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Exercise: Your Secret Weapon for Weight Loss

Many people hate to exercise. Exercise is time consuming. Exercise is uncomfortable. But if you really, really want to lose that flab you're carrying around, exercise is the secret weapon you need to learn to love!

Here's a mental trick: Learn to hate your flab more than you hate exercising, and you'll be motivated to exercise.

The awakening comes later, when you realize your regular exercise program has made you feel oh-so-much-better - physically, mentally, and emotionally. You won't want to give it up.

When it comes to weight loss, what and how much you eat is about two-thirds of the battle. Exercise gets you the rest of the way.

Why? Because losing weight comes down to one thing: You have to burn more calories than you take in.

There are two ways to accomplish this:

  1. Eat fewer calories

  2. Burn more calories

Exercise helps you burn more calories. Exercise boosts your metabolism. It revs up your body. Exercise helps your body run in high gear.

How Too Many Calories Make You Fat

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"Calories" means how much energy is stored in a quantity of food or drink. Calories in the right amount are a good thing. You body needs calories, because you need energy to live.

The reason you are overweight is that you've eaten more calories than your body needs over the years.

Weight gain sneaks up on you. It's tricky, insidious. Here's an example of how it happens:

Let's begin with a simple fact. One pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories. Now suppose you are eating a mere 250 calories more per day than your body can use. That's the number of calories in a plain McDonald's single-patty hamburger.

At 250 extra calories per day, you'll gain a pound of fat every two weeks:

250 calories per day x 14 days = 3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat

In a single year, you'll be 26 POUNDS heavier.

52 weeks per year / 1 pound of fat every 2 weeks = 26 pounds of fat

You can see the trend. At just 250 extra calories per day, in 4 years you could weight 100 pounds more than you do now. And that's not muscle, that's globs of fat around you belly, thighs, arms, face, etc.

That's why it's so easy to gain weight, especially if you don't exercise much. A slight excess of calories each day translates to a huge amount of extra calories over time.

What else is your body supposed to do with it? It doesn't have a choice - it stores those extra calories as fat.

Exercise Helps You Burn More Calories

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Obviously we do want to manage our calories as best we can. For example, we want to control our cravings, so we don't ruin a day of healthy eating.

And, as you probably realize, we need to eat low-calorie, healthy foods. We need to keep our portion sizes under control too, because you can get fat eating lettuce if you eat enough of it.

But beyond dieting, let's get exercising. After all, we'd like to eliminate this fat around our middle as quickly as possible. And we want to make sure it doesn't come back!

Your exercise program doesn't have to be fancy. But it does have to be consistent, and you do need to get that blood flowing. This means you need to exercise several days per week, and you need to put some effort into it.

Simple Exercise Ideas

Don't have much time? Then start a simple 10 minute abs program at home. Ten minutes per day surely isn't asking much.

Here's another simple exercise idea: walk your dog around your neighborhood each day. Don't have a dog? Then borrow a dog, and do a good deed in the process.

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I've gravitated toward weight training, myself. Studies have shown that a session of weight training causes the body to burn calories at a higher rate for up to 24 hours. Some of the leanest people I know work out with weights.

I lift weights once a day in my garage. For my cardio workouts, I walk my dog in the morning, and I ride my stationary exercise bike in the afternoon. Total time each day: about 1 hour:

  • Lift weights: 30 minutes

  • Ride stationary bike: 20 minutes

  • Walk dog: 10 minutes

I'm not going to explain the physiology of exercise. What you need to remember is simple, and is something you already know:

Exercise helps you burn fat naturally. Second only to your diet, an exercise program is your most powerful tool for losing weight.

If you have health issues, check with your doctor to see which exercise programs could be right for you. Just about any program will increase your metabolism.

Jillian Michaels, CrossFit, P90X, BodyForLife, SixPack Shortcuts, The Weight-Watcher's Workout, Denise Austin... there are many to choose from.

The point is to get your body moving. Just pick a program and get started, today!

And, please - STICK WITH IT.

> Exercise and Weight Loss

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This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. More information