This time of year, gyms across the country are filled with good intentioned resolutioners running on treadmills, taking spin classes, or doing whatever it is you do on an elliptical (waste time). If you’re one of those folks struggling mightily to lose the weight you promised you would, or if you’re one of the millions who have a little bit of success, but wind up right back where you started, making the same resolution EVERY new year, then this article is for you.
4 Key strategies for losing weight, and keeping it off!
1) Go Anaerobic
Anaerobic means without oxygen. This type of training happens at around 80% of your max heart rate and above. This means moving hard and moving fast. Instead of taking that leisurely jog for an hour, run like you stole something. You’ll have to take breaks and do this in intervals. Our bodies can’t maintain that level of power output for very long (our bodies don’t tend to like doing anything ‘without oxygen’ for very long). But performing these high intensity bouts interspersed with periods of rest will get results.
The reason for this is the fact that you’re burning an incredible amount of calories operating at near-maximum power, but more so because you create excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This just means that your body can burn calories at an elevated rate for up to two days after a hard workout.
2) Lift heavy things
If you really want to talk about burning calories for long periods, nothing can beat strength training. This doesn’t mean moving weights for the sake of moving weights. To get the best fat burning benefit from strength training, the weights you choose should be 85% of your maximum or more. Here’s a hint: if you can lift something fifteen to twenty times, then it isn’t heavy. You may want to hire a coach to help you learn the proper way to lift things that are that heavy, but the results will be worth it. The elevated hormone levels post-heavy lifting session alone will have you flexing in the mirror and feeling the best you’ve felt in years.
If fat loss is your goal, start lifting heavier.
3) Avoid added sugars in your food
The easiest way to tell if your food has added sugar in it: it came in a package. That ‘healthy’ yogurt that was fat free and flavored with real berries, is doing your body more harm than good (if yogurt is your thing. pick out a good plain yogurt and add fresh berries). Even things marketed as health foods, and located in the health food isle, are typically laden with added sugars and chemicals. Be aware of what you’re eating. Buy fresh foods. Cook them yourself.
4) Don’t eat out very often
Typically, people who eat out more than three times per week consume about 200 more calories per day than those who cook at home (this adds up to about 21 extra pounds of fat per year). The problem is that almost any restaurant you go to will not offer very balanced options. Typically, you’re only options will be EXTREMELY heavy in carbs. Add in the temptation to splurge a little on fries, or a beer, or dessert, or all three, and you’ve dug yourself a pretty big hole.
5) Get support
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Make sure you’re spending time with people that share the lifestyle you’d like to have.
I mentioned earlier the idea of hiring a coach. Finding a gym with a supportive community is the perfect way to make sure you’re spending time with people who will support you. Changing habits is hard work. Make sure you’re surrounded with good examples regularly.
It all comes down to facing the discomfort of making changes. Anaerobic exercise has never been described as comfortable. Challenging your body with heavy weights will most certainly take you out of your comfort zone. The discipline it takes to go to the gym when you’ve had a rough day and you don’t feel like it is uncomfortable. Skipping out on your favorite meals can be uncomfortable. Losing weight and keeping it off is about exercising and eating healthy, but mostly it’s about the willingness to be uncomfortable for a little while.
Don’t worry too much though. Once you get used to it, it just becomes your lifestyle. That’s when you can stop making the same new year’s resolution every year.