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Tips on starting exercise programs

Health & Lifestyle Nutrition & Fitness

Exercise & Weight Loss

Suggestions to lose weight and keep it off

Weight loss itself is an ambiguous term, a more appropriate definition is weight training. This is not to say you want to build yourself up as a bodybuilder but rather you want to convert your fat into 'lean muscle tone'. That's the whole point of keeping fit and losing unwanted body fat. If you follow a well thought out exercise routine with an end objective in mind, coupled with a sensible diet, not only will you improve your general cardiovascular or strength fitness but you will keep those unwanted pounds off.

If you are over weight it just might be that your body composition has a slow metabolism. It is a proven scientific fact that lean people burn fat more efficiently than overweight people and this is true more so of those with lean muscle tone. Overweight people who go on crash diets do not fare so well and probably end up worse after a course of dieting as the body seeks to restore to it's old level. Diets alone and crash diets in themselves are the worst possible choice if you want to lose weight and keep it off permanently. The best way of achieving weight loss and keeping it off long term is to do it slowly over a period of time so that your body can adjust to the changes you are thrusting upon it by changing your eating habits and taking up regular cardiovascular exercise.

  • Change your eating habits (i.e. start eating smaller portions of food) before if you ate a full plate of food try eating 2/3 of a plate instead.
  • Substitute aspartame for sugar
  • Try eating 3 or 4 smaller meals during the day rather than 2 large ones
  • Eat your main large meal at midday with the other meals much smaller in content
  • Don't eat heavy meals late in the evening as the body wont have time to digest it so it ends up stored as fat in your body.
  • Balance your meals out during the day so in one day you have a mix of protein, carbohydrate and vitamins
  • Drink lots of water during the day and before, during and after exercise, you should drink at least 8 big glasses of water per 24 hours
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Stop smoking if you smoke or cut down
  • Eat more fibre i.e. pulses grains nuts, pasta, brown rice, cereals, fresh fruit
  • Eat more vegetables as part of your diet
  • Eat less dairy products or choose those with less fat content i.e. cottage cheese
  • Try steaming or poaching food instead of frying it, frying adds calories by the bucketful
  • Cut down on Red meat and eat more lean or better still chicken and fish instead
  • Use low fat oils in cooking i.e. sunflower, corn or Mazola
  • Cut down on your salt intake, there are hidden salts even in tinned foods
  • Try substituting carrots or fresh fruit instead of biscuits and sweetmeat when you have a craving for something in between meals.
  • Drink semi or skimmed milk as opposed to full cream

Simply choose a diet which is low in fat and cholesterol, moderate in sugar and salt and high in fibre but at the same time has a variety of everything thus making it a balanced diet.

  • Start taking up regular aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise if you don't already (i.e. at least 3-4 times a week) This is aimed at those who want to burn fat and convert it into lean muscle, if your intention is to build muscle then you need a different routine based on heavier weights and less repetitions.
  • If you are in a gym and are starting off at unfit level and want to convert fat into lean muscle:

    • Stretch your body in order to prepare it for activity (5 minutes stretches)i.e. side stretches, hamstrings, touch your toes etc etc.
    • Do 10 minutes at easy pace on Cycle then 1 minutes rest then 10 minutes on rowing and 1 min rest and so on for each exercise machine you want to do.
    • If you have weights then do 10 repetitions at a very light manageable weight, rest for 30 seconds and repeat this twice. So you do 3 sets of 10 repetitions at a light weight on each weight machine.
    • Do the same for other weight machines taking only 1 minute rest in between each different weight exercise remember to use light weights
    • Concentrate on cycling, rowing, stairmaster, stepper type machines, I don't recommend the treadmill simply because it puts a lot of strain on the joints, i.e. heels, ankle, knee. Jogging effectively can put 10 times the bodyweight force on the joints and should only be done on soft surfaces such as grass and with adequate cushioned footwear. That's why the treadmill is not to be recommended. The other aerobic machines put less stress on the joints.
    • At the end of your program which should be about 40 minutes on average you need to cool down, try easy cycling for 3 minutes and then stretches after that.

It is very important to warm up before an exercise routine and to cool down after wards, this is so that you don't suffer from muscle soreness and tenderness after wards and besides it keeps the muscles and ligaments supple and with less chance of muscle tear and injury during a workout.

Remember muscles work better when they are warm.

If you follow this program after a few weeks you will notice considerable improvement and will want to either increase the intensity, duration or weight in your program as it gets easier. Increase the reps to 20 for each exercise if you want to carry on getting leaner.

Remember to burn fat and get lean defined muscle do more repetitions at a less weight, to build heavy muscle and gain strength do less reps at a heavier weight.

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