Although eating correctly and less without doing any form of exercise can deliver reasonable weight-loss results, our studies at the Institute persistently showed that the best weight loss results were always achieved with a combination of both. It also ensured the biggest improvement in the overall physical and mental health of our patients.
Our research also showed unfortunately that a large percentage of our patients had a very negative attitude towards exercise and had very little enthusiasm for partaking in any form of it. We investigated their reasons and found many sound explanations, ranging from time and financial constraints to painful joints and sore backs. Most often, however, our clients were also disillusioned because they felt that the results of their previous attempts at exercise did not correspond to or justify the amount of time and effort they had spent on it. The truth is, that although exercise lowers your risk of all sorts of diseases ranging from heart attacks, diabetes and cancer, many recent studies have found that cardiovascular exercise is not as useful as was assumed in helping you to lose weight. If one looks at the maths, it becomes clearer. Doing a half hour’s worth of running at a moderate pace and rewarding yourself with an energy drink afterwards will make you gain weight by putting more energy back into your system than what you have just burnt. Frankly, you would have been far better off if you had stayed at home, watched TV and drank water.
Our weight-loss philosophy at the Institute is Better strategy, less effort. This certainly does not entail investing the minimum amount of effort. On the contrary, better strategy means that you must not waste your effort, in other words, you need to invest your effort in such a way that you will gain maximum weight-loss benefit.
In addition, better strategy must also help you to incorporate a regular exercise routine into your life, even if you naturally do not like the process or have little spare time. The good news is that you do not need to start running marathons. All that is required is for you to take small but regular steps in such a manner that you are not mentally or physically tortured by the process.
Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health. It is performed for many different reasons. These include enjoyment, strengthening your muscles and bony skeleton, improving your cardiovascular system and achieving weight loss or maintenance.
There are two types of exercise. Cardio-vascular or “aerobic” exercise, like running, swimming and cycling, improves the blood flow to your muscles and organs and helps you burn fat. Cardio-vascular exercise reduces levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that leads to fat accumulation in the abdominal region. Exercise also improves your body’s sensitivity to insulin, meaning that you need less insulin to do the same job, making it far easier for you to lose weight.
During weight training or “anaerobic” exercise, the muscle fibres are overloaded and strained, sometimes even slightly injured. This causes your muscles to use oxygen so rapidly that a shortage develops within the muscle, hence the term “anaerobic”. Besides burning fat, the process of straining the muscle also causes the body to release growth hormone, one of the most powerful fat burning substances in the body. Growth hormone directly opposes many of the functions of insulin. For example, where insulin actively blocks the release of insulin by the fat cells, growth hormone does the opposite by stimulating the release of fat.
Besides toning and shaping your body cosmetically into a more attractive and better defined figure, growth hormone also enlarges your muscles. The good news is that a larger muscle also uses more energy, even during rest; thereby raising your metabolic rate and making you burn more fat.
For this reason the best weight-loss exercise regime consists of a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training combined. We have found that if you do no resistance training, you will reduce your weight-loss results by at least forty percent.
What about the evidence that exercise can make you gain weight?
It is commonly perceived that during weight training so much fat disappears and so much muscle develops that you start gaining weight. This is rarely the case, especially with women. Some men (and women) are able to build huge muscles, especially with the help of steroid injections, but in order to do so they have to use very heavy weights and spend many hours at it in order to achieve this goal. Please do not be concerned, we assure you that this will not happen to you, especially since you will only be using a light weight.
Besides the rare occasions when they build more muscle, there are two main reasons why people gain weight during exercise. The one is eating more food, the other, drinking more liquid other than water, especially energy drinks. We know that many gym instructors advised some of our clients to use protein shakes and meal replacements to “feed their muscles” after exercise, with disastrous results. Please don’t do it.
What you need to remember:
Just stick to drinking water after an exercise session. You do not need to “feed” your muscle with anything that is not already in your body. After exercise, your muscle does a great job by burning fat as the preferred source of energy. By drinking an energy drink or protein shake, you interfere with this process by sending your insulin levels rocketing. Remember that insulin plays the role of prison warder and actively blocks the release of fatty acids by the fat cells. This means that you will start burning less fat. If your desire is to lose weight, you have just shot yourself in the foot.
Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that rigorous cardio-vascular exercise often increases your appetite, thereby making you eat more. Evidence of the weight-gain effects of exercise is reported in a study by Dr. Timothy Church (Public Library of Science). The basic problem, in other words, is that while it’s true that exercise burns energy and you have to burn energy in order to lose weight, by stimulating your hunger it increases your energy intake and makes it more difficult for you to lose weight. “If you are more physically active, you’re going to get hungry and eat more,” said Steven Gortmaker, who heads Harvard’s Prevention Research Centre on Nutrition and Physical Activity. (Time Magazine, August 2009.)
Gortmaker, in an eighteen-month study involving 538 students, found that when his research participants started exercising, they also ate more, consuming, on average, 100 calories more than they had burnt. (International Journal of Obesity). His findings were supported by another study of the exercise and eating patterns of schoolchildren by the Peninsula Medical School (European Congress on Obesity).
Another problem concerning exercise, is that it may lead to a condition called compensatory eating. (Muravan & Baumeister – Psychology Bulletin, 2000). In other words, having done a great workout justifies your belief that you deserve a large cappuccino and blueberry muffin as a reward for your sacrifice. According to our better strategy, less effort philosophy, when this happens, you must resort to our damage control loopholes and that blueberry muffin and cappuccino must count as your next meal, in other words, you will have to miss the next meal in order to stay within your energy allocation. If you don’t, you will not lose weight even though you have done exercise. The same goes for an energy drink or meal replacement shake – once taken, you will have to skip the next meal. Considering this, is it really worth it?
What about our patient’s objections against exercise?
Objection 1: Busy schedules with limited spare time
Then use our compact programme, especially designed for those with little spare time. The best news is that you don’t even have to leave home to do it.
Objection 2: Budget restraints
The programme has deliberately been designed that you do not have to join a gym, travel to a destination, buy expensive exercise equipment or invest in a personal trainer. All you need is some basic training clothes, a pair of 2kg dumbbells, a training mat and some comfortable sport’s shoes.
Objection 3: Sore backs and joints
You can easily customise our programme by excluding any exercise that may potentially aggravate joint and back pain. In the majority of cases, however, patients with joint and back pain start to feel better and experience less pain after the first month. Most back problems actually benefit from a programme done with light weights. This is because it strengthens the muscles surrounding the spine and improves the strength of bone, thereby combating or even reversing osteoporosis. Cycling and swimming are the ideal cardiovascular exercises do to with a back problem. Brisk walking will be better than running for sore backs.
Objection 4: Exercise is so boring
To avoid boredom, we have deliberately varied our exercise routine so that you do not have to do the same set of exercises every day. Even better, we have designed it in such a manner that you can exercise in your living room whilst watching TV.
Objection 5: Too tired for exercise
Then do our compact programme. There is a good chance that your fatigue will disappear after the first month.
What must I do if I am already on an exercise programme?
If you are already exercising six days a week, keep on with your current programme and ignore ours, especially if it works for you. If a personal trainer is assisting you, even better. However, if your programme is mainly based on cardio-vascular exercise; you should incorporate our resistance training programme into your routine if you want optimal weight-loss results.
Are there any risks involved in doing exercise?
Yes, although you will strain your muscles, which is really what you actually want to do, you may also strain or hurt your tendons, not quite what we had in mind. To avoid this, we advise our female clients to use a set of 2 kg dumbbells, and males a set weighing 3 kg. Never overdo any form of exercise in the beginning. Allow your body to gradually become stronger. As your level of fitness improves, you will be able to increase the intensity of your exercise routine without feeling ill or running the risk of injury. A little bit of muscle pain during the day is a good thing if you want to lose weight. It proves that your body is releasing growth hormone.
What do I need?
You will need some decent footwear, a minimum of two sets of exercise clothing and a single pair of dumbbells. For females, these must not weigh more than 2 kg, and for males, 3 kg will be quite sufficient. A small exercise or camping mattress is also necessary, although a few flat cushions borrowed from a couch or chair can also be used if available. All these items can be purchased at a department store with a sports section. Your shoes must be comfortable and well-supported. They should be flexible enough to bend easily, and the soles should be well padded to absorb shock.
Exercise schedule for Preferred Programme:
|Monday||Resistance training||45 minutes|
|Tuesday||Resistance training||45 minutes|
|Wednesday||Cardiovascular exercise||45 minutes|
|Thursday||Resistance training||45 minutes|
|Friday||Resistance training||45 minutes|
|Saturday||Cardiovascular exercise||45 minutes|
|Sunday||Rest or light cardiovascular exercise||45 minutes|
Exercise schedule for Compact Programme:
|Monday||Resistance training||15 minutes|
|Tuesday||Resistance training||15 minutes|
|Wednesday||Cardiovascular exercise||15 minutes|
|Thursday||Resistance training||15 minutes|
|Friday||Resistance training||15 minutes|
|Saturday||Cardiovascular exercise||15 minutes|
|Sunday||Rest or light cardiovascular exercise||15 minutes|
I have never trained with weights. How do I go about it?
Familiarise yourself with the following exercises by reading the instructions:
Which cardio-vascular exercise routine should I follow?
One that is realistically suited to your lifestyle and that you can learn to enjoy. Brisk walking, slow jogging and cycling are all excellent forms of cardio-vascular exercise. The advantage of brisk walking over slow jogging is that it is far gentler on the body and sprains or injuries are therefore less. Always begin with a stretching session before you start. Pay attention to aches and pain and consult your doctor if they get worse.
Slow jogging / brisk walking for beginners:
Avoid a slant. This causes unnecessary stress on your ligaments and will lead to overload injuries.
Demarcate a stretch of road approximately 300 m long. Do the first two thirds at a brisk walk. Do the last third at a slow jog. Turn around and repeat this pattern for twenty minutes. (The advantage of staying close to home is that you can get back if you run out of steam)
Use the same course as with stage 1. Run for two thirds, walk for one third. Repeat this pattern for thirty minutes.
Jog continuously at a comfortable pace for forty-five minutes, preferably on the most scenic and safest route possible. As your level of fitness improves, adjust your speed (level of intensity) accordingly.
Cycling for beginners:
Cycling on a stationary exercise cycle in front of the TV is especially suited for individuals who have little spare time or do not naturally like exercise. Choose a silent, good quality stationary cycle with a comfortable and adjustable seat. Place it amongst your furniture as a permanent fixture. (Carrying it back and forth may cause you to lose interest, especially if you are tired after a long day’s work). Check that your cycle’s seat is comfortable and adjust the height so that your knee is slightly bent at the bottom of the cycling stroke.
Choose a low resistance level (stationary cycle) or gear (road bicycle) and cycle for five minutes at a leisurely speed, resting for one minute intervals. Repeat this pattern for twenty minutes.
Cycle for ten minutes, resting for two minute intervals. Repeat this pattern for thirty minutes.
Stage 3: Cycle for forty five minutes.