I have recently been involved with a Weight Watchers class. It has been, overall, a great experience. However, I don’t think that anyone is really interested in working out. Well, I am not going to lie… I think that you can lose weight if you just go on a Weight Watchers. But I also think that the ONLY reason that I have been able to maintain my weight loss over this past year has been because I work out. I mean, really, I like to eat WAY too much to be on just 35 “points” a day!!! That is RIDICULOUS!!! ONE PIECE OF CAKE IS LIKE 12 POINTS!!!! CRAZY!!!
I want to make a point here also about how to work out. You HAVE to do both!! Now, lots of people think that the only way to lose weight is to do cardiovascular (aerobic exercise). So they run a lot- like I do- And that is a great way to loose some weight. Eventually, though, they notice that while their bodies are a little smaller, there are still a lot of flabby parts. Aerobic exercise is important for good health, but it’s only half of the equation. I don’t want to downplay the roll of running in my overall success- I think it had a big part in it. But I think that an overall fitness program is very important- meaning running (cardio) plus lifting weights or resistance.
For optimal fitness, weight training is a must. If you avoid lifting weights because you’re afraid of getting “bulky,” – or you just don’t really like it… then you’re missing out on one of the best fat-burning methods around.
When you’re weight training, don’t rely exclusively on the scale to gauge your progress. (When I did the People Magazine Weight Loss Challenge– I lost 12 inches in my waist- This might be better than the scale). You can use a body fat tester or a tape measure to track how many inches you’re losing. The size of your body will shrink as you shed fat and build muscle, but your weight may not change as dramatically as you expect. After all, the muscle will weigh more than the fat. And lets keep our heads in the game here… what is really more important? Your weight or your shape?
If you’re still not convinced that you need to lift weights and do cardiovascular exercise, here are some reasons why you should reconsider.
Burn more fat. Researchers at Tufts University found that when overweight women lifted heavy weights twice a week, they lost an average of 14.6 pounds of fat and gained 1.4 pounds of muscle. The control group, women who dieted but didn’t lift weights, lost only 9.2 pounds of fat and gained no muscle. When you do weight-training- your metabolism stays elevated and you continue to burn fat for several hours afterward. During regular cardio exercise, you stop burning fat shortly after the workout.
Change your body shape. You may think your genes determine how you look. That’s true to an extent, but weight training can slim you down and change the way you look. Dropping only 3 percent of your body fat could translate into a total loss of 3 inches off your body. If you keep to your Weight Watchers diet (or just eat sensibly), you’ll burn more fat.
Boost your metabolism. The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. When you diet without doing resistance training, up to 25 percent of the weight loss may be muscle loss. Weight training AND dieting can help you preserve and even rebuild muscle fibers. The more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn all day long.
Get stronger and more confident. Lifting weights increases functional fitness, which makes everyday tasks such as carrying children, lifting grocery bags, and picking up heavy suitcases much easier. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular weight training can make you 50 percent stronger in 6 months. Being strong is also empowering. Not only does it improve your physical activities, it builds emotional strength by boosting self-esteem and confidence.
Fight depression. (THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SUBJECTS!!!) You’ve probably heard that cardio exercise can help alleviate depression, well, weight lifting has the same effect. So do both. The endorphins that are released during aerobic activities are also present during resistance training. Many people find that regular strength training, in conjunction with psychological treatment, helps lessen their depression symptoms substantially.
I have gotten to where I can tell if it has been a couple of days since I worked out- simply by the way I “feel”.
Reduce injuries and arthritis. Weight lifting improves joint stability and builds stronger ligaments and tendons. Training safely and with proper form can help decrease the likelihood of injuries in your daily life. It can also improve physical function in people with arthritis.
Heart health. More than 480,000 people die from cardiovascular disease each year, making it the number-one killer of people over the age of 25. Most people don’t realize that exercise with weights can also keep your heart pumping. Lifting weights increases your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and decreases your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. It also lowers your blood pressure.
Defend against diabetes. In addition to keeping your heart strong, weight training can improve glucose utilization (the way your body processes sugar) by as much as 23 percent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 weeks of strength training can improve glucose metabolism in a way that is comparable to taking diabetes medication. The more lean mass you have, the more efficient your body is at removing glucose from the blood, which can reduce complications from diabetes or even help prevent type 2 diabetes in the first place.
So, I know I have kind of hit you with a bunch of stuff about weight training… but really any exercise will help with your overall physical and mental well-being. Do these things to keep in shape- or get in shape and you can help yourself in more ways than one.
I have a punishing work-out regimen. Every day I do three minutes on a treadmill, then I lie down, drink a glass of vodka and smoke a cigarette. -Anthony Hopkins