Exercise for weight loss: A beginners guide

A while ago I wrote this blog about exercising for weight loss. It’s still great and I would recommend that you read it. I just have some more things that I want to add and some more information to share with you.

I would like you to understand a little bit about why regular physical activity is important if you want to drop pounds and lose inches. However, before I explain, let’s look at the dietary strategy for weight loss because, everyone knows you cannot out exercise a bad diet.


Dietary changes for weight loss can be simple and complex at the same time. The basics work and they work well. When they stop working we can use some more advanced strategies to help get past plateaus but I want this information to stay appropriate for people who don’t need those advanced strategies just yet.

In summary, this stuff works and it is a basic version of what I ask all my clients to do: 

  • Consume less calories than you expend. Because this is a blog on exercise we will assume you are going to be exercising so that might roughly look like 1700-1800 calories per day if you are anything like one of my average clients – maybe a little less if you are a naturally small person.
  • Don’t’ eat rubbish consume single ingredient foods which are minimally processed.
  • Eat protein with every meal – a palm size portion of fish or poultry works a treat
  • Fill half your plate with vegetables with many different colours
  • Moderate your carbohydrate intake but you shouldn’t need to avoid carbs completely
  • Don’t drink your calories unless you are making a superfood breakfast smoothie

BONUS TIPS THAT I LOVE: Consume one to two servings of fermented foods per day and get enough sleep.



To lose weight you want the body to be able to burn fat – most likely to fat on your belly, your hips and your thighs.

I’m sure you have heard the saying – if you don’t use it you lose it?

Well this applies to your ability to burn body fat.

If you have been overeating calories, sugar and carbohydrate you have been training your body to burn sugars (not fat) for as long as you have been maintaining these habits.

So weight loss is about retraining your body to use fat as a fuel.

We burn fat in mitochondria. Think of them as fat burning factories in the cell.

Weight loss is about fitness training for the mitochondria. Blowing off the cobwebs and whipping them into shape so they can become efficient well-oiled (fat) machines  – you get the idea?

So if you make the dietary changes described above, you drop your calories and your carbohydrate BUT you don’t exercise, your metabolism will very quickly adapt to the lower carbohydrates and calories.

You will lose some weight because you will deplete stored glycogen (carbohydrates) and with it you will lose some water.

Have you ever started a diet and lost a few pounds and then hit a plateau where the scales wouldn’t budge?

Well this is because you have made the dietary changes but not fixed the machinery in the mitochondria factory. The staff are showing up for work but the machines are broken. 

So how do we fix this?


Exercise! Exercise is about breaking down tissues and then allowing for recovery and rebuilding (which requires rest and the right tools – nutrients from our diet).

As you start an exercise regime, starting at a low intensity will start to challenge the mitochondria. It’s likely if you haven’t moved in a while that you’ll have a lot of old and unused mitochondria and the physical activity will probably break them down.

This is a good thing.

We get bits of broken down mitochondria which then end up in the nucleus of the cell which tells the cell – “our fat burning factories have been destroyed – we better make some new ones!”

It’s kind of like when you see shops that have closed down and you see the empty buildings just sitting there empty and dysfunctional versus if someone knocks the building down and so that space can be used to build something new and productive.

The exercise is the signal that there is a better use for that space.

But it has to be the right intensity.

When we move we either burn up sugar or we burn up fat.


When we have a lot of sugar in our blood stream, because we eat a lot of carbs, it’s very easy for the body to use this as a fuel.

When we exercise at high intensities, our body also prefers sugar as fuel.

At lower intensities – provided there isn’t a lot of sugar already hanging around – we tend to burn more fat (see diagram above)

Therefore, to rebuild our mitochondria it makes sense for beginner exercisers to exercise in an “aerobic” way.

I could go into all the fancy definitions of what % of your maximum heart rate or VO2max you would need to train at but the best way for you to recognise what this could look like is for me to describe it as follows:

Exercise at an intensity where you can talk comfortably.

If you are out of breathe or unable to hold a conversation, you are in your sugar burning zone and you won’t be improving the functionality of your fat burning factories.


This does not mean that you only do this for exercise.

There are also benefits to anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic means without oxygen. This is the exercise where you cannot talk. It is when you burn a higher proportion of sugars relative to fat.

Weight training is anaerobic. It stimulates muscle fibres to grow muscle tissue. This in itself improves the muscle structure and metabolism and has a beneficial effect on weight loss.

[Not to mention posture, body shape & bones]

Being strong is also quite useful when it comes to activities of daily living and, provided you learn the right movements and activation techniques, it can help to prevent injury.

So what would a weekly schedule for a beginner look like?

Moving every day is ideal for health, but to commit to a structured exercise program on a daily basis can be a bit much in the beginning so you could start with something like this.

40-60 minutes

Whole Body Resistance Workout

30-40 minutes

Steady State Cardio (where you can talk easily)

Active rest day including walking, gardening, playing with the kids 40-60 minutes

Whole Body Resistance Workout

30-40 minutes

Steady State Cardio (where you can talk easily)

Active rest day including walking, gardening, playing with the kids Active rest day including walking, gardening, playing with the kids


What you need to know is that as the weeks go by your body will adapt. You will have to change something. This might be the frequency, duration and intensity of your workouts.

For intensity: Increase your weights lifted, add extra sets or reduce rest breaks in the resistance workouts (increase weights within your capabilities or decrease rest between sets from 60 seconds to 45 seconds)

For Duration: Go for longer on your cardio days (start at 30 mins, 45 minutes, 1 hour)

Frequency: Introduce a 5th or 6th session per week


Every week do a little more than you did the week before. In your 3rd week you should really push yourself quite hard and on your 4th week take a step back.

In your 5th week you should meet the intensity you did in week 3 and then continue in this way with a “deload” in week 8 again and so on…


Week 1: Starting Point

Week 2: Increase

Week 3: Hardest Week

Week 4: Deload

Week 5: Repeat using week 3 as a starting point

Aim to continue with this for 12 weeks until you have established a good baseline of cardiovascular fitness and good amount of strength. You may like a different resistance program after 4 or 6 weeks to increase variety.

You may then be ready to make changes in terms of how you structure your workouts across a week and within sessions.

Example Resistance Workout

Warm Up: 10 minutes moderate intensity on cardio equipment of your choice (Cross Trainer/ Treadmill/Exercise Bike).
Exercise Reps Sets Rest Tempo Notes
Front Foot Elevated Split Squats 12-15 2-3 60 -75 secs 3101 Use dumbbells to increase intensity, keep chest upright, core engaged and move through full range (back knee to floor)
Press Ups 12-15 2-3 60-75 secs 3101 Keep the stomach and glutes tight, tuck the elbows back.  Work off knees as necessary.
Seated Row Machine 12-15 2-3 60-75 secs 3101 Lift chest and keep back muscles engaged even when arms fully extended
Leg Press 12-15 2-3 60-75 secs 3101 Weight through the heels, chest up, keep spine neutral, core engaged, knees pressing outwards, working towards better depth.
Close Grip DB Bench Press 12-15 2-3 60-75 secs 3101 Mostly idiot proof, make sure the DB’s are squeezed together at all times. As you press them away finish with arms directly over shoulders
Lat Pull Down Machine 12-15 2-3 60-75 secs 3101
Forearm Plank 2-3 60-75 secs 3101 Max Effort and aim to beat your times next week

*For novice exercisers even 2 sets can be quite tiring. Start with 2 sets and build up to 3 to increase intensity over the week (prepare to be quite sore after your first session)

Most of these exercises are on my YouTube Channel if you want to look them up – if not google works well too :)

So that’s it really.

A lot of people complain that they have to pay for my advice and get to work with me. So what you have here is something that is simple, straight forward and free. I am sure if you follow it, it will work a treat and you should get some great results if you are new to this whole exercise and nutrition thing.

If you want more help, support and accountability which you are happy to pay for, then I would love to work with you.

This is what I do…

  • I will teach you how to find balance.
  • To cultivate a positive relationship with food & your body (the side effect of which is usually more positive personal relationships too).
  • To help you feel empowered in all aspects of their life by increasing your confidence and self belief.
  • And yes, to get that toned physique that they have been chasing their whole life AND maintain it.

I Offer…

  • Sustainable weight loss solutions for high quality women looking for high quality results (no matter what your level of experience)
  • 6, 12 and 18 month coaching programs which combine group and 1-2-1 coaching
  • Personalised nutrition plans that are realistic
  • LOTS of other stuff (including tailored training and mindset work) but more about that later…

I don’t do…

  • Cookie cutter plans, shakes, pills, extreme restrictions that rely on will power
  • Mass market low end delivery – if you get to work with me you are one of a select group of quality women not a number in a crowd
  • Spoon-feeding or molly-coddling – if you get to work with me you will receive top quality information and support but you have to take the responsibility to actually do it or ask for help when you need it
  • Quick fixes or yo-yo diets. If you are looking for fast results go elsewhere. If you are looking for sustainable long lasting changes you are on the right page!

How does it work?

The first step is to complete an application for what we call a “Breakthrough Call”. This is an opportunity to explore what is stopping you from achieving the body of your dreams and understand a little more about who we are, what we do and how we do it.

If you are a women with pounds to lose, a desire for more than what life is giving your right now and a will to change it then please apply. We want to speak with you and more importantly, we genuinely want to help you! x