I wish I had a dollar for every member who asked "What's the best exercise to get rid of this?" or "What's the best exercise to tone up this area?" Then they point to, or pat a part of their body, and the tummy is the most common body part.
To answer the question I simply ask...
"Are you more interested in getting rid of the fat over and around your tummy, or toning the muscles under the fat?"
There's typically a delay while people contemplate the question and their answer. Then, the most common response is:
"I'm really more interested to get rid of the fat over the tummy." Of course, some say "both".
The science is really clear:
- Exercise has a huge range of health and body-shaping benefits but weight loss is not one of them. The main reason is that the body is cleverly self-compensating. If you burn up extra calories with exercise, you may unconsciously reduce incidental exercise throughout the day plus you might be inclined to eat more. Did you waste your time? NO!!! Regular physical activity, especially resistance training using machines or your body weight, is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy body for life.
- You cannot spot reduce. The process of getting access to and burning stored body fat is a systemic (whole body) process, not a local process. Abdominal exercises will spot-tone the tummy muscles under the fat but won't make any difference to the fat over those muscles. Did you waste your time? NO!!! Having good core muscles is very important for a range of health reasons, like preventing back pain.
- The only way to get access to, and start burning fat is via effective dietary change for your body. Be VERY careful listening to a slim person telling you to just eat the way they eat. The biggest influence on their body shape, and ours, is the selection we made in our parents - our genes. Does this mean the you're wasting your time changing your diet? NO!!! Discovering the diet that is right for your body at your current stage in life (we all change) is the single best exercise you can do to get access to your stored body-fat and lose excess weight.
And so the best exercise to lose weight is...... going through a process to discover the best eating plan for your body, then developing the food skills and habits to support and enjoy that plan. And please don't make the mistake of saying to yourself "I know what I'm meant to be eating." You might as well go up to a stranger in the street and say to them "I know what you're meant to be eating."
Did you notice above that we wrote "get access to your body fat"? Here's an explanation of what we mean. Say you're carrying 10 kilos extra. That's about 77,000 calories in stored energy, enough to walk for 15,400 minutes = 256 hours = brisk walking for 1,456 km = about the distance from Sydney to Melbourne and back! That's a lot of stored energy. Do you ever get low on energy or hungry? What a conundrum!
If you answered "yes", then this indicates that you may not have ready access to your body's stored fat. Eat less and exercise more, and you just get hungry. The only way to get access to your stored body fat is to discover the eating plan that gives you access to your own stored fat. Once you discover this, you can lose weight without hunger!
At Healthy Inspirations we have a saying "One diet does NOT suit every body." We're all unique. The diet pattern that will work for one person rarely works for others. And once you learn and adapt the diet that works for your body, then you've got to learn the planning skills and develop the lifestyle habits that make that weight loss last. There's no quick fix.
Finally - 5 Simple Exercise Tips:
- Pre-schedule your exercise time each week.
- Get your exercise gear ready the night before.
- Aim to do 2 resistance sessions per week. Anything in addition to that is a bonus but don't think that you need to exercise more to lose more. Your body does not work that way. Spending 15 minutes a week with your eating coach is what will create the weight loss you desire... and deserve!
- On each exercise, try to do a little more than you did last time. It's the effort you make on each exercise that creates the adaptive stimulus for your muscles to tone up and get stronger.
- Think of exercise and diet as a lifestyle, not as a temporary fix, which never works. We've all been there, done that.