Sunday, July 15, 2012

Essentials to Successful Weight Loss


Several years ago when I first became a personal trainer, I wasn't really sure what my "knack" would be. Every trainer has a special area in which they focus and then build their clientele around. While I have had clients with a wide variety of goals, the majority of my clients have, and continue to be, in the area of weight loss. With each new weight loss client comes a new learning experience for not only them, but also for me. Even though my approach with each client can be very different, there are a few key elements that I have found work well for everyone.

Food Journaling
This is my very first recommendation to every weight loss client. Research has proven time and time again that people who track their calories lose more weight than those who don't. You can keep a written journal (in a regular notebook or a specialized food journal book) or an online journal (my two favorites are livestrong.com and myfooddiary.com). Whatever route you decide, make sure your journals are as accurate as possible. Studies have shown that people can underestimate their calories by as much as 40 percent when trying to eyeball their portion sizes. Weigh and measure everything! 

Exercise
Everyone knows that exercise is an essential part of weight loss but how much should you do to lose weight?  Personally, I recommend that my clients get at least 2 to 3 days of full body resistance training along with 4 to 6 days of cardiovascular activity. But the bottom line is this, you have to burn as many calories as possible within an exercise session (and throughout the day) to help you lose weight. Keep in mind that you are trying to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you eat. You have to keep moving during your workouts and try to stay active throughout the entire day so you are constantly using energy, therefore burning calories. If you find that you are sedentary most of the day (i.e. sitting at a desk all day) then you need to find ways to get up and move. Park your car far away, take the steps, or get a pedometer/calorie burning tracker to monitor what you are doing throughout the day.

Preplan Meals
I once heard someone say "fail to plan, plan to fail". If you are going to be away from your home most of the day, then you need to have a plan for your meals. You should pack enough food to eat every 3 to 4 hours so you don't risk becoming over-hungry (which can lead to junk food cravings and overeating). Try to avoid eating out as much as possible. This is important because you don't know how your food is being prepared plus you can't measure it for accuracy. I know that this isn't always possible, so if you are going to eat out then try to preplan by looking up the calories. Sometimes big chain restaurants have the nutritional info of their food menu online. If that's not available, plan what you will eat and then calculate your calories before arriving at the restaurant. 

Stay Consistent
Weight loss isn't a part-time job. To be the most successful at it you have to apply everything that I mentioned EVERY DAY! I see so many clients do well throughout the week and then fall off track on the weekends (only to regain what they had lost the week prior). So you have something to look forward to, allow yourself a cheat meal one day a week. This can consist of about 500 to 800 extra calories and can be whatever you want (i.e. pizza, ice cream, a cocktail). 

Trying to lose weight is one of the hardest things to do. It is an up and down roller coaster of emotions that requires perseverance and dedication. You should plan to have  occasional set backs and weeks where you may not lose anything. If this happens, reevaluate what you have been doing, make changes where you feel it is needed and you should be back on the right track. 

If you need help or guidance with developing a personalized weight loss program then please feel free to contact me at info@centralfloridapersonaltrainers or call (386) 295-3926.  I offer one-on-one personal training services with several personal training package options that can be tailored to your specific goals and needs. 

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