Am I just too old to lose weight easily? I am 55 years old and female.
by dotFIT experts
Answer: The simple answer is no. The laws of physics never ignore you, regardless of your age. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Most studies show a relationship between aging and weight loss, but the culprit is not age itself or a slowing metabolism. Decreased movement is the biggest reason for easy weight gain as you age. Women tend to eat similar amounts as they did when they were younger, but tend to exercise less.
You can slightly alter your lifestyle to include more movement from not only traditional exercise, but also by changing the way you perform everyday activities that burn calories such as standing/pacing versus sitting whenever possible, parking further away from your destination, taking stairs more often, etc.
Don’t Just Sit There, Move! Weight control is possible without traditional exercise (though there’s no substitute for true exercise).
Somehow during the last few decades, somewhere between 20 and 40 years of age, you’ve gained about 20 pounds. This didn’t have to happen–if you had walked an average of 150 more steps daily (which takes about three minutes) during a period you would normally have been sitting, chances are you would still have that same 20-year-old body. If only you’d paced around your office or home while you were on a three-minute phone call, or walked around your house once daily. If you had gone to the gym only ten times each year for approximately half an hour, engaging in a light workout, you would be 20 pounds lighter. And that’s without changing what you ate and drank during those 20 years!
Now, imagine you gained 40 pounds during the last 20 years. Simply double the above numbers and picture yourself 40 pounds lighter. You get the picture. Most people don’t gain weight because they are slothful creatures. Instead, slow, steady weight gain creeps up on us. Many people arrive at a point where they feel it’s too late, the damage is done, it’s too hard to lose weight or they don’t have enough time in their busy lives to make changes.
Take it up a notch
If you need to lose weight and don’t want it to take the 20 years it took to put it on—but at the same time you fall into that category of “no time” or “can’t stick to a diet”—use the formula above and accelerate it up to the point where you can erase the weight over the next year. Like the sound of losing weight without working out and dieting? Basically, you can consume the same foods and fluids but simply move more within your normal daily activities. Here is an example of what a 175 pound person, who does not wish to change his/her lifestyle and eating habits, can do to lose 20 pounds. Refer to “Your Life is Exercise” for additional calorie burning tips.
Put a stop to the instinctual habit that tells you to take the path of least resistance, the easy way out. Instead, choose to take the path of more resistance anytime you can. In other words, anywhere you can squeeze in some extra steps or movement, do it. Park further out from your destination, pace or stand at home or in the office while on the phone, reading or simply talking to someone. Think “why sit when I can walk or stand”? Get a pedometer and find out how many steps a day you are currently walking. Gradually add an extra 500 steps to your day until you are regularly averaging 2500 steps more per day than you were prior to reading this article. Maintain your same basic lifestyle and eating habits, but incorporate the “move when you can” attitude and stand or pace when performing tasks you previously would have done sitting down. You don’t have to do all this at once; break it up any way you want to. Just average an extra 2500 steps daily. For current physical activity guidelines, click here.
A little goes a long way
For a 175 pound person, every ten minutes of normal walking or pacing while doing something equates to burning approximately 20-30 more calories than sitting down doing the same activity. So, by moving upright for one hour (about 2500 slow steps) more than before, you will lose about 1.5 pounds per month or 18 pounds over the course of a year without working out in a gym (as long as your food intake doesn’t increase). If you did add gym time and a slight reduction in your food intake as well, you could lose significantly more. Not so daunting of a task anymore, is it? Note: the lighter you get, the fewer calories your body burns, so for every 5-7 pounds you lose, you should add about 500 more steps per day if you choose not to slightly reduce or alter your food intake. Continue the process until you achieve your goal weight.
Tips for extra movement in the gym
Use the same tips recommended in the “your life is exercise” section, but use them in the gym or while going to the gym.
Park your car in a safe place at least 1250 paces from the gym
Always pace or stand between sets
Circuit train (i.e., move from one exercise to another with little to no rest but rotating body parts)
Get all 2500 steps/day using cardio machines. On non-workout days, follow the daily life tips or simply do more steps during the three days you are in the gym using a treadmill, stepper, etc., to make the weekly total.
Everyone sits at least an hour a day; the vast majority of people sit a minimum of eight. Find the parts of the day when you can stand, sit or pace while performing something you would normally do sitting down. No matter what you do or how, just be sure you have added an average of 2500 steps to your daily routine and as you lose weight, slowly increase your steps. Always remember, every calorie counts, in or out. That’s a scientific fact. Remember this: if you are wearing it, you ate it.
So there you have it, the easiest, least painful method to stop or reverse weight gain. This is something anyone can do and—most importantly—maintain.
Your Life is Exercise
Around the House
Get a cordless phone if you do not have one. Walk around the house or yard while you chat.
Put away the remote control a few days a week and change channels on the TV itself.
Forget the car wash! Do it yourself and burn about 200 cal.
Cut back on your cleaning service; schedule them less frequently to save money and boost your activity.
During commercial breaks on television: Unload one level of the dishwasher. Put in or take out one load of laundry. Clean out one shelf in the refrigerator. Clean out what’s fallen under the sofa cushions. Take out the trash.
Put away laundry in smaller loads. You’ll make a few extra trips to burn some extra calories.
When traveling by air, walk around the airport till boarding time.
Walk rather than using moving sidewalks.
Walk to the airport gate or parking lot instead of using a shuttle.
Walk to nearby restaurants rather than dining in the hotel.
Errands on the Run
Bypass the drive through. Use walk-up options at the bank, pharmacy, cleaners, etc. Park at the back of the lot and walk.
Carry smaller loads into the house to make a few extra trips.
Hit the mall instead of the Internet.
Take a lap of the mall or grocery store before starting to shop.
When loading your purchases, park the shopping cart at the front of the car and carry the bags to the trunk.
Offer to run errands for an elderly or ill neighbor or friend.
At the Office
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Get off the elevator two floors early—walk the rest of the way.
Park a couple of blocks away from your office and walk.
Use the restroom or coffee maker farthest from your office.
Use a smaller water bottle and coffee cup. You’ll get up for refills more often.
Take regular breaks and walk once around the office building.
Walk to lunch instead of ordering it.
Sit on a fitness ball instead of a chair. You’ll burn more calories and strengthen those abs.
Waiting for copies? Take a quick walk while the copier finishes your job.
Don’t eat at your desk. Take a walk, eat in a nearby park, or climb a few flights of stairs.
Visit people’s offices instead of calling or e-mailing them.
Walk the entire office a couple times/day. Visit departments you don’t normally deal with.
Start an office walking club. You can meet before or after work or even at lunch.
Do these things really add up and make a difference? Refer to the two figures below. They illustrate the impact adding daily movement can have on the same person. All of these “little” tweaks to your daily activity have a significantly greater impact than the daily exercise session. Now, if you did both you’d be golden!
I am constantly working my arms VERY hard. Do I need to add more sets or to work them more often?
Answer: At this point it’s very unlikely that more of anything is going to solve the problem. Muscles need at least 48 hours of rest following high-intensity resistance training, and likely require even longer with the volume of sets that you are doing. By vigorously training the same muscle group each day with weights, you end up in an over-training cycle where the body spends more time damaging and repairing muscles than building them to a bigger, stronger level. Therefore, you want to minimize the necessary exercise damage while maximizing the repair/building process so at the end of the day you’ve increased muscle size as opposed to simply maintaining it.
Proper progressive training is defined as the least amount of specific work (e.g. weight training) that continues to initiate the desired outcome, which in your case is adding muscle to your arms each week.
Try cutting your total sets down to around 6-10 and make each set count by doing your repetitions in a controlled manner (no swinging or speed records). Make sure to keep your workouts unaccustomed by consistently varying repetition ranges, tempo, etc… We recommend working these muscles only twice a week. Keep in mind that the biceps and triceps are considerably smaller muscles than chest, back or legs and they receive a beating when doing chest and back exercises. It becomes quite easy to overtrain these muscles which of course will stall your progress.
The last factor to consider is your nutrition. No workout, no matter how effective, will yield results if the proper calories and nutrients are not provided to the muscles. Check out Xtreme Muscle Stack: Creating the Perfect Anabolic Storm for more info.
Australian Natural Bodz Magazine features Star Profile on Dewayne J Malone Musclemania Pro Champion
The Texas Titan – Musclemania Pro Dewayne Malone features in Australian Natural Bodz Magazine Volume 7 issue 4 as a Star Profile Athlete.
