PROGRESS & PATIENCE: PUSH, BUT DON’T SHOVE
The aim of this plan is to lose weight, get in shape and improve health. After all, weight loss, without health, matters little. In fact, almost all things without health, matter little. So the goal is not just to lose weight, but to do it healthily. That means you need to listen to your body. While you need to give each workout your best effort, you also need to make sure that you don’t overdo it. The whole point of this plan is that it gives you time to improve. Every week the weight loss workouts get harder, which means you’re getting more fit and you’re burning more calories. With every workout your body becomes stronger – your heart, lungs, joints, muscles, tendons, and bones become stronger. But it is a gradual process, and you need to give your body time. Maybe you wanted to reach your goal in 4 weeks, but your body needs 6. What you want and what your body will do are not necessarily the same. So push yourself, but don’t shove.
This workout plan is just a guide. If you feel it is too easy, by all means skip ahead, or try a more advanced level. If you are struggling to keep up, just repeat last week’s workout another week, take an extra day off or lower the intensity at which you are exercising – the options are endless. Some weeks it may seem too easy, while other weeks you just seem stuck. Don’t despair. Just know that while it seems nothing is happening, there are a lot of improvements going on in your body you cannot see. Not all improvements are visible. So be patient and stick with it. Going slow, is better than not going at all!
This weight loss workout plan is 12 weeks long, but depending on how much weight you want to lose, you may want a shorter plan. No problem! Just continue for as long as you need to reach your weight loss goal. But remember, irrespective of how long you decide to follow the exercise program, once you have achieved your goal, you should still continue to exercise regularly, in order to maintain your new body weight, to maintain a good level of fitness and to improve health.
How hard should you exercise?
- The best way to monitor exercise intensity (how hard you’re exercising) is by wearing a heart rate monitor. If you are intermediate or advanced aim for a heart rate of about 70 – 80% of maximum (see heart rate calculator). Read more about heart rate and heart rate exercise zones. If you are a beginner, don’t worry too much about heart rate. Exercise at pace and intensity that slightly harder than comfortable (see RPE below). As your fitness levels improve you’ll be able to exercise at higher intensities and for longer.
- Another method of monitoring how hard you’re exercising by using the rating or perceived exertion (RPE) scale. The RPE Scale is a subjective measure of exercise intensity levels and uses a scale of 1 – 10. If you are a beginner aim to exercise at around level 5 or 6 RPE, and if you are more fit RPE 7/8 .
- As you do your workouts, your fitness levels will continually improve. This means to keep the workouts challenging, you need to continually increase the difficulty of your workouts. The exception to this is during the first two weeks and during weeks when your cardio workouts become longer (e.g. going from 30 minutes one week to 40 minutes the next week). You can increase difficulty by walking/ jogging faster or on a steeper incline. If you are using equipment in the gym you can increase the level, resistance or incline at which your are exercising.