Are you looking to lose weight, but don't have time to hit the gym? Are workout videos your go-to solution? Though they may seem like an easy way to get in a workout, not all videos are created equal. In fact, many of them can actually be quite ineffective when it comes to weight loss. But don't worry – we're here to help! Read on for our tips on how to make your workout videos more effective for weight loss.
The Truth About Workout Videos: How To Make Them More Effective For Weight Loss
Once upon a time, working out at home was reserved for the Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, leotard, thong, leg warmers, aerobics, aerobics, and more aerobics era. But with the explosion of Beachbody and other late-night infomercials (are there other infomercials?), most of us have grown to accept a visual of more muscular-looking individuals using dumbbells on our home workout screens.
This new era of workout videos provides instant access to some of the top trainers of the industry today: Jillian Michaels, Kelly Coffey-Meyer, Jackie Warner, Cathe Friedrich, Chalene Johnson, and so many more. The convenience of working out at home can be a fantastic thing for the motivated individual or the person who enjoys the “feel” of being in a class setting (minus worrying that one might be judged by classmates – gasp!! “can you believe she's wearing those pink pajama pants?!”).
With the (over)abundance of workout vids, we might assume that ripped, superfit types (as seen on the videos) are also in plentiful supply. If you are one of the growing numbers of at-home exercisers (like me), you may be wondering when your ripped-ness will arrive. Or, perhaps you glumly think that you're the only person who works your butt off with these annoyingly-ripped-freaks-of-nature yet still look like you gave birth last week. Grrrr…How is it possible to work your buns off yet still not be able to fit said buns into those skinny jeans? To collect bucket-loads of sweat from doing 30-Day Shred (for 120 days!), yet have no semblance of becoming “shredded” any time soon?
This is typically because, as consumers, we tend to equate sweating with results. Moving nonstop during your workout, doing endless reps, or cardio moves between lifts will surely provide the sweat. Unfortunately, the amount of sweat you leave behind has little to do with the reshaping of your body. As great as it feels, your body will eventually adapt to ANY workout you repeatedly do, and you'll stop seeing results. So should you toss your hopes of getting fit at home and run to the nearest gym? Not necessarily. It's always great to work with what you've got (and I, for one, am not willing to shew my pink PJs just yet).
Here are five ways to make any DVD worthwhile:
Make any DVD work harder by simply picking up a heavier weight. Even if you only have one or two DVDs to work with, increasing the weight you're lifting is a quick plateau prevention/fix. Just because the people on the screen are using five-eight pounds doesn't mean you need to. Pick a weight that challenges you (i.e., you can't do MORE than two reps beyond the amount you're supposed to be doing) and will bring you the results you're after. You're all good, even if you come up a few reps shorter than “the crew.”
Most home workout DVDs have far too many reps for the desired results. For strength gains, lift as heavy as you can for up to seven reps. For muscle building and definition, lift for eight to 12 reps, and for endurance (cardio), perform 12+ reps (or as directed by the DVD). For best results, alternate all three rep ranges using weight appropriate for each range.
To have tremendous success with the previous tip, be sure to take a moment to bring a pen and pad with you to the workout area. Jot down the exercises done in the vid and how much weight you used. Whenever you discover that you could've kept going, put an asterisk or other symbol (like an up arrow) to let you know to go up in weight next time. ALWAYS lift heavier if you can safely do so.
You're not doing yourself any favors by using the exact weight amounts for months at a time, no matter how much sweating is going down. Also, keep track of how many reps you did so that you can adjust the next time around. If you could do 12 pounds for 15 reps, you know that you'll need to go heavier if aiming for eight to ten reps next time around. Keeping a journal of your workouts (exercises, reps, sets, and rests) is key to successful training, whether at home or the gym.
Pressing pause is perfectly acceptable if the DVD moves too fast (this will become incredibly relevant when increasing lift poundage). It becomes tough to lift heavy enough weights when doing circuit-type workout vids (a weight move followed by a cardio move – or weighted moves with no rest between sets). This may tempt us to believe that we can't go heavier, but this is far from the truth.
