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Tennis Everyone! The Easiest Way To Lose Weight!

Updated on March 17, 2013
MagicMan007 profile image

Bill Watson has authored 3 books and many articles online and for print publications such as Sports Afield, Income Opportunties and more.

No More Diets!

I'm writing this for those struggling to keep the pounds off in need of a better plan.

As you can see from the pic, I'm shamefully overweight. According to my doctor's charts I'm carrying about 60 - 70 extra pounds. Now how those charts can say two guys of the same height should weigh exactly the same when one would be considered broad shouldered and muscular while another is hollow chested is an argument best saved for another article. Suffice it to say this dude would look emaciated with 65 pounds gone but I definitely need to drop at least 30.

The good news is, thanks to my new tennis habit, 5 of those lbs. in this pic are gone. I'm guessing for good!

Wow, weight loss doesn't have to mean extreme self-deprivation dieting and horrifically boring excercises!


Here's The Deal

Thirty five extra pounds of fat is basically the same thing as carrying a 35 lb. piece of cast iron around with you day and night. You can't run as fast, maneuver as fast, and it presses on your heart and other organs at night as you're sleeping, could lead to diabetes, amputation, certain types of cancer ...bad deal!

What's your extra weight #?

Obesity is a food related illness. I know...let's blame it on the cook!


How Do You Get Thin Again?

I haven't tried stomach stapling but just about everything else on the food restriction menu has been moi-tested with questionable results:

  • Diets

  • Only eating sweets on Sundays

  • Eating only when hungry

    Guess what? They all worked for a while then I slowly started to lose my way. End result: fatter than ever! And I finally figured out why:

    It's because they all rely on a person's ability to govern their own eating habits. Isn't the failure to do that what got us fatsos here in the first place? Duh!

There's Really Only One Viable Option!

Because exercise fails too!

Weightlifting, isometric exercises, running, jogging, situps, the exercise machinery sold on Sunday morning infomercials....none of that works very long for most folks either.

And why's that?

Because they're painful! They're boring! They're unpleasant! Who wants to put themselves through it? Hey, if we fat people were born to do that stuff we'd be lifting weights in the Olympics and running in the Boston Marathon or something. It's not our bag.

The human mind has an aversion to pain and boredom. It likes stimulation and has an amazing capacity to avoid unpleasantness via justification:

Working out? Day 1 through 20 we're on it like a bad dog. About day 21 the bad dog is a very bad dog and skips a day. "It's okay, we'll catch up tomorrow." Yeah, right! By day 60 the days of working out like a bad dog are just a bad memory. The 25 daily pushups? Get real, they're completely off the radar!

Worse, we justified eating more during our workout fad. "I'll just have one more helping of those mashed potatoes with gravy, after all, I'm working out!" So post-fad we're stuck with a habit that causes our pants to get very tight very fast. "Man, who washed these things? They must be shrinking!"

If you're really tired of being out of shape there's one viable option in my opinion. Find a combination of sports that keep you active and that you find fun. Choose something you eagerly look forward to doing daily that gets your heart rate up, keeps your mind occupied and burns a lot of calories!

I've focused on:

Tennis. (Wow! What was I missing? It's a blast!)

Kayaking to build upper body strength. (It'sSO fun! I absolutely love it!)

Bicycling for the legs and lower body. (I biked everywhere as a kid quite a bit then got back into it as an adult after too many years spent driving a car even to go across town)

Walking. Some days are too cold or nasty for my first 4 choices, then it's time to don the appropriate clothing and go for a long walk in a local park.

Swimming. It's one of the best choices because it works every muscle and it's easy on the body.

Not interested in those? How about rollerblading? Ice skating? Lacrosse? Or perhaps other water sports like water volleyball?

Some things you can do either with others or solo just fine, kayaking is a good example. Tennis requires an opponent of near equal or slightly better ability. So be sure your tennis partners are going to be available or you'll not play much.

Find your thing (or things) engage in it daily, and watch the pounds come off!


Did You Know?

That for a 150 lb. person two hours of:

Archery burns 468 calories

Hang Gliding burns 504 calories

Rock Climbing burns 1,494

Paddle Boating burns 540

Fast Dancing burns 756

Bowling burns 414

Swimming burns 1,000 to 1,500

Skateboarding burns 684

Canoeing burns 1,260

And my favorite, Tennis? Two hours of singles tennis burns 828 calories


If You've Never Tried Tennis


Tennis is one of the better things I've found for weight loss. The best part is that when you're really running hard the only thing you're focused on is getting to that little green ball and hitting it back. Then you get a nice little rest before the next mad burst of speed to keep that little gren ball in play and keep your self-respect intact. Before you know it another game is over, then a set, then an entire match and you haven't even thought much about the weight loss aspect or health benefits, you're just having fun.

