By Joshua Smith
It begins with noticing your pants fit tighter than usual, but you chalk it up to the dryer shrinking your clothes. Time passes and you realize that those clothes no longer fit.
You feel lethargic, sluggish. You turn your head away when passing a mirror. You begin the process of denial: I’m just bloated today, this mirror has always made me look larger, and I’m just being critical about myself.
For some of us, the dreaded winter weight gain is something we knew was happening; for others, it creeps up on them like a ghost in the night.
The obesity epidemic is on the rise in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, two-thirds of adults are in the category of overweight as well as nearly one-third of children. More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese.
A 2015 study by the CDC reports that Americans now consume 31 percent more calories today than they did 40 years ago
The Obesity Campaign of America states that obesity is linked to more than 60 chronic diseases, such as type II diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
Furthermore, according to the American Cancer Society, 572,000 Americans die of cancer each year, and about one-third of these cancer deaths are linked to excess body weight, poor nutrition and/or physical inactivity.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, healthier diets could prevent at least $71 billion per year in medical costs, lost productivity and lost lives.
How do you avoid becoming a statistic?
Achieve your new healthy and fit lifestyle today by shedding that winter weight just in time for swimsuit season.
Rachel Chroscinski, 25, an International Sports and Nutrition Association (I.S.M.A.) certified personal trainer, and personal trainer at Fusion Gyms in New Britain, Pa. explains the best way to lose weight and keep it off for good.
Most everyone can agree, the hardest part of any workout regimen is getting started. “Realize that it is mind over matter,” Chroscinski explained. “Getting to the gym is the hardest part.”
Chroscinski suggested that you continue to focus on the reasons you are there.
A good idea is to write your goals down. “I like to use post it notes on the mirror for me to wake up to in the morning,” Chroscinski said. “Seeing my goals every morning is a constant reminder to stay on track.”
Another great way to stay on track is by starting a workout regimen with a friend. A friend can bring the stress of starting to work out much lower and make the gym feel more like a social activity.
“Going to the gym with a friend is a great way to increase the accountability,” Chroscinski said. “You will keep each other in check and force each other to get to the gym.”
Start anywhere, at anytime
Don’t be intimidated to begin going to the gym as a beginner. “Local gyms and their personal training staff are always trying to help others get started,” Chroscinski said. “It doesn’t matter what your experience or level of fitness is.”
Chroscinski also encourages that anyone who is nervous about heading straight to the gym can just as easily start at home. “Sometimes I don’t even like to drive all the way to the gym,” Chroscinski said. “A home workout can be just as challenging and effective.”
The internet is a valuable tool to use as well. YouTube is a great place to watch experts perform exercises, many of which give detailed instructions on how to do the exercises properly.
“That’s how I started before I became a personal trainer,” Chroscinski said. “I watched YouTube videos and emulated them and picked up knowledge gradually.”
Lose the fat
Losing fat is a universal goal that almost everyone has as a fitness goal. The health benefits of losing fat are endless.
“Everyone’s body responds slightly different to fat loss training,” Chroscinski said. “What always works to lose fat is mix of weight training and cardio.”
According to Chroscinski, most people get caught up with endless hours of cardio and are confused as why they are not getting the results they wanted.
“Strength training drastically increases the speed of your metabolism and it becomes much easier to keep a lower body fat percentage,” Chroscinski said.
Experts agree that building muscle and lowering body fat often times go hand in hand. The most important thing about weight training is finding which weight training routine works best for the results you want.
“Every person wants different results from weight training,” Chroscinski said. “Luckily, there are many different types of routines to fit each category.”
Chroscinski explained that weight training routines that focus on a higher repetition volume in combination with a lower weight such as a high repetition circuit workouts build lean muscle.
However, according to Chroscinski, weight training workouts that focus on heavy weight with lower repetition volumes work on size, strength, and power, such as powerlifting, bodybuilding style workouts and high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.)
All workout programs are useless unless you can stay off the injury list. An injury could sideline you for anywhere from a few a days to years.
Therefore, it is best to play it safe and follow to rules on how to stay injury free.
“Making sure you have good form and that you are performing the exercises properly is first and foremost on the injury prevention list,” Chroscinski said.
The next biggest contributor to injuries is starting too quickly. “Adding too much weight or running too many miles too quickly is asking for an injury,” Chroscinski said. “Leave your ego at home. It will only serve to get you hurt.”
Staying hydrated is key to keeping muscles supple and elastic. “Dehydration is one of the major reasons for muscle tears,” Chroscinski explained.
According to Chroscinski, stretching is important to perform correctly. Always begin with dynamic stretching to warm up muscles and lubricate joints. Leave static style stretching for after the workout to lengthen an already warm muscle.
“Trying to lengthen a cold muscle is like trying to stretch a cold rubber band,” Chroscinski said. “Often times it snaps; similar to how a muscle would react.”
Practice good nutrition
Experts agree to lose weight you must consume less calories than what you are burning. But what does it mean to have good nutrition?
“Stay away from processed foods like fast food, soda, candy, and other foods high in fat,” Chroscinski said. “Low fat meats like fish and chicken are great sources of protein, you can never go wrong with vegetables, and make sure you eat healthy carbs such as brown rice.”
Chroscinski suggested eating at home as much as possible because restaurants often use high amounts of fats to cook their food in, and most patrons feel compelled to eat more at restaurants.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
You do not have to stop after reaching your fitness goals. The key to a lifetime of health is to continue your lifestyle of fitness.
“Re-assess your goals after you have completed them,” Chroscinski said. “You can choose to either maintain that current effort to continue with the same results if you are happy, or write down new goals and the let the challenge begin all over again.”
The key, according to Chroscinski, is to keep the body guessing; keep changing your routines to break through stubborn plateaus.
Follow these simple steps to the body of your dreams, just in time for summer!