Exercise or the lack of exercise to be exact.
Everything is rush, rush, rush and most people say they just don't have time to exercise. In 1999, the healthcare costs for treating obese adults in the USA was 238 billion dollars, according to the American Obesity Association, and that the annual number of deaths attributed to poor diet and inactivity is 300,000. With statistics like these, how could you not find the time for a little exercise?
Where To Start
First off I would suggest going to see your doctor just to make sure that you have no underlying health risks that could be exacerbated by exercise. Once you know that you are okay to exercise where do you go from there? Do you read a book, watch a movie, hire a personal trainer, buy a gym membership, research fitness on the Internet, walk around the block after dinner, start watching your diet, buy the latest supplements, all of the above?
I suggest setting a definitive goal and then developing a plan on how to get to that goal. When fitness is your goal you must consider cardiovascular fitness, training, and nutrition all of which will favorably change your body composition.
Proper goal setting must start with some type of idea of where you are. You could take pictures of the way you look (in a bathing suit), tape measurements, BMI (body mass index), or body composition. By knowing where you are you will be able to make a better decision of how to get to where you want to be. When I deal with a person I suggest that they take pictures (they can't lie to you), take tape measurements, and test body composition.
Choose your Path
This will give you three separate vantage points to see your progress. Any of the local health clubs should be able to guide you in the right directions as far as body composition testing goes. If you are a do it yourself kind of person the you may consider buying the book "Body For Life" by Bill Phillips it does a decent job of explaining how to get into shape. Within this article, I will explain in laymen's terms the how of getting fit and then expand upon them in the next few articles.
There are three components to fitness that should be a part of every persons program and they are cardiovascular training, resistance training and flexibility training. Any program that does not include these may be effective, but not as effective as it could be if all three were incorporated. Nutrition should be addressed as well for maximum progress.
Step One: Cardio
Cardiovascular training works the heart and burns calories in the presence of oxygen, thus making it aerobic. You can make just about anything cardiovascular if you can maintain a high enough heart rate. Most research says that to obtain the benefits of cardio you need to do 30 minutes three days a week, but if you are currently doing nothing then thirty minutes may be too much. As with type of exercise start slow and build up. If you can only handle 5 minutes then work up from there. Walking, running, aerobics, biking, treadmills, stair climbers are all great ways of doing cardio just make sure that you have fun while you are doing them.
Step Two: Training
Strength training or progressive resistance training is basically using some form of resistance to work the muscles of the body in order to make them stronger. This can also be recognized as anaerobic exercise, or exercise done in the absence of oxygen. (Running can be anaerobic and weight training can be made aerobic just for those super technical people out there). Any type of resistance can be used whether it is a can of chicken noodle soup or a high priced piece of strength equipment. Just like cardiovascular exercise weight training should be done slowly and progressively.
Proper lifting form and posture are the two most important factors when dealing with resistance training. It is difficult to learn form from reading a book so I would suggest finding a good trainer or buying some lifting videos to learn from. Just because you lift weight does not mean that you will look like Arnold over night, and women you won't look like a man if you lift. To build the type of physique that you may see in a magazine takes the right genes, nutrition and years and years of training.
Step Three: Flexibility
Flexibility is the ability to move around the "full" range of a joint. The old saying of "if you don't use it you will lose it" fits flexibility to a tee. Think of an infant they can bend over and plant their face on the ground next to their toes then think of the 40 year old executive that can't even see his toes.
Inactivity is the biggest culprit when it comes to loosing flexibility. Just like cardio and strength training flexibility must be trained slowly and progressively. If it took you 20 years to get into the shape you are in now it will take at least a few months to see significant changes. As with the other forms of physical training find someone to instruct you in how to stretch properly. Again the personal trainer, a video and in this case a book would be beneficial.
Flexibility can be trained after a light warm up. You should never try and stretch a cold muscle. I would suggest doing a 10-minute cardio warm up, followed by a stretching session and then strength training.
There are so many different theories on what is the best way to lose weight, so which one is right?
I prefer to think of diet as the way that you eat and not just a caloric restriction for weight loss. New "diet" books come out every year and every year people jump on the bandwagon and say this one is the best and it works better than anything else. My theory on loosing body fat is just this any "diet" that puts you into a caloric deficit works.
It is simple just don't eat so much. Stop super sizing , stop eating dessert every meal, stop drinking pop (switch to diet, better yet just drink water), trim the fat, hold the butter, lite dressing please, and actions just like these will make you drop the pounds.
Think of this one pound of fat is 3,500 calories, so to lose a pound you must either not eat 3,500 calories or expend them through exercise. Cutting out one can of regular pop per day just saved 150 calories, not super sizing at lunch another 300 calories, not using butter on your toast at breakfast 120 calories, not eating dessert ... 350 calories, and using lite dressing another 90 calories. They add up quick don't they?
Add a little restriction and some cardio and wham you have lost 5 pounds! I do suggest, for health reasons, that you consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and do your best to eat whole grains over refined foods. By doing this you will get the phytochemicals in the fruits and veggies that help protect against cancer and the whole grains are loaded with fiber, which will keep you regular and "may" help prevent colon cancer.
Supplements: Magic Pills
I know ... what about the latest wonder supplements? Hey folks, you can lose weight without any "magical" pill. Supplements do work, but fix the big picture of exercise and proper nutrition first, before ever spending money on a supplement!
No More Excuses!
I have heard every reason in the book on why you can't lose and I think that they are all just EXCUSES. In this town you have access to 4 separate health clubs, so find the one that fits you and get in there! If that isn't your cup of tea then get some home use equipment and get started (I have a treadmill at home and it is really just an over priced clothing rack). If getting the answers to your fitness questions can't be found at the bookstore then get a professional trainer. Check your excuses and get started!
Until next time good luck and GOD BLESS!