to cut back entirely on carbs – however it’s not quite as simple as that. There are two kinds of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates (also known as simple sugars) are found in heavily processed food with high sugar content and should always be avoided. But our body needs complex carbohydrates like wholegrains, veggies, beans, lentils and peas to survive – these are the foods which are broken down and converted into energy.
Of course, even when we’re eating well, other factors can make us feel lethargic and inclined to avoid physical activity. If you’re still feeling low on energy before a workout and don’t want to exercise on a full stomach, don’t use that as an excuse to throw in the towel. Try topping up your energy levels with a supplement like Bio Organics Glucose Rapid for a natural energy boost and instant source of carbohydrates.