“Losing weight” is a harsh overgeneralization of what people’s true goals are when they use this phrase. This is what makes it difficult to understand proper approaches and healthy ways to get to a lighter physique.
If you really wanted to just “lose weight” something like fasting for 3 days, taking water pills, over training and not eating enough would do the trick. However, in these cases all you would be doing would be losing water weight and/or muscle mass. You would in fact “lose weight” as you would weigh less by the end of it, but you will quickly gain weight again once you go back to regular meals, not taking water pills and a more regular workout routine (or not working out at all). This is how “quick fixes” work. By promising “weight loss” – and delivering, albeit not permanently – they make you believe they work.
So, if I’m not losing weight, what am I losing?
Instead of looking for general weight loss, we should strive for fat loss. Fat is the main cause of disease and it is the kind of weight you really want to get rid of, as you may not like the way it looks on you. You don’t want to lose muscle, and you definitely don’t want to just shed water.
How do I achieve fat loss?
You change your body composition! This means you must change the muscle to fat ratio in your body. You must increase your muscle mass – which will help you burn more calories and therefore fat from your body – as well as reduce fat by targeting it specifically.
To increase muscle mass, you need a combination of strength training to develop your muscles, a protein rich, muscle-building diet and enough rest to allow your muscles to recover and grow.
To reduce body fat specifically, you will have to decrease – not eliminate! – your fat intake and increase your activity level. No more than 17% of your caloric intake should come from fat. And adding some sort of cardiovascular activity a few times per week – like jogging, running, biking, zumba or ay other sort of class – will help burn calories and fat while raising your resting metabolic rate. (Meaning you burn more calories even at rest). Making these changes will step-up your metabolism and change your body composition.
If you’re able to, I highly recommend High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is a triple threat in that it burns more calories per minute than a simple cardio workout or strength training session. It does this by building muscle strength and raising your heart rate, thus achieving two goals at the same time. The way HIIT works is you alternate high intensity exercises that get your heart beating and elevate your breathing – like jump squats, burpees, or sprinting – with lower intensity strength training exercises – like push ups, crunches, or plank crawls.
If you’re a newbie at working out, I don’ recommend starting with HIIT, you may hurt yourself and it may be frustrating to not be able to complete your sets. You should start small with regular calisthenics and exercises and cardio workouts. Once your muscles develop and you achieve good form while exercising, you can move on to bigger challenges.
Nowadays, most of my workouts are this type. It’s fun for me since I can change things up constantly and every workout is a challenge! Check out the workouts section for ideas on HIIT and regular exercises.
I also recommend getting the Nike Training Club App. It is free, has all kinds of workouts and you can choose your workout based on your level!
Disclaimer: You should always consult your doctor before starting any exercise regimen if you have any physical conditions that may worsen under stress.