Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Eat More, Lose Weight, Be Fabulous

Have you wondered why losing weight is such a losing battle for some people? As a gym enthusiast of more than ten years, I have seen this happen over and over again. Gay and non-gay friends always ask me my secret to a swimmer's built body, one that I have had since my teens. I tell them that I wear well-tailored clothing. Joke aside, the simple fact is that people can lose weight successfully if they follow these five simple, almost counterintuitive rules, and I assure you don't need fancy scales or endless calorie counting regimens:

1) Eat all the time. Now, before you start throwing tomatoes and potatoes at me, listen first. People eat irregularly, and so their metabolism is erratic. That in itself is bad for losing weight. To keep your metabolism consistent, eat six small meals (make a fist with one of your hands and that should be how large each meal is). Keep carbs in equal portion to protein, and fat to the minimal.

2) Exercise moderately and at varying intensity (meaning, huffing and puffing; if you aren't huffing and puffing, you aren't doing it right!). You don't want to burn off all your muscles. But you still want varying intensity. For example, on the treadmill, begin by walking at 3.5 speed with an inclination of 4.0, then after three minutes, increase it to 4.0 with inclination of 5.0, continue for three more minutes, then increase speed to 4.2 and inclination of 6.0, continue for three minutes, then bring the speed down to 3.5 and inclination of 4.0, then repeat entire cycle. Your goal is to challenge your body to work harder. If you keep the speed and inclination the same throughout the 30 minute (and yes, at least 30 mins.) you are not going to increase your metabolism. Also, this varying intensity will not strip your muscles quickly. Do this routine for 3-4 times a week.

3) Less cardio, more weight resistance. Most beginners do too much cardio, and too little weight resistance. No, I am not trying to make you into the next Mr. Olympic, but cardio only burn calories (and is good for cardiovascular health) but it is weight resistance that increases your metabolism--the key to losing weight, for the long run, period. Because gyms now have easy-to-use machines with instructions on them, you don' t need a trainer if you are budget conscious. That said, use the free one session (or several) offered by your gym when you first signed up. Do your weight resistance routine at least 3 times a week, with each one focused on just several body parts. For example, do your chest and arms in one session; then on another day, do just the thighs, calves, hamstrings, and glutes, and on the third day, do your back and shoulders. One word of advice: if you are not sore the next day, then your routine was too easy, and that is not good.

4) Drink lots, really lots, of water. Most of the people I work with don't drink water. They drink sugary stuff all day, and call it water! By water, I mean, spring or purified water. Drink at least 10 glasses (forget the conventional 8 glasses), even 12, for days when you were in the gym. Drinking fluids help to flush out toxins and promotes bowel movement, but it also gives your stomach that sense of being full, hence less binge eating.

5) Avoid stress. This may be hardest rule to follow, compared to the rest, given the nature of our modern society. But with peace of mind, you can concentrate better on your health goals. Get a massage now and then, walk through a park (not near the highway or busy traffic, for heaven's sake), take plenty of naps, join social clubs (no, I don't mean the kind where there is lots of drinking).

Finally, have fun!

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