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The Four MUSTS

What if I told you that if you follow four simple, straightforward rules, you'll lose weight? I am about to highly simplify this weight loss process for you. Below is a set of guidelines that, if you follow, you will be well on your way to losing weight. These are not the only rules you should follow, but these are the "musts". If you neglect one of these rules, you're not giving yourself a fair shot.

Do me (us) a favor and follow the four rules I’m about to list for two weeks.

Rule #1: Drink only water

Rule #2: Write down what you eat

Rule #3: Workout 5 times per week for 20+ minutes

Rule #4: Include cardio intervals at least twice per week

Let's break them down and take a closer look at what each one means.

Rule #1: Drink only water

Let's start with the word "only". "Only" (in the dictionary) means; without others or anything further. Ok, I admit, a bit harsh and nearly impossible for the average person. I toyed with the idea of replacing it with "mostly" or "8 glasses" (blah...blah...I'll get into my views on the recommended 8 glasses of water in another post) or "as much as possible". That wouldn't be doing you justice though. If I use the word "only" I am letting you know how strongly I feel about drinking water. Water is vitally important and guess what? It contains NO calories! Yup, that's calories AND extremely necessary for the human body! Why would anyone drink anything else if weight loss is their goal!? Here's a quick fact about water that may help get you away from the sodas and juices: One 16oz glass of water will raise your metabolism 33 percent! Let me repeat that; One 16oz glass of water will raise your metabolism 33 percent! Do you see where I'm going with this? Water, water, water!

Rule #2: Write down what you eat

Time consuming? Yes. Tedious? Yes. An invaluable tool? YES!

Quick fact: You are 50% more likely to lose weight if you write down what you eat. Guess what's coming...that's right, let me repeat that; You are 50% more likely to lose weight if you write down what you eat! When you write your foods down you are holding yourself accountable for what goes into your mouth. You are making yourself aware of what, in some cases, are unnecessary calories. Let's do an experiment. Don't change your eating habits but write down everything that goes into your mouth. Count up the number of calories you drink. Holy hell, right!? Then, count up the number of calories that are, what I call, crap foods (candy, ice cream, desserts, etc...). Holy hell, right? More than anything, it makes you aware of what you're putting in your mouth.

Rule #3: Workout 5 times per week for 25+ minutes


Why did I write it three times? Because it is of utmost importance when trying to lose weight or get in better shape or prevent heart disease or training for a race or getting stronger or getting leaner get the point. Consistency is KEY!

Let's keep in mind that the 5 times per week and the 25 minutes per session are both in the "at least" category. Can you do more than 25 minutes if you have the time? Absolutely! Can you do more than 5 days if you have the time? Absolutely! I would, however, recommend taking at least one day off per week (especially if you're just starting an exercise regimen).

Rule #4: Include cardio intervals at least twice per week

Two of your cardio session MUST include some form of interval training. What exactly does that mean? I'm glad you asked. "Interval training" involves alternating high intensity exercise with recovery periods. An example would be one minute of high intensity (running) on the treadmill (or outside) followed by 2 minutes of lower intensity (walking).

There are several advantages to intervals. First and foremost on that list is the boost in your metabolism. Not only are you boosting your metabolism during your workout, but your metabolism will stay high for a considerably long time after you're done (some research suggests up to 24 hours).

One of my favorite advantages to intervals is that if you're focused and you work hard during the "on" segment the length of time it takes to complete the workout and burn a ton of calories is considerably shorter than your typical cardio day.

The key with intervals is to be creative.

Below are some examples of different styles of intervals that I encourage you to try:

Standard Intervals: 1 minute on/2 minutes off

Use different cardio machines each time.

Change the length of the "on" to make it more difficult (2 minutes on/1 minute off, 1 1/2 minutes on/30 seconds off, etc...)

Hill Intervals:

Rather than simply increasing the speed on your treadmill, keep the speed the same but bring the incline way up for your "on" segment.

If you run outside, find a nice hill and run up it for your "on" segment. Your "off" segment will be a slow jog or walk back down.

Cross-Training Intervals (my favorite):

Spend 2-3 minutes working as hard as you can on one machine (your "on" segment) and then for your "off" segment, take 60 seconds to move to another machine. Continue bouncing from one machine to the next for the full 25 minutes. Try increasing the time on each machine if you want a harder workout.

Cardio/Strength Intervals (another favorite):

Spend 3-5 minutes working as hard as you can on any cardio piece of equipment you want. At the end of the 3-5 minutes get off and go through a strength circuit of roughly 5 exercises. Once you have completed the strength circuit, get right back to another 3-5 minute cardio segment. Continue this back and forth for as long as you'd like.

Now that I've simplified the confusion of the fitness industry for you, give these 4 musts a shot for 2 weeks. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you will be surprised at the outcome.


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