Question: "'I am currently using an app to help me lose weight. It has me on a 1,390-calorie-per-day diet (based on my height and weight), but I'm having a really hard time following that and not going over. Am I eating enough?" – Kim
Answer: Without knowing your height and weight, I can only take an educated guess. First off, if you are having a hard time following the diet, then it’s not for you! For most of my female clients who exercise, I suggest 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day, and about 2,000 to 2,400 for athletes who are training hard and want to lose undesired body fat. A 1,400-calorie diet is lower than I would recommend even for a sedentary couch potato!
Slow weight loss via a small daily caloric deficit provides you with enough energy to exercise and function effectively in your daily life. Remember that semi-starvation diets tend to backfire: while you may lose weight quickly through sheer willpower and white-knuckling your way through hunger pangs, research suggests you will gain it back – plus more – in a short amount of time.
Rather than rely on an app, I highly recommend you get personalized help by meeting with a sports dietitian in person. To find a local professional, try using the referral network found at scandpg.org
Weight loss is far more complex than “eat less and exercise more.” If losing weight was simple, then everyone who has ever been on a diet would be thin. Not the case!
Question: "I have 110 pounds to lose. Should I add strength training to my workout plan now or stick with only cardio until I am at a lower weight?" – Cindy
Expert: Joan Pagano, health and fitness coach, and author of Strength Training For Women (DK, 2004). joanpaganofitness.com
Answer: Don’t shy away from resistance training just because your goal is weight loss; remember, you are looking to lose fat, not metabolically active muscle, which will actually help you on your way to your fat-loss goal! Building muscle will help increase your base metabolic rate, so you will burn more calories all day long, even when you aren't exercising.
I would recommend that you begin with lighter weights in order to gradually strengthen your muscles and joints. As you get stronger, you will be able to increase the intensity and duration of your cardio workouts, which will in turn increase your calorie burn during – and after – each session. Start by working with a resistance that you can handle in good form for 1 to 2 sets of 15 repetitions. To protect your knees, begin with body weight–supported (e.g. seated or machine-based) exercises like the leg extension, hamstring curl and leg press. Also, do a few sets of standing calf raises to strengthen your lower legs and ankles, and add some push-ups against the wall to strengthen your upper body. Perhaps most importantly, remember to stretch after every workout to help improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness in the days following your workout.
Question: "I’m curious about conjugated linoleic acid. Along with a clean diet and exercise, is CLA a good supplement for weight loss?" – Amanda
Expert: Nathan Mellalieu, celebrity trainer, CrossFit coach, spin instructor and owner of Vancouver’s Studēo55
Answer: I would not recommend CLA for weight loss. CLA has been proven to be safe, but hard data on just how effective it is at amplifying weight loss is not as easy to come by. In my experience, if people maximize their exercise and nutrition plan, very few supplements (if any) are required to reach their desired results. If a plateau is what’s motivating your interest in CLA, try giving your system a bit of a shock by changing up your workout instead. That might involve changing the time and place you work out, adding some interval training, or trying something completely new to you.
Question: "I have lost weight and I feel great! How do I motivate my overweight 19-year-old to join me in eating clean and exercising? She is not happy about her looks, but I don’t know where to start." – Maribel
Expert:Kathