Women often ask me, “what is the best workout to do in the little bit of time I have?” Well, that answer depends on you. Each person is unique. The results we get from a workout are based on our metabolism — or how quickly we burn off the calories we eat.
Generally speaking, black women have a slower resting metabolic rate. It’s about 5 percent slower than for white women, according to a study in the journal, Obesity Research. Plus, women have a 10 to 25 percent slower metabolic rate than men, who tend to have more muscle mass. Aging and carrying extra weight add to the problem. That’s where the right fitness plan comes into play. Increasing your metabolic rate is squarely within your control.
I have come up with an equation for the science of metabolic study or what I call metabolic-ology. (Okay, I made that word up, but you get the message.)
met • a • bol •ic • ol •o • gy The science of combining Cardio + strength training Clean healthy eating, minus junk food Multiplied by fun choices like Zumba, belly dance, salsa or Z-Fit Divided by yoga, massage and other de-stressors equals A strong, sexy you!
met • a • bol •ic • ol •o • gy
The science of combining Cardio + strength training
Clean healthy eating, minus junk food
Multiplied by fun choices like Zumba, belly dance, salsa or Z-Fit
Divided by yoga, massage and other de-stressors equals
A strong, sexy you!
Here are five proven ways to help you get back on the fast metabolic track:
1. Get Moving!
Cardiovascular activity improves your heart strength. Start the process by running, fast walking, riding a bike, taking indoor cycle classes or using the cardio machine of your choice. Finding a class that incorporates fast moves with challenging exercises is a terrific way to kick-start your metabolism and your workouts.
Try to work out at least 30 to 45 minutes three to five days a week, and get your heart rate up! Click here to figure out your target heart rate zone, then live there for at least 20 minutes of the workout every time you move.
2. Strength Train.
Add a challenging strength-training program to your cardio workout. Try stretching resistance bands for upper body exercises like bicep curls. Use kettle- bells or your body weight for squats. Strength train two to three days a week, and aim for two to three sets — with 12 to 15 repetitions.
Don’t be afraid to lift some heavy weights! Challenge your muscles to fatigue, and be consistent with your workouts.
We all want tight rears and flat abs. Squats and lunges will get your booty there, and plank/core exercises work wonders for your abs. Add these two exercises to your daily routine and then throw in 10 to 20 pushups, and you are well on your way to the new sexy you!
The reality is that when you strength train, your body keeps working even after the workout is over. Your muscles have to recover, repair and recuperate. That’s a lot of energy that requires your metabolism to rev up and burn more even at rest.
And don’t worry about bulking up. Instead, you’ll add definition and become tantalizingly toned. (Think about Michelle Obama’s arms.) Generally speaking, we just don’t have the amount of testosterone in our physiological makeup to start looking like the guys. You will build lean beautiful physiques that are shapely, strong and sexy!
3. Eat Better.
Subtract all the junk food and bad eating from your life! No one would intentionally put bad gas in their car, but some of us won’t hesitate to eat fast food that we know isn’t working for us.
Start your day off right. Break your nightly fast by eating a healthy breakfast. A good rule of thumb is a healthy protein, carbohydrate combination. Protein shakes are a great way to start your day.
For the rest of the day, eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Incorporate color into your meals. Blueberries, beets, dark green leafy veggies, all work in your favor. Aim to eat five small meals daily to keep the digestive fires burning.
Get the white stuff out of your life. That means no refined sugars, flours and other processed products. These work against your lean, sexy goal. Eat healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and avocados. These help keep things moving along, keep your brain sharp and are great for your eyes, hair and nails.
Get some hot stuff in your life! Cayenne pepper helps to rev up your metabolism. Also, drink lots of water, green tea and juice fresh fruits and vegetables. Did I mention drink lots of water? (A rule of thumb for daily water intake is to divide your body weight in half and drink that amount in ounces.)
As we age eating better is a must. Our digestive systems become more sensitive. You may find that foods you could eat before now give your stomach challenges. Listen to your gut! Cut out the bad stuff, and your colon will thank you!
4. Dance It Out.
Multiply your workouts with some fun. I personally love belly dance, but if Zumba, Z-Fit, salsa or Samba are your style, then work it. Doing something fun means you will do it. Try to add a couple of classes a week just for the fun of it.
Exciting workouts make exercise enjoyable. Whether you are new to the fitness world or you have been doing this for a while, doing something new and fun brings motivation that will take your overall workouts to a whole new level.
When we are stressed we trigger a hormone called cortisol. Our body reads stress as a fight-or-flight trigger. That was great when we had to run from wild animals, but today that heightened level of worry only goes to our midsections in the form of added weight. With large amounts of cortisol, our bodies don’t know how to relax and release.
But don’t fear there is a solution.
Divide all of your workout activity with some form of mind-body stress reliever like yoga or massage. This is your gift to your body for all of your hard work and discipline. Massage therapy helps to release tension and battles fatigue. It systemically reduces cortisol levels and increases feel good hormones like serotonin. This change signals your body to let go … of the weight!
Yoga is moving meditation and a way to reconnect with why you are doing all of this in the first place. It creates an internal place of peace and allows you to focus on the task at hand — getting to your goal of your best health.
Like anything else you put your mind and effort to, this will be a challenge but well worth it. So, get started and the result will be a new strong, sexy you!
Gigi Nash is a personal trainer and wellness motivator. She is also a group fitness instructor, studio cycling director and membership manager at a health club in the Washington, D.C., area.