Losing Weight – Part II

When last we left our hero he was telling you how he’s managed to reengineer his body in the last year or so.  It’s not complicated: Diet and Exercise.

Exercise

If you’re going to burn more calories than you consume part of that equation is burning more calories.  There are a couple of things you can do to facilitate that.

  1. Actual exercise itself.  Running, biking, swimming (hmmm…sounds like a triathlon), working out at the gym…
  2. Guerilla exercise.  Stuff that doesn’t really seem like exercise, but it is.  Taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work.  Deliberately parking further from the store so you have to walk the extra 30 yards across the parking lot, carrying a bag of books just for the weight of it…
  3. Increasing your metabolism so that you burn more calories even when you’re not exercising.

Actual Exercise

We all know this one.  It’s when you lace up your shoes and head out to spend 45 minutes running 3.5 miles around your neighborhood.  You can wave at your neighbors (right, life changers!) avoid the angry dog at the corner, see what other folks are doing with their landscaping and maybe pick up a stray piece of litter and deposit it in a nearby trash can.  All this one takes is a pair of good running shoes and the will to get out and do it.  Yes, walking counts too.

If you’re lucky you have access to a pool.  If you’re REALLY lucky you have access to an ocean.  Swimming is a good, low-impact, way to work a lot of muscles and get some cardio in too.  I’ve heard some question about how much actual fat loss comes out of swimming, but no doubt you burn calories and build good muscle tone.

Biking is a good exercise, but not as effective as running or swimming I suggest.  It DOES have the advantage of being a good way to really work the big muscles in the legs, which are great furnaces for burning calories.  And cyclists have firm sexy thighs and calves.  Did I mention I’m a cyclist?

Off to the gym.  There are as many different kinds of workouts as there are gyms.  You can lift weights, do spin class, yoga, work out on the machines, do the elliptical trainer…you could do a different workout every day for a year and not do the same thing twice.  If you’re looking to lose fat you need to make sure your heart rate gets up and you need to add a little lean muscle mass to stoke your metabolism.

Cardio is great, but if you’re already biking, swimming or running it’s probably not as important.  I never do cardio at my gym for a couple of reasons:

  1. I get lots of cardio in my daily life with running and biking.  There’s a decent chance that I ran or biked to get TO the gym.  I want to maximize my gym time for weight lifting.
  2. Spending 40 minutes grinding away at the same cardio machine while Al Roker tells me what the weather is going to be like in Duluth seems like the 4th ring of hell to me.

Two tips regarding exercise…

  1. Find something you enjoy doing.  If you like running, great.  Tennis?  Basketball?  Yoga?  Frisbee in the park with your dog?  Dancing?  Lifting a beer to your lips is not exercise. (but lifting a beer to somebody else’s lips might be – depends)
  2. Do it consistently.  Exercise once a week is o.k., but if you really want the benefits you need to do it more like 3-5 times per week, at least.

Guerilla Exercise

This is stuff you can do throughout your regular day just to get a little unconventional exercise and burn a few extra calories.

The thing about calories…

We’ve all seen those TV commercials that breathlessly advertise that if you take their pill or rub on their cream or drink their drink or give your dog a cookie…(wait, I think Marshall snuck that one in)…that you can {GASP} BURN CALORIES WHILE YOU SLEEP!   WOW!  But wait…

…you already burn calories while you sleep.  Every time one of your muscles contracts the energy that powers that contraction burns calories.  What muscles are you contacting while you sleep?  How about your heart?  Just breathing in and out burns calories.  Folks, if you’re NOT burning any calories while you sleep then your weight problems are already over.

So how do we burn more of them…

Increase your metabolism by adding lean muscle mass.  More muscle requires more calories to maintain.  You don’t have to turn into a huge muscle man…just add a pound or two of lean muscle where it looks good.  You’ll look fabulous, dahling.

You can also find ways to burn more calories in your regular day.

  • Yesterday I was at a client’s office and I had to go out of the building to get something.  I walked right past the elevators and took the stairs down.  From the 16th floor.  It’s not that hard to walk down 16 flights of stairs.  It didn’t take that long.  But I burned a bunch more calories than I would have burned by getting in an elevator and listening to "The Girl from Ipanema" with 3 strangers.  I took the elevator back up.  I’m not stupid.
  • I often park in a parking garage that is 4-5 floors high.  I usually take the stairs down to the ground instead of the elevators.  See above.
  • I had to walk from a client’s office to my office.  3 blocks.  My hands were empty so I grabbed a large book off a shelf and carried that to my office.  And back.  I didn’t have to make a spectacle about it, just having the slightly-heavy book in my hands as I walked burned a few extra calories (and worked my arm muscles) for very little effort on my part.
  • Stand up occasionally.  Just standing burns more calories than sitting.
  • A friend of mine works in an building where her company owns the whole building (whole campus, actually).  She makes a point of using the restroom on a different floor from her own and taking the stairs.  So a couple of times a day she has to walk, climb stairs and descend stairs when she might not have otherwise.  It’s not a big deal but it burns a few more calories.
  • Park a little further from the store and walk it.
  • Take the hand basket at the grocery store instead of the cart.  Unless you’re planning to buy 100 pounds of groceries.

What other ideas can you think of?

Ooh, have to get into my day.  More soon…

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