In the pre-competition race to tone up and slim down, you don’t want to rush anything. Following these nutritional and workout guidelines will give the patient “Tortoise” a jump on the overanxious “Hare.”
By Mike Mauney
When it comes to fitness training, one of the most misunderstood areas is nutrition. It seems that most people struggle and eventually fail to either lose weight or keep the pounds off, because they do not make the best choices.
It’s just like the familiar story of the Tortoise and the Hare. In the final outcome of the race to lose weight, the Tortoise will be the one to succeed and win the race. Even though the Hare may run much faster than the Tortoise and push itself to the limit, by not conserving energy, exhaustion eventually takes over, and the Hare must stop and rest.
This is comparable to a person losing weight quickly by not eating healthy and not eating enough. Sure, this person may lose weight, but she loses the wrong kind of weight in the form of muscle. When the muscle begins to disappear, it then takes less energy to operate the body. The less energy it takes to operate the body, the fewer calories the body burns. The fewer calories the body burns, the less fat it will lose.
That is why, when trying to rush weight reduction, although the body may weigh less, it will actually look heavier. Though muscle weighs more than fat, it also provides the body’s shape and definition. Without that muscle, the body may be lighter but also will definitely look flabbier. Long-term, the Hare also faces a likely weight rebound effect due to the body’s slower metabolism and reduced calorie consumption of the depleted muscles.
Meanwhile, the Tortoise continues to move along at a slow and constant pace, not overexerting but maintaining a safe and moderate routine. Finally, the Tortoise passes the Hare and wins the race! Her body looks firmer, shapelier, and healthier. Meanwhile, the Hare ends up struggling to maintain its initial weight-loss pace, and crosses the finish line as the loser.
In human terms, the “Tortoise” would be the person who does not fall prey to crash dieting and miracle meal-planning programs. Instead, the competition-savvy “Tortoise” plans ahead to ensure that she is eating smaller healthy meals throughout the day, while combining the right amount of cardiovascular training. She eats the right foods in moderation — foods that combine the right amount of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Let’s review what a Tortoise’s healthy nutrition plan, combined with the right amount of cardiovascular training to lose weight safely, would look like:
THE TORTOISE PLAN
1. You need to know that two pounds a week is the ideal amount of weight to reduce safely without losing too much muscle and still remain healthy.
2. The average person will burn 500 calories per hour during moderate aerobic training.
3. One pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories. Decreasing your amount of caloric intake by 500 calories a day, seven days a week, will help you to lose one pound every seven days.
4. Performing one hour of moderate aerobic activity will help you burn 500 calories, which will help you lose another pound every seven days.
5. Combining the nutrition plan with the aerobic plan will help you lose the desired two pounds per week.
6. When planning your meals, be aware that one gram of carbohydrates or one gram of protein each equal only four calories, whereas one gram of fat equals nine calories.
7. Plan a balanced diet that includes milk, meat, fruits and vegetables, and grains, and cut out most fat-laden foods.
8. Prepare smaller portions and eat more often — five to six small meals a day.
Now you have the knowledge to plan your weight-loss program safely, healthfully, and productively without having to worry about the unwanted body weight returning. By not pursuing an overnight quick fix but rather losing weight gradually, you will be changing your body, as well as your lifestyle, for the rest of your life. Keep in mind the lesson of the Tortoise and the Hare: When it comes to losing weight, be the Tortoise and you too will eventually cross the finish line first.
Mike Mauney is a personal fitness trainer certified by the National Federation of Professional Trainers. Mike specializes in personal fitness training for women of all ages. For 15-plus years, he has been training dancers, models, cheer-leaders, and pageant and swimsuit contestants of all ages and competition levels (local, state, national, and international). His daughter, Michelle Mauney-Lowery, was Miss North Carolina USA 1995. Some of Mike’s training credits includes the following: Miss USA 2005 Chelsea Cooley, Miss Teen USA 2004 Shelley Hennig, Mrs. International 2004 Tammy McDonald, Miss USA 2003 Susie Castillo, Mrs. International 2002 Tonya Matney, Miss United States World 2001 Carrie Stroup, Mrs. United States 1999 Janice Ward, Miss Teen USA 1998 Vanessa Minnillo, and Mrs. America 1994 Keyna Baucom.