You want to lose weigh, but you don't want to pony up the cash for an expensive gym membership. While it's true that those exercise classes and weight machines can rev up your efforts, you don't need a gym to formulate and carry out a weight-loss plan. By bringing your weight loss journey out of the gym, you might find it's easier to incorporate healthy activities into more parts of your life because you won't limit your workouts to the walls of the gym.
The cardiovascular exercise you do each day will be a key part of your weight-loss routine. To lose 1 pound, you'll need to expend 3,500 more calories than you consume. A healthy weight loss goal is 1 to 2 pounds a week -- so that means you'll be aiming to burn 3,500 to 7,000 calories throughout the week. Pick a few activities that you think you can actually stand to do on a regular basis, such as running, walking or cycling, and then cycle through a few cardio workouts throughout the week. If you have a lake or pool nearby, you could also include swimming as a cardiovascular exercise. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise, five days a week, and then use a calorie calculator to gauge about how many calories you've burned. Keep the numbers in a journal so you can track the number of calories you've burned each day.
Along with cardiovascular exercise, add some type of resistance or weight training into your routine to help you lose weight faster. Not only will it help tone your muscles and make you look more fit, muscle also burns calories more efficiently than fat, according to MayoClinic.com. Find a set of 5- or 10-pound dumbbells at a second-hand store, and do basic weight-training exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, lunges and squats with the dumbbells. Also do pushups and pullups, as they'll help strengthen your core and make all cardiovascular exercise easier. Aim to do your weight-training routine two or three days a week while you watch TV or on your lunch break. If you choose to do weights on the same day as a cardio workout, do a slightly less-intense cardio routine that day. One day a week, give yourself a day of rest during which you don't do any exercise -- your body will appreciate the recuperation.
Find ways to move your body to shave even more calories throughout the day. Try walking or cycling to work, or taking the stairs to get to the office. Go for a walk on your lunch break, and plan active outings with the family on the weekends, such as ice skating, hiking, swimming or a cycling trip. If you work at a desk, get a set of resistance bands and do strengthening exercises under your desk, or sit on an exercise ball to strengthen your core and practice good posture throughout the day.
When it comes to losing weight, only 5 percent of people are successful in keeping the weight off after one year, according to the American Council on Exercise. Of the participants in the National Weight Control Registry, only 1 percent of people successfully lost weight by exercising alone. As such, consider calorie reduction as part of your weight loss regimen. Start by estimating the number of calories you're currently consuming each day by keeping a food journal, and then find ways to cut calories by eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting out sugar, sweets and "extra" snacks. Also try to make your food portions for every meal about 10 to 15 percent smaller, advises the American Council on Exercise. Aim for reducing several hundred calories each day.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.