My tips on making a healthy, fitness transformation:
- Set goals… both small (ie. drink a gallon of water everyday), medium (ie. lose a pound a week) and major ones (compete in a bikini competition).
- Get rid of the junk food! Make your own meals from wholesome lean proteins, veggies, fruits and healthy fats. No soda, cookies, chips, crackers, candy, white breads and pastas, fruit juice, sugary cereal, fast food or packaged, processed crap.
- While you’re at it.. cut out the alcohol. It shuts down your metabolism, promotes fat storage and breaks down muscle tissue. (lovely eh?)
- Plan ahead… prepare your meals and workouts in advance, always keep workout clothes, a water bottle and protein powder with a shaker cup in your car so you never have an excuse not to hit the gym. “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”.
- Stay positive… setbacks will happen, don’t let your mistakes define you! You’re only a failure if you quit.
- Rid yourself of negativity (including the people who try to belittle your healthy dreams and goals).
- Track your progress… take before pictures and weekly progress pictures. Also, keep a journal of everything you eat and of all your workouts (including how many reps, sets and weight for each workout).
- Be patient… losing weight and getting fit takes time!
- Make a motivational posterboard of quotes, pictures, anything that will remind you of your goals and keep it where you can see it!
- Ask questions.. don’t be afraid of looking dumb! I asked millions of them when I first started (and still do sometimes!) In fact, the first person I ever asked was an NPC Fitness Competitor!!! And guess what? She answered every single one of my questions, and we have continued to stay in touch!
- Believe in yourself, believe you can do it. “The best way to predict your future, is to create it”.
PSA FOR ALL FIT FREAKS! Are you taking enough time OFF?
Recovery is just as important as what you do IN the gym. But no matter how much we ‘know’ this, many people consistently spend hours and hours in the gym because it “feels” right. It’s psychological. A dependence….
100 Running Songs! (The image links to the original article)
In no particular order:
- Afrojack – Take Over Control
- Bruno Mars – Runaway Baby
- Kelly Clarkson – Whyawannabringmedown
- Barenaked Ladies – One Week
- Kanye West – Champion
- The Offspring – The Kids Aren’t Alright
- T.I. – Bring Em Out
- Lady Gaga ft. Colby O’Donis – Just Dance
- Chris Brown – Yeah 3x
- Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal
- YoungBloodz – Imma Shine
- Beyonce & Jay Z – Crazy In Love
- Black Eyed Peas – Pump It
- Neon Trees – Animal
- LMFAO ft. Lil Jon – Shots
- Usher ft. Will-I-Am – OMG
- Willow Smith – Whip My Hair
- Rihanna – Disturbia
- Will-I-Am ft. Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez – T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)
- Tinie Tempah ft. Wiz Khalifa – Till I’m Gone
- Samantha Jade – Step Up
- Fatboy Slim – Rockafeller Skank
- Pitbull ft. Ne-Yo & Afrojack- Give Me Everything
- Outkast – Hey Ya
- Nicki Minaj – Starships
- Will Smith – Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It
- Prodigy – Breathe
- Janelle Monae ft. Big Boi- Tightrope
- Kanye West – Power
- Ke$ha – Blow
- Destiny’s Child – Survivor
- Nicki Minaj & David Guetta – Turn Me On
- Black Eyed Peas – Don’t Stop The Party
- Chris Brown – I Can Transform Ya
- Maroon 5 ft. Christina Aguilera – Moves Like Jagger
- Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)
- Lenny Kravitz – Are You Going To Go My Way
- Skrillex – Bangarang
- Usher – More
- Rihanna – Breakin Dishes
- Smash Mouth – All Star
- Calvin Harris ft. Ne-Yo – Let’s Go
- La Roux – Bulletproof
- Madcon – Beggin’
- LMFAO – Sexy And I Know It
- Michael Franti & Spearhead – Say Hey (I Love You)
- Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris – Baby
- Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
- Pink – Raise Your Glass
- Rick Ross – Push It
- Black Eyed Peas – Don’t Phunk With my Heart
- Beyonce – Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
- Christina Aquilera ft. Nicki Minaj – WooHoo
- Eminem – Lose Yourself
- Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee)
- Trapt – Headstrong
- Salt ‘N Pepa – Push It
- T-Pain – Church
- The Veronicas – 4ever
- LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem
- Eminem – Won’t Back Down
- The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name
- Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris – We Found Love
- Kevin Rudolf ft. Lil’ Wayne – Let It Rock
- DJ Khaled – Out Here Grindin’
- Lenny Kravitz – Where Are We Runnin’?
