The key to permanently losing weight is simple: burn more calories than you consume! That's it! If your body is burning 2500 calories a day, you simply need to burn MORE than that in order for your body to start burning off your bodyfat.
But 2500 calories is a lot of calories!
Actually not really! Considering your body is burning calories 24 hours a day, 7 days a week just to maintain it's essential functions. That means while you're watching TV, playing video games, even SLEEPING your body is burning calories.
On average, a good estimate of total daily calories burned at rest can be determined by bodyweight x 15. So for a 150 pound male, 150 x 15 = 2250 calories. 2250 calories a day just sitting around! Imagine that!
But before we get into anything too complicated, lets take a step back and take a look at some of the basics for maintaining a healthy body. Now, these are some of the most important, but unfortunately most overlooked aspects of losing weight and getting into shape.
Water: Yes, that's right, water. You should be drinking at least a gallon of water a day. Don't feel silly carrying around a full jug of water in the gym, it's extremely beneficial. Your body carries out thousands of processes using water, so you want to make sure that you're getting enough of it. It flushes out toxins, carries vitamins and nutrients throughout the blood, and also helps to reduce water retention. So drink up!
Vitamins: Taking your vitamins everyday is hands down the most important part of being healthy. A large majority of people do not get the amounts of vitamins and minerals they need, and getting all of the recommended amounts from food alone would result in eating a ridiculous amount. So, instead of cramming down plate after plate of food, just take a daily multi vitamin instead!
Sleep: Just like most people don't get enough vitamins and minerals, a large majority of people don't get enough sleep either. Many people do not understand the benefits from constantly getting a solid 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Not only will you be energized throughout the day, but if you are lifting weights, sleep is essential to adding muscle. During sleep, your body releases growth hormones that aid your body in reparing muscles used during your workouts. So sip down a cup of warm milk (also a good source of protein) and hit the hay!
So now that we've gone over the basics, you're ready to tackle the 3 most valuable weapons in the battle of the bulge: Diet and Nutrition, Cardiovascular Exercise, and Weight Training. Just three more steps and you're ready to lose weight like you've always wanted to!
In order to successfully lose weight quickly and permanently, you need to get your diet in check. Weight loss is almost impossible without some adjustments to your diet. No need to fret. A diet isn't an ordeal to survive, it's a way to achieve that body you've always dreamed of. A diet is simply what you eat day in, day out. A diet isn't a temporary fix to a permanent problem. To successfully lose weight, you'll need to alter the way you eat. It's no wonder people who go on quick-fix diets often gain all the weight back (sometimes more). As harsh as it sounds, you need to change your relationship with food. But don't worry, with time, there are plenty of healthy foods out there that taste great and will still aid you in losing weight. And besides, after a while you'll really start to notice how much better you feel with a steady supply of nutrient rich foods going into your body. So let's get started!
For optimum performance and health, your body needs an adequate supply of healthy carbs, protein, and healthy fats. Here are some examples of each.
Whole Wheat Bread
Beans (any kind will do)
All vegetables and fruits
Lean meats such as chicken, lowfat beef, fish, and turkey
Low Fat Milk
Low Fat Cottage Cheese
Canned Tuna Fish
Any whey or soy protein supplements
Nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts)
Flax Seed Oil
Natural Peanut Butter (also a good source of protein)
And now I'm sure some of you are wondering: "Wait, I thought carbs and fat were bad?". The answer, which may shock and appall you, is NO! Well, in some cases yes. Some carbs are bad (aka: sugar and processed junk) and some fats are bad (trans fats and most saturated fats). But good, complex carbs (such as oats, whole wheat products, veggies and fruits) are what your body thrives on. They are great for energy as well as heart health and maintaining a healthy. Healthy fats are good for the brain and the production of hormones as well as great for a healthy heart. DO NOT LISTEN TO THOSE FAD DIET EXPERTS WHO CLAIM THAT CARBS ARE THE ENEMY! THEY ARE W R O N G!!!
