I'm going to run because I want to lose weight. I am going to do a triathlon so I can shed some pounds. Oh, you are a triathlete, you must be able to eat WHATEVER you want!
These are all statements I have heard on a regular basis. Yes, running would aid in weight loss, doing a triathlon would help you be in a calorie deficit, but no triathletes cannot eat whatever they want. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Let's break this down a little further.
Yes I have lost and successfully kept off a lot of weight and yes I am also a triathlete. However, those two things do not necessarily go hand in hand. For me, I lost a majority of my weight through resistance training. Participating in endurance sports has only aided in keeping the weight off.
When you're beginning a life-changing journey, such as losing weight, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Let's dive into them.
Pick activities that you enjoy- Maybe you don't like running endless miles, maybe you are intimidated by the free weights, maybe you don't like traditional cardio. Whatever the case may be, there are 1,000 of ways to get your heart rate up and get your sweat on. Even if you don't like anything, there are some things you dislike less than others, do them. This doesn't have to suck, you can get enjoyment out of working out and it can actually be FUN. Some other easy and fun ways to get moving would be to get up and walk around your office 1 every hour. You can use your lunch break to go out for a nice walk instead of sitting at your desk. Even simple things like taking the stairs over the elevator can add up over time! If you enjoy running or cycling or swimming, by all means, incorporate those activities into your plan. Just know that in order to get the results that you are most likely interested in, it would take hours on end of these activities in order to achieve the goal of fat loss.
Don't pick activities based on calories they "burn"- Odds are, even if you wear a heart rate monitor, the calories burned are slightly off. Wearable devices can be up to 50% off when it comes to calories burned. There is no way to get a 100% accurate account for calories burned outside of a lab and having lots of testing done. Pick
activities based on number one, not based on the perceived calories you could burn. If you pick an activity you even somewhat enjoy you are much more likely to continue.
Weight loss or fat loss comes down to 3 things- intake, expenditure, and progress. It is much easier to measure intake and progress. Intake is counting your calories or your macros. "Macros" short for macronutrients are the three large categories foods can be broken into. Carbohydrates, Protein, and fats. You can choose to measure by the number of macros(in grams) you are eating or the amount of calories. The decision is really up to you, there are arguments for each and it really depends on YOUR preferences, I can't tell you which one I think is better. What I can tell you is that proper nutrition (i.e. lots of good veggies, fruits, and lean meats) will keep nutrient intake up and assist in keeping calories low. Expenditure is the amount of calories you
burn (again very hard to accurately track). Lastly is progress, this can be measured a number of ways, either on the scale, through body fat tracking or through measurements. I just want to forewarn you that measuring too often can cause a feeling of standing still. You do not need to measure every day if you don't want to and for most I would suggest not. Doing measurements once a week or maybe even once every two weeks may be better as this will yield changes and decrease chances of dropout. You can use calipers and a friend to measure your body fat loss or you can use a measuring tape that a tailor would use.
Some of the common areas to measure would be around the upper arms, thighs, neck, waist, and midsection.
Here are a few more things to consider when you are starting your journey for fat loss. Most people are actually more interested in losing body fat, not body weight. Therefore, burning calories does not equal fat loss. You can shed some pounds by merely by burning more calories than what you are eating. It's probably safe to say that you would also like to burn fat more than just losing weight. So becoming aware of what you are consuming would be very beneficial to your goals. If you monitor two of the three things listed in number three above, you will be well on your way to your goals! PS if you are interested in reading a short post about setting goals check out this post from last week! I will write a more detailed post on setting goals next week!
When developing a plan or working with a trainer, you should be performing a mix of cardiovascular activity and resistance training. This plan paired with monitoring your consumption will enable you to track 2 of the 3 keys for fat loss! Just as an FYI if you have hired a trainer and they are handling your workouts for you, follow what they say. Every trainer has a different process and a different approach. Many even vary their approach from client to client, so don't compare your workout to anyone else's. They are the professional, just trust them!
Lastly but possibly one of the most important things to note! As previously mentioned, calculating the number of calories you are burning during exercise is complicated. Never, ever, EVER attempt to loosely estimate the number of calories burned OR the number of calories you are consuming. People have historically and wildly overestimated how many calories they burned. On the flip side of that, you will underestimate the number of calories you are consuming. You do not need to be 100% accurate and weigh everything down to the gram when tracking, however, use a tracker. There are many options out there if you prefer counting calories try the MyFitnessPal app. If you find yourself more interested in counting macros check out this app by Mike Vacanti.
I want to wrap up by giving you an example workout you can do for cardio that will help during your fat loss journey.
If you are doing cardio in the traditional sense you can do steady state or interval training. For steady state cardio, you want to go for a set amount of time, at the same effort. This effort should be somewhat easy. Say if you are walking or jogging on a treadmill next to someone you should still be able to have a conversation with them. Your words should not be broken but you should still be breaking a sweat. If you are doing some form of interval training it can be broken down in many ways. 1 minute hard followed by 1 minute easy is a great way to get started. Your work intervals should be hard, you should be counting down the seconds until you get to stop!
When you are first becoming aware of your nutrition there are a few key things to key in mind. Processed foods are one thing that should be avoided. Now is it ok to have ice cream and pop tarts here and there, yes absolutely! You want to abide by the 80/20 rule. This means that 80% of the food you are eating should be clean. Lots of fresh vegetables are good, along with fruits and lean protein such as chicken, lean cuts of beef and turkey breast! Being prepared with these foods or even snacks in the fridge at work or in your desk will help keep you from getting into a situation where you are trapped with poor choices. Nuts and seeds also make for a great snack to keep in your desk or car. Just remember that nuts have a high-fat content (although they are good fats) you still want to limit them.
When approaching this journey you need to keep one thing in mind, it's about consistency, not perfection. You don't have to weigh food, you can estimate, you can measure progress and you can play the long game. If you are someone who is overweight, you did not get that way in a month, 6 months, a year, maybe even 2 years. This is not going to change overnight. Consistency is the game here my friends.
As always if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time!
Thanks for reading, it would mean a lot if share with a friend!
All for now.
Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself