You hear it all the time - There is no "one size fits all" way to get into shape. There are so many variables that can effect this -stress, eating, body predisposition, sleep, and etc. To make it more complicated, these things affect eveyrone differently. So, how do you figure out the right combination that works for you? I honestly have no idea and that might be one of the most frustrating things about trying to change my habits.
Beyond the fads and ridiculous "lose 10 lbs and 10 inches in 10 hours by drinking 10 protein shakes in 10 minutes" nonsense, there are tons of seemingly legitmate ways to get into shape. Every so often Yahoo! runs an article that sums up this dilema into a bottom line of: eat less calories than you expend. Mathmatically and biologically, that is bound to create some change, right? I dont know about everyone, but being in a diet/exercise plan like that makes me crazy. It makes me irritable. Have you ever tried to eat less than 1,200 calories per day? OMG, its annoying and I get so jealous of non-dieters and their food. Then, let's say you cheat and you eat something worth 200 calories. You head off to your globo-gym and you have to be on the freakin' eliptical for three hours straight just to burn off the cheat, let alone make a dent in your other daily caloric intake. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I feel like this plan breeds hungry, work-out crazed lunatics. I've been there. When I get really into it, that's when I start to play this game with myself about just how few calories can I eat in a day? (READ: I become psychotic.) Clearly, this is not sustainable for me nor anyone else really.
Moving on - so what SHOULD you do for exercise? Stick with one thing? Mix it up? Machines? Aerobics? Weights only? Weights and cardio? Cardio? Crossfit? Yoga? Zumba? Pilates? Yozumbalates? <-- No one steal this idea. I may be on to something here! ;) I guess what you choose depends on how you want to look? I don't think any exercise (in moderation) can really be bad for you, but you can't expect muscles if you're only doing cardio. You wont necessarily burn all of your fat if you're lifting weights. You want to make sure you're doing something fun so maybe you want to throw in dancing or pilates? For me, I think the best combination (arrived at through much trial and error...mostly error) is Crossfit and weights. Ask anyone - I wasn't sold on weights AT ALL prior to last Christmas. However, they 100% made the biggest change to my body I've ever seen. (and quickly) I really miss lifting weights and I hope that soooon I will be back at a CF I like and I can resume them. I think intense cardio (aka kickboxing or CF) will be my key to making the rest of the changes I would like to happen. I suppose you also have to do what you're motivated to do or perhaps not if its not giving you the body you want?
As much as I have read and experienced I still don't think I have this figured out. I ran onto an article yesterday about residual fat being attributed to eating fructose. I, of course, curse this article because I like to eat fruit. Cavemen had fruit...that's not exactly fair now is it? Fruit might not affect some people, but it could be my hang up. This food peice continues to stump me. What is acceptable to my body and what isn't? I 100% think that gluten is not a friend, but dairy? I'm still undecided. Carbs are a "frenemy." They seem ok and harmless, but then they take up permanent residence on and around my butt.
Back to my orignial question...how do you know what works? I guess trial and error, educating yourself, and trying to control the other variables in your life that might be impeding your progress. As for me, I think I've made progress, but it will be an ongoing experiment to determine the best approach. I guess I just have to become okay with that!