Monday, December 17, 2007

Don't just do it, do it right.

One of my many cousins e-mailed me the other day with questions about cardio interval training. She knows I’m a big proponent of that type of exercise and wondered if something she had seen on The Biggest Loser was interval training. My opinions about that show will have to wait for another blog but what she described to me sounded like circuit training. So, I explained how interval training works.

Anyway, my cousin has been unhappy with her weight for a while now and at the end of her e-mail she wrote that The Biggest Loser contestants make her think that if they can succeed, so can she. (One of the good things about the show.) And, of course, she can and so can anyone else.

So, with the new year fast approaching and resolutions being considered, I want to address the right way to get started if you’re interested in dropping pounds. Bottom line - the first and most important element is proper nutrition. I can go on and on and on (believe me :-) ) about the many mental, physical and emotional benefits of regular physical activity but if you are interested in dumping fat, the most knowledgeable fitness professionals will tell you that you can’t out train a bad diet.

I realize that every overweight person wants to thinner yesterday but most people set themselves up for failure by making massive changes to their nutrition (often eating too little) or exercise (often doing too much). If you are serious about discarding excess fat and then maintaining a healthy weight, you need to accept the fact that the process will take time. You must commit to a lifestyle makeover- not a “diet” that ends when you meet your goal weight. If you truly want to see a lower number on the scale, you must decide that your lifestyle will include good quality nutrition and regular physical activity. No infomercial ab gadget or quick fix diet will get you where you ultimately want to be.

Start small. If you eat fast food five times a week, resolve to cut back to two or three; then do it. If you haven’t exercised in years, do not start working out for an hour every day. Pick a reasonable amount of time based on your current fitness level and lifestyle and commit to it. You can even start out with 10 minutes a day but do not allow yourself to crawl into bed until you have completed your daily exercise. There is no one who can’t find 10 minutes in their day to improve their health. Dump the “all or nothing” mentality - ten minutes a day is actually better than 70 minutes in one day. Small, consistent changes are much more productive than big, sporadic ones. Once you have created new, healthy habits and had success with some small changes, start making bigger ones.

Here is a great blog post on this subject from Alwyn Cosgrove, creator of Afterburn, called The Goal Snowball.

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