Playing The Numbers Game – Again: Exercise prescription is the key to cheating when trying to tackle losing weight – the right way. What do I mean by ‘The right way’ you ask? Steady, controlled, weight loss, being managed by both exercise and diet is the only way to go because you can lose the weight and keep it off. Once you find your groove – daily exercise, meals, and snacks – it’s truly a lifestyle change. But by all means, it’s not easy. Your body will fight you; literally. Your stomach will grumble, you may develop a headache (sugar withdrawal) and you may even feel lightheaded. Think about it – depending on your age, gaining weight has been a lifelong progression. Your body has already adapted to having excess fat stores, stretched stomach muscles for excess food consumption, and even muscle type percentage changes to adjust to carrying a heavier load. Did you know that the average couch potato is an explosive fast muscle type? It’s because they have to get off the couch and get back to the refrigerator before the commercial is over. Ouch and sorry if that’s you. But it’s the truth. These folks are built for speed. Bet you didn’t know you had something in common with Carl Lewis?
THE HARD TRUTH: If you’re overweight, your body is already in a ‘happy’ state and does not want to make huge changes. Consider this: your body is at all times in a state of maintenance. If you’re heavy, it wants to maintain heaviness. If you’re skinny, it wants to remain thin. It does what is necessary to make you efficient. So you will efficiently keep or lose weight, through the adaptations of metabolism. It either ramps up or down. There is also a psycho-somatic response where you feel like you’re going to vomit at the thought of exercising. That’s why, if you are really trying to cheat the system, you must raise the metabolism to a high rate through diet and exercise – again. Diet – eat the foods that spike your metabolism. Exercise – put on lean muscle mass to throw the body into overdrive for peak performance.
PRESCRIPTION: I’ve got 3 hot suggestions to help you turn the corner and be more effective in routine. 1) Strength train. For beginners- low weight, high reps. Anywhere from 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps, but keep the weight low. This will not only help you get into the swing of things, but also reduces the soreness that will discourage you from continuing on. Exercise veteran: low sets and reps, high weights. This will help build muscle faster. 2) Switch it up. Do a routine for 2-3 weeks max and then change it up. Example – bicep curls. Transition to different types of bicep curls, vary the weight, shorten the rest periods and even change the type of contraction (isometric, eccentric, concentric). 3) Buddy up. There’s nothing better than exercising with a partner. Hopefully, it’s someone who motivates you and is open to you doing the same. You are putting forth the effort to accomplish goals, not to socialize. Therefore, you both should be pushing and encouraging only the best efforts. Don’t let the other person slack off. Call them out when they do and remind them why they are there in the first place.
PARTING WORDS: Drink plenty of water. The by-products of exercise – lactic acid and chemical mediators necessary for muscle repair, only leave the muscle in the presence of fluid. If they stay, over time you can develop muscle bloating which makes them less effective and can actually cause injury. Keep the long term goals in focus. 1-2 two pounds a week is great. That translates to 3-4 a month, and 26-28 a year. After 5 years, you’ve lost a LOT of weight. Be patient; don’t kill yourself for falling off and having momentary lapses in judgment and get back on track. Be prepared to fight. Not the trainer, YOURSELF.
Next time I’ll cover the three types of muscle contraction and the benefits of doing each.