While I would typically recommend doing a workout via a professional, as written, the first few times around, this becomes significantly less relevant the 88th time the video is done. It's OK to stray from the pro at this point and pause the dang thing so that you can get some severe muscle involvement happening. Using the rep ranges discussed above, base your “rest” periods on the amount of weight and reps that you're doing — just as you would in the gym.
The goal of endurance needs very little rest (30 seconds or less) between exercises, muscle building requires slightly longer (30-60 seconds), and strength requires the longest (60-90 seconds). If the crew is doing 15 reps and you've chosen to do only six, consider the “extra” time they are pumping out reps as part of your rest period.
Re-Purpose “Strength” DVDs
Most DVDs suggest dumbbells that are far too light have too many reps and not enough rest to be considered a proper “strength” workout. No problem. Why not change how you view your vids and accept the faster-paced workouts for what they genuinely are…cardio! Most so-called strength videos on the market are just glorified HIIT workouts. So why not treat them as such.
Metabolic cardio and HIIT are all the rage these days anyway, so using your old circuit workouts for cardio helps you cash in on this trend. This also works well as an alternative for those who can only make it to the gym a couple of times per week. Plan your lifting days for when you have access to heavier equipment at the gym and your cardio (via video) on the days that you can't make it.
Swap Out Moves (or Equipment)
Let's face it. Doing the same moves day in and day out for three years isn't gonna “shape and tone” anything no matter how many times your DVD coach has told you so. Just as we get comfortable when we know what move is coming next on the DVD (or what words for that matter!) so do our bodies. And let's just say that changes don't happen when you're comfortable…well, not good changes anyway.
Now that you've been taking notes on your workouts (ahem?) you can use that same notebook to plot out ways to shake things up. Again, I don't typically recommend taking a program written by someone who creates them for a living, and adding your own perceived “improvements.” However, if you know at exactly which pitch of the background song that a particular exercise will start…you stopped seeing results from that move many moons ago. There are safe swaps that can be done to most moves so that you are keeping with the general theme of the program's intent. For example, you can sub the move for a variation of that same move: plie' squat for regular, step-ups or rear/side lunges in lieu of front lunges, hammer curls instead of traditional, etc…
Work With What You Have
You could also swap out equipment used in the vid, for equipment that you own but rarely use. I can't count the number of messages I've received from women asking if it's “OK” to use hubby's Bowflex, Nautilus, Smith machine, etc down in the basement…umm, YES! Don't be scared to put someone else's dust-collecting equipment to use – I did and it changed my life! The Gold's Gym setup that I currently use in “Kiki's Cave” is also formerly-known-as “Father's Day Gift/clothes dryer” lol.
Work with what you have. Does your teen son have an iron gym? Does hubby have an old bench and rack? Score! Have some crazy as-seen-on-TV gadget that you just couldn't pass up? Use. it. Variety is the spice of life, and just may help you get excited about working out to your old DVDs again. Sub out the old-is-new-again equipment for similar body-part movements. Bench press during pushups. Use a rowing apparatus (lat pull-down, rowing machine?) for bent-over rows…or better yet, do pull-ups! Grab a Frisbee or gliding disc and do sliding lunges in place of regular. Use your Kettlebell in place of dumbbells, or sub Kettlebell swings (or sandbag cleans – see vid below) for another cardio move for circuit vids.
Take inventory of items you'd love to use, but never do, and allow your mind to wander. The possibilities are endless.
Not everyone can afford the time or finances that a full-time gym commitment requires. Workout videos provide a convenient alternative for busy moms, housewives, or students that simply can't make it to the gym regularly (or at all). With new formats popping up daily — whether via DVDs, downloads, or free sources like YouTube and Fitness Blender — you can make this growing trend work in your favor (and keep getting results!) with a few simple tweaks.