- Fabolous – Breathe
- Jessie J – Domino
- Kris Kross – Jump
- Flo Rida ft. Sia – Wild Ones
- Kanye West & Jay Z – Ni**as In Paris
- Drake ft. Lil Wayne & Tinie Tempah – The Motto (Remix)
- Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
- Cobra Starship – You Make Me Feel…
- Britney Spears – I Wanna Go
- Enur ft. Natasja & Mims – Calabria 2008
- Fergie – Here I Come
- Eve – Tambourine
- Outkast – B.O.B.
- House Of Pain – Jump Around
- Kelly Clarkson – My Life Would Suck Without You
- Gwen Stefani – The Sweet Escape
- Fort Minor – Remember The Name
- Paramore – Ignorance
- Lady Gaga – Born This Way
- Linkin Park – Papercut
- Rihanna – Where Have You Been
- B.o.B ft. Rivers Cuomo – Magic
- Selena Gomez & The Scene – Love You Like A Love Song
- Britney Spears – Till The World Ends
- Matchbox Twenty – How Far We’ve Come
- ATC – All Around The World
- Beyonce – Countdown
- Christina Aguilera – Fighter
- Kanye West – Stronger
- Flo Rida – Good Feeling
- Smash Mouth – I’m A Believer
- DJ Khaled ft. Ludacris, Rick Ross, T-Pain & Snoop Dogg – All I Do Is Win
- Madonna ft. Justin Timberlake – 4 Minutes
- Maroon 5 – Makes Me Wonder
This is the question I receive most often. With all the tips, tricks, diets, and plain old misinformation out there it can be hard to know where to begin! This is my attempt at explaining the basics to successful healthy weight loss. I’m going to try to include EVERYTHING I know, and everything I’ve been asked in this post. I’m sorry its such a novel, but I promise it will be worth the read.
Before you start this journey, I hope you’ll take a moment to stop and love yourself and your body. This is the only one you have, and the only one you’ll get. Please treat it well through this process! Thats the biggest piece of advice I have. Wanting to change your body doesn’t mean you need to hate the one you currently have. You are beautiful now, and you’ll be beautiful when you reach your goal.
First I want to talk about the superficial/aesthetic reasons people lose weight. Sculpting the body you want is awesome! But there are some things that are unrealistic or impossible for some bodies. Things like thigh gaps, or how much your collar and hip bones show are all based on the way you’re built. You can’t change your skeleton :P Its important to keep the image in your head of your personal best body, not someone else’s.
A realistic goal for weight loss is between .5 and 2lb a week. More than 2lb a week is generally not recommended. This rate of weight loss is helps preserve muscle mass and is easier to maintain in the long run. This can be achieved through cutting calories, exercise, or both.
A realistic goal weight depends on your height and frame. You can find a good chart here.
If you are giving yourself a deadline, make sure to give yourself room for mistakes. You may backslide. Bumps in the road happen. Almost everyone who tries to lose weight has an off week every so often. Just remember to KEEP GOING and dont give up!
Ladies, (and gentlemen!) start your calculators.
First we’re going to calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This is the base amount of calories your body needs to function.
- Use the following formula:
Women: 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
Men: 66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)
You can also use this online calculator.
- Next, we’re going to factor in your activity level.
If you are sedentary (You spend most the day in a chair): BMR x 20 percent
If you are lightly active (You walk around a lot during your daily activities): BMR x 30 percent
If you are moderately active(You exercise most days a week): BMR x 40 percent
If you are very active (You exercise intensely on a daily basis or for prolonged periods): BMR x 50 percent
If you are extra active (You do hard labor or are in athletic training): BMR x 60 percent
- Now, add that number to your BMR.
This is the number of calories you need to eat each day to maintain your current weight.
Multiply this number by 7. This is how many calories you need per week to maintain your current weight.
Now you’re going to take that weekly number and subtract 3500 from it. Now divide it by 7.
This is the number of calories you should eat each day to lose 1lb a week. For 2lb a week, subtract 7000.
DO NOT EAT LESS THAN 1200 CALORIES A DAY.
Eating too few calories will kill your metabolism and work against you.
