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Exercise for Fast Weight Loss Move it to Lose it! In every weight loss plan, exercise plays an important role. While it is possible to lose some weight without exercising, your odds of losing weight quicker, easier, and keeping it off for good are much higher if you incorporate exercise into your daily life. What kind of exercise is best for weight loss? How often do you need to work out, and for how long? The first step in answering these questions requires getting clear about your goal. Obviously, your main goal is to lose weight. But how much weight, and in what timeline? How many calories do you eat each day? How much do you currently weigh? How active are you in your normal daily activities? All of these things will have an impact on your rate of weight loss and determine how much exercise you need to do to lose weight at the rate you want to lose it. This guide will walk you through the basic information you need to know about using exercise for fast weight loss, as well as a few problems and challenges that can arise as you go along. Let’s start with where you are now: How much do you weigh now? If you haven’t weighed yourself in awhile, go ahead and do that now. It’s important to know where you are starting and where you want to end up. Get a small notebook and jot down today’s date and your current weight. Knowing your current weight is also helpful because you’re better able to tell how many calories you burn while working out. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn during physical activity. For example, a 30 minute low impact aerobic workout for a 150 pound person would burn approximately 200 calories, while a 225 pound person would burn over 300 calories. There are some good calories-burned calculators online; pick one of them and spend a few minutes figuring out how many calories you would burn at your current weight for various exercises. You can also measure your proportions and jot those figures down so later you’ll be
able to tell how many inches you’ve lost. Measure these areas: waist, hips, thighs, calves, and upper arms.
Measuring is a good idea because sometimes the scale doesn’t show a loss but you’ll still be slimming down, getting stronger and losing inches. Taking your measurements every month or so can confirm that you are still making progress even if the scale doesn’t show it, which helps motivate you to keep going. How much weight do you want to lose? Maybe you already have a good idea of how much weight you want to lose – that “magic number” you want to see on the scale, but take a moment to think about whether it’s realistic or not. For example, if you’re trying to get back to your high school weight, you may not realize that your body has changed a lot since then – you might be a few inches taller than you were then, or your lifestyle may have changed so much that you don’t have time to be that active anymore. It’s a good idea to choose a realistic number to start, even if you think you’d like to weigh less. You can always make the decision to keep going once you reach your initial goal weight. For starters, however, choose a weight that won’t be too difficult to achieve. How quickly do you want to lose weight? The next question is how fast do you want to lose weight? course!
Be reasonable, of
It’s inspiring to think about dropping 50 pounds in one week but it’s not likely to happen. Most experts recommend losing no more than 2 pounds per week. If you try to lose more than that, you might be tempted to cut your calories down too low and lose muscle mass rather than fat. Instead, decide that you’re going to lose 1-2 pounds per week at a minimum, and if you do happen to burn a few extra calories and lose more here and there, great! Choosing a modest rate of weight loss like this not only protects your health, it prevents you from getting discouraged and giving up! If you aim to lose 5 pounds a week and don’t do it, you’ll feel disappointed and be more likely to cheat on your diet, slack on workouts and generally have a bad attitude about your weight loss. On the other hand, if you decide that you’re going to be satisfied losing 1 to 2 pounds a week, and you do it, you’ll feel great about yourself. If you lose even a little more than that, you’ll feel even better. How many calories do you eat each day? Next, try to get an idea of your normal caloric intake. Make a list of everything you typically eat and drink in a day, and then figure out how many calories it contains. Then compare that to how much you weigh now, and how much you want to weigh. You’ll probably find that you are eating far too many calories for your goal
