Workout Smarter, Not Harder

Workout Smarter, Not Harder

By Nicole Flanagan

If someone told you right now what the absolute best exercise to lose weight was, would you do it? Of course you would. Guess what that exercise is, the one that you will do. The biggest things that stop people from exercising are boredom and injuries. If you can find an exercise, or some type of workout that you enjoy doing, it is much easier to stick to it.

The truth is that weight loss is about creating a calorie deficit, in other words, burning more calories than you take in. While running at an 8-minute-mile pace might be a great calorie burner, if you’re not going to do it, it’s not going to help you. Instead, start with something you can do, like walking or working out on an elliptical machine or exercise bike. You will burn more calories by doing cardio that you will with strength training. Strength training itself will not lead to an appreciable amount of weight loss because it just doesn’t burn enough calories. A combination of cardio and strength is going to be the best approach to sustainable weight loss. That’s not to say that strength training isn’t important for the overall health of the body. But when it comes to burning the most calories, go for cardiovascular exercise. And vary the intensity.

Cross training is another key that will help amp up your workouts. Doing a range of different activities during your workouts helps you keep from getting bored and it’s better for your body. Doing different activities recruits different muscle groups. You’re also less likely to develop an injury, since doing the same thing day after day creates wear patterns on your joints.

Keep in mind that exercise is just one portion of a successful weight loss program. Eating and exercise are not separate issues. They’re intimately connected. Too many people think these large doses of exercise are an excuse to eat whatever you want. Unfortunately, today food is everywhere. It’s so much easier not to eat calories than it is to try and burn them off.

So how much exercise is needed to lose weight? You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound. So if you’re burning 300 calories in one workout, it will take you nearly 12 workouts to lose one pound. If you cut your calorie intake by 300 calories in addition to burning 300, it will take you half as long to lose a pound. If you want to lose weight, shoot for at least 200 minutes (more than three hours) a week of moderate intensity exercise with everything else consistent. If you cut calories and exercise, you can get away with a minimum dose of 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) a week. If you’re a beginner, start with 50 minutes of exercise a week and work up to 200.

Here are a few tips to keep your workouts consistent:

  1. Have an exercise buddy or partner. Having accountability to someone else, even if it’s your Labrador, keeps you honest. It’s much easier to say no to yourself than to someone else.

2 .Schedule your workouts. Keep a calendar that lists specific times for your workouts. Make an appointment with exercise ahead of time, and you won’t have the excuse of running out of time.

  1. Weigh yourself. This is one of the best tools to see if you’re slipping up. Weighing yourself once a week can keep you on track so that you don’t let 300 extra calories a day or one missed workout set you back.
  2. Don’t do too much, too fast. Don’t get over-motivated. Lifting weights that are too heavy or starting out with six days a week of aerobic exercise is a mistake. People end up hurting themselves in the first week and then they give up.
  3. Log your steps. Logging the time that you work out will help you achieve your weekly goal, even if you get off track one day. It will also inspire you at the end of the week, when you can look back and see what you’ve accomplished.

6 .Cook more often. Portions, and calories, are out of control when you eat out. You’ll almost always consume fewer calories in a meal cooked and eaten at home. Save restaurants for special occasions, and get together with friends for a walk instead of a meal.

  1. Don’t turn water into wine. Not only does a glass of wine or beer add a couple hundred extra calories, after a few glasses, you’re not as conscious of consuming more calories in your meal. You don’t have to give up drinking, but do cut back.

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