Which Fitness Program is the Best for Weight Loss?

May 25, 2011 By: afeldman 418 Comments

Every time I pick up a fitness newsletter, a new program is being thrown into the spotlight and getting saluted as the new “best thing in fitness.”   When there are so many new programs around, it can be hard to commit to one fitness program for weight loss.  While there is nothing wrong with jumping into a new program, it is important to give yourself enough time to see results.  The problem is that most people jump from one routine to another in hopes of finding a magic solution to weight loss.  That is the very reason that fitness trends are profitable.  When a new workout does not bring results, people move on to the next big thing.  In this article, I will go over four different exercise programs that are currently huge in popularity, with listed pros and cons of each with a bottom line to consider.

CrossFit

What is it?

Cross Fit Weight Loss Fitness

Cross Fit is a workout program that combines movements in a circuit format.

CrossFit is a workout program that bases itself off of ten domains: cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.  It combines movements from sprinting, Olympic lifting and gymnastics into a circuit format.  The CrossFit workout of the day is always different, but will usually combine 3-6 movements which have participants repeat the series a certain number of times.  Different people participating in the workout may compete to get the workout done in the fastest time.

Pros:

Participating in CrossFit is definitely a high energy, high intensity workout.  It burns a large amount of calories, which results in great progress.  Many regulars also love the big draw to CrossFit- the group dynamic.  Participants are surrounded by fellow fitness enthusiasts doing the same workout.

Cons:

There are a few criticisms to CrossFit that are definitely valid.  The first criticism is the lack of specificity.  When you go into a CrossFit facility, it is one workout for everyone.  It does not take into account individual differences in size, shape or fitness level as effectively as other programs do.  Another common criticism is related to the workout structure.  There are many high impact contraindicated movements that are combined into one circuit and for multiple days in a row.  Also looked down upon is the fact that movements geared for quick bursts of strength and power are thrown into an endurance circuit.  Many people think that this is dangerous and a lot of people that have left CrossFit have given reasons such as severe joint pain or complete burnout.

The Bottom Line:

If you want to try CrossFit, make sure you go to one of their specialized facilities and receive in depth instruction.  CrossFit movements require much instruction and put a lot of stress on joints and muscles.  Listen to your joints.  If they are progressively feeling worse, that is not a good sign.  If you plan on participating in the CrossFit program, make sure that your body is getting the rest it needs, especially when first starting.

P90X

What is it?

P90x Fitness Program for Weight Loss

P90x is a workout DVD program which has made itself famous for the concept of "muscle confusion."

P90x is a workout DVD series that has made itself famous from the concept of “muscle confusion.”  This concept is a continuous changing of the workout to confuse your body into progress.  While muscle confusion is a legitimate concept, P90x did not create it.  Giving your body a different stimulus from workout to workout is a concept that has been around for years.  The P90x program spreads muscle confusion over different workout DVDs that include strength training, cardio and stretching.  There is also a nutrition program attached.  The claim is that if you follow the program for 90 days, your body will go from “flabby to lean.”

The Pros:

Many people that use P90x have experienced significant weight loss and have increased their strength and endurance greatly.  It is also a cost effective program, when compared to regular personal training and gym dues, that can be done with a minimal amount of equipment.  It is also easily adaptable to different skill levels.

The Cons:

While P90x gurus may claim that P90x is the revolution of fitness, it is not reinventing the wheel.  It uses moves, concepts and principles that have been done time and time before.  The problem is that some of the exercises are hard to master without feedback from a trainer.  The motivation that comes from working out with others is also gone since it is just you in front of a TV with a ball and dumbbells.  While it may be a good tool, it does not substitute for exercising with a trainer or instructor.  People that are not happy with P90x are usually those that have lost motivation due to the television format of the workout.

The Bottom Line:

If you can motivate yourself to work out without going to a gym and still reach intensities necessary to make progress, then this program can be helpful to you.  However, if you find it difficult to make it through a session at the gym due to lack of motivation, it will be that much worse when you are trying it at home with no one to answer to but a DVD player.

Insanity

What is it?

Insanity Fitness Program for Weight Loss

Insanity is a workout DVD program that promises to whip you into shape in just 60 days.

Insanity is another workout DVD set that was introduced following the popularity of the P90x program.  The concept behind insanity is that it can get you into shape within 60 days instead of 90.  The DVD set also comes with a wider variety of workouts.

