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The Importance of Physical Activity for Lasting Weight Loss
The weight loss journey isn't always easy. Sometimes excess weight seems to melt away while at other times it seems to be stuck like glue! Anyone who has ever lost weight knows that weight loss happens in phases; at certain times you lose more weight than at others. This fluctuation is a normal part of the weight loss process. One of the best remedies for stubborn weight loss is to partner regular physical activity with a satisfying reduced-calorie menu. Creating a healthy balance between burning calories and reducing calorie intake, through all the phases of weight loss, is a fool proof way to lasting weight loss.
When you first begin the Jenny Craig Program, you may find you lose more pounds than you expected. During this initial phase of weight loss your body is adjusting to a lower calorie level and burning stored carbohydrates (gylcogen) for fuel. Glycogen is stored with water. When glycogen is released for energy, water is released with it. So, some of the initial weight lost is probably water weight. Some people might experience a higher rate of weight loss the first week or so. The amount varies and is due to a variety of factors; usually the more weight you have to lose the higher this initial weight loss will be. After a week or two this extra weight loss should gradually normalize to a healthy 1-2 pounds per week.
As you settle into your Jenny Craig Program and following your menu, why not start burning some extra calories through activity? Many people think being active means going to the gym, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Any time you move, your body burns calories. The more active you are, the more you burn. Including natural activities like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further from the store, even washing your car will help you to build more activity into your day. Think about some of the activities you enjoyed when you were younger like riding a bike, playing tennis or hiking. As you become more comfortable with making activity a regular part of your lifestyle consider planned activities too. Scheduling time for a Zumba™ or a spinning class can be a great way to mix things up and keep your things fresh. By incorporating a variety of natural, playful and planned activities you'll be well on your way to becoming more active and burning extra calories.
By the time you reach, your halfway goal you probably will have experienced the many benefits of using activity to support your weight loss. As well as weighing less, you may also find you have more energy and sleep more soundly. Once you reach your halfway goal some people find their weight loss slows down a little; this is natural. Loss in body weight means you need fewer calories than before. This means that while you continue at the same menu calorie level, the challenge will be to increase the frequency, duration, or intensity of activity to ensure a calorie deficit for continued weight loss. For example, if you regularly walk the same route, now is the time to change it up a bit. Increase your distance by adding an extra mile, increase the intensity by changing the route and adding a few hills or jogging if you usually walk; or increase the frequency by incorporating an extra day.
Resistance training tones and firms the body by creating and preserving lean muscle mass. If you haven't already done so, start including some resistance training to strengthen your muscles. Muscles use more calories for energy than fat. By losing fat and increasing muscle, you'll burn more calories without even trying. You can do resistance training easily at home with a DVD and basic exercise equipment like resistance cords; gym equipment works great too. Other activities like Pilates and yoga also incorporate resistance type training movements. Start including some resistance training 2-3 times per week to compliment your cardio.
By the time you reach your goal weight and move into the maintenance phase, physical activity will no doubt have become a natural part of your life. According to the National Weight Registry, those who successfully maintain their weight loss exercise for approximately 60-90 minutes on most days of the week.1 The time you spend being active can be broken in to smaller segments to make it more manageable. This might be 10 minute segments throughout the day or 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. As you maintain your weight it will be essential to stay motivated to exercise. Sign up for the 5k run you were thinking about or go to the indoor rock gym you drive by on the way to work. How about enlisting the support of a friend?
Being active is essential for successful, weight loss. Depending on where you are on your weight loss journey the type of activity might change to reflect the different phase of weight loss. As weight loss progresses, adapt your workouts to reflect the change. This means increasing the intensity if your weight loss has slowed or building on your workouts for weight maintenance. Whichever phase you're in find activities you enjoy and do them regularly!
1The National Weight Control Registry. NWCR Facts. Available at: http://www.nwcr.ws/Research/default.htm. Accessed on 11/22/2010