Losing Weight Slowly Works Better than Losing It Too Fast

Can a single bagel make you gain 5 pounds? Yes! In a way.

Just as “get skinny fast” diets help you lose water weight, they can make you gain it right back in a single day.

bagelOne pound of fat is equal to 3,500 cal­ories, so for every pound of fat you want to lose, you need to create a caloric deficit of at least 3,500. Based on what we know about calories in versus calories out, this deficit can’t be achieved in a day, or even a few days.

To put it into perspective, losing one pound of fat in a day would require a daily workout equiv­alent to running 35 miles. That’s a tough day! And, of course, all that slow, long-distance running could actually help you gain fat over time.

The truth is, there’s no fast, easy method to lose weight and keep it off. Sure, the scale might say that you’ve lost 5 pounds in 5 days when you follow a highly restrictive diet, but in fact most of that loss won’t be fat; it will be water pounds lost through dehydration.

Here’s an example: If you were to lose those 5 pounds in 5 days and then eat a bagel on day 6, you would magically gain back those 5 pounds you thought you just lost. How is this possible? For every gram of carbohy­drate you consume, the body stores 3 to 4 grams of water. That means for every 400 grams of carbohydrate you consume, your body will store 16 ounces (1 pound) of water. By simply cutting out 400 grams of carbs a day, you can “lose” 1 pound on the scale. But again, this is just a reduction in hydration, and staying well hydrated is a key factor in long-term weight loss. And long-term weight loss is all about losing fat, not dehydrating your body.

weighing scaleFad diets that promise rapid weight loss can be dangerous. Rapid weight loss usually means loss of muscle mass and water, not fat. Chronic fad diets can increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and liver disease. And some strict diets (often called elimination diets) can actually cause malnutrition because they cut out entire food groups.

My book Core Envy offers a much more sustainable and realistic approach is to create a daily caloric deficit of 500 calo­ries through a combination of consuming less and moving more. Over the course of a week, a daily caloric deficit of 500 calories would add up to 1 pound of weight loss. [See how to find your daily calorie goal here.] If you have more than 30 pounds to lose, you might find that you initially lose weight much faster than the 1 pound per week pace, but as you approach those last 5–10 pounds, the rate of loss will inevitably slow down.

Here’s the bottom line: You can expect to lose 8–16 pounds over the 8 weeks of the Core Envy program, and if you do it right, you will also gain muscle tone and feel great.

Losing 1 pound a week might sound painstakingly slow—you’ve probably fol­lowed diet plans before that promised much bigger results in a shorter amount of time. In fact, you may have enjoyed rapid weight loss on these types of plans, but I’m guessing that the weight came back, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog post. So try Core Envy! Core Envy is a well-balanced program because it combines high-intensity cardio, sculpting exercises, and a diet makeover. You can try it free for a week here.

This post is from Core Envy by Allison Westfahl.

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverAllison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Core Envy solves the problems traditional abs programs ignore with HIIT cardio, functional core sculpting exercises, and a smart diet overhaul.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

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Dietary Supplements Are Sketchy

Why can’t we just take a pill to lose weight?

According to a recent survey, one in three American dieters has used supple­ments to help aid weight loss.

The same study showed that most people had no idea that these supplements are unregulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that some have serious side effects, including depression, nausea, and cardiac events.

Herbal supplement capsules spilled from a bottle onto a table. Shallow depth to field.

The FDA has a long history of approving and then recalling prescription weight-loss medications. In 1947, methamphetamine was the first drug approved but was later severely restricted due to concerns about side effects. Over the decades, scores of pills have been temporarily approved, then later recalled once evidence of cardiac failure emerged. Of the weight-loss drugs that are now currently on the FDA’s list, studies clearly show that they are effective only when combined with diet and exercise. Furthermore, once usage of any pill is stopped, most of the weight returns within one year.

The bottom line is that eating less and moving more is still the safest, most effective method for losing weight and keeping it off.

This post is from Core Envy by Allison Westfahl.

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverAllison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Core Envy solves the problems traditional abs programs ignore with HIIT cardio, functional core sculpting exercises, and a smart diet overhaul.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

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How to Find Your Daily Calorie Target

The Mifflin Equation offers an accurate way to find your daily calorie needs.

