Using Science to tackle Weight loss before the big day

It’s a common enough complaint; the ring goes on the fingers and suddenly you have to loose eight pounds before the big day. And this is not something that is a ‘nice-to’do’ this is a ‘must-do’ as the dress is size 12 and there is no wriggle room if those pounds are not shed.

So what do you do? Of course, you join the gym and at first through diligent attendance and hard graft, weight loss is achieved and you are delighted. Two months into your six month countdown and you are on track to look good on the big day. Then, as the months move on and you get nearer d-day, despite regular gym work and participation in classes, the weight loss stalls or even begins to creep up again.

Why is this? Well, perhaps you are not only doing the wrong kind of exercise but perhaps you are doing too much of it?

Strange as that may sound, the premise behind this ‘too much of the wrong kind’ of exercise is taken from the scientific approach to professional athletes. And this is why you’ll read on because no one has ever said that you can do too much exercise and still not loose weight!

Mission Possible from the Peak Centre in Sandyford applies the science of sport to mere mortals or rather for superhuman brides to be. Peak integrates scientific fitness testing to individualize exercise prescription with periodic reviews. While that sounds quite a mouthful, account executive with a major Dublin design company Orla Brandon was interested enough to find out more. (Although we have to add this was not in preparation for a wedding – just her experience is relevant)

“I am a regular gym member and would have lost about a stone in the beginning. Then recently I found the weight started to creep up again and despite attending spinning classes I seemed unable to shift the newfound weight,” says Orla. “I then heard an interesting interview on the radio with some body from Peak about the drawbacks of exercising too hard, especially where weight loss is concerned. I had heard this concept mentioned by people in my gym, but this made me want to go and try it out.”

“Mission Possible is a very straightforward programme for people of all walks of life,” says Emma Cutts, Exercise Physiologist of Peak Centre Ireland. “It can be done at home or at the health club and fitted around peoples current schedules taking less than an hour a day of moderate exercise for up to 5 days a week. By the end of the year your body will be burning more fat, your muscle to fat ratio will have risen sharply, your Slow Twitch muscle fibres will become more efficient at burning fat, and your weight will have declined significantly,” she claims.

The difference that Peak brings to personal training is that its scientific methods allow the centre to determine exactly where a person’s aerobic threshold lies and set his/her exercise intensity level slightly below it. One of the most accurate methods of doing this is to measure the lactic acid level in the blood and VO2 at known exercise intensity levels. By getting an individual to work at an intensity below their aerobic threshold it ensures that they are producing minimal levels of lactate acid within their body which competes with fat as a fuel. i.e. less lactate more fat burning.

Orla was impressed by the logic and attended an assessment in their premises to have her fitness and aerobic levels checked. After fifteen minutes on the treadmill at varying intensities all the relevant data was collected ready to be used to develop Orla training programme.

“By following our specified programme and exercising at the intensity established from the initial tests, our clients find that after several months, their aerobic threshold climbs, and they have gained muscle and lost fat,” says Emma. “We then repeat the test after three months to establish where the new, higher aerobic threshold sits. Then we can design the next set of programmes to reflect this. This continuous feedback means that no one ever really plateaus in their training, they just keep on improving”

Orla is only on month one but her exercise routine is significantly reduced and consistent. “When I was doing the spinning classes, my heart beat was too high and my lactic production too great which prevented fat from being burnt,” she says. “I am very comfortable with this level of exercise and feel positive about the long term benefits and sustainability.”