I recently had a conversation with someone who, like many Americans, encountered a stressful time period where weight gain was the result of a lack of physical activity and poor nutrition. This individual found it challenging to balance life between work and graduate school. She proceeded to mention “…well with Halloween and the holidays coming up, I will start a new routine next year…”
I thought, “Next year? Why not now?” I am an empathetic and realistic trainer who understands what people experience. I, too, am human and have graduated from graduate school. I fully understand the stress and the lack of personal freedom during this time period.
The one concept that I have struggled to comprehend is why are the holidays an excuse to go on a binge eating frenzy and say screw it to everything else? Every personal trainer has his or her own opinion, but do understand that you are what you eat, and the more pounds and bingeing you do during this upcoming holiday season, the more challenging it is to lose that weight.
This week I will focus on some preliminary “must-knows” about diet and exercise that should alter your decisions this pumpkin pie with extra whipped cream season.
The body works as a system. Humans function from a cellular level. Therefore, the foods that we ingest fuel our cells for energy. Some foods that we eat that are high in sugar, fat or chemicals ‘defuel’ our energy levels and store fat in the areas that we want to be trim and slim.
The areas of the body that quickly gain weight are also the hardest, or slowest areas to lose weight. Yes it is frustrating for women when we lose weight in the neck and chest region before hips and thighs. But you must understand these “storage” areas will decrease in size long-term as it challenging to lose weight in some of these areas. With a lifestyle change, you will notice results. However, when we think of spot reduction, this is merely a misconception that we can’t choose to lose weight in one area. Our bodies choose where the weight reduces. You can "spot strengthen" so for example if you want to tone your gluteus, squats, lunges and glute lifts are appropriate for strengthen the muscle underneath the fat. This in turn will become tone and sculpted once the muscle is built and the body loses the excess adipose tissue (fat). That is why many fitness professionals state cardio and strength training are needed to lose weight. It is not one without the other.
We often think we do not have time to exercise during the holidays, or have a lack of income to pay for a gym membership. Well this idea is free of charge. It is called gravity. Gravity keeps us on earth. With gravity you have free movement to explore various ways to start being physically active such as walking, squats, pushups, jumping jacks, jogging. If you are snowed in, try a 15-20 minute at-home workout that implements 10 various exercises completed 1 minute a piece. Repeat your first round of 10 then complete a second round. When you get your own body weight moving you are doing something good for your health. Many people think you need load (weight) to workout. In essence, you need to move and gravity allows us to do that. Going from a sedentary lifestyle to incorporating movement the body will "readjust" to the movement. Even if you can squeeze in a 20 minute walk three times per week you will notice some physiological changes in your mood, energy and figure.