by Cindy Dobroskay
There are often different roads to the same destination. When it comes to weight loss there are many; not all are safe, sensible, or sustainable. Sure, you can cut your calories in half, but when you’ve already been dieting and restricting calories your body cannot thrive with fewer calories. We need to eat food to get our essential nutrients and energy to feel well. Yes, supplements add nutrients when we are deficient, but most experts agree that getting our nutrients from real, whole foods is a superior source than supplements. You can also spend your morning or evenings doing cardio to lose some pounds, but there is a better way! Neither cutting calories alone nor hours of cardio alone is going to give you the healthy toned and fit body you deserve after working so hard to lose the excess fat. And neither is sustainable in the long term. If you want to lose the excess body fat AND build a healthy looking, functional body, strength training is the key to your success.
Strength training can include using weights, resistance bands, or simply your own body weight. Many women worry that if they use heavy weights they will bulk up and get too muscle-y. Stop worrying! You will not get bulky from lifting weights. Women don’t have enough testosterone for huge muscles. We can get toned, strong muscles, great for all the activities we want to enjoy. Two to three weight training sessions a week is a great way to begin.
However, there are a few things you should know.
1. Whatever method of strength training you use, work hard enough to challenge those muscles and exhaust them a little at first, and as you progress you can exhaust them to ‘exhaustion’. They need a challenge to keep gaining results. You may be surprised at how much you can lift if you use weight! I bet “You are stronger than you think!”
2. When done right, you will probably be a little sore the next day or even for a couple days after your strength training session. This is normal and your muscles need a little rest to re-cooperate before you go at it again.
3. You do need to stretch after each workout to help those muscles extend back to their optimal length after being tightened up during exercise. Stretch gently when you feel sore the next day.
4. No matter how experienced you get, your muscles will always need a rest day between workouts. That’s when they actual building takes place in the muscles. Without the rest period, your muscle will just continually be exhausted and injured without a chance to heal. Healing is needed for strengthening.
5. Drinking lots of water and feeding those muscles with a nutritious diet will help your body recover and build lean muscle mass effectively.
Ultimately, weight loss is a result of a combination of factors, but strength training should be an integral part of your plan. And remember, the weight on the scale is a combination of body fat, muscle and bone mass, water, and organs. It is not an accurate measure of body fat alone. So aside from getting a measure of your body fat percentage, the best indicator that you’re getting the results you want is to notice how you look and feel. Isn’t that really the most important measure of success?