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         FITNESS TIPS FOR 4/22/2003   

Dennis M. Loya, JD., IFPA Certified Personal Trainer

There are millions of opinions on the subject of losing weight and I didn't 
think I would feel the need to add to them until I was talking to someone 
about losing weight and what they can do to "drop a few pounds". I 
discussed with this friend about the issue of eating and exercising at a 
"calorie deficit", and when her eyes glossed over I knew at that point 
what I was saying was not making sense. So I have decided to write this 
article to try to educate and inspire others to participate in a healthy 

People will try anything to lose weight I know people who are having their 
stomachs for the most part sewn shut so that they can only eat a few 
ounces at a time. I have seen and been part of a whole industry of drugs 
for helping individuals find the "magic" solution to being the right weight. 
Mostly I lament over the people making money from the obsession of 
losing weight and placing unsuspecting/trusting individuals in harms way, 
at the same time stealing their money by promising some talismanic cure 
to obesity. The answer to losing weight for the average healthy person 
seems so simple but is obfuscated by the self-appointed self-serving 
pseudo-intellectual weight loss gurus. Here is the answer and you do not 
have to climb a mountain to find it - one must eat and exercise at a calorie 

Eat less and exercise. I said this seemed simple, but not easy. To lose 
weight requires this proven magic formula, you must burn more calories 
than you take in, there is your magic formula in one sentence. There is 
literally an industry of books, gadgets and videos that tell you what kind 
of calories you should take in (low fat, low carbo, high protein, high fat, 
eat in The Zone, eat for your body type, etc.). All of this is nonsense and 
pointless if you are still eating more calories than you burn. One way to 
facilitate calorie burning is to take in fewer calories and exercise to 
augment the calorie burning process. Eat a balanced diet (remember that 
Twinkies, cupcakes, and donuts are NOT part of any known food group) 
consisting of less calories than you are burning during the day and you 
will lose weight. The important thing to remember is that you eat less, not 
eat nothing. You will lose weight slowly and safely but you must eat so 
that your metabolism does not slow to the point where you are not 
burning enough calories to lose weight sending your metabolism into
 "starvation mode". If your body perceives a consistent large calorie 
deficit as a threat, it begins to store fat to combat the "famine conditions". 

Have you ever seen a fat triathlete or marathon runner? Probably not. The 
basic premise is that whatever activity level you are at, increase it. If you
 are a couch potato, start by walking around the block on a regular basis. 
For your weight-loss workout, choose an activity or activities that you enjoy. 
Options like walking, bicycling, aerobic dancing, stair climbing, golf, tennis, 
jogging, and swimming are all great. Walking is a good option for many 
people, and it's inexpensive and readily available to most and does not 
place a lot of stress on your joints. When exercising, increase slowly and 
gently and try to do enjoyable things because this is a total lifestyle 
change and not some fad. The pivotal trait for success? Consistency. 
Weight loss is best achieved by making long-term changes in diet and 
exercise that become part of a healthy lifestyle. Small changes that cause 
few disruptions in life are more sustainable and more likely to help you 
keep those unwanted pounds from returning home to roost. In addition, 
adding resistance training will help maintain the metabolic rate as 
discussed in previous paragraphs. A simple weight lifting program two to 
three times a week should make a world of difference aesthetically and 
psychologically to encourage further weight loss. Exercise also 
improves self-esteem, which may help you stick with your healthy 
lifestyle habits. Finally, physical activity helps you feel better 
regardless of how much weight you lose. 

To burn more calories, those who currently exercise 3 days a week 
should try adding a fourth day, exercising longer each day, or doing 
both. In addition to your planned daily exercise and healthy diet, you 
can lose extra pounds by adding more physical activity in general 
to your daily lifestyle for instance take the stairs instead of the 
elevator; walk to the store around the corner instead of drive. 

If you want to lose fat, a useful guideline for lowering your calorie 
intake is to reduce your calories by at least 500 kcal, but not more 
than 1000 kcal below your maintenance level. For people with only a 
small amount of weight to lose, 1000 kcal will be too much of a deficit. 
As a guide to minimum calorie intake, the American College of Sports 
Medicine (ACSM) recommends that calorie levels never drop below 
1200 calories per day for women or 1800 kcal per day for men. 
Even these calorie levels are quite low.

A complete program includes resistance training, aerobic training, 
interval training (get winded and recover, get winded and recover), 
cross training (alternating two different exercises on different days, 
e.g. treadmill and exercise cycle), small frequent meals (5-6 small 
meals per day; or a meal every two hours) containing high-quality 
protein and carbohydrate, and low-glycemic nutrition (avoid a lot 
of refined sugar, white flour, and highly processed carbs - focus 
on carbs that exist in nature). Proper supplementation, particularly 
post-workout whey protein or leucine, is helpful. Lots of water and s
ufficient rest are also a must.

Many of us still eschew serious weight training even though experts 
insist it's necessary for optimal body composition. More muscle 
equals less body fat over time. A pound of muscle requires at least 
35 calories a day to function; a pound of fat only needs 1 or 2 
calories. When you build muscle, you boost your resting metabolic 
rate (RMR), so your body burns more calories, even when you're 

There are approximately 3500 calories in a pound of stored body 
fat. So, if you create a 3500-calorie deficit through diet, exercise 
or a combination of both, you will lose one pound of body weight. 
If you create a 7000 calorie deficit you will lose two pounds and 
so on. The calorie deficit can be achieved either by 
calorie-restriction alone, or by a combination of fewer calories-in 
(diet) and more calories-out (exercise). This combination of diet 
and exercise is best for lasting weight loss. Indeed, sustained 
weight loss is difficult or impossible without increased regular 

Accept that healthy and thin are not equal or go hand in hand. 
Does anyone think that someone who is anorexic is a good role 
model for a healthy look? Realize that genetics are a very 
important factor in this equation. If your Mother and Father were
obese, you probably will be too, however that does not mean 
something cannot be done to change that or it does not mean 
you cannot live a healthy lifestyle which is inherent to a quality 
life. Just remember that simply because a food exists does not 
mean we are obligated to eat it. Really if you looked at it, there
is no reason for a donut to exist, especially a chemical laden 
"low-fat" donut. Do not be a slave to the scale, listen to your
body and know your body, see if it feels healthy. Embrace 
yourself and get healthy. Throw away the over-the-counter 
diet drugs. This is not healthy.

Many weight loss diets and diet plans involving weight loss 
pills or supplements encourage very fast weight loss, often 
in excess of three to four pounds per week. This is both 
unhealthy and ineffective. The average healthy human body 
simply will not shed more than about 2 pounds of fat, per
week. But it will shed water, which is what most fast weight loss 

If your goal is fat loss, the scale is an extremely poor tool for 
measuring progress, particularly when you are doing any kind of 
weight training. Also, there is so much variation in water retention 
and digestive contents that you really cannot get a useful reading 
until your fat loss is significant as a percentage of your body 
weight. The mirror is another poor measuring tool. Fat never 
spot-reduces. It comes off in proportion to the existing fat layer. 
Usually, the shoulders and upper body are the first to show visual 
improvement, since these are the areas where the fat layer is 
thinnest. Your "problem areas" are virtually never the first to 
show improvement. But the progress will come if you don't 
give up.

For the first few weeks, write down everything you eat - you'll 
learn a lot about yourself, and your daily estimates may not 
even be close otherwise. If you follow roughly the same meal
plan every week, it is definitely worth the effort to carefully and 
honestly estimate the calories of your usual meals using a 
measuring cup and an inexpensive food scale. If you do this 
even once, you'll find that it's much easier to track your daily 
intake accurately.

Permanent Weight Loss Tips 

Here is a checklist of things that can be done: 

1.	Replace "full"-calorie food with low-calorie options (skim 
milk vs. whole milk, low-calorie dressing vs. high-calorie 

2.	Replace high-calorie condiments with low-calorie 
choices (mustard instead of mayonnaise, salsa instead of 
cream-based sauces)

3.	Choose small servings (large portions may contain twice 
the calories)

4.	Eat "slow-down" foods (for example, an orange instead 
of orange juice)

5.	Drink lots of water;

6.	Follow a daily food plan (impulsive choices tend to be 
high in calories)

In short, get active, eat healthfully, be at peace with yourself, and 
learn to accept yourself. The foregoing is the secret formula for 
weight loss which is really not a secret at all. Do not be 
disappointed, it is not easy, just get to work stop putting it off until 
tomorrow which will never come. The sooner we take a healthy 
view to weight and fitness, the better off we will all be. By counting 
calories every day, you can expect to achieve effective long-term
results. Moreover, a complete record of your daily calories allows 
you to use your feedback to more effectively control your weight 
loss experience in many other beneficial ways. 

Few people lose weight without occasional periods of 
discouragement and frustration. Create an attitude of persistence 
during times that you reach a weight plateau. In addition, some 
people benefit from the motivation provided by weight-loss support 
groups. Exercise, like a healthy diet, is a lifestyle adaptation that 
should persist throughout life. 

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