In about 95% of cases, we all fall of the bandwagon when we make the New Year resolution of losing weight and getting in shape. So, as always, for those who do make the same resolution every year to:
Let’s start with why people make these resolutions at the beginning of the new year. Most times it is due to one of 3 reasons:
I am often asked by friends & acquaintances for quick fixes to kick-start their fitness journey (aka weight loss). They want the BEST combination of exercise and diet that’ll prevent their existing issues and help them keep their resolutions. Why the confusion? Ever tried searching “healthy diet” or “short & effective workouts to make you burn fat fast” online? If yes, haven’t you been overwhelmed with absolutely opposing information, found your head spinning, leaving you with a feeling that you know even less now than when you did before you started researching it? Wasn’t your next thought “never mind, let me stick to whatever I was already doing”?
So what makes us fall off the wagon?
On the one hand, people only start exercising after they’ve put on a considerable amount of weight (which takes some time to show up physically and on the scale) but on the other, they’re always in a big rush to lose it as if it should take much less time to go than it did to come.
Some only wake up when they’re diagnosed with a serious health condition & try to get their act together, yet I find that over 60% of them get complacent as soon as their condition is no longer a threat.
We all need to understand that just diet changes or exercise or even both are not enough to make a permanent, effective change. In today’s scenario where stress levels are so high and we are constantly on the move yet we lead very sedentary lives, we need to do more than that – we need to physically move a lot more than we do and be careful about the things we eat.
So, my first request is:
Some General Q&As that I have received from some readers.
MUST I eat breakfast?
If you wake up around noon – No!! If you get sick on eating first thing in the morning – again NO!! Eat when you’re ready. However, everyone needs a daily minimum number of calories in order to provide their body with the building blocks it requires.
If your goal is fat loss it’s imperative you get your minimum number of calories in which is often considerably more than most people imagine & currently eat, in which case the answer is YES!
Do Intermittent Fasting, keto, Paleo diets etc. work?
Yes. But then again, many things “work” despite not being your best option or even healthy in the long run – simply put – any change shocks the system and shows you results when you’re stuck in a rut but most times just getting back to regular eating habits after the binging season is over is enough to make you lose weight. Most “diets” only provide you with guidelines which enable you to restrict your caloric intake – IF, Keto, Paleo, etc. also all do the same.
How long/often should I work out?
Up to 45 – 60 min of steady state cardio 4 times a week at a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) at 4 on a scale of 1-10 (brisk walk, steady state swim) or up to 30 minutes of 5-7 RPE around 3 times a week along with resistance training 3 times a week.
Does lifting weights make women look manly or men bulky?
– No, it’s quite the opposite. In fact, women have much less testosterone than men, so they naturally can’t look muscular like men. While their weight may increase on the scale due to building lean muscle, they look slimmer. Men will look bulky if they’re training to bulk up, otherwise not.
Can I only work out at the gym?
– Heck no!! You can: – Play a sport– Run outdoors– Swim– Cycle– Get a good mat at home and a few light weights or pieces of equipment that you like using and train. – Go to a yoga class– Join a dance class– Get a personal trainer (a qualified person like me – to come home)– Make a small group and split the cost of getting a trainer/coach between all of you.
How soon can I lose 4-5 kg?
– The average person (65-85 kg), who is exercising regularly and eating clean 80% of the time, can lose approximately 0.5 kg a week by cutting approximately 500 Kcals from their diet. It can be accelerated even more but I don’t recommend quick fixes as we all know chances of binging increase. Plus, I always prefer a slower steadier rate of change which shocks the body less, thus, causing less disruption in your “normal” routine and which feels more sustainable for the long run.
– If it feels like too much work, it probably is and if its sustainable while giving results, you will kick yourself for giving up!
Jennifer Mitchel from Boston, MA, was not an overweight kid or teenager. However, the 29-year-old remembers that she, “was never a very active child and my food habits were bad,” adding that in college she, “lived solely on street food, chips and alcohol!”
When she started working, the bad food habits and sedentary lifestyle stuck, worsening as her job got more demanding. Despite that, she remained in decent shape, she says. Then she got married.