I highly recommend making yourself a meal plan. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or complicated! Just a quick write up of what to buy and eat for the week will help you keep on track. With a meal plan, you’re less likely to stress and abandon your diet/lifestyle change mid-day because you just want to grab something to eat quickly. You’ll also have less days where you lose track of how many calories you’ve had until right before dinner.. and realize you only have 200 left (Guilty. PS - on those days I ate a full dinner anyway. ‘Cause shit happens and you should eat when you’re hungry.)
Most of your food should come from the perimeter of the grocery store. Tons of produce, lean meat, fish, and some dairy/eggs. You’ll also want to include whole grains, beans, and nuts.
Try and choose options with the least amount of processing. The more ingredients you can pronounce or recognize, the better. The one with the least amount of calories isn’t always the healthiest!
Avoid canned foods when you can. These have HUGE amounts of sodium and a lot of the nutritional content is destroyed in the canning process. Plus, they lose another 10-20% of the nutritional content on top of that each year that they sit in the can. If money is an issue for fresh produce - check out the frozen aisle before buying canned. Many packages are flash frozen soon after harvest keeping them fresh and retaining most of their nutritional content.
Breads, rice, pasta, cereal, etc should all be whole grain. Think brown > white. ‘Multi-grain’ doesn’t always mean ‘whole’ - be careful of that!
Foods labeled ‘all natural’ aren’t always healthy. There is no real definition or guideline about what can be labeled all natural. When you see it, assume its BS.
Don’t drink your calories. Unless you’re having a hard time meeting your daily intake, avoid juices and sodas. Water is your new best friend. Drink at LEAST eight 8oz glasses of water a day, even more if you’re working out hard.
Avoid diet pills. They’re not worth it, and you won’t get any extra results from them. That extra money is better off being put toward going organic, or a new blender, or a new pair of pants when you go down a size ;)
You can eat several small meals a day, or have 3 meals a day with snacks. No matter how you go about it, make sure you’re not starving yourself! If you’re hungry, eat. When you make yourself go hungry, you’re more likely to binge and eat far more than you would have had you just eaten in the first place.
A good rule of thumb when making a meal is to try and keep it 1/2 fruits/veggies, 1/4 protein, 1/4 grain.
An awesome tool when thinking about portions is WebMD’s portion size plate. Its easy, interactive, and gives you a good idea about what one serving looks like.
For tracking calories taken in and calories burned, MyFitnessPal.com is fantastic and easy to use. I highly recommend it. Plus it has a huge community of people who are looking to lose weight too.
Take time to look up recipes, cook, and find things you enjoy eating. Don’t make the mistake of just tolerating foods you think will make you lose the most weight then switching back to the old diet when you hit your goal. If you want the changes in your body to be permanent, the changes in your diet need to be permanent.
Exercise is SO important to healthy, permanent weight loss. Besides the obvious health benefits, exercise will keep you burning more calories through the day and you won’t lose muscle mass (as you will with cutting calories alone). You will sleep better, feel better, and be all around happier with regular exercise.
There two types of exercise you should incorporate into your routine: Cardio and Strength. 30 to 60 minutes of total exercise 5 times a week is a good amount to shoot for. If you’re a beginner, just do as much as you can and work up. Remember to give yourself at least one rest day.
Cardio is basically anything that gets you breathing hard and your heart rate up. This can include running, biking, swimming, rowing, jumping rope, kickboxing, skating, playing sports, dancing, hiking, power yoga.. the list goes on and on. Find something you really enjoy doing!
Hold up, ladies. Don’t think that strength training us just for the men. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is. That means you burn more calories through the day when you’re not working out. Strength training is what gives you sexy, lean muscles and a perkier butt and boobs. You will NOT - I repeat NOT end up looking like a ripped muscle man from lifting weights. Even really heavy ones. Though not all strength training includes weights. Start with a routine that works all muscle groups. If you’re not sure what to do, check out these links: Best Arm Exercises, Best Ab Exercises, Best Thigh Exercises.
You can also do a DVD workout plan. Things like the 30 Day Shred, Insanity, PX90, etc etc are all home workout programs that have given lots of people great results.
Joining a gym is great because you are usually given an opportunity to learn from a trainer when you join. They’ll go over how to use machines properly and safely, show you the starting weight/pace thats right for you, and answer any questions you have about a workout. Depending on the gym, you’ll also have access to group classes, a pool, steam room, and even sometimes a hot tub :D
If you are very overweight, have old injuries, or weak joints, don’t despair! Low impact workouts are for you. Things like walking, step aerobics, swimming, zumba, cycling, using an eliptical machine, rowing machine, yoga (especially aerial yoga), or pilates are all low impact and easy on the body while still burning calories.
