Finding balance with your fitness program

Is your exercise routine working for you? Are you getting the results you hoped for? Are you reaching your weight-loss goals?

Unfortunately, many people become frustrated with a lack of immediate results in the gym and blame it on a slow metabolism or genetics. These folks may conclude that exercise isn’t the answer and give up altogether. Hopefully this isn’t your story. But if the pounds aren’t dropping as quickly as you anticipated, you may need to re-evaluate the way you view exercise.

When it comes to shedding extra pounds, exercise isn’t the whole solution. It’s a part of the solution. Weight loss is about burning more calories than you consume. If you think you’re doing great by exercising 150 minutes while continuing to eat a 3,000-calorie diet, you’re not. And you’re not going to see the results you want.

There are many factors that affect your weight — diet, exercise, stress, sleep, genetics, and medications. A person’s weight is related to his or her lifestyle, not how many times the treadmill gets used. Exercise is needed, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Diet and exercise go hand in hand when it comes to losing weight and keeping weight off. Those jeans you were finally able to wear are too tight once again. How can you keep those pounds off? The answer is regular cardio exercise. When you finally reach a healthy weight through dieting or a combination of exercise and diet, physical activity is an essential part of maintaining that desired weight.

You hit the gym several times a week? That’s great! But what about the other 95% of your time?

A healthy weight and a healthy body result from a healthy, active lifestyle not just an active hobby (the gym). Half an hour on the treadmill won’t do much good for a person leading a sedentary life. Make physical activity part of your life. Take a walk during lunch, take the stairs instead of the elevator, lift hand weights during commercial breaks (or do jumping jacks or situps during the commercials). It’s the little things that make a big difference and it’s the little things that as personal trainers we have to preach every day.

It’s easy to underestimate the number of calories you consume. You may think the exercise you did in the morning will make up for the piece of pie you ate at lunch, but for a 200-pound person, it takes a whole hour of brisk walking to burn the number of calories in a single piece of apple pie.

It’s often difficult to estimate the number of calories you consume because portion sizes are so large these days. You may think you’re eating one serving, but it could really count as two. Track your daily caloric intake closely.

Like seeing how many calories you’re burning while running on the treadmill? Exercise machines such as the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bicycle calculate burned calories, but keep in mind the number you see is just a rough estimate. The rate you burn calories is determined by many factors including your age, sex, weight, body composition (fat vs. muscle), and metabolism, so each person burns calories at a different rate. Machines can’t know all this information and therefore give you only an estimate. Use the calorie counter to motivate you to keep exercising, not as permission to eat another donut.

Also, keep in mind that even if you weren’t exercising, you’d burn calories. To figure out how many extra calories you burn, subtract the number of calories your body burns when at rest. The number of additional calories burned may be much less than you originally thought.

In scientific research, obese individuals lost more weight by diet alone than exercise alone. However, the best results will always be found with a lifestyle overhaul, resulting in increased exercise and improved dietary choices.

Remember, you can do this. You can make the small changes in your everyday life that add up to big results over time.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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