What do you do to lose weight and keep it off? Run on the treadmill? Climb the stairs on the stair climber? Practice Yoga or Pilates? Watch your diet?
Figuring out the right amount and type of exercise is not an easy thing to do. Every time you turn around, there is another “proven way” to reach your goal. A combination of cardio, flexibility work, and resistance training (along with adopting a healthy approach to food) is the ticket to a lean body. Cardio alone will increase your heart rate and burn calories, resulting in losing pounds. Dieting will help lose weight only while you are “dieting”. However, neither cardio nor dieting will raise your metabolism to keep weight off while being toned and fit.
Getting lean and keeping off the fat is a more long term approach to weight loss, rather than watching the number on the scale go down only to come back up again when you stop running or fall off a healthy eating plan. The best way to get lean is to resistance train, fast and hard, with some high intensity moves in the workout and a cardio day or two added each week. Keep your metabolism up by resistance training, which builds lean muscle. As opposed to fat, muscle is metabolically active. So the more lean muscle mass you have, the better your metabolism. You’ll be burning more calories just by changing your body composition to include more muscle…even at rest.
And don’t worry about building too much muscle and ending up looking like a man. Men have a lot more testosterone than women and that accounts for their muscular look. Women would have to adopt a very rigorous weight lifting program to build as much muscle as their male counterparts. Take a look at super models and athletes in magazines and really think about what looks better and healthier. Is it the emaciated, photo-shopped super model or the very natural, far healthier attractive athlete?
If you have limited time, cardio is not the best option. Long cardio sessions negatively impact the hormone cortisol and impair the ability to tone and shape, as excess cortisol will put your body in a fat storage mode. You’ll end up “skinny fat”. Urban dictionary defines skinny fat as “when someone is thin and looks great in clothes, but is all flabby underneath”. Bottom line is: train like athletes to look like an athlete.