Written and Media by Taylor Ratcliffe.
Spring is finally here and most people are excited to switch their wardrobes and clean the places in their homes that have not been touched since last spring. But, this is not the only way to prepare for spring. One of the biggest, healthiest spring cleanings is the cleaning up of your lifestyle.
During the late autumn and winter months, we like to really pack in the food. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all come with not only poor eating choices but a TON of food! It is an unspoken necessity to try a little bit of all the food and drinks. If not, relatives feel bad. Honestly, who wants leftovers anyway. Then there is bound to be some cold weather here in the Midwest, so we “need” a couple of extra layers. However, not all of those extra layers shed as easily when the spring comes around, and the layers do not shed as easily with each passing year either. However, there are ways to get rid of your hibernation love handles.
The first way is to start cleaning up your eating. This can be done in a few simple ways, the most important being portion control. Controlling how much of each food you are ingesting can lead to some serious weight loss. Say you have been eating around 3,000 calories a day and based on your level of activity and other factors you should only be taking in around 2,000 calories. You are eating WAY too much food. If you don’t know how many calories you are taking in daily, try using apps like MyFitnessPal. It’s a free app on the iPhone and it gives you the option to look up your food or simply scan its bar code. It will take all of the nutrition facts and then let you know how your day is going, how many calories you have consumed, and what types nutrients are in those foods. This will take us into our next session of health.
The nutrients are very important once you have your portions down. This will determine how much fat you gain or lose. There are three macro nutrients; fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Looking at this list, most people would assume fats produce fat. WRONG! Carbohydrates actually cause an enlargement of fat cells. When carbohydrates are consumed, the body produces insulin, which tells the body to start storing up those carbs in the form of body fat. It not only stores up fat, but it keeps the previously stored fat stored, so it is important to try to limit the amount of carbs you consume during the day. The chart above is the percentage of each macro you should be consuming daily, however, this is only for maintenance, not fat loss or muscle gain.
Another good way to start shedding some pounds is to hit the gym. Go maybe about three times a week for starters and put yourself through a routine. Most routines start with a warm-up which involves stretching first and then some short cardio for about ten minutes. The cardio does not have to been intense. Most of the time I just walk. This is very important because it gets your body warmed up and ready to go. You will be less likely to hurt yourself if you do those two things first. After cardio, you may want to try to lift some weights. If you are inexperienced, stick with the machines. Weighted machines will have step by step instructions on how to perform the exercise, and will only allow you to move in the appropriate range of motion and help prevent injury. If you’ve been lifting for awhile and would consider yourself experienced, you may want to move to the free weight section of the gym. During the three days a week that you incorporate resistance training, I recommend to exercise your whole body, not splitting your days into various body parts. Work every muscle a little bit until it feels tired and you feel like you’re sweating and can do no more. After your workout, be sure to stretch some more and make sure to drink plenty of water! Water increases your metabolism and other bodily functions, which will help you burn fat more efficiently throughout the day.
Both of these lifestyle changes will help you lose the layers you have accumulated. One thing to always keep in mind is, “you can’t out exercise a poor diet.” This means that the diet is the first and most important step to changing your lifestyle. You can work out all you’d like, but if you’re still eating McDonalds for every meal, you will not see the change you want. Good luck and happy spring cleaning!