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Four Weeks to Fitness
Week 4

Put your exercise times on your schedule or calendar.

Once you start getting in shape, it's important that you stay with the program. Put your exercise times on your schedule or calendar. Treat it like any other life or death appointment. If anyone questions it you should say, "Yes, it is that important."

Now plan on working out with weights at least 2-3 times a week. Muscle mass supports fat loss by boosting your metabolism. A pound of muscle burns about three times as many calories as a pound of fat. As an added bonus, exercise depresses hunger during and shortly after a workout. The more intense your workout, the more your appetite is suppressed.

Here are some additional tips to help you get more out of your workouts and everyday living.

Don't exercise on an empty stomach or you'll start to crash during the workout. The only time you want to avoid food is immediately before a cardio workout. The food can slow you down and cause other problems like diarrhea and cramping. Drink plenty of water during your cardio workout and make sure to eat some food immediately after.

No matter what you do naturally, your stomach isn't going to shrink. Your stomach is a muscular organ, and it will stretch temporarily when you eat. But after a few hours it always returns back to its normal size. The only way you can shrink your stomach is through dangerous and expensive gastric bypass surgery.

Don't jump in your car every time you need to get somewhere. If you live in a safe neighborhood, consider walking, roller blading or riding a bike for transportation. You'll save money on gas, put less pollution into the air and burn a few calories all at the same time. While you're at it, try the stairs instead of always looking for an elevator or escalator.

Wear headphones to the gym. Wear headphones to the gym. It's easy to get distracted when you go to workout. There may be televisions to watch, friends to see and mindless magazines to read. Don't let your attention wander, focus on making that mind-muscle connection and really put yourself into the workout. Instead of chatting with friends you should stretch, get some water or put away your weights. You can visit when your workout's over.

To help you out even more, consider making these changes in your work environment.

Don't start your day with empty calories. When you have your morning coffee, use the no-calorie sweeteners and fat-free milk. You'll still get the caffeine jolt without the additional fat and sugar.

If you have a snack bowl, make sure it's more than 10 feet away from you. Brian Wansink, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana found that people who had snack bowls placed 10 feet away from them ate 30% less than when that same bowl was within arms reach.

Move your trash can away from your desk. Move your trash can away from your desk, so you'll have to get up and walk to it every time you throw something away. When you take your lunch break, walk to someplace nice like a park and eat it there. It'll give you a chance to wind down, get some exercise and some fresh air all at the same time.

At the end of the day, go to bed and get some sleep. You should try and get at least 7 hours, but 8 is better. The less sleep you get, the more hormone ghrelin your body produces. Ghrelin is an appetite stimulant. Researchers at the University of Chicago discovered that sleep-starved people (who produced more ghrelin) ate more salty, starchy and sweet foods than their well-rested counterparts.

(For more information on how to get a good nights sleep, Click Here.)

Getting in shape is the result of being consistent most of the time. If you're careful about your calories and exercise 95% of the time, the other 5% gives you some slack to occasionally take a day off from working out or order a desert with friends. You don't have to live perfectly to be healthy, you just have to be more careful in your decisions.

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1/21/2007