weight. Here’s how to figure it out: Multiply your current weight by 10, and that is how many calories you need to eat daily to maintain your current weight. So, if you weigh 175 pounds, you need to eat 1,750 calories each day to stay the same weight. If your goal weight is 140 pounds, you need to eat 1,400 calories daily (so, 350 fewer calories each day) to lose the extra 35 pounds. This formula isn’t a “one size fits all,” however. You may need to adjust these figures if your current weight is drastically different. For example, if you currently weigh 300 pounds, you may not want to cut your caloric intake down that far all at once. It may be easier to instead try cutting it down from 3,000 calories to 2,500 or 2,000 calories to start. As you continue to lose weight, you can reduce your calories more and keep your weight loss going strong without feeling like you’re starving. How active are you normally? Another important consideration is how active you are in your normal daily activities. Do you have a physically demanding job? Do you do a lot of brisk walking or lifting heavy objects? Do you sit at a desk or behind the wheel of a vehicle all day? Do you chase after small children all day? If you are fairly active most days, you probably won’t have to do as much “official” exercise to lose weight as a person who is sedentary much of the time. Experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of brisk exercise daily, just for general health benefits. However, for weight loss we need to consider the number of calories burned from exercise. If your goal is to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week, you need to both reduce your caloric intake AND burn a certain number of calories through exercise. Using the example from above, let’s say you weigh 175 pounds and want to lose 35 pounds. To lose one pound per week, you’d need to reduce your caloric intake by 3,500 calories a week. That’s 500 calories a day. The problem is that you can’t cut your calories down TOO far, or you’ll slow down your weight loss, feel hungry all the time, and eventually get discouraged and give up. A better approach is to use a combination of calorie reduction and physical activity to promote weight loss. If you reduced your daily calories by 350, that would add up to 2,450 fewer calories eaten each week – but that’s not quite enough for a one pound loss. (One pound equals 3,500 calories.) If you also made it a point to burn at least 200 calories through physical exercise each day, then you should be able to easily lose one pound per week. If you wanted to lose 2 pounds per week, you’d need to bump up the physical activity so you’re burning 700 calories or so each day. If you are quite active in your normal daily activities, you’ve obviously got a jump on this calorie-burn thing, and you’ll be able to work out less and burn more calories.
Diet and Exercise for Fast Weight Loss We’ll be diving into some helpful exercise weight loss tips in a moment, but first it’s important to be sure your eating habits are conducive to healthy weight loss. It is possible to lose some weight by exercising alone, but if you don’t change your eating habits you won’t get far. You don’t necessarily have to go on a “diet” to lose weight, however. Simply by making a few easy changes you’ll start losing weight and improve your health. Don’t be a “junk food junky”. The first thing to do is get rid of as much “junk food” from your diet as you can. Ditch the sugar, candy, cookies, soda pop, potato chips, and fried foods. Save those for occasional treats if you don’t want to give them up completely, but be firm in removing them from your everyday diet. Instead, lean more toward whole, natural foods that are naturally low in calories and fat. Eat plenty of salads, steamed vegetables, fresh fruit, low fat dairy products and lean protein like chicken, turkey, fish, and beef. Get rid of white, processed grain products and replace them with whole grain varieties. The great thing about making these changes is that you’ll find it very easy to stay within your reduced calorie range since most of these foods are naturally low in calories. Even better, they are filling and have tons of great nutrients that will provide energy during your workouts! Drink plenty of water. It’s important to be fully hydrated, especially if you’ll be working out vigorously each day. Drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water daily, and more if you are sweating a lot or exercising in hot weather. You can either drink your water at set times throughout the day (like drinking an 8 ounce glass of water at 8 set time periods), or simply sip and gulp water all day long. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you. Fueling your body before and after workouts. It’s important to ingest enough calories each day to provide fuel for your body – especially if you’ll be exercising daily. That’s why sticking to your calorie count is important; you’ll be eating fewer calories than you used to so you’ll lose weight, but you also won’t be starving yourself and slowing down your metabolism. One question people often ask is: “Should I eat before or after a workout?” The answer will depend on your personal preferences, as well as any medical conditions
