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If I can do it, anyone can!


About Weight Loss

Cautions

Before you begin ANY weight loss program, please make sure you consider the following:

Eating Right

There is so much controversy and confusion regarding "eating right"; and fad diets come and go. Right now, we are led to believe that we are not eating right unless we buy food that has little or no carbohydrates and an approval stamp with the letter "A" (as in Atkins) or "P" (as in Paleo).

The fact is, no diet written by a complete stranger (including Atkins) will work for everybody. If you need help with your nutrition, I recommend that you invest in sessions with a Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN). A RDN will look at your total picture: diet, exercise, behavior and the emotional component of your nutrition. The RDN will help you design a program (not a diet!) that will help you achieve better health. RDN's not only have training in nutrition, but also are required to work in a hospital clinical environment. A RDN understands related health issues such as hypertension, hypothyroid and diabetes.

To find a RDN near you, visit: eatright.org (Click the "Find An Expert" button and enter your zip code in the "Find a Nutrition Professional" box).

I will give you a quick tip that will help you immediately:

Keep a log of how much you eat and drink. Do this religiously for at least a week. Whatever you put into your mouth, write down what it was, the quantity (ounces) and what you were doing at the time. You may find what I call "leaks" in your nutrition and behavioral patterns that contribute to overeating.

What is a "leak"? A leak is a pattern of consuming a large amount of non-essential empty calories. For example, let's say that you consume one or more 12-ounce beers or soft drinks on a daily basis. If you reduce your beer or soda consumption by 12 ounces per day, you will lose 10 pounds per year!

Your log may tell you that you consume these beverages while watching TV. I would be willing to bet that you might not even miss the 12 fewer ounces as your mind is occupied elsewhere.

This information will provide you with a lot of insight into your behavior and will be especially useful if you decide to hire a RDN. (A RDN will ask you to log your nutrition intake). There are some excellent free apps that will help you with this task:

Exercising

To be successful at weight loss/weight management, you need to make exercise a part of your everyday life. Exercise needs to become a part of your daily hygiene, the same as showering and brushing and flossing your teeth! It does not need to take over your life, but it definitely needs to be a part of your life!

I divide exercise into aerobic and strength. Let's talk about each form of exercise:

AEROBIC

Aerobic exercise is defined as a rhythmic, continuous, large-muscle activity that promotes a simultaneous increase in heart rate and a return of blood to the heart. "Rhythmic" and "continuous" refer to an evenly paced activity such as walking, running, or cycling. Playing tennis or basketball would not be a good aerobic exercise, as those activities involve sudden bursts of speed and stops.

I recommend exercising aerobically for at least one half-hour, five to six days per week. Regular aerobic exercise will strengthen your heart and burn calories. If you walk one half-hour, five days per week for one year you will lose at least 7.5 pounds! Running and bicycling will burn even more calories and promote further weight loss.

STRENGTH

Strength training is an extremely critical part of the weight management process. Regular strength training helps increase and maintain lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat mass, the higher your lean muscle mass the higher your metabolism. Strength training will help us stave off the estimated loss of 2 per cent of our lean muscle mass for each decade we age after age 20. Strength training will help us maintain the weight that we have worked so hard to achieve.

There are many forms of strength training: weight machines, barbells and dumbbells, rubber tubing and Pilates to name just a few. You should do at least two strength training sessions per week. You want to make sure that you are using proper form and doing exercises that are appropriate for your goals and your health history.

I recommend investing in a few Personal Fitness Training sessions to get started. (Please visit my section on Finding A Personal Fitness Trainer).

Motivation

You are just starting to eat right and exercise. How do you stay motivated to keep going?

DON'T

  • Depend only on the scale.
  • The scale can set you up for failure, as it may not always reflect the long-term changes that you are making.
  • I believe that anything we do for 21 consecutive days becomes a habit. Record your weight and measurement data (such as your waist and hips) and then forget about it. Now go ahead and follow your nutrition and exercise program during the next 21 days.

DO

  • Congratulate yourself after each workout
  • Note that the workouts seem to be getting easier and that you are able to lift more weight with each session
  • Get acquainted with the other people in your gym or exercise class
  • Try to find workout partners who share and support your goals

All of these things will encourage you to enjoy life and be in the moment and not focus on how many pounds you need to lose.

If you conscientiously follow your plan for 21 days, you will not only lose pounds, but also will gain the healthy habits and support that will stay with you the rest of your life. You may then decide to focus on other goals such as trying a triathlon (see my About Triathlons section for further information).

XBigMan Testimonial

"Mark, Congratulations on a great year. Your words of experience and wisdom are encouraging and I would like to thank you for taking the time to keep the words coming.

Good Luck in 2004 and God bless!"

S. Keith Bland

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