Chief Physician for Dr. Bo’s Diet
So you need to lose weight and you feel overwhelmed by the process? It’s a much more common feeling than you think. For most people, weight loss is not so simple. Many people want to lose their excess pounds, but they don’t for one simple reason: they are unsure where to start.
Weight loss can be a frustrating endeavor if you take what you think are all the right measures but don’t see any movement on the scale. It is understandable that when you work hard and feel deprived but bear no results you might soon give up. So, what might you be doing wrong?
One common misconception is the role that diet and exercise play in your weight. Regular physical activity is important for overall good health, and it’s especially important if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. That being said, physical activity only makes up about 20% of the weight-loss equation, with the other 80% falling squarely on your diet. So unless you are an Olympic athlete, the time you spend at the gym will bear little effect on the scale if you don’t overhaul your eating habits. Most people overestimate the number of calories they burn in a given workout and loosen the reins on their diets, which can leave them even worse off calorically.
Exercise, combined with an appropriate diet plan, will help create the calorie deficit necessary for weight loss. But how much, how often, and what type of exercise is appropriate? FITT is a simple acronym we use to focus on the four main principles of exercise: frequency, intensity, type, and time. In trying to maintain weight, exercise helps to build lean muscle mass and increase your basal metabolic rate, which counterbalances the effect aging has on weight management.
Frequency refers to how often you exercise. Setting realistic goals for the number of days a week that you exercise is key. If you exercise only once or twice a week, then your body will never adjust to the consistency required to meet long-term goals. I recommend starting with three days a week, with a day off in between. The choice of which days to work out is up to you. The most important thing is that you make a commitment to yourself that you will stick to without any deviation, even if the length of time that you dedicate to each routine is minimal. Bo’s Tip: Schedule your workouts like you would a meeting or an appointment. If you wouldn’t stand up your boss for a meeting or a friend for lunch, then there is no excuse to miss a workout.
Intensity refers to how hard you work during your exercise. A walk around the block is a good way to stretch your legs and get fresh air into your lungs, but it is not considered exercise; the physical exertion or intensity of that walk around the block is simply not high enough. When you are exercising, make sure that you are breaking a sweat, that your heart rate is elevated, and that you feel the burn! A good gauge to ensure that you’re exerting enough energy is trying to maintain 75% of your maximum heart rate. Bo’s Tip: Maximum heart rate generally decreases with age. For the average person, this can be estimated by subtracting 70% of one’s age from the number 208. Using this formula, the average maximum heart rate for 50-year-olds is about 173 beats per minute (208 – (0.7 × 50)). So, for the average 50-year-old, the target of 75% of maximum heart rate would be 130 beats per minute.
Time refers to how long you are able to maintain your exercise routine. If you are new to exercise, work on building up the length of your workouts. Today you may be able to jog for only a few seconds at a time, but if you continue to challenge yourself each session, you will begin to build up your duration. Bo’s Tip: Give yourself small challenges. For example, if you are jogging, set your sights on a stop sign ahead or the second hand of the clock and run until you get to that point. Each time you push yourself and work out a little harder, you realize that you can do a little more than you thought.
Type refers to the type of activity you are doing. There are two types of physical activity: resistance and cardiovascular. Try to keep your exercise in a 2:1 ratio, with 2 parts being resistance and 1 part cardiovascular:
Resistance includes any exercise where you’re using some type of resistance (bands, dumbbells, machines, body weight, etc.) to build your lean muscle mass.
Cardiovascular includes any activity that really gets your heart rate up, like taking a run, going for a ride on your bike, using an elliptical, etc.
Start with reasonable goals. Don’t set out to start a rigorous regimen from the beginning. Instead, start exercising at a reasonable pace and increase as soon as you stop feeling challenged. If you are new to exercise, try starting off with just 15 minutes, three times a week, and build from there.
Exercise is not an all-or-none endeavor. Keep in mind that a little is better than none. Your exercise program doesn’t need to be elaborate. It doesn’t require you to join a gym or sweat for an hour every day. Find something that works for you, whether it is using a bike to commute to work, going for a jog in the morning, joining a sports league, exercising with resistance bands while watching television, or something similar. There are many options. Sometimes we don’t realize how life provides many opportunities to be active—we just have to recognize them. v
Dr. Bo Rosenblat is a board-certified medical doctor and chief physician of Dr. Bo’s Diet Center, with office locations in Hewlett and Manhasset. For more information about Dr. Bo’s Diet program, please call 516-284-8248 or visit www.DrBosDiet.com.