STATISTICS shows that people who just started exercise easily quit and 85 percent do not persevere. The reasons are lack of interest, motivation, laziness. They think exercise is like punishment, torture, a waste of time. In my practice as personal trainer, some of the questions I am most frequently asked revolve around weight loss and physical conditioning.
The tremendous number of revolutionary diet programs, cookbooks, magazine articles and videos that appear each year suggests that weight loss is a fountain of youth: sought by many but achieved by few. It seems that everyday one of my clients brings in an advertisement for the latest weapon in the war against excess body fat hoping that I will be as enthusiastic as the testimonials produced by the products company. And they never fail to be disappointed when I tell them the truth: It won’t work! To be frank, there is no dietary gimmick, nutritional supplement or special exercise that is universal key to successful weight loss. To lose weight and keep it off simply requires you to understand and respond to your own body’s unique energy needs. In a nutshell this means figuring out how to balance your energy intake in the form of food, with your energy output.
One of my clients, a 40-year-old overweight businesswoman was frustrated that despite trying every diet, exercise, and weight loss aid, she had been unable to achieve lasting weight loss. She also tried expensive, non-evasive weight loss program in which you just lie down and let the machine do the work but still she failed. She was ready to give up saying she had been cursed with a slow metabolism.
The concept of metabolism refers to a complex interaction between a number of chemical reactions which all work together to keep the body, functioning normally. Even if you spend the whole day lying in bed, your metabolism keeps working to regulate your body temperature, mind and replace damaged tissue, send hormones out into circulation and allow your brain to process signals from the rest of your body. Your liver and kidneys continue to remove waste products from the bloodstream and your heart continues to beat at a constant pace. All of these processes require a basic amount of energy referred as the resting metabolic rate (RMR). Many of my clients are surprised when I explain to them how much energy in the form of calories the resting metabolic rate represents. Although it varies from individual to individual just to keep your body alive and performing these basic functions requires approximately 10 calories per pound by body weight. So, for instance, a 150-pound person has an estimated RMR requiring 1,500 calories a day.
It is important to realize that this estimated metabolic rate can be influenced by a wide variety of factors and can even vary from day to day. For instance, having fever temporarily increases the metabolic rate which is one reason many people notice a slight weight loss after an illness. On the other hand, significantly restricting calories through dieting triggers a complex chain of events in the body resulting in a decrease in the metabolic rate. This process probably was a tremendous benefit in the distant past when food sources were sometimes scarce. By slowing down its basic requirements, the human body could survive until more food was available. However, the fact that there is such a slow down in the metabolic rate when there is such a significant drop in calorie intake ironically sabotages low-calorie diets. The resting metabolic rate represents the body’s minimum energy requirements and its usually two-thirds to three-quarters of the total daily energy needs. It can be estimated by: RMR = weight in pounds x 10.
The rest of the daily energy requirement is determined by the amount of usual physical activity any individual does in a day. This can be estimated by the following generalities:
*If you are sedentary, additional energy required is approximately 30 percent of RMR
*If you are somewhat active, additional energy required is approximately 50 percent of RMR
*If you are very active, additional energy required is approximately 75 percent of RMR
*If you are extremely active, additional energy required is approximately 100 percent RMR. If you perform vigorous sports, you will require even more calories and it exactly depends on your size, exercise choice, duration, and intensity.
How exercise helps burn calories
Let’s imagine and think the image of your body as a complex machine such as a luxury sports car. If you want to go for a drive, you will need to buy fuel or units of energy called gallons of gasoline. When you buy gasoline for the car you can get just enough to cover your travel needs for the day or you can fill the tanks as storage. If you fill the tank but then rarely use the car, all the excess fuel will remain in the tank unused. Calories are you body’s gallons of gasoline. They are the units of energy that provide the fuel for your body to function. Whatever you’re doing, reading the words on this column. lifting a child, running, even eating or sleeping is powered by calories. Like buying gasoline for your car you can get just enough to power you through your day your day or you can eat extra ones and put them in a storage tank. A small number of calories will be stored in the muscles and the rest will be stored in your body’s main storage tank: fat.
We all need some fat around because it cushions our internal organs, provides a good source of energy for prolonged activities and helps insulate us from the cold. But many people are walking around with more fat stored than they are ever going to be able to use. The excess stores of fuel become a significant burden for the rest of your hardworking body. Even if you know you will probably need them as long as you hang on to the extra calories, your body has to maintain their storage: That means your heart has to sustain your fat stores, your joints strain under the extra bulk they must carry and even your skin has to stretch to cover the growing fat stores. And each day that you carry the excess fat increases your risk of life-threatening diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
But getting rid of the extra fat stores takes all that extra strain of the system which suddenly leaves you with a lot more energy. Think about how you feel when you carry a heavy package or bag. When you finally set it down, you feel relieved. You can move more quickly and easily because you are no longer carrying a heavy burden. Your body has the same response when you shed unneeded pounds. And despite all the massive advertisement of those popular diet plans, weight loss just boils down to a simple bit of match: one pound equals 3,500 calories of energy.
This is true for every single one of us. No matter what our healthy eating habits, exercise history, or metabolic rate. Therefore, to lose one pound of fat, you need to lose 3,500 calories. Considering that every body function even breathing requires you to burn some calories, it’s not that hard to start getting rid of some of the extra ones. When you exercise, many of your body’s function, kick into high gear and burn more fuel in the process. And because exercise stimulates metabolism, you continue burning a few extra calories per hour for several hours after you stop exercising. And if you exercise by weight training the extra muscles that you develop will constantly burn extra calories even when you are fast asleep!