A friend of mine remarked the other day, “ You must be so busy at work this time of year!” “Actually, no.” I said. “Our busiest time of the year is March.”
This is a trend that I have noticed over the past 5 years – other than our graduate dieters coming back for a “tune up” in January, we actually have relatively fewer new dieters. After the holidays, it’s true, everyone says they need to lose weight, but the common quest is to “get back to the gym!” And to the gym they go … in droves! By March, after months of training and very little weight loss, they find their way to us. So, what it the best way to lose weight?
It is true that exercise is a great way to maintain a healthy weight AND, it is vital for your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, but it is NOT a great way to lose weight. Most people overestimate the amount of calories burned during exercise. It is actually more efficient to change the diet and sit on the couch with a good book, if losing weight is your only goal. As it turns out, it takes A LOT of activity to make up for small splurges in the diet. Additionally, though some studies show that exercise can temporarily suppress appetite, over time, the homeostatic tendency of the body is to produce hormones that increase hunger in order to replace the calories expended during exercise. In other words, when you increase output, you must increase input. This is not an endorsement to become a “couch potato” – there are a lot of other reasons to stay active – it’s just that losing weight is not one of them.
What to do then?
Change the diet! Learn how the body burns fat and use an approach that will encourage fat burning while maintaining muscle. After all, when we say we want to lose weight, do we want to lose weight or do we want to lose fat? Stay Active. Instead of hitting the gym with a vengeance, get the fat off your body with the diet AND stay active. Stay active, not necessarily for the extra calorie burn, but because we want to keep the end game in mind. Once you lose the weight, the best way to maintain it is to be active and exercise. Start the active part now by setting a goal of taking 10,000 steps a day. Once you are lighter, you will naturally and more easily increase your activity level by adding exercise. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, right? Sleep. Make a concerted effort to sleep 8 hours a night. Studies show that sleeping less than 8 hours a night significantly limits your body’s ability to burn fat.
So, if you’ve been exercising in an effort to lose and are baffled by the less than stellar results, schedule in an appointment with one of our coaches! We can help you reach your own personal goals this year.