Summer is approaching fast! Many of us may feel guilty for having procrastinated on our summer fitness goals. There are about 11 weeks left before summer and that is more than enough time to get the ball rolling and shed a few pounds. You can lose a minimum of 4 pounds of body weight a month, which averages to one pound lost per week. This is a graspable goal!
The first step to losing a pound a week is to modify your food and alcohol consumption. I have mentioned before in a previous article that the best caloric estimate is to consume 10 calories per pound of body weight, which is very minimal. Realistically, most people consume way more than they are supposed to.
Try to consume the same portions throughout the day, every day, and add 200-300 calories on active days. That 200-300 calories can be from a protein shake blended with some fruits or a small meal. This will give you a sense of control and consciousness.
Drink a glass of water when you feel hungry. Dehydration can mask itself as hunger, among other ways. Statistics show that 75 percent of Americans are dehydrated. Infuse your water with fruits or herbs and always carry a water bottle to quench your thirst. Carry your favorite snack to eat during your breaks. It can be fruit, granola, a protein shake or bar, vegetables, etc. If you have a sweet tooth, fruit or a small portion of dark chocolate are great snacks. You’d be surprised how many variations of snack-making there are.
If you drink alcohol, try to reduce your consumption by one drink per week or limit yourself to two to three drinks per week if you tend to drink excessive amounts. Instead of mixing liquor with juices and sodas, try using lemons, limes, oranges or cherries to flavor your drinks. Seltzer and club soda are also a great option. This will reduce your sugar intake (and the effects of a hangover the next day!).
The second step is to start an exercise regimen. It is recommended that people exercise two to three times per week for about an hour. If you have never worked out before, start with one or two days. Don’t feel pressured into having to know everything about working out right away or knowing how to use every machine. It is all a journey and you will learn new things as you progress.
Start with what you know or ask a professional for help. Remember to warm up with either your preferred cardio machine, such as a rowing machine or treadmill, or doing your favorite sporting warm-ups. Begin your exercise regimen with three sets of approximately 10-12 repetitions of both body-weight and resistance exercises, or start by taking a fitness class of your liking. If you do not attend a gym, start with bodyweight exercises such as dips or squats. You can use chairs and broomsticks as props or invest in a weight set.
I recommend resistance training because, as you develop your muscles, your metabolism increases, which will promote fat loss. Inviting a friend to work out can help make the workout fun while increasing motivation and accountability. Because the weather is getting nicer, take your workout to your favorite park or trail. There are many different ways to exercise; it is a matter of finding the best fit for you.
Lastly, get some rest. Rest and sleep are very important in the recovery process. If your sleep is limited, take a nap or meditate for about 15 minutes. The good news is that, according to Dr. Zelasko, an American Council of Sports Medicine workshop instructor and researcher, when you exercise regularly, you actually do not need as much sleep because when you do sleep, you sleep better. I mention sleep as a step to helping you lose a pound a week because, in some cases, when your body is in high stress, it is more likely to hold on to weight, or it can cause people to eat or drink more.
Megan Niño is a kinesiologist and personal trainer who trains out of 12th Street Gym. She is an energetic and positive person, who prides herself on teaching others to find empowerment in their lives through fitness.