Hello and welcome to the final instalment of the ‘obesity the silent enemy’ series. Click below for previous posts in this series:
We left off last time having tackled the food and drinks aspect during a weight loss regime. But this is only half the story. Of my 25 kilos target, I have lost 11 kilos in 3 months and it wasn’t just diet adjustments that did the trick. It was physical activity and exercise too. So this post and the final one of its nature will be dedicated to discussing different exercise options and their relative benefits.
But before I begin, please read the below disclaimer:
I am not (yet) a medical professional or a fitness instructor and therefore anything discussed in this post is not intended as a medical guidance but merely an inspiration or a spring board for those who are interested in weight loss and fitness. The following activities have helped me greatly to loose weight and be a healthier individual but I do not claim that they will necessarily provide the same benefit to other people.
Get your heart rate going!
Brisk walks, jogs, treadmill, cross-trainer, cycling, running, swimming, dancing, aerobics or playing football, tennis, badminton. Anything that makes your heart beat fast is excellent cardiovascular training. It strengthens your heart, builds muscle and keeps you fit. Oh and you burn calories. Unfortunately you do have to do quite a bit of this and regularly for it to be effective. The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week OR 15 minutes of intense exercise. It is better to exercise every day rather than a two hour slog in one go. And this is the minimum requirement. If you are serious about weight loss you do want to be putting in at least double of what you already do. If you don’t exercise, start now. Go for a walk – it is free to do so and very simple. If you drive to work, maybe take public transport or a cycle every other day. If you use the gym, stay 20 minutes extra. If you live on the top floor of an apartment of flats, take the stairs not the lift. Actually go in and do your shopping instead of ordering it online. Simple changes = mass benefits.
Personally I use the cross-trainer. It works my leg muscles as well as thigh muscles. And I normally use it at a moderate speed for an hour each day. The trick to know if you are moderately exercising or intensely exercising is to try and speak while doing your activity. If you can speak fine but can’t sing along to your favourite song then its moderate exercise you are doing. If you can’t speak or sing then it is probably intense exercise you are doing. Obviously, depending on your fitness level, this method will vary considerably from person to person. Some gym equipment measure your heart rate, calories burned and also speed at which you are using the machine – this can give you an indication of how much activity you are doing.
Lift, lift and lift some more!
Train your muscles. Biceps, triceps, hamstrings, gluts, quadriceps, abdominal and back too. You could do resistance exercise using resistance bands and tubes. If you use the gym or are willing to spend a little cash in buying weights then weight lifting is an excellent way to train many muscles at once. Youtube tutorials or even the posters in your local gyms will tell you what all you can do with weights. Then of course there are the free ones: sit ups, squats, crunches, wall-sits, push-ups. And you don’t need to spend a dime, just make some time. Generally muscle training works in sets and repetitions. For example if you choose to do squats. Then do 3 sets of 15 repetitions with breaks at the end of each set. You can always increase the number of reps and go for more sets but work up to it! Don’t think you can be ‘the rock’ from Day 1!
I recently started muscle training exercises. I do weights and resistance training and I am seeing a difference. The good thing with muscle building is that when you do cardiovascular work-outs, muscle burns more calories than fat cells as they need more glucose for respiration. So more muscle = more efficient weight loss. Plus it makes you stronger.
Ever had that awful sensation of cramped, stiff muscles the morning after an adrenaline induced super work out? Yeah, its the result of ineffective stretching. These need to be done both before and after your main work out. Take your time with these. Not only will it help loosen your muscles but will actually make the exercise regime less tiring and difficult. Cooling down is equally important because your muscles also need a chance to relax and go back to the ‘normal’ state of affairs.
- Have a target date for achieving a target weight. No good just aimlessly loosing weight. You will run out of steam and motivation very quickly. If there is a particular dress or pair of jeans you want to fit into, look at that clothing every day. Remind yourself of what you are working towards.
- Use the scales to check your weight every other morning. You don’t want to leave a huge gap because at the end of the week if you haven’t lost any weight, it can be quite disheartening. Don’t go overboard. Don’t be checking your weight after every meal. Our natural body weight fluctuates up and down by a kilo in a day anyway and fluids always make you heavier. Best is to check weight first thing in the morning, before breakfast.
- Use your cheats system, your family and friends support and be strict with yourself but allow yourself to mess up too. You’re only human
- If you are getting tempted by aromas from the kitchen or by your brother (who is thin as a stick but eats like the hulk) then walk away form the place. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Keep a food and exercise log. Try ‘my-fitness pal’. It allows you to log in every single food or drink and also your exercises in the day to tell you how many calories you’ve used up and burned. You can even toggle it to a weight loss regime which will then calculate up to how many calories you can eat in a day. Click here for the link.
- DO NOT GIVE UP
Weight loss is a full time job. Like any job, it will be difficult, boring, long and sometimes you will want to quit. But remember also that like any job it will have its perks. It can be exciting, fun and enjoyable too. You just have to put your mind to it and allow yourself to be challenged.
I hope you’ve enjoyed and hopefully found this mini-series of some use. I would love to hear from you as well about your experience with weight loss and diets.