The Fit Kick
By Bill Whedon
Now that I have your attention, I would like to call that attention
to the fact that both of the above
headlines are total balderdash and poppycock. I would also like to state categorically, that
anyone who tells you that you can do either of the above, is also so full of it as to make the New
York City Sewage System look like a pooper-scooper.
Building muscle and improving your cardiopulmonary fitness level involves
work - quite a lot of
it, in fact. That doesn't mean that it has to be unpleasant; just that you should not expect results of
any sort, unless you are willing to make an effort to improve yourself. Just like everything else
in life worth doing, becoming fit requires attention to detail, dedication, an understanding of the
process, and just plain hard work.
The World Fitness website has been "in business" now for about 5 years.
In those 5 years, I, and
the other folks who are here for you, have answered several thousand questions about fitness and
health, diet, attitude, and all the other things that go into "getting into shape". Maybe that's why,
after all those years, it still amazes me when people write to ask me whether this machine, or
that pill, or the other supplement, that they saw advertised on TV or the roadside, will actually
work. There seems to be no saturation point for people's desire to do it "the easy way", versus
the way that works.
And, believe it or not, there is actually one, and only one way, which
is guaranteed to work for
the vast majority of people. Eat less, move more. Period. The probability of your being one of
the genetic few that this won't work for, is about as good as the probability that you'll win the
PowerBall tomorrow if you buy one ticket. Vanishingly small. Live with it, accept it, quit using
"my Mom was fat" as an excuse, and get on with eating less, moving more. It works. Quite
likely, had your Mom done likewise, she wouldn't have been fat, and you wouldn't be able to use
her condition as an excuse.
Exercise Isn't Fun
Uh, well, actually, exercise is fun. Or it can be, if you choose
the right exercise for you.
Remember the part about "move more"? That's the exercise part. And all you have to do to
make it work, is to choose some means of moving your body that you enjoy, and then go do it! I
do aerobics. I love aerobics. Maybe you don't, though. But out there somewhere, is the thing
you like to do, and like enough that you'll want to do it for a long time. For instance, you can:
Ride a bicycle a few miles
Walk around the block a few times
Rollerblade in the park for an hour or so
Climb a cliff
Park at the far end of the mall lot, and walk in, then use the stairs instead of the escalator
Go swimming at the YMCA
Go for a run on a jogging trail
Take a boxaerobics class at the local gym
Play tennis with a friend
Play handball with a friend, or by yourself
Follow a step-aerobics video on your home TV
Take a boxing class
Jump rope for 20 minutes (whew!)
Play hopscotch, or, better, stoop-tag with the kids
Need more suggestions? Just remember -- if you're moving, you're
exercising! And the more
you exercise, that is, the more you move, the better that exercise will work for you, and the
quicker you'll get rid of the fat you want off!
I Don't Wanna Starve!!
Nobody said you have to starve. The words are "eat less".
And what that means is, if you're
gaining weight, and if the weight you're gaining is fat, then you need to cut back on caloric
intake. The easiest place to do that, is in the "fat" department, since fats have 9 kilocalories
(kCals) per gram, to about 6 for protein, and 4 for carbohydrates. Cutting the fat back is an
efficient way of lowering over-all kCals in your diet.
Recognize that you do need some fat, however. About 20% - 25%
of your total daily caloric
intake should come from fats. Maybe 15% - 20% should come from protein, and the rest from
carbohydrates, preferably complex, like whole-grain cereals and breads, fresh vegetables and
Eat often. Like, 6 to 8 small meals per day. When you do
that, you don't ever really feel totally
starved, your blood sugar stays pretty even, and you'll not easily "run out of gas". There will be
a lot less tendency to overindulge when you do eat, as well.
Don't "do diets" - not even popular ones like the 40/30/30 variety.
"Diets" are artificial ways of
eating. They also, whether their inventors admit it in print or not, work solely by cutting down
on your caloric intake, and (sometimes) increasing your exercise level. You can do that,
yourself, by simply uuhhhh what was that?? Oh yeah -- eating less. What a concept! And if
you're not "doing a diet", you won't have to try to get back into some other eating pattern, when
the diet is over with - which is where most people who "do diets" start their old ways again, and
pick up the same, or even more, weight, than they lost.
But I Want It To Work Faster!!
Okay, we can do that. First, we have to understand a bit about
how this food-and-exercise thing
works. Here goes:
Your body puts fat on for one reason, and one reason only - to serve
as a "fuel reservoir". Some
fat on your body, therefore, is a Good Thing. Too much fat, however, can make your appearance
not be what you like, and can adversely affect your health, which is a Bad Thing.
Generally speaking, a good mean for people to strive for is around 15%
body fat for men, and
18% for women. Both of those are at the athletic end of the "healthy range" of bodyfat. Guys,
you won't have a 6-pack showing at 15%. Women, you probably won't have great quad
definition at 18%. But you will be healthy and fit. If that's not enough, you can go for somewhat
lower percentages - a "6-pack" will show on guys at around 12%, and quad definition on women
shows up at around 15%. Those are getting into the high end of "elite athlete" ranges, however,
and are not easy to accomplish. You'll actually look great and feel fine at the 15% and 18%
levels, folks. Here's how you get there...
-Get your bodyfat percentage taken by a trained professional.
-Set a goal.
-Have a local Certified Personal Trainer set you up with a resistance-training program. That
means weights, stack machines, Nautilus, etc. My favorite methodology is HIT (High Intensity
Training) because it gets you out of the gym the fastest, and gives results comparable to, or better
than, other methods. HIT, for example, is done only twice per week, and a typical HIT workout
will take only 25 to 35 minutes. If that interests you, find a Trainer who knows about it, and can
set you up with such a program.
-Do your aerobic exercise on days when you are not doing weights.
When you do weights, you put on muscle. Muscle burns fat (about
35 kCal/lb/day, just staying
alive). So the fat goes off faster.
Make no mistake - if you are putting on muscle, you may not lose weight
right away, but you will
lose size! Muscle is more dense than fat (a pound of fat is quite a bit bigger than a pound of
muscle), so your size will drop, at first.
Of course, it is possible to do it all - get stronger and smaller, and
lose weight at the same time.
You just have to modify the routines you're doing to emphasize a caloric deficit - you eat less
than your body consumes. Just don't eat too little, or you'll "trick" your body into thinking it's
starving, at which point all bets are off, and the body stores every bite you eat as fat, and burns
up the lovely muscle. Don't starve yourself!! A loss of 2 lbs per week is really the most you
should go for. And IMO, even that is more than I consider sustainable. About a pound per week
is better, I think.
article was previously published at the World Fitness Organization website:
Free fitness information and counselling. Fitness Trainer certification programs