MifflinEquationWe know that most Americans are eating too many calories and not moving enough to burn them off. But how do you find out the number of calories you personally need to consume for weight loss? You start by determining how many calories your body will burn on its own just to maintain its essential body functions. This base­line calorie expenditure is known as the resting metabolic rate (RMR, sometimes referred to as resting energy expenditure, or REE), and it is the number of calories the body would burn if it were at rest for 24 hours. In other words, your RMR is the amount of calories you need to con­sume on a daily basis in order to maintain your weight if you are currently leading a sedentary lifestyle. There are countless equations that calculate your RMR, but in the fitness industry the Mifflin equation remains the gold standard.

Once you have completed the Miff­lin equation, take the resulting number and multiply it by your level of activity in order to determine the true number of calories you burn on a daily basis. For the purposes of this program, your activ­ity factor should reflect the specific car­dio exercise program you plan to follow. For example, if you are not feeling very fit entering into the program, you might want to predominantly focus on the Level 1 cardio routines, so you would use an activity factor of 1.375. If you have a decent fitness base and want to take on a bigger challenge, the Level 2 or Level 3 program will be a better fit, so use the cor­responding activity factor.

If your routine will include additional bouts of exercise beyond the workouts in this book, you can err toward a higher activ­ity factor. However, it’s always safest to start with a lower activity factor and then add cal­ories back in if necessary. Most of us drasti­cally underestimate how many calories we are consuming, and we also tend to overesti­mate the number of calories we are burning.

Once you’ve multiplied your RMR by your activity factor, you will know exactly how many calories you would need to con­sume each day in order to maintain your cur­rent weight. To shed a few pounds (maybe more than a few) and firm up that midsec­tion, you must make sure your actual caloric consumption is lower than this number.

Calculate your RMR by using my online Mifflin Equation Calculator here: AllisonWestfahl.com/Core-Envy

This post is from Core Envy by Allison Westfahl.

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverAllison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Core Envy solves the problems traditional abs programs ignore with HIIT cardio, functional core sculpting exercises, and a smart diet overhaul.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

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There Is No Fat-Burning Zone: Low-Intensity Cardio Can Actually Make You Gain Fat

What’s the most effective method for burning up that spare tire?

Cardio workouts.

That’s right—going for a run will actually do more to burn off abdominal fat than banging out 500 crunches.

iStock_000010911637_Small

While the core exercises found in my Core Envy program will likely get your heart rate higher than the core work you’ve been doing, the calories burned during a sculpting routine are not enough; the cardio workouts I’ve put together will pick up the slack in the calorie-burning department and ensure that your hard-earned core muscles aren’t hiding under a stubborn layer of fat. By incorporat­ing a mix of cardio workouts into your program, you’ll achieve the perfect combina­tion of fat burning and muscle sculpting! After all, if you want real results, your cardio workouts and your sculpting exercises need to complement each other.

The Myth of the Fat-Burning Zone

One of the most deep-seated and fiercely argued tenets of cardio work is that in order to burn fat, you should always be working in the “fat-burning zone.” If you’ve ever been on a cardio machine at a health club, you’ve seen those nifty little guides that relay the supposed effects of different heart rate zones. With words such as “Maximum Fat Burn Zone” plastered all over lower heart rates, it’s no wonder that we’ve all been seduced into thinking that the only way to burn that stubborn fat off is to keep our heart rates low and steady. This is why many of us insist on setting the treadmill at a brisk walking pace and staying on it for as long as possible. Heaven forbid we get our heart rates too high and enter the “Danger Zone”!

The concept of the “fat-burning zone” is based on the premise that your body burns a greater percentage of calories from fat when it’s working at lower heart rates. This is true. If we consider this concept alone, we’d be tempted to choose low-intensity workouts. Let’s crunch some numbers: To com­plete a 30-minute workout at a low inten­sity, a 130-pound woman can get 50 percent of the energy she needs from fat. If she were instead to do a high-intensity workout for 30 minutes, just 40 percent of the calories burned would come from fat. But how many total calories would she burn? Let’s take a closer look.

