“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you’ll have to live.” — Jim Rohn.
We’ve talked about motivation and your goals. We’ve talked about what you can eat to lose weight and healthy habit building. Today we will talk about how to add exercise into your life, one step at a time to reach your weight loss goals.
Now before we move on, if you haven’t read Part One (Motivation) and Part Two (Nutrition) yet, I suggest you do. What we’ll be covering today will be based on those things we spoke about for last two weeks. It’ll also make your weight loss an even better success.
But if you’ve been following them (#awesome), then let’s proceed… Are you ready?
EXERCISE, OH EXERCISE
When I first lost weight, I did a hell lot of exercise. I was following a 12-week weight loss program and I was made to train 6 days a week, with only one rest day. I was also told to eat 1200 calories a day. I followed the plan, religiously for 12 weeks, and then I followed the same concept of training 6 days a week and eating only 1200 calories per day for the next 4 months, but this time I was training for a 10km run.
The last 4 months of my weight loss was dedicated to running. I did a lot of cardio (which we will talk about later) and did not increase my food intake. Yes, I worked out like a mad woman, it’ll be insane if I didn’t lose weight.
There’s a lot I would change if I were to do it again, really, and this is where today’s post will come useful to you especially if you’ve never lost that much weight before. In other words — exercise does not have to be THAT intense. Let me explain.
This is my weight tracker I recorded monthly on MyFitnessPal. Legit. As you can see, my first weigh in was on the 26th of April 2010 at 83.1kg.
The first three months that I was on the plan, I lost 10.8kg, exercising 6 days a week and following a 1200 calorie diet, putting it on an average of 3.6kg per month.
From August to my race day on the 7th of November, I steadily lost an average of 2.7kg per month, putting my final post race weight to 61.4kg, about 7 months after my first weigh in.
I finally settled on 62.2kg exactly eight months later, making my total weight lost to be 20.9kg.
Impressive? Well from the outside it was.
But boy had I to sacrifice a lot of things just to get there and it wasn’t something I would really want to remember.
In the most simplest terms, I had the strength and willpower most normal people don’t have and I probably wanted to lose weight so bad that I was ready to give up a lot of my favourite things.
Here’s the thing I want you to remember: Losing weight is not as hard as maintaining the weight. Which is why I don’t want you to focus so much on the numbers you’re seeing here. From 2011 up till the end of last year, 2013, I battled with episodes of binge eating, trying to figure out how to eat like a normal person without counting calories and at the same time, adjust to not losing weight anymore.
It took me two years, a nutrition certificate and a degree and diploma to get things right. I don’t think it was worth the eight months of sacrifice.
WHY AM I TELLING YOU ALL THIS?
Simple. I don’t want you to repeat the same mistake I did and if you are looking at losing weight, then I suggest you do it right the first time because it will affect your life in a multitudes of way.
We had nutrition covered. Now let’s get to work as I feed you all that you need to train right and well.
HABIT BASED EXERCISE
If you’ve never exercised before and you’re starting a program that involves training for 6 days a week like I did in the past then you’re probably setting yourself up for danger. Not only you might lose interest halfway, you might also risk hurting yourself and your body.
My advise if you really want to lose weight for good, and not just for the time being, is to build up your momentum slowly. Remember the 24-week habit based nutrition program I put up last week? It’s very much the same thing except that with exercise, we will start at a level that you are most comfortable with, and something you can actually afford doing.
Here’s what you should do, beginners!
WEEKS 1-2: PREPARATION WEEK
While you’re busy keeping a nutrition diary for the first two weeks, we will be focusing on preparing your body for increased activity at the same time.
How? By setting aside 3-5 minutes per day over the next 14 days doing the workout routine I’ve put together below.
I know you might think that this is silly but easy, tiger. Sticking to an exercise plan is more than just physical. You need to get your mind in the right frame and your body a little more conditioned, especially if you haven’t done it in a while. Instead of sending your body on some sort of a shock, ease into it and see results. That’s it.
