Fitness expert Brinda Sapat tells you where you’re going wrong and how to break the weight loss plateau.
Have you been exercising like crazy but can’t seem to knock off the annoying fat? People usually face this a few months into their working out. The body burns off some weight initially and then just stops. Sometimes, all it takes is a small change. Answer the following questions to know where you may be going wrong; and how to set it right.
Are you getting enough cardio?
The cardio frequency requirement for the body is 6 days a week.
How long do you do your cardio session?
The minimum duration needed to merely stay fit is 30 minutes.
What does your cardio workout comprise of?
A cardio workout can be any of these- walking/jogging/running (outdoors or treadmill), swimming, cycling (outdoors or stationary), stepper/elliptical, cardio class, or any activity that maintains a continuously elevated heart rate for 30 minutes minimum.
The exception to the rule being HIIT (high intensity interval training) which is also a form of cardio but done for a shorter duration.
How intense is your cardio exercise?
On a scale of 0-10 where 0 is no movement to 10 being very, very, very hard work; you should be working out somewhere around 5-7, i.e. Hard to Very Hard. At this level you should be finding it tough to make any conversation.
This is merely a measure of perceived exertion, so you have to judge for yourself.
Do you do resistance training?
Weights, weight machines, resistance tubing, stability ball, weight bearing exercises are all forms of resistance training. Making this a part of your weight loss programme is a must to give the body benefits of an after burn and muscle fibre increase which will help burn more fat.
How often do you do resistance training?
At least thrice a week.
Do you eat a well balanced, low fat diet?
Food intake plays 50 per cent of the role when you are trying to lose weight. Eating meals that are well balanced in terms of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and essential (good) fats is vital. Unhealthy fats must be cut down.
Do you eat small frequent meals?
Eating small portions every two hours revs up the metabolism making the body burn more fat. You also feel much more active physically and mentally. Large meals taken at long intervals slow down metabolism, makes you sluggish and also stores food as fat.
Do you eat an early dinner?
The body has next to zero physical activity to perform post dinner, so the meal should be kept light to have larger protein content for the muscles to repair and grow; with just enough carbohydrate to give the body a fitful nights' rest.
Are you regular with your exercise and healthy eating?
Irregular eating and exercise patterns don't give the fat a chance to burn properly. Dedication is key.
If your answers have been correct so far, then follow these tips to get the fat to budge:
What's happened here is that your body has gotten used to the duration, intensity and type of exercise and is performing it with ease.
It has settled into a comfort zone and adjusted the caloric uptake.
You need to shake it out of that zone and challenge it. Push it harder!
Increase the duration
Add an extra 10 minutes to the cardio. This will make you work harder and burn more calories.
Increase the speed
Keep the duration the same but increase the speed. If you are on the treadmill at the speed of 6, take it up to 7 or 8. If you swim or go for a class, work on the higher end of the intensity scale. Make it tougher.
Change the exercise
If you have been walking/ jogging, switch to cycling or attend a cardio class. Just change the cardio activity to jump start the body again.
Increase the resistance/sets
Lift slightly heavier weights; or increase the number of sets by 1.
Change the resistance
Switch to free weights from machines, or try power yoga. The muscles need to be challenged too.
Cut back on fattening foods
Even if you have been eating sensibly, try to eat cleaner. Cut down on processed foods, soft drinks, alcohol and frozen foods. Eat light freshly cooked meals.
Photograph Courtesy: Womens Health Mag/Creative Commons