If I work out every day (sometimes multiple times a day) am I doing myself any harm?
Answer: It all depends on your workouts. If you’re intensely working the same body parts with resistance training and not resting the minimum of 24-48 hours before working the same muscles (the more intense and voluminous the workout, the longer the necessary recuperation time), you are definitely holding back your progress. If you are simply going to the gym to move around and add a little resistance to your movements (never going to failure) and only for short periods (less than an hour a session), you may be okay. Ultimately it depends upon what your goal is and what you are doing at each workout (and why!). Three times a day is a lot. If you are getting small amounts of exercise each time, then it is likely fine. However, if your frequency is out of desperation to make a change, then we suggest that some other aspect of your program is flawed (such as diet or rest/recovery) or you may need to talk to someone about your addiction to the gym.
Though your body will generally tell you when you are doing too much, some people may not know (or listen to) the signs of overtraining. Overtraining is difficult to measure, but here are a few signs to look for:
Mild leg soreness, general achiness
Pain in muscles and joints
Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
Sudden drop in ability to run “normal” distance or times
Inability to relax, twitchy, fidgety
Insatiable thirst, dehydration
Lowered resistance to common illnesses; colds, sore throat, etc.
Do excess carbs show up as fat in one area of the body and excess fat in another area?
Answer: No. While it is true that any food (carbs, protein or fat) can be stored as body fat when daily calorie intake exceeds expenditure, where the fat is stored is not determined by the type of food. This is determined by genetics and often gender. Women tend to store more body fat below the waist, while men’s fat deposits often accumulate around the middle, but this can change as we age. And unfortunately there’s no predicting where fat will leave the body first or last. Often where body fat is drawn from during fat loss is not the area you would prefer. For example, most dieting females prefer the body fat leave their posterior and/or legs, but often fat is pulled from the breast area long before the woman is satisfied with overall fat loss.
To prevent unwanted fat accumulation ANYWHERE on the body, be sure to eat fewer calories than you burn (or as many as you burn if your goal is to maintain your current weight) and be as active as you can.
Why Food Logging is Critical for Weight Control
You may surprised by the fact that losing weight is not the main challenge for most people. Keeping it off is much more of a struggle. In fact, only a small percentage of those who lose at least 10 percent of their initial body weight manage to sustain their results.1 The remaining majority regain all of the weight lost within three to five years.2,3 This is likely due to the way many individuals go about losing weight – short-term, or fad diets. The issue with diets is that they tend to be a temporary fixand the eating rules are difficult to sustain. Although you lose weight initially, once you resume your old habits, the weight comes back and often more. It is simply unnatural to cut out whole food groups and drastically cut calories – our bodies will fight it. For you to lose weight and keep it off for good, you’ll have to adjust your food choices and activity level permanently. That means the changes you make should be something you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. And they don’t have to be earth shattering. Perhaps you switch regular soda for diet and save 200 calories a day. And maybe you add a 15 minute walk twice a day and burn 200 more calories, but the bottom line is they’re doable for life. Remember, the only proven method to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in, and research shows that different eating patterns, whether high-carb, low-carb, low-fat or high-fat, can all yield results as long as you burn more than you take in.4 Only you can determine what works best for you.
So how do you change or adjust your eating and activity habits? You must first be fully aware of your body’s needs and what you’re doing now – and you probably aren’t. Studies show that most people:
Don’t know how much to eat to maintain their current weight
Believe they eat less than they actually do
Have no idea they take in extra calories in different situations
Slowly gain 1-3 pounds a year during adulthood until they are overweight or obese
The solution to becoming aware of your food choices and how much you’re eating is to simply pay attention by tracking everything you consume. When you track what you eat, you can’t help but notice the types of foods you’re eating, the calories in those items, and how your choices affect your weight, appetite and energy levels. Your dotFIT online program shows you the number of calories you should eat daily to reach your goal, and by tracking your calories it becomes clear when you need to make an adjustment. Without knowing what and how much you’re eating – it’s difficult to make educated decisions. For example, if your daily calorie budget is 1,600 and you eat 1,000 for breakfast, you know you have 600 left for the rest of the day. At this point it’s clear that you’re probably eating too many calories at breakfast and it’s wise to adjust your food choices. You can adjust the portion size of that meal or the choose different foods that have fewer calories and hopefully more nutrients. Again, it’s your decision.
