Winter sucks, but luckily it doesn't last forever. Soon, the glaciers will recede, the wooly mammoths and yaks will migrate north to frostier climes, and we can all emerge from our caves, blinking into the spring sunlight. But wait, what's that underneath our fur pelts?
Uh oh... looks like we've put on a few extra pounds of flab this winter. Did I say a few? I know some people who put away enough pie, cookies, cake, and pastry over the holidays to see them through any African famine with ease. Then when the spring thaw arrives, the panic sets in.
I've got to lose this weight fast! After all, none of us wants one of those paparazzi types to catch us looking flabby in a swimsuit and plaster it all over the cover of the National Enquirer.
Confusion quickly follows panic. What type of diet should I use? Which infomercial gadget should I buy, maybe the electro-stim pads that stick to my tummy and work the same as doing ten million sit-ups a day?
The fact is that the average American, as smart as they may be about their career or how many questions they can answer right on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, is clueless as to how to go about losing fat. For their edification, I have compiled a brief list of basic facts to put them on the right path and melt the fat away.
1. Starving Is Not The Answer:
This is a particularly difficult concept for women to comprehend, because their main role models for "weight management" are anorexic/bulimic models and actresses with sunken eyes and ribs you could play the xylophone on. As I've attempted to hammer home many times in the past, going too long without eating only slows down the metabolism further.
On top of that, most people can only starve so long before they break down and eat everything in the house. It's usually at night, too, so that means they'll be going straight to bed to let all that food turn into more fat. Athletes and bodybuilders have been doing it the right way for years, eating moderate meals every two to three hours.
Most People Can Only Starve So Long Before They Break Down And Eat Everything In The House.
They also eat an amount of calories that the average person would think excessive, yet amazingly they are lean and muscular. If you want to rev up a sluggish metabolism, eating is the answer, not starving.
2. Find Your Fine Line Of Caloric Intake:
The simplest mathematical equation possible for understanding fat loss is: you must burn more calories than you take in. But you must be careful not to have the balance too lopsided. Without enough calories, you will lose muscle tissue, and your metabolism will slow down in an attempt to keep you ticking just a little longer.
Remember, scale weight is not a reliable indication of what is really happening. You need to know how much lean mass versus fat you have as your fat loss journey progresses to adjust your calories accordingly.
3. Don't Skimp On Cardio:
For too many of us, the only cardio we get these days is lifting up the sofa cushions looking for the remote to the DVD player. We are also bombarded with commercials for Jenny Craig and Slim Fast that deludes us into thinking dieting is all we need to do to lose fat.
Sorry, but it just isn't that easy. You have to do cardio, and do it faithfully. John Parrillo pioneered the concept of doing cardio on an empty stomach for best fat-loss results, which is now universally accepted.
You Have To Do Cardio, And Do It Faithfully.
You need to get your heart rate elevated to the point where holding a conversation would be very difficult, and keep it there for at least thirty minutes. Do this 3-6 times a week along with a clean diet, and the lipolysis really kicks in.
4. Lifting Weights Isn't Just For Getting Big Muscles:
Try telling the average soccer mom with too much junk in her trunk that weight training is going to help her lose body fat, and she'll chuckle until her butt cheeks and roll of belly fat shake like Jell-O. How preposterous!
The fact is, weight training and adding a little muscle mass not only improves any woman's overall shape and curves, but muscle is very metabolically demanding. It burns calories just sitting there.
This is partly why bodybuilders with extreme amounts of muscle mass can get away with eating more than their share of junk (follow the Mr. Olympia competitors to the post-contest banquet sometime and you'll see what I mean) and still not gain much body fat.
As for the silly fear that they might wake up one morning accidentally looking like Dorian Yates, get real girls - not in your wildest dreams.
Muscle Is Very Metabolically Demanding.
5. Don't Go Nuts On "Fat-Free" & "Sugar-Free" Items:
Chips only have a third of the fat as regular potato chips! I guess it's okay to eat ten times as many, then. Sure, it's okay if you want to get even fatter. Another common mistake is that people don't read the food labels very closely.
If they did, they'd be horrified to discover that often fat-free foods are loaded with sugar, and sugar-free foods are full of fat. Think about it.
A bucket full of fat trimmings from pork chops is sugar free. A bucket full of table sugar is fat free. Do you think you'll get lean chowing down on those, sparky?
6. Forget About Cheat Meals:
"I deserve this, I ate well all week." Famous last words. It's what someone usually says before putting away a pizza or parking at the dessert section of the local Hometown Buffet.
Having your weekly (or in some folk's cases, daily) cheat meal will make your fat loss goals not much more than a faraway dream. This isn't to say, you can never enjoy another treat again, but keep them rare and in moderation.
Keep Your Cheat Meals Rare And In Moderation.
7. Use Supplements Wisely, Not As A Crutch:
Ever since fat-burning thermogenic products hit the supplement market ten years ago, dieters began relying on them to burn the fat while they slacked off on cardio and didn't eat the way they knew they should.
Never think for a minute that any pill is going to take the place of dedication and willpower. Use them if you must, because they can also be a very effective way to boost your concentration and energy levels while training.
But the hard work is up to you. No Genie is popping out of those bottles any time soon to grant you three physique wishes. If there were, don't you think I would have asked for arms like Lee Priest by now?
8. Patience Is A Virtue:
You didn't put all that lard on in one day, and you won't take it off in one day either. Don't get discouraged. Burning just a little bit of fat every day will add up over the weeks and months.
Don't Get Discouraged.
In today's world we want everything right this second, but you can't rush dieting unless you want to end up losing all your muscle and looking and feeling sickly and weak. You'll get there if you keep doing the right things.
Any dummy can lose fat if they understand these few principles. Now get moving! I think I just saw what looked like the sun starting to burn through those gray winter clouds.