If you're on social media, read the news, watch TV, or flip through a magazine, chances are you've come across advertisements with headlines like "the ultimate workout plan" or "you can lose five pounds in five days" or maybe even "get six-pack abs with three simple exercises." And if you're like the millions of Americans who are trying to get in shape, those claims are enticing, exciting, and you may even start to believe they're real.
If we're being honest with ourselves, we've ALL clicked the link (at least once) to find out more about the latest weight-loss trends and diets that promise us amazing results with little to no effort. Unfortunately, it's our "quick-fix" society—and very good marketing—that made us unhealthy in the first place. Americans currently spend north of $60 billion annually trying to lose weight, but with a dose of reality and common sense, I think it's safe to say that no weight-loss plan works for everyone.
So, if you've set a goal to lose weight, ask yourself these three questions. They will help you get a better idea of what type of plan works for YOU:
1. What kind of exercise and activity do I enjoy?
If you don't enjoy it, you won't stick with it—plain and simple. If you hate running, don't plan to run three days each week just because you think it's the best workout; you are just setting up yourself for failure. Start with exercises you enjoy and then try incorporating new ones as you progress. Try thinking outside the box when it comes to physical activity, especially if you have a hard time starting or get discouraged by more traditional exercises. For example, a hobby like gardening can be great exercise. If it's something you enjoy (and something you forget is even exercise), you're more likely to continue doing it.
2. When can I fit exercise into my busy routine?
As busy as we are juggling work and family, finding the time to exercise can be a challenge. Can you find time to make a trip to the gym after work three days a week? Or does a trip down to your basement for a quick 30-minute workout make more sense after the kids go to sleep? The fewer barriers there are, the more success you will have in starting and continuing your workout routine.
3. How can I keep my exercise simple?
Simplicity is your biggest ally. You don't need a lot of specialized equipment or complex exercise movements to get a good workout. In fact, you don't need any equipment at all. For example, a circuit of squats, plank holds, push-ups, lunges, side planks, and tricep dips can still deliver a challenging workout. The magic is not in the equipment or complexity—it's in consistency, patience, and practice.
Not sure where to start? Try walking. It is one form of activity that can easily tackle all three of the questions above. It's simple; it can be done anywhere and for any duration of time. Walking is a great place to start and even alone it can bring many health benefits—including weight loss!
If your exercise plan is enjoyable, simple, and fits into your life, you'll be very likely to stick with it. And long-term consistency combined with healthy nutrition will increase your chances of managing your weight and achieving your goals. So, the next time your friend posts a link to Facebook about "the best exercise for weight loss," smile and move on. By answering the three questions above, you are on your way to knowing what YOUR best workout for weight loss is.