If you still need a reason to track your calories, here it is – you’ll get twice the results. A large study spanning almost 3 years showed that people who kept tabs of their daily food intake lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.5 In this day and age where food is everywhere any time of day and in very large quantities, you can’t afford to be unconscious of your choices. By paying attention to portion sizes, calories and nutrients in foods, you become equipped with new knowledge and therefore, new power to reach and maintain your goals. It is true that knowledge is power, but only if you use that knowledge by taking action. Take action and start logging your food today.
Cleanses – Do They Really Help?
by Gay Riley, MS, RD, CCN
Cleanses have recently become popular as a means to improve health and energy, rejuvenate the body, lose weight and slow aging. According to Spins research, between October 2008 and October 2009 Americans spent more than $100 million dollars on cleansing and detox products in an effort to lose weight, gain energy and purify themselves of harmful toxins. Unfortunately, scientific evidence showing any health benefits of cleansing has yet to be investigated, therefore the use of cleanses to treat illness is not totally embraced by the medical community. However, many complimentary alternative doctors and practitioners use cleanses and detoxification programs to support whole body health.Cleanses typically involve some type of fasting or food elimination to let the organs “rest” and to flush “waste buildup” from the targeted organ. They also may include herbal teas, enemas or colonics. Physician Michael Picco at the Mayo Clinic warns of the dangers of fasting cleanses. “Fasting cleanses (abstaining from food) are not clinically proven and can cause extreme medical reactions or conditions. Your body may go into starvation mode and you may develop low blood sugar, anemia and dangerous electrolyte imbalances that can lead to cardiac arrest and coma.” According to Geatano Morello, ND, who is a detox specialist and author of Whole Body Cleansing (2009), many popular cleanse regimes such as the master cleanse, a 10-20 day fast during which you subsist on a mix of lemon juice, maple syrup and water are so extreme that weight loss is nearly impossible to maintain once you go back to eating solid food.
The notion that fasting cleanses actually “clean” the body is more of a marketing ploy than sound science. The human body naturally expels toxins from the body via detoxification pathways in the gallbladder, liver, kidneys, digestive system, lungs and skin. The gastrointestinal tract contains 70% of the body’s immune response and one of its major roles is to remove waste from the body. Currently, there is little research that waste build-up or constipation (straining to pass hard stools) causes cancer, health issues or disease. However, it is widely believed in complimentary alternative and Ayurvedic medicine that 1-3 bowel movements a day is healthy and helps to expel metabolic wastes and toxins from being reabsorbed by the body. Some sources indicate that regular bowel movements range from 3 times a day to a few times weekly. Therefore, the absence of a daily bowel movement is normal for many but may not necessarily be optimal. Improving regularity can be accomplished by:
Increasing intake of fiber rich foods (whole grains, beans and lentils, whole fruit and vegetables)
Drinking adequate fluids
Olive Oil Liver Flush from Dr. Hulda’s book, The Cure for All Diseases. This cleanse promotes diarrhea with a potion of olive oil, grapefruit juice, Epsom salts and fresh water and the passing of gallstones by stimulating the gallbladder to contract. Dr. Hulda encourages refraining from medicines and food after 2 pm. This cleanse appears risky for high-risk medical conditions should stones become lodged or complications occur.
The Master Cleanse by Stanley Burroughs involves complete abstinence from food and the consumption of a “lemonade drink” which consists of pure water, fresh lemon juice, pure maple syrup for calories and minerals, and cayenne pepper to break up mucus. Water with sea salt or Epsom salts is consumed in the morning and laxative tea is taken at night to flush the colon. This cleanse is popular with celebrities for rapid weight loss. It is extreme and not recommended.
Quantum Wellness 21 Day Cleanse by Kathy Freston is a sensible plan with solid foods and the integration of healthy habits for life. Vegetarian eating is followed for 21 days along with elimination of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten, and sugar. Quantum wellness is a good reference for healthy living and the basic foundation of the cleanse program is not extreme on the body.