Her husband, a fitness coach, was in peak physical condition when she met him. Unfortunately, her bad habits rubbed off on him. “We both gained over 30 kg in three years (2014-17) and were at 35% body fat when we finally decided to get ourselves tested,” she says.
At a height of five feet, she was clinically obese, weighing 65 kg. But she knew the signs even before seeing a doctor: “From joint aches to spondylitis, lethargy and breathlessness,” she remembers having it all. So she decided to get back in shape; this time, via diet and exercise.
Weight reduction as a couple
In March 2016, she embarked on her journey. “I tried everything from paleo to simply moving more, but lost only two kg between January and June,” she says. So, she decided to join a gym. “Initially, I was doing just cardio and free squats. But with lifting weights, gym-ing became fun. Lifting weights was not only rewarding but extremely empowering,” she says. At first, she took it slow, training for 30 to 45 minutes, three days a week. “Many people make the mistake of planning too big and then failing because it is just so different from what they are used to. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, going from sitting all day to working out just three days a week is a big enough change,” she says, adding that resistance training is extremely important to gain and retain lean body mass.
She also began paying more attention to her diet. “With my husband’s constant research on fitness, fat loss and how to better our overall journey and results, I too became very interested in evidence-based nutrition and training. This led to us spending hours on reading review papers on the latest research, watching videos by top coaches, trainers and PhD holders in nutrition and health, and planning our own meals and routines based on our new-found knowledge,” adds Mitchel.
The biggest change, however, was an attitudinal one. She began looking at food as fuel for workouts rather than as social or recreational activity.
Though she did use the weighing scale to track progress, she also focused on her body-fat percentage to set final goals.
Mitchel says, “I started my journey at a little over 65 kg and 35% body fat, and now I am 45 kg with 22% body fat. It took a year to lose 20 kg and completely transform my body in a sustainable manner.”
Setting realistic short-term goals and finding the most convenient way to achieve them was the key to success. She did not put all her focus on just the end result or that final weight, but also paid attention to the process, enjoying the journey as well.”
When it comes to fitness, she believes: “Get your inspiration from wherever you want, but get your information and advice from coaches, nutritionists and fitness trainers. And don’t fall prey to marketing gimmicks.”
You’ve just finished a great workout at the gym, your legs are wobbly, your clothes are sweaty, and you feel great. What you do after a workout is just as important as what you do during your workout. If you make some of these common post-workout mistakes, it could sabotage your workout and cause you to gain weight. Here are some of the common post-workout mistakes that you should make a conscious decision to avoid.
7 Common Post-Workout Mistakes Could Make You Gain Weight
1. Rewarding yourself TOO much: It is all too common to crave something sweet and fatty after a workout. Do not use your workout as an excuse to eat a piece of pie every time you get home. It is never a bad thing to reward yourself on an occasional basis—in fact, it’s recommended—but doing so too often is a classic post-workout mistake. Try to limit yourself to rewards once or twice a month depending on how often you go to the gym.
2. Drinking recovery sports drinks: This is a post-workout mistake if you only do 30– or 45–minute workouts. Sports drink aren’t always bad, but they typically have a great deal of sugar, and there are better ways to get the electrolytes. Save the sports drinks for workouts that last an hour or more and recover from shorter workouts by eating healthy snacks and drinking water.
3. Not scheduling the next one: This is a common post-workout mistake for people who are just starting to work out or who don’t work out very often. Sometimes a really good workout doesn’t feel really great afterward. Let your soreness be a motivation to continue and improve. Schedule the next workout and break the cycle.
4. Waiting too long to eat: Yes, it’s a post-workout mistake to eat sugary foods after your workout, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat at all. It‘s very important to eat shortly after your workouts to help your body refuel and recover. Eat snacks that have a lot of protein and carbs–chocolate milk is a great example. Protein and carbs will help you to gain muscle, and the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism tends to be.
