You have to be pretty dedicated to lose weight through exercise alone.
I remember how astonished I was when I first worked out that at 3500 calories a pound you have to run more than a marathon to lose a single pound of fat!
That’s why going to the gym and then rewarding yourself with a snack is counter-productive – you will probably eat more calories than you use up.
Yet, exercise is still good for weight loss for many reasons :-
- every calorie counts whether it’s 10 or 1000 – better to use them than not use them
- it helps build muscle and muscles burn calories even when you are at rest – your metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories) increases
- it improves your mood and general sense of well-being – so you are better able to avoid comfort eating
- it keeps you occupied and away from the fridge
- if you exercise enough, you can eat just a little more and still lose weight. This helps to prevent a sense of deprivation
- you will keep your muscles and skin in better condition as you lose weight and are less likely to lose muscle tissue and tone
The best way to lose weight is to combine exercise with healthy eating so that you exercise a bit more (say 250 calories worth of exercise a day) and eat a bit less than you need at your normal (non-exercise) level of activity (say 250 calories) – that way you’ll steadily lose about 1lb a week without too much hardship.
My friend Tracy Griffen ( featured in Harpers Bazaar as one of the best body trainers in the UK this month – go Tracy!) has been talking about the importance of range of motion in her newsletter.
Basically, if you don’t use the full range of motion your body is capable of then you lose it bit by bit. And let’s face it, we often don’t use our bodies much in the course of everyday life these days.
By taking a joint through all the directions possible, you ensure that the joint has the necessary length of tendons and ligaments (the bits that hold your joints together) to cope with all movements necessary.
As an example, you can check the range of motion in your ankles right now at your desk.
Raise your leg a little and try to “draw” a circle with your big toe, circling your foot slowly from the ankle joint as far as you can in each direction. Make sure you move only your foot and not your leg.
If your circles are far from circular then you have work to do on your joints.
And in any case, whether you have good range of motion now or not, it’s a good idea to practice the movement every day to ensure your ankle joints stay flexible and less prone to injury.
A little while ago I wrote about the myth of the fat burning zone – the idea that moderate exercise is the best way to burn fat.
This myth led to every piece of cardio equipment at the gym being given a misleading fat burning program or fat burning zone workout.
You think you’re doing well – 30 minutes “burning fat” – when really you’d be better getting on your treadmill and doing interval training for the same period (and you’d continue burning fat after your workout).
The myth arose because you burn proportionately more fat when you exercise at a moderate pace than you do when your workout is more intense – so a bigger percentage of the calories used come from fat.
You just tend to forget that you use fewer calories overall!
Anyway, I read today in Personal Trainer Cliff Lathams‘ newsletter something even more interesting about fat burning. He says
“I have news for you. You burn a higher ratio of fat to carbohydrate during complete rest. Therefore, sleeping would burn the most fat off your body. And you don’t really think that sleeping in on Saturday morning helps you reach your goals do you?”
Mmmh – think about that next time you step on your treadmill and choose your workout program.
Sometimes it’s the thought of exercise (or of having to get your kit ready, get changed, get out there) that is off-putting.
Just get yourself to take the first step – getting your kit ready – and then see how you feel.
Can you do one more step?
What’s the betting that you can and you’ll be wearing your exercise gear before you know it.
Then ask yourself whether you could do just 5 minutes. Course you can! Then you’ll be exercising tired or not. And if you feel like stopping, stop – at any time. But you probably won’t.
If you’re lacking in energy, exercise is actually the best thing you can do. Research has shown many times that it gives you MORE energy not less.
In a 14 week program, women exercising 20 to 40 minutes 3 times a week on typical cardio equipment found that their energy levels increased 50 to 100% – with those most lacking in energy finding the best improvement on average.
Don’t let feeling sluggish be an excuse to be a slug.
Use a float while swimming to shape up your lower body fast.
Not a float like the girl in this picture is using – that’s the kind of floating you do on your next vacation AFTER you get the sexy body
The kind of float I mean is a polystyrene block that you hold onto – the kind you use when you’re learning to swim.
Just hold the float in both hands while doing freestyle (front crawl) or breast stroke kicks.
Perform the kicks as perfectly and as powerfully as you can to see mega quick results.
If you’ve had a late night, exercise as early as you can the next day.
The longer you leave it, the more tired you’ll get and the more likely you are to decide to skip your workout.
An early morning run outside will blow away the cobwebs and make you feel miles better to face the day… even a gym visit before work will leave you feeling virtuous – at least you’ll be awake after it.
You know it’s true but will you do it?
The TV show “How to Look Good Naked” has been a raging success and with good reason – it tackles women’s insecurities about their bodies and makes them feel good about themselves – a sure-fire winner.
For a show about how to look good naked an awful lot of attention is focused on how to look good in clothes. I guess the confidence you get from looking good out and about (and the admiring glances you receive) translates to you feeling altogether better whether you’re wearing clothes or not.
Although the show has to be applauded for attempting to make women feel good about themselves without trying to change their shape, it does go against the grain a bit for me because I am all about helping people to improve their bodies and their health.
Let’s Face it – Your Mirror Doesn’t Lie
When you take your clothes off to get in your shower or to make love to your partner, you no doubt want to look good naked and when you look into your mirror . . . it tells you the truth, whether you want to ‘hear it’ or not. For many people, the mirror is the only time they ever see their toes . . . their excess flab, their love handles and every other bit hang without support – which means ‘how to look good naked’ is more than looking good in clothes.
And I believe the best way for you to look good naked is for you to actually work on your body so it’s the best it can be.
Nevertheless you can do a lot without making yourself feel bad about your body and feeling you are less than perfect because you can’t manage 2 hours a day in the gym.
So what can you do WITHOUT too much effort?
1. Good Fuel
Looking good naked is not about losing weight – most of the women in the show would have liked to be lighter but sexy does not have to mean twig-like. In fact it’s easier to be sexy with a few womanly pounds of flesh here and there than with a bony too-skinny look. Looking good naked DOES mean caring for your body with the right foods to make you feel great – good food and plenty of water to keep you nourished, hydrated and full of energy. And quite often the right foods will result in a slimmer body anyway.
2. Avoid the Pregnant Look
No one is going to look good naked with a stomach stuffed full of pasta. (Just look how you get a 5 months pregnant look next time you go into carb overload). If you want to look good naked, make sure you eat in moderation before you take off your clothes! And if the pregnant look is a constant feature of your body (and you haven’t stuffed yourself with carbs for ages) sign up for the FREE 5 Easy Ways to Flat Abs course here on this site and do something about it in just a couple of minutes a day.
3. Firm Not Flabby
It’s not only our stomachs which look better toned. We all look better – excess flesh or no excess flesh – if we have great underlying muscle tone. Just a few minutes a few times a week spent firming, toning and strengthening your butt, thighs, chest and arms will go a long way to making you look great without your clothes.
4. Pampered Soft Skin
The ladies on the Look Good Naked show have plenty of pampering beauty treatments to make sure that their skin is soft, hair-free and smooth. Flaking, rough skin, goose bumps and hairy legs are not the look you are aiming for…
5. Beautiful Color
If you’re pale, an even and subtle fake tan always makes flesh more attractive in and out of your clothes and helps cover a multitude of sins (fat and cellulite…to name but two).
6. Hair Update
Your hair is the only fashion statement you’ll be wearing so it needs to look current, soft, healthy and touchable (give the hairspray and sticky gel a miss). Most important of all you need a cut which suits the shape of your face and is in proportion to the size of your body. Find a good hairdresser and visit often for a regular trim and occasional restyle.
7. Don’t Forget Your Extremities
Make sure your hands and feet are beautiful with a professional manicure and pedicure or learn to do it yourself. Chipped nail polish, rough hands and jagged nails are not going to win any prizes in the Look Good Naked stakes.
8. A Bit of Makeup
You don’t want your face paint to come off on the bed clothes but a bit on subtle makeup can work wonders to accentuate your good points and camouflage the points you’re less than happy with. And you can also use a bit of body makeup to cover up flaws such as spider veins.
Don’t forget your teeth. If they don’t enhance your look and they make you want to hide your smile it’s time to save up, get over any fear you have of the dentist and get them sorted out.
