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About Staying In Shape

What is the best way to stay in shape and maintain our weight, once we have lost it? The answer is to ditch crash diet and exercise programs and make healthy eating and exercise a regular part of our life. We have to remember that living life is a marathon and not a 100-meter sprint. A marathoner can run long distances because he or she runs at a slower pace and regularly refuels with food and hydrates with water. A marathoner will simply continue to put one foot in front of the other until crossing the finish line.

A sprinter on the other hand, will put all of their strength and focus to a short race and "shoot their wad." They cannot immediately recover to run another race.

"The answer is to ditch crash diet and exercise programs and make healthy eating and exercise a regular part of our life."

Such is the case with a crash dieter/exerciser. They make losing weight as fast as possible the entire purpose of their life. Perhaps they are preparing to go to a wedding or a high school reunion; they need to look "perfect" for a few hours... Forget how they feel in the months leading up to their event or how they will look and feel afterward. Unlike a marathoner, a crash dieter/exerciser is unable to stay focused because their life lacks a solid foundation of base training and balanced nutrition. Once their event is over, they gain back all of the weight they lost and then some.

How do we build a solid foundation for a healthy life? We use strength training as a hammer and nutrition as nails to shape and connect the boards of our body, our muscles. Lean muscle mass provides a higher resting metabolic rate than fat mass. In other words, imagine two people of equal height and weight. The person with a higher percentage of lean muscle mass and lower percentage of body fat will burn more calories sitting still than the person with the higher percentage of body fat. The person with the lower percentage of body fat is much more efficient at burning calories. We have all complained at some point about a person who "eats like a horse" and doesn't gain weight while we might sniff a candy bar and gain weight. This is a perfect example of lean muscle mass in action...

Add to this the fact that for each decade that we age after age twenty, we lose approximately 2 percent of our lean muscle mass. A regular program of strength training will help us fight "Father Time." A person who focuses their exercise program solely on burning calories through cardio exercise misses out on the huge opportunity that strength training presents.

In addition, let's not forget about the thermic effect of food that burns calories through digestion. We burn approximately ten percent of our body's daily energy requirements by digesting the foods that we eat. A crash dieter misses out on the thermic effect and actually has a tougher time managing their weight.

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