Since muscle is more metabolically active than fat tissue, you want more of it. Increased muscle mass will use up more calories, making it easier for you to lose weight and keep it off. Toned muscles make you look more trim even before you lose all the pounds. Upper arms look firmer and less flabby. Toned muscles in your lower abdomen help trim the tummy, making it appear flatter as the fat disappears.
No one has to go to a gym to get toned muscles. You can improvise weights and other gym equipment right in your own home.
- Use large-size cans of food as small hand weights. As you can handle more weight, use milk jugs.
- Use bags of frozen vegetables as weights draped across your ankles as you do leg lifts. Be sure to clearly mark these particular vegetable bags as your weights so that you don't inadvertently eat them. After partially thawing many times, they won't be good to eat.
- Keep hand weights next to the couch, and make TV time strength-training time, too.
- Buy a good-quality jump rope, and use it often for a heart-pounding workout.
- Keep sports and play equipment by the door, ready to put to use.
Make a Date
Being more active is one-half of your weight-loss plan. That makes it important enough to put on your calendar. An appointment with yourself is just as important as an appointment you would keep with someone else. Don't cancel on yourself. Try not to reschedule. If weight loss is a priority for you, then activity dates become a priority, too. Consistency is vital to getting results from your activity. Being active two days this week and one day next week is good, but it won't peel away the pounds. To see results, you must consistently be active. Gradually work up to being active for 30, 60, or 90 minutes a day -- whatever your goal is -- on most days of the week. Scheduling activity time is a good way to be consistent. Write your activity times on your calendar, and protect them from other obligations.
- Allow yourself flexibility with your routine. You don't have to be active at the same time every day, unless that works best for you. You might aim for being active before work on several days of the week and after work on the remaining days.
- Line up options. What happens if the weather is bad or the kids are home sick? Set up an alternate plan, such as doing an aerobics or martial arts video, or dancing to music. You can also go to your local mall and walk several laps. Many malls open early to accommodate mall walkers, and weekday evenings are usually another good, uncrowded time to walk. Think ahead now, so that when something unexpected happens, you'll be ready and able to stay on track.
- Vary your activities so that you stay interested. A variety of activities will also use and tone different muscles.
- Set aside one hour each non-workday to take care of things around the yard or house. You burn calories and the chores get done -- what a deal!
- Check out your local parks and recreation department. They typically offer community classes in everything from dancing and yoga to aerobics, swimming, and team sports. Community colleges, too, often offer noncredit courses that will introduce you to new activities.
- Walk your kids to school instead of driving them. Do the same to pick them up. If time is a concern, choose one of the two.
- Join a walking club such as the American Volkssport Association -- this noncompetitive club conducts walks you do at your own pace in all 50 states. Find a Volkssport group in your area at www.ava.org.
- Host a "potluck" of activity equipment. Rather than food, have everyone bring a game that requires physical activity. There will be a smorgasbord of games -- maybe lawn darts, badminton, croquette, hula hoops, balls, and pogo sticks.
Keep Calorie Balance in MindSo you did it, you overate some of those discretionary calories in the form of a giant piece of cheesecake at the party. You knew it was loaded with calories, but you just couldn't resist. Don't beat yourself up about it. Instead, beat a path to some extra activity. If you eat more than you intend to now and then, you can always bring your calorie scale back into balance by adding some extra physical activity. By either increasing the duration or intensity of your activities, you can burn more calories.
- Be proactive. If a holiday or special event is approaching and you know you may eat more than usual, add 10 minutes of extra physical activity to your daily routine for a week or more in advance. Or, increase the intensity of your normal physical activity routine. Either way, you'll be balancing your calorie scale in advance.
Making exercise part of your daily life is an essential part of your weight-loss plan. However, a business trip or vacation can really mess up a routine. In the next section, learn how to keep up your exercise plan even when you're on the road. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.