If your new years resolution is to loose weight and or get physically fit this is the article for you. Why take weight loss advice from an engineering blog? A few years ago I lost 100 pounds in five months. I took a very systematic approach to loosing the weight and I have successfully kept the weight of for almost three years. So here are my proven suggestions. They are rather simple but they work and are very effective.
1) Change one thing at a time and master it before changing anything else!
This is a sound practice when it comes to engineering, marketing and it is a sound practice when it comes to weight loss. The reason why you should only change one thing at a time is because it becomes overwhelming. People who cut out all junk food and add in work outs at the gym and start eating healthy all at the same time end up quitting with in weeks. It is simply too much change too quickly. You did not get out of shape in three weeks and you will not get back in shape in three weeks. I know everybody whats instant gratification but to be honest this does take a little time. Physical fitness is a three legged stool. Diet, Exercise and sleep. Pick one of these three aspects of your life to change. Stick with it and in three weeks or so pick another one. Why three weeks? It takes roughly 21 days to form or break a habit. Here is my suggested order of change. Exercise first if possible, then sleep will fall in place then diet. Why that specific order? If you change your diet to drastically at first you will most likely go into starvation mode and not loose weight. If you start with the addition of exercise, you will also start to build muscle which will cause your metabolism to rise. Then you will start to burn more fat. You might have a slight bump in weight in the first few weeks. Don’t feel disheartened! After the momentary increase in weight you will begin to loose weight. I gained eight pounds in the fist few weeks.
2) Take before pictures
This one may sound silly but it does work. Take the before pictures and keep them handy. Because muscle weighs more than fat you may not be able to see the fat loss on the scale for the first few weeks but you will be able to see it in your pictures and perhaps in how your clothes fit. You will notice it in your face and hands first. Those pictures are also useful for those days when you fall off the wagon. Falling off the wagon happens to all of us. So when you fall off the wagon just pull out those before pictures for a little extra motivation to get back on the wagon.
3) Physical fitness is a journey not a destination.
In life if you want permanent results you have to make permanent changes. This may sound impossible at the moment but you may well find that it becomes a lot easier the longer you stick with it. Being physically fit is addictive. You feel good, you sleep good, you have energy, your mood is better, live is more vibrant. I personally found that after I started working out regularly my body started craving foods that were in fact good for me. I started eating much healthier which led to further weight loss and more importantly more fat loss.
4) Start today
The gyms are packed in January. It’s a fact. Start in December when there is no one in the gym. Get your routine down while there are less people around. Although I mention a gym there is no reason you cannot work out at home if you have the desire. A lot of people set up gyms in their basement or garage. Often it is easier to get a gym membership though because it costs less up front. The key is to start and keep at it. Starting out I would recommend going three times a week for thirty minutes each session. Start out easy. Walking is easy, so are the stationary bikes. Work up to longer duration’s and more intensity. But seriously start today!
5) Just do your thing
This one is rather simple. No one is watching you at the gym. Seriously! Just do your thing. Yes I know there are plenty of people working out at the gym in January. But everyone has been in your shoes. Everyone has to start somewhere. Just get in there and exercise. If it’s nice outside go for a walk or jog or run or bike ride. Just do it! Don’t worry about whether people are watching or what they are thinking. I know what its like to be morbidly obese and working out at the gym thinking everyone was watching me. To be self conscious. I often went to the gym at odd hours to avoid people. In the end none of that mattered. Does it really matter what they think? Just do your thing…
6) Weekly not daily.
Everyone thinks of caloric intake in the terms of what you need in a day. To be honest I find it much easier to think of it in terms of a week. I have daily guidelines and weekly guidelines. If I blow a day I don’t try and make it back up the next I simply average it out over the next few days. It makes things more manageable. Likewise I don’t suggest you weigh yourself daily. It can be very de-motivational. Your weight fluctuates through out the day. I personally recommend weighing yourself weekly. Pick a day of week and time of day and weight your self on that day of the week and time. Also weekly progress photo’s are nice to look back on once you get pretty far down the path.
7) Plan ahead
I learned this in the Boy Scouts. One key to success is planning ahead, for example… if you are going to be working through a lunch take some healthy snacks and a bottle of water. Likewise don’t wait until your starving to eat. When you wait until you are absolutely starving to eat you are more likely to make bad choices. Having healthy choices around to nibble on during the holidays is also an easy way to avoid eating too many holiday treats. I generally keep a few protean bars, some nuts, some fruit, fiber one bars and even some popcorn at my office. A protean bar and a glass of water is not ideal but it is a good trade off instead of eating several home made cookies. Planning ahead can also help keep you on your routine. If you know you have to be at a party when you would normally work out then consider getting up early and going to the gym before work or switch up days at the gym to fit in your social occasions. Being flexible and planning ahead can really help you stay on track.
8) Drink water
This should probably actually be number 1 on the list. I cannot emphasize enough how important water consumption is. Staying properly hydrated will keep you healthy and performing well. Water comprises at least 70 percent of your muscle tissues and is considered the most important nutrient for maintaining good health. Water also has zero calories and helps you process the food you eat efficiently. Water also helps you have better skin.
9) Smaller plates
This one is easy and works well. Just use a smaller plate, it will help you eat less. I generally use salad plates instead of the large dinner plates. I was surprised that this little psychological trick worked on me but it did. In fact it works very well. Give it a try.
10) Work out with a partner
This one is also rather simple. Working out with a partner works because we all have days where we don’t want to go to the gym. But if you have a partner that is having a good day they encourage you and likewise when they are having a bad day you encourage them. A lot of people use this system and love it. Just don’t let the chit chat get in the way of your workout.
Here is a link to all of my articles on physical fitness.
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