The ACSM recommendations for weight loss suggest that 150-250 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity will prevent weight gain. Amounts greater than 250 minutes a week lead to modest weight loss. The most successful strategy is to combine diet restriction and increased physical activity; this leads to more weight loss than just diet alone.
With that said, physical activity does not have to be planned exercise; it can be household chores like mowing the lawn (not on a riding mower), cleaning and raking leaves. Going to the grocery store does not count. 60% of adults in the US are either overweight or obese; largely due to 40% of adults do not participate in leisure time physical activity.
So let’s do the math here. If you need 250 min a week of physical activity just to maintain your weight, which is only a little over 4 hours a week. There are 168 hours in a week, 56 of them should be spent sleeping, if you work, at least 40 hours working, that’s 72 hours a week of time that you are not sleeping or working that you can find time to exercise. If you plan an hour of exercise or physical activity a day combined with the proper nutrition, weight loss should happen.
Someone once told me, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” Here are a few tips in planning for success:
- Schedule your workouts. If you work with a trainer, you have an appointment. When you exercise without your trainer, schedule that as well. Don’t just assume it’s going to happen. You should weight train at least 2 times a week and get cardio-vascular training at least 3 times a week for 30-45 min each time for weight loss.
- Plan out your meals for the week. Look at your schedule so you know where you will be for your meals. Make your food ahead of time if you are on the go. Convenience is key, that’s why America loves fast food. If your healthy food is prepared ahead of time and all you have to do is warm it up, you won’t fall into lazy habits of just eating out all the time. Diet is the most important part of losing weight.
- Set goals for yourself. Make a short term goal for weight loss. In some cases, the end in mind is a bit overwhelming. Make it realistic and set deadlines. See if you can lose 5 pounds in 5 weeks. Make it measurable, have your body fat and circumferences measured so you can see your results on paper.
- Plan a little time each day for yourself. Use this to relax, read a book, pray, try to forget about your stress. Prolonged periods of stress can actually make you store more fat through changes in your hormones.
Losing weight can seem like a daunting task, start slow and ease yourself into it. Start by taking walks around your neighborhood or a park. Get yourself moving and see if you can meet 150 minutes a week of physical activity. When you master that, see if you can do 250 minutes. Your time can be a mix of planned exercise and physical activity.