I was inspired to start working out again this summer, and I have been hitting the gym 3-5 times a week since August. It's been about a month and a half, and I am really feeling good and starting to see some results. I've also lost between 5-7 lb. and hope to continue toning up before the big day. I thought I'd share a few lifestyle/workout tips for any of you brides who are also trying to "tone up" before the big day.
- Join My Fitness Pal. I joined MFP a year and a half ago and it has become a staple in my life. It really helps you keep track of calories in and calories out, and it also helps you keep track of your progress (strength training, weight loss, etc.). It's also a fun way to encourage (and be encouraged) by your friends.
- Do More Cardio. I dated a personal trainer in college and the most important thing I took from that relationship is how to work out. It's true that any amount of cardiovascular activity is better than no cardiovascular activity, but if you are trying to lose weight, you need to be doing at least 45-60 min. of cardio 5-6 days a week. The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend about 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week. (30 minutes will help you maintain weight.)
- Hit the Weights. Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training helps develop strong bones, control your weight (by allowing your body to burn calories more efficiently), boost your stamina, and manage chronic health conditions (including back pain, arthritis, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes). I usually follow my cardio workouts with 30-45 minutes of strength training.
- Be Consistent. Sometimes life intervenes and you have to take a couple days off from the gym. Just try not to take more than a week off. My ex from college (the personal trainer) used to tell me that you start losing aerobic fitness after 1 week, and muscle mass after 2 weeks. This will vary per person/athlete, but here is some further reading if you're curious: QDT, Self, Cathe.
- Change it Up. If you are doing the same exercise everyday, you may be maintaining your heart health, but if you want to lose weight, repeating the same workout mode, intensity, or duration day after day will not work. Your body adjusts to the daily workload and you will eventually hit a plateau...not to mention become unmotivated and bored. Try changing your activity: run outside instead of on the treadmill, take a group fitness class, go biking/canoeing/rock climbing. If you have limited options (equipment, injuries, etc.) try to change your workout mode, intensity, incline, etc. so that your body does not get used to any same workout. You should also switch up your strength training routine. Switch between machines and free weights. (Free weights allow you to make use of your stabilizer muscles.) Do different activities that target the same muscle groups instead of doing the same exercise each time.
- Stay Hydrated. Drink enough water before, during, and after your workout. Not only does it keep you hydrated during the workout, water also acts as a lubricant for your muscles, joints, and vital organs. It acts as the transporter of oxygen and glucose throughout your body. I've never been a sports drink fan; I've always preferred water when working out (which also helps avoid unnecessary sugar and calories)...but if you are worried about the loss of sodium and potassium from profuse sweating, you can look into sports drinks or electrolyte beverages. (I like SmartWater.)
- Be More Active. According to a report released by the Physical Activity Council, one million more American adults have slipped into a sedentary lifestyle in 2011--a trend that is fueling the obesity epidemic. Think of ways to incorporate more "activity" into your daily life: take the stairs, park farther away, walk the dog, stand instead of sitting (at your desk), bring your grocery cart back to the store after unloading your groceries, stretch or do calisthenics during TV commercials, take a walk on your lunch break, clean the house, walk to a coworker's desk instead of e-mailing/calling them. There are many ways to add just a little more activity into your everyday life.
- Indulge (a Little). If there's one thing I've learned, it's that sometimes you have to indulge a little. If I restrict myself too much, I end up failing in the end. It is easier for me to avoid snacking unhealthily by not keeping junk food in the house, avoiding fast food places and bypassing the unhealthy aisles at the grocery store...but if I slip up one day, or have a bite or two of my fiance's dessert, it's nothing to beat myself up over. If I feel like I "overindulged," then I just step it up at the gym later. If I'm making healthy choices the rest of the time, then all in all I think I'm doing okay. :)