5. Using soreness as an excuse: Many people have a good workout, feel outrageously sore the next day and then use that as an excuse to wait until the next week to work out again. This is a terrible post-workout mistake. It may be hard to get your butt in the gym if it‘s feeling sore from the lunges you did the previous day, but even a light workout will help your muscles recover and get rid of the lactic acid that’s making you sore.
6. Skipping the stretching: This is a very common post-workout mistake. You‘re exhausted, and you would rather just go home than take another ten or fifteen minutes to sit down and stretch in a position that you‘re not even sure you can get up from. Don’t let your body convince you to skip this step post-workout. Stretching will help with muscle recovery, decrease the likelihood of injury and improve your flexibility in future workouts.
7. Weighing yourself every day: If you last stepped on the scale less than a week ago, then wait. Try limiting the use of your scale to once a week. The average weight loss for a person working out regularly and eating healthy is one pound every week. Obsessing over your weight will cause you to stress out, and stress can cause weight gain.
Whether you lack the motivation or the funds for a gym membership getting into great shape doesn't require heavy weight training or any fancy equipment; just your own bodyweight can do the trick.
In fact, bodyweight training comes so instinctively to most of us that we can perform a whole set of exercise while being stationed in front of a television watching our favourite shows, if that helps.
Here's a do-anywhere full-body routine that'll get you into shape in no time:
Total number of moves: 7
Circuit: Repeat the whole cycle of exercises at least twice
Total number of sets: 2 or more of the whole circuit
Duration: 15-20 minutes
How many times: 3-4 times a week
Perform the exercises one after the other and take a break when you complete one round of all the moves. Then repeat and perform another set.
The 5-minute warm up
Never skip your warm-up as you need to get your heart rate pumping and the blood moving all across your body (joints, ligaments and other vital body parts), which is critical for preventing injury.
You can jump on the spot, run on the spot, use a skipping rope or even just randomly throw around punches and kicks; just make sure you're at it for at least about 5 minutes.
Body Weight Squats
The squat is the foundation of all lower-body movements and can better daily functions like walking, running, jumping or lunging.
Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and make sure your knees hover at the top of your feet. Push down on your heals and make sure you're leaning forward creating a 30 to 45 degree angle with your things as you go down. When you push upward make sure your power through using your glutes.
The king of all upper bodyweight movements a push-up is a total-body functional movement that is great for increasing strength and has the added benefit of engaging the core and lower body.
Place your hands firmly on the ground, directly under shoulders with your grounded toes into the floor to stabilize your lower half. Brace core (tighten abs as if preparing to take a punch), engage glutes and hamstrings, and flatten your back so your entire body is neutral and straight. Keep your back straight and your core braced as you lower yourself down and bring yourself back to the starting position.
They're excellent for strengthening and shaping the legs. Not only will you improve the look of your legs with walking lunges, you'll also firm your lower body muscles, which in turn can improve your speed and athletic performance.
Standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips. Step forward with one leg, flexing the knees to drop your hips. Descend until your rear knee nearly touches the ground. Your posture should remain upright, and your front knee should stay above the front foot. Drive through the heel of your lead foot and extend both knees to raise yourself back up. Step forward with your rear foot, repeating the lunge on the opposite leg.
One-arm dumbbell rows will help you develop thickness through your entire back-the upper, middle and lower part of it; making it wide, thick and powerful back, you need more of the one-arm version of this classic move!
Grab a pair of dumbbells, bend at your hips and knees, and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. Let the weights hang at arm's length from your shoulders. First, pull your shoulders down and back and hold that position. Then pull the weights to the sides of your ribs by squeezing your shoulder blades toward your spine. Pause. Lower the weights to the starting position and repeat.
Time: 15-30 seconds
The plank is one of the best exercises you can do for your core because it builds isometric strength to help sculpt your waistline and improve your posture.
Get into the push-up position on the floor. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold the position for as long as you can.
Jumping jacks are a sweet remembrance of our childhood. This fun whole body exercise is mostly used for warming up and instantly elevates your mood and activates various muscle groups.
Stand with your feet together and your hands at your sides. Simultaneously raise your arms above your head and jump up just enough to spread your feet out wide. Without pausing, quickly reverse the movement and repeat.