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Help! Americans are getting fatter, with an estimated 30 percent of us considered obese.
According to an article published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a growing proportion of children, adolescents, and adults are overweight.
From 1960 to 2000, the percent of fat Americans rose from 44 to 64 percent, representing significant increases in all age groups. But is this any wonder why? We live in a world of fast food, overstocked supermarkets, and super sizes, while our ancestors not only had to prepare every meal from scratch (a job in itself), but actually gathered or slaughtered their dinner on a daily basis.
The main issue is one of caloric expenditure versus intake. In simpler terms, we eat too much food for the amount of activity that we participate in. Experts have coined the phrase, �Foot and Fork Disease�, meaning, too much fork (food) without enough foot (activity).
Is our only recourse virtual starvation or endless lunch hours on the treadmill? I�ve got a much simpler solution that not only gets the job done, but can be sustained over the long haul, the true test of any fitness or weight loss plan.
Through working with hundreds of clients, as well as my own personal experience, I�ve come to realize that starvation diets all tend to backfire in the end. Let me explain.
You go on a crash diet and lose 20 pounds. Unfortunately, half of that weight loss is usually muscle mass. Eventually, inevitably, you eat. The only problem �muscle doesn�t return as easily it disappears.
The major muscles of your body are fat burning furnaces. Just a little less overall muscle means a lot less caloric demand. Your eating patterns will eventually return to normal, with you consuming as much, if not more food than before, only now there�s less muscle to burn off the extra calories. Can you see a scary pattern developing?
Becoming a fixture at your local gym also won�t last. The most well-intentioned novice almost always makes the mistake of starting off with too much, too soon. As a professional trainer, one of my main functions is to help a beginner spread his or her enthusiasm out over time, and not burn out the first month.
Studies show 25 percent of all fitness programs are doomed before the second or third week, while half of the beginners out there don�t ever get past the second month of without losing motivation.
Mike's Simple Solution
My plan is a compromise � a deal you make with yourself, and it can be summed up in one word, moderation. Enjoy some of what you love and don�t overdo it � simple advice to help tackle a complicated issue.
Improve upon your current diet
a. Keep a food diary as a short-term tool to help guide you
b. Learn portion control and how to adjust serving sizes
c. Avoid extremes and fad diets that can waste muscle
Perform Cardio two or three times a week
a. Mode of cardio is unimportant (walking, cycling, etc.)
b. Learn how to get into your fat burning heart rate zone
c. Spend 15 to 25 minutes exercising at the above level
Circuit train twice a week
a. Use a low to moderate resistance level
b. Work at high repetition ranges (15 to 20)
c. Keep rest short (under a minute between sets)
d. Do at least 8 to 10 total sets
Can it really be that simple? My answer to that question is, �It has to be.� In order for a program to be sustainable, it�s got to fit into your life, not that other way around. Pay special attention to every aspect of each exercise, getting the most you possibly can from every movement. Recording meals and learning portion control, while allowing your self to eat real food is also essential.
I hope this article helped shed some light on what a true, long-term, fitness and weight loss program is all about. If you need any help in getting started, please click here. Good luck! -- Mike Stefano
MICHAEL STEFANO is the creator and author of the Firefighter's Workout (Harper Collins 2000). Mr. Stefano is a health and fitness writer and contributor to eDiets, eFitness, & Firehouse.Com. In addition, Michael's articles have appeared on AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! His workouts have been featured in magazine and newspapers from around the country, as well as in numerous network and cable TV segments. He also offers a customized version of his amazing program, via a comprehensive 15-point fitness profile form.
"My program is a no-nonsense approach to exercise and weight loss that will not only get you fit, but will also fit into your life".
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