6/18/15 - Weight Loss Challenge: Week 4 - Get Moving - The Basics

In the first three installments of this series we looked at the basics of weight loss, then some simple applications to reduce calories, and finally how important it is to choose the "correct" calories. Notice that up until this point we have only discussed reducing how many calories we consume and NOT how to increase the calories burned. Well, that changes in this weeks entry where we start with some basics of getting up and moving around.

The reason that we haven't talked about exercising for weight loss is because it's not a reasonable approach. The Mayo Clinic has a nice chart showing the average number of calories burned doing different types of activities. For a 200 pound person, for example, walking at 3.5 mph (about a 17 minute/mile) for an hour would burn around 400 calories. Swimming at a light or moderate constant rate for an hour would burn more than 500 calories, but there is a downside to all of this.

First, most people don't have an extra hour in their day to perform these types of activities for 30 minutes, much less a full hour. It takes about 5 seconds to put the extra donut back in the box instead of the half hour of leisurely bicycling to burn it off. Second, prolonged, strenuous activity makes you hungry. When the body starts burning fuel, it immediately let's you know that you should probably refill the tank. When my wife trained for her first half marathon, she gained weight just from trying to not be hungry. She didn't change her diet other than just trying to suppress her body's hunger signal.

I'm a sucker for a catchy cliche, so I'm going to give you two of my favorites that are applicable:
Here's the catch to all of this. Exercise for the purpose of weight loss isn't feasible. However, the ultimate goal for weight loss should be for your health, and exercising plays a major role in that. Here's a study from the US National Library of Medicine, an article from cancer.gov, and a write-up on the Mayo Clinic's website all detailing the benefits of exercise in regards to a person's overall health, including but not limited to better cardiovascular health, reduced risk of cancer and energy boosts. Of course, if those resources are not enough, I highly suggest reading anything from a Google search for other research findings. Now that we understand WHY we should exercise, we have to figure out how to do it. Just like there are some quick, simple steps to reducing calories without changing much of anything, there are also some simple steps to get things started. These are things that you can do in your every day life that will not require any extra time or resources and can actually save you time in some cases. These steps are definitely a good start, but there are still other simple things to do without costing you a dime, or taking up hours of your day. No travel time or special equipment required either. There are multiple apps and programs you can follow with nothing but body weight exercises. Apps such as the Johnson and Johnson 7 minute workout and Sworkit offer a quick and easy exercise program without any thinking on your part. The J&J app seems to offer a slightly better user experience in regards to a "brainless" operation. However, both will provide a quick and easy exercise program geared towards your current fitness level and available time. If weight training isn't something you're interested in (although I highly suggest it, and will provide plenty of reasons in a future blog entry), but still want to get moving, aerobics has always been a bit hit. My wife has been following the Refit Revolution YouTube channel. She clears out a small area in our living room, throws the video she wants to follow on the laptop or the iPad and gets to moving. That's it. No equipment, no travel time, no anxiety issues of working out in front of or with other people. It's just her, our daughters and our living room.

Disclaimer: I am not a fitness trainer, nutritionist, scientist or weight loss guru. I have spent quite a bit of time over the last roughly 10 years researching weight loss for my own knowledge and to help my family stay healthy. All information provided has been helpful for me, but carries no guarantees. I am willing to discuss at length any topics mentioned and would love to be proven wrong in order to better myself and my knowledge.
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