Bryn Kennard helps you tone up.
By now the last of the winter clothes will have been put away and the mind fully focused on the summer months ahead. If the thought of baring your midriff during summer brings you out in a cold sweat, do not despair. By tuning into your diet, working your muscles and correcting your posture, you can achieve positive results in a relatively short period of time.
While many of us struggle with our weight, we’re told that the solution is simple: all we need to do is ‘eat less and exercise more’. This advice may make sense, but what’s remarkable is just how few seem to be able to get the ‘calorie principle’ to work for them. The usual explanation here is that many lack the willpower and self-control required for successful weight loss. However, there’s good reason to believe that it’s not so much that these approaches don’t work, but more that they can’t work. Eating less and exercising more induce changes in the body designed to resist weight loss. Successful weight loss depends on bypassing these mechanisms and taking an approach that works with the body, rather than against it.
One fundamental problem with conventional dieting is that when caloric intake is cut, the metabolism tends to stall, making any kind of healthy fat loss virtually impossible to achieve. Another stumbling block associated with conventional diets is that it can shift our focus away from fat and towards carbohydrate, on the basis that a gram of fat contains about twice as many calories as carb. The issue here is that carbohydrate is the chief stimulator of insulin secretion, and it is this hormone that, through several known biochemical mechanisms, drives the deposition of fat in our fat cells.
And it gets worse: carbohydrate tends not to be as satisfying to the appetite as, say, protein, and can disrupt blood sugar levels in a way that stimulates hunger, particularly for sugar-charged foods such as chocolate and biscuits. For reasons that have nothing to do with gluttony or lack of self-control, eating a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet dooms most of us to weight loss failure.
The way to lose weight, in essence, is to eat a diet which lowers insulin levels. When insulin levels fall, fat is released from the fat cells, which is precisely what we want. Fat released from the fat tissues goes first into the bloodstream and then tissues including the muscles can take it up. As far as your body is concerned, fat liberated from fat cells is food, and that means it has less need to drive us to eat. Studies show that when individuals eat right, they automatically eat less, but without hunger. The research shows spontaneous reductions in intake in the order of several hundred calories a day.
While exercise is ineffective for fat loss, it is certainly effective for toning up flaccid winter muscles – here, resistance training stands above all others as the most effective tool for toning. Many will engage in some form of resistance training prior to summer in a bid to tone up only for interest to wane as summer unfolds. Yes it is summer and it is inevitable that exercise moves down in the order of your priorities – but we should not dismiss it altogether. After exercising, your body will look and feel more toned, especially if you’re using weights. After an intense weights work out the blood vessels dilate and the muscles fill with blood, thus creating muscles that look more toned.
• Low carb it – there really is no easier and more effective way.
• Drink lots of water – the ever-present piece of advice is still often overlooked.
• Increase you Omega 3 intake – it is a powerful tool in fat loss as well as ongoing skin care in summer.
• Reduce your salt intake – salt can often lead to an increase in one’s weight by up to two to three kilograms.
• Spot tone – if you buttocks or tummy are your area of concern then concentrate on those areas and don’t waste your time on other areas.
• Work for shorter and more intense sessions.
• Get a training buddy.
• Walk – if you walk three to five times a week over the next month you are pretty much guaranteed a loss of one kilogram of weight for not much effort.
• Clench your buttocks and pull your tummy in at every possible moment over the next few months – it really works
• Learn how to stand well – correcting your posture and standing in good posture will make you look better.
Brynn Kennard is a pilates instructor and managing director of Body Works Ltd.