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DAMIEN MAHER: How to use cardio

This is the last week in our series of articles outlining the three-pronged approach that I take when clients come to me looking for help with weight loss.

In week one, we introduced you to the first element -- weight training, with a body-weight workout.

We also touched on the second element, nutrition, as we introduced one change to your diet -- a protein breakfast.

In week two, we focused on nutrition and gave you a sample food diary for the week and asked you to record everything you ate. We also gave you a different body weight programme.

The third essential element is cardio. On page 30, I will be explaining how and when you should use cardiovascular exercise in conjunction with weight training and nutrition to maximise fat-burning.

Also this week, we are introducing weights, in the form of dumbbells, to further your weight training.

You should be full of energy and raring to go if you have been following the food plan that we gave you last week.

Yvonne and I wanted to share what we have learned so that you can jump off the weight-loss carousel so many people jump on every year.

We know we are promoting a hard sell.

In an era where slick marketers promote easy weight loss with low-calorie diets, shakes to replace food, slimming pills and no exercise, the idea of resistance training, hard work, fresh food and, for most of you, complete lifestyle changes will seem hard to stomach.

Getting fit is not just about losing fat. I meet a lot of people whose primary focus is losing weight. That's a short-sighted goal.

The goal that I encourage my clients to pursue is not just to lose weight, tone up and get fitter. It's to create sustainable health and improve self-esteem and self- confidence, so you can have energy for your children, partner or career.

I have no interest in helping someone lose weight for a week, be healthy for a week or be in a great relationship for a month. I want you to be strong, healthy and lean for the rest of your life.

Staying strong, healthy and lean requires learning and executing the right skills, actions and habits, and performing them over and over.

If you want to succeed in weight loss, you must learn to identify and diagnose the activities that are sabotaging your health and know how to correct those mistakes so that the results you desire can be achieved.

It all comes down to measuring. You track the habits and measure the results. Be honest about what you are eating, what exercise you are doing, make the necessary changes and the results will come.

If you have caught the bug after these three weeks and have decided to look for a trainer to help you further your goals, be very choosy about who you give your hard-earned money to.

You will be spending your money and putting your health and safety in their hands, so you want a personal trainer or weight-loss expert who will conduct a thorough assessment.

This should include a structural balance assessment, which will look at muscular imbalances and tight, weak muscles. Past and future potential injury sites should also be addressed.

Your fitness and strength testing should be measured alongside body composition analyses including weight, body-fat percentage, circumferences, 'before and after' photos and a 12-week goal broken down to week-by-week targets.

Ideally, you should be getting your body fat measured weekly using a 12pt caliper testing method, and the coach should hold you accountable.

Success leaves clues, so any good coach should have many success stories; people who should be glad to talk to you.

The coach should always be improving their education and the good ones will be confident enough to offer a 100pc money-back guarantee.

Weight loss is simple but it's not easy.

As Yvonne's journey has shown, health is borne of good, consistent habits and activities. Bad habits and activities equal bad health and weight gain.

What this series of articles has hopefully done is helped you to look at your food and exercise habits and identify the roadblocks that have been silently sabotaging your weight -loss results.

Good luck and work hard,,

Weekend Magazine