you may have. Most people are able to work out comfortably without eating anything right before a workout, but if you find that you feel faint or weak, your blood sugar might be dropping too low (this is common with conditions like diabetes and hypoglycemia). In that case, eating something small and light 30-60 minutes before your exercise session should help a lot. Good choices are foods that are converted to fuel quickly, like fruit and carbohydrates. If you find that eating before a workout makes you feel sluggish or nauseous, you may want to instead simply drink some water and wait until after your workout to eat. After your workout, you might eat something light that contains both protein and carbohydrates to help restore your energy. Good choices might be half a bagel with cream cheese, or yogurt with granola. Starting your exercise routine: All right, let’s get to the workout information! First things first: if you are just starting an exercise routine, it’s important to see your doctor for a physical exam to be sure you are healthy enough for exercise. Tell your doctor that you’d like to start an exercise program to lose weight and get his or her advice on the best exercises for you. Even after getting your doctor’s okay, it’s very important to start slowly with a new workout routine, especially if you are a beginner. The last thing you want to do is dive into a super-intense workout and injure yourself. With the exercises we’re going to cover below, remember that starting slowly and working your way up will be key in protecting your health and losing weight safely. As you get stronger you’ll be able to increase both the intensity and length of your workouts. Cardiovascular exercises The first type of exercise that’s great for weight loss is cardiovascular training. This is the kind of workout that gets your heart rate up and your metabolism revving, burning calories so you’ll lose weight. It’s also the best kind of exercise for strengthening your heart and lungs and improving your overall fitness level. With all cardiovascular workouts, it’s important to warm up and cool down properly. When you first begin a workout, spend the first 5 to 7 minutes moving slowly and letting your muscles warm up. After your workout, spend the last 5 to 7 minutes gradually reducing the intensity and allowing your heart rate and respiration to come back to normal. Good cardiovascular exercises for beginners are those that are low-impact, simple, and affordable. Here are a few good choices: Walking Walking is a great cardiovascular exercise that can help you burn calories and get
into great shape. It tones your entire lower body and your waist, and it’s very low impact so you won’t strain your joints and muscles. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime if you have a walking path or sidewalks nearby. You can even walk indoors if you have a mall or other large public building nearby – or you can even do a modified form of walking in your home by marching in place, or simply buy a treadmill if you can afford one. For walking to be effective for weight loss, you need to move at a brisk pace, not a slow stroll. At a slow stroll you’ll probably be moving at 1 mile per hour or so. If you pick up the pace a bit and walk briskly, you’ll be moving at 2 to 3 miles per hour. If you walk very quickly (think power-walking) you can bump up the pace to 5 or 6 miles per hour, and running would be more like 7 to 10 miles per hour. It’s important to know that because how quickly you walk determines how many calories you burn. Walking at a slow stroll will burn far fewer calories than power-walking, obviously. If you’ve never walked briskly before, it’s important to keep it at a pace that’s challenging, yet still somewhat comfortable. One good way to gauge your intensity level is by paying attention to your breathing. If you are huffing and puffing and gasping for air, you’re definitely working too hard! Slow it down a bit so that you are still exerting yourself but you are able to breathe. Some experts say that if you can still carry on a conversation, you are working at the right intensity level. Swimming Swimming is another great low-impact cardiovascular workout. If you have access to a public pool, perhaps at your local health club, YMCA or YWCA, swimming laps is a fantastic all-over workout that can help you burn hundreds of calories an hour. Again, it’s important to be vigorous in your movements, not just float around. If you can find some good water aerobic classes to join, you’ll have even more fun while burning calories and meeting other fitness-minded people. Cycling/Spinning Bicycling is another fantastic cardiovascular workout that can burn a lot of calories. The challenge can often be finding a safe place to ride, especially if you live in a busy city. A good alternative is to buy a stationary bike for your home, or join a spinning class at a health club. Spinning classes can be even more effective than biking on your own because they often include lots of variations like adjusting the bike settings to simulate biking uphill. More resistance equals more calories burned! Dancing Dancing is a great way to burn calories and lose weight, and it’s usually a lot more fun than traditional workouts. Sign up for a dance class (or more than one) that meets several times a week and burn calories, meet interesting people, and have a blast at the same time.
