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Being active, brings blessings - and lets the pounds drop

So far we have been talking about one side of being overweight, namely eating. But there is another side: everything you eat, you have to put back into action in some way.

When your body is not working (no, mental work does not count here), it re-converts very little of the energy it has absorbed (except for the constant heat production necessary to maintain body temperature). What is much worse, however, is that the body's entire energy utilization system is demanded less and less and is shut down more and more over time. The body begins to run in "economy mode", because energy is never required for physical exertion anyway, and at the same time much less is made available. The body becomes sluggish, muscles and joints rust - for many people the "economy mode" has long since switched to "standby mode". You remain in this mode until you are 80.

Lack of exercise is indeed one of the worst threats of our time - and at least to a large extent responsible for countless diseases. Only with an active and efficient body do all systems actually run as they are supposed to, the permanent economy mode changes a whole lot of things inside our body as well. If we don't really exert ourselves physically at regular intervals, at some point (sooner rather than later) every kind of effort will become too much. Even many young people today have reached this point long ago.

On the other hand, an active body that is regularly challenged is much better able to maintain a reasonable energy metabolism and also to break down excess energy once in a while. We need regular efforts if we want to function properly at all. If you want to lose weight, this applies twice over. Without a sufficient amount of exercise, it will be very difficult for you to lose weight at all - and without a certain amount of athletic training, you will not get a "dream body". Unfortunately, goji berries can't do that to give you an athletic figure.

Beyond the trends

Just as with nutrition, there are many current trends in the fitness sector. It starts with yoga, where everyone has the ambition to impress as many others as possible at some point with the most unusual positions, and continues with dance workouts, calisthenics and grueling gymnastics programs once intended for elite soldiers - all the way to martial arts and kickboxing. Often the goal is less fitness than simply impressing others (or the opposite sex). The classic way to combat lack of exercise is jogging, the kind of artificial horse trot that a resourceful businessman invented in the early 1980s to sell his running shoes by the million. No one in the history of mankind has ever jogged across the savannah, believe me. Nobody could have afforded the knee problems at that time in terms of survival, and besides, the necessary fully cushioned shoes for the shaggy trot were still rather difficult to get.

Don't get me wrong: any kind of movement is clearly better than no movement at all. That always applies regardless. Even if it's a trend sport. As long as you don't harm your body with it and you have to exert yourself seriously over a long enough period of time, it helps you.

It doesn't matter whether you are lifting full limousines, the dumbbells in the gym or your little daughter. As long as it's hard enough and you do it long enough. The "how" doesn't matter at all. What matters is how much and how long.

To highlight another trend - the 10,000 steps per day is simply a benchmark. Humans are made to walk (in fact, our body is evolutionarily designed to walk 20 to 30 km per day in search of food and beyond that for a short escape or hunting sprint) - but 10,000 steps is an arbitrary and unjustifiable number. It is simply striking.

For people of normal height, the distance corresponds to about 7 to 8 km of travel, which is actually considerably less than what our bodies were originally designed for. For very unfit people, on the other hand, it is an almost unmanageable distance if it is to be walked every day.

If you set a goal of 10,000 steps for yourself, which you want to run every day, you are of course welcome to do so. This number is as good as any other. But take the freedom to set your own goal - and if you can, to increase it at regular intervals to challenge your body.

Mistake: calories burned

A lot of fitness gadgets indicate how many calories are burned in all kinds of activities. This often works by stuffing cream cake into your body and then pedaling for a calculated 23.5 minutes on the exercise bike until the clock says that you have now worked off your cream cake.

Most people then often wonder why they gain weight anyway. If you have read this far, you should understand why this cannot work at all. Especially not if you have forgotten to include dinner in the calculation in addition to the cream cake.

How much energy an individual activity costs depends on the performance level of the activity, your own body weight and also your own level of fitness. In addition, not the last thing eaten is the only thing that is burned when you move in any way. Our body does function in a slightly more complex way.

The fact that our body uses 4.5 kcal per 100 steps when "walking fast" is at best a rough guide value that can be reasonably correct - or not at all. Nobody can say this, especially not if neither the body weight of the person, the fitness level nor the walking speed in relation to the pulse level (=exertion level) is taken into account. And even then the calculated calories do not simply reduce the amount of food consumed by the calories burned.

It is not uncommon for people to come up with a supposed calorie balance of a few hundred calories per day in all their activities - and still gain weight. This is simply because the method of calculation is not so simple. It's like counting the stars in the evening sky to estimate the size of the Milky Way. Behind what you see, there's a lot of what you don't see and what actually makes up the largest part of the whole in the end.

How much movement do I need?

The same applies to the necessary amount of exercise as to the necessary amount of food: your body itself is the measure of all things.