Do you work out with videos? What are your tricks for keeping the results flowing?
In our last post, we talked about intuitive eating, what it is and how it can benefit you. In this post, we'll discuss intuitive eating for weight loss. When it comes to weight loss, there are a lot of different methods people try. Some popular approaches include counting calories, eating low-carb or keto, and intermittent fasting. But what about intuitive eating? This approach eschews tracking or limiting food intake in favor of tuning into your body's natural cues for hunger and fullness. Is intuitive eating a good option for those looking to lose weight? Let's take a closer look.
Intuitive Eating for Weight Loss? Here's What You Need to Know
Intuitive eating is not a weight loss method.
Many people ask the question, “will intuitive eating work for me?”,
If by “work,” you mean weight loss? If by “work,” you mean, “will I lose weight from eating more intuitively?” the answer is no. Sadly, if you think you will be able to eat whatever you want, when you want, and look like a fitness model in a magazine. It just doesn't work that way. I would not do intuitive eating with a weight loss intent because that is not the purpose of intuitive eating.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Intuitive Eating: What is it, and How Can It Help You?… Intuitive eating is a method to heal people who struggle with a diet mentality and/or are recovering from over dieting. This helps reset the mind and body from things like binge eating, restriction, and the thought process of every food item being either “good” or “bad.”
We must first remember that everything has a mindset component associated with it. Whenever you get to the point where you are consumed with losing weight and start to have your identity wrapped around it, you usually start to run into issues thinking that weight loss will solve all your problems and make you happy is not the right path. In fact, it usually ends up having an adverse effect.
When we finally step away from looking for the all-in-one solution is when we can actually start finding the answers instead of compartmentalizing our lives. When it comes to seeing each individual thing for what it is, what it can be, and the purpose that it serves for you, you can lean wholly into that purpose.
Watch the video above as we dig more into this topic of intuitive eating and why it is not the best method for fat loss.
If you're struggling with your weight or have a history of yo-yo dieting, then intuitive eating may be able to help. Find out what it is and how it can help you reach your goals!
Intuitive Eating: What is it, and How Can It Help You?
I'm just going to put it out there. If you want to lose fat, you have to be in a caloric deficit. How do you know if you're in a deficit eating intuitively? Is intuitive eating good for weight loss? Will intuitive eating make me fat? Can intuitive eating work? There's so much confusion around intuitive eating and its purpose. We tend to see many questions and misinterpretations about intuitive eating and when to use it in our journey. We often see this happen when someone says, “will intuitive eating work for me?”; usually, there's something behind that word “work .”
First and foremost, if you want to know if intuitive eating will work for you, you want to ask yourself that question. What do I mean by work? Are you using it for binge episodes, to lose weight, or go on a journey of self-love? There are so many different reasons why people head down the path of intuitive eating that it's crucial to understand what intuitive eating is and what it isn't.
I have found that when asked, “Is intuitive eating going to work for me?”, usually they are referring to a weight loss technique. With Eat More 2 Weigh Less, when I'm referring to intuitive eating, it's typically for someone in the “Chill Phase” or the metabolism reset phase. Those are the main two times that I would recommend that somebody venture into intuitive eating. The reason for that is that although there are five phases of EM2WL, typically three of those, you're keeping a tight rein on what you are eating. When you're tracking your food and keeping a tighter rein on what you're eating, it's a little bit harder to eat intuitively because you may want to eat something that will not fit in your calories or macros.
Who Can Benefit From Intuitive Eating?
If you … Are Healing From A Diet Mentality.
The best time to use intuitive eating is when you are trying to heal from a diet mentality. Diet Mentality is when someone is constantly thinking that getting smaller and being thinner will solve all of their problems – a thought process that has infiltrated and cultivated our society, even now. If you're of that mindset, then that's when intuitive eating could be a path you should set out on, to become okay with the fact that getting smaller is not the absolute solution to all problems. Diet mentality tells us that there's this quick and easy solution to something that has been plaguing us for our entire lives. “Try this 2 week, 30-day, 90-day diet and lose X amount of pounds!” When you start constantly chasing after all of these fad diets and thinking that you can solve weight loss issues overnight, that leads to this constant feeling of shame and failure when you don't succeed in a diet when in actuality, most diets are failing you.
