Most Americans have more experience with “yo-yo dieting” than we’d like to admit. Yo-yo dieting (for anyone not familiar with the term – God bless you) is when we go on a diet or an exercise plan and lose a little weight; only to regain all of the weight we lost! More often than not, we pack on an additional five or 10 pounds! 
    Many Americans have cycled through several “diet” 
and /or exercise plans and are today many, many pounds heavier than when they started.  Kirstie Alley, Oprah, and other well known celebrities (as well as the rest of us) can attest to the difficulty of losing weight in today’s culture as well as the emotional pain of the re-gaining experience. In fact, by some estimates, only 20 percent of people who lose weight keep it off more than a year.
   Understanding the reason for the “yo-yo” effect will help us understand the solution to weight gain. When we lose weight, often times we lose half from body fat and the other half from our muscles. The problem here is that it is our muscles that burn calories. 
   Lose muscle tissue and your metabolism slows down dramatically.  I’ve heard it put this way “muscle dictates metabolism.” If you lose muscle as you diet and exercise you burn less calories per day than before you began the program.  We need to increase, not decrease our calorie burning. How? By building and preserving muscle. Now, I’m not talking about “bulking up,” because muscle building is only part of our simple equation.
   So, what is the solution to weight gain and yo-yo dieting? Simply put, The Smart Training Equation: (A) Smart Resistance Training, + (B) Smart Cardio Training, 
+ (C)  a Smart Nutrition Program = (D) your best physique ever! 
This can be accomplished in as little as 20 minutes per day!  So what does this look like?  We’ll cover it in a “nut shell” now and focus individually on these essentials in future columns.
   Smart Resistance Training uses weights, exercise bands, or gym type equipment with correct form and intensity to build muscle over your whole body. You won’t “bulk up,” but the muscle you do build will burn a whole lot of calories.
   Smart Cardiovascular Training could include 20 minutes of walking, running, swimming, or biking at varying intensity levels.  This is called “interval training” and could be done every other day – alternating with your resistance training.  
   Smart Nutrition targets body fat and preserves your muscles. 
   It is very important to learn proper technique for resistance training, and to pick the right cardiovascular exercise (and intensity) for your fitness level. A basic understanding of how to choose foods that fuel these activities will complete this fitness equation and tell your body that it is “ok” to burn body fat.
   In over 10 years of experience as a Personal Trainer I’ve noticed that most people will try any one or two of these elements. Many even diet or exercise to excess -and still regain the weight! That’s because they have never tried the whole equation.  Incorporating this simple plan into your lifestyle will help burn body fat and build long, lean, toned muscle. 
   We’ll be covering all three of these essential elements, and other great tips to building your best physique in future articles.

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