One of the main topics of conversation among women is slimming. “I’d like to slim down, I’d like to lose a few kilos, I feel bloated, I just have to get back in shape…” How many times do we hear or tell ourselves this? A lot. An awful lot. Maybe too many times. But the results are more often than not disappointing. This is because we often rely on last-minute diets found online or recommended by a friend, or we simply do the wrong things without realising it because we’re ill informed.
But what does “slimming” really mean?
Slimming is a highly complex physiological and psychological process and is essentially a question of striking a BALANCE between our calorie intake and calorie consumption (the calories we burn/use).
These two variables (calories consumed and burned) should be the same, although not everyone responds in the same way, as genetics also play a part, as well as a series of other variables such as stress levels and hormones. However, on a PHYSIOLOGICAL level, the key guidelines remain the same:
1- Take physical exercise to reduce body fat (adipose tissue) and increase lean body mass (muscle)
2- EAT PROPERLY, focusing on quality and the quantity of nutrients.
The golden rule for effective and sustainable weight loss is to burn fat without losing lean body mass. But how do you go about this? Let’s look in detail at the 3 key points that will help you achieve your goal.
Aerobic activity is not the only solution
The most common mistake is to join a gym and only perform aerobic activity for fear that exercising with weights “will make you too muscular, like a body builder”. Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, how many times have you gone running, walking or cycling for hours without achieving the expected results? The answer is very simple: to lose weight, you not only need to reduce your body fat, but also increase your lean body mass, which comes from combining aerobic exercise (which is still important) with muscle-strengthening exercise.
In addition to burning fat, you need to train your muscles, increasing your lean body mass, which will help you to burn more calories even when you’re resting, as well as giving you a more attractive figure. Muscles are in fact metabolically more active than fat and require a higher amount of energy, even when resting.
The intensity of the training depends on the time you have available
It’s not true that you lose fat through low-intensity activity alone. The rule to follow, therefore, is that the intensity of training is inversely proportional to the time you have available: if you don’t have much time you should train at a high intensity; otherwise, low-intensity training will also help you to achieve good results.
Choose a physical activity that suits you
There’s no point in making the effort to perform activities that you find boring or unsatisfying. For lasting results, your choice of activity is extremely important. If you practice a sport that you enjoy, then you will perform it better, be motivated to improve, work beyond your limits and improve your mood and self-esteem.
There’s a wide range of activities that you can enjoy; there are group classes held in the gym, such as Group Cycle or Omnia, outdoor sports or workouts that you can do by yourself in the weight room or at your convenience at home.
Don't underestimate the effects of stress
Many women think that leading busy lives, with lots of activity, running around, is a valid solution for keeping fit. Well, we have some bad news for them. Stressing the body, lack of sleep, skipping meals or eating them at different times are excellent ways of not losing weight. As we all know, stress is not an ally of fitness. In addition to the problem of “cortisol”, the stress hormone that tends to cause bloating, not getting enough sleep has a negative impact on your physical and mental balance.
If we’re tired, we’re often more likely to eat more, especially what we call “comfort food” (chocolate, sweets, etc.), or to smoke or drink alcohol to “relax”. So we need to devote the right amount of time to rest: a proper rest has major implications on our response to stress, on post-training recovery and on our hormone profile. For effective slimming, you must therefore also sleep well.