Exercise For Weight Loss?
How About Exercise For Health And Enjoyement!
If you are a person who finds yourself yawning when we talk about using exercise for weight management, read on, because I share a new perspective about this. I DO NOT believe in gruelling workouts, I don't think running is suitable or healthy for most people and I DO firmly believe that EVERYONE can find a form of movement they enjoy, if you dig around a bit.
To find out more about my struggles with weight loss and how I finally became healthy, read the other articles in this series.
In this article we explore ideas for exercise and movement for everyone, and we will start at looking by why the way that most people are encouraged to exercise for weight loss doesn't work in the long term.
(image courtesy of 'Ambro' - freedigitalimages.net)
How 'Treats' Sabotage Your Weight Loss
Did you know that many people will dig into a 'treat' after exercising. So they might have done a total of 45 minutes in the gym, perhaps they were there for an hour, but they weren't exercising the whole time. Perhaps they were on the treadmill and the rower. And they worked hard. They burned off perhaps 350 kcals. And now they feel they have done well so they reward themselves with a 'little treat'. So they eat a Mars Bar. And that is 280 kcals back in FOR A STANDARD MARS BAR - KING SIZE OR DOUBLES ARE MORE! So in reality, even after all that hard work slogging it out in the gym, they have only created a deficit of 70 kcals, and sadly the science says you need a deficit of 500 kcals a day to lose 1lb of body fat per week. So therein lies one issue with trying to manage your weight using gym workouts that feel more like a chore than fun.
Also, let me say here, I DO NOT recommend restricting food. I think eating freely and intuitive eating are absolutely preferable and much more effective! Therefore there is nothing wrong in having a Mars bar sometimes, however it's important to realise that in terms of calories, your 45 mins in thr gym is not very good in terms of a quality activity that could really help you to be healthy!
Exercise Can Be Fun!
Even though I am a Fitness Instructor and I know the science, I don't actually think that weight loss is this simple. If it was as easy as balancing calories in and out I honestly don't think we would have an 'obesity epidemic'. I believe there is much more too it and that we are shortsighted when it comes to weight issues. I think that we need to review the whole way we think about weight and size in westernised societies. Heavy doesn't necessarily mean unhealthy! Most people these days worry about their size and weight, even thinner people, and we all know that eating disorders are on the rise.
The other thing about they way most people exercise is they do the same tired old workout again and again. The problem with this is that your body becomes used to what you do and makes physiological changes, adapting to burn less calories. This was useful in caveman times when food was scarce, however our bodies have not adapted yet to suit modern times, when for most of us in western societies food is plentiful. In terms of exercise and movement, you need to change what you do to keep your body guessing.
However the most important thing in my opinion is to find a form of activity you LIKE, or even LOVE if possible.
I teach Zumba, and dancing makes me feel passionate and happy, so this is ideal for me. I also enjoy walking our dog. Did you know that dog walkers tend to get 10x more exercise than gym go-ers? (source - the BBC). For you perhaps you love swimming and tennis, or perhaps it is Squash and Ballroom dancing! Even gardening and housework are the preferred choice for some people, and never let anyone tell you that these types of activity don't count, gardening can be a great workout! Which types of movement and activity you will enjoy is completely personal so try lots of different things. Once you find something you like stick with it, as you will enjoy it more and more as you get fitter.
Zumba DVD Set
Amazon Price: $49.95 Too low to display Buy Now
(price as of May 30, 2016)
The Importance Of Increasing Muscle To Manage Weight
Muscle For Health!
The biggest piece of advise I can give you though, something which many people do not consider, or if they do they underestimate, is that you need to increase your muscle mass to help yourself be a healthy weight!
This is because muscle is an active tissue, which means that it burns calories at rest (even when it's not being used) whereas fat does not. Practically this means that if you convert some of your fat tissue to muscle, you will ramp up your metabolism and burn more calories every day, even when you are not exercising. In order to convert body fat to muscle you need to be including some weight bearing exercises and resistance training as part of what you do. This can include things like dancing and climbing, and ideally will also include muscle building exercises such as squats, lunges, press ups and ab curls. These can all be done at home using your own bodyweight, no special equipment is required, however if this sounds abhorrent to you then Pilates may well be a better muscle building option for you. Pilates is a great muscle building exercise which can be done in a class or at home with a DVD. It is also GREAT for people with back pain and minor back problems, although do see your GP if you have any serious problems with your back, and check with them before starting any new exercise plan.
Many women fear getting big muscles when they start doing muscle building exercise. There is no need to worry, you would have to train using very heavy weights, and in a very specific way to get big muscles. You won't be training in this way. Take note though it is important that the resistance training you do should be hard. Meaning that by the last few repetitions of an exercise you should be struggling to do the movement. If that sounds horrible, don't worry, for resistance training you only need to do about 12-15 repetitions of each exercise!
Pilates Workouts At Home
Amazon Price: $2.77 Buy Now
(price as of May 30, 2016)
Joyful Exercise Every Day
Aim to do some joyful exercise every day, and remember the health benefits this will bring to your body, not to mention the feel good chemicals that get released. It won't guarantee weight loss, but it will help you to be healthy and make the most of your individual shape.
I hope this article has given you some ideas as to how exercise fits in with weight and that you will enjoy incorporating it into your life.
I think it is important that we as a society move away from obsessing about weight ad start thinking more about health and happiness instead. When a person is healthy and happy they omit a natural glow of beauty that has NOTHING to do with how thin they are. To delve into this subject more and read what I recommend read the others articles in this series.
If you enjoyed this article please leave me a like and feel free to leave comments and questions.