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Weight Loss for Dummies

Posted April 22, 2014

"In America 69% of adults are overweight (body mass index (BMI) > 25 kg/m2), and 36% are obese (BMI > 30 kg/m2)." (Strength and Conditioning Journal) It is obvious that Americans struggle with weight loss and weight management. But, how should one go about losing and maintaining weight. This article discusses the basics of how to lose and maintain weight. A good program will include all aspects discussed in this article. 

Lose weight through diet!

     Losing weight in theory is very simple. You need to take in less calories than you burn. Although there are different ways to get you to this calorie deficit, it's clear that knowing how many calories you're taking in is key to managing weight loss. I strongly recommend if you have a smart phone getting the "Lose It" or "My Fitness Pal" app. If you do not have a smart phone you can always write down the calories of what you eat. I would also further break it down to how many calories you're getting from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The apps on your phone will allow you to put in how many calories you want to lose a week, then tell you how many calories you can take in each day. Let me state here that you should not lose more than 1% of your body mass a week. If you lose weight faster than this you can lose more muscle mass, become dehydrated, and become vitamin deficit. Not to mention when done at this speed you should making healthier choices which can help you maintain your new weight after the weight loss. 

Lose weight through cardiovascular exercise!

     Aerobic exercise is not only great for reducing risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, colon and breast cancer, anxiety, and depression but also burning calories. We discussed before about the "calorie deficit" one must achieve in order to lose weight. Well you can do this by eating less, but also by moving more. The minimum recommendations of physical activity set by the American Heart Association is to accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity through the course of the day, at least 5 days per week, for a total of at least 150 minutes. One way to achieve this physical activity is a structured aerobic program. There are many forms of aerobic exercise. Some typical examples would include: walking, running, biking, rowing, and swimming. Some people do not find the traditional forms of aerobic training that appealing. If that's you, then try to get involved in some sort of recreational sport or activity such as: basketball, Frisbee, walking your dog, racquetball, mountain biking, yard work, and hiking. Also there are structured fitness programs that combine some muscle endurance and aerobic training such as: circuit training, boot camp, and many different group exercise classes. They are a great way for a person who does not like traditional forms of aerobic training to still do it without being bored.

Lose weight through weight training!

     Build more muscle because muscle burns more calories even while you're not doing anything. This might help more in the long term, however the goal shouldn't just be to lose weight but to have a lower body fat percentage. The last thing you want to do is lose fat and muscle. Then you will look sickly not healthy. One of the goals in a weight loss program must be to gain or at least maintain muscle mass. On top of the help it will give in your weight loss/ maintenance program. You will also be able to move more and move better with some additional muscle mass. 

Eat foods that take more calories to digest.

     These are high quality proteins, and high-fiber carbohydrates such as whole grains.

Eat smaller meals more frequently (i.e. 6 times a day).

     There are different theories as to what is the best type of diet. I think that many different types can be effective. I would suggest trying to eat 6 small portions a day. The reason for this being is that it will keep your metabolism working throughout the day, thus burning more calories. Eating three regular sized meals with three small snacks can also work. You just have to monitor your calories to make sure you're not accumulating too many with all 6 meals/ snacks. 

Identify when and why your biggest diet and exercise failures occur. Think of a solution to change it. Then start using your new strategy. 

      This is called behavior modification. For example, if you realize most of your diet failures happen because of the convenience (the why) of fast food when you're in a hurry (the when), think of a solution you can stick to. Maybe taking extra time in the morning to pack a lunch could help. That way when you're actually in a hurry it will already be with you. Or, maybe finding some healthy options at the fast food locations where you normally eat would be beneficial. The key is to identify the when and why you fail at times and find a realistic solution that you can commit to. 

    Well, there you have it. The basics of weight loss and weight management. Remember to include all aspects discussed in the article. As you start remember you should be making life style changes, not doing a crash diet. You are implementing changes you will be able to stick with once the weight is off and you need to maintain it. You might not be losing the weight as fast as you would like, but remember you didn't put the weight on overnight either. It will take some time. But stick with the program and you will achieve your goals! Good luck! 

Mark Scott
Personal Trainer Mcloud, OK
NSCA certified
BS in Exercise Science

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