Key Factors For Attaining and Maintaining Fitness

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Group of sportive people in a gym training - Multiracial group of athletes stretching before starting a workout session
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What are the most effective exercises/workouts for losing weight and getting (back) in shape?

It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey to better fitness, the most important factor in your exercise routine is balance and consistency. 

Balance: Aim for a combination of moderate cardio/resistance and strength training 2-3 times a week for about 45 minutes and vigorous cardio 2-3 times a week for 30-45 minutes.  The moderate cardio will target fat burn and build muscle. The vigorous cardio will target higher calorie burn.

Consistency:  An exercise program needs to be consistent to be effective. Your body needs to be progressively challenged on a regular basis in order to shed weight and change body composition long term. 

Begin slowly and work your way up. Start with walking a few days a week. Then find some exercise workouts that appeal to you online or at your local gym. Once you get into a routine, you can use heart rate monitoring technology, such as Myzone to optimize your workouts. 

If you want to set some goals for yourself, plan out 8 weeks.  1-2 pounds a week is realistic and sustainable. 

In terms of your diet, keep it simple to start. Don’t eat anything from a box, bag or window.  Create simple meals from whole foods and portion your meals using a food portion guide.”

Can you discuss running, walking (emphasis on walking as a legit low-impact exercise)? 

I’m not a big fan of running to lose weight and get back into shape. If you are out of shape and have excess weight, running is too vigorous and taxing on the joints. You are likely to get discouraged and stop.  Walking is a much better option. It’s moderate cardio exercise that can help to burn calories and build stamina without getting discouraged or hurting yourself. 

Biking is an excellent form of exercise that spans all sorts of fitness levels. Stationary bikes are great for getting started on a weight loss journey because you can control the intensity.  

Yoga is great as any part of an exercise program. You need to remember that yoga doesn’t give you everything you need, so combining it with other modalities is necessary. It’s also important to remember that there are various types of yoga. Some are super low intensity, and others are high intensity. Some focus on balance and holding poses, while others focus on flow.   

Like yoga, Pilates is a great modality, but should be combined with other types of functional exercise modalities, depending on your goals. Pilates will provide stability, flexibility and strength, but not cardio. 

Swimming is one of the best total body exercise modalities in the world. It supports the body so it’s great for the joints, and it can be safely done at any fitness level.

If you want to tone and not build bulk, lifting light weights (1-5 lbs.) is the way to go?

You won’t be doing 3 sets of 8 though.  Sixty to ninety seconds of work on a particular muscle group will tone your upper body like nobody’s business! You can find this type of work in most barre classes.

It’s also important to work the big muscles of your legs as those muscles will burn calories and fat the fastest. You’ll also be building them up which will increase your metabolism. Great exercise for this are squats and lunges. 

Exercise is defined as “activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness”. You don’t need to go to a gym and pump iron or take an aerobics class to get your exercise. There are hundreds of other activities that we do recreationally that are exercise. 

What are the best apparel items for various workouts, in your opinion and why?

Apparel is very personal. Wear something you feel emotionally comfortable in.  You want to stay safe. Try not to wear baggy, heavy clothes such as sweatshirts and sweat pants. Be sure that your pants are not long and loose at the bottom. If you are wearing sneakers, find something with support in the arch and the ankle. If you are working with a trainer one-on-one or in a group, it’s best to wear tight, form-fitting clothes so that your trainer can easily see how your body is moving and give you corrections to your form to keep you from getting injured and getting the most out of your efforts. 

What should these do to protect the body, wick away moisture, support knees, ankles, breasts, etc.?

You definitely want to find clothes that support your body during exercise. I have found that making an investment in one or two quality pairs of leggings and tank tops with good compression and support definitely outweighs buying lesser quality apparel.  

What should people wear in chilly or rainy weather, so they can stay comfortable (but not overheat) and dry?

A lightweight waterproof jacket and pants with breathing vents.

What can/should people wear indoors; what about clothing that features copper (some yoga pants and socks, and probably some other stuff, have copper woven into the fabric) — how does this help, or is it a myth propagated by marketers? 

I’m a bit of a purest. For the most part, I recommend buying supportive, moisture wicking clothing.  

What’s the latest tech to help with workouts?

Devices such as Fitbits and whatever else is on the market that measure pulse, heart rate and other biometrics.) What do they measure, and how accurate are they, in your opinion?  I coach my clients using a heart rate monitoring technology called myzone.  As a coach and user, I absolutely love this technology. It’s really important that if you are using a heart rate monitoring tech that you use one that wraps around your chest, NOT your arm or wrist, they simply are not as accurate. I love the myzone tech because I can coach my clients into the optimal intensity zone for EVERY exercise. It’s fun and social and keeps your exercise at the forefront of your wellness.

How can people set reasonable goals, especially for people who may have had a prolonged time away from fitness?

This is a huge question that deserves an entire article of its own. There are too many variables to answer this with any justice.  But if you are talking weight, 1-2 pounds a week is a reasonable and realistic goal. 

How can they expect their bodies to react (soreness), and how can people work to not overdo it and when to give themselves an extra day to let their bodies recuperate. If you haven’t been exercising in a while, your body is going to be sore a little the day after your first workout, but way more so the second day.  Things you can do:

  • Workout when you are sore. 
  • Take an Epsom salt bath
  • Drink lots of water

Also, how can people not get discouraged and how to persevere if they “hit a wall” or have a setback (the importance of sticking with it)?

This is another MASSIVE topic that I’d be happy to discuss in another article, but if I had to say one thing…be very very clear on WHY you are doing what you are doing. And get down to the REAL “WHY.” Ask yourself this question: 

“Why do I want to get in shape?”  Let’s say the answer is “So that I feel better in my clothes.”  

Well then, ask yourself “Why do I want to feel better in my clothes?” Let’s say the answer is “Because not fitting in them reminds me that I’ve lost myself.”

So, the “Why” isn’t that you want to feel better in your clothes, it’s that you want to reconnect with and find yourself again.

Who is likely to have an easier time seeing results from shedding winter weight and why? Men? Women? And why?

The person who will have the easier time seeing results is not male or female…that has absolutely no meaning. The person who will see results is the person who determines their real “why.” And when I say “results,” I mean lasting results, not weight loss in 8 weeks  only to gain it back 8 weeks later.

Are there any locations that are more effective than others to shed winter weight?

Look for a balanced program that provides strength/resistance training with cardio training. The MOST important thing to look for in a “location” is guidance.

Should people take into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic with the upcoming spring and summer weather approaching? If so, how?

Take into consideration everything I have recommended here and decide what your level of comfort is. I offer programs that are 100% virtual, 100% in person and hybrid. There are options out there. Remember, know your “WHY”, create a balanced exercise schedule, and stay consistent. 

How can people manage their weight and keep it off more long term? 

Keep your “WHY” is the main focus. Balance, realistic expectations, eat whole foods…LIFESTYLE change.  Find your tribe…don’t go it alone.

How does diet play a part? Follow this simple rule and you’ll be 50% of the way there: Don’t eat anything from a box, bag or window.

Dorian Madreperla is founder of Limitless Lifestyle Academy and Sphericality.