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Weight Loss-The Do’s and Don’ts
Weight loss journeys are tough no matter where you start or how far you’ve come. At some point, most people have tried to lose weight and ended up giving up because of plateaus or inappropriate guidelines. There are also seemingly endless weight loss gimmicks that are advertised as the only thing you need to lose weight, which is simply not true, EATING WILL NOT HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT. It is a combination of puzzle pieces that must all fit together to complete your weight loss puzzle. Here are some dos and don’ts while on your weight loss journey:
Don’t just do cardio
While cardio should be part of your program, it shouldn’t be the ONLY thing in your program. Yes, cardio is great for burning calories and is obviously necessary for good heart health, but when it comes to weight loss, cardio is only a small piece of the puzzle. Now I’m not saying to skip cardio because, it has to be done, but it’s not the biggest point of emphasis in a good weight loss program. You’ll still want to do about 5 days of cardiovascular activity per week for best results.
Lift weights at least 3 times a week
Lifting weights and strength training is an absolute must when it comes to losing weight because it facilitates muscle building. Why is it important? When you build muscle, your metabolism increases and allows you to burn more calories. Building muscle is also great for bone health because your bones get stronger as your musculature increases. For beginners, 2-3 days of lifting weights per week is enough, but eventually you’ll want to get up to 3-5 days per week depending on your program.
Don’t go too fast
Trying to do too much too fast is just as detrimental to your adherence to a fitness program as not doing enough. Too often people try to do too much and end up burning out after 2-3 weeks and going back to old habits. The typical 4-week weight loss guru on Instagram touts an easy-to-follow 20-pound weight loss program, but truth be told, those programs aren’t sustainable and don’t encourage long-term healthy habits. Don’t buy into these “inspirational” 4 week transformations because most of the time these people end up putting the weight back on and then some in a matter of weeks. Go for the slow and steady approach, you are much more likely to succeed!
Set realistic short-term and long-term goals
In addition to the above, setting realistic goals allows for more stable results. A weight loss goal of 0.5 to 1 pound per week is a very realistic and achievable goal for almost anyone, regardless of how overweight you are or not. If you aim to lose an average of 2-4 pounds per month over the course of a year, that’s 24-48 pounds lost in a year! Not to mention, you’ll have established long-lasting, healthy habits that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.
Do not take fat burning supplements
It’s usually a waste of money packaged with fancy advertising and less-than-true claims about how they work. Most fat burning supplements do not actually burn fat! If they do anything, they help you burn more calories by increasing your metabolic rate which can lead to weight loss, but if you don’t burn more calories than you consume, you won’t lose weight. Some supplements will claim that they can “target belly fat”, which is absurd. There are no supplements that target fat in specific areas of your body, that’s not how your body works. When you lose fat, your fat cells shrink throughout your body and everyone reacts differently. You are better off spending your time and money focusing on your diet plan and burning more calories than you consume.
Spend most of your time and effort on your meal plan
As I mentioned before, you will only lose weight if you burn more calories than you consume. Since diet accounts for about 70-80% of your results, you should devote the most time to this aspect of your fitness program. Meal prepping takes less time than you think and will make your entire week a lot easier. Meal prepping takes all the guesswork out of what meal you should eat next because your meals are already prepared and ready for you to heat up and eat.
Don’t drink liquid calories
Liquid calories are sure to derail your weight loss journey for many reasons. One of those reasons is that it contains extra calories (often sugary) that don’t help you feel full. Now, it is still acceptable to consume protein shakes as long as they are only whey protein with no additional added sugar. The extra protein will help you recover for your next workout. Liquid calories to avoid are sugary drinks (juices, Gatorade, sodas, etc…) and alcohol. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and protein which are 4 calories per gram and also have added carbohydrates. Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep cycle, and beauty rest is a critical part of recovery. What about wine? Although some are good for heart health, they still contain those extra calories that you probably don’t need.
Drink 1/2 your body weight in an ounce of water
Most of your body is made up of water, so make sure you drink it! A good rule of thumb for how much water you should drink per day is half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should drink 100 ounces of water a day.
Don’t focus on the scale
This may seem counterintuitive, but hear me out. Seeing the numbers go down on that scale every week is a great feeling and can give you a huge sense of accomplishment. When you start falling and the numbers on the scale don’t change as often, it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s important to remember that the scale only tells part of the story when it comes to results, so don’t put all your stock in what the scale says. A more important measurement to look at is body fat percentage. When used in conjunction with a scale, body fat percentage will help you determine how much of your body is fat and how much is fat-free. It’s not uncommon for the scale to not change much, but the body fat percentage does. If you are maintaining the same weight and your body fat percentage is decreasing, then you are a rock star! This means that you have managed to reduce fat mass and increase lean body mass (most likely muscle mass)! Volume measurements and progress pictures are also more useful in determining progress than a scale.
Focus on improving your overall fitness
Sometimes it’s best to shift your focus to different but related goals to drive your results. Instead of weighing yourself every week, try to track and improve your fitness level, such as improving your 3 mile run time or instead of running 3 miles, try going 4 or 5. For strength, focus on trying to lift heavier weights and improve your overall power level. You can also try different programs to improve how many push-ups or pull-ups you can do. The main thing is to take your focus off the scale and work on your strength, flexibility or cardiovascular fitness.
If you’re ready to start your fitness journey, make sure you’re ready to change your entire lifestyle. If you don’t feel ready for it, then ask yourself why? What is stopping you from changing your life to improve your health? If you have trouble answering these questions, let me know and let’s get started on your journey to a healthier life!
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