Top Weight Loss Resources for Your New Years’ Resolutions
It never fails: Every year millions of Americans resolve to lose weight and get fit. So much so that it’s a running joke among fitness professionals – gyms are crowded in January and February with New Years’ resolvers… who become scarcer and scarcer throughout the year.
Well, gym and fitness club memberships are great… but there are lots more resources available on the Web. I’ve selected some of the best – knowing that not everyone wants to be a gym rat.
Weight loss begins with sound nutrition, and the new online calorie counters are becoming an indispensable part of that process. MyNetDiary, and other similar programs, are web-based calculation programs that help you track your caloric intake, calculate the nutritional content and macronutrient balance of the foods you eat, and help you stay within your per-meal, daily and weekly caloric intake goals.
The USDA has also created a free and useful program as well at www.choosemyplate.gov. Other fine options include MyFoodDiary, CalorieKing and MyFitnessPal. The Wall Street Journal compares and contrasts the big players here.
Each of these sites have souped up their online databases over the last few years. That helps because you won’t have to reinvent the wheel looking for the nutritional content of everything you eat. Type in the first few letters of “almond” and the nutritional information for almonds, almond butter, almond cookies, and everything else you can think of based on almonds will pop up. You just click on the quantity you ate, or plan to eat, and it goes in your counter.
The best thing about these counters, I think, is you can take ownership of your own nutrition. If you take full advantage of the calendar and use it at every meal, it’s easy to track your own calories. That means you don’t need to use Jennie Craig, Weight Watchers or any one else’s nutritional program – which is a moneysaver. You can go to any restaurant you like, and if you can eyeball the portions reasonably accurately, you can manage the whole thing yourself.
There are other online versions, as well. I find that it helps to have something with a mobile phone app. Beyond that, if they have a good database of foods, or if you don’t mind keying in nutritional data on foods you eat regularly, it doesn’t matter much which particular calorie tracker you use. Just use it all the time.
First of all, the homepage is marketing crap. I recognize that. But that’s the reality of how this stuff is sold in the modern era.
If you enjoy weightlifting and the gym environment, or if you just want a great primer on fitness, nutrition and bodybuilding, I suggest just scrolling through the marketing garbage and downloading the book.
You will not be disappointed.
The centerpiece of “BFFM,” as its adherents call it, is a book by natural bodybuilder Tom Venuto. The book is one of the few resources available that pays as much attention to nutrition as to the exercises, and helps readers customize their diets for a variety of body types and fitness goals. Want to slim down without adding a lot of bulk? BFFM gives you a road map. Want to gain large amounts of muscle mass while losing body fat? BFFM does that too. Are you naturally ‘big-boned,’ no matter what you do? Or are you one of those d*mned ectomorphs? BFFM is great in that it gives you a roadmap to help you determine your maintenance caloric levels and gives you some guidelines to help you manage your diet and nutrition to stay within the parameters to help you meet your goals.
Venuto’s dedication to avoiding junk science and the debunking bogus nutrition marketing is refreshing. A great deal of space is devoted to the dangers of overdoing your diet as well, accidently putting your metabolism in “starvation mode.” Of all the weight loss/fitness systems I’ve seen, this one has the best combination of intellectual rigor and user-friendliness. The book – which you download in PDF form, is available online. You can also join a club, which has an excellent bulletin board and some very well-informed and helpful participants. This one is highly recommended for the serious novice to intermediate bodybuilder.
I also like it because it does more than any other system I’ve seen in setting you up to learn how to use a calorie tracker. All the tracking in the world doesn’t do squat unless you have done a good job figuring out your basal metabolic weight and your maintenance caloric intake required to maintain your weight at current activity levels. BFFM does a great job at doing that.
The downside: It’s definitely a gym rat’s program. The system is popular among bodybuilders and emphasizes weight-lifting as a way to build mass and reduce your body fat percentage. With diligent adherence, you will lose weight and inches with BFFM. Some may find the gym routine is not for them, though.
BFFM does have a close cousin in Body For Life, which has been popular for years. In some ways, BFFM is similar to BFL, with its emphasis on weight training. However, BFFM’s nutritional information is more detailed and adaptable, in my view, with more intellectual rigor. BFL is also largely a marketing plan to sell Myoplex fitness bars and shakes, which gets tiresome. The only thing Venuto tries to sell is an upgrade to his “Inner Circle” club, which is the online bulletin board. However, in my view, it’s inexpensive and worth it anyway. However, both programs can yield excellent results if you rigorously adhere to them properly.
This popular Web resource is a great place for those of you who want to work out at home. Originally started by Czech fitness model “Zuzana Light” and her boyfriend, early BodyRock videos simply feature Zuzana’s lithe and stunning frame going through a series of innovative stationary interval training exercises, in a park, their living room, or on the roof of her Prague apartment. Well, Zuzana and her boyfriend broke up, so they stopped featuring Zuzana, alas. But their thousands of loyal viewers picked up where she left off, and now lead most of the workouts on camera.
The best thing about BodyRock: You need little or no equipment. All of the workouts can be done at home, on your porch, your basement, or at a park. All you need is a stopwatch or interval timer – or a friend to count out times for you. A few of the exercises use simple, cheap tools like a jump rope, a weighted bag, or other similar toys that can easily be improvised at home or purchased near you, cheap.
There’s no excuses, no expensive gym memberships, no commute times to the gym to worry about, and no having to go out in the rain, ice and snow.
There’s a new bunch of exercises posted nearly every day. They are usually short but intense interval exercises, between 5 and 15 minutes total, using your own bodyweight, primarily. Emphasis is on core strength and balance as well as strength.
And they will kick your ass. (In the best possible way.)
The nutritional information, where they present it at all, is sound, though those with weight loss goals will need to bone up with other sources of information, as BodyRock does not devote a lot of space to it.
You’ll probably want to invest 20 bucks in a specialized interval timer or download one of the many available on smartphones for free or a couple of bills. The site seems pretty much designed to sell those interval timers, but it’s worth it. And because the site is otherwise free, there are no worries.
Some people just gotta run. Nothing else shakes off the cobwebs like running (or biking), and helps them relax. If that’s the case, try MapMyRun. If there’s a run you like, you can bring up a map and point and click your way through the route. The program will calculate the distance for you down to the 1/100th of a mile, if you’re that careful about entering the data. It will also bring up elevation information on the run as well. A handy Facebook app makes it easy to share your workout and route with your buddies. You can also share good runs with other users. If you’re new in town, MapMyRun can help you find local running trails and other resources. And if you’re not new in town, MapMyRun can help you find ones you didn’t know about.
What other resources have you used to get your backside back in gear? Tell us about your favorites in the comments.