Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Variety is Key for Weight Loss

Here we are…February 2010. In Denver, it has been a dry but somewhat snowy, dreary winter so far, and motivation can be challenging with the winter blahs. A little variety might be needed to keep you going, especially when it comes to weight loss. Your diet may seem mundane, eating the same foods every day. Your exercise routine is the same as it was the first week. As your body is adapting to your exercise regimen to help lose weight, it has (or will get) gotten used to your everyday routine. This is what creates the dreaded plateau effect…what has been working is no longer as effective. Variety is key to keeping your mind focused and your body challenged.

Let’s start with diet. Spices and spicy things are a great way to make the old seem new. Add a little salsa or even hot sauce to eggs or your grilled chicken for a little pizzazz (that’s right, I said pizzazz). Spicy additions will help keep your metabolism going at a higher rate, if you can tolerate a little heat. Change your snacks so that you have a different one every other day. For example, if yogurt is your morning snack, have that 3 days and try apple and peanut butter on the others. If you have a co-worker on the same sort of plan, switch snacks for a week and see if you like and can integrate their choices into your diet. Tired of chicken for dinner? Pork chops are a good alternative, and can be just as easy to make.

Next let’s look at your exercise routine. There are easy ways to trick your body into thinking it’s doing something new and work differently. On the cardio side, intervals are a great way to burn fat and keep your heart rate up. You can do speed intervals (run for a minute, walk for a minute, increasing the run time as you get more comfortable) or incline intervals. Jumping rope in between sets of weight training will keep your heart pumping as you rest the muscles you are using during those sets. Speaking of weights, switch from machine weights to free weights for a new challenge. By using free weights (or even just your body weight), you can engage more muscles during a single exercise, therefore increasing your caloric expenditure. If you get stuck in a rut, there are several options available to you. Try a group class at your gym. Work out with a buddy (this will also help to keep you accountable). Hire a personal trainer a day or two a week and inform them of your goals.
They say variety is the spice of life, so change things around and see what happens. See you at the gym!