If you … Struggle with Binge Eating.
Another instance where intuitive eating would be an amazing route to go on is if you struggle with binge eating. This typically carries over from dieting because we often don't realize that restriction typically begets binging. You see people constantly trying to like stick to this perfect way of eating, constantly restricting calories, removing things from your diet that you actually like and enjoy, or just eating too little food. It's going to work until it doesn't, and then when it doesn't. So when you're constantly struggling with these binges, whether it's a binge-purge cycle in the traditional sense of actually purging the food manually or a purge where you eat a lot of food and then you're trying to burn it all off with exercise. There's also restricting yourself so much that it leads to an all-out binge. So if you're stuck in that cycle, that's when intuitive eating can help because one of the biggest benefits is learning how to honor your hunger cues.
If you … Categorize Your Food In Extremes.
The third reason why intuitive eating would work for someone is to help them understand that every food serves a purpose. One of the things that we don't tend to realize when it comes to dieting, is that we start to slowly categorize food. We're trying to fit things into a very tight window of opportunity or a tight amount of calories, points, or whatever the case may be. You start looking at something with a lot of points versus a few points, high calorie versus low calorie, high carbs, and low carbs, constantly swinging in these extremes of high and low. So we start to develop this good and bad philosophy about food. Anything with a high amount of calories, fats, carbs, points, or whatever the demon ingredient is of the year is, we label as bad. Lower amounts we look at as good. When we start to live in this good and bad food mindset it puts us in this good/bad position regarding our behaviors. We begin to think that we are good when we undereat and bad when we overeat, eat foods that we love, or things considered “unhealthy”.
Intuitive eating can work wonders for you as you begin to cultivate this mindset around the fact that something can be healthy and high calorie/fat and can be good for you but be on the “bad list,” simply because it's good for you mentally. Some foods' entire purpose is to light up your taste pallet and make you happy. Sometimes the purpose is just happiness for that moment or taking a bite and truly savoring how something feels versus bypassing taste to hit some data point. This also means accepting that health and weight loss are not always synonymous.
The fitness industry often tells us that losing weight is the epitome of health but that isn't always true. There are health benefits to losing weight, but there are also health repercussions to getting too lean as well. We look at women in the media and magazines who are doing fitness competitions, then doing photo shoots right after those fitness competitions that appear in our Instagram feed or magazines. And because they're gracing the cover of a “Health Magazine,” we cannot mentally detach those images from what's happening and understand that person was most likely at their leanest they've been all year. That physique may have been something that they've been working towards for three, six, nine months. and at the peak of that leanness, they were the unhealthiest that they had been all that year. They are now seeing negative repercussions of it, like not having their period anymore and losing essential body fat that their body needs. Most know this and plan to put back on their essential fat after the competition and go off and live happily ever after. However, we will continue striving for that image of them that we see in the magazine.
Having that intuitive eating period helps you see things for what they are. Learning to step away from the diet mentality, honor your hunger cues, get away from the good versus bad mentality, and learn to love yourself, right where you are. Loving yourself is crucial. It doesn't matter if you're a size 2 or 22, you can hate yourself and hate your body, just the same. When we step away from the thinking that size will magically make us accept ourselves, then true healing can begin. Even if all the commercials are saying the opposite and telling us that once we get to XYZ size, we love ourselves again. That is never going to happen. So if you don't love yourself as you are, it will not magically happen when you get to be another size.
It's one thing to have a goal for the sake of having a goal and achieving things that you thought you couldn't. However, thinking that the goal of losing weight is going to solve a bigger, deeper problem is that is when we need to take a step back and do more of the inner work to find out what we're seeking.
