Visit a nearby newsstand and I am sure that you will come across some magazines promoting miraculous weight-loss formulas. Sometimes they turn to the mythic properties of fruit, like with the “Lemonade Diet” or with the “Papaya Diet.” Other times they just create special nutritional plans, say the “Low-Carb Diet.” There are also the magic workouts and exercises that are supposed to reduce your belly circumference by 10 centimeters in three days – while toning your muscles….
The reality is that there are no shortcuts or easy ways to get in good shape. Sorry, but someone needed to tell you this.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you won’t not need to starve for days or perform some Spartan training activities. As long as you get conscious about what you are doing, you will see the results. Below you will find the four principles that you need to keep in mind in your weight-loss journey.
1. Forget About Diets
People that go from diet to diet never reach a stable weight, let alone a good shape. The reason is quite simple: diets are, by their very nature, temporary. You can’t expect to eat properly for two or three weeks and fix your weight problems for the rest of the year.
I know it is encouraging to read that you could lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks if you were to eat this and that. It is encouraging but not true. They might even work in the short term, but after a couple of months you will recover what you have lost.
Many of these diets are not even targeted at fat loss. They promise that you will lose weight, but the caloric cut is so drastic that you end up losing many pounds of water and muscle mass along the way, and that is not what you should be aiming for.
If diets are not the solution, what is then? Proper nutrition, and we’ll cover this on the next principle.
2. Proper Nutrition
If you want to keep your weight and fat percentage under control, you will need to learn the basics of nutrition. Once you learn them, you will be able to eat healthy throughout the year.
Buy a nutrition book on some library and read it. At the very minimum you want to know how your body works, what sources of energy it uses, what are the roles of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins.
You will need to shift your paradigm about food. Many people, especially those with weight problems, tend to see food as a source of pleasure. They eat what they like, when they want to, and in whatever proportions it might take to satiate them.
This is not the correct approach. You should see food first and foremost as something functional. You will eat because food is the fuel for your body. If you adopt this mentality, you will start eating what you need, when you need, and in the correct amount.
It might sound extreme, but even with this approach you will be able to have pleasure while eating. It is just a matter of getting used to it. Once you detox yourself from the junk food you will see that an apple can be just as tasty as a sugar-jammed apple pie.
Needless to say that if you are trying to lose weight you will need to have a caloric deficit in place. That is, you will need to eat less calories than what your body needs to keep his weight. Ideally you want to jot down some numbers and calculate how much you should be eating. There are plenty of resources online that can help you here.
3. Physical Exercise
Eating healthy and having a caloric deficit will only take you half the way. The other key factor is physical exercise.
Low intensity cardio is the corner stone of any weight loss program. That is because the higher the intensity of the exercise, the lower the amount of free fat acids in your bloodstream (free fat acids come from your stored fat through the lipolysis process, and they are burned for energy).
So far so good, but what is considered low intensity cardio? The easiest way to determine is to find your max heart rate (220 – age = max heart rate) and calculate 40% and 60% of it. That is the range you should aim for when doing low intensity cardio. Suppose you are 20 years old. This means that your max heart rate is around 200, so your range for low intensity cardio is from 80 heart beats per minute to 120 heart beats per minute.
Pragmatically speaking, what activities can you do as low intensity cardio? There are many of them, from walking to swimming and riding a bicycle; just find something that you like to do.
Start with two weekly sessions, and build your way up. The same theory goes for the duration, find what you are capable of doing in the beginning (without feeling too tired), and build your way up. It might be 10, 20 or 30 minutes, it doesn’t matter as long as you make progress along the way.
4. Discipline and Perseverance
You can start eating healthy and exercising properly, but unless you stick doing it regularly, the results won’t appear (if they do, they won’t last).
Discipline and perseverance are key here.
You could find a friend to exercise together, a mentor to guide you throughout the way, or even write down your progress day after day, like this person has done on his fat man weight loss blog. Do whatever it takes to stay on track.
That is pretty much all you need.
It won’t be easy, but very few worth things in life are easy to achieve, right?