Herbal Cleanses — Herbal formulas contain a variety of natural herbs designed to do more than eliminate the stress on the liver and colon. These herbal formulas use milk thistle, psyllium, licorice, peppermint, fennel and senna to help the liver produce bile and digest food. Herbs such as wormwood, black walnut and cloves help kill parasites. These formulas work best when consuming whole, unprocessed foods with moderate protein and high in fiber. These formulas should be done in moderation, as psyllium and senna in high quantities can be toxic.
The bottom line on cleanses is to avoid extreme protocols, especially if you have medical conditions, or you take medications that may be detrimental rather than beneficial to your health. If you have high-risk medical conditions and want to cleanse, choose a doctor or health practitioner who understands integrative medicine (medicine that combines traditional care with alternative and natural approaches). In doing so, you ensure you have the most up-to-date and well-rounded advice. Cleansing should not be confused with detoxification although they are used interchangeably in the media. Detoxification is much more involved in removing chemicals, alcohol, or heavy metals from the organ systems of the body such as dialysis or chelation therapy. Detoxification programs are specifically designed to remove a particular substance from the body and should be administered and monitored by an experienced healthcare professional.
What you can do Adding any of the following strategies to your lifestyle is easy and healthy.
Consume adequate calories and nutrient intake to prevent under-nutrition.
Minimize added sugars such as soda and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Eat a diet rich in fresh organic fruits and vegetables. These foods contain fiber, protective phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals.
Consume plant oils and unprocessed nuts for anti-inflammatory oils and minerals.
Eat adequate protein from high quality sources, fresh eggs, and vegetables. If you eat meat, choose sources that are humanly treated, free of hormones and antibiotics.
For individuals with allergies, choose foods and supplements that are free of common food allergens such as gluten (from grains) and casein (from dairy). Eliminating these foods can improve energy and immune health in some people.
Drink adequate amounts of clean water free of contaminants. For pure water consider a reverse osmosis filter system or RO water which can be found at many natural grocery and health food stores.
Consume adequate fiber – 28 to 35 grams a day to promote proper bowel function and prevent constipation.
Get enough restorative sleep (7.5 to 9 hours a night of sound sleep or stage 4 sleep is optimal)
Make an effort to intake specific nutrients that have been found to support proper detoxification function, including epigallocatechin gallate from green tea, glucosinolates from cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage), resveratrol from grapes and peanut skins, isoflavones from soybeans or fermented soy, and polyphenols and anthocyanidins from berries.
Try hot lemon water with cayenne pepper before breakfast to stimulate the liver.
Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in fresh water for the kidneys.
Exercise enough to sweat which will help open the pores to release toxins through the skin.
Try hot yoga to stimulate circulation and sweating.
Try body brushing and rebounding to stimulate lymph function for the immune system.
Summary There is no such thing as a quick fix. The safest cleanse is lifestyle. By committing to a healthy diet, supporting your body’s natural detoxifying systems with food, supplements, and reducing exposure to toxic chemicals you can trim fat, boost energy and lessen your body’s toxic burden. Some of the basic fundamentals of cleansing listed above can be exercised on a regular basis to enhance the body’s natural detoxification pathways. In doing so, you create a lifestyle that promotes optimal health and longevity without the risk of extreme and potentially harmful fasting cleanses.
How to Train Like Dewayne Malone, Mr. Universe!
In the past 35 years, no one in my home state of Texas has achieved what I have. I won the Mr. Universe title in 2011 and the World Championship in 2009, 2012 and 2013. How did I make it happen? Consistency was the key. I have been successful only because I have been consistent. I took basic movements and exercises, basic nutrition and basic cardio and made it into a lifestyle. There is no magic pill, there is no magic book, there is no secret to natural competitive bodybuilding. I just stayed consistent with simple, risk-free exercises and kept to my cardio and nutrition every day. This is where the show is won. Having the mental strength to get up every day and repeat the same thing over and over. Year after year, month after month, day after day: It truly is that simple. When you’re prepping for competition, there’s no off-season—it’s a 365-day-per-year job.