You should beware of overkill, if you stretch the whole thing a bit in a meaningful way to challenge yourself, the results will probably be a bit better.

No one can tell you or calculate for you whether you should do ten or twenty push-ups a day, whether you should take 5,000 steps, 10,000 steps or 12 km. You can feel yourself best where your performance limit is, where you are obviously overtaxing your body and what is not yet particularly demanding. You won't find a better, more individual and more precise indication than this anywhere else, because it applies to you alone. As a rough guideline, you should sweat for at least half an hour continuously - per day - if you want to see significant results. At least that's what sports medicine says.

If you have already learned to listen to your body better in the first chapter of the exercises and recommendations, you will most likely have no difficulty feeling these limits for yourself. But a little ambition and willingness to challenge you is also necessary. It should be strenuous so that your body really has to perform. Sweating and wheezing breathing are included here.

Regularity is also very important: it is clearly not enough to get enough exercise once a week - it is best to integrate it daily, especially if you do not have to work physically. Your muscles, joints and the tendons and ligaments in your body very often need loosening and a little effort to stay in shape. Once a week you will not achieve this.

With daily training, your body awareness, coordination and often your mood and energy level will also improve significantly. These are the additional positive effects you will gain. In addition, daily exercise will quickly become a habit, so that after a short time you will no longer have to overcome yourself every single day. This usually only takes 3 to 4 weeks.

"Shaping" means above all: to form muscles

When the word "dream body" is used, many people automatically think of some athletically shaped people who are often seen in an exemplary capacity somewhere. "Fit" almost automatically means muscular and well-shaped.

In fact, there is no denying that this is the case: For our body shape a well developed and balanced musculature is indeed very important. Even if you are "thin" but have no muscles at all, it doesn't look good. The Instagram generation has long since coined its own term for this: "skinny-fat". So, although terribly thin, it still looks flabby and unsightly and is not athletically shaped. The term itself is a contradiction in terms, because what is "skinny" simply can't be "fat", but the apparent contradiction gets to the point: In all this thinness, the taut form is still missing. And that comes exclusively from well-formed muscles.

What makes a tiger so attractive and sporty? Or a horse? In all mammals it is above all the pronounced muscle corset that makes them look dynamic, fit and sporty. This is no different with us humans. But you don't have to look like Schwarzenegger to do that - it doesn't take that much. Even if it is exaggerated here, the direction of the whole thing and the approach are right.

Muscles are formed primarily through strength training - and that means maximum strength training. The training goal for each training unit is clear: the most comprehensive possible muscle failure of the trained muscle, i.e. you train short and hard until the muscle is completely exhausted. From countless studies and researches, we also know the conditions under which maximum strength training is optimally effective, i.e. brings the best results in the shortest possible time:

Training must be carried out every second day, the strength exercises should be performed with 70% to 85% of the possible maximum strength and the weight used must be chosen high enough that 3 x 10 repetitions are sufficient for the muscle to fail, i.e. no further repetition is possible. In this way you can shape your muscles as quickly as possible, let them grow a little and get them in good shape. That sounds like a good training plan after all. Which muscles you should train or shape at all, which equipment you should use and with which weights you should start with, you should best consult a professional trainer - or in a gym of your choice if you don't want to train at home just for yourself.

Putting everything into practice - and the results you can expect

This brings us to the end of the story. The question you are now certainly asking yourself is how best to put the wealth of information you have received into practice in order to achieve your dream figure in 2020. That is what this chapter is for.

If you have read carefully up to this point, you will have noticed that it is not only about the right diet - but also about exercise. Only both together will enable you to shape your body the way you want it to be and only both together will make you not only thin but also fit. As much as you may be reluctant to think about it right now - but without sweaty activities it won't really work. By the way, this would also be true for any kind of diet - only no one ever mentions it there.

Nutrition is not about great and heroic renunciation of anything - it is instead about several small changes in your habits, more conscious eating and listening to your body more and better. The advantage is obvious: these habits are not only effective during a limited period of dieting, but they will accompany you for the rest of your life. Not only do they make you thin - they also make you healthier, more energetic and will help you to maintain your weight at all times in the future.

No diet can do that - when the diet phase is over, everything is back to the old nutritionally quickly. And in very many cases very quickly back to the old weight. However, a long-term change in diet to a healthier, more appropriate diet that is really suited to your body is something you do only once - and it remains effective for a lifetime. It will also help you later on to maintain your ideal weight and not to get anywhere near the weight trap. It's worth it - even if it takes a while until you have implemented everything.

Changing habits takes time. Especially when it concerns habits that you have had and consolidated for a very long time. Our eating habits are such habits, many of them we have acquired in early childhood. Nevertheless, such habits can be changed naturally. This is exactly what our plan for the dream figure without diet serves.

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