The Road To Weight Loss: Part Two
Now that you've read The Road To Weight Loss: Part One, and you've got all the ingredients to keep you fueled up and healthy, you need to get your body moving! Eating healthy is great, but diet alone will not get you down to your target weight. Part two is all about what you can do to get moving and lose the weight! The good news is that there are a lot of options for you, so you can find an activity that you love - and one that you'll stick to!
Whether it's running, biking, hiking, climbing or skiing, the idea is to get moving, get your heart rate pumping, and get sweating. How you do that is up to you! The best part about exercising is that you get choose an activity you really love, and that will help you stick to it.
Most gyms have a variety of machines available if you can't get outside, but I would recommend getting outdoors if you can, especially if you like running. Treadmills are great, but you really get the sense that you are propelling yourself forward when you run outside, both literally and figuratively. Being outside on a crisp summer morning, breathing in the fresh, clean air can really make you want to do good things for your body and mind.
As I said the main idea is to get moving, but if you simply hate cardio you want to get the best bang for you buck, right? Here's a list of cardio exercises and the approximate calories you'll burn per hour*
Elliptical Trainer - 665 calories per hour
Running (moderate pace) - 600 calories per hour
Cross-country Skiing - 600 calories per hour
Cycling (moderate pace) - 600 calories per hour
Soccer - 550 calories per hour
Hiking (cross-country) - 450 calories per hour
Down Hill Skiing - 450 calories per hour
Dancing (general) - 335 calories per hour
*based on a 160 lb woman
It's crucial that you combine cardiovascular training with some kind of strength training - you'll see the fastest and best results this way.
Strength training includes a wide variety of activities that will increase your muscle mass and in turn help you burn more calories. The most common and one of the best ways of doing this is through circuit training.
What is circuit training?
Circuit training is not just lifting heavy weights. A circuit would include two or three sets of a series of exercises, both resistance training exercises and aerobic exercises, and a predetermined number of repetitions for each set. Here is an example of a circuit:
Circuit 1, 3 sets:
Chest press 12-15 reps
Jump rope 1 minute
Bicep curls 12-15 reps
Exercise bike 1 minute
Lateral raises 12-15 reps
Circuit 2, 3 sets:
Squats 12-15 reps
Jump rope 1 minute
Lunges 12-15 reps
Squat jumps 1 minute (if you can!)
Burpees 12-15 reps
The nice thing about circuit training is that you have the freedom to choose whatever exercises you like. Lunges and squats are superb however and there are many variations to those exercises so try to incorporate those into your strength training workouts.
Core strength is also extremely important and there are many ways to achieve core strength. Planks are probably one of the best ways to strengthen your core. Another option would be something like Pilates - a class or two a week will certainly leave you with a feeling that you've worked your core considerably!
Hate lifting weights? Hate using those clunky machines at the gym? Don't worry, there is another way!
I started using resistance bands a few years ago for two reasons: one, I hated lifting weights. Two, I could use resistance bands in the comfort of my own home.
Resistance bands are kind of like big elastic bands. They come in many different shapes, colours, sizes, and resistance levels. Some have handles, some are simply a long band.
If you hate training at the gym, this might be a good way for you to get your strength training in. There are a ton of resistance band exercises available on the web, and the possibilities are endless.
Yoga is a great way to gain strength, dexterity, and inner peace. I started my own weight loss adventure by doing a lot of cardio and weight lifting, and while I did see results, I despised weight lifting. I wanted to find a way to capture the same forward moving, inspiring feeling I had when I was running in my strength training workout, and weight lifting simply was not giving me that feeling.
I started doing Yoga once a week, but fell in love with it so rapidly that it quickly took over my weight lifting routine. Not only did I get the same "good ache" that I used to get from lifting weights but I felt like I was also increasing my flexibility and dexterity. I also found some inner strength that I had no idea existed within me.
I now practice Yoga in the comfort of my own home, but if you are starting out I strongly recommend taking several beginner Yoga classes. Hatha Yoga is a great place to start. It's important to find and purchase a good quality Yoga mat. There are tons out there, made with varying materials and with a few different thicknesses to choose from, but don't let that overwhelm you. Pick one that suits your needs (ask the store clerk for more information) but the most important quality you are looking for in a mat is stickiness. You don't want your hands to slip out from under you while you are practicing your downward facing dog - believe me.
Remember, when you're on the road to weight loss, like any road there will be a lot of bumps and road blocks along the way. Just keep going, remember why you are on the road, and you'll eventually reach your destination - just keep moving.
"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
- John Bingham