Your motivation to shed pounds is higher now because swimsuit season is fast approaching. You might have achieved some fantastic results from your efforts right after the holiday season, but you can still aim to look your best in the next four to six weeks.
One of the easiest ways to get started is to maximize what your fitness community offers so that your goal is doable and fun—better than exerting too much effort to follow programs that don’t really suit your needs and schedule.
Here are some ideas you can try in your family or community setting. Studies show that working out together is more effective than if you work out alone.
According to Martina Cartwright in the article “How Friends Influence Weight,” published in the IDEA Fitness Journal (March 2012), our close companions play a significant role in molding fitness habits through social modeling.
She writes the results of the global Edelman Health Barometer survey (2011): 43 percent of those surveyed said friends and family have the most impact on personal health lifestyle, 36 percent admitted that close social ties have the most impact on personal nutrition, and about two-thirds said they tried to modify negative health behavior, but half failed partly because of lack of social support. So, exercising with a group of friends or a buddy this summer can be an effective strategy.
Set a date when you and your buddy can start a summer fitness program. You can be his/her fitness buddy/coach during the program and even after. You report your eating and exercise schedule every time you see each other, then give each other feedback and suggestions on how to improve.
Set realistic goals by avoiding drastic weight loss, crash diets and over-exercising. If you lose four to eight pounds of fat in the next four to six weeks, that’s good enough.
Aside from weight loss, think of healthy habits to develop in the few weeks, like avoiding fastfood, replacing sodas with water, eliminating high-sodium seasonings and burning additional calories by walking 30 minutes every day, aside from the regular exercise program.
Team-based weight challenge
According to a recent study published last month in the journal Obesity, teammates in a team-based weight loss challenge significantly affect each other’s weight loss because there is accountability, expectations are set, and they encourage and support each other.
However, the success of similar programs in the corporate world, for example, is based only on the weight loss after a few weeks/months. As a result, immediately after the challenge, employees are lost not knowing how to sustain their new lifestyle. They regain the weight easily.
Modify or start your weight-challenge program by dividing it into phases instead of the usual four- or six-week challenge, and create a theme for each phase that will suit your community. For example, phase 1 is a six-to eight-week beach-body challenge. Then to avoid gaining the weight back, have a break and make phase 2 (rainy season weight control challenge) and 3 (holiday season to New Year) challenges during the year.
Weight-loss percentage as the basis of winning the challenge may not be enough to sustain lifestyle habits. Include other categories like body fat percentage to ensure that participants incorporate physical activity in their journey. Other factors to consider will depend on your program features, like additional points for winning a fitness challenge event or for being more productive at work.
Preparing for a fun run already ensures that you have at least three days a week of cardio exercise (30-60 minutes per session). This will help you burn an additional 600-1,200 calories per week or 3,500- 7,000 calories in six weeks (equivalent to one to two pounds of fat loss just from cardio exercise alone).
You can burn more with additional forms of exercise like strength training and daily lifestyle activities like walking, household chores and other sports. Progress gradually and safely to be able to achieve longer sessions.
Check your community calendar so you have more time to prepare for events. For fun runs, check our local running websites (www.pinoyfitness.com, www.takbo.ph, www.runrio.com). If you are a beginner in running, you can still join the events as long as you prepare for the chosen distance at least four weeks ahead (3K run, walk-jog or even brisk walk) to avoid injuries.
If you like aerobics, check out aerobics marathons in your area and train for the event by consistently joining your usual classes. Do not forget to incorporate strength training in your weekly program.
Fitness studios and gyms
If you are already enrolled in a gym, dare to try the fitness challenges they offer so you have additional motivation and can step up the intensity and to vary your routine.
Gym challenges usually include strength and cardio stations during the main event, so you really strengthen your major muscle groups and improve your endurance.
You might need to get a fitness trainer to ensure safety and faster results.
If you are joining a 30-day challenge, which is usually offered in specialized fitness studios like yoga, circuit-type or barre3 studios, make sure that you are physically healthy or at least get a clearance from your doctor.
However, fitness and medical experts recommend moderate exercise to avoid burnout and injuries and to maximize exercise performance, because we need to let our body recover to get better results.
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