Americans are winning something not worth winning. They’re getting fatter than any other developed nation over the past 30 years. Over the same time period, obesity rates have doubled, to over 20 percent. And that’s just those who are obese. The overweight crowd is now at 68%! Wow. One-third of those overweight are obese. Breaking that down – take 100 Americans – 23 of them are obese and 45 are overweight, just not fat enough to be considered obese. How about the other 32? I think it’s safe to say that most of them don’t fit into a healthy category, but they’re just not in the overweight category either.
Being overweight means you’re at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, joint problems, immune system problems, and pretty much every disease and ailment out there. Can you think of just one disease whose risk factor would be lower in the overweight category? I can’t. (anorexia?) Aside from the increased rates of all the stuff you don’t want, don’t forget the everyday, functional problems associated with being overfat – low energy, sleep problems, little to no sex drive, difficulty moving, poor mental concentration – just to name a few.
So what can you do about it? You don’t need to be on the Biggest Loser to lose weight and you don’t need to find some crazy grapefruit or liquid diet. But you’re also not going to lose weight by eating whatever you want when you want or by exercising once a week, or not at all. Feeling bad about yourself isn’t going to help either. And no, despite what some bestseller book says, taking cold showers and packing certain areas of your body in ice is only going to provide minimal fat-loss results, if any.
How about this: Three steps you can start right now with minimal effort to lose fat – whether you’re trying to get down from 350lbs to 250lbs or you want to lean-up your 15% bodyfat frame to 10% for the upcoming race season. Just these 3 simple steps will get you going in the right direction. They are all necessary, and although there are often other steps that need to be implemented, these are a must for everybody. Plus, why give you a list of 10 things if most can’t handle more than a few.
1) Buy a heart rate monitor and exercise at your target heart rate. You can get a heart rate monitor from most fitness stores, including those like REI, for around $75. It’s a must. No need to spend more than that. They all do the same function of registering your heart rate regardless of the cost. The more expensive ones just have more functions such as lap counters, GPS, and computer capability. Polar, Timex, Garmin, and Suunto are some of the major brands out there. Make sure your heart rate monitor has a wireless transmitter strap that goes around your lower chest and transmits to the watch you’ll wear on your wrist. Do not buy the cheaper monitors that are just on the wrist and check your pulse. Pedometers? Who cares how many steps you walked. Remember, your body cares about time and heart rate, as I discussed in the “Top 10 of 2010” newsletter. Once you get your monitor, follow the heart rate training zone formula specific for you as first described by Dr. Phil Maffetone (www.philmaffetone.com)
Subtract your age from 180
Modify this number by choosing below:
So if you’re 40 years old and are taking a medication (2a) then your max aerobic heart rate would be 130. (180-40-10). Your exercise zone is between this number and 10 less. So in this example, the zone would be a 120-130 heart rate.
Now that you have your heart rate zone, it is important that you exercise accordingly with a proper warm up and cool down. Your goal is 40 minutes, 5 times a week. That is the minimum. If you can increase to 45-60 minutes 6 days a week, even better. But if you’re just starting out, make your first couple weeks just 30 minutes, 4 times a week and then slowly build up to the 40 minutes, 5 times a week over one month. Any exercise will do as long as you enjoy it and you can keep your heart rate within your training zone.
- Warm-Up for 10 minutes, slowly building your heart rate up to your exercise zone
- Exercise at an intensity within your heart rate zone – for 20 minutes or more
- Cool-Down for 10 minutes at a HR similar to the warm-up, but now with decreasing intensity
That’s all there is to it. Get your monitor. Figure out your exercise zone. Walk, ride a bike, use the elliptical, whatever you like to do. But be consistent, and stay in the zone.
2) Stop eating all white sugar, white flour, and any sugar replacement substitute, natural or fake. There’s plenty of information on this throughout the website, and you can use the search engine here too for more specifics. No sugar means absolutely zero, even turbinado, raw sugar, brown sugar, rapadura, etc. No white flour means just that – nothing made with flour whether it is bleached or unbleached, and this includes wheat flour too. No Splenda (sucralose). No Nutrasweet (aspartame). No saccharin. No agave. No xylitol, maltitol, sorbitol, erythritol. No stevia either. No fructose, and no fruit juice, 100% or not. No corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup. The one and only sweetener you can use – honey. Try to get it local and pesticide/herbicide free if you can. But that’s it, just honey.
3) Increase your protein content. Shoot for 1.5grams of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight. To get your bodyweight in kgs, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. So if you’re 200 pounds, you’re 91kg and you’re striving for around 135grams of protein a day. Each protein serving should be around 20-30grams so figure around 5 meals within that range. Good protein sources include eggs (organic or free range), beef/lamb (grass fed), poultry (free range, antibiotic & hormone free), fish (no more than 1-2 times a month) and dairy – particularly whey protein. I use Whey Cool from Designs for Health because I know it’s MSG free. Remember, most whey protein out there has MSG in it, as I’ve discussed previously. Words like hydrolyzed whey protein, whey protein isolates, calcium caseinate all signify that MSG was created during processing. Eggs, depending on their size, have 6-9g of protein (eat the whole egg!). Most meat, fish, and poultry have approximately 25g of protein for every 3.5oz. Easy on the soy as most soy (especially the unfermented soy products out there that make up the vegetarian products) has estrogen mimicking effects. Soy milk and products with soy protein isolates and hydrolyzed soy protein are not healthy for any body.
So there you have it. Three steps. Three simple steps. You’ll need about $75 and some commitment and discipline to get the process going. The first few weeks will be somewhat difficult as you come off your sugar addiction and get into the habit of eating more protein foods and exercising regularly. But the fat loss and health benefits will be more than rewarding, and the weight loss won’t be temporary like that obtained from crash diets and exercise gimmicks that never change your body into a healthy fat-burning machine.