One of these days, I'll tell my wife that I'm ready to lose weight.
And I'll actually mean it.
With the holidays - and all of those scrumptious, belt-busting meals planting seeds in my mind's garden, it seems prudent to consider the post-holiday exercise my body will sorely need. Of course I'm not the only person who would benefit from a well-planned workout. Or two. Or three ...?
And who says I need to wait until after the holidays to get into better shape?
As I seek ways to get the most out of my workout, all sorts of questions rear their ugly little heads. What do I eat or drink before I work out? Are energy drinks good for me? How much weight should I lift? When I get to my target weight, does my workout change? What do I eat or drink after I work out? Do I have to give up carbs?
Turns out I may have more questions than Carter has pills. So I decided to ask the heads of a few local workout establishments what I can do to have a good workout.
1. Warm up ... slowly
You would not start your car by immediately hitting the accelerator to the floor. You would warm it up slowly, so oil could lubricate the engine before you hit the road.
When you prepare to take your body out for a spin, you need to do the same thing, says Anna Wagner, fitness manager and personal trainer at Camp Verde Snap Fitness. Wagner says that starting your workout with 10 minutes on the treadmill "will help get the fat cells mobile, and get the blood circulating."
Stretching "has its place," Wagner says. "But moreso after the workout. Save your deeper stretching for after the workout."
Though easing into the intensity of a workout makes sense, Trevor Faust, fitness center supervisor at the Cottonwood Recreation Center, says your warmup should include five minutes of "dynamic, meaning energy-costing work."
"You need to create some sweat," he says."
2. The weight-loss workout differs only slightly from the muscle-building workout
Building muscle is not about lifting heavy weights, Faust says.
"It's about using the right amount of weight versus lifting the heaviest amount you can," he says. "If you don't use the right amount of weight, you lose control."
Faust says the difference between working out to lose weight and working out to gain muscle mass "shouldn't be much."
"The difference is energy balance," he says. "If you're training to lose weight, you need to expend more calories than you take in. You want a caloric deficit."
3. Nourish and hydrate
Of course losing and gaining weight takes more than exercise. It's also what you do at the table. Whether the plan is to lose weight or to gain weight, protein is our friend, says Jeanette Helgerson, fitness trainer and owner of Camp Verde Curves.
"Eat protein, so you are not losing muscle when you are working out," Helgerson says.
And Wagner says that complex carbohydrates should be part of your workout's pre-game show.
"This provides energy," she says. "And you should also hydrate before, during and after you exercise, primarily with water."
Though energy drinks contain electrolytes (salt) that we lose when working out, they also have a lot of sugar. "If you must have them, do it after the workout," Wagner says.
By resistance, I don't mean saying no to working out. Machines that use hydraulic resistance are made "so you never outgrow your workout," Helgerson says. "They're based on what you're able to do, whether you are 20 or 90. And they still give you strength training."
5. See your physician before you begin a workout program
"If you're not well-exercised," Faust says, "consulting with a medical professional is recommended. The No. 1 priority is knowing precisely what you should be doing."