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By Raphael Calzadilla



Friday, May 30, 2008.



Dear Raphael,

I've been eating healthy for the last few months. However, I can't seem to get into an exercise routine. The other problem is I haven't really lost any weight. How important is it that I exercise and where do I get started?


First of all, rest assured, these are very common issues. Let’s begin with your first statement. Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy isn’t enough. One must be in a slight caloric deficit (less than maintenance calories) in order to lose body fat.


Protein, carbohydrates, good fats and overall calories are all critical factors in this equation. I realise that determining calories and meal plans can sometimes seem intimidating. That’s why we do all the calculations for you, and provide a variety of nutritional plans to satisfy your taste buds.


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In addition, we provide enough food for your energy needs, but keep calories just low enough to reduce body fat. That’s the key, and that’s where most diets fail. So again, you must be in a caloric deficit, and you must eat the healthy foods you enjoy to ensure compliance and a new lifestyle.


Concerning your second issue, exercise is very important for your fat loss goals and for your health and wellbeing. Exercise will accelerate fat loss, increase energy and help you to look lean and tight. Diet alone is not enough!

Most people tend to experience trepidation when first beginning an exercise programme. Questions arise, such as: Where do I start? How much do I perform? What do I perform? How often?


The mistake most people make is thinking they have to exercise six days per week to make progress. It’s simply not the case. For those who can’t get motivated to exercise or don’t know where to begin, I recommend beginning with a minimal routine.


Begin with three alternate days per week for 20-30 minutes of moderate activity such as brisk walking. Becoming more active with something that’s easy to do and doesn’t take a lot of time is the best place to start. This allows you to begin training your body naturally, and also sets the groundwork for a new lifestyle.


There are three important components to a fitness plan


Cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility training. After two weeks of adjusting to your brisk walks (cardiovascular), add two whole-body strength-training workouts per week on alternate days. Investing in some dumbbells will yield big rewards.


Perform two sets for each major muscle group for eight to 12 repetitions. The workout will take you about 20-30 minutes. Finally, I’m a big proponent of enjoying your workouts, so start thinking about activities you might like to try such as aerobic videotapes, aerobic classes, hiking, water aerobics, etc. Any activity you enjoy will be a big plus and keep you motivated.


As you incorporate your new nutritional plan with balanced exercise, the pounds will begin to shed and you’ll be on track in no time. Good luck!


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