Remember to warm up before a workout to avoid injury, and cool down after to avoid being sore. The longer your cool down, the more your body is able to recover, the less sore you’ll be the next day. You can do this by walking, stretching, and getting a massage. Drinking lots of water will help too!
Lastly, keep in mind that the one thing exercise can’t do is make you lose fat in one specific area. When we lose fat, we lose it all over or nowhere. We can’t spot lose!
Make a MyFitnessPal account. It has a huge community full of other people trying to slim down and get healthy too. You can use it to track calories eaten and burned, your total weight lost, and inches lost! You can add other users as friends and see what they’re doing on your homepage. It looks a little like facebook, except you can comment on your friends progress, meals, and status updates :)
Make a tumblr blog dedicated to your weightloss/health journey. The community here calls themselves ‘fitblr’s and WE’D LOVE TO HAVE YOU <3 Fill your dash with motivation, recipes, health info, and tips. Share your favorites. People in the fitblr community are so accepting and supportive of people of all body types and weights. It doesnt matter where you’re starting as long as you’re starting! MAKE A FITBLRRRR. okay, sorry.
Track not only your weight on the scale, but the inches around your waist, arms, legs etc. The scale doesn’t always show the whole story. Remember that 1lb of muscle takes up less space than 1lb of fat. As you gain muscle, you shrink! But it may not always show on the scale.
Celebrate your non-scale weights just as much as you celebrate your scale weights. Your measurements, your flexibility, the number of reps/sets you can do, the amount of time you can run before you have to stop, how fast you can run a mile, even being less out of breath when you walk upstairs than you used to be is still a success and its worth noticing and being excited about!
Make yourself small rewards for goals. Give yourself a few goal weights if you have a lot of weight to lose. Go shopping, get ice cream, take a trip, get your car detailed.. whatever! Work towards something.
Write yourself a letter when you’re feeling extra pumped and motivated. Tell yourself how awesome you feel, remind yourself why you’re doing this. Include health reasons, non-aesthetic reasons, and physical reasons you want to finish this journey. Pull it out anytime you feel like you want to give up.
LET YOURSELF HAVE TREATS. Eating healthy and losing weight doesn’t mean the end of sweets. It just means eating them in moderation. Don’t keep what you can’t control yourself around in the house, but don’t deprive yourself of them completely. Take yourself (and a friend!) out for a scoop of ice cream. Have a slice of pizza. Or two! Its fine to indulge every once in a while. If you’re sitting around thinking about all the things you miss and arent allowed to have anymore, you’re likely to not want to continue.
Have a workout buddy. Having someone to help pass the time while you workout and push you to keep going is great motivation. Plus, nobody wants to be the one to call the other and say they don’t feel like working out today.
Keep it small and simple at first. Don’t overwhelm yourself with new changes.
Weigh yourself once a week, and only once a week. Weight tends to fluctuate like crazy through the week. If you weight yourself everyday, you’ll go crazy. On the day you weigh, try to do it when you wake up, after you use the bathroom and before your shower. You’ll have a more accurate idea of how much fat you’re losing this way.
As you lose weight and your clothes get looser, donate them! You’ll feel great helping clothe others, and it can be kinda like a funeral for clothes that you won’t ever be fitting into again!
Okay. Thats all. WOW that’s long. I hope you learned something, and may God bless every beautiful soul that actually read the whole thing haha. I even tried not to swear in this post for once! *deep breath* Any questions, feel free to ask! (off anon will get you a faster response)
1.) DON’T immediately begin a high impact workout without warming up first. You might as well take a frozen rubber band and stretch it beyond it’s point of elasticity. The rubber band will snap much easier and so will your muscles if they are tight. DO warm up with low impact activity such as walking, lunges, or arm circles.
2.) DON’T immediately stop all activity after a vigorous workout. DO be sure to cool down to aid in the recovery process. Cooling down allows your heart rate to lower along with the relaxation of your tired muscles.
3.) DO remember to stretch your muscles before working out and after, especially, since your muscles are still warm. DON’T stretch prior to warming up because your muscles need proper loosening to prevent accidental strain and pulling. There are so many wonderful benefits to stretching. Here is a post I made demonstrating various stretches.
4.) DON’T push an injury. This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people simply ignore pain and continue working out. What may seem okay at the time can become an even bigger problem if not properly attended to. DO listen to your body. If a pain is persistent, DO consult a doctor as soon as possible.
