Sunday, July 27, 2008

Exercise Mistakes

My goal for this blog is to provide insights for those searching for what dieticions, fitness instructors and other authorities will not tell them. If this is you, you probably will have picked up a women’s magazine and skimmed the weight loss advice. You have heard that to lose weight, you need to eat less and exercise more. The importance of physical exercise and calories has been drilled into your head. Maybe you have a more sophisticated knowledge of nutrition than I did in high school and early college, and you know the importance of protein and fiber, and you can actually accurately calculate your daily caloric needs ( I had no idea about any of this.)

But if it’s your first year of college, you might not have actually put some of this advice into action yet. Or if you have, maybe you haven’t quite figured it out yet. I know some girls are still doing harm to themselves when they think they’re doing good, because I see it every day.

So here is something I don’t see in those articles about “easy” ways to lose weight: If you are going to increase your work-out intensity or length, do not be afraid to increase your caloric content as well (how much you eat.) You may have heard to eat carbohydrates 1-2 hours before exercising, and to eat protein afterwards. Are you only trying to maintain your weight and not lose any? Don’t be afraid to consume more, preferably starting at breakfast the day you plan to have a longer workout! In my experience, attempting to eat the same amount is a form of deprivation. And depriving your body, in the long run, does not work. 

If you are trying to lose weight, I would not recommend increasing workouts and eating less all at the same time. I know it’s what the nutritionists say, but your body just doesn’t like it, and eventually, it will respond as if you are starving. You will either become ravenously hungry, or your metabolism will slow to match your consumption. I know that gradual weight loss might seem tedious and unrewarding (it did to me,) but it’s effective and that’s what matters.

Another common exercise mistake I notice among newbies: Only weight lifting and avoiding cardio (or sometimes vice versa.) I know the advice is generally just to “get active,” but you need to do both. To burn fat, you need to get your heart pumping. As far as weight lifting goes, circuit training ( or not resting between sets) will do that, but more often, I see people sitting on the machine between reps. The ultimate calorie-burner is cardio. I know when you first start working out it’s hard. I am not naturally athletic. When I first realized I needed to work out, I could barely make it around the block. But it does get much easier. If you are doing cardio in the gym, I highly recommend starting out on the elliptical, and then moving to the Stairclimber. It feels much harder.

I hope that I don’t sound like I think I know it all. Trust me, far from it. I just know I made a lot of silly choices when starting college, and I really want to let others know what I learned.


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