Core Envy Calories Burned 650px

High-Intensity Cardio Burns More

Take a closer look and you will see that the high-intensity workout actu­ally burns more total fat calories—12 per­cent more. The bottom line? For the same amount of time (in this case 30 minutes), you burn more total calories, and you burn more total fat calories during a high-inten­sity workout than during a low-intensity workout. Don’t get caught up in the per­centage of total calories that come from fat. You need to burn more total calories, not just more calories from fat. The scientifically proven way to accomplish this is through high-intensity interval workouts, not “low and slow” workouts.

Still not convinced? Maybe this fact will get your attention: Consistently working out at a low intensity can actually train your body to store fat. You read that correctly. If you consistently perform low-intensity exercise (that is, at a low heart rate), your body will adapt by beginning to store fat so that it can complete the next bout of exer­cise more effectively. This scenario is called “metabolic efficiency,” and it’s the ultimate catch-22 of exercising.

For this reason, my Core Envy program includes high-intensity cardio workouts, a diet makeover, and full-core sculpting exercises. And you can try Core Envy for a week free. Why not take a look?

This post is from Core Envy by Allison Westfahl.

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverAllison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Core Envy solves the problems traditional abs programs ignore with HIIT cardio, functional core sculpting exercises, and a smart diet overhaul.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

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local booksellers

Check Out 9 Core Envy Sculpting Exercise Videos!

Allison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Core Envy solves the problems traditional abs programs ignore with HIIT cardio, functional core sculpting exercises, and a smart diet overhaul.

The book Core Envy includes 90 sculpting exercises that will tone, shape, and strengthen all the muscles of your core for a strong, sexy look.

Core Envy videos Allison Westfahl

Take a look at these 9 sample Core Envy sculpting exercises and see what you think. Allison demonstrates each and you can follow along. If you agree they’ll work for you, then please try Core Envy free for a week!

Core Envy Sculpting Exercise: TVA Activation
Core Envy Sculpting Exercise: Side Plank
Core Envy Sculpting Exercise: Superman Series
Core Envy Sculpting Exercise: Single Leg Kicks
Core Envy Sculpting Exercise: Sliding Series
Core Envy Sculpting Exercise: Hip Bridges
Core Envy Sculpting Exercise: Twisting Side Plank
Core Envy Sculpting Exercise: C Series
Core Envy Sculpting Exercise: Reverse Tabletop

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverAllison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Core Envy solves the problems traditional abs programs ignore with HIIT cardio, functional core sculpting exercises, and a smart diet overhaul.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

Target.com
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Amazon
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local booksellers

Try Core Envy for a Week!

I’m delighted to invite you to try my Core Envy program for a week FREE!

My new program Core Envy: A 3-Step Guide to a Strong, Sexy Core will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off.

Try Core Envy for a week!

We’ve just released this Core Envy video series on YouTube that shows what Core Envy is all about.

The videos share 3 free cardio workouts and 9 free sculpting exercises (a selection from the 90 exercises in the book). Using the workouts, the sculpting exercises, and this schedule, you can get a great start on building your strong, sexy core.

Take a look at the videos, then feel free to come back to my website to ask any questions. I’m happy to help you get that enviable core!

Your Core Envy Preview Week

First watch this introduction to my Core Envy program. Then take a closer look at the 3 steps and how Core Envy works in this program overview. You’ll be happy to know that you won’t do a single crunch on the Core Envy program! Here’s why there are no crunches in Core Envy.

Now you’re ready to get started on that strong, sexy core!

Day 1 video (Monday): Basic High-Intensity Intervals Cardio Workout (watch the video for the workout). Before starting, please watch this introductory video on how to do HIIT workouts safely.

Day 2 video (Tuesday): Core Envy Sculpting Exercises (click here for the exercise videos)

Day 3 video (Wednesday): Rest day. Double-check your Daily Calorie Goal using this Mifflin Equation Calculator then plan out some healthy meals.

Day 4 video (Thursday): Core Envy Sculpting Exercises plus Aerobic Build Intervals (watch the video for the workout)

Day 5 video (Friday): Rest day. We’re taking it easy on you in this first week!

Day 6 video (Saturday): Core Envy Sculpting Exercises (click here for the exercise videos)

Day 7 video (Sunday): Head to your local Target or bookstore to pick up a copy of Core Envy!

If you’re impressed with this first week, please pick up my book Core Envy: A 3-Step Guide to a Strong, Sexy Core! After your free preview week, you’ll start seeing real results in just 2 more weeks.

START HERE with this video overview of your Core Envy Preview Week:

 

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverAllison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Core Envy solves the problems traditional abs programs ignore with HIIT cardio, functional core sculpting exercises, and a smart diet overhaul.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

Target.com
VeloPress
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
local booksellers

How Full-Core Sculpting Exercises Complement High Cardio

Most core exercises, especially any exercise that includes “crunch”, are not, in fact, going to create the sleek, toned belly you want. So why should we do core exercises at all? Since doing high-intensity cardio burns fat more effectively than crunches, why shouldn’t we just do cardio all day long and ditch the core sculpting routines?

Core Envy Sculpting Exercise: Lunge by Allison Westfahl

Here’s why:

Working the core in a functional, progres­sive manner will give you nice, lean mus­cles that will be on display once that layer of fat is burned off by doing cardio and cleaning up your diet.

You don’t want to spend months burning off that spare tire to reveal, well, nothing underneath.

While core exercises are not the most effective way to burn subcutaneous and visceral fat off your belly, they are the answer to toning the muscles underneath.

As stated earlier, spot-reducing fat from your body is not realistic, but spot-toning your muscles most certainly is.

For exam­ple, you can absolutely make the muscles in your legs stronger and more toned by doing lunges and squats; this maxim holds true for any muscle in the body. Putting repetitive stress on a muscle causes posi­tive adaptations in those muscle fibers that range from improved cardiovascular effi­ciency to increased bone density and neu­romuscular control.

The bottom line is that if you put repetitive stress on your core muscles by doing the 90 sculpting exercises in my Core Envy program, you will improve the strength, power, endurance, and coordination of those muscles.

This post is from Core Envy by Allison Westfahl.

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverAllison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Core Envy solves the problems traditional abs programs ignore with HIIT cardio, functional core sculpting exercises, and a smart diet overhaul.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

Target.com
VeloPress
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
local booksellers

Are You Slouching? Good Posture Can “Take Off” Five Pounds

A few years ago I worked with a woman who was very concerned about building her abdominal muscles back up after two pregnancies. I immediately noticed how rounded her shoulders were and that her posture was making her stomach stick out enough that you might begin to wonder if she were still pregnant. She looked down at her stomach and exclaimed, “See? Ever since I had kids, I have this horrible pooch that won’t go away!” I promptly pulled her shoulders back and told her to lift her chest up 3 inches. Voilà! Her dreaded “mommy tummy” disappeared immediately. She was shocked but came to the realization that she had started slouching thanks to her daily routine of breast-feeding, carrying babies, and being chronically sleep-deprived. I started her on a program that focused on strengthening not only the abdominal muscles but also those of the upper back and midback. Her posture improved dra­matically, the mommy tummy went away, and her confidence skyrocketed.

The problem of poor posture is not restricted to mothers and older women. Over the past decade, I’ve noticed a signifi­cant increase in the number of women who come to me with extremely poor posture. As poor posture becomes more and more prevalent, our collective memory of good posture fades away. The ramifications go far beyond vanity and a belly pooch. When the spine is excessively rounded forward for long periods of time, ischemic tissue (tissue that no longer has oxygen flow to it) will develop in the area and contribute to the irreversible curvature of the spine. In addition, poor posture can interfere with the brain’s ability to communicate with the muscles (by putting pressure on the spinal column), can cause joint and muscle inju­ries, and can even lead to painful trigger points from overused muscles.

Take a look at your profile in a mirror and compare your natural posture with the illustrations shown here. The position of your head will have a domino effect on the rest of your spine. You can experience this by pushing your chin forward 6 inches, which should cause your upper back and shoulders to round forward and your chest cavity to collapse.

Core Envy Good Posture Vs. Slouching 600px

Notice that if you have poor posture, it is likely that your shoulders are slumped and your hips are tucked under in a way that makes your gluteals look weak and untoned, which in turn makes your stomach look bigger. Now move your body into the opposite position, which is called a back exten­sion. The abdominal muscles immediately become elongated and flatter, the shoulders pull back and create an opening in the chest, and the hips move into a slight anterior pelvic tilt (pushed backward), which helps the gluteals look round and toned.

When your mother harped on you to stand up straight and pull your shoulders back, she should have mentioned that good posture makes your chest, abs, and butt more attractive. Now, I’m not talking about an exaggerated position like that of a gymnast salut­ing the judges. You want to find the natural posture that helps you look great and allows your spinal column to rest in its optimal position.

This post is from Core Envy by Allison Westfahl.

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverAllison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Core Envy solves the problems traditional abs programs ignore with HIIT cardio, functional core sculpting exercises, and a smart diet overhaul.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

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You Have to Lose It Everywhere

You Can’t Burn Fat In Just One Place

We all store fat in different areas of our bod­ies; women with pear-shaped bodies tend to store more in the hips and thighs, while women with apple-shaped bodies store more in the abdomen and upper arms. When you want to reduce fat in a specific area of your body, it would seem reasonable to do exer­cises that work the muscles in that region. So if you want less fat on your thighs, you do lunges; if you want less fat on your arms, you do biceps curls; and if you want to burn off that spare tire, you do core exercises. Seems perfectly logical, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this approach to fat reduction is simply false. The reason we can’t microtarget fat areas is that fat is stored primarily in the form of tri­glycerides. These triglycerides might tend to collect more in certain areas (such as the abdomen or thighs), but that doesn’t mean the muscles of that area are using those spe­cific triglycerides for fuel.

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When we need energy to move, our body will call upon the stored energy in our fat cells and convert that energy into fuel that our muscles can use. Just because we have fat cells in our stomach doesn’t mean our body will choose those particular fat cells to convert to energy when we’re doing core exercises. In short, the fat cells in our stomach don’t “belong” to the muscles of the stomach. The body will pull energy from fat cells in many dif­ferent areas of the body and will use that fuel to help power whatever activity we are doing.

The Key Is Burning Many Calories

For this reason, the key to burn­ing fat as quickly as possible is to choose activities that burn the highest number of calories, in turn eliminating the high­est amount of fat. In my new book Core Envy, we will look at which types of workouts are the most effective for burning fat calories, and we’ll examine why manipulating your heart rate is the key to losing belly fat.

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverPlease take a look at my new book Core Envy, which will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

Target.com
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local booksellers

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Philipp.

Feeling the Burn Doesn’t Mean You’re Burning Calories

The term “burn” has been associated with exercise for a long time: Feel the burn, burn away fat, calorie burn, burning muscles . . . the list goes on and on. We all want to feel that the exercises we are doing are effective and worthwhile, and that burning sensation we get while doing a specific movement helps us feel that we are working hard, burning lots of calories, and therefore tightening the mus­cles that are burning. But what exactly is that burning sensation, and is it really a barome­ter for the effectiveness of a workout?

Core Envy CNV_600x400_feelburn

Contrary to popular belief, the burn that we feel in our muscles during exer­cise is not directly related to caloric burn or the amount of fat that is being burned. Just because you feel a burn in your abdominal muscles during a crunch, it does not mean that your body is burning fat in that area.

That sensation in your muscles is actually something else: an indication that those muscles are out of ATP, a cellular fuel your muscles burn for quick energy. Once the ATP is gone, your muscles begin creating lactic acid and hydrogen ions which, well, they burn! That’s all it means. It doesn’t mean you’re burning a ton of calories; just that your muscles have burned all their stored ATP.

What you need to know for the pur­poses of fat loss is that the higher you get your heart rate, the more calories you will burn. It’s tempting to base the effectiveness of a workout on how much “burn” you feel in the muscles, but it’s the intensity and duration of the workout that will truly determine how many calories—and therefore how much fat—you are melting away.

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl Book CoverAllison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off.

Core Envy is available now in Target stores, bookstores, and from these online retailers. Take a look!

Target.com
VeloPress
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
local booksellers