TIPS FOR WEIGHT LOSS AND EXERCISE
As health care providers, we often hear, “How can I lose this weight? I eat very little and I exercise a lot and the weight just doesn’t come off.”
Here are some tips that may help to turn this situation to your benefit.
- First get a good physical examination. There may be a medical reason for the weight gain. Discuss with your provider any symptoms you may be having. Also, review your activity level and diet with your provider. Before your appointment, make a list of the medications and herbs that you take routinely. Discuss these meds with your provider to make sure that they are not the cause of the weight gain. Your provider may order lab work to rule out medical conditions that could impair weight loss.
- Monitor your heart and breathing. A simple way to monitor your output is to use the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion. You want to make sure that you are exercising at a high enough level to get results but not push yourself so hard you are gasping for breath. The scale has a 1- 10 rating, where 1 is napping and 10 is running as fast as you can. You should be at about 6-7 on the scale—short of breath but still able to talk and you should be sweating too. Of course, before starting any exercise program, check with your provider first if you have any medical issues.
- Keep a food diary. It is easy to underestimate the calories that we consume in a day. A slice of cheese, a handful of pretzels, and a latte can pack on 300-500 calories in no time. For 1 week weigh, measure, and write down EVERYTHING you eat. There are great apps for smartphones and the iPod/iPad that can help you with this chore. There are also some great calories counting sites on google.com. If, after one week, you cannot figure out where to cut calories, schedule a visit with a dietician, who can help you put together a realistic plan to help you lose weight. We can direct you to these professionals if you need assistance.
- Use a pedometer. Many cardiologists recommend the 10,000 step program. Keep a record for 1 week of how many steps you take in your normal day, using your pedometer of course! Then try to increase your daily steps to 10,000/day. If you are already walking that much, add another 2,000 steps to get the results you want. Remember, you add lots of extra steps a day by just doing things like parking your car to the far side of a parking lot and walking from there to a store, or climbing up 1 or 2 flights of stairs instead of taking an elevator. Every little bit helps!!
- Add strength training. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. Adding strength to your muscles by using free weights, resistance bands, or the machines at your gym, will increase your lean tissue and boost your overall metabolism. You should try to do weight training 2 times per week. Yoga is another way to build body strength. It can also improve your flexibility, help prevent osteoporosis, and relieve stress. Stress relief, by the way, is another way to lose weight. High cortisol levels that occur when we are under a lot of stress really can cause us to “pack on the pounds”.
- Change your pace. The same exercise routine daily can lead to boredom. This may be causing you to not exercise at a “fat burning” capacity. Add a few short bursts of quick-paced intensity to your routine, whether that is while you are riding your bike, taking your daily walk with your dog, or sitting on your stationary bike in front of the TV. Listening to high-energy music on your iPod can really help you pick up the pace also.
- Enjoy what you are doing. Find an exercise routine that you like. Get a friend to exercise with you. Don’t worry about how many pounds are coming off. Just enjoy the fact that you are making yourself healthier and, hopefully, happier too.
- Get plenty of rest. Sleep deprivation can actually increase fat storage in your body. Also, fatigue during the day can sabotage your exercise program and cause you to eat more.
Good luck and enjoy the path to a healthier you!
*Much of the information here was excerpted from the column by Linda Buch, a personal trainer, and Lancaster native, in the Lancaster Sunday News of September 11, 2011.