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The Secret Weapon of Weight Loss and Physical Health
When I started teaching aerobics classes in college, I mostly taught the then-popular typical classes of Step, Double Step, Hi/Lo Impact, Body Sculpting and Abdominal classes. But after college, when I taught for Bally’s Total Fitness, I started teaching a class called Body Pump .
Body Pump went beyond body sculpting and incorporated strength training with REAL weights (we actually used barbells, not dumbbells). It would involve a circuit of exercises that would target all major muscle groups for a full hour. This was when my love affair with weight training began. After teaching the class for a couple of months, I started to see my body transform into a leaner, more sculpted one. I fell in love with the muscles I developed and felt sexier and stronger. Today, although I’m not teaching anymore, weight training is core to my exercise regimen.
When I see women and men running endlessly on the treadmill and then complain that they don’t look the way they want, the first thing I tell them is that they are overdoing the cardio and should stop running so much! It is a myth that cardio is the best way to lose weight and to maintain a healthy weight. Here is why strength training is the secret weapon to weight loss and overall health:Increases Lean Body Mass: Strength training helps to keep our body fat to lean body mass ratio lower. This means we look better and feel stronger. But even more importantly, it impacts our metabolism…the speed at which we burn calories. Increases Your Metabolism: Average adults see a 2% – 5% reduction in metabolic rate every 10 years. This makes it more and more difficult to keep unwanted weight off. As we mentioned above, however, strength training increases muscle mass which makes your muscles stronger. Stronger muscles, in turn, take up and burn blood sugar more efficiently and for a longer period of time than does cardio. Reduces Risk of Injury: Strength training increases muscular and bone strength, and also improves function of tendons, joints and ligaments. All of this increased strength in your musculoskeletal system enhances your balance, flexibility and functional ability. This leads to a decreased chance of sustaining an injury that can be painful, debilitating and costly. A Healthy Heart: Running isn’t the only form of exercise that will enhance your cardio strength. Believe it or not, strength training can have as much of a positive impact on your cardiovascular strength and your blood pressure, as does cardio. Be sure that you are working intensely, however, as just as it is important to work hard when you are doing cardio, you should be challenging yourself when you are doing strength training. Wards off Disease: Adults lose 5 – 7 lbs. of muscle every 10 years, which directly impacts bone loss. This can lead to osteoporosis. Further, we become more susceptible to arthritis, back pain and high blood pressure. Strength training can do wonders in warding off t...
Weight Loss: Which Tools are Best?
Last night, I was out with my friend Lindsay for drinks, and she was beaming. She recently lost 7 pounds and she is convinced that those pounds are gone for good. I could tell that her arms were a little leaner and her shirt was fitting a little better. All in all…good stuff.
I asked her what she had been doing to lose the weight. She enthusiastically whipped out her iPhone and proceeded to demonstrate her new found heartthrob – ‘Lose It!’ – a full weight management App. She started to walk me through all of its features and how she can add in recipes and ‘budget’ her calories, etc. As a Business School Grad, this was the most perfect, Type-A tool one could get. Moreover, it was mobile…meaning no need to be glued to your desktop computer or worrying about forgetting the intimate details of every morsel you ingested five hours previously. I have to admit, I was impressed.
We went onto discuss all of the different tools that we have both come across and what we liked and what we didn’t like. And although I am not the hugest advocate of calorie counting (I’m much more quality versus quantity focused), this system works great for Lindsay, and that was what was important.
If you are trying to lose weight and you are struggling to do it on your own, there is a lot to be said for using tools to help. How do you know what tool is going to work best? Here are four important factors to consider when choosing a virtual weight loss buddy:Does it Match Your Personality?: If you are a list maker, chances are, you probably would appreciate a tool that lets you keep track of what you eat throughout the day. However, if you don’t like counting calories or grams of food, you might be better off with general guidelines of foods you can eat and what you should avoid. If the tool you are using doesn’t match your personality, you will most likely give up on your goals and get frustrated. Does it Match Your Lifestyle?: If you are always on the go, you will probably benefit from a tool that is mobile. However, if you are often planted in front of a computer or don’t move all that often, you might be fine with something that isn’t as mobile. Make sure the tool adapts to your lifestyle instead of adapting your lifestyle to the tool. Does it Match Your Goals?: If you are specifically trying to lose a certain amount of weight or a certain number of inches, you should opt for a tool that i...
Why Losing Weight is so Hard and Gaining Weight is so Easy
by Brett Blumenthal
You just went away for the weekend and you came back to find that you gained 5 pounds over the course of 3 days. In your disbelief, you quickly curse the Weight Gods for being so cruel. Sound familiar? This was me last weekend. A little jaunt to Montreal, eating at decadent cafes, packed it on quick. This inspired me to discuss the seemingly unbalanced equation of weight gain vs. weight loss, the facts that surround the issue and how losing the 5 pounds feels so much harder than gaining them:
FACT 1 – It is Simple Math: To maintain your ideal weight, you need to eat as many calories as you burn in one day. The balanced equation looks like this:
Calories Eaten = Basal Metabolic Rate + Physical Activity
If what you eat equals more than what your body uses, you will gain weight. In the situation of a vacation, it is likely that you eat more unhealthy food than normal and possibly get less exercise, resulting in an imbalanced equation, with a higher number of calories on the eaten side than on the burned side. That imbalance over the course of a few days can easily represent a few pounds. (To assess an approximate of how many calories you need, click here .)
FACT 2 – A Pound is a Pound is a Pound: One pound of body mass represents 3,500 calories. Regardless, if you are trying to lose a pound or gain a pound, the pound will always represent 3,500 calories. So, if you eat 3,500 calories more than your body requires, you will gain 1 pound. Similarly, if you eat 3,500 calories less than your body requires, you will lose 1 pound.
FACT 3 – Exercise is Weight Discriminating: Whether you are 120 pounds or 175 pounds, you will gain one pound from eating 3,500 calories more than you need. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold true for burning calories. How much you weigh actually dictates how many calories you burn per hour. The more you weigh, the more you burn, and as a result, the easier it is to lose the pound…sound crazy? It is true. Check out the Calories Burned Chart .
FACT 4 – Aging Contributes to Weight Gain: As if aging doesn’t contribute enough to unfavorable things, it also contributes to weight gain. As we get older, our metabolism slows down, requiring us to need less food and calories. If you don’t modify your caloric intake as you get older to reflect this change in metabolism, you will start to see weight gain.
The Bad News: Unfortunately, eating an extra couple of unhealthy snacks or drinking a few extra glasses of wine can happen in a blink of an eye. However, the time and energy required to burn off those calories takes a lot more effort. We have provided a chart on what 1,000 calories looks like on both sides in the chart below (remember, it is 3,500 calories that make up a pound).
The Good News: Whether it is rapid or slow weight gain that you have experienced, losing the extra weight can be tackled through two avenues (and should be): calorie reduction...