Question: I have been working out at a fitness center with a circuit and I've had a lot of success losing both pounds and inches. But recently they've changed to a swipe card system that individualizes the resistance on the machines and I don't feel like I'm getting a fat burning workout anymore but I still have more weight to lose. I used to be energized when I left and now I'm just exhausted so I'm having trouble forcing myself to go. What should I do?
Heather: The circuit exercise programs that you refer to are usually designed to provide both strength training and fat burning benefits at the same time. They want to give you more bang for your buck so to speak so you can get the same results from a shorter workout. So, while the circuit seems harder now you are most likely still getting a fat burning workout as well.
If your heart is beating faster while you are working out and you are breathing harder than you are getting a cardiovascular workout. Additionally, the strength training part also results in more fat burning because you are building muscle, which burns more fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you are burning at all times and therefore the more likely your body is to dip into your fat stores for energy.
However, you since you aren't enjoying the workout anymore you may want to talk to the center staff to see if you can use the machines without using the swipe system. This way you can go back to using the machines at their default resistance setting. You might also want to add some cardio to your day to help you burn more calories throughout the day. Consider taking a walk at lunch or taking the steps instead of the elevator to be more physically active during the day.
And remember that a healthy diet is also an integral part of a weight loss program. According to the Weight Loss Registry, people who have been most successful in weight loss and maintaining weight loss used both diet and exercise.
Be sure to eat a diet rich in low calorie fruits and vegetables and in whole grains. Try to steer away from high fat meat by choosing lean cuts and white meat poultry without the skin. If you haven't already, switched to low-fat milk and dairy I recommend doing so. Low-fat milk still provides all of the nutrients but without all the fat of whole milk and other full-fat dairy products. And finally limit saturated fats like animal fat and butter by using heart healthy monounsaturated fats like olive and canola oil.
It's also important to watch portion sizes. Eating too much of any foods can prevent weight loss. When serving yourself start small and go back for a small second serving if you are still hungry. Some people also find it helpful to use smaller plates and bowls to help monitor portion size.