One of the greatest things about Southern Arizona is that you can put a swimsuit on in March and not take it off till September. Basking in the Tucson sun is part of nearly everyone’s summer plans. However, this can also lead to a very stressful time for some. More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of American adults are considered to be overweight or obese. For this large portion of America, summer time is just Spring’s sweaty older brother. Everyone should be proud of their body, and being able to strut a healthy body is on a lot of people’s minds as summer quickly approaches.
If you haven’t been hitting the gym hard and staying true to that diet you PROMISED you would stick to back in January, it’s okay. 80% of people break their New Year’s Resolutions within 3 months. I actually just broke mine, not drinking soda, last week.
That’s why April is a perfect time to jump back on the healthy bandwagon because you still have a few months until pool season. Here are three steps that will help you get your abs ready for pool, mimosas, trips to the lake, and making your ex jealous on Instagram.
1. Create A Calorie Deficit
Usually, the word deficit is a bad thing, but not when it comes to calories. A deficit just means more is going out than coming in. A calorie deficit means you are burning more calories than you are eating.
Losing weight and slimming down is science, not magic. For every pound of fat you want to lose, you have to burn 3500 more calories than you take in. That’s a lot, but not if you burn 350 calories more than you eat each day. If you consistently create a calorie deficit, you will lose fat. This is not a theory. It’s a law of physics.
In order to create a calorie deficit you need two things:
1. How many calories you burn each day
2. How many calories you are eating each day
To find how many calories you burn each day, you have a few options.
A simple and easy way is to plug your information into a few academic equations:
• The Harris-Benedict equation for men: (88.4 + 13.4 x your weight in kilograms) + (4.8 x your height in centimeters) – (5.68 x your age in years). For example mine is: (88.4+13.4×79.83)+(4.8×176)-(5.68×25)= 1,860
• The Harris-Benedict equation for women: (447.6 + 9.25 x your weight in kilograms) + (3.10 x your height in centimeters) – (4.33 x your age in years)
• The Mifflin-St. Jeor equation for men: (9.99 x your weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (4.92 x your age in years) + 5. For example mine is: (9.99×79.83)+(6.25×176)-(4.92X25)+5= 1,780
• The Mifflin-St. Jeor equation for women: (9.99 x your weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x your height in centimeters) – (4.92 x your age in years) – 161
While these equations aren’t 100% accurate, think of them as rules of thumb, I can probably reasonable expect to burn around 1,800 calories. If I eat less than 1,800 calories, I’ll lose weight.
If you aren’t a fan of rules of thumb, technology has advanced so much that it’s pretty easy (and cheap) to get a very accurate picture of how many calories you burn throughout the day. An Apple iWatch, Fitbit HR, Jawbone Up3, or any other wearable will accurately track your motion and be able to calculate a much more accurate picture of your average calorie burn. For example, I tried both the Fitbit HR and Jawbone Up3. Both of them had me averaging around 2,200 calories burned each day. 400 extra calories that I greatly enjoyed.
To find how many calories you are eating each day is a little tougher.
There is really only one way to track the calories going in and that’s by counting each one.
Luckily, technology has made it a little easier to find out how many calories are in each of your favorite foods, but it’s still up to you to track them all.
The phone app, MyFitnessPal is a free and robust platform to help you track calories. It has a barcode scanner for food bought at the grocery story, it has almost every chain restaurant’s menu uploaded, and has the basic nutritional information for most common foods. It’s simple (and did I mention FREE) to use.
However, it’s still on you to enter each meal (and snack and drink and night out and cookie) into the app so that you get an accurate picture. It may be hard at first, but after you do it for about or month or so, it will become a habit.
2. Put On The Muscle
A common misconception is for every pound of muscle added, you can burn an extra 50 calories a day. As awesome as this would be (10 pounds of muscle is an extra 500 calories a day!), it’s just not physically true.
However, muscle does burn some extra calories. For each pound of muscle gained, you’ll burn about 6-10 calories. While it’s pretty difficult to put on more than 5 pounds of muscle over a small period of time, 5 pounds of muscle could give you 50 free calories each day. That’s not while you want muscles, though.
That’s why you want muscle.
Muscle is a dense material, meaning it can weigh a lot without taking up much space. Fat is not a dense material, meaning it can take up a lot of space without weighing much. This is also why you should focus less on what your scale says and more on what your mirror says. When you have more muscle and less fat, you become firmer and will lose inches from places such as your waist, hips, buttocks, thighs, etc. Seeing the same number on the scale is not always negative.
Resistance training is also proven to help increase fat loss. A 2012 study of 119 overweight or obese people published in the Journal of Applied Physiology randomized them into three groups: Resistance training alone (RT), aerobic training alone (AT), or both. The below chart shows the results. Resistance Training only is on the far left, Aerobic Training only is in the middle, and doing both is on the far right. Doing both Resistance Training and Aerobic Training is how you lose the most amount of fat.
But that’s not the end of the story. What about changes in muscle mass? Since we’ve already discussed the aesthetic benefits of muscle over fat, if you gain more muscle then that’s a good thing too. The below chart is from the same 2012 study. Aerobic training alone will have you lose fat, but you also lose muscle. Doing purely resistance training or both resistance and aerobic training can help you lose fat and build muscle, which is the ultimate goal.
There are literally thousands of place you can go to get a decent resistance training workout. Depending on your budget:
• Bodybuilding.com has tons of free workouts, but you’ll most likely need to be a member of a gym which can range from $10 a month to $50 a month depending on which gym you pick.
• Beachbody.com, I started to review their workouts here, has workouts that range from $50 to $120 and last between 30 days to 90 days. All of which you workout in your own home, so no need for a gym membership.
• Your local gym has a personal trainer which you can hire as well. Most trainers range between $50 to $200 an hour
3. Hit The Cardio
While we JUST talked about the benefit of resistance training, there was also the fact that doing both resistance training and aerobic training (running, plyometrics, any cardio) was the best overall option.
A random website did a crazy in-depth survey of which male physique women find the most attractive and which physique most men would want. It was one of the most interesting reads I’ve seen on the subject. Find it here. Long story short, women want men who are lean but not huge or massively ripped. However, men most desire the big ripped body types. What does this tell us? Maybe men should spend more time on the treadmill and less time on the bench press.
While I did my best to find the equivalent for women’s physique, I couldn’t find one. I did find a webpage that walks through the last 100 years of women’s ideal images. Long story short, the two decades (the 2000s and 2010s) have moved the image from the thin & flat body type to the athletic-booty body type. What does this tell us? Instead of doing a starvation diet to lose weight, women should workout (especially their butts).
A lot of research has gone into how to most optimally do cardio. Some say you should sprint for 10 seconds and then walk for 10 seconds and repeat till you die. Others say you should run a marathon. The real secret is to find something you enjoy.
If you like swimming, swim. If you like hiking, hike. If you like biking, bike. Whatever you like to do, do it. However, you need to make a disciplined effort to do it hard enough to create results. Don’t just half-ass your way through the activity. Tucson has some of the prettiest parks in the state. Jogging around Reid Park or the River Wash is a terrific way to work up a sweat and appreciate your home.
Losing weight and looking good for summer isn’t that hard.
Create a calorie deficit today.
Take up an aerobic hobby for twice a week.
Do resistance training or lift weights twice a week.
If you do that for two months, you’ll be proud of that #tbt.
Written and researched by – Layton Cox