Health Column: It’s time: No more putting it off

Chad Hodson

Chad Hodson

You had too much chocolate, pecan pie and egg nog. For weeks you’ve said, “I’ll get back on track in the New Year.” It’s now the new year and it’s time but many of us never get back on track. Instead, we continue to de-rail until the mess seems like too much to clean up. This should come as no surprise since one in three Americans is overweight or obese. Sadly, only 5 percent of people who made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight will actually succeed. But, if you follow these tips, you will be among that 5 percent.

Make exercise a priority. Start slowly, and choose three days a week to exercise 30 to 45 minutes, incorporating both cardiovascular and strength training. Then gradually add more into your week. Research shows that 150 minutes of physical activity per week is an optimal number for people who maintain significant weight loss. Treat these workouts like appointments you can’t miss. Going home after school or work is a mistake for most people. Avoid this by scheduling your workouts at a convenient time such as during lunch, or before or after work.

Incorporate resistance training. I can’t emphasize this enough, especially for women. Besides numerous other benefits, strength training is essential to maintaining or increasing one’s basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which we burn calories. Just performing aerobic exercise doesn’t maintain or build muscle. In fact, performing aerobic exercise exclusively causes you to lose some muscle mass. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, and the body burns an extra 50 to 80 calories a day to maintain a pound of muscle versus four calories a day to maintain a pound of fat. It may not sound like much, but that one pound adds up to an extra 13,000 calories in a year.

Set goals, and measure progress. Establish realistic but challenging goals for diet and exercise programs. Monitor your progress, and adjust goals appropriately. Don’t measure progress by weight loss alone. You may add muscle and lose fat, but the scales don’t show this. You’re benefiting from improving your overall health. Also, by keeping a log of your workouts, you will see your progress. For example, using 10 more pounds on biceps curls or being able to run five more minutes. Be patient, though. Fitness programs, unlike some gimmick diets, take longer to show results. However, improved fitness will eventually lead to a maintainable weight loss.

Train with a personal trainer. The right personal trainer is great for prescribing programs, monitoring progress, and providing support and motivation. If you’re like most people and cannot afford to always work with a trainer, make it the trainer’s goal to make you self-sufficient in the gym. Be careful when choosing a trainer as they can be a dime a dozen. Look for someone with a background in exercise science and a certification from a reputable fitness-based association. Though expensive, working with a good personal trainer could be the best money you ever spend.

Chad Hodson is the fitness coordinator at the Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springbrook and can be reached with fitness questions at 865-980-7100.

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