How to Use This Workout
Want to train like Mr. Universe? Start with this workout and keep at it day after day. These are basic exercises, but what makes them so unique and beneficial is contracting the main muscle being worked in the exercise before making the movement. That way, you’re not just going through the motions and moving the weight; you’re breaking down as many fibers as possible with proper posture and range of motion. For all five of the following exercises, perform four sets of 15 reps at a medium tempo, taking 30 seconds of rest in between sets.
Lunges are a unique exercise that may seem easy and ordinary, but they provide great results in both toning the glutes and achieving great balance when using weights. Lunges also help you focus and prepare you to work on harder and more specific muscle sets afterward. Even when doing other exercises, in between sets you can use lunges to continually increase your heart rate to get in the optimal fat-burning zone. HOW TO DO THEM: Right before you do your first rep, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Inhale and lunge forward, keeping the torso as straight, tight and upright as possible, making sure that the front knee does not pass in front of your toes. Keep your back straight, your core tight, don’t lean forward and make sure to breathe! You can perform a complete set on one side and then the other, or you can alternate legs during the same set. If you have the space, you can also try walking lunges. This exercise mainly works the gluteus maximus and quadriceps, but the bigger the step, the more the gluteus maximus of the forward leg is recruited and the iliopsoas and the rectus femoris of the back leg are stretched. Smaller steps isolate the quadriceps of the forward leg.
2. Leg Extension
Leg extensions are a great warm-up for the quads—the primary muscle group judges see when a competitor walks out to a competition. If the quads aren’t split and separated, then kiss your competition goodbye. Make sure to tighten your core while doing leg extensions to help maintain proper form and protect your lower back. Focus on drawing your belly button in and pulling up through the pelvis. Ultimately, tightening helps to control not only the muscles in the leg that are being used, but also the weight that they are moving. HOW TO DO THEM: Sit at the machine and grasp the handles or the seat to hold the torso immobile. Keep just enough weight on the machine that your quads are challenged without the plates slamming down at the end. Make sure the pad at the bottom meets your leg where the ankle starts, not the top of the foot. Bend the knees and place the ankles under the ankle pads. Inhale and raise the legs to as close to horizontal as possible without arching the lower back. Exhale as you lower the weight back down. Avoid hyperextension of the hamstrings by keeping your glutes on the seat.
3. Leg Press
This exercise will definitely push you to your limits because it isolates your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Start with the leg press machine for a safer workout. Freestanding machines can be less effective for novices not as familiar with proper form. The machine also puts less pressure on your knees as long as you don’t lock them out and keep your feet as high up on the foot plate as possible. People with back pain who are unable to perform squats can do this exercise, however, they must never lift their back off the back pad. HOW TO DO IT: Position the back properly against the backrest on the machine with the feet shoulder-width apart. Inhale and release the safety bar, then bend the knees completely inward toward the chest, slightly past a 90-degree angle, so that the thighs touch or nearly touch the torso. Return to the initial position without locking your knees, exhaling as the legs are extended. Placing the feet low on the foot plate isolates the quadriceps. Placing the feet higher on the foot plate calls on the gluteal muscles and the hamstrings. Positioning the feet wider apart focuses effort on the abductors.
4. Lat Pulldown
In our busy day and age, we all sit at a computer (or at least sit down) most of the day. This exercise helps correct bad posture. Also, when competing, my back, hamstrings and glutes totally separated me from my competition. Lat pulldowns focus on the primary muscles of the back (latissimus dorsi, trapezius and rhomboids) while also helping engage the secondary muscles of the biceps. This creates sexy definition and that V shape for both males and females. Make sure you squeeze the rhomboids before you pull down, which will truly engage the muscle before the rep. HOW TO DO IT: Sit facing the lat pulldown machine with a straight back and legs positioned under the pads, grasping the bar with the wide overhand grip (have your hands right where the bar curves downward). Going too wide or too narrow will make it less effective or open you up to an injury. Exhale and pull the bar down to the sternal notch while pushing out the chest and pulling the elbows back. Feel the squeeze in your rhomboids as you pull down. (This is specifically helpful for scoring well when posing in competition.) Inhale at the end of the movement right before the elbows lock out.
