Exercising for Weight Loss: Are You Taking the Right Approach?

When it comes to weight loss, there are many factors, but simplified, to lose weight you need more energy (calories) going out than energy (calories) coming in. This is where exercise is an asset. When you’re moving you’re using energy (burning calories) so exercise in addition to consuming less calories in your diet are two top weight loss strategies. Research shows that moms have the most weight loss success when combining nutrition and exercise. You can check out expert nutrition strategies for weight loss here.

I have one disclaimer before I dive into my recommended approach. I titled this article using the word “exercise”, but what I’m really talking about is the umbrella term Physical Activity. Physical activity is broad and means your body is moving, whether for sport, fun, commuting, exercise, etc. I make this distinction because I consider exercise a structured form of physical activity that comes with the intention of improving physical fitness. Both require energy so we’ll discuss both exercise and physical activity in my top three considerations for weight loss.

My Number One Recommendation: Move More. Do not make the mistake of thinking only exercise burns calories. It all counts. You pick up any fitness magazine and weight loss is always tied to exercise. But, as a mom you probably have more opportunities during your day just to “move” than to “exercise”, so physical activity deserves just as much attention as your workouts. You want to burn more calories every day? Increase your physical activity and move more! A future post is coming on moms and physical activity, but a good starting point is to think about times that your children (even if its tummy time) are moving and how you can join in for a few minutes here and there. More minutes of movement equals more calories used.

My Number Two and an Essential Consideration: Resistance training (strength training, weight lifting, etc.) is a must! In my opinion, resistance training is more important than cardio when it comes to weight loss. Resistance training is movement, so while performing it you’re burning calories AND while you’re recovering from it, you’re burning calories. More importantly, resistance training ensures that you’re preserving muscle while losing weight (meaning the weight you’re losing is fat). Sure you can drop weight without resistance training, but muscles are what gives you shape and helps your metabolism in the long run, so you want to lose as little lean mass as possible. For health benefits, it is recommended that you perform resistance training on each major muscle group twice per week. For most moms I find this is a good starting point because this baselines isn’t yet being met. Your goals, needs, physique and other parts of your exercise program will determine your resistance training needs, but beginning with two workouts each week is essential.

Third Recommendation: Consider your Cardio. Outside of the health benefits, cardio (or aerobic) exercise is a great way to make sure your body is efficient at using the food you consume for energy. At one point spending hours and hours at the gym on a machine was everyone’s approach to weight loss. Now HIIT (high intensity interval training) is all of the rage. Fitness trends change as research progresses. This doesn’t mean the old way is no longer good and doesn’t make the new way the best way. My point is that there are benefits to all types of cardio depending on your goals, abilities and most importantly what you enjoy. If your end goal is to run Broad street then running should be a part of your weight loss plan. If you’re short on time, HIIT is a great way to burn calories long after the workout is over. If you prefer music and choreography, dance classes might be your best bet. Get your heart rate up and burn calories in a way that’s appropriate for you.

As I mentioned early, physical activity isn’t the only factor in weight loss, but if you’re not “moving” your approach is lacking. I give general advice with caution because when it comes to exercise, it’s safer and more beneficial when it’s customized for you. If you’re a new mom, check out my guide to see if you’re ready to embark on your weight loss journey.

If you’re new to exercise, having trouble getting started, or aren’t progressing any more, let me help you with a customized approach.

Get moving!