|Made A New Year's Resolution To Lose Weight and Get Fit?
Martin Swan provides some useful tips on avoiding pitfalls and staying on track
Many people make New Year’s resolutions to get fit and lose weight. In a lot of cases a few weeks later these good intentions lie in tatters. Personal Trainer Martin Swan gives us a few hints on how to avoid this happening to you:
There is a saying that a dog is not just for Christmas. You could easily put that concept into the fitness domain. Numerous people sign up for gyms at the beginning of January and buy new kit in the sales only to give up a matter of weeks later. So how do you avoid this happening to you?
Most importantly you have to be realistic in what you are trying to achieve. Firstly set yourself a target. It should be time framed, challenging but realistic. You won’t be able to drop from size 18 to size 12 in a month or become the next Jessica Ennis. Realistic targets might be losing 1-2 lbs per week or running a sub 30 minute 5k by the spring.
The two key components in these targets are your diet and your exercise regime.
But how do you work out how many calories you have consumed? The best way of doing this is keeping a food diary of everything you have consumed in a day (including snacks!). There are some great online ones which even have the calorific values of some well known branded and supermarket own brand products.
Also important is composition of your diet. The best way to look at it is as a pyramid with the really good bits of your diet (water, low GI carbs and fruit and vegetables) at the base and the bad bits (sweets and saturated fats) at the top. Low GI carbohydrates are rice, bread, pasta (brown and wholemeal preferably), oats and cereals (non sugary). With fruit and vegetables aim to try to eat every colour in the rainbow each day and you will be covering most bases for essential vitamins and nutrients. Higher up the pyramid you have dairy and protein. Protein comes from lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, and soya. At the top you have oils, fats and sweets. Try to have monounsatured or polyunsatured oils and fats such as those which come from oily fish, nuts, seeds, olives and avocados. These are good for helping cholesterol levels, blood pressure and lubricating and relieving pain in muscles and joints.
We have looked diet bit so now let’s look exercise.
For the person unused to exercise you should look to do as a minimum 30 minutes of exercise per day which gets your heart at above 55% of your maximum heart rate. This can be split up and can include walking or cycling to work or even walking up the escalator on the tube. The easiest way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to deduct your age from 220. If you join a gym most of the cardio machines have a console which calculates calories burnt and have built in heart rate monitors so you can train to your maximum heart rate. Your heart is a muscle so as you get fitter it gets bigger and you should be able to train harder before you hit your maximum heart rate. Also as you get fitter you can start working at a higher percentage of maximum heart rate.
You should also look at doing some work on your muscles not least as healthy muscles help burn fat but also regular weight training can show quite quick results in relation to body tone. For toning you should try to work your main muscle groups at levels of weight at which you fatigue after 7-10 repetitions.
If you are joining a gym for the first time or after a significant period away from exercise you should ask them to give you a programme. This should be tailored to your specific needs and when putting this together they should ask you about your medical and exercise history, likes and dislikes (e.g. free weights or machines), how many times a week you will be coming and for how long and what your goals are. They should then take you through your programme and show you how to use any equipment involved and tweak it if there are bits you don’t like. As you get fitter increase the exercise intensity and weights involved, try new things and also ask for a fresh programme. It’s easy to get bored which is one of the main reasons people leave gyms.
Exercise releases endorphins which give you a sense of well being so hopefully the pain of working out will give you the gain of feeling better in yourself. Also remember all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy so have a wee bit of a pig out from time to time as a reward for all your efforts.’
December 29, 2010