5.) DON’T lift too much or make sudden jerky body movements. DO be sure to increase weights gradually to prevent injury and quick muscle burnout. It’s normal to feel pain and some fatigue, but lifting too much to the point of failure isn’t going to help. This goes hand in hand with going overboard in general. DO work your way into a program with caution to avoid injuries and feeling defeated.
6.) DON’T stick with the notion that you can eat whatever you want because you worked out. Abs are also made in the kitchen, so choose your foods wisely. DO check food labels for nutritional content. DO choose foods that are filling to lessen the chance of binging later due to sudden hunger. DON’T eat empty calories.
7.) DON’T load up on sports drinks for short workouts. You’ll be tacking on a lot of unnecessary calories (also includes energy bars). DO keep a bottle of water handy at all times to remain properly hydrated. DO drink before you’re thirsty. If your body is begging for water, you’re already heading towards dehydration. Drinking 4-8 oz approximately every 20 minutes will do the trick. DO consider sports drinks when you plan on working out for more than 1 hour.
8.) DON’T get bored with your exercise program because it will be hard to stick with. Exercise can become very monotonous if you continue to do the same thing day after day. DO incorporate new exercises during the week to break up your usual routine. Having the opportunity to build new skills can keep you motivated.
9.) DON’T wear clothing made with fabrics (i.e. cotton) that are not breathable as they can become saturated resulting in heaviness. You want to remain comfortable during a workout. DO be sure to wear clothing that wicks moisture away from the body (dry-fit). DO wear clothing appropriate for whatever exercise you choose to partake in.
10.) DON’T overexercise. Your body needs rest just as much as it needs to be physically active. DO take, at the very least, 1 day of complete rest in order for your body to recover. This is especially important the day after vigorous activity has taken place. DO stagger your weekly workouts between easy, mild, and tough to create balance.
11.) DON’T pretend that you know everything just to avoid “looking stupid” when you truly have a concern or question in mind. You can say hello to injuries. DO consult a personal trainer for advice, tips, and examples of exercise moves to work a certain part of your body.
And as a petrol free transport option? What’s stopping you!
How do I lose thee? Let me count the ways. We give you 61 (plus a few bonus tips for you dedicated online readers). Losing those last few inches, bringing out that six-pack or moving the slider to the left on the scale are among the hardest things for people to do — even you crafty gym veterans. But with this compilation of tips, unwanted bodyfat could be a thing of the past.
Be an Iron Man. There’s no overstating the importance of resistance training. Adding muscle to your frame through lifting weights causes your body to speed up its metabolism. For every pound of lean muscle you forge, count on losing an extra 35—50 calories per day, or up to 1,500 calories a month or 18,000 calories per year while resting. That’s approximately 5 pounds of bodyfat you can eliminate at rest.
FAT FACT: Depending on a number of factors — weight loads, rest periods, intensity, exercise selection, etc. — the average weight-training session will yield a caloric burn of 400—600 calories.
Limit rest periods. Don’t spend your time between sets chatting up the chick on the treadmill. To add a calorie-burning element to your weight training, limit rest periods to 30—45 seconds. Resting 30 seconds between sets has been shown to increase caloric burn by 50%, compared to a three-minute rest period. You may not be as strong heading into your next set, but the added calorie burn may be worth it.
Speed up the pace. To help amp up your calorie burn between sets—and to accomplish more in less time — incorporate supersets or drop sets on weight-training days or perform your exercises circuit-style. You can also speed up your workout by doing your ab moves between other exercises, rather than waiting until the end of your routine.
Expect progression. Don’t get stuck in a rut with the same weights and exercises. Expect that after 4—6 weeks, your body will have adjusted and will be starving for something new. Aim to make incremental increases to your weight loads, try new exercises, shorten rest periods, incorporate advanced techniques like supersets, change from barbells to dumbbells, anything to keep your body guessing and improving.
Compound interest. Build your routine around multijoint movements like presses, rows and squats to recruit the most muscle and burn the most calories. Isolation moves, or single-joint exercises, such as leg extensions, biceps curls and triceps extensions, should represent only a small portion of your routine.
Be free. Free weights force your body to recruit more total muscle because they call on stabilizer muscles to balance the weight, a superior advantage to the predetermined range of motion that machines have to offer.
