First, some back ground: I'm a 23 yr old female, and I've been plunking around with my own workouts now for roughly 10 years. Recently I've gotten married, graduated, and switched from an active job to a desk job (which translates into - eating more, moving around less). My workout over the past 8 to 10 months has consisted of 3 hours of aerobic per week (walk/jogging, ellipticals, classes, etc.) and 2 hours of muscle toning per week (free weights, weight machines, pilates, etc.).
This is the most time I have ever dedicated to working out, and the most intensity I have put into my workouts (although I'm sure I could add more), yet I am STILL gaining weight! I have gained roughly 10-15 lbs in the past year and a half. So, I have decided to change my diet.
Now, the question: I have done my research and it appears that the Body for Life diet is more of a "health" plan than a "diet" plan. I like that. I want something that I can stick with b/c I like to snack, and have an overwhelming sweet tooth. But, I've read some poor reviews as well, especially from the "Burn the Fat" website. Is there any advice on either of these plans, or maybe a new plan all together? Thanks!!
1) Give up the "toning", you either gain muscle or lose fat.
Quote from Coach Joe Defranco
"Myth #1: Lifting light weights for high reps will "shape and tone" your muscles.
This is the grand daddy of all training myths! Somehow the aerobics, yoga and Pilate?s community have convinced us that when we perform bodyweight exercises or light resistance training for high reps, our muscles magically take on a beautiful shape without growing or bulging.
On the other hand, if you challenge yourself with moderately heavy weights, your body will take on a bulky, unflattering appearance. If you believe this, you probably still believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus!
Here are the facts. The main difference between a "lean and toned" physique and a "bulky" physique is the amount of body fat that surrounds your muscles! Basically, the "lean and toned" look that most people desire is a result of having muscle that isn?t hidden under layers of fat. And let?s not forget that the best way to build muscle is through strength training.
Generally speaking, this means challenging yourself with moderately heavy weights in the 6 to 15 rep range. It doesn?t mean using an insignificant resistance for a countless number of reps. This will do little to change your appearance.
Remember, it?s the muscle on your frame which gives you your shape. Muscle also increases your metabolism which helps your body burn extra calories throughout the day."
2) Watch your caloric intake. Are you consuming more calories then you can burn? Do you actually watch your diet?
Way to much cardio and not enough weight training.
You only need three 20-minute sessions of cardio each week (try upping the intensity) and three 45-60 minute weight training sessions (time to up the intensity, i.e. weights). All that cardio is most likely eating up your muscle, thus the reason you are gaining weight! No muscle means a lower metabolism which leads to fat gain over time.
It's great that you are dedicating yourself to training! But as mentioned above, you're dedicating your training in the wrong areas. A little redistribution, and you will begin to gain lean muscle mass and start burning up the fat.
Don't be afraid to lift heavy weights. Heavy weights will make you lean and shapely, not big and bulky. In fact, light weights in the 12-15 range will most likely increase overall muscle mass much faster than heavier weights and lower reps.
Now, since you also work a desk job, what you eat is just as important. See below.
You should never diet. You shouldn't think in terms of dieting. You should always think about your health and making behavioral changes to your lifestyle for long-term results. Being healthy means eating healthy at least 90% of the time.
Okay, having some sweets maybe once or twice a week in addition to your healthy, daily diet is fine. But having your sweets in place of good foods is a no-no. And, you should always restrict the sweets, pizza, processed foods, etc. Even one sweet thing a day will add up over time. Before you know it, you'll gain weight even with everything else remaining constant.
So clean up your diet. Save the sweets for a cheat meal on the weekends (in addition to your healthy foods). Don't skip meals. Eat every 3-4 hours for 5-6 meals a day. Eat protein with every meal. Eat most of your carbs (oatmeal, whole-grain bread, veggies, fruit) earlier in the day and taper them off in the afternoon and throughout the night.
Research shows that the body handles carbs best earlier in the day, but not in the afternoon and night. So eat healthy meals at night consisting of protein and good fats and fiberous veggies (anything green, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, salads, etc.). But skip the bread, pasta, rice, etc.
Nate's covered things pretty well, but of mention, I find that when I'm eating very cleanly, and possibly certain things in my diet--I usually make a protein shake with Brewer's yeast, molasses, milk, bananas/fruit, etc., sodas, junk food, and candy have no appeal at all to me so it's pretty easy to avoid them and keep eating cleanly.
Hey, Just a few article suggections sorry I dont have my usual links. But go to the beginners section and check out the "Are You a Beginner II" thread. Then another great one that should shed some light and inspiration is "Mod With a Bod" Check it out. Do a search and you should turn noth up pretty easy.
In short I agree to much cardio, drop the thinking of "Toning" and go lift some weights.