“I’m Exercising…So Why Can’t I Lose Weight!?”

Written by: on Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
woman running

You run, therefore you should be losing weight. Not true! There's much more to the weight-loss story than that.

Despite their apparent leanness, too many active people are discontent with their body fat. All too often, I hear seemingly lean athletes express extreme frustration with their inability to lose undesired bumps and bulges:

Am I the only runner who has ever gained weight when training for a marathon???

Why does my husband lose weight when he starts going to the gym and I don’t?

For all the exercise I do, I should be pencil-thin. Why can’t I simply lose a few pounds?

Clearly, weight loss is not simple and often includes debunking a few myths. Perhaps this article will offer some insights that will lead to success with your weight-loss efforts.

woman standing on a scale

Even if you're an athlete, you cannot eat anything you want and expect to still lose weight.

MYTH You must exercise in order to lose body fat. 

TRUTH To lose body fat, you must create a calorie deficit. You can create that deficit by 1) exercising, which improves your overall health and fitness, or 2) eating fewer calories. Even injured athletes can lose fat, despite a lack of exercise. The complaint “I gained weight when I was injured because I couldn’t exercise” could more correctly be stated “I gained weight because I mindlessly overate for comfort and fun.”

Adding on exercise does not equate to losing body fat. In a 16-week study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, untrained women (ages 18 to 34) built up to 40 minutes of hard cardio or weight lifting three days a week. They were told to not change their diet, and—as a result—they saw no changes in body fatness. The bottom line: creating a calorie deficit by eating less food seems to be more effective than simply adding on exercise to try to lose weight.

Athletes who complain they “eat like a bird” but fail to lose body fat may simply be under-reporting their food intake. A survey of female marathoners, in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, indicated the fatter runners under-reported their food intake more than the leaner ones. Were they oblivious to how much they actually consumed? Or were they too sedentary in the non-exercise hours of their day?

woman running in race

Just because you're in training for a race doesn't mean you earned those chocolate chip cookies!

MYTH If you train for a marathon or triathlon, surely your body fat will melt away. 

TRUTH Wishful thinking. If you’re an endurance athlete who complains:“For all the exercise I do, I should be pencil-thin,” take a look at your 24-hour energy expenditure. Do you put most of your energy into exercising, but then tend to be quite sedentary the rest of the day as you recover from your tough workouts? Male endurance athletes who reported a seemingly low calorie intake did less spontaneous activity than their peers in the non-exercise parts of their day, found another study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. You need to keep taking the stairs instead of the elevators, no matter how much you train. Again, you should eat according to your whole day’s activity level, not according to how hard you trained that day.

MYTH The more you exercise, the more fat you will lose.

TRUTH Often, the more you exercise, the hungrier you get, and 1) the more you will eat, or 2) the more you believe you “deserve” to eat for having survived the killer workout. Unfortunately, rewarding yourself with a 600-calorie cinnamon roll can quickly erase in a few minutes the 600-calorie deficit you generated during your workout.

The effects of exercise on weight loss are complex and unclear—and depend on the 24-hour picture. We know among people (ages 56 to 78) who participated in a vigorous walking program, their daily energy needs remained about the same despite adding an hour of exercise. How could that be? The participants napped more and were 62 percent less active the rest of their day, according to research published in the American Journal of Physiology. Be sure to pay attention to your whole day’s activity level. One hour of exercise does not compensate for a sedentary lifestyle

woman doing a lunge stretch

Four workouts a week with cardio, strength (and a bit of stretching) might be better for weight control than six workouts a week.

MYTH You should exercise six days a week to lose weight. 

TRUTH Research suggests exercising four times a week might be better for weight control than six times a week. Another study—published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise—with sedentary women (ages 60 to 74) who built up to exercising for 40 minutes of cardio and weights suggests those who did four workouts a week burned about 225 additional calories in the other parts of their day because they felt energized. The group that trained six times a week complained the workouts not only took up too much time, but also left them feeling tired and droopy. They burned about 200 fewer calories in the non-exercise parts of their day. Yes, they were ages 60 to 74, but the info might also relate to you?

man and woman running together outdoors

Woman will always lose weight at a slower pace than guys...it's just the way we're built.

MYTH Couples who exercise together, lose fat together.

TRUTH Not always. In a 16-month study looking at exercise for weight loss—and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine—the men lost 11.5 pounds and the women maintained weight, even though they did the same amount of exercise. In another study, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, men who did an 18-month marathon training program reported eating about 500 more calories per day and lost about five pounds of fat. The women reported eating only 60 more calories, despite having added on 50 miles per week of running. They lost only two pounds.

What’s going on here? Well, a husband who adds on exercise will lose more weight than his wife if he’s heftier and thereby burns more calories during the same workout. But, speaking in terms of evolution, Nature seems protective of women’s role as child bearer, and wants women to maintain adequate body fat for nourishing healthy babies. Hence, women are more energy efficient. Obesity researchers at New York’s Columbia University suggest a pound of weight loss in men equates to a deficit of about 2,500 calories, while women need a 3,500-calorie deficit. No wonder women have a tougher time losing weight then do men….

The bottom line

If you’re exercising to lose weight, I encourage you to separate exercise and weight. Yes, you should exercise for health, fitness, stress relief, and most importantly, for enjoyment. (After all, the E in exercise stands for enjoyment!) If you exercise primarily to burn off calories, exercise will become punishment for having excess body fat. You’ll eventually quit exercising—and that’s a bad idea.

Instead of focusing on exercise as the key to fat loss, pay more attention to your calorie intake. Knocking off just 100 calories a day from your evening snacks can theoretically result in 10 pounds a year of fat loss. One less cookie a day seems simpler than hours of sweating…?

Copyright©Nancy Clark, MS, RD March 2013

 

 

 

 

“My 3 weight-loss mantras…plus my new home exercise tool”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Melissa Juliano on Scale: Weight Loss Diary valerielatona.com

I LOVE this picture!!!

201. 201. 201. 201. 201.

In case you are not keeping up with my blog posts, this is my lowest weight in forever!!! And now I am soooooo close to being under 200 that I can taste it (and it tastes like sweat from a great workout). How I’m doing it:

1) Keep at it—no matter how de-motivated I become. Even when I don’t exercise, don’t get enough sleep (which is the norm), and don’t eat right (which happens sometimes)—I get right back on track the next day.

2) Exercise baby! I’m mixing up my workouts—to keep myself from getting bored and keep the results coming (see below for my new workout tool, which cost me $45—with free shipping from Amazon Prime—from amazon.com). I may not be able to do a half marathon yet  like my friends, but I’m doing the workouts that work for me and my life.

3) Never say diet. With two young girls at home, I want to promote healthy eating not deprivation! I’m eating healthy foods and indulging in sweets in moderation—the way eating should be! And I’m still losing!!! Yeah!!!

Random weight-loss thought for the day: my body doesn’t know and doesn’t care that I get on the scale once a week. My body will show me results when it is ready—and that may not be on weigh-in day! (…though sometimes it is!)

Weighted Exercise Bar on valerielatona.com

You can do so many strength-boosting exercises with this tool!

But I’m determined to kick some butt (and pounds!) with my new weighted exercise bar: 15 pounds. More to come on the workout I’m doing with it!

“How I conquer the #1 exercise excuse”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Friday, March 16th, 2012

I have many excuses. The most common one: I can’t get to a gym. The hours are limited (true), I work too much (true), no child care (true), I have stuff at home to work out (true), it’s too far to drive (true), I don’t have time (true), I have no one to go with (often true).  So all those things are true but it is still an excuse.

Success is working around the stuff that’s holding you back, even if those things are valid.

Melissa Juliano Workout Room: Valerielatona.com

My inexpensive home gym!

This is a picture of my favorite room in my house: my yoga-plus studio. And my faithful workout partner: Pumba. I pop in a video of Rodney Yee and get transported to a stress-free yoga zone.  I love my basket for holding my yoga mats. It says “Namaste” and makes me happy. The decorations on the walls from my girls also make me happy. My daughters often do yoga with me and that make me very happy.

Lately, I have branched out to weight work. I know I don’t need any big equipment or space to give myself a great workout. Over the years I have employed a personal trainer at least 4 different times. I know what to do.

Thanks to Amazon Prime, I get free shipping even on heavy stuff! I have gradually acquired the large ball, an 8-lb medicine ball, a 10-lb cast iron kettle bell (much better than sand filled), and a pair of 5-lb hand weights.  I have a 15-lb weighted bar being shipped soon.

This was my workout today (I’ve attached videos to almost all if you’re interested in doing them yourself and need some how-to’s):

  1. Wall push-ups (working my way up to real push-ups)
  2. Chest press on the ball (with medicine ball)
  3. Chest flies on the ball (with hand weights)
  4. Squat thrusts
  5. Front-loaded squats (with kettle bell)
  6. High Knees (for a cardio burst)
  7. Vertical Balance Squats (with medicine ball)
  8. Front shoulder raise (with hand weights)
  9. Side shoulder raise (with hand weights)
  10. Bicep curl (with hand weights)
  11. Butt Kicks (for a cardio burst)
  12. Lunge holding hand weights, right and left
  13. Squats with hand weights at sides
  14. Hyperextension over ball
  15. Scissor kicks
  16. Triceps Overhead Extension (with medicine ball)
  17. Overhead triceps extension (sitting; I do it on the exercise ball)
  18. High Knees (cardio burst); see video above #6
  19. Jump rope (without the rope)
Home workout equipment: valerielatona.com

This is it: all I needed (plus a little motivation) for a great home workout!

This is one heck of a workout. The squat thrusts are just entirely painful and difficult. I did the moves in groups of 3 to 6 and then repeated for 2 sets. Each was 10 to 25 reps depending on the move. It took me exactly 43 minutes with music blaring. I was sweating, tired … empowered!  According to My Fitness Pal, I burned 557 calories for “circuit training, general.”

And to think I only needed about $80 worth of equipment, all of which can fit in a milk crate!

 

The Flat Abs, Firm Butt, Strong Legs Workout: Try It!

Written by: on Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
flat abs on fit woman

Consistent strength training—and cardio—will help transform your body.

If you’re looking for a good workout to get you toned from head to toe, this is it (and it’s just the first in a new series of workouts being featured here). Created by New York City-based Equinox trainer Katherine Roberts-Hill, it’s meant to ease anyone into a total body workout. She created it for me as I needed a not-too-difficult workout to start on after having a baby about 10 weeks ago. I’ll be adding this to my cardio (elliptical and swimming) workouts. Keep me posted on your progress (I’ll be keeping you posted on mine)!

Disclaimer: You should have your doctor’s okay before starting any exercise program—and if you have questions about any of these moves, ask a trainer at your gym for help. If you feel pain or discomfort, STOP. Do not continue exercising and work with a professional before starting up again. We want people to get fit—not hurt!

How often to do it
This is the first workout for 2 weeks. Try to get in 2-3 workouts each week. It should take 40-50 minutes with a warm up and 15-20 minutes of cardio. Choose 7 exercises each time (you can mix it up).

Plus…
Prior to the warm-up, do myofascial release on your legs with the use of a foam roller (from $11.95 at powersystems.com). To see how to do this, watch this video >

Workout Plan

ACTIVITY  TYPE  SETS   REPS   DURATION   WEIGHT   INTENSITY   REST
Squat to Shoulder Press – 2 Arm  Strength  3 15-20 20 lbs  –
Lunge – Forward  Strength 3 15 30 lbs 75%  60 sec
Squat – Front with Barbell  Strength 3 20 20 lbs 75%  60 sec
Chest Press – Incline Dumbbell  Strength 3  –
Supine Triple Flexion to Extension – Alternating Leg  Strength  –
Abs – Backstroke  Toning 3 20
Side Iso-abs with Crunch  Toning 3 15 30 sec  –
Lat Pulldown – Standing (Free Motion)  Strength 3 15 40 lbs
Stability Ball Pull-Over  Strength 3 20 15 lbs

Cool Down

The cool-down should consist of some light walking and stretching for about 5 minutes.

SQUAT TO SHOULDER PRESS – 2 ARM
Reps:  15-20 Sets:  3
Weight:  20 lbs
To start:

  • Begin with feet shoulder-width apart, feet pointing straight ahead.
  • Start with dumbbells at shoulder level, palms facing forward.
Movement:

  • Perform a squat as deep as you can (A).
  • Squat up to starting position; perform a shoulder press (B).
  • Lower weight slowly, then repeat.

A

B

LUNGE – FORWARD
Reps:  15 Sets:  3 Intensity:  75%
Weight:  30 lbs Rest:  60 sec
To start:

  • Stand in proper alignment with hands on hips.
  • Place feet straight ahead and shoulder width apart.
Movement:

  • Draw lower abs inward toward spine (activating the deep stabilizing mechanism).
  • Step forward and descend slowly by bending at the hips, knees and ankles (A). During the descent maintain weight distribution between the heels and mid-foot. Don’t allow feet to cave inward or shift outward. (Knees should be between first and second toes.)
  • Perform downward reps slowly and concentrate on the descent and the alignment of your body. Only descend down as far as you can maintain optimal alignment, keeping upper torso erect. (Leaning forward can injure the spine, knee, and ankle.)

