With summer only a month away, we find ourselves confronted with the prospect of a less forgiving wardrobe.
Common sense dictates that we maintain a healthy weight throughout the year but somewhere along the line this thinking escapes us. In fact, 33 per cent of overweight and obese North Americans report they are at a healthy weight. Something isn’t working. The western lifestyle is broken.
Hopefully the Q & A below will shed a little light on making your summer wardrobe a little less daunting.
Q: I want to eat healthy but I also want to drop 20 pounds fast. Will (enter trendy diet here) kick-start my weight loss?
A: Most dieters regain their weight. Eliminating food groups and calculating calories are a distraction from the real problem — someday you will return to an unregulated diet of highly processed food.
Where possible, ingredients in your kitchen should look like they did in their original state (nothing real comes in fun, dinosaur shapes). Stop counting calories, drinking tons of water and eliminating bananas. Fuel with fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes and tighten up your eating window (a.k.a. avoid munching at night).
Let’s be honest, healthy eating and fad diets are equally challenging. The difference is, one will change your life; the other is a temporary fix to a bigger problem. Why not take the healthy route? If you genuinely want to drop pounds, throw your highly processed ‘food’ into a big garbage bin and replace with fresh, whole foods.
Note: If your response to this advice is, “I don’t think that will work for me, what else have you got?” you should reframe your original question to: “I don’t want to eat healthy but I want to lose 20 pounds and regain it all back. What should I eat?”
Q: What is the best fat burning cardiovascular exercise?
A: A healthy diet.
Many exercisers need to reframe cardio because you’re never going to outpace an unhealthy diet. Rather than spending hours on the treadmill, cut back at the dinner table.
If you want to offset your healthy diet with a cardio regime, harder and shorter is key. This information has been part of popular thinking for a while, yet, for some reason, 30-minute, steady state treadmill-shifts continue to occupy the No. 1 spot at the gym.
Other than short burst cardio for weight loss, the best choice at the gym is weight training with short rest intervals — around 30 seconds.
When done properly, strength training can emulate many of the benefits produced through cardiovascular exercise with the bonus of firmer, stronger muscle, enhanced function and boosted metabolism.
Q: Is walking an effective way to burn fat?
A: Despite the answer above, walking can be an effective option for beginners. Its accessible and affordable. The problem with walking, or running for that matter, is that your body adapts fairly quickly to the activity. A body that isn’t challenged becomes complacent.
If you chose walking or running as a method to burn fat (and when the time is right) ensure that you vary your intensity by incorporating hills or speed intervals.
Q: What is the best exercise to tighten my midsection?
A: This may not sound like a complicated question, but it is. Here’s the four-part answer:
1. Compound exercises such squats and deadlifts develop a strong base (core) translating to enhanced overall physical performance — but they won’t reveal muscle.
2. Crunches develop rippling abdominal muscles — but they won’t reveal them.
3. Planks have become popular mostly due to group fitness classes such as yoga. They are an accessible (possibly overdone) core exercise but they won’t reveal muscle.
4. Burning more calories than you consume, over time, can reveal your six-pack — even if you have never performed a single sit-up.
Q: Is there a secret to effective weight loss?
A: Yes, fire up your metabolism through interval and weight training. Reveal firm muscle by eating a diet rich in plant-based foods, nuts and legumes.
In the end, the secret to weight loss success is yearlong consistency.