Blunder 1 — Performing countless abdominal crunches thinking it will get rid of the spare tire syndrome. The pros claim it is not possible to spot reduce any area of the body. (Thank goodness, because I haven’t done a sit-up since 2004, and don’t plan to do another in this life. I HATE getting down on the floor because it’s so hard to get up!)
However, I still love crunches like the ones pictured above.
The only answer is to reduce overall body fat through a slight caloric deficit, and add resistance exercise (weight training) to stimulate the metabolism and cardiovascular exercise to burn additional calories. That’s the way to fat loss.
Performing crunches will never reduce the abdominal area because they only serve to strengthen muscle, not flatten a specific area. Just as 200 bicep curls will not make the arm smaller, nor will 200 abdominal crunches make the waist smaller. You cannot spot reduce any part of the body. It’s just not physiologically possible.
Blunder 2 — Attempting 100-percent perfection on your nutrition program all the time. Sure, this is a great thing to do if you have a strict timeframe for fat loss, but it’s a disaster waiting to happen for most people.
Haven’t we learned that we love food and we need to find a way to build in modest amounts of treats that we enjoy? Professional trainer Raphael Calzadilla had a client several years ago who asked her to design a nutrition program for her. She was somewhat depressed because she knew she had to give up eating the four chocolate-chip cookies two to three times per week that she had with her kids. She was overjoyed when Raphael told her she didn’t have to give them up. However, she was told to reduce the number to two cookies and it would fit into the overall nutrition solution. Yes, she did lose body fat with this realistic approach, and she also enjoyed her treat.
We need to make progress, but a sane approach encourages consistency and avoids that dreaded denial feeling. Build a little wiggle room into your program.
Blunder 3 — Believing that eating a little less and going on a diet will get the results you seek. It’s what most people think, though it is a dietary strategy popularized prior to the 1980s. People would go on crash diets like the grapefruit diet and lose weight — meaning muscle and fat. They assumed just eating less would take care of everything.
Today, we know total calories are important, but so are the amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats in the diet. A slight caloric deficit (less than maintenance) must be adhered to as well as eating small meals and snacks every two to three hours. This helps to control blood sugar; and it is a fact that blood-sugar control will help you to lose fat.
There are numerous sites that will calculate the number of calories you can eat and still lose weight. Log onto caloriecontrol.org and answer a few questions. I learned that I can eat as many as 2026 calories a day with some moderate exercise like walking and not gain weight. So if I cut 500 calories a day I should lose one pound a week. Totally doable. However a sedentary person at my height and weight would have to limit calories to 1688 just to maintain those extra pounds – cutting 500 calories would be brutal. So however you look at it, exercise is critical!
Blunder 4 — The “cardio queen” mentality. When I first heard this expression, I knew exactly what it referred to. It’s someone who gets on a cardio machine and spends endless amounts of time on it in the hopes of losing body fat. Some people go up to 90 minutes and longer on a cardio machine. The problem with this strategy is it’s completely ineffective. It’s a poor method to lose body fat and a real time-waster.
You can work out for long sessions with moderate intensity or use shorter sessions with higher intensity (based on your fitness level).
The shorter, more-intense session will burn more overall calories and preserve muscle, which will make you look tight and lean when you get to your scale weight goal. In addition, the shorter/intense sessions will have a more profound effect on the calories you continue to burn 24 hours after completing the session. This is referred to as the 24-hour afterburn.
Want to lose fat efficiently through cardio? Pick up your pace a bit and try to get a more intense and efficient 30 to 45 minutes. You don’t need to be huffing and puffing for dear life, just increase the intensity a bit and keep it sustained at a higher level within your target heart-rate range.
(Source: Raphael Calzadilla, chief fitness pro for e-diets.com)