Losing weight and getting healthier is always a hot topic, especially this time of year. It is amazing to see how many advertisements and products exist just for this purpose. Actually, losing weight and getting in shape couldn’t be easier. Here are 3 simple steps you can take to get started on a path to a healthier life.
This is listed first because it really is very important. I’ve seen triathletes (myself included) exercise 15 hours a week and still gain weight. Exercise alone will not cause weight loss. You will improve your cardiovascular system, bone density and a host of other things. However, to lose weight you have to enter a caloric deficit. This simply means that you must burn more calories than you consume. I often joke that the most affective exercise is the “Table Descent.” This is where you always say no or decline the offer of more food.
A big mistake among many is that they believe in point reduction. They feel that if they do a lot of abdominal exercises they will lose weight around their abdomen. This is simply not the case. You lose weight all over your body. Another big misconception related to strength training is that you will build so much muscle so quickly and in effect gain unwanted weight, even if it is lean muscle. Again, it’s not going to happen and it’s even less likely if you’re avoiding isolation-type movements and exercises that were commonly done in the ’80s and ’90s.
The last piece of the fitness puzzle is cardio. Cardio workouts are really only limited by your imagination. You can row, bike, swim, run, walk, climb, skate, etc. It is practically unlimited. If you’re moving then you’re doing cardio. You really only need 30 minutes a day of cardio depending on intensity levels.
Usually most can get down 2 of the 3 steps. However, for some reason it’s hard to get all three at the same time. Many endurance athletes get nutrition and cardio pretty good, but don’t lift weights for fear of getting too heavy, which is counterproductive in endurance sports. Weightlifters are low on nutrition and strength training, but don’t do cardio for fear of losing size. This can be very good if you are trying to compete in a certain event. However, most just want to be healthy and look good. If you are one of them, create your routine to include small changes in the above three areas (Nutrition/Strength/Cardio). You do not need to train more than an hour a day (30 minutes of cardio and 30 of strength). Then make small changes to your diet. Remember, this is a lifestyle change, so you are creating a new life here. This requires time and constant effort. Changes that are too big too soon are often well-intentioned but not sustainable.
I hope this helps you get on a better path to health and fitness. Inside each one there is a healthier body that is dying to get out.