May 27 2021 – Kash Behmardi
For many people, the main reason for signing up to the gym or starting a regular workout is to lose weight. We live in times when it’s easy to get comfortable and lazy, and we only realize that we have neglected our physical well-being when we notice a few extra pounds on the scales in the morning.
There is nothing to be ashamed of; we are all busy people, there is a lot happening in our lives and sometimes we just don’t have the energy to make ourselves go to a gym or out for a jog.
The good thing is that very often once we start working out regularly or get back into it after a long break, we quickly become addicted to it! And it doesn’t take long until we are actually looking forward to that sweaty session at the gym after work.
Of course, it’s all thanks to endorphins! According to Medical News Today research shows an increase in the release of endorphins after exercise. Physical activity can boost mood and increases those happy chemicals, and so regular exercise is often prescribed as a treatment for depression and anxiety. Plus, you can easily get addicted to that amazing feeling after a workout. A mixture of pride and happiness.
But when you are just not there yet and you have only just realized you need to lose some weight you might possibly consider doing one, or both, of these two things － rigorous diet and exhausting exercise. And the truth is… this is a bad idea!
Now you are probably wondering - why? How can you lose weight in a different way? Well, you can’t. And now you are probably even more confused, right?
Sure, the only healthy way to hit your target weight is through regular physical activity and proper diet. But healthy doesn’t mean exhaustion or starvation. Being on a healthy diet is important even if you don’t want to lose weight. A diet which is good for your body (and mind) should be balanced, and provide your body with all the necessary nutrients.
Depending on your individual needs, you can find a diet which is best suited to your lifestyle and health. There are a lot of different types of diets out there and lots of literature available on each of them. But if you are not sure what sort of diet would be best for you, you can always consult a professional dietitian to help you put together a diet that would be perfect for you.
So remember, health comes first, weight loss second. But of course you need motivation and for many, seeing the numbers going down on their scale is the thing that keeps them going. So no matter what diet you are on, there is one simple rule that applies to all of the diets out there if you want to lose weight － the number of calories you consume should always be lower than the number of calories you burn each day. Simple!
And that’s where exercise comes in handy. The more physical activity, the more calories you burn. Thus, you can worry less about the calorie intake.
So now the question is what sort of exercise would be best for you?
We have just established that starving yourself is not a diet. It’s an unhealthy habit that can lead to a lot of health issues. And of course we don't want that - the whole point of losing weight is to be healthy!
A similar rule applies to the workout you choose. Most people, when trying to lose weight, put together an exhausting plan for exercising which in most cases can lead to over-exerting your muscles, injuries and most likely giving up. Let’s face it, if you decide to work out twice a day － very early in the morning before work and then again in the evening － five times a week, realistically how long can you keep that going? A week? Maybe two? You will quickly give up on losing weight altogether.
So how can you do it properly - without exhausting your body and losing enthusiasm? Simple: by finding the right balance. There needs to be time for intensive workout and time for your body to regenerate. Don’t exercise every day. Give your body time to regenerate and relax so it has more strength when it’s time to exercise at high-intensity levels.
You are probably also wondering what type of exercise would be best for you. The best option is to give your body a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic exercises. While aerobic activity (also known as cardio) will improve your fitness, anaerobic will help you strengthen your muscles. For aerobic, you can choose running, spinning, dancing, kickboxing, and many others. Anaerobic exercises can include e heavy weight lifting, climbing, sprinting, push-ups, squats etc.
But you should never forget about proper stretching and relaxation! And that’s where yoga can help you!
Yoga and weight loss
Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility, stretch your muscles after other, high-intensity exercise, and with its elements of mediation, it can really help you slow down and relax.
While this is all true, not many people know that yoga can also help you lose weight! Most people, even those who have been practicing yoga on a regular basis for years, don’t realize it.
Since most types of yoga are not very fast-paced we don’t really associate it with weight loss. And in a way, this is true, because yoga doesn't help you lose weight in the way other types of exercises do. In fact, it works in a number of ways.
First of all, yoga is all about awareness and mindfulness. With regular exercise you begin to really feel your body; you become aware of it. And with that usually comes better self-care. Most regular yoga practitioners become more mindful of taking good care of their bodies outside of the yoga classroom too. They try to eat more healthily and make better food choices.
Secondly, even if you are not the type of person to become immediately more mindful thanks to yoga, there is something else that yoga can do for you when it comes to your battle with those extra pounds. It improves your metabolism. There are a number of yoga poses that can really help you boost your metabolism and burn a few extra calories. Practicing Sun Salutations is especially effective, so waking up a few minutes earlier and saluting the sun can be a good way to start your day.
Lastly, if you choose the right type of yoga it can really get your heart pumping. An intense Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram, Power Yoga or Vinyasa class can really help you burn those calories. If you want to lose weight with yoga, always choose a class that will be challenging for you. Of course, it doesn’t mean that if you are a beginner, you need to go to the most advanced class in your yoga school － just choose the one that will make you sweat a little bit more than usual.
A few extra pounds or not, always love and accept yourself. Sure, it’s great to be healthy and in good shape, but the most important thing is to feel comfortable. So exercise to be healthy and happy, not for the looks － that’s just an extra.
And no matter the size, there is a wide range of great yoga pants out there, so choose the ones that make you feel most like you and get ready for your next yoga class. And most importantly… have fun!