5. Biceps Curl
Doing biceps curls after the lat pulldown targets the secondary muscle group of the biceps and allows you to attack the biceps at different angles. When you work out, all you do is tear down muscle fibers and then rebuild them. This helps get the most definition in your biceps, because it targets both the long head and the short head. Most men have skinny arms, and this exercise accentuates the male upper body and shows strength. HOW TO DO IT: Stand facing the cable machine with your feet shoulder-width apart. As a modification, you can put one foot behind you (more stable) or lift one foot with the thigh parallel to the floor (less stable). Grasp the dumbbell or a band handle with an underhand grip (palm facing up). Contract the biceps head and forearm before curling the weight up. Exhale and bend the elbows to raise the forearm. On the way up, stop the rep before the knuckles hit the shoulder. On the way down, stop before the elbow locks. Keep the muscles engaged to continually tear down more fibers. Maintain constant tension and make sure to isolate the muscle. Inhale at the end of the movement, but don’t get light-headed. Avoid swinging your elbows and rocking; it deters you from having a tight core.
Menopause & Weight Gain
Menopause is defined as the end of menstruation. The postmenopausal period is associated with symptoms such as hot flashes, changes in libido and weight gain. In America, the typical woman reaches menopause at just over 51 years of age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2005, the average American woman reaching age 50 could expect to live another 30 years. This means that if a woman gains weight at menopause, she will be dealing with it for three decades. Does reaching menopause mean you’re destined to gain excess weight? Is losing weight after menopause harder than it would be before menopause? The purpose of this article is to explore these questions and discuss the key times in a woman’s life when weight gain seems inevitable.
The typical American woman will experience numerous changes in body shape during her life, specifically just after high school, childbearing and menopause. The culprit for young women is often a significant decrease in activity after high school leading to the infamous “Freshman 15”. , Pregnancy is an obvious time for weight gain, but most women reach their pre-pregnancy weight within six months of giving birth – at least after their first child.1 The women in both scenarios can change their weight or body fat by eating less and moving more. See “Weight Control 101” for a complete discussion.
The common belief with menopause is that the decrease in female hormones somehow leads to a slower metabolism or increased body fat. Several studies have evaluated whether there is a specific change around menopause that leads to weight gain, or at least makes it easier. These studies have shown that the biggest change affecting body weight around menopause is a reduction in activity. This is a common theme at various stages of a woman’s life. That is, a relatively steady or slight increase in calorie intake with decreasing activity over time. One strong predictor for obesity in a person’s life is age. Since the average woman gains about a pound yearly, it is much more likely that a middle-aged woman will be obese compared to a 20 year-old. Also, a woman with extra weight at adolescence is more likely to gain extra weight at other times such as her freshman year of college.
Some of the stronger studies on menopause looked at women of the same age who either still had periods or were in menopause. When pre- and postmenopausal women are matched for age, menopausal women have:
No difference in weight gain. Both pre and postmenopausal women gain weight. The difference is where the fat is stored. (7)
No difference in loss of lean mass compared to premenopausal women. Both lost muscle tissue with time.
An increase in central adiposity – more fat stored around the waist as opposed to the thighs or arms.
No change in body composition. It seems the biggest effect of decreased estrogen is where fat is stored, not that more fat is stored.
A possible small decrease in resting metabolic rate (RMR) from decreased estrogen, but not enough of a difference that menopausal women gain more weight. (7)
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
Some women take medication to replace the hormones lost from menopause. One question often asked about HRT is whether it causes weight gain. A three-year study found that there was no increase in body weight among HRT users compared to placebo regardless if they used estrogen or estrogen and progesterone combined.9 Women should discuss HRT with a physician who will assess any risk of hormone-dependent cancers. In summary, menopause only means women will no longer have periods. It does not mean the body slows down to the point a woman is destined to gain weight. Postmenopausal women can lose weight just like premenopausal women. When postmenopausal women lose weight, they can lose both subcutaneous (under the skin) and visceral (around the organs) fat as easily as premenopausal women. This means postmenopausal women can reverse any weight gain. In addition, weight loss among postmenopausal women is accompanied by the same improvements in cholesterol and reduced insulin resistance. This results in a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. Increasing activity can help prevent weight gain and improve health during this time.
Beckman C, Ling F, Smith R, Barzansky B, Herbert W, Laube D. Obstetrics and Gynecology. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. Philadelphia PA: 2006; 810p. pp. 128, 375.
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