With that being said, if any of the reasons above are you then I highly recommended going down a path of intuitive eating or taking a chill phase, as we call it. Let that phase do what it is intended to do.
There are SO many moving parts when it comes to deciding what type of workouts you should be doing. The main factors to consider are your goals, where you are in your fitness journey, and the strategy required to get you to where you want to be.
Let’s take a deeper look.
“Fitness” goals and ability vary DRASTICALLY from one person to the next, and so should the workout style…
Many unproductive dieters can attribute years of failed fat loss attempts to either having no specific goal (i.e. “getting in shape”) or expecting one workout style (i.e. running) to accomplish multiple –often opposing– goals (i.e. lose fat AND gain muscle/build strength AND increase endurance).
If the goal is to get stronger for example, a circuit-heavy routine just won’t cut it. Many people looking to get “toned” would be hard pressed to define muscles they’ve never taken the time to build. Increasing your mileage on the treadmill (or pounding the pavement) may be the absolute best way to increase your endurance for that Rock’n Roll marathon – but could seriously work against your efforts to chisel out that firm, muscular, lean physique you’ve been striving for. Even if your daily run has become a significant part of what keeps you sane – strength/muscle gains (and even fat loss!) will not come from simply doing more of the same, just because you love it.
Understanding the various stages of the journey, and where YOU are in it, is the next critical piece to this puzzle.
Regardless of what inspires you to begin the journey (doctor’s recommendations, desire to change, etc.), a person who has never really worked out before will need an entirely different workout plan than a seasoned veteran.
Beginning stages will consist mainly of learning, experimenting, and focusing on consistency (vs being completely derailed by details that simply don’t matter…yet). Your first year or two of starting a fitness regimen is a great time test out a wide variety of exercise styles, as you’ll likely get the same results regardless of what type of activity you choose – especially in the first six months. Because your body has not yet had time to adapt to your new habit of movement, progress (i.e. “newbie gains”) will come rather easily.
Take FULL advantage of this season of the journey (don’t rush it!), because when it’s over, it’s over.
A year or two into your fitness journey, you will have to start being more systematic in your approach. What “worked” in the beginning stages will slowly stop producing the results that it has been, and progress will come to a screeching halt.
This stage of the journey is where strategy becomes essential.
Just as college courses start off general, and become more specific as you close in on your degree – your workouts should become more goal-dependent, and increasingly strategic as your journey progresses.
They key to seeing continual changes to your body (or increasing progress toward whatever YOUR goal is) is to consistently introduce deliberate challenge, rather than seeking THE one-size-fits-all solution.
Notice the keyword: deliberate. This means that each workout session/style/phase builds on the one before it, compounding toward the end goal. This is not the same as randomly changing things up, or “trying something new.” Signing up for random classes at your local gym, gathering free workouts from the internet, or having unwavering devotion to whatever on-demand workout service is currently trending does not guarantee specific “results” any more than signing up for random classes at your local university could guarantee a specific degree.
Without a strategy, even seemingly productive actions can become glorified wheel-spinning, leaving you with little to no progress to show for the time you’ve put in, and putting you no closer to your actual goal than when you first started.
**Side note: Strategy and a systematic approach to your fitness journey isn’t just about ditching the workouts you love to do, while suffering through workouts you may not enjoy, but rather finding a way to incorporate the behaviors your goals require into a lifestyle that still includes the things you do enjoy. **
Bye-bye comfort zone
Once you understand your goal, the strategy that it requires, and where you are on the journey – it’s time to take a long hard look in the mirror. Whether you’re just starting out, or a veteran to working out, know that you will constantly have to challenge yourself in order to keep seeing change. Be patient with yourself, and grateful for ANY results that come as you build consistency in the beginning, yet open-minded and willing to alter the approach as your journey progresses and the newbie gains dwindle.