There are many other forms of cardiovascular workouts; these are just a few ideas to get you moving in the right direction. Resistance exercises Resistance exercises are often referred to as “weight training” exercises because they usually include the use of small dumbbells or weights. The aim of resistance exercises is to build lean muscle mass so you 1) get stronger and leaner, and 2) burn more calories. The more lean muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn even while resting. (This is one big reason why men often lose weight faster than women; they have more lean muscle so they burn more calories.) There are several forms of resistance training you can do: Free Weights Resistance training with free weights involves holding dumbbells while you lift and lower your arms in various movements to help strengthen certain muscle groups in your arms, shoulders, chest and back. Some common moves are: curls (to strengthen the bicep muscles); fly (to strengthen the chest muscles); and lateral raises to strengthen the shoulders. Pilates Pilates is an effective form of resistance training that uses only your own body weight for the resistance. Rather than using dumbbells, you simply perform a series of movements that work the muscles of your arms, legs, and torso. Pilates moves include exercises that target your abdomen muscles, back muscles, buttocks, and all other main muscle groups. An added benefit is that Pilates also improves flexibility and balance. For Pilates instruction, your best bet is to buy a good DVD or join a class locally so you can be sure you are doing the moves correctly for best effect and to avoid injury. Resistance Bands Resistance bands are another great tool for building lean muscle and burning more calories. Resistance bands look like big, stretchy rubber bands. Some of them have handles, but others don’t. Using resistance bands is pretty simple; you stand on part of them while pulling upward on the ends as you do curls or other resistance exercises – very similar to how you would use dumbbells. For some exercises you may also attach the bands to a doorknob or other stationary object to provide resistance. How often to resistance train: Resistance training is usually done a few times per week. Most experts recommend not training the same part of the body two days in row so muscles have time to
recover and heal. Keeping this in mind, you might work your upper body and arms one day, then your abs, legs and butt the next day, and keep alternating back and forth. You can even allow two full days between working each muscle group if you feel like you need it. Moderate soreness is normal as you work on strengthening muscles. However, if you notice any sharp pains or weakness, it’s possible that you are overdoing it or you may have strained or sprained a muscle. Remember, take it slow at first and be sure to include an adequate amount of time for warming up before each workout and stretching gently after each workout. Weekly Exercise Outlook So – now that we’ve covered the basic cardio and resistance workouts, you might be wondering how to fit this all in to your schedule each week. You want to exercise enough that you are burning a fair number of calories each day (500+ for most people), while also reducing your daily caloric intake by 500 calories or so (depending on your current weight and goal weight; that may vary). How would that exercise routine look? There are endless ways to set it up, but here’s a good example: Five days a week, you could do a brisk cardio workout for 30-60 minutes, burning 250-500 calories each day. On three of those days, you could also devote 30 minutes or more to intense resistance training workouts, alternating back and forth between upper body, lower body, and abs. If you are also keeping your daily calorie intake in line with your goal weight (i.e. 1,400 calories if your goal weight is 140 pounds), you should have no trouble losing 1 or 2 pounds per week, or even more if you are more active than the workouts we’ve described here. Remember, the more calories you burn, the faster you lose weight. With that in mind, you may also want to make it a point to be more active in your other activities beyond official workouts. Take your kids to the park and run around with them; take the stairs instead of the elevator; park your car farther away from your destination; march in place during television commercials, and so on. Committing to an Active Lifestyle No matter how your personal workout routine looks, the most important thing is to be committed to an active lifestyle for the rest of your life. It’s not just about burning calories so you can lose weight fast – it’s about getting fit and healthy and staying that way for good. You may face some challenges along the way, but being truly committed and determined to see it through will prevent you from getting discouraged and giving up. When you know that you’re in this for the long haul, you’ll find it much easier to keep going – even when the going gets tough.
Published on Jun 28, 2011