[By Gemma King]
Sally, an executive in her early forties would consider herself a workout fanatic. She hits her local gym for hatha yoga four times a week and spends an extra sixty minutes on Sundays at the gym doing toning exercises. Despite her religious efforts, her efforts have not paid off. In fact, she says her waistline has expanded slowly but surely by an extra inch over the past eight months! Incredible!
Many women find themselves in the same exercise conundrum. They seem to be doing all the right things but are not shedding pounds, what are they doing wrong? Apparently, plenty. There are many workout saboteurs that achieve just the opposite of our hearts’ desire. Let’s get the skinny on how we can overcome these weight loss traps.
1. YOGA ONLY
Many yogis stick to yoga as their only form of exercise. Remember it is not the time spent working out but what you actually do during that time. Most hatha yoga are gentle workouts that burns just 144 calories in 50 minutes, which is no better than a slow walk. Even a power yoga class burns only 237 calories (half the amount of a circuit class), boosting heart rate to just 62 per cent of its maximum. At best, it provides only a mild workout for the heart and lungs (a good workout would be 70-90 per cent).
2. STEADY PACE EXERCISE
Most of us exercise at a steady pace but this is counter productive to weight loss and stamina building. Canadian researchers compared the effects of cycling at a moderate pace for 90-120 minutes with a workout of 20-30 seconds of gut-busting pedaling followed by four minutes rest and repeated four to six times. After two weeks, both groups had almost identical improvements in fitness despite the fact that the second group had only worked out for six to nine minutes a week while the first group had put in five hours! Lesson Learnt: Short sharp bursts are just as effective and less time-consuming, and you’re more likely to stick at it.
3. HEAVIER IS NOT BETTER
The heavier the weights, the better? Apparently not. Lifting light weights (of 3-5lb) for more repetitions is just as effective at building muscle as lifting heavy weights, say researchers at McMaster University in Canada. The key difference is that light weights help you shed fat while heavy weights can cause you to bulk up.
4. WRONG EXERCISE
Some people, regardless of weight, are programmed not to respond at all to aerobic exercise, says a study done at the University of Birmingham. For this special subset, they should instead focus on high intensity, shorter duration exercise such as circuits or weight training. If you find yourself unresponsive to aerobic exercise, then you may be in this unique group. Recognizing this is important as switching the way you exercise could be key.
5. POST EXERCISE BINGES
When it comes to losing weight, what you do after your workout is as important as the workout itself. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when women exercised hard they ate almost enough calories afterwards to make up for the ones they’d burned, negating their efforts.
6. EXERCISING INDOORS
Indoors vs outdoors, is there a difference? The answer is yes. Most studies show that compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments is associated with greater boosts to mood, decreased anxiety and an increased likelihood of sticking with the workouts.
7. WRONG FOR YOUR AGE
If you plan on sticking on the same exercise routine from your youth, then you are in trouble. Your exercise regime should alter as you age for your body to maximize the benefits from your workout. From around our 30s, we lose on average one-fifth of a pound of muscle a year, thanks to a process known as sarcopenia. As a result, resistance training in particular (such as lifting weights) becomes more important than aerobic workouts.
8. SENSITIVE TO SMELL
Overweight people gain pounds because they are more sensitive to the smell of food than thinner people, according to a study published in the journal Chemical Senses. So they tend to feel hungry at the smallest trigger. While there isn’t much you can do to change your sensitivity to smell, recognizing it means that you can try to avoid places with food that may lead you to break your diet on impulse.
9. YOU’RE A WOMAN
Its true, men do have more self-control than women when it comes to cravings. Using brain scans, U.S. researchers have found overweight men could suppress cravings or what they called ‘the conscious desire to eat’ more successfully than women. It’s thought hormone differences were the culprits.
10. YOUR AGE
There’s no denying that age accounts for much of the differences between a young and an older body. Like it or not, your basal metabolic rate, which accounts for about 50 to 70 per cent of your total energy expenditure, is thought to decrease about one to two per cent per decade. After 20, daily energy expenditure decreases about 150 calories per decade. The upshot is that you need to eat less as you get older but most of the time, the reverse happens as older working adults indulge in longer, richer meals, leading to obesity and other health issues.