Go rest, young man. To repair itself (which is where the real gains occur), the body needs rest. Get at least eight hours of sleep per night to allow your body to recover and grow muscle, which ups your overall calorie-burning potential. And depending on the volume of your training, allow a few days before working the same muscle group again. This also prevents overtraining, which can strip your body of muscle.
Go for the afterburn. Resistance training also burns more calories after exercise. One study found that after a 30-minute full-body workout in which subjects trained with their 10RM weights, resting metabolic rate was elevated by 20% for two days following the exercise session. In a 180-pound man, that percentage equates to an average 400 extra calories burned per day.
Overload. Training with the progressive-overload principle helps rev your metabolism. Pushing your muscles beyond what they’re currently trained to overcome forces them to adapt and regenerate themselves so they’re ready the next time such a stimulus is encountered.
Think “Ronnie.” Train like a bodybuilder to help improve your hormonal milieu. Doing 3—5 sets of 8—12 reps with relatively short rest periods has been shown to increase testosterone and growth hormone release, improving your anabolic environment and metabolism.
Train abs for endurance. If your goal is to have a slimmer waistline, don’t train your abs with heavy loads. Use a weight that allows you to get at least 15 reps per set, allowing minimal rest between sets (less than 60 seconds). Or use only your own bodyweight as resistance while maximally contracting your abs on each repetition.
Cyclical gains. Although it isn’t impossible, you shouldn’t attempt to get really lean and gain significant amounts of muscle mass simultaneously. Instead, periodize (cycle) your training for better overall results, alternating between phases when you focus on strength, mass and leaning out.
Cardio, cardio, cardio. This helps you with the simple philosophy behind fat loss: Burn more calories than you take in. If your goal is fat loss, incorporate 4—6, 30—60-minute sessions per week into your training schedule.
Of iron and sweat. If your goal is to lean out, follow your weight training with cardio. Since lifting depletes glycogen stores, your body is more likely to use fat as its first fuel source during cardio. Also, the combination of the two results in a higher caloric burn postworkout.
Tread heavily. What’s the best exercise and intensity to burn maximal fat? Researchers found that jogging on the treadmill at about 70% of your maximal heart rate, or MHR (subtract your age from 220 and multiply by 0.7 for your heart rate in beats per minute), was optimal, burning about 40 grams of fat per hour of exercise. Going above or below this intensity burned significantly less fat, as did pedaling on a stationary cycle, regardless of intensity.
Run hungry. If you can stomach getting up earlier, perform cardio before your first meal of the day. Your body is most likely to use fat as the first energy source because your glycogen stores are depleted. If you’re concerned with muscle loss, take 10—20 grams of whey protein before your session, but stay away from carbs.
Post-cardio burn. Following aerobic exercise, your resting metabolic rate remains elevated for anywhere from 60 minutes to about 12 hours, depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise session.
Move outdoors. Try your next outdoor run on sand, which is more difficult than running on harder surfaces like cement. It’s easier on the joints as well, but wear shoes to avoid stress fractures and protect your feet from glass. Running on grass is also a welcome relief to joints and arches.
Taper off. Instead of starting slow and building up speed, do your high-intensity cardio early in your workout and taper off to a slow finish to burn significantly more fat. After a 2—3-minute warm-up, immediately kick it into high gear (80%—85% max heart rate) for 15—20 minutes before slowing down (60%—65% max heart rate) for the last 10—20 minutes.
Vary your cardio. Whether you’re lifting weights or doing cardio, the trick is to keep your body from adapting to what you’re doing. Regularly changing your cardio mode is the best way to keep your body responding to your efforts.
Interval for success. Unless you’re a highly conditioned athlete, you can’t maintain a very intense pace for very long, so the best way to improve your aerobic fitness and burn fat is with intervals. That is, you alternate very intense periods of work with lower-intensity sessions in which you recover.
No butts. Smoking deprives cells of the oxygen they need to maximize metabolism, keeps muscles from repairing themselves after exercise and makes cardio a lot tougher. Plus, your smoke-scented clothes are sure to irritate fellow gym rats.
Fidget to fight fat. Are you a fidgeter? Maybe you should be. Several studies have shown that toe-tappers, while completely annoying at the office, will burn more calories over the course of the day than the stationary man.
Stay hydrated. Active individuals actually require more water and should aim to consume roughly 1 gallon per day to avoid becoming dehydrated. And if you’re one of those people who hates drinking water, consider this: Dehydrated individuals burn less fat than their well-watered counterparts.
