Personal Training, Fitness and Nutrition Motivation

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Losing Weight and Gaining Muscle

How do I lose weight? This is a question that I am asked almost daily and I would love to sit and chat with every single person who wants to know. So, I have put aside some time to talk with you about the subject. The factors involved in a successful weight loss program are energy input (calories), energy output (exercise), and mental readiness.

Let’s talk mental readiness. What does that mean exactly? Mental readiness is coming to an acceptance of needing a change in your life. Sometimes this comes with a wake-up call from a doctor telling you that your cholesterol, triglycerides, or blood pressure is too high. Another may be your physician plain and simply stating that your weight is a factor for these issues or others and could lead to a diabetic or heart condition. Many times it comes from our inner selves reaching a point of not liking who we see in the mirror and desiring to change. It is in that moment that true willingness to commit to eating healthy and exercising regularly can be achieved.

Moving on to how to start a weight loss program. First, are you going to try this on your own or seek the assistance of a personal fitness trainer/counselor? It is very important either way to educate yourself. Purchase a few books that catch your interest….shy away from trends or fads…..stick to the realistic approaches on this subject. This means thumbing through a few books that embrace eating nutritious foods throughout the day and regular exercise. As much as you want things to change in an instant, your program must be designed and carried out in a healthy manner. Losing weight and incorporating a new active lifestyle happens one day at a time. Days turn into weeks and before you know it, you are on your way to losing your first 10 lbs. Another avenue you may consider is to seek the help of a personal trainer/nutrition counselor. The knowledge of a qualified personal trainer can really push you in the right direction, educate you on nutrition, exercise, and motivate you through the first few months. A qualified personal trainer will have a degree in the field, international certifications, medical training, and if an independent contractor, will be licensed and insured. Always interview at least 3 trainers before deciding on the one you will be investing your time and money. Do not be afraid to ask questions regarding the trainer’s qualifications, years of training, continuing education, client success stories and if you could speak to past clients.

Let’s begin the journey of successful weight loss. It is important to know where you are and plan realistic goals. In order to discover where you are, an assessment of your body composition (lean to fat ratio), measurements, and aerobic fitness needs to be administered and recorded. This will give you starting numbers to work with, and a re-evaluation conducted in 12 weeks should show an improvement in all areas. Any qualified personal fitness trainer should be able to do this for you. Always have the same trainer re-assess you for accuracy since not all trainers use the same assessment protocols. In addition, a personal fitness trainer or nutritional counselor should be able to review your current eating habits, calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate: calories burned throughout the day when not exercising), and be able to educate you on healthy food intake, how often to eat, and what to eat.

Let’s look at the steps. First, when applying physical changes to your life, always consult with your physician before you begin. Once you receive the green light, educate yourself by reading and/or hiring a personal fitness trainer. Schedule an appointment to have an assessment completed that includes head-to-toe measurements, body-fat composition, resting heart rate, and recovery heart rate. In addition, educate yourself on healthy eating through books, or again schedule an appointment with a personal fitness trainer or nutritional counselor who will review your current eating habits, calculate your BMR and activity calories, and through information gained be able to inform you on how many calories to intake, what the calories should consist of, and when to eat them.

The information gained from your appointments: measurements, body composition, resting heart rate, recovery heart rate, BMR and calories to intake, should leave you with a positive feeling that you have all that you need to start your program and be successful.

A few ideas that should be shared with you are to start keeping a journal of your food intake and daily exercise. Your nutrition should contain at least 50% complex carbohydrate intake since it is our number one fuel source, moving to approximately 40% protein, and 10% fat. The percentage values will vary for each person and the goals trying to be achieved. Examples of good carbohydrates are whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. Excellent protein sources are lean meats such as boneless/skinless chicken or turkey breast, albacore tuna, egg whites, and whey powder. Include essential fats through flaxseed oils, nuts, natural omega 3s in fish such as salmon, and olive oil. Also, normal hunger occurs every 3 hours so do not allow yourself to feel hungry and eat every 2 ½ hours. This will boost the metabolism and keep the calories burning throughout the day. If you think for a second that your body does not know you are holding back….think again. In order to fuel an engine, you have to tank it up or put wood on the fire to fuel the furnace…..otherwise….shutdown. Without adequate calories, the body will store in reserve what it thinks it needs for fuel…..the number 2 energy source…FAT.

Your fitness program should be progressive…..start slowly and increase the intensity as you go along. Expect Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) when beginning a new program. This is your body’s way of letting you know that you did something different with your muscles….and that is a good thing! The soreness should not be debilitating, but definitely let you know that you exercised. With each workout, the DOMS will still be evident, but not overwhelming. You come to accept and even invite that you challenged yourself. It is suggested that cardio be implemented at least 4 times per week in your training zone, with weight resistance training at least 2 times per week. Also, you should be able to complete your workout within 60 minutes. Think about that…..60 minutes out of your 12 hour day…that is very doable. This is where the wonderful calendar comes in…pick your days and times for your workout and keep your appointment!

Lastly, the combination of healthy food intake and regular physical activity should allow you to reach your fitness goals. Give yourself time to reach them…do not become overwhelmed of how far in the future it may seem. Even if it takes one year….how long have you lived as you are? A year will go by quickly, 6 months like a flash and 12 weeks in an instant. Also, challenge yourself to drink at least 2 quarts of water daily with your new program. Your system will love the flush and your skin will probably look the best it has ever been. Once you have adapted to 2 quarts per day, move to 3, and graduate to a gallon. It is important to allow a rest or recovery day per week. Exercise good nutrition and water intake during your non-workout day. Remember to allow for an 8 hour sleep cycle each night for your overall health and especially muscle recovery.

I want to really break down this program to basic form:
1. Make a commitment to yourself to start a new healthy lifestyle and go for it!

2. Seek the assistance of a personal fitness trainer or if a truly disciplined person, educate yourself through reading materials.

3. Have an assessment completed and BMR/activity calories calculated.

4. Eat 5-6 small meals a day using your BMR calculations to determine how many calories to eat daily and per meal calories that include complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and fat.

5. Drink plenty of water…start with 2 quarts and increase as your body adapts.

6. Implement aerobic fitness (cardio) in your training zone at least 4 times per week.

7. Implement progressive weight resistance training at least 2 times per week.

8. Allow a Recovery Day or non-workout day.

9. Plan to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.

10. Journal, Journal, Journal.

I enjoyed writing this article for you and I hope it answers most of your questions regarding weight loss while gaining muscle, how to implement a healthy nutrition and exercise program, and the motivational tools to start.

Take care and Stay Healthy!



  1. FABULOUS post Darla- very thorough and well said. Awesome!! I'm going to link to this on tomorrow's blog!

    You rock!!

  2. Such great information Darla! Clear, directive and most importantly realistic. I love that you are telling people they can lose 10lbs in 10 days. It's about consistency and commitment and that is how you achieve any goal!

    Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  3. Super post!!! I love clear and to the point stuff!

    Merry Christmas Darla! Hope you have a wonderful Holiday!


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