10. Let Your Eyes Sparkle!
When your smile reaches your eyes you want them to sparkle not show the effects of too many nights burning the candle at both ends. Get plenty of beauty sleep before a big night or as a last resort for a special occasion, use those brightening eye drops.
11. Smell Good
Don’t overpower the world with too much fragrance or use a whole selection of competing products – differently perfumed shampoo, deodorant, soap and body lotion can be a toxic combination. Lightly layered perfume from matching bath products and no more than a light spray of fragrance from the same range will leave you smelling good as well as looking good.
Remember that none of us looks our best under bright fluorescent light – soft lighting or candle light will improve the mood of the moment AND your body.
If all else fails, you’ve eaten too much pasta, your jeans have popped the first 2 buttons, you’re bleary eyed, your make-up is smudged and you never did do your toning exercises, bear in mind – the person you are getting naked with probably couldn’t care less – especially if you are going to get jiggy with it!
Why do you skip your regular workout?
Something comes up, right?
What if you know something is coming up tomorrow, do you still end up skipping your workout?
If you don’t plan ahead you probably will.
Many things which seem to “crop up” can be dealt with if you think about them in advance. For example,
- If you know that you have to be out of the house early, get things ready the night before so you still have time to do your workout.
- If you know you’ve got a meeting which might run into your lunch hour, go to the gym before work instead.
- If you think you’ll be too hungry after work to go training, take a light snack in your gym bag.
The same holds true for all kinds of diet disasters
- If you know you’re likely to eat the bread basket empty never turn up at the restaurant table starving hungry – eat an apple before you go
- If you can’t stop eating chocolate once you start buy a tiny individual chocolate bar instead of the mega bargain size
- If you will come in from work starving hungry and eat the fridge empty while you’re cooking – have some chopped veg in he fridge ready to nibble when you come in (and hide away everything else)
A bit of forethought can go a long way towards helping your success…
There are quite a few studies going the rounds about one time of day being more beneficial for working out than another.
Just ignore them!
The best time for working out is the time which is most convenient and works best for you – that means you’re more like to actually do it!
When I was working full-time in an office, I chose to work out at the gym (which was just around the corner) at lunch time. That gave me a much needed break and set me up for the afternoon.
Others liked to go to the same gym before or after work, but I found the “before” too much of a rush and the “after” encroached on my child-care responsibilities. (Not to mention I was hungry for dinner by that time )
Now that I work from home, I have to do something in the morning before my shower or somehow the day just disappears without me doing anything.
It all depends on the activity you’re doing too – you might have to fit in with an exercise class schedule or generally when your chosen activity is available – not much in the way of salsa dancing at 6 a.m. I guess unless you want to do it alone
I don’t know how many times I’ve read and heard that you are better to do moderate exercise if you want to burn fat – and exercise for at least 30 minutes to start burning it. I think I even believed it myself at one time I heard it so often.
It’s true of course that all exercise is good for fat burning – a calorie burned is a calorie burned after all (although you are probably not burning as many as you think – so no, you can’t have that Snickers Bar after the gym, no matter how hard you think you worked, without making your visit pretty much a waste of time as far as calorie burning goes).
Anyway I digress.
The truth is that you will burn a lot more calories (and in the end shed more fat) if you vary the intensity of exercise during your session rather than sticking to a moderate pace the whole time.
So for example, you would go at a moderate pace for 3 minutes and then go as fast as you can for 3 minutes before returning to your moderate pace for 3 minutes – essentially alternating moderate and fast pace for the duration of your session a.k.a. interval training
The advantages to this:-
- you are working harder for half your session and so directly burning more calories
- you will be working wonders for your level of cardio fitness – interval training is one of the best ways of getting fit fast
- you get an added calorie-burning boost AFTER your workout. Research shows that you burn 25 per cent as many calories in the hour after your interval training session as you do during it. So, that means if you burn 400 calories during your session – you’ll burn an extra 100 calories in the following hour while you sit with your feet up! Why? It seems the body has to make more effort to get back to normal after intense exercise.
If you feel a bit distraught at the idea of all that intense exercise, don’t let it put you off working out altogether. Remember some exercise is ALWAYS better than none and if you are doing anything at all then good on ya!