Have Some Fun!

Do you find it hard to stick to an exercise program? Do you dread heading to the gym or a class? If so, you might need to reconsider your physical activities.

Being physically fit isn’t just all about pumping iron or running. Don’t get me wrong, strength training and cardio workouts have definite benefits and I encourage you to make them part of your routine. However, if you dread doing both of them how long will you sustain the willpower to keep up with your commitment?

Ever thought about taking a dance class? What about learning a form of martial arts? Or do you enjoy a particular sport? Many recreational centers and universities offer classes and even sport leagues for you to join. This is not only a great way to get active, but also opens opportunities for you to make friendships with people outside of your normal circle.

Let’s face it, we all make time for the things we enjoy and find excuses to avoid the things we don’t.

Take a couple days a week and do the things you enjoy, then fill in the other days with strength and cardio enhancing exercises. I think you’ll find a new appreciation for physical activity and learn to not dread the other typical exercise routines so much.

Calories In, Calories Out

Most people understand the concept that weight loss comes down to calories in and calories out. But did you know that one pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories?

That means to lose 1 pound in a week you need to create a caloric deficit of 500 each day either through reduced intake, increased activity, or a combination of both.

Before you can determine how to create a 500-calorie deficit per day you need to first know how many calories you should be consuming. Following is some information published by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2005 regarding estimated caloric needs:
(note: the 2005 guidelines remain valid until the 2010 report is published)

Women ages 19 – 30: 2,000 – 2,400
Women ages 31 – 50: 1,800 – 2,200
Women ages 51+: 1,600 – 2,200

Men ages 19 – 30: 2,400 – 3,000
Men ages 31 – 50: 2,200 – 3,000
Men ages 51+: 2,000 – 2,800

Those who live a more sedentary lifestyle should aim for the lower number, whereas those with a more active lifestyle should consume the higher listed calories.

To approach weight loss in a healthy way you should not lose any more than two pounds during a given week. Let’s take a look at the numbers to get a better idea of why.

Let’s say you are a 40-year old woman with a fairly active lifestyle consuming 2,000 calories a day. To lose one pound a week you would need to reduce the caloric balance to 1,500 calories per day, and for a two-pound loss your caloric balance would need to be 1,000.

Notice that the two-pound loss puts this woman at a daily 800-calorie deficit according to the recommended daily intake values. With this type of deficit there is a potential of robbing the body of the nutrients that it needs to remain healthy.

Now take a look at the numbers if this same woman lost five pounds in one week. To achieve a five-pound weight loss in a week the woman would need to achieve an average of 2,500-calorie deficit each day. That deficit is greater than the recommended intake! Not only is that not healthy, it is certainly not sustainable for any period of time.

Bottom line is you need to find a healthy balance with calorie intake and increased activity. Extreme changes in your intake or activity levels have the potential to be damaging to your overall health. If you are trying to lose weight keep the loss to a maximum of two pounds a week for sustained health and long-lasting results.

Is it Possible to Enjoy Exercising?

Why do you avoid exercising? Is it because the thought of lacing up a pair of running shoes brings back awful memories of running laps in gym class? Or is it because you think surely everyone else in the exercise class already knows the routines and you will stick out like a sore thumb?

Whatever the reason is that you are avoiding exercise, I’d like to challenge you to take a different look at what it means to exercise.

Exercise shouldn’t be associated with negative feelings. If it is, you need to find a new method of exercising.

Consider this…
• if your goal is to increase upper body strength but you don’t like traditional weight lifting activities, look for a climbing wall near you
• if taking a class seems intimidating, hook up with a personal trainer to build your confidence
• if you like the outdoors a great way to get exercise is to go on a nature hike or canoe down the river
• if you want to improve your cardiovascular health consider activities like cycling or swimming over running

The bottom line is there are countless ways that you can spend 30 minutes a day getting exercise. Take the time to find an activity that you enjoy and you’ll not only find it easier to stick to your program, you’ll see results.