Weight Loss Requires Challenging Exercise and Calorie Deficit

No Easy Answers: Losing Weight Takes Time and Effort

When I google “weight loss,” more than THREE BILLION hits come up. 

Clearly, it’s a popular topic.

And, just as clearly, there are probably three billion different, bewildering messages about weight loss. 

Most of the messaging is a gimmick. Nearly all of it. 

Here’s what you need to know:

Weight loss comes from eating a little less, eating better, and exercising more. 

That’s it.

That’s the “magic” formula.

When my clients ask about weight loss, the answer is building healthy habits that you can sustain.

My ideal workout week would involve the 3-2-1:

  • THREE days a week of strength training,
  • TWO days of high-intensity interval work,
  • and ONE day of endurance exercise (long bicycle rides, walks, cross-country skiing at a pace that gets the heart pumping). 
  • Bonus points for other endurance days. The dog will love you!

Four Elements of a Healthy Weight Loss Program

1. Strength Training

Get to the gym. Lift heavy weights. Repeat. 

That’s the easy formula.

I’d highly recommend using a certified personal trainer to help you set up a program, especially if you’re a beginner.

Developing good habits, knowing when to push yourself, and using proper form go a long way toward getting your body to adapt to the strength work in ways that will burn calories. 

You don’t need anything complicated.

A full-body program using the six main movements is plenty strenuous enough.

2. Intervals

Get after it. Twice a week, do HIIT work.

After a short warm-up, do six to 10 60-second intervals at the fastest pace you can do in the 60 seconds.

This would be a nine of 10 on the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale!

Rest for two to three minutes, then do it all again.

If you’re running, for example, you might walk in between intervals, jog, or a combination of both.

Your only job is to go hard.

One way to make sure you get your intervals in is with a good Cycle or Spin class!

The caveat in the interval, though, is to be consistent throughout the interval.

Don’t sprint at the start, only to not be able to finish the interval.

For proper weight loss, you’ll have to do several sessions to experiment with your pace and effort. 

3. Endurance Work

This is not a leisurely stroll in the park, although that is still better than nothing.

This is taking the dog for a walk and letting the dog get some work in too! 

You probably know about the “fat-burning” zone for exercise.

To make real progress, though, you need to work at a pretty good clip. 

4. Calorie Deficit

In order to weight loss, you need to consume fewer calories than you use. 

It’s that simple. 

The practical part of calorie deficit, though, is much more challenging. 

For example, if you start to exercise more, you need more calories as fuel.

And, for another example, if you don’t consume enough calories, your body goes into famine mode, where it thinks you’re starving and therefore need to save as much fat as possible. 

In general, here are some good ideas about calorie deficit in regards of weight loss, which will be the topic of another post in the future. 

  • Cut out soda, including diet soda. 
  • Drink less beer and other forms of alcohol.
  • Stay away from a regular diet of fast food.
  • Work on five to six small meals a day that focus on a protein and a vegetable/fruit. There’s typically enough good fat in most real food. If you keep your fuel levels up, you’ll feel better throughout the day since your insulin and cortisol will remain level. 

weight loss

Roasted sweet potatoes are one of my favorite good foods. Photo by Sarah Gualtieri on Unsplash

What this all means is that you need to put some work in.

Don’t start everything at once, especially with nutrition.

Building good healthy habits takes time, patience, and focus. 

More Tips From Research

Here are some additional tips on weight loss and exercise from Gretchen Reynolds book The First 20 Minutes, in which she reviews the real science behind exercise. 

  • Measure and track. Use a fitness watch or something that measures your steps and energy consumption. Write down your daily food intake. My Fitness Pal is an app that many of my clients use. 
  • Work out before breakfast. She writes that exercising in a fasted state leads to a greater degree of fat burning. Eat eggs for breakfast too!
  • Do planks, side bridges, hollows, McGill crunches, and other core workouts. 
  • Use plyometrics to jump start – pun intended – your fitness. Do standing jumps onto a platform of some type. Start with knees bent, land with knees bent. Then jump down by starting with knees bent and landing with knees bent. Jump like a stealthy ninja! 

As always, please send me an email if you have questions, comments, or want to work together.

For the price of a cup of coffee, we can sit down and talk about your goals, limits, and start creating a training plan that fits your needs.

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