Depending on which category you fall into, follow one of the two workout routine I’ve put together.
Exercise routine 1: If you’ve never exercised before or you can’t even remember when the last time you’ve build up a sweat.
Five minute brisk walk around the block. Yes, that’s it.
Exercise routine 2: If you’ve followed a workout plan before or you can remember when was the last time you did something active, then you can do something a little more complex by following this 2-minute workout I’ve recorded just for you.
Begin with a warm up by jogging on the spot for 30 secs to 1 minute and move your arms while doing so. If you’re doing the workout as soon as you get out of bed, then try to walk around a little bit more.
The workout consist of eight exercises, each done one after another for 15 seconds. You don’t need much space to do them and you don’t need any equipments. And you definitely don’t need much time. As soon as you’ve warmed up, set the timer for 2 minutes, notifying you every 15 seconds (I use Gymboss Interval Timer App on my iPhone for this), do this workout. It may be short but try to put in some work and intensity.
The exercises are:
15 secs of push-ups
15 secs of body-weight squats
15 secs of sit-ups
15 secs of single leg hops
15 secs of prisoner get ups
15 secs of jumping jacks
15 secs of squat jumps
I have actually written a separate post for this which includes the proper form and the guidelines on how to execute the exercises correctly. You can read the post here — 2-minute Beginner Fat Burning Workout: Burn Fat Anywhere, Anytime.
Follow through with this for the next two weeks and then you’re ready for Weeks 2-4.
WEEKS 2-4: FIND AN EXERCISE YOU LOVE DOING
Surprise surprise. If you’re thinking that I’ll give you an exercise plan, I’m not. We’re focusing on building healthy habits here. You’ll thank me later.
While you’re busy trying to consume your fish oil and multivitamins, find something you actually like doing in this two weeks. I love this guide put together by Steve Kamb from Nerd Fitness on 25 Ways To Exercise Without Realizing It.
You can try biking, rock climbing, dancing, martial arts… A friend recently asked me to try out Taekwondo. I should!
The list is endless. The bad thing about this task is that, it’ll take a while for you to find your spot. You might try dancing and hate it to guts. Or maybe you’re just not good at it, like I am. Maybe you can’t even pull yourself up rock climbing.
It does take some trial and error but once you find something physical you love doing it’s worth the time.
The good thing is though, there’s a higher chance for you to stick to the activity you love, lest it takes weeks to find one. Try to commit to that activity once a week over the next two weeks, on top of the daily 3-5 minute workouts and feel the difference.
WEEKS 5-8: INCREASE DAILY ENERGY EXPENDITURE
At this stage, I could just tell you to grab a fitness and weight loss book and follow the plan because you should be ready for it after 4 weeks of preparation right? Wrong.
While it is so much easier to say that, I suggest you try to gradually increase your daily energy expenditure every day, on top of the 3-5 minutes morning routine you should’ve been doing since Week 1.
I’ll put it this way. Any type of increased energy expenditure is great for you, even if you’re walking 15 minutes a day, three times a week. I’m not kidding.
You’ve probably heard others saying that in order for you to lose weight you need to run for an hour each day, or even spend time at the gym hopping between the cross trainer, treadmill and rowing machine, 15 minutes each time. But if you don’t have any history of previous weight loss and weight gain pattern (e.g. yoyo dieting), any type of activity, can help you lose weight. We’ll start with this one.
Here’s a surprise too — If I take two clients, one who chooses to exercise six days a week but refuse to change her diet or one who chooses to adhere to her nutrition plans but really don’t want to work out, the latter client will lose most weight.
In other words, throw in the bulk of your energy into eating, and eating right if you really want to lose weight. And use the time you can actually realistically afford to spend doing the right workouts.
So you’re saying, even if I don’t want to strength train and I would prefer to go for a jog outdoors, I would lose weight? Of course you will. Especially if you have zero exercise done before this. If going for a jog for the next four weeks can help you kickstart a healthier lifestyle, go for it.
While strength training and intervals can give you better and faster results (more on that soon), any activity that increases your energy expenditure for the next four weeks win.
WEEKS 9-16: STRENGTH TRAINING
So where does strength workouts fall into place? Here.
You’ve started your day with a 3 minute workout. Easy.
You’ve picked an activity you love doing and have been consistently doing it for the past 8 weeks. Done.
You’ve increased your energy expenditure. Awesome.
If you’re serious about losing weight, add strength training to your repertoire. It’s scientifically backed and it works. I’ve also written quite a good deal about the type of trainings on other blogs, like this one here, and one here so have a read and tell me what you think.
But before you dive in and start doing 150lbs deadlifts, it is absolutely crucial for you to build up your strength training hours with proper form and posture, one step at a time.
AND HERE’S SOMETHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT STRENGTH TRAINING: THERE’S NO ‘ONE SIZE FITS ALL’.
While a training book can be a great start, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to exercise. When I was on a 12-week program, I had to tweak the program to suit my needs, adding in extra exercises and removing some which I can’t do properly.
A good start initially is to increase the number of hours you spend strength training. If you’ve never done any before, try adding one session at home doing exercises such as squats, push-ups and pull-ups.
Once you feel more comfortable, add in some dumbbells. The idea here is to build up and progress. Focus on your form and posture. Make sure you feel comfortable before adding more weights. You should feel lighter and stronger by now so use that to your advantage.
Even better, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a one month sample of a customised fitness plan, specific to your body and needs. It’s free and there’s no obligation at all, and you’ll learn a whole lot about your body from there.
“But, Aqilah, I’ve never strength train before.”
Yes you have. If you’ve been following the 3-minute workout routine every single morning, you have strength trained before. Push-ups is an example of strength training. So are squats. And prisoner get ups. Training for strength does not necessarily mean working with a dumbbell. Any weight bearing exercise is a form of strength training. You should get what I mean by now.
WEEK 17 ONWARDS: FOCUS ON YOUR GAMEPLAN
By now, you should’ve found something you like doing and have figured out a thing or two about strength training. Instead of changing things up, I want you to focus on your gameplan. It has been four months and if you haven’t drawn out a schedule, here’s a good way to start:
Monday: Strength training
Wednesday: Strength training
Friday: Strength training
Sunday: Your preferred physical activity (from Weeks 2)
You get the drift. It may look a little different but having a set schedule like this is foolproof. Don’t forget that it should be realistic and if you can’t commit to five days of exercise, don’t be too overambitious. Better to play it safe from the start than sorry.
And remember, this is a lifestyle. Not a temporary change. Think of the future months and years if you have to and progressively improve yourself.
If there’s one very important thing I’d like you to know is that consistency trumps motivation when it comes to exercise. Motivation can run out (think of it as the green and yellow 1-Up Mushrooms in a Super Mario game) but being consistent in what you do will bring you result.
Don’t keep changing your plan because you’re bored or tired. At least not in the first few months of this. Stay the course and results will come.
HERE’S TO YOU…
Remember, if you do need help, I do a one-month customised fitness and nutrition plan for all new clients FOR FREE through my Pretty Awesome Coaching. It sets you in the right mindset and give you a good headstart in changing your life and body for good. The criteria? Only if you’re serious about change.
Now tell me…
What exercises do you do on a regular basis?
What are some of the physical activities on top of your physical exercise that you do regularly?
What is holding you back?
Leave me a comment and I will definitely answer you. You might even get a personal email from me.
Now watch me fail at my 85lbs shoulder press (still learning, and progressing) and then try the 2-minute fat burning workout. YOU ARE AWESOME.
Have a great week ahead. :)
Don’t miss out on Part Four (final!) of the Beginners Guide To Losing Weight! Click here to get notified (plus a free eBook and special tips only for you!) Photo credit: Tooley, spoony mushroom, Thomas Hawk