For many of us, the goal of exercise is overall improvements in our general health. Along with the goal of a healthier heart, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and many cancers, we also want to feel great and feel good about how we look.
There is nothing wrong with a bit of vanity; having a lean body with a healthy amount of body fat balanced with strong, supple muscles and functional joints is precisely what most doctors will prescribe.
When many say, I want to lose weight, they mean that they want to improve their body composition.
Here are some achievable goals you can add to your life today and improve your body composition in the process:
1. One size does not fit all
One size does not fit all when it comes to restrictive, complicated diet plans. What works for me to maintain a healthy body composition may not work well for you.
- Think of all the factors at play: diet, age, genetics, hormones, medications, activities, work, leisure, and more!
- There is no shortage of options for weight loss: plans, diets, supplements, and gimmicks.
I have never been a fan of diets that cost money, require you to sign a contract, or requires you to make drastic alterations to your lifestyle that will be impossible to maintain.
Instead, choose changes that are healthy ones that you and your entire family can make together for your lifetimes and benefit your overall health.
2. Ramp Up Your Cardiovascular Exercise to Lose Fat
As an action item goes, this one will improve your overall health and your body composition.
- Set a goal to start with ten minutes of cardiovascular activity every day, then build till you are getting thirty minutes of exercise every day.
- Your cardiovascular activity should get your heart rate and breathing rate up and can be anything from a brisk walk to a dance party.
3. Ramp Up Your Resistance Training to Build Lean Muscle
- Resistance training will build your muscle mass, which offers the bonus of increasing your metabolic rate: more muscle means more calories are burned.
- Regular weight training will serve to improve your body composition by enhancing your lean muscle mass and reducing your fat mass.
Combine this with the other four action items on this list, and you are well on your way to improving your body composition!
- Strong muscles will also aid in getting you through the activities of your day and prevent injuries from falls and lifts.
- Regular resistance training may also help to prevent the bone loss associated with osteopenia and osteoporosis.
4. Improve Your Nutrition
This action item is a delicious one, and it is a decision that should be made for the entire family for the long haul.
Give up the fast-food drive-throughs, the frozen foods sections, the heavily processed foods, and stick with plant-based, whole grain, natural foods.
- Throw out all of the takeaway menus in the kitchen drawer, and commit to eating homemade meals.
- Instead, start a holiday jar with all the cash that you will be saving!
- Create fabulous lunches the night before from your dinner leftovers so that you can avoid temptations during your workday.
- Choose healthier snack items. Many supermarkets offer nutritional tours to help you choose more nutritious items!
5. Cut Back on Alcohol (Or Go Booze-Free!)
Every calorie counts when trying to improve your body composition, and alcohol is genuinely empty calories. We tend to eat more when we’ve had a few drinks, adding to the calorie count, and alcohol lowers our metabolic rate for as long as four days after drinking, which may lead to more weight gain.
- A 6 oz glass of white wine contains 140 calories, while a pint of beer contains 208 calories.
- On average, a brisk walk would only burn between 100 to 300 calories in about thirty minutes!
Begin by taking bold action and embrace these five action items! You will see improvements within a month! These improvements won’t be limited to your body composition either; you will feel energized, sleep better, and feel more optimistic!