Eat more frequently. Eating 5—6 small meals a day as opposed to “three squares a day” causes your metabolism to work constantly. Eating larger meals, on the other hand, slows your metabolism and forces leftover calories to be stored as fat.
Eat protein. Since muscle-building is the fastest route to slim down, you want to make sure that your protein consumption is enough to keep up with your weight training. Eat too little protein and your gains could be much slower. Get 1—1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day to help your muscle gains along. Use protein bars and shakes to supplement your whole-food consumption and stave off cravings.
Get leafy. Those who eat a salad before dinner tend to consume less calories overall during dinner. But don’t sabotage yourself — stay away from high-fat dressings like ranch, blue cheese and Caesar.
Skip happy hour. Alcohol consumption can temporarily blunt testosterone levels, hindering muscle repair and growth and blunting sexual drive. Also, the calories from alcoholic beverages — in the neighborhood of 100—200 each without cocktail mixers — add up faster than you may think.
Cut out soda. Instead, rely on water and other flavored drinks like Crystal Light to get your fluids every day. If you drink one soda per day, you’re adding 1,750 calories per week to your diet. Also, studies have shown that those who regularly consume diet sodas tend to gain weight in the long run because of overindulgences elsewhere.
Calories out! The goal in any fat-loss or weight-loss program should be to burn more calories than you consume. Aim to cut total calorie consumption by about 250 calories per day. Yes, that means you’ll have to figure out how many calories you eat in a normal day. Get on it. The math will pay big dividends later.
Got the munchies? If you can do without the butter and salt, plain popcorn is a winner. Two quarts has the same number of calories as just 20 potato chips. By substituting 1 cup of plain, unbuttered popcorn for a 1-ounce bag of chips, you’ll save 135 calories and 10 grams of fat.
The magical fruit. Subjects who ate half of a grapefruit with meals or drank 8 ounces of grapefruit juice three times a day lost 4 pounds (with some losing more than 10 pounds) in 12 weeks without dieting.
Carb smart. Keep your carbohydrates low to moderate when trying to lose weight. If you rotate low- and high-carb days, you’ll be able to keep your energy levels up while running a caloric deficit. Good, clean, fiber-rich carbs include oats, potatoes, rice and whole-grain bread. Also, limit high-carb drinks like fruit juice to postworkout, when your body needs carbs to speed recovery.
Operation Dinner Out. Be diligent when ordering in a restaurant. Have your meats grilled without oil or grease. Ask for steamed vegetables with no butter. Get a salad (no cheese) with either low-fat dressing or vinaigrette.
Avoid simple sugars. Too much sugar in your diet can wreak havoc on your metabolism by spiking your insulin response and promoting the accumulation of bodyfat over time. Immediately after exercise, however, is an ideal time to ingest simple sugars; otherwise, steer clear.
GI Low. For most of the day, your carb options should be of the low-glycemic variety, meaning they’re digested and burned more slowly. Athletes who eat low-GI carbs burn more fat throughout the day.
Eat more fiber. Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is essential to health and helps decrease bodyfat. Adults should consume 35—40 grams of fiber per day, with about a third of that coming from insoluble fibrous sources. Along with whole grains rich in beneficial fiber, consume high amounts of fibrous vegetables, such as broccoli, to attain your daily intake. High-fiber foods also promote satiety.
Timed consumption. When you eat is just as important as what you eat. Many people who eat way too much at night should re-evaluate their eating patterns. Eat two-thirds of your day’s calories before dinnertime to avoid overeating late in the day.
Prepare. Watch what you eat around work. If your workplace serves nothing healthy, tote food or snacks along with you. If you’re attending a workplace function in which only junk food is served, pre-eat. Having recently eaten something that’s healthy and adequate in calories to meet your energy needs, it’s easier to say no to the junk and empty calories.
Get yolked. Eating eggs for breakfast was recently found to reduce hunger and food intake for up to 24 hours.
Slow down, Turbo! Successful dieters and fitness buffs will tell you that fast eating and bodyfat go hand in hand because you end up overeating. It takes about 10 minutes for the food in your stomach to signal your brain that you’ve eaten enough.
Don’t be salty. Excess sodium consumption can make you look softer and cause you to burn less fat. Most people get way too much, anyway, especially if you eat a lot of processed foods. To help you look leaner and strip sodium from your diet, drink more water, cut back on highly processed foods and switch to potassium chloride to season your foods.