Then dig this: you get on the scale the next morning and you've lost weight. You'll be likin' that!

Tennis Gear

It doesn't take much money at all to get started playing tennis. Just a racquet and some tennis balls. You can use the nearby public court for free. As little as $20 to $40 will buy you many hours, posibly years, of fun!

Being a beginner you'll see very little difference in your play if you invest in an expensive racquet, I wouldn't recommend doing so. At this point it's all about connecting and control. Anyone with the tiniest bit of muscle can easily send a ball past the out of bounds at the opposite end of the court if they hit with the sweet spot of the racquet- any racquet. And no amount of money investment will prevent you from accidentally hitting with the the "wood" and not even getting the ball to the net.

A cover for your racquet is nice but if it's a cheap racquet I wouldn't be too concerned. You'll be scooping balls off the court with it, on occasion accidentally scraping the pavement with it, slamming balls repeatedly as hard as you can with it, then you're going to cover it to transport it in the backseat of your car? Okaaaaaaaay....

I've never traveled anywhere I couldn't find a free-access-to-all public court within a reasonable distance. In fall, winter and early spring it's a very rare occasion to have to wait for a court and often you'll have the courts to yourself. Yes, I play in the winter anytime it's dry and the temperature is 48 degrees or above, especially if it's sunny.

You likely already have a pair of tennis shoes. If not get some because most courts require them.

As far as what to wear, yes, there are tennis-specific clothes if you choose to go that route. But any loose fitting shorts and a t-shirt are fine for warmer days. A loose fitting pair of athletic pants and a long sleeved jersey for colder outings.

If you want to get started as cheaply as possible maybe get the cover and bag when you graduate to a more expensive racquet.

HEAD Tour Pro Strung Tennis Racquet
HEAD Tour Pro Strung Tennis Racquet

I have both Head and Wilson racquets and I'm be happy to play with either brand. I do like my Wilson Tour Slam better than the Heads but that's probably because it cost a bit more. I'm sure the more expensive Head models are just as impressive.

This is a great starter racquet.

Tourna Mesh Pack of 12 Tennis Balls
Tourna Mesh Pack of 12 Tennis Balls

Definitely get more than just a couple balls if you can. You'll spend far more time playing and less time chasing them down.

Wilson Advantage Triple Tennis Racquet Bag (Black\Gray)
Wilson Advantage Triple Tennis Racquet Bag (Black\Gray)

A cover for the racqut is optional but this is not a bad idea to keep the balls, racquets a spare jersey and extra pair of sunglasses all together in one convenient pick-up-and-go bag.


A Quick Lesson On Tennis Scoring

What's this 30-Love Stuff?

Scoring in tennis is a bit weird but it isn't hard to understand. There are different types of scoring methods and I'm no expert on the subject, but this is the way the folks in my circle of friends play and will do you well:

Scoring individual games: The first person to get four points wins, but it must be a win by at least two points. That's basically it.

The weird part is, instead of calling it 1 point, 2 points, etc. the first point earned is called 15, the second is 30, the third is 40. the fourth is the winning point (50), Zero points is called "love."

When calling out a score always say the server's point total first. If the server has zero points and the person served to has 30 it's Love-30.

It gets slightly trickier if both participants reach 40 because of the "win by at least two points" rule. If the score is tied at 40-40 the next person to score gets a point called "add." If it's the server the score is referred to as "add in" if it's the servee that gets the point it's "add out." But since that's only one point and you need to win by two points the ball is served again. If the person with the add point gets yet another point, they win, the game is over. If the other person gets the point then the score is even again and drops back to 40-40.

Games tend to play quickly. The first person to win six games (by at least two games) wins the "set." The first to won two out of three sets wins the "match."

Is Tennis The Best Way To Lose Weight? - Maybe!

Obviously there are other activities that burn more calories per hour. And short bursts of activity followed by prolonged rest are criticized by some as "not keeping the heart rate in the ideal calorie burning zone."

But there's no exercise more useless than the one you never do because you got bored and gave up. Tennis is fun. You won't dread it and will likely stick with it, look forward to it even.

Here are three tips to get the most out of your tennis time:

  • Play hard! A strong opponent helps because they'll keep you running all over the court as they'll be good at placing the ball where you'll be challenged to get to it. Standing in one spot and hitting it back & forth won't burn many calories.
  • Keep moving. You can keep your heart going at a more steady pace instead of the fast/rest cycle by simply moving. If you're on the court "playing tennis" then stay in motion. Run down errant balls, shuffle your feet as you wait for a serve, etc.
  • A great idea is to loosen up anytime there's a lull in your side of the action. While your opponent takes a bathroom break or runs after errant balls do a few head rolls or stretching exercises. It will keep you loose as well as keep those calories a burnin'!

Based on your personal experience, do diet plans work long term or are they temporary fixes that eventually fail?

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