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Anyone trying to lose weight has probably done every plan, diet and exercise fad that is currently available on the market. There seems to be a compulsion to eliminate an entire food group, eat only one food group or take special pills and powders that promise instant weight loss. The truth is, everyone knows that the only way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more. You have to burn more calories than you take in if you want to lose five pounds or 50. The math is simple, and there is no magic cure. If you are having trouble burning off more calories than you consume, you might want to make an adjustment to your exercise routine. This is often more appealing than shaving off even more calories from your daily diet.
One way to increase the number of calories you burn is to try an intense exercise program such as plyometrics. This type of exercise is done by athletes to increase their physical performance when they compete. You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit, though. In addition to making you strong, faster, leaner and more flexible, plyometrics will also help you lose weight. The number of calories you burn during a plyometrics training session will more than compensate for any foods you have eaten that you maybe shouldn’t have. The short, intense bursts of physical activity will burn calories quickly, helping you lose weight and turn fat into muscle.
Plyometrics involves jumping, lunging and squatting. You will be required to work your body to its limits, and to keep doing it until you feel the results. Many people who do plyometrics use equipment such as benches, boards and other raised surfaces. With these props, you can jump on and off of them, working your legs and your heart and burning calories with every move. If you do not have any raised surfaces, you can improvise. Run up a flight of stairs two at a time to give yourself a good plyometrics workout. You can also do huge jumps from a squatting position or practice lunges that stretch your leg muscles and require you to move yourself up and down quickly.
Squat jumps, lunge jumps and any other jumping motion that requires you to move quickly with sudden, intense bursts of strength will help you get a thorough plyometrics workout. Even jumping on and off a box is a good way to burn a lot of calories quickly. You will also notice an increase in your leg strength. You waist and stomach will get toned and your endurance levels will improve as well.
If your weight loss has hit a wall, or you find your basic walks on the treadmill are not doing much for your fitness routine, give plyometrics a try. It will be challenging, especially if you are not accustomed to intense and difficult physical movements, but the results will be worth it. You will lose weight more quickly than you would with other forms of exercise, and you can do it without cutting back on additional calories.
This post was written for Pretty Girl Fit by Dr. David Kulla. Dr. Kulla is a licensed Synergy Wellness and a nutritionist as well as owner of Synergy Wellness in Manhattan.
First-time exercisers often set unrealistic goals that are too ambitious for beginners. Gerald Endress, fitness director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C. says, “They want to go for maximal goals, but they tend to get overwhelmed.”
So don’t start off trying to work out an hour every day. Instead, set more reasonable, achievable goals, like exercising 20 to 30 minutes two or three times a week.
Remember to chart your progress, whether it’s with a high-tech online tracker or an old-school fitness journal. Seeing incremental improvements, whether it’s improved time, increased reps, or greater frequency of workouts, can boost your exercise motivation.
Another pitfall is all-or-nothing thinking, a perfectionist way of looking at life that leads to giving up when you miss a day or two or your workout doesn’t go well. Endress says if you accept that there will be some sidesteps on your fitness journey, you’ll be better prepared mentally to deal with setbacks.
Expect that you’ll get sick from time to time, and be psychologically prepared to miss a few days of exercise when that happens. Don’t let it be an excuse for giving up. “From then on, many people say, ‘I can’t exercise,'” Endress says. “But there’s always a way to exercise.”
To keep injuries from sidelining you, do your best to prevent them by warming up, cooling down, stretching properly, and not doing too much too soon.
We’ve all seen those toned, fatless specimens who strut through the gym in their Barbie-sized shorts and sports bras.
Don’t compare yourself to them, Endress says. Forget about them. Forgive them. But do not let them deter you from your goal.
Enlist the help of your spouse, girlfriends, boyfriends, buddies — anyone who will encourage you to stay on track.
“The person should be in support, but not say, ‘Why can’t you? It’s so easy,'” says Sottovia. If helpful reassurance turns into criticism, gently remind your pal that you don’t need nagging.
If you need additional help, hire a trainer, she advises.
Sottovia and Endress both say it’s essential to find an activity you like. With an explosion in the number and types of fitness classes at most gyms, it has become easier to find something to appeal to you, from aerobics to Zumba.
If you’re not the gym type, walk around your neighborhood or try activities around the house, such as walking up and down stairs or dancing with the stars in your living room. If you’re motivated by being social, follow Geiger’s lead and join a team.
You can make it easier on yourself by splitting your exercise session into two or three sessions, says Endress. Research supports the idea that this can be as beneficial as one long workout, he says.
So, for example, if you don’t feel like exercising for an hour on any given day, do three sessions of 20 minutes each.
Do whatever you can to remove obstacles to exercise, and make it as convenient as possible, says Sottovia.
If you are time-pressed, for example, don’t spend 30 minutes driving to a gym. Try exercising at home to fitness DVDs instead. If you’re too tired to work out at the end of the day, set your alarm a little earlier and exercise in the morning.
Don’t let previous bad experiences with exercise hinder you, Sottovia says.
So maybe you weren’t the most athletic kid in high school and were the last chosen for class games. That was years ago. Your goal now is not to win a letter jacket or make the cheerleading squad — you want to exercise to stay healthy and enjoy your life.
Treat yourself for making the effort to exercise — not with food, but with something that you enjoy, like a movie or flowers, says Endress
Try to think of indulgences that will reinforce a mind-body connection so you can savor the rewards of your hard work. Plan a short trip, or just an hour in a botanical garden. Go to a ball game. And remind yourself with each precious moment that you are enjoying this time because of all the great things you have been doing for yourself.
I love, love, love the squat. Why? Because it’s simple and effective and it is a great compound exercise, which means it works several muscles at once. In this case, the squat works the muscles in your butt, hips, and thighs like crazy. It also gives you a little core work as well. The squat is great for at-home and no equipment routines.
According to Fitday this is how to do a common squat (also, check out the baby below for a view at perfect form):
- Stand with your feet hip width apart.
- Tighten and pull in your abdominal muscles.
- Lower your body as if you were going to sit in a chair (if you have a chair available and you aren’t sure you have correct form, use it as a guide). Keep the motion slow.
- Stop when your legs are parallel to the floor.
- Stay in this position for a few seconds.
- Now press down onto your heels and slowly rise back up to a standing position.
- Repeat the exercise for a total of 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
- Be sure to rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.
Once you’re comfortable with doing squats, you can increase the difficulty and make it a full body workout by adding weights. Try holding dumbbells, a kettlebell, or weighted ball at shoulder level or use a barbell across your shoulders. You can also use one dumbbell; hold it in front of you with both hands while squatting. It’s especially important to maintain proper form when using weights. Keep your knees aligned with your feet and don’t squat beyond the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor.