There’s a snarky remark that you occasionally hear in gyms and fitness centers: “You’re not sweating, it’s the fat crying.” In fact, most of the clients I see have one thing in common: they want to lose weight, or more specifically, they want to lose fat. For some it’s actually moving the scale and losing pounds, but for others it’s changing body composition (losing fat/ gaining muscle) while keeping their weight pretty much the same. Exercise is key to weight loss but it’s less about the machines you use in the gym, and more about the ones you DON’T use in the kitchen...like the fridge and the stove!
Where do you fit in? One measure of fitness is the Body Mass Index or BMI. Although this measurement doesn’t differentiate by age, gender or muscularity, it’s a good pin drop for where you are in terms of body weight and can help you determine how much weight you need to lose. Generally speaking, you want to be under a BMI of 25. You can calculate your BMI here. If you’re north of 25 BMI, you may want to keep reading.
In my experience there are three main reasons people gain and fail to lose weight: Overeating, over drinking, and inactivity. These three factors contribute to a relationship between how many calories you consume on a daily basis and how many you burn. For instance, if you consume 2000 calories a day and only burn 1500, you will gain weight. On the other hand, if you consume 2000 calories a day and burn 2500, you will lose weight. Unless you have jumped species, this is absolutely true for you too. By creating a deficit of only 500 calories a day, you’ll lose a pound per week. That’s ten pounds by New Year’s Eve... thirty-five pounds by the Fourth of July.
“Mary” lost a whopping 40 pounds in 18 months. Her bone density doubled and her cholesterol is textbook normal. Not bad for 70 years old!
I Cant Stop Eating.
The holidays are right around the corner and statistically, most Americans will gain an average of two pounds by the New Year. That may not seem like much, but the problem is that those same people don’t ever lose those two pounds. That means they’ll gain, on average, twenty pounds over the next ten years! But why do you eat past the feeling of being full? For some it’s boredom, for some it’s bad or abundant choices. But for many individuals, there is an emotional component to overeating. Sometimes it starts as a kid when mom gives you a cookie to get you to stop crying, and sometimes it’s a half gallon of Ted Drew’s because of a bad break up. If it goes on long enough, food becomes a coping mechanism for life’s problems. And while it’s easy to see addictive behavior with alcohol or drugs, food doesn’t seem as pernicious. Arguably, you can quit drinking, but...you gotta’ eat. When I work with clients, we establish a customized approach to their weight loss goals that includes appropriate nutrition and ongoing discussions about how they might be using food to assuage their feelings. Learn to set reasonable goals. Stop thinking of food as a reward. Food is fuel, not therapy.
Is Vodka On My Diet?
Nothing sabotages a fitness program faster than excessive drinking. I’m not necessarily talking about problem drinking either. Heavy social drinking is often the norm in the Gateway city. I often joke that the village industry in St. Louis is beer. You may drink beer. You may even like beer. Other boys and girls around you may drink beer. Sometimes you may drink too many beers. But you need to start thinking of it as LIQUID BREAD. A balanced diet is not a beer in each hand. If you’re serious about weight loss, you need to examine and possibly modify your alcohol consumption. Try switching to ultra light beers or white wine. Consider calorie free mixers like soda water instead of tonic or juice. Even better, alternate plain soda water with mixed drinks; if you throw a lime in, no one will know you’re limiting alcohol. And skip shots altogether, most are loaded with sugar anyway. I gave up drinking entirely, but then again, I got a lot of encouragement from the Courts.
“Adam C.” lost 30 pounds in 12 weeks and has kept it off for a year!
If I Wear My Fitbit During Sex, Will It Count Towards My Steps?
One hour. Twice a week. Twelve weeks. (No, I’m not talking about your sex life.) If you commit to a program of Resistance Training (Weight Training), you will see results that fast. There’s no secret here. With a calorie reduced diet combined with systematic weight training you will lose fat and build muscle. A personal trainer can show you what to do at the gym and a good one will keep you motivated and engaged. If that sounds formidable, Google “full body workout” and try some of the exercises there. There are even a number of routines you can do at home. Once you begin to see results from your workout, it becomes an addiction.
Philip Hitchcock is an independent, Certified Personal Trainer specializing in “Fitness after 40,” Resistance Training and Weight Loss. Check out HitchcockFitness.com.