I've worked with hundreds of people who
were interested in losing weight. Over
the years I've noticed four areas that
I believe are particular hindrances
to weight loss. If your goal is to be
successful at losing weight and keeping
it off, avoid the "big 4" no-nos.
#1 Big No-No: Not exercising on a daily
basis. Daily exercise sends your metabolism
through the roof! I have seen VERY FEW people
who are not very regular exercisers, lose
weight AND keep it off.
Losing weight and maintaining that loss
can be very difficult. However, both can
be made considerably easier with regular
exercise, preferably in the morning.
If you're interested in losing fat, you're
objective is to create a daily caloric
deficit. For example, If you're consuming
1700 calories per day, and expending 2000
calories per day, your caloric deficit is
300 calories. Losing a pound of fat requires
a deficit of 3500 calories. So, to lose
two pounds per week would require a daily
deficit of 1000 calories.
So, if you'd like to increase your daily
caloric deficit, you have two options;
1. To decrease your caloric intake by eating
fewer calories, or..
2. To increase your caloric expenditure via
more activity / exercise.
However, you cannot decrease your daily
caloric intake much lower than 1200 to
1500 or so without potentially creating
health and metabolism problems.
In fact, many people's metabolism (basal
metabolic rate) is so slow from years of
inactivity and dieting, that they are only
burning fewer than 1500 calories per day.
Without exercise, they would have to
decrease their daily caloric intake to
unhealthy levels to lose weight. And, a
caloric intake that's too low only creates
more metabolism problems and a vicious
cycle of more weight gain.
So, the only remaining factor in the deficit
equation is caloric expenditure through
increased activity / exercise.
The good news is that you can substantially
increase your caloric expenditure. For
example, if you're currently walking for
30 minutes two days per week, over a period of
several weeks you can increase your walking
to 60 minutes per day, six to seven days
per week and begin weight training for 30
minutes three days per week.
So, in this example, you would increase your
monthly exercise minutes from about 240 to
1530. Plus, in addition to the calories that
you're expending during exercise, you would
also substantially increase the number of
calories you're burning 24 hours-a-day, yes,
you'll even burn more calories while you're
sleeping because you've fired-up your basal
metabolic rate. You can't beat that, can you?
Here's another VERY important reason
to exercise while you're restricting
calories and trying to lose weight. you tend
to lose muscle tissue from any muscle that
you're not using while you're restricting
calories. You've heard it - use it or lose it.
And, there are three main consequences to
1. Your metabolism (basal metabolic rate)
decreases causing you to burn *fewer* calories
24 hours-a-day and causing the maintenance
of your weight loss to be very difficult.
2. Your muscles get flabby and mushy.
3. Your are weaker and become fatigued
#2 Big No-No: Not deciding to make a drastic
change. I've seen this over and over again
with hundreds of people. Unless someone
decides that they are ready to get really
serious about losing weight and ready to
make drastic changes, their chances of losing
weight and keeping it off are not good.
Research continues to indicate that
Americans are becoming more sedentary..
and fatter every year. This move toward
inactivity and an increase in body fat
is even more pronounced in children, who
don't get out and play anymore. Instead,
they sit in front of a TV or computer
(perhaps like their parents) for many of
their waking hours.
We know that there is a very direct,
inverse relationship between a person's
level of activity and the percentage of
their weight that is fat. less activity
equals more fat, and more activity equals
I received an email message recently
that I'd like to share with you. It's a
weight loss and fitness success story
that makes you want to start exercising
while you're reading it.
It's from a 48 year-old lady, Elizabeth,
who lives in Lexington, Kentucky. She
is living proof that less activity
equals more fat, and more activity
equals less fat. Here's her letter:
"Greg, I'm writing to thank you for your
inspiring articles and to tell you about
my journey (a rough one) to fitness. I
was at a healthy weight in my early
twenties and had my first child at age
26. I remained about 30 pounds overweight
after she was born."
"I managed to gain 15 more pounds during
the next four years, mostly because of
several diets I tried. After the birth
of my second child at age 31, I was 60
pounds overweight and very frustrated.