Got milk? Research has shown that individuals who consume high levels of dietary calcium in a 24-hour period had higher rates of fat oxidation that day than those who consumed lesser amounts. So stock up on low-fat versions of cheese, milk and yogurt; if you’re lactose intolerant, choose dark-green leafy vegetables, legumes and almonds.
Go nuts! Eating a handful of almonds was found to help test subjects lose 62% more weight, 56% more fat and 50% more from their waistline after 24 weeks compared to those who followed the same diet without almonds.
Invest in a fat-burner. Consult your doctor before trying a fat-burner if you have any pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma or high blood pressure, as fat-burners can exacerbate those conditions. New products that combine multiple ingredients, such as Hydroxycut Hardcore and Lipid Fx, work well.
Have a tea party. Green tea, in beverage or capsule form, is a reliable fat-burning aid and is generally safe for most people.
Caffeinate. Drinking coffee before cardio will cause you to burn more fat. Subjects who consumed 300 mg of caffeine two hours before exercising on a stationary bike for 30 minutes were not only able to work out at a higher intensity (more total calories burned) but they also used a much greater percentage of bodyfat for fuel.
Aminos work, too. Researchers found that subjects who ingested about 3 grams of an amino acid mixture before one hour of moderate-intensity exercise on a stationary bike burned the same amount of total calories but more fat than those taking a placebo drink.
The Transporter. Carnitine, which helps transport fats to where they can be burned in the mitochondria of muscle and other cells, can help you burn more fat. One study showed that three weeks of carnitine supplementation increased carnitine levels in muscle and enhanced fat usage during exercise. Another study showed that just 10 days of carnitine supplementation (3 grams per day) increased the amount of fat burned.
Fat for fuel faster. Hydroxycitrate (HCA) appears to enhance fat loss, according to researchers. Subjects taking HCA were able to work out longer and harder, and the amount of calories they burned from fat during the hour of exercise increased. Try taking 250—1,000 mg once or twice a day.
Builder/burner. Creatine not only helps build muscle but can aid in bodyfat loss. Soldiers who took creatine (as opposed to the group that got a placebo) increased strength and muscle mass, but also averaged a 0.5% reduction in bodyfat percentage, with several subjects dropping more than 1% bodyfat.
Take CLA. Conjugated linoleic acid has come into vogue in bodybuilding circles as a fat-burner. Several studies in humans have shown modest effects on fat loss. Try 3 grams per day.
Recruit a partner. Weight training with the right partner can help push and motivate you beyond what you’d achieve on your own. He or she can also be a positive and healthy source of competition, if that’s a characteristic that helps drive you in accomplishing specific goals.
Discipline. Tired of how you look? Then understand you’re the only one who can change it. Resolve to do it and do it. Create a plan and carry it out, budgeting time for the gym, food prep and rest for the week.
But be flexible. While you should be rigid about your workout times and food intake, don’t lock yourself into lofty goals such as “I will lose 10 pounds in my first two weeks.” You’re setting yourself up for a fall. Instead, aim to shed up to 2 pounds per week after weeks 4—5. Anything earlier or greater than that should be the fat-free icing on your cake!
Be a fitness nerd. Watch and read everything you can get your hands on (such as Muscle & Fitness) to learn more about the body, exercise and nutrition. The more you know, the better off you’ll be in the gym.
Join a league or run a race. Many people lack the drive to keep to a regular routine. Giving yourself a reason to get into shape (or stay that way) is a great way to stay on course with your goals. Signing up for a 10K or joining a league in your favorite sport is often motivation enough not to miss your next gym session.
Cheat. To avoid going insane with anger over what you can or can’t eat, allow yourself 1—2 cheat meals per week, depending on how dedicated you can be. Small indulgences make dieting more tolerable, keeping you on track longer.
Stay the course. The watchword for taking off that extra layer of bodyfat is consistency. Stick with it, even if the first week or two are tough — by the third week, you’ll start to form a habit.
Be goal-oriented. To succeed, keep track of your goals. Make them attainable, and write them down to increase your chances of success. Set small goals — such as dropping 5 pounds or losing 2 inches off your waist — that are measurable and attainable. Once you hit those goals, set new ones to keep yourself motivated.
Picture this. Get motivated by hanging up a picture of yourself today next to one from a magazine of what you want to look like. Dream big, but be realistic: You can have a far-improved physique in a month, but more dramatic changes take more time.
Chart progress. Weigh yourself naked just once per week, at the same time of day, preferably on the same scale to ensure accuracy. M&F