There are plenty of resolutions people can make each new year, but there’s always one that seems to stand out above the rest — losing weight.
According to local personal trainer Mark Dee, owner of Center City Gym, whether people like it or not, nutrition and working out are essential when it comes to losing excess pounds.
“You have to eat right and train right and go after your goals — most of your top athletes combine fitness and healthy nutrition,” he said. “If you want something, you’ve got to go get it.”
Dee said people at home can begin their weight loss plan by eating healthy and setting goals.
“Everything ends and begins nutritionally,” he said. “Also, goal setting is crucial, both long-term and short-term.
“I like to tell people to find a picture of the condition you want to achieve, and then from that point, find out what you need to do to get there.”
According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of Americans do not get enough exercise, blaming lack of time and lack of motivation.
Dee said for most people, getting motivated and staying motivated is the most difficult part of the process.
“Motivation is a tough one ... finding what you like and doing what you like to do is important — it’s more about consistency and dedication than anything.,” he said. “You also need to surround yourself with people who achieve the same things and want the same things as you do.”
Dee said weight training is vital to weight loss. He recommends doing two to three days of weight resistance training each week.
“Weight training is your base ... you need to build up your strength and then get into your cardio — the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn,” he said. “Nothing in the world has a greater benefit for bone density, muscle strength and boosting metabolism than weight resistance.”
For those starting out in poor physical condition, Dee recommends beginning with two days of cardiovascular work (running, biking, elliptical, etc.) each week, eventually working up to three to four days.
“You need a minimum consistency of 20 minutes of cardio each day, and if you don’t have that, try to build up to it,” he said. “Also, if you’re needing to lose 100 pounds, don’t run, bike. When you’re pounding all that weight, you’re hurting your joints.
“Most people don’t like running, so I tell them to do the treadmill with a fast-paced walk on an incline, or they can do a stationary bike at a high enough level to get their heart rate up to 120 for 30-40 minutes.”
Dee suggests people try different ways of getting their cardio.
“With cardio, you’ve got to mix it up,” he said. “It makes it more fun and interesting.”
Dee said there are plenty of things people can do in their home and outside their home for cardio, especially in this area, including Pilates, yoga, plyometrics (increases overall agility, strength and balance, example: the use of balance balls and bungees), workout DVDs, using at-home workout equipment, skiing, sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
“Just do something — move — don’t stay stationary at home,” he said. “At this time of year group activities are fun ... going sledding and running up and down those hills gets your cardio going and burns calories ... ice skating creates a good sense of balance and increases strength.”
Dee said when doing cardio, staying hydrated is crucial.
“Always bring plenty of water,” he said.
According to Dee, another important training tool is flexibility. He recommends people stretch 10-15 minutes every other day.
“If you increase your flexibility you have more range of motion in your muscles and this promotes strength,” he said.
Dee said, if people can afford it, the best possible thing they can do for themselves is to hire a personal trainer.
“If you hire a professional, qualified personal trainer, you can right away gain some basic knowledge of fitness and nutrition,” he said. “You can get some good working knowledge you can use the rest of your life.”
No matter what path you choose when beginning a workout plan, Dee said it’s about staying accountable to yourself.
“As the saying goes — just do it,” he said. “You need to be honest to yourself and be honest to your program and do it.”