Happy New You: Common fitness queries

Published On: July 8, 2016 09:32 AM NPT By: Aditi Sharma

Is walking or running better for weight loss? What should we eat post workout? What are some foods we should avoid while trying to lose weight? Is it okay to drink? – These are some common questions I have been asked over the last few weeks by people who know me or read my column. And there are many more such health and fitness queries.

While I have been having conversations regarding weight loss with almost every single person I know, and trying to answer emails, there is always someone or the other who will ask me certain questions every single week. This made me realize that these seemingly simple questions have many people stumped. 

So this week, I thought I’d answer a few very basic queries people have had over the past weeks and months. For this, I have also consulted my dietician friend and fitness instructor. Though I have always claimed that I’m not a fitness expert, I have been reading so much about heath and nutrition and watching so many fitness talks and videos that by now, I feel I’m well equipped to answer simple questions that others struggling with weight loss might have. 

One thing to keep in mind while embarking on any weight loss regime is that you shouldn’t over exert yourself or set too ambitious goals. When you do that, you are doomed to fail right from the start. Start slow and try to incorporate the changes into your lifestyle to make it a habit and that way you are more likely to stick to your diet and fitness plan. 

What is the best way to lose weight?
Sadly, there is no ‘best way’ to lose weight. What works for you might not work for somebody else and vice versa because different body types respond differently to even the same training program. My instructor told me that activities that incorporate many muscle groups and are weight bearing use more calories per minute and are therefore better suited for fat loss than non-weight-bearing activities that do not use many muscles. For this, she created a fitness plan that focuses on cardio as well as strength training for me and that has been working wonders. 
The popular concept is that low-intensity exercise is best for burning fat. And that is because during intensity exercise, fat accounts for most of the energy expenditure, while at a moderate intensity, fat accounts for only about 50 percent of the energy used. But the number of calories used per minute is much greater during a moderate to high intensity workout than at a low intensity exercise. So I would suggest you do a high intensity workout certain days a week and supplement that with training with weights to build more muscle to ensure you lose weight and tone up too. 
Weight loss is a matter of mindset, focus, and determination. There is no best way to lose weight. You just have to stay focused and find out what works for you. You can start with walking, or join a gym and take it from there. 

What would you recommend for a quick daily workout?
For me, the seven-minute workout is the perfect solution for busy days. The app is free on iOS and android and has the perfect combination of cardio and strength training. From jumping jacks and jogging on spot to squats and lunges, this seven-minute workout is something I try to do every single day as soon as I wake up. It’s effective, and fun too. 
It’s proven that 10-minute spurts of cardio are more effective than 30 minutes of intensive workout straight. So sometimes I just do a mix of jump rope and jumping jacks or I dance to an upbeat song. You can also try jumping squats, which will strengthen your lower-body muscles, followed by pushups and sit-ups. 
I also recommend that you walk daily, even if it is just for 20-30 minutes. Walking is not only good exercise but in Kathmandu, you get to see and experience so many things that it also clears your mind and makes you feel good. You have to try it to believe it. 

How often should I workout?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) you should aim at getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week to achieve the health benefits, maintain current weight, and prevent weight gain. For those who are overweight or obese, 250 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week is ideal. Studies have shown that when one exercises for 250 minutes a week, weight loss can be significant. Moderate intensity workout is where you are a little short of breath, but you can still hold a conversation while doing the exercise.
I work out five to six times a week. I do cardio three to four times a week and do strength training two to three times a week. Saturdays are my off days and also my cheat days when I indulge in anything I want. I make sure I exercise in spurts and not at one go.  Workouts should be fun and not so strenuous that you dread it instead of enjoying it. 

How can you reduce belly fat and flatten your stomach?
It is really 70% diet and 30% exercise. What you are eating is just as important as all the abs exercises that you are planning to do. Skip cola and junk food, cut down on carbs and sugar, and have more protein and fiber rich foods. Also drink enough water. Maintain a healthy diet to get rid of that belly flab. 
As far as exercise is concerned, my personal favorite for reducing belly flab is the plank. Planks are the simplest and most effective way to tone your belly region. The good thing is that it works on your entire body depending on how you do it. 
Perform a side plank for those love handles but if you are focused on losing belly flab do the basic plank. However, it’s important to use correct form so keep your knees under your shoulders, your navel toward your spine, and make sure your neck is relaxed and elongated. Start with 30 seconds, take a break for five seconds and do another set on the first day. Slowly you should be able to take it up to two minutes and repeat the set. 



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