Pros:

With the wide variety included in this package, it is harder to grow bored with the workouts and varying movements.  As with P90X, you are also given the convenience of working out in your home with minimal equipment.  While the DVD set itself may be on the expensive side, it will even out when you factor in money saved on personal training and memberships.

Cons:

Exercising with this program will not speed up any benefits that you would see from doing P90x.  It is also just a DVD set.  It takes a lot of internal motivation and will power to follow the intensity featured on these DVDs.  A good point to remember is that if these two DVD programs were successful for everyone, they would not need to dominate late night marketing campaigns on television.

The Bottom Line:

It takes much will power and self discipline to follow a DVD workout program.  While it may save you money and a trip to the gym, it may not move you any closer to your goals.  Without someone there to push you, it can be difficult to get through a hard workout.

Wii Fit

What is it?

Wii Fit for Weight Loss

Wii Fit is an active video game that promotes fun and fitness.

The Wii Fit is an interactive videogame where participants stand on a platform to perform exercise movements that come from yoga, strength training and calisthenics.  The game also comes with logs that allow you to record things like dietary information and extra activities.

Pros:

Video games are fun, and when combined with fitness activities, can make a fitness routine easier to commit to.  When your brain is distracted with trying to get a high score, it is easy to get yourself to burn higher calories without realizing it.  This includes games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero as well.

Cons:

With the fast pacing of games in general, it is very easy to do an exercise incorrectly, especially once fatigue sets in.  Focusing on a game may throw proper form out the window.  Since you are not in a gym, it is very difficult to be aware of it when your exercises become sloppy.  Also, even though you are burning more calories than you would by just sitting around, the levels are not nearly as high as they would be during a normal exercise session.  The strength training programs and yoga programs are also no substitute for the actual classes.

The bottom line:

I feel that the Wii Fit is a great way to add in extra exercise during the day at low intensities.  It is a great substitute for regular video games, but it is not a substitute for proper exercise.  I would not recommend substituting it for a nice jog or volleyball game outside either.  If something comes up and for some reason you could not get a normal workout in, this is better than doing nothing.

Keep this in mind

When it is all said and done, any of these programs have the potential to get an individual into the best shape possible.  If a program promotes muscular strength, endurance, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance, it is a well rounded program.  Mass marketed fitness programs are one way to get there, but not the only way.  Rate of success isn’t as dependent on the choice of program as it is to the individual that is participating and how hard they are working.  At Shane Diet Resorts weight loss program for adults, we give you a program that is specifically tailored to you, not a one size fits all routine.  Check out our website for more fitness resources.

Moving to Music: Making Exercise Fun!

May 20, 2011 By: office 23 Comments

Think back to the last time you danced. Not a little side to side swaying when you’re in a good mood, but a full-body boogie that put a smile on your face, put your arms in the air and allowed all of your inhibitions to melt away. Wouldn’t it be great if you can do that every day as a form of exercise? Well, dancing is a bona fide weight loss workout, no matter if it’s in a dance club or a fitness class, offering benefits such as healthier cardiovascular system, stronger bones, and improved mood. With dance, however, you don’t really realize you are exercising; happily though, a turn on the dance floor can burn 200 to 500 calories per hour!

Dancing has many wonderful attributes apart from helping burn calories. Dancing strengthens our muscles, which in turn better stabilizes our joints, protecting them from injury. It is lower impact than running and much easier on the joints of the knees and ankles. All styles of dancing are considered weight-bearing exercises, which force the muscle and bone to work against gravity. This stress strengthens the bones and is the only kind of exercise that can actually slow down bone loss.

Dance moves also activate almost every muscle in the body and as a result, naturally strengthen the core, improve flexibility, balance, and posture, as well as aiding in weight loss, which will improve cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Zumba Dance Class for Weight Loss

Dance classes like Zumba are not only fun, but also a great way to burn calories for weight loss.

Between 2002 through 2010, there was a 26 percent increase in interest for dance as a fitness class in health clubs. Some of that rise had to do with the introduction of Zumba, a Latin inspired dance workout class. Since then, several different types of dance inspired workouts have been created, including Batuka, a new class that borrows moves from belly dancing, hip-hop and salsa, which is schedule to start rolling out into health clubs this coming fall.

