Thank goodness the holidays are over, and the new year is here.
But are you finding that holiday celebrations have resulted in a new "you" as well?
As a personal trainer, I hear the same thing every year after the holidays: "Stefan, I gained fat over here," and "Stefan, I gained fat over there."
Be honest. Are you really surprised by the change in your body composition due to your calorie intake over the last few months?
You shouldn't be.
First, understand that your body's metabolism slows down 2 percent for each decade of your life after age 20. This means that your body burns calories more slowly with each passing year.
As a result, you should also be more careful with your calories as you get older. How much more careful? You can figure it out with the simple calculation below that will give you your basal metabolic rate, or BMR:
Take your desired weight in pounds.
Multiply this number by 11 if you are a woman, 12 if you are a man.
Subtract 2 percent of this total for every 10 years after age 20.
Add 10 percent. This represents the calories you need to maintain your daily life functions.
The number you end up with is your minimum daily calorie intake.
So say you are a 50-year-old man who would like to keep your weight at a trim 140 pounds. Here's how you would calculate your BMR:
Desired weight = 140
140 × 12 = 1,680
1,680 - 3(1,680 × .02) = 1,57 9
1,579 + 158 = 1,737 calories per day
Now keep in mind that some of you are more active than others. Hence, you should add on 180 calories per hour of housework (or if your house is already clean, feel free to come by and help me!), 650 calories per hour of cycling, 800 calories for every hour of running, and 1,200 calories per hour for cross-country skiing.
If you want to lose body fat, however, calorie control is only one side of the equation. The question you still need to ask is: "How do you burn the most calories and, best, the most fat calories?"
Interval training! Yes, you need to push yourself. You need to vary your training intensity between 65 percent of your total capacity to 85 percent and 95 percent. This approach will help you to lose the most calories from fat.
Stefan Aschan is a fitness consultant in New York City.
To understand the benefits of true interval training, let us look into three different training approaches for a 150-pound person who rides a stationary bike for 30 minutes:
65 percent training intensity
This person who is exercising for 30 minutes at 65 percent will burn overall 82 calories, of which could be 41 from fat. This means that he or she will only be on the same speed and the same activity day in day out.
Think about it. Have you been in the gym and seen people day in, day out doing the same thing? And when you seen them two years later, does their body still look the same?
I have seen this many times, and I don't call this working out but rather flaking out. This training would fall in the aerobic, with oxygen, category -- also referred to as a low intensity workout.
85 percent training intensity
If this same person is still exercising for 30 minutes but increases the intensity to 85 percent, this individual will burn overall 157 calories, of which could be 10 calories from fat.
This is the person who is sweating all over the treadmill, has water bottles staggered next to the bike and a second T-shirt to change into nearby. I have seen this many times as well, and I have not seen this person change either.