Tag: weight loss program

Effectively Utilizing the Body Mass Index

What is your Body Mass Index (BMI), and should it concern you?

BMI is as a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. Basically, the higher your BMI, the greater your risk for the aforementioned health problems.

The BMI is generally considered to be successful as a health screening tool (particularly when considering large populations), but unfortunately BMI is not a very accurate body composition measurement tool. BMI does not measure body fat directly, it merely estimates using your body weight and height. Thus two individuals of the same height and weight will carry the same BMI rating regardless of their personal comparison of adipose tissue and lean muscle mass.

The bottom line is that while the BMI may be very effective at producing a general assessment of the obesity level of a given population, it fails to accurately estimate body fat levels for the average person. If you are interested in getting a body composition test consider a measurement of your subcutaneous fat using skin calipers, jumping into a hydrostatic underwater tank, or simply paying attention to how your clothes fit. All of these methods will fair better than the BMI.

If you have questions about how to plan your workouts based on body composition measurements, please feel free to contact Personal Fitness Trainer Damien K. Krantz.

I Want to Lose Weight But Hate Doing Cardio!

How many people think that the only way to lose weight is by doing cardio? I know that I hear that statement all the time. Well I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of other ways to lose fat and burn calories; one of the easiest ways is to start a weight lifting program.

Weight lifting is a great way to increase your lean muscle mass, gain strength, gain flexibility, get coordinated and jump start your metabolism for a week at a time in one workout. Doing cardio is a great way to burn a lot of calories all at one. The average person (150 lbs) using an elliptical will burn about 450 kcal per hour; but their calorie burning would soon subside within about 60 min of finishing the exercise. That same person would only burn 300 kcal in a moderate weight lifting workout for that same time frame. The difference is that the weight lifting workout will increase that person’s metabolism for about a week, and they end up burning more calories total from that one hour workout through the week than by doing that one hour on the elliptical.

Weight lifting using large muscle groups (legs, chest, and shoulders) also releases large amounts testosterone and growth hormone into your blood stream. These hormones start circulating through our body, causing all the muscles to burn fat and build muscle. These and more beneficial hormones are usually only released in these are quantities during weight lifting exercise. Along with a release in hormones, weight lifting also will increase the amount of neurons attached to a muscle fiber, giving you more coordination and balance. You can go from 10 neurons on one muscle to over 1000, imagine how much stronger and graceful that muscle would be if it had that many neurons helping coordinate it. This adaptation is helpful if you are a 15 year old soccer player or a 60 year old still taking the stairs and not wanting to catch a foot on that last step.

One can increase their endurance and flexibility through weight lifting too. When comparing two groups of subjects; one who just cycled and one that just performed vigorous weight lifters over a three month period. The weight lifters had almost the same VO2max as the cyclists. How can one get a cardiovascular workout through weight lifting? Try making a mini circuit with three exercises; two of the exercises can be opposing muscle groups like bench press and rows, while the third one can be a core exercise like a V-situp. Perform each exercise back to back and only rest after you have completed all three. By doing a mini circuit with opposing muscle groups you never overwork a muscle group and don’t have to take a rest between exercises, keeping the heart rate elevated and making it a more efficient, higher calorie burning workout. Flexibility can also be increased if you do a weight workout as long as you perform the full range of motion. In a study done of all the Olympic athletes, the second most flexible athlete, next to gymnasts, was the Olympic lifters! Full range of motion lifting creates long powerful muscles; when someone performs partial range of motion lifting they start to make their muscles adhere to its self and flexibility decreases. The strongest muscle is a fully hydrated muscle and fully elongated muscle!

When it comes to burning calories, just do something…15 min is better than nothing! When it comes to an actual workout program, if you want to burn a lot of calories in one workout, cardio can be the right answer; but if you get bored quickly with the cardio then try hitting the weight room. When it comes to a “weight” lifting workout it doesn’t just mean dumbbells and barbells; it also means machines, cables, group exercise, Pilates, yoga, pool workouts, anything that is weight bearing works (dumbbells and barbells just add to the workout’s fun factor). If you don’t know where to start you can always ask our fitness director Jacob Galloway to set you up with the Seattle Athletic Club’s complementary ActivTrax workout program or get you in contact with one of their highly qualified personal trainers to guide you to a new body.

The Biggest Loser: In Review

The popular television show: The Biggest Loser features overweight individuals who sign up to compete to win a large sum of money by losing the highest percentage of their weight (originally amount of weight) over a period of up to 100 days. Contestants are periodically eliminated throughout the competition for failing to make satisfactory progress. The Biggest Loser is marketed as a show that is “paying it forward” by motivating individuals, families, and communities to get healthy. But do they get it right? I decided to watch and see for myself.