Like other exercises, dancing can modulate levels of brain chemicals associated with mood, such as dopamine, nor epinephrine and serotonin. There is also a sense of achievement that comes with mastering new skills.

At Shane Diet Resorts adult weight loss camp, our fun filled fitness schedule not only includes several varieties of group exercise classes, we also have Dance! which includes Latin, Hip Hop and jazz inspired dance combinations, that will help you lose weight and, most of all, have fun!

Weight Loss and Fitness Tips: Make Cardio Fun!

May 11, 2011 By: afeldman 8 Comments

If you are still working on your New Year’s fitness goals, then congratulations, you are in a minority. Many people give up weight loss resolutions by February and most go back to old habits by March. In previous articles, I have made recommendations for changing up the fitness routine and increasing exercise intensity. Now it’s time to think about the mental aspect of exercise.

If exercise is just boring and monotonous, then you are expending mental energy doing it. If you are not enjoying your exercise session, it is obviously harder to remain dedicated. A good rule of thumb for cardiovascular exercise is to incorporate enjoyable activities for at least one of your weekly sessions. It will help you avoid mental burn out and also give you a reason to look forward to getting up and moving around for an hour. Making cardio fun can mean trying different activities or even doing the same activities, but with a friend. Below are some ways to make your cardio-vascular sessions more enjoyable and more sustainable.

Sign up for a team – If you are in school, this is easy. There are usually intramural teams for just about every sport. If you don’t have friends that are interested, sign up as a free agent and be assigned to a team. For those who are not in a college atmosphere, community recreation centers also have leagues for basketball, soccer, football, volleyball and sometimes swimming. Don’t be intimidated to join because of being unfamiliar to a sport. Recreational facilities do a good job of running multiple leagues separated by athletic experience. Usually, there will be 1-2 days a week for games and however many practice sessions with the team. This is a great way to get the heart rate up and move the body without a structured exercise session.

Dance Class

Consider joining a dance class for a fun, effective weight loss workout.

Learn to dance – The popularity of dance classes has really risen in the past decade. With classes like Zumba and Cardio Hip-hop, exercise is very nicely incorporated into dancing. You can burn between 400-700 calories in an hour of dance exercise. If the fast paced classes aren’t for you, ballroom dancing is an alternative option. Many community centers and dance studios offer classes like ballroom dancing and ballet for all ages and backgrounds.

Learn to defend yourself – Another fun and popular form of cardio exercise that is found in many gyms is cardio kickboxing. Kickboxing allows you to burn a large amount of calories in a short period of time. You could even take it one step further and sign up for martial arts classes or karate. Many people have found martial arts to be a good release of negative energy as well as a great way to get fit.

Go out for scenic hikes – Grab a friend and hit the trails. If you are lucky enough to live near areas of nature or parks, take advantage of it. Block out an afternoon to go hiking in the hills. If you want to increase the challenge, pack a bag with some extra weight and throw it on your back.

Join a running club – Many groups will meet up during the week for outside runs. From those attempting their first 5k to seasoned marathon runners, most running clubs divide off based on experience level. You can inquire about running groups in your area on various meet-up websites, at the community recreation center or even the local running shoe store. When I say running shoe store, I mean a store that specializes in selling running shoes and gear, not a sporting goods store. If you can’t find a group in your town, then start your own with friends.

Get out the skates - Of course, it takes balance and coordination to successfully roller-skate, but once you develop those skills, skating can be a lot of fun. Skating can be done outside or at a skating rink. The skills from roller skating also carry over into ice skating. If you are teaching yourself how to skate or rollerblade, start off in an empty parking lot or on a slow side street. Slowly work up to skating in areas with hills and curvy pathways.

Commit to a goal – Make it a 5k, a swim for diabetes or a biking trip. If you have a specific goal to work towards, the light at the end of the tunnel is enough to keep you moving. The best thing to do is to sign up without thinking twice about it. After you are signed up for something, it is time to make a training plan. Find something at least 2-3 months away that is realistic to complete and sign up!

The bottom line is that not everyone enjoys going to a gym and spending a half hour on the same treadmill 6 days a week. If you are one of the few that looks forward to walking into the gym, then keep doing what you are doing. If you struggle to make it into the gym, try to find at least one activity that is enjoyable. Your chances of reaching your goals will be much better. Consider an adult weight loss program or fitness retreat, such as Shane Diet Resorts, which offers the vacation atmosphere combined with a healthy lifestyle. It’s a fun, effective way to lose weight!