Over the next 15 years I tried numerous
diets (even eating just rice) that
ultimate led to me being 120 pounds
"I started reading your articles two years
ago and it finally began to sink in. I
finally realized that exercise wasn't
just about the calories I was burning
during exercise. I finally realized
that I would never lose the weight and
keep it off without some real exercise
in my life."
"I reached a point in my life where my
weight was ruining my life. I got to the
point where everything was a struggle,
none of my fat clothes fit, I didn't
want to see anyone because of the way I
looked, and even walking made me
breathless. I decided that I would either
make a drastic change at that point or
I would give up. I chose to make a drastic
"I knew that exercise needed to be a
priority and so I changed several things
in my daily schedule to make that happen.
I started with very little but I was very
consistent. I worked up to 45 minutes of
aerobic exercise in the morning and 30 to
45 minutes in the evening. On Saturdays,
I take a less intense, but longer walk
throughout my area of town enjoying all
the sights. I'm up to 8 to 10 miles on
my Saturday walk. I also weight train
three days a week. Please don't get the
impression that this was easy. I went
through MANY difficult struggles but
it definitely got easier as I progressed."
"I'm now 12 pounds from my goal weight. Greg,
I can't begin to explain how my life has
changed. Everything is different. Even
the way people talk to me. It's almost
like people didn't even see the person
under all that fat. Probably best of all
is that I have energy to function now.
I'm not constantly tired like I used to
"Obviously, my perception of exercise has
changed now. I enjoy it and look forward
to it. I'm planning on doing a half
marathon (13.1 miles) walk in the fall.
Thanks again for your words of
Wow! This lady is unstoppable. Notice that
she first realized the true benefits of
exercise and then decided to do *whatever*
she had to for exercise to become a
consistent part of her life.
Exercise radically changes how your body
handles fat! when you're sedentary, all
the physiological signals tell your body
to hang on to the fat and dump the
metabolism boosting muscle. When you're
exercising on a daily basis, all the
physiological signals tell your body to
dump the fat and increase the metabolism
boosting muscle. Which signals do you want?
#3 Big No-No: Not taking the time to plan
and prepare your eating. Healthy eating for
weight loss won't just happen, you have to
spend time on it.
Not being prepared is a major factor that
leads to overeating and unhealthy eating.
Take time to plan your shopping and eating
for the week. Take time to prepare your
lunch to take to work, and your meal for
the evening, etc. Plan for healthy snacks
to have at home, in your car, at work, etc.
Our weight loss programs specifically
discuss how to set up an effective snacking
4. Not including intervals in your aerobic
exercise. Intervals are brief periods (about one
minute) of more intense exercise mixed into your
regular aerobic exercise sessions. For
example, if you're walking, you would do a
one minute interval of faster walking once
every five minutes throughout your exercise
Here's how it will look.. you'll start with
your normal three to five minute warm-up and
then five minutes into your workout you do
your first interval, one minute of faster
walking (or perhaps jogging). At the end of
that minute you should be "winded" and ready
to slow down. You'll slow down to your normal
exercising speed for the next four minutes
and then your fifth minute is another one
minute interval. This pattern continues
throughout your exercise session.
You'll derive several benefits from intervals..
1. Intervals can help you to get past a
weight loss plateau.
2. Intervals increase your aerobic fitness
level by "pushing the envelope". While doing
your interval you cross the anaerobic
threshold into anaerobic metabolism, forcing
your body to become conditioned to more
3. Your increased level of fitness means that
a given level of exercise will feel easier
and that you will be able to exercise at a
higher intensity which "burns" more calories.
4. Your increased level of fitness also means
that you will be less fatigued from daily
activities and you'll have more "energy"
throughout the day.
5. Intervals increase your basal metabolic
rate (BMR), causing you to burn more calories
6. Intervals cause you to "burn" more calories
during your exercise session and for several
7. Intervals will tone the involved muscles
to a greater degree than your regular aerobic
8. Intervals can make your exercise less
monotonous and help the time pass more
9. Intervals will energize you!
If you'd like to put a little excitement into
your exercise, and you're looking for better
results, give intervals a try.
Avoid these four "no-nos" and your weight loss
efforts are much more likely to be successful.
copyright 2007 by Greg Landry, M.S.