If you are like the majority of people you may have over indulged (just a tad) this holiday season. A couple of weeks (or months) of eating all those tasty holiday treats and slacking on your workouts can wreak havoc on your health and your waistline. But now it’s time to get back to reality, time to get back into shape!
It’s time to make some SMALL changes that will have a BIG impact on your health. Implementing the following changes can have huge affects on all aspects of your life. Not just weight loss or weight maintenance, but these changes can also help increase energy, improve sleep patterns, and boost self confidence. These changes are not a “quick fix” they are the recipe to improve your quality of life…for the rest of your life.
Try incorporating these changes into your life. You don’t have to start with them all at once. Pick one aspect to focus on each week, or month, make it a habit and then move onto the next one.
Build muscle! Strength training prevents you from losing a lot of muscle along with the fat you lose when cutting calories and exercising. If you don't strength train regularly, up to 30% of the weight you lose could be muscle tissue. Considering that a pound of muscle burns about 50 more calories per day than a pound of fat (even when you're sitting still), you can see the problems this can cause. If you lose 20 pounds of weight (and 30% of that weight loss is muscle-seven pounds), you'll burn about 350 fewer calories every day without any change in your activity. A simple strength training program twice a week can limit your muscle loss to almost zero, and keep your metabolism running high.
Try adding in the following exercises to your daily routine:
Aim for 10-12 of each exercise. If you can’t do them all at once, try doing them throughout the day. A set of push ups when you wake up, lunges before lunch, walk after dinner.
Lunge: standing with your feet together, chest high, abdominals tight, take one step forward with your right leg and sink down until your left knee comes close to touching the floor. Make sure your right knee does not go past your toe (should be a 90 degree angle). Step back with your right leg and repeat with the left.
Push up: Lie on floor face down. Position hands in line with shoulder. With toes on the floor push body up with arms extended and body straight. Lower body to floor and immediately push body up. Repeat, bringing body down to the ground again in a nice slow & controlled motion.
Cardio: walking, biking, and/or hiking everyday is wonderful for your body and your mind. Taking 30 minutes everyday to get your heart rate up to a comfortable yet challenging level (where you could talk but not sing) is a great way to boost your metabolism and burn calories.
There are many different modifications of the above exercises that you can do based on your fitness level. Talk with a certified personal trainer to see what exercises are best for you.
- Stay as active as possible. The more you use your muscles, the more calories you will burn. Moderate exercise like walking can burn three to six times more calories per minute than sitting still, and high intensity exercise such as interval training can burn more than 12 times as much. Likewise, the more variety in your daily activity and exercise, the more you keep your body on its fat-burning toes.
- Don't just sit there. If you're watching TV or sitting at your desk, get up frequently to do a few exercises. Keep those resistance bands and dumbbells nearby at all times-you can fit a complete strength training workout into the commercial breaks of a one-hour TV show. Ditch your chair and sit on a stability ball (or a stationary bike) instead-even fidgeting can help!
- Exercise in the morning or in frequent bouts. Both strength and cardio exercises boost metabolism by increasing your calorie burn even AFTER your session is done. You can get the most out of this perk by starting your day with a workout or by incorporating multiple exercise sessions into your day. Longer or intense workouts have a greater "after burn" but even a 15-minute walk will make a difference.
- Try interval training. The harder you work, the more calories you will burn both during and after exercise-plus your fitness level will really improve. Studies show that exercising as intensely as you can, for at least 10 minutes (not necessarily consecutive) per day, produces the best results. Interval training is an effective way to increase the intensity and duration of your workouts without running yourself into the ground or risking injury.
- Include mental exercises. One of the most important (but least recognized) factors in keeping your metabolic fires well stoked is managing stress effectively. Chronic stress disrupts the hormones that regulate everything from appetite to fat storage, and can defeat even the best exercise and eating plans. The more effort you put into recognizing and handling stress, the better off you'll be. Include some time in your schedule every day for relaxation exercises, yoga, journaling, and other stress management activities.
And Most Importantly?…Make exercise and healthy eating FUN! Experiment frequently with new exercises and recipes, or anything that keeps you interested and adds some spice to your program. Did you know, for example, that adding some red pepper flakes to your meals can boost your metabolism a little more? Well, don't stop there. The more variety you can put in your diet and your exercise routine, the more stimulating it will be.
Bored with your workout? Come try out some of Georgian Bay Athletic Clubs group classes. With spinning, WOW, cardio step, yummy mummies and sparkle dance, rest assured you will have a lot of fun, burn a ton of calories, and feel great! Our qualified personal trainers are there to keep you on track with fun, personalized workouts.
**Remember to consult your health care provider before starting any postpartum exercise program.
Article By Megan McQueen
Certified Personal Trainer
Pre/Post Natal Fitness Specialist
Questions about any of the exercises above, or interested in joining a gym or personal training? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org