Jump-start Your Weight Loss Program

Jump-start Your Weight Loss Program

(CARLSBAD, CA) Inevitably, weight loss goals resurface in the spring when swimsuit season is on the horizon. It's an excellent time to assess how well you've adopted your New Year's resolutions and, if need be, jump-start your weight loss program.

Judi Sheppard Missett, founder and CEO of Jazzercise, says achieving significant and lasting weight loss requires vigilance on three fronts: Mind, Meals and Movement. Leaving any of these components out can seriously hamper your success.


Mind games are common among individuals who struggle to lose weight. Too often, they are negative, centering on feelings of guilt, distorted body image and low self-esteem.

Putting a positive spin on your internal messages can have a profound effect on your ability to accomplish your goal. You can start by closing your eyes and visualizing your success. Paint a mental picture of yourself snacking on fruits and vegetables midway through the day (instead of grabbing cookies) and going for a brisk 30-minute walk every evening. When you actually see yourself doing these things, you'll begin believing that you can do them. Then, translate those positive images into a written list of realistic short-term goals that you can follow.

Finally, keep a food diary. Record when, where, what and how much you eat, and include your physical and emotional state (e.g. hungry, bored, stressed, angry) with each entry. This is the only way you can accurately monitor your calorie consumption and identify the people, places and emotions that may trigger overeating.


Mealtime can be a source of great anxiety for people trying to lose weight. Again, a detailed, specific game plan can increase your odds of success. Experts recommend eating four to six small meals a day, instead of the traditional three. Eating every three to four hours keeps hunger at bay and helps prevent binging. It also stabilizes blood sugar levels, preventing rapid increases and subsequent "crashes" that play havoc with your fat-regulating hormones insulin and leptin.

The key is to eat balanced, healthy and lowfat meals that range between 300 and 400 calories each. You may want to invest in a session with a nutritionist who can develop a personalized meal plan that includes three to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and provide the correct balance of protein (20 percent), carbohydrates (50 to 55 percent) and fat (15 to 30 percent). Perhaps most important, educate yourself on proper portion sizes. A review of the Food Guide Pyramid may prove to be an eye-opening experience. For example, today's average size bagel is actually equal to two to three servings, not one!


Unfortunately, the number of sedentary individuals far outweighs (pun intended!) the number of individuals who exercise consistently. Yet, exercise is crucial to fat loss. The best approach is a combination of fat-burning aerobic exercise and muscle-building resistance training.

Prime examples of aerobic exercise include brisk walking, jogging/running, dancing, rowing, cycling and swimming. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity a day or three to five 20 to 60-minute sessions per week. Resistance training is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass. The greatest perk is that muscle burns more calories, even at rest. Individuals should perform at least two resistance-training sessions per week targeting each major muscle group.

The following triceps "kickback" exercise is a great way to strengthen and shape your upper arm. Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, stand with your feet hip width apart and your knees and toes pointing forward. Take a big step forward with your left leg, and bend your knees into a lunge position. Place your left hand on your hip or on your thigh for support, as you hold the weight at your right hip with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Keep your upper arm parallel to the floor as you extend your right elbow and lift the weight out behind you. Pause briefly before slowly lowering the weight to your hip. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch to the other side. Perform up to 3 sets on each side, resting for a short time in between sets

4. Don't overdo it.
It is very common for people to try to exercise every day once they start an exercise program. However, this can often lead to exercise burnout and may lead to discontinuing exercise altogether. Therefore, you should set goals, which will enable you to improve your fitness level without overdoing it.

5. Be efficient.
Make sure that you are working out at a good intensity level for you. Find out your target heart rate range and aim for the upper end of it. Make sure you break a sweat. Also, the higher the intensity level, the more total calories you burn per minute of exercise. However, you do not want to work out so hard that you can only exercise for a short period of time. Your goal should be 3-4 times per week for 30-45 minutes of continuous aerobic activity. At first, you might need to take a few breaks but as you become more fit you will be able to exercise for longer periods of time.

6. Schedule it.
It's so easy to get overwhelmed at work and skip your workout. One solution is to treat your workout like a business meeting. Write it in your planner and keep the appointment. After all, you will perform better at work if you are taking care of yourself.

7. Make exercise easy.
It is very important to recognize your own barriers to exercise. Do you have trouble getting to the gym if you go home first? Do you always hit the snooze button when you plan to workout in the morning? Do you ever forget your gym clothes? Once you identify your barriers to exercise it is imperative that you try to reduce or eliminate them. Pack your gym bag the night before or keep a few extra sets of gym clothes in your car or at work. Go straight to the gym after work if you tend to have difficulty going once at home.

8. Get adventurous.
Try a new activity every month to avoid boredom. This will also add more variety to your fitness routine. Fitness can be a lot of fun, so think of new ways to add it to your life. Some ideas are kayaking, tennis, hiking, biking, or Family Olympics. Look on the Internet for local hiking or biking trails in your area. If you are a member at a local gym, ask them to show you how to use that piece of equipment that you have been eyeing in the gym but you are not sure how to use.

9. Do it at home.
Can't make it to the gym? Well, that's no excuse! Go to the local sports store or discount store (e.g. Target or Wal-Mart) and purchase some dumbbells according to your level of fitness. Start out with a set of 3 and 5 pound weights. You should be able to purchase the weights for less than $10.

10. Enlist an exercise buddy.
It always helps to exercise with a friend since you can help motivate each other on those "I don't want to exercise" days

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