The fundamentals of getting in shape

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Guam

Despite what almost every pin will advertise on Pinterest, losing weight is not accomplished overnight, or even in a week. It takes hard work and dedication to get our bodies where we want them to be. We can all relate to the meme floating around that says “When I go to the gym once, I expect the results to be instantaneous and dramatic.” Unfortunately, reality is far from that. Getting in shape takes hard work and dedication. For truly dramatic results, it’s a lifestyle change that may not be easy. Don’t let that discourage you! Elizabeth Houser, a fitness enthusiast, has a few tips for those looking to get in shape that she has learned from her numerous supporters over the years.

One of the first things Houser pointed out was the misconception that you need to drastically cut calorie intake and do only cardio in order to get swimsuit season ready. “Every body type is different,” Houser points out. She also says you don’t have to do extreme amounts of cardio to lose weight. Houser recommends doing cardio every other day for around 30 minutes, or you may run the risk of losing muscle mass. In addition to cardio, Houser also mentions weight training for 30-45 minutes. Building muscle mass will help burn more fat.

“I don’t want to get bulky,” is one of Houser’s least favorite things that women say about weight training. It’s not that easy. Women have to eat ridiculous amounts of food and work incredibly hard in the gym to get the “bulky” look, Houser says. Any time you see extremely defined muscles on a woman, she worked very hard to get those and is constantly training and eating a certain way. Don’t be afraid of weight training, as it will allow you to eat more food because the body is burning through fat stores.

While you can indeed eat more, Houser points out that it still has to be healthy, and that you should never “eat your weight in food.” Tracking your food intake is a great way help get in shape. Free apps like My FitnessPal are fantastic tools. This app, in particular, is easy to use and free of charge. Houser suggests when you are trying to decide what your calorie intake should be, track your normal intake for a week. Stick with that range for about a month. You don’t want to send your body into shock by dramatically going up or down in calories. Once you know your averages, if you are still hungry, increase calorie intake by 200 calories if you are consistently doing cardio and weight training.

“Concentrate on your protein and carb intake,” urges Houser. A good way to figure out your calorie goals is to try and break it down this way: 15-30% protein, 30% fat, and 50% carbs. Another way to figure it out is to eat about 150 grams of carbs per day. For protein, take your weight x 1.2. This should equal the grams of protein you eat daily.

If tracking your intake just isn’t for you, eat tons of veggies- and not the deep fat fried kind! Houser also points out that you can still eat sugary foods, you just have to time it right. Save the high sugar foods for after a hard weight training session. While all the fad diets might sound like a great idea, Houser suggests finding what works best for you and your body. Also, though you may not want to hear this, stop drinking beer and wine all the time. “You will survive small changes,” says Houser. She reiterates that you can still have cheat meals.

If all this sounds overwhelming, or even if it doesn’t, Houser is a firm believer in utilizing coaches and trainers. “The best athletes all have coaches,” she explains. Yes, it’s expensive, but you won’t see results without direction. If you don’t want a trainer or coach, join a CrossFit gym. They’re very efficient and offer programming, a coach, a healthy community and nutritional advice. If nothing else, come to the gym with a plan. offers free programs. has diet and workout plans for $9 per month. There are numerous resources out there to help you get to where you want to be with your health.

Before you begin your quest for a healthier lifestyle, purge your social media of all those fitness models that make you feel bad about how you look. “Follow people that inspire you and make you feel good about yourself,” utters Houser. Positive reinforcements will go a long way. Don’t feel bad about not having the perfect derriere or abs. Those will come with all the hard work and dedication you are about to put in at the gym and in the kitchen!

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