Now that we know what kinds of food to eat, the next logical question is "how much"? A simple rule of thumb for healthy weight loss is 10-12x your bodyweight in calories. So someone weighing 180bs would need to eat between 1800 and 2160 calories a day in order to lose weight. This ensures your body gets the nutrition it needs to stay healthy, but also taps into your fat stores to get you in the shape you want!
Cardiovascular exercise, or "cardio", as most people tend to call it, is a great way to burn some extra calories and lose weight. You see, anything that gets your heart rate elevated will cause your body to burn calories at a higher rate. The more calories you burn throughout the day, the more fat your body is capable of burning off and therefore the more weight you can lose.
It's not wonder marathon runners, swimmers, and most professional sports players are so slim and fit! They don't go a day without doing some kind of cardiovascular exercise for an extended period of time. In addition to the physical benefits of cardio (aka: WEIGHT LOSS) there are many mental benefits. Obviously losing weight and looking better will do wonders for your phsyche, but it's also been proven that exercise in general releases serontonin, a powerful hormone that may be the closest thing to a "natural" antidepression. It makes you feel great! It's easy to spot too, after you get done working out or doing a long jog, you'll instantly feel uplifted and just plain happy!
So throw on those running shoes and hit the pavement! Here are some fun ways to get your cardio...
These fun activities will more than suffice to burn extra calories, which is your overall goal in the battle of the bulge. In addition to the calories that you'll burn while doing cardio, an added benefit is that your body will burn more calories throughout the day. An intense cardio session can cause your metabolism (the rate at which your body burns calories) to stay elevated for up to a day and a half! So while your sitting down watching TV, cooking dinner, or even sleeping, your body is burning calories faster and destroying the fat you've been dying to get rid of!
So you see, in the quest for losing weight and getting fit, cardiovascular exercise is an excellent tool. Not only do you get the benefits of burning calories, you also experience the effects of a raised metabolism up to 35 hours after the cardio session! You simply can't go wrong! Try to fit in a 20-30 minute cardio sessions 2-3 times a week to begin, and then once your body is ready step it up to 4-5 times a week.
And on a personal note, it's a great feeling once you've completed a long, grueling cardio session (such as a long jog, hike, or some quality time with the stairmaster). Just the feeling of being drenched in sweat, and the knowledge that you're a little less fat, and a little less closer to that body of your dreams than you were when you started your cardio. Great way to think of it, huh?
Many people shy away from this portion of the fitness journey, but weight lifting plays a key role in your body's abilityto burn fat and lose weight. You see, muscle burns calories to maintain itself. A pound of muscle can burn between 30-50 calories a day. By lifting weights, thus adding muscle, you can greatly optimize your ability to burn calories and as we've discussed earlier burning extra calories is key to burning fat and losing weight.
It's a good idea not to try and overdo it when starting out. A first time lifter can experience soreness like they've never felt before. It's always good to find a balance between pushing yourself, and knowing your limits. So to start out, try lifting 2-3 times a week, giving your body adequate time to recover. Start doing full body workouts, utilizing all major muscles.
Let me just add one simple thing. If you're lifting weights hoping to add muscle, you're going need to have you diet in check. Muscles are made out of protein and water, so it should be common sense to incorporate many high protein foods (meats, milk, cottage cheese, etc...) in your daily diet.
However, it's hard (and not to mention expensive) to buy and eat all that food. That's why there are protein supplements! Protein bars and powders are a great way to get that extra amount of protein your muscles need to be big and strong! Just mix the powder with milk or water for a great protein drink. Protein bars are a great option for those of you with "on-the-go" lifestyles are don't have a lot of time to prepare and pack the meals you need. You can purchase them at nearly any grocery store or health food store. Purchasing online is a great advantage and will save you money!
Even if at first the soreness might turn you away from a vigorours weight lifting regiment, the long lasting benefits of lifting weights greatly outweight the occasional soreness. Gaining muscle, losing fat, and gaining strength are just a few of the many benefits from pumping irons. Pretty soon, the rush of adrenaline you from lifting will lure you back to gym day after day! Weight lifting is key to success in achieving permanent weight loss, so grab a dumbell or two and start lifting!
Well there you have it, you have a great start on the journey to weight loss and a better body! Good luck!