I played tennis from my freshman through junior year of high school and, again, really enjoyed the sport, but abhorred the running. Our coach was a middle-aged guy who could run circles around me. The entire team would have finished their laps around the field, while I was still stumbling along next to the (also middle-aged) assistant coach, who I’m quite sure they sent in as an attempt to get me to run faster.
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
If figuring out what to put into your body is too overwhelming, start with how much you're serving yourself. The easiest way to do this? Swap out your plates for smaller ones, like mother of two Jeanenne Darden did. With the help of this trick, she managed to lose an amazing 22 percent of her body weight, going from 187 pounds to 146 pounds. "I ate normally," she says. "I just ate less of everything." Pro tip: This trick is even easier with some cute portion-control dishware.
Fitness and nutrition were my two focus areas, and I completed some sort of action for them each day. Fitness each day looked different, but it was usually an hour of busting my butt. If you’re a list person, this is a tangible action that can be “checked off your list.” In my opinion, nutrition is not as concrete. Again, if you’re a list person, it’s a little difficult because either you write things like “eat balanced, nutritious breakfast” or “don’t eat sweets” or whatever. It also lasts all day long instead of one hour. This category leaves a lot of room for improvement.
Rounding out the top three for best weight loss programs on the U.S. News and World Report 2016 rankings, the Biggest Loser meal plan uses a pyramid system with fruits and veggies setting the foundation. Simple tenets back the plan: for example, being mindful of portion control, keeping a food diary, and exercising regularly. So, yes, work will be involved, but the plan is sustainable in the long-term and a likely way to shed pounds.
Including your significant other in your workouts can help to keep you on track, even if your goals aren't necessarily the same. "My hubby and I make exercise outings 'our' time," says Twyla Grimes, who knocked off 26 pounds by combining an hour on the stairmill or treadmill with strength training. "We'll go to the gym for an hour and lift weights together. Having him there keeps me accountable."