Fitness Q&A Archive
*Q&A is posted from present to archived items.
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– Calista L., Clearwater, FL
Answer: Calista it is crucial! To lose the excess fat around your belly or thighs, (a trouble spot for most women) you must begin with cardio. Cardio is what makes your body a fat-burning machine. It's essential to increase your heart rate which in turn boosts your metabolism and helps break down the fat storage those problem areas hold. By simply lifting weights your body will become bulky rather than lean.
Before you hit the weights, take at least 10-20 minutes to warm up with any type of cardio exercise. Whether it be walking, running, the stair climber, or the bicycle; this will positively boost your heart rate and get your body to where it needs to be before it lifts the weights. As you increase your endurance, extend the length of cardio and intensity for that exercise.
There are numerous alternatives to typical cardio routines, simply taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or parking your car further from the store at the parking lot, will assist you in working in bits of cardio here and there.
For the recommended thirty minutes of exercise a day, try activities that you do enjoy. Perhaps it's swimming or volleyball, maybe golf or even shopping! Make a consistent effort to walk whenever and wherever you can. You'll be surprised by the amount of exercise you can accumulate, and as you make a continued effort, you will see the change in your body's composition. MaryElise
Question: My name is Dari, and I have a problem. Hey, the first step is admitting it right? I have a very demanding career, and I haven't worked out in over five years. As a result, I've gained over 65 pounds and could assume I've lost most, if not all, of my muscle mass. My husband recently purchased a gym membership for me, so I am ready to go. What do you suggest as a good beginner program to blast the fat and get my body back? – Dari T., Cleveland, OH
Answer: First off, your motivation and persistence will be rewarded if you continue to keep it as a constant. For a person that has not worked out in several years, you will want to be gentle on both your body and self. A gradual regime is the key here.
Gradually change your diet, weaning out sweets, salty foods, and useless carbs. Instead of a piece of pizza, have a delicious teriyaki stir fry. Rather than that 36 oz. Coca-a-Cola, pick up a delicious flavored water, with the taste of a Spritzer, without the calories, this is the way to go.
As you transform your diet, progressively build a workout regime suitable to your fitness goals and capabilities. The Surgeon General suggests at least 30 minutes of exercise most of the days of the week, meaning 3-4. An easy way to incorporate this is to split it up into three parts. 10 minutes in the morning, 10 in the afternoon, and 10 at night. Possible ways to do this is to take the stairs instead of the elevator; park your car further from your office building; visit a neighbor down the street after work; walk your dog; or even walk to lunch on your break, rather than drive.
When hitting the gym for the first time, don't be afraid to ask a trainer for advice or help. Often times, they'll help you at no cost, just for being a member of the gym. Take it slow, begin with a 10-20 minute cardio routine, increasing your speed as you go. As you obtain more endurance, increase the exercise time and difficulty. Take a look at the Fitness Q&A Archive, for more tips regarding beginning cardio routines.
If you decide to incorporate a weight training regime, start with light weights, and increase the amount of repetitions. Many exercisers flunk this part of the workout. Thinking that increasing the weight, and minimizing the number of reps is the key. But be forewarned, if you up the weight, and decrease the reps, you'll add bulk to your frame, rather than sleek, smooth, toned curves. MaryElise
Question: I know it's horrible, but I skip breakfast pretty much every morning, on top of that, I'm running around all day, and rarely have a chance to sit down for a meal. So usually, my real meal for the day, is around 8 p.m. Then I end up eating everything in sight, because I'm famished. How do you suggest I fix this so my body isn't worn down to the bone by the end of the day? – Famished in Florida
Answer: Many people have this problem, and many let it slide, thinking it's not that hard on your body. When in reality, your metabolism is running about as fast as a turtle with two legs. Eating only at night, especially before bedtime, is an open door for extra pounds. If you're gorging yourself on sweets and other junk food, you're making it nearly impossible for your body to run efficiently, regardless, run at all.
Take a trip to your local market, pick up some snacks such as baby carrots, fruit, or energy bars, and stock your purse with at least 3 of these snacks each day. Munch on one every couple of hours to keep you on your toes. Blend up some fresh fruit and soy milk for breakfast, you will be surprised how much more energy you will have throughout the day. Stock your fridge and pantry with body friendly foods, so you're not forced to eat that last box of Macaroni n' Cheese when you're having a late night dinner. Carbs such as these, bypass every part of your body, and go straight to the hips. Be cautious of so-called "health-food," which often can be drowning in hidden sugars, such as dried fruit or 99.9% of the "energy" bars on the market. Read the nutrition labels, they're there for a reason. Lastly, take a multivitamin suitable for your needs each morning, that will help you stay on track, and keep your body a happy one. MaryElise
Question: With all of the diets, low-carb, no-carb, low-fat, no-fat, madness that is constantly swirling around, what is a simple, and complete meal plan that I can build off of? – Lauren M. Houston, TX
Answer: Lauren, you are right, there are so many diets out there, and so many which focus of self-deprivation! There's no need to starve yourself or cut out an essential such as fruit or proteins. Try to eat at least two full meals a day, breakfast being your largest, and dinner no later than 8 o'clock. These days, many of us are too busy to grab lunch, although to keep your metabolism running smoothly, eat a snack every 3-4 hours. You can eat anything you want, but moderation is key! Enjoy fruits, vegetables, and proteins to keep your body in balance and you healthy! MaryElise
Question: I work 12-hour days and never have a chance to workout. However, I want to get in shape and start integrating some kind of exercise into my day. How do you suggest I go about doing so?
– Helen S. NY, NY
Answer: First thing, what are your priorities? The only way you will be successful in incorporating an exercise routine is if you make it a priority. I notice you live in New York, if it’s a possibility to walk to work, that could be a great way for you to start getting in shape and slowly adjusting your body to a regular routine. If not, start walking at least 2-3 times a week for 20-30 minutes at a time; possibly after work to relax and calm down, it could be a great stress-reliever! After you feel comfortable, start walking every day, for longer periods of time. Eventually, you can add weight training for your upper and lower body, to tone your muscles. MaryElise
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