Health: Over the last barrier

Udupi Today Media Network

Wednesday, 30 May 2012: Have you found yourself exercising regularly but not seeing the results you seek? Have you found that you have not been able to lose those last few pounds? Here are some ways to improve your workout, change your body and see better results.


Goal setting


First, ask yourself what are the results you seek? Your goals need to be well defined for you to identify progress. Often I see people go to the gym, train mindlessly not quite sure exactly what they want or need to work towards. A goal like “I want to lose weight” is both vague and unscientific. Weight on the scale is not as important or relevant as your fat percentage.


Remedy: Focus on lowering fat percentage, which can be evaluated either using a fat percentage machine, girth measures or skin fold thickness. Your goal, therefore, should be rephrased as “I will lose one inch around my waist by...” or “I will lower my fat percentage by two percentage by...”


Routine matters


After a certain period of the same exercise routine, your body adapts to it. The human body is extremely energy efficient. Sometimes to our own detriment! What was once considered ‘exercise' may very well become ‘ activity'. I have a client who plays tennis every day, five days a week. She believes she is working out, so why isn't she losing weight? Tennis, for her, has become ‘activity'; yes, she is burning calories and sweating but her body has now adapted to this calorie expenditure and is probably balancing her intake accordingly. So she started training with weights twice a week and added a 30-minute run twice a week, included a good stretching routine, and found to her delight that her body began to change perceptibly. Even her game got better.


Remedy: Change your routine. Your body needs variety and challenge every now and then. The change can be change in intensity, in exercises or in time. Even small changes are will help you see the difference in the way the body responds.


You are not working hard enough. Low intensity workouts are fine to maintain weight and stay fit. Challenging yourself once in a while is required to change your body and improve or increase fitness. If you are accustomed to walking three km in 30 minutes, try 3.25.


Remedy: Push beyond your comfort zone after clearance from your physician


Food issues


You have not changed your diet. Managing your diet is one of the most important aspects of losing fat/weight. More so than exercising maniacally. Unless your diet is in place, adequately nourishing (not starving) your body while maintaining a slight negative energy balance, the pounds will not come off. Starvation diets are not the answer. They have negative spin offs that eventually lead to you being unable to lose fat. In fact starvation diets will only ultimately lead to storage of more fat.


Remedy: Use a food journal to record what you eat everyday. You will be surprised as to just how revealing it can be. It is easier to make changes when you know exactly what it is you need to change.


Sleep well


You are sleep deprived. Lack of sleep will prevent you from getting in a good workout. It will also set the stage for indiscriminate eating. Worse still, sleep deprivation leads to the release of stress hormone, cortisol, which encourages storage of fat, particularly around the waist.


Remedy: Get enough sleep. Make it a priority to get good quality sleep. You may need to change your sleep habits, lower noise levels in your bedroom, remove your TV and laptop from your sleep area to encourage healthy sleep habits.


Build muscle


Workout means only cardio. A common practice, I find, particularly with women. I see several Cardio Queens working out endlessly on the treadmill, but unwilling to lift weight for fear of ‘bulking up'. Adding muscle will help you lose fat.


Remedy: Add strength training and build some muscle


Stay active


You are inactive apart from your workout. Working out for an hour every day does not give you the license to be a couch potato for the rest of the day. A sedentary job should incorporate deliberate attempts at moving around from time to time and doing a few exercises at your desk. Include physical movement every opportunity you get. For instance, take the stairs instead of the lift and escalator. Carry your own groceries, play with the kids or your dog. If you have a sedentary job, stand up and walk around every half hour


Remedy: Move around through the day


These are just a few things you could do to change your results. One is constantly faced with setbacks and not seeing results may prevent you from continuing with your workout. Patience and persistence is key. Nothing happens overnight. The energy balance equation takes time for results to show on the scale or in the mirror. Stay with the programme. You will in due course see the results you seek if your routine is managed properly.




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