A


SQUAT – FRONT WITH BARBELL
Reps:  20 Sets:  3 Intensity:  75%
Weight:  20 lbs Rest:  60 sec
To start:

  • Stand with feet pointed STRAIGHT AHEAD with a barbell placed comfortably on the top back of shoulders (A). Be sure to position your head up over shoulders and shoulders in line with hips (i.e., neutral spine).
Movement:

  • Draw your belly button inward toward your spine (from the start position).
  • Descend slowly by bending at knees and hips (B). Maintain weight distribution between mid-foot and heels. Don’t allow feet to cave inward or shift outward.
  • Push up through the feet extending the ankle, knee and hip joints while weight is evenly distributed between heels and mid-foot. Don’t allow weight to shift toward toes. (Knees should track over the second and third toe.)
  • Perform downward reps slowly, concentrating on proper alignment of body.
  • Descend as far as you can control. Partial squats should progress to full squats as you get better at this exercise.
  • Note: This should be back loaded (on the shoulders with a barbell). If it is too difficult to do, use 2, 15-lb dumbbells.

A

B

CHEST PRESS – INCLINE DUMBBELL
Reps:  20 Sets:  3
Weight:  12.5 lbs each hand
To start:

  • Lie on bench with feet straight and flat on the ground.
  • Position dumbbells, arms fully extended, over lower part of shoulders, not the head.
Movement:

  • Draw belly button inward toward your spine.
  • Slowly, lower your elbows out and down, maintaining wrist position over the elbows (A).
  • Continue to lower the weight until your upper arms are level with the shoulders.
  • Move elbows up and in toward center to return (B). This will create a triangular motion. Wrist should maintain a neutral position. Keep dumbbells over wrists throughout entire exercise.

A

B

Note: Maintain proper posture, as the weight is lowered. DO NOT allow your head to “jut” forward.
SUPINE TRIPLE FLEXION TO EXTENSION – ALTERNATING LEG
To start:

  • Lie with back flat on the ground, knees bent 90°, and place hands on the ground by your side (A).
  • Activate core with a drawing in and pelvic floor contraction.
Movement:

  • Lift BOTH legs off the ground.
  • Extend one leg into triple extension.
  • Simultaneously alternate each leg from flexion to extension (B), keeping head relaxed on mat while maintaining good upper body posture.

A

B

ABS – BACKSTROKE
Reps:  20 Sets:  3


To start:

  • Maintain good posture throughout the exercise with shoulder blades retracted and down, good stability through the abs, and neutral spine angles.
Movement:

  • Begin in a crunch position (shoulders slightly off the mat), ensuring that spine is ‘long’ and not excessively rounded. Hands are to the side, palms facing up (as shown).
  • Perform a backstroke motion with one hand (A), while holding the crunch.
  • Return hand to the side and alternate sides (B), once the backstroke motion has been completed.

A

B

SIDE ISO-ABS WITH CRUNCH
Reps:  15 Sets:  3
Duration:  30 sec

To start:

  • Make sure you’ve done a quick warm-up prior to doing this exercise.
Movement:

  • Take the top arm, place the hand behind the ear (A) and rotate elbow towards ground (B). Ensure body line is straight, visual gaze is straight ahead and shoulders and trunk rotate.
  • Repeat for desired number of repetitions.

A

B

LAT PULLDOWN – STANDING (FREE MOTION)
Reps:  15 Sets:  3
Weight:  40 lbs

To start:

  • Adjust cable arms as shown.
  • Stand in squat position (facing Cable Cross), knees bent, maintaining good posture with arms outstretched. Grasp handles (A).
Movement:

  • Brace spine by drawing your lower abdomen in.
  • Start movement by pulling elbows into side of body (B), maintaining proper posture.
  • Check alignment and positioning and repeat press.
  • Squat deeper or adjust back from Cable Cross if weight stack touches at end range of motion.
  • Variations: Try various grip positions, Single arm alternating.

A

B

STABILITY BALL PULL-OVER
Reps:  20 Sets:  3
Weight:  15 lbs

To start:

  • Adjust the column toward top and place stability ball in front of column.
Movement:

  • Hold the triceps rope above head with straight arms, sitting on stability ball facing away from the machine (A).
  • Engage abs, and roll body and arms out parallel to the floor (B).
  • Pull arms back over head to starting position.

A

B