On the surface, promoting fitness and health are things that should impress me, and initially I found their message to be intriguing. Although I found the title to be a little degrading to the contestants, I looked past it and tried to keep an open mind. Almost immediately I was impressed with the fact that they were approaching the solution from both sides: exercise and nutrition. In order to see real results both areas need to be addressed, and in my experience fitness pundits typically primarily focus on one area or the other. Contestants on the show are exposed to advice and challenging situations regarding both fitness and nutrition, which I think is absolutely great. As I continued to watch I noticed a much more prominent message developing – that real change is possible. It is possible to completely change your physical and emotional framework (regarding fitness at least). The biggest loser does not blame genetics, promote surgery, or advertise fantastic weight-loss pills. They push increasing exercise and nutrition management as their methods for instituting change, and I could not agree more.

As I watched the contestants progress and their message develop over the episodes I was confronted with some inconsistencies. In order to get their message across the trainers take dramatic measures at times. They regularly employ temptation, profanity, and ridicule in order to motivate the contestants. While I am sure this helps with ratings, I know that these methods are not necessary to produce results and the situations often felt demeaning to me. I also found some of the challenges (particularly the food challenges) to be degrading and counterproductive. Is consuming large quantities of unhealthful and calorically-dense foods an appropriate punishment for losing a challenge? The training staff also sets their physical performance expectations pretty high, which can lead the contestants into some medically-tenuous situations. Contestants are regularly injured, and some take chronic injuries home with them. Also the nutrition information is almost exclusively focused on calorie content. I recognize portion control as the prevailing factor in promoting long-term weight management, but I also know that there is more to the story. Nutrient content, not caloric-density, is most crucial to promote overall health and wellbeing.

Most importantly, The Biggest Loser fails to facilitate institution of a plan to create realistic, sustainable habits. Many of the show’s contestants benefit physically from the trials and tribulations they endure during filming, but revert to their former habits (and their former size) immediately upon returning home. All in all, I think that the show is attempting to convey a positive message, however overall treatment of the contestants and their taste for the dramatic sacrifices any integrity that the show might otherwise have.

Holiday Survival – Lose Weight, Keep Active, Stay Motivated

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for many people with family, friends, and vacations on top of work and other responsibilities. Keeping up with your fitness goals may be a challenge during the notorious weight gain season between Thanksgiving feasts and New Years celebrations. However, don’t let the progress you have made slip, or allow yourself to wait until the New Year to get back into shape. Even when you can’t make it into the gym, there are ways of consistently getting in the exercise you need to reach your goals. Even cutting fitness time in half is better than cutting it out completely, so below are some ideas for when you can’t make it into the gym!

Try combining many of your daily activities with fitness:

  • If you need to take care of the kids, do activities that get you moving.
  • If you’re sledding, walk up and down the hill with them.
  • Trade in the family sit downs for walks or hikes, point is, participate with them – kick a ball or play chase.
  • These activities can be done with friends or family as well. If you’re catching up, take your coffee to go and take a stroll.
  • If your errands are close enough to walk, choose that over driving.
  • When the weather calls to stay indoors try fitting exercises in during commercial breaks, the kid’s naps, or while your food is cooking.

Exercise balls and resistance bands take up just a little space in the home or at the office, are inexpensive, and easy to use with great results. Planks, curls, crunches, squats, lunges, and more can be done in the space of your own home – avoiding the commute to and from the gym.

Keeping your body active doesn’t require a gym; many studies have shown the increased benefits of walking 10,000 steps per day. Keep a pedometer on you throughout the day, choose the stairs over the elevator and walk them during work breaks or meetings on the go. You could even get up earlier for a brisk walk before getting your day started or after dinner before bed. Even if you are visiting family somewhere away from home, just get the steps in when you can.

Other ways of avoiding holiday weight gain is planning ahead. Go on vacation somewhere warm where you may be showing more skin, you’ll be more motivated to lose the weight for the holidays and keep it off that way. Set goals like going down a pant or dress size before your next big holiday event so you have something to work for and show off. These are just a few of the many ways you can save yourself some pounds this holiday season!

Of Americans that make New Year’s resolutions, 70% end up breaking them. Keeping up with exercise by planning ahead, being more active outside the gym, and doing your own at home exercises, all on your own time, allows you to keep the progress you have made and start the New Year strong. Stay motivated and on track through the holidays can be as simple as trying some fitness programs like the Double Down Weight loss Challenge, the Evolve weight loss program, or getting weight loss advice from personal fitness training staff at Seattle Athletic Club. Contact fitness director Jacob Galloway for information on any of the programs mentioned.