Published: Thursday February 7, 2013 MYT 12:36:00 PM
Updated: Thursday February 7, 2013 MYT 12:40:29 PM
Fitness success: The missing piece of your weight loss puzzle
By Josef Brandenburg
When it comes to weight loss (fat loss) and fitness, people focus almost exclusively on nutrition and working hard in the gym. However, they nearly always neglect the other side of the coin that makes it all possible — recovery and stress management. People who are frustrated with their results look at activities like breathing and stretching as a complete waste of time. After all if it's not hard, how can it help?
Let's talk about how.
The limiting factor in how hard (intensely) you can even work in the gym is your recovery. Results — especially fat-loss results — require intense work, and without a mind to recovery this becomes less and less possible over time. Ignoring recovery is like driving a car without ever going to a gas station: You can push the gas pedal hard for a limited amount of time, but eventually you're going to be broke down and stuck.
Recovery comes down to just a few things: nutrition, rest, stress management, and repeatable workouts.
1. Nutrition: It's a given. There's plenty of information out there.
2. Rest: Getting enough quality sleep can literally double your fat-loss results (without changing your diet and exercise plan) because of the positive effect that this has on your hormones.
3. Stress: When it comes to fat-loss, hormones run the show. How you manage your stress has a huge role to play in whether your body works with you or against you in the quest for lasting weight loss (fat-loss).
One of the most fascinating studies on relaxation was done in 2010. In this study a group of obese women were able to reduce their body fat by three full points in one month just by doing deep breathing exercises. The researchers found huge improvements in various stress hormones during this same month.
Breathing is one of the simplest and most powerful tools that you have at your disposal to manage your stress and tension levels.
It's important to remember that relaxing is not just some mental or emotional thing that happens independent of the body. The reason people drink coffee (into the body) is because it improves how the mind works. They're not separate. This is just like when you almost get into an accident on the way home from work — that's a mental experience, but it has a huge impact on your body that you can see with your heart pounding and hands shaking.
High stress all of the time makes for very difficult fat-loss for most people. (There are the exceptions of those who tend to get too thin when under high levels of stress, but most of us get too fat.) Your breathing is one of the best and easiest tools for managing your stress levels and helping your body get leaner and healthier.
4. Repeatable workouts: You can't repeatedly push yourself to your actual limits. If you push to 100 percent on Monday, you will not be able to repeat that on Wednesday. For some people, you might not be able to repeat that 100 percent workout for a month. One awesome workout a month is not a very effective training programme!
Once you get past 30, draining yourself in the gym sets up an impossible recovery task for your body. In general work at 70 percent, 80 percent with the occasional 90 percent thrown in for fun, and your workouts will leave you continuously looking and feeling better.
1. Train, don't drain: Working out should make you feel better, not leave you feeling like a truck hit you. Regular, repeatable workouts that allow you to improve will lead to the greatest results over the longest period of time. Don't exceed your capacity to recover by working yourself into the ground.
2. Take five: Take a five minute relaxation/breathing break once a day. Lying face down (or face up if needed) for slow, deep breathing that starts in your abdomen not your chest and shoulders is an incredible fat-loss booster that also increases alertness and mood, and helps most people get better sleep.
3. Hormones run the show: Use good nutrition, smart exercise and good recovery to get your body to work with you instead of against you in your quest for lasting fat-loss and fitness. You already know how hard it is to fight your body. - McClatchy-Tribune