Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ask The Trainer: What's the best way to get started on a weight loss program?

The full question is as follows:

"Hi my name is Andrew. I'm 20 years old and have really been struggling with my weight for the last 5 years because of depression. Anyway I have made up my mind that its gone on far to long and i need to change. Unfortunately i have never really been into working out so i really don't know the best way to start.

What i have been doing is for the past 5 days is been going to my gym and using the elliptical for 45 minutes and burn on average between 550-600 calories. Then for one hour I hop in the pool and do nothing but laps and that has so far been my workout routine.

Yesterday I noticed I was really exhausted and didn't muster up the enthusiasm to go to the gym, is this just my body's way of telling me to take a little rest and slow it down? Based on what I have told you, what do you think about my workout plan and in your opinion how can I improve it? Thank you so much for your time I really appreciate it and God Bless."

Answer :

I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling with your weight and with depression. It's a very common combination. However, making the effort to start exercising is a huge step in the right direction and five days is a good start. I hope I can offer you some advice that will help you stick with it.

I would say that your exercise program is too aggressive for someone just getting started. In fact, that's more cardio than I would ever recommend. It's just not necessary to do that much. If you want to do cardio every day, that's fine. Do either the elliptical OR swim laps for the day's workout, not both. In fact, alternating between the two activities from day to day will help keep you from getting bored and burned out.

While cardio is a good form of exercise you may want to consider adding some resistance training into the mix. When you do resistance training you build muscle which helps raise your metabolism and makes it easier to lose fat. 

A solid exercise program includes a mix of cardio, resistance training and stretching. I like to aim for six days a week alternating resistance training and cardio each day and stretching after each workout. Since you're just starting out you may want to do three or four workouts a week and build up over time. Another option might be to start working out six days a week but, do shorter workouts at first, maybe 30 minutes a day and build up to longer workuts over a few months if you need to. It's important to learn to listen to your body and know when it's telling you you're over doing it or when it's telling you it's OK to do more.

I noticed that you didn't mention anything about your diet. Diet is as least as important for weight loss and it can greatly affect your energy level. Have you taken a good look at what you eat everyday? Are there some changes you know you should make? If you're not sure what changes to make you might consult a dietitian. Making an effort to stay away from fast, fried and/or processed foods is always a good strategy.

The reality is that it takes time to lose weight. Trying to rush results doesn't work and even if you get results, they won't last. Think about the changes you're making as a new way of living not just a solution to a problem. As much as it would be nice for it to work instantly it does take time. Stick with it. Consistency over the long term is the key. Best of luck to you!

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