Although more women are paying attention to their macronutrients, fiber is a micronutrient that most people tend to ignore. Fiber is important as it aids in digestion and helps lower glucose and blood cholesterol levels all while keeping you feeling full and satisfied. Power Eating author Susan Kleiner, even goes so far as to say that increasing fiber intake by just 5% would help most people improve fat loss results.
Fiber is not available via fat or protein, which means that eating carbohydrates is key to getting in enough fiber. So if you're carbophobic, but always coming up short on this micro, it may mean that you have to get off that low carb train in order to do it!
Great Fiber Sources
Fiber is best in its “natural” form. Supplements like Metamucil and the like can certainly come in handy, but it's best to get your intake in from eating real foods. Some of the best options are:
Eating carbs may be scary for some, but have no fear. Focusing on higher fiber choices will help guide you in eating the right kind of carbs for your goals, round out your diet, and compliment your other macros.
While the recommended intake is about 25-35 grams, most women are lucky to get in about 15 grams in a day. This is one element of your diet that you want to increase very slowly (and with lots of water!) to allow your body time to adjust.
Water is essential to increasing your fiber! By not drinking enough, your digestive system will essentially create concrete making it very hard to pass through your bowels. Give your stomach a chance to adjust and increase very slowly.
When increasing your fiber, remember that some choices may work better for you than others, or rather that some will give you more bang for your buck. An apple or orange have about 3 grams, but a cup of raspberries has about 9 grams! So look at your fiber options and how you can get the most out of your choices. Celiacs (or anyone for that matter!!) can opt for grain options like millet or brown rice rather that oats and barley, the key is to adopt the habit AND make it work for you.
If you are new to increasing fiber, try to break up your meals and aim for about 5 grams per meal (5g x 5 meals = 25g/day). If you're eating fewer meals, then you'll want to work up to more fiber (ex. 7-8g) per meal to help you get it all in. Again, take your intake for these goals up slowly and increase your water accordingly!
Counting calories has been around since the dawn of dieting, and the awareness of “macros,” or macronutrients, has dramatically increased in recent years. With the explosion of the expression “If It Fits Your Macros” (and the subsequent websites, social media pages, and FB groups that inevitably followed) the public has become more interested in “hitting macros” in pursuit of building muscle and consistent fat loss.
For more seasoned dieters, the question eventually asked is “Which is better, counting calories or macros?” The truth is that neither one can exist without the other and both do matter in terms of fat loss and muscle gains.
Both terms are merely ways to count food, however they analyze that food in two different ways.
Counting Calories Or Macros?
Calories are the total overall amount of energy in a food. In the dieting world, people are trained to eat LOW CALORIE, which means low energy. By doing so, the dieter is not focused on the quality of their food choices, but rather how much food they're eating.
Our unhealthy obsession with reducing cals is what led to the 90s low-fat craze (fat = double the cals of protein/carbs). Dieters started reaching for processed, high sodium/high sugar/low nutrient food options simply because the fat (and subsequently, caloric level of the food) was low, not realizing that a higher calorie, more nutrient dense, whole food option could be a better choice.
For instance, the food industry started selling “100 Calorie Snack Packs” which were usually some processed bar, or cookie or cracker product. However an ounce or two of whole, unsalted nuts would be a far more satiating food choice (keeping you fuller, longer) even though containing a few calories more.In many ways, the diet industry continues to push the low-cal agenda, sending dieters down the rabbit hole.
Macros (or Macronutrients) are just a way of looking at the breakdown of those calories. In EM2WL we focus on the three macros – Protein,Fat, Carbs (with carb emphasis on fiber). When you concentrate on the macros of your food choices, the quality of your food will inherently be better. It also makes it harder to overeat and still hit your macro totals.
The key is to balance both the calorie amount AND the macro breakdown for your goals. If you are hitting your calorie amount, but your macros are all over the place, the quality of your food suffers. And if you concentrate on hitting your macros but can't hit your calorie total, then your body is not getting enough energy to do its job.
Both are important and both matter to your overall goals. Focus on using both of them to increase your quality of food, and ensure you are eating enough food as well.
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