Changing up our regular exercise routines is something we all need to think about and act on every two to three weeks. It depends on what we are trying to do with our workouts and how easily bored we and/or our muscles are. Most of us will combine some aerobic and anerobic exercise routines. Aerobic exercise is sometimes referred to as cardiovascular or more simply “cardio.” This can be walking, running, biking or any one of a number of non weight-bearing routines. Anerobic exercise is strength training that seeks to build or add muscle.
How much exercise we do and what form it takes all depends on our goals, and our goals are often going to revolve around whether we want to gain weight, lose it or remain close to the weight we are at. Often we want to gain weight, and that will usually be new muscle mass because we are underweight and perhaps frail. In that case we are usually into strength training and eating more, especially more protein. We may work out at a gym for 3-4 time a week, perhaps run a little as well to keep our heart muscle well-exercised. Even if we don’t have a weight related goal for exercise, it’s important to remain active rather than sedentary. Make a plan and stick to it.
If we are very near the weight we would like to be, but feel a little soft, we may want to exercise with small weights and walk or run a bit as well to firm up our soft spots and keep our herat muscle well exercised and strong. We may have a few pounds of fat to lose and few pounds of muscle to gain. Anerobic training will do it. We won’t need to go on a diet, but we should likely be careful about what we eat and portion size. We will want to be sure we get enough protein and that we are not sedentary in our habits. Walk, don’t take the car or the elevator especially if you are close to your destination. If you have been given too much on your plate by a server if you are out for dinner or even if at a formal event, don’t be shy about leaving a bite or two behind on your plate. A good workout in the gym 2-3 times a week is a good idea — it will help firm things up even if we don’t really need to lose weight.
If we have gained a fair amount of weight over the years, we have a much bigger challenge. We’ve been eating too much and not exercising enough. This may have happened over time. Just finishing an extra bite of something on a daily basis over a long time is enough. For example, if you take in 20 more calories (the last bite of the ham sandwich) than you burn daily over thirty years you could eaily gain 50-60 pounds. So that extra bite (the 20 calories) is really going to add up. If you have 50 pounds to lose, you can’t do it in a short period of time. You’ll need to lose it at the rate of no more than about 4-5 pounds a month at the beginning and much less than that rate toward the end. It’s best to count on doing that over a year and a half at least. The major reason is that in gaining weight we mainly gain fat, but as we lose it we tend to lose muscle mass as well as fat. Thus if you lose 50 pounds you will lose 10 pounds or more of muscle and about 40 pounds of fat while the original 50 pounds you gained was mostly fat. Thus, if we look at the before and after, we will have exchanged about 10 pounds of muscle for 10 pounds of fat when our dieting is complete. It’s a little more complicated, but you get the idea. That’s why unless we do it correctly, we are not going to look as good as we would like after the dieting is finished. That’s why we’re going to do a fair amount of aerobic exercise during the weight loss process. We’re going to need to change our routines often because we need a while and we also need to accelerate our metablism and gain weight in the form of muscle in the process.
The best general idea on dieting to lose a lot of weight is to eat frequently — stay away from one meal a day. Eat 5-6 meals a day. Also, we eat more protein on average than we have been eating and drink plenty of water. In general, we should work out with weights 2-4 times a week. Start slowly with small weights. We don’t want to be sore the next day and lose heart before we’ve really gotten under way. We then build up slowly to higher weights as we gain strength. In general, it’s a good idea to divide the body into six areas to work on: abdominals, legs, back, chest, arms and shoulders. Then concentrate on just 2-3 of these areas during each work out. On days we are not in the gym we can walk, run or bike a bit, but in general we’re going to avoid being sedentary. In addition to weights we can use medicine balls, Suiss balls, stretch ropes and build both aerobic and anerobic exercise variations around them. There are quite a few different anerobic exercises for each of the main muscle groups for both free weights and machines. We can find these in books and we can be shown such exercises by physical fitness trainers. It’s critical to change routines every few weeks or so.