If you want to get small and stay small, exercise must become your close friend. Exercise builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism and the more calories you burn, even at rest. Focus on strengthening your biggest muscles with weight-resistance exercises to burn more calories. Also, do cardio with high-intensity intervals while watching your daily calorie intake so you can lose weight and flatten out.
Create and commit to an exercise plan. You'll want to strength train all your muscles at least twice a week. Strength training is important for burning calories and increasing your metabolism so you can burn more calories around the clock. Do at least three to five cardio workouts per week, with each workout being 30 minutes to an hour long.
Include many strength-training exercises for your glutes and thighs. They're among your body's largest muscles, so strengthening them will give you more muscle mass and boost your metabolism. Do single-leg deadlifts to tighten your glutes and hamstrings and lift your butt. Squats will also get you slimmer thighs and a tighter tush. By working multiple large muscles at once, these types of exercises are huge fat burners.
Do ab exercises that recruit other muscles too, so you can burn more calories doing each exercise. It's important to build strong abs so flat muscle will appear under the fat when you shed it off. Planks strengthen your lower abs and your innermost ab muscles to flatten your stomach. Add dumbbell rows to your plank to burn more fat.
Strength train your largest upper-body muscles, including the biceps, triceps, shoulders and lats. You can also try combining lower-body exercises with upper-body exercises to burn more fat in each exercise. For example, do a squat and biceps curl or overhead press in the same movement.
Choose the most effective amount of weight for each resistance exercise based on this rule: you shouldn't have the strength to do more than 12 repetitions of the exercise without a rest and without breaking proper form. Do up to three sets of eight to 12 reps of each exercise. Use free weights, machine weights, your own body weight or a variety of these for your exercises. A variety is better for challenging your muscles.
Include high-intensity intervals in your cardio workouts by increasing the intensity of your activity for 30 to 90 seconds every few minutes before returning to your normal pace. If you're running, for example, do a one-minute sprint every six minutes throughout your workout. Bouts of higher-intensity exercise increase mitochondrial activity in your muscle cells, causing them to burn more fat.
Create a calorie deficit and track it with a food log to make sure you're burning more calories than you consume each day. First determine your minimum daily caloric requirement to maintain your body weight. Each day, write down everything you eat and total up the calories in. Calculate the difference between the calories consumed and your minimum calorie requirement. Write it down to track your progress over time and set goals.
- Mayo Clinic: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories
- American Council on Exercise: Strength Training 101
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- MSN Fitbie: Metabolism-Boosting Weight Loss Plans
- Shape Magazine: The Best Fat-Loss Workout of All Time
- Give your muscles 48 hours of recovery time between strength training to avoid over-training and injury. Creating a calorie deficit is only advisable if you're overweight or obese. Consult with your health care provider first and see a nutritionist for guidance.
Lindsay Haskell enjoys writing about fitness, health, culture and fashion. She is a contributor for "Let's Talk Magazine" and "The Wellesley News." Haskell is completing her B.A. in philosophy at Wellesley College. She's also a fiction writer whose work can be read online.