The Fitness Doctor: Your Summer Weight Loss Plan
Dr. Fredrick Peters
Get back on track this summer with my simple summer weight loss plan! Before you get started with a new exercise plan and diet, you will need the following:
- A clean bill of health from your doctor if you’ve had an injury, illness or medical condition.
- 30-60 minutes of time, 4-5 days a week (splitting it up if necessary)
- A commitment to follow a healthy diet most days of the week
- Access to free weights, resistance bands or machines
Your Cardio Program
The foundation of any good weight loss or fitness program is cardiovascular exercise. This is your foundation for burning calories and conditioning your heart and lungs. Use these tips and guidelines for setting up your cardio program:
- Start where you are. Assess your fitness level and start with what is comfortable for you. If you have not worked out in ages, you might start with 15-20 minutes 3-4 days a week and gradually add time and frequency.
- Split your workouts. If you do not have time for long workouts, try doing short bouts of exercise throughout the day (this is just as effective as continuous workouts).
- Choose activities you enjoy. You will be more motivated to stick with your workouts when you like what you’re doing.
- Vary the intensity, duration, and type of activity. Try short, intense workouts mixed with longer, slower workouts for variety. You can also try interval training once or twice a week to burn extra calories and boost your endurance.
The second part of your program will be strength training to build lean muscle and increase your metabolism. To burn the most calories, stick with compound movements (i.e., movements that target more than one muscle group). Examples are squats, lunges, pushups, and pull-ups.
A few guidelines:
- Target all your muscle groups at least twice a week, with a day or two of rest in between workouts.
- Keep your reps between 8-12 to build muscle, 12-16 for endurance and 4-8 to build strength.
- Use different rep ranges regularly to challenge your body in new ways.
- Do not be afraid to lift heavy (women included)
- Choose 1-2 exercises for each body part.
- Modified pushups
- Back extensions
- Lateral raises
- Bicep Curls
- Tricep Kickbacks
- Ball Squats
- Assisted Lunges
- Crunches on the Ball
If you are a beginner, start with one set of fifteen reps of each exercise with a moderate weight, adding a set gradually. Use enough weight that the last rep is difficult, but not impossible. You should be able to finish the last rep with good form.
Perform your strength workouts solo or on the same day as your cardio workouts. If you do them with your cardio, you may want to split your routine. Do just upper or lower body exercises to save time and energy.
Improve Your Nutrition for Weight Loss
While exercise is important, often the biggest weight loss changes come from your diet. Specifically, you want to make sure you burn more calories than you eat. One way to accomplish that is to follow a meal plan. But keep in mind that many people have trouble following strict diets, so you may find greater success in making small changes over time.
Whether you decide to follow a specific meal plan or not, there are a few simple tips that will help you stay in control of your eating:
- Keep a food journal. The first step in making changes is to be aware of your choices. Keep a food journal for a week and write everything down. You’ll be surprised at how many extra calories you eat, and you’ll also be pleased to find small ways to cut calories without starving yourself.
- Do not skip meals. Many people drastically cut calories when they want fast weight loss and skipping meals is a popular choice. The problem is this can actually backfire; not only will you tend to eat more, but you may also actually slow down your metabolism, which means your body is burning fewer calories.
- Drink more water. Staying hydrated will ward off fatigue and help you deal with hunger and tea is often a great way to curb your appetite. When you get the afternoon hungries, consider having a cup of calorie-free green tea.
- Watch your portion sizes. This is always an obvious one when it comes to cutting calories and probably the most difficult one to follow. After all, what is a portion size? One way to manage portion sizes is to use smaller plates and bowls. It is an easy way to cut your portions without feeling like you’re missing out.
- Eat high fiber foods. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains fill you up without adding calories.
You have a few tips under your belt, but now you need to figure out exactly how you will approach your diet. Below are a few choices for how you can get started.
Follow a Structured Diet
Most of us have followed a diet at one time or another and they can be helpful in at least teaching us healthier ways to eat. The Fitness Doctor creates meal plans for each one of our clients, free of charge!
Make Small Changes in Your Current Diet
Utilizing this approach, you do not have to give up your favorite foods, and you do not have to change how you eat. Also, the changes you make are more likely to be permanent.
Add Healthier Foods to Your Diet
It is always easier to add to your diet rather than take foods away. Instead of cutting out entire food groups, try adding something healthy to each meal and eat it first. Salads, fruit, whole grain bread or a glass of water are just a few ideas, and you’ll find that filling up on the healthier stuff leaves less room for less healthful choices.
Change One Part of Your Diet
Another way to approach this is to choose one unhealthy food you eat and get rid of it or find a substitute. Put all your energy towards changing just that one bad habit and leave the rest alone. It’s easier to give up that Coke or candy bar when you know everything else stays the same.
Eat Out Less
Just cutting out one or two nights of eating out can make a major difference in your waistline. When you cook your own meals, you know exactly what you’re eating, control how much you get, and you can make sure the ingredients you use are good for you.
Try New Foods and Recipes
Finding easy, healthy recipes helps make nutritious eating more enjoyable. Trying new things is the only way eating healthy can become a way of life, so experiment—watch the Food Network or pick up some recipe books at the library or bookstore. Invest in healthy eating and you may find you enjoy it.
The trick to watching your calories is to find a strategy you can keep up with on a regular basis. If you work crazy hours, have kids to take care of and have no time, choosing a complicated diet plan may not be the best idea. On the other hand, if you have more time, learning how to make healthy meals may be something you would enjoy.
The components of a weight loss program are simple: Cardio, strength training and healthy eating. What is not simple is implementing these different elements with a coherent program that fits what you like, what you can do and what you want to achieve.
Looking for guidance, motivation, and accountability? Call The Fitness Doctor!
Remember, starting a weight loss or fitness program is not just a summertime event…nor is it just about losing weight and looking good in a bathing suit. For true, permanent changes, you also need a desire to live a healthier life. That desire helps you make the daily choices necessary to achieve it.