Weight Loss Tips: 9 Strategies for Dealing with Nighttime Cravings

May 4, 2011 By: afeldman 6 Comments

When starting a healthy eating plan to lose weight, the morning is the easiest time to stay dedicated.  As the day progresses, various factors start to weigh in and ditching the diet becomes more likely.  Food cravings and binge eating occur most commonly between the time after work and before bed.  All it takes is one midnight feeding of junk food to ruin your progress from your morning workout.  Here are some of my favorite strategies to deal with these cravings and prevent them from getting the best of you.

Nighttime Hunger

Try out our tips to control your midnight snack cravings.

1. Occupy yourself – There is a reason that most weight loss diets fail at night.  That is when the majority of Americans get off of work and head home.  Once at home, there is not much to do outside of the television.  The commercial breaks are timed perfectly for you to grab food from the kitchen to munch on.  Hunger is not always the primary cause of eating in these situations.  Nighttime feedings can come from our boredom, which kicks in leaving food as a good distraction.  To fix this, find a hobby to engage in at home or don’t head home right after work to an empty house.  Hanging out with friends, going out for a walk, studying in the school library or playing with the dogs are good ways to take your mind off of the kitchen.

2. Store food out of sight – If food is constantly visible, it will also be on your mind.  If you’re not hungry and food is sitting there waiting for you, it becomes hard to resist picking it up.  Put all food away in cabinets so you do not have to constantly be reminded that it is there.  As they say, out of sight and out of mind.

3. Replace junk foods with low calorie foods - As a competitive bodybuilder, being on a strict diet is something that I have to do during various times of the year.  One of my strategies for dealing with times of hunger is replacing bad foods with low calorie foods.  Spinach is the perfect example.  If you have to eat something, at least make it healthy.  A whole bag of potato chips can have up to 1500 calories!  A whole bag of spinach usually doesn’t have more than 100.  Other low calorie foods to keep in mind include low calorie Jell-o or puffed rice.

4. Brush your teeth – People usually laugh when I mention this one.  Think about this: Have you ever tried to eat right after brushing your teeth?  The food doesn’t taste very good, does it?  If you feel cravings coming on, brush your teeth early.  Keep a toothbrush in the kitchen if you have to.

5. Hang up Posters – This can be a copy of your latest workout, a picture of a trainer/workout partner, a magazine cover or even an old picture of you.  The trick is to hang them up in all the places you would go to get food at night.  When seeing motivational cues, you are less likely to go crazy in the kitchen.

6. Calculate the Activity – Make it a rule to calculate the activity involved with nighttime food.  Figure a mile for every 70 calories or 7-10 minutes of hard exercise.  If you’re thinking of going through a couple cookies, it could take you 100 minutes to burn them off!  Calculations like this can take away some of the appeal of those feedings and remember, if you eat one cookie late at night, you’re more than likely to eat 2 followed by 3 and 4.

7. Ice and water – Trick your stomach by giving it something that is calorie free: water and ice.  I am notorious for sucking on ice.  It is a habit I picked up when I used to lifeguard.   By filling up on water or sucking on ice, you can trick your stomach into thinking it is full.

8. Re-evaluate the Meal Schedule – If you find yourself constantly hungry at night, look at the times that you are eating.  If your last meal or snack is 6 hours before bedtime, then some changes should be made.  The standard recommendation of 3 small meals and 2-3 small snacks in a day works perfectly. They just need to be spread out correctly for your personal healthy lifestyle.  It is good to eat every 3-4 hours (9:00am, 12:00pm, 3:00pm, 6:00pm and 9:00pm is one example).  By keeping blood sugar levels at a consistent level, cravings can be minimized.  This is done by spacing out meals and snacks equally.

9. Find a Support Group - There are support groups that meet for all kinds of addictions including overeating, under eating, alcoholism, etc.  If food cravings or binge eating has become a serious issue for you, a support group could help you greatly.  Look for ones that meet in your community; they are not hard to find. Or, consider joining a fitness retreat for adults, like Shane Diet Resorts, where we follow a philosophy of healthy eating and exercise for weight loss. We will help you to control your cravings and realize that you do not need to overeat to feel full!

Do you have any unique strategies for dealing with food cravings or a plan that you use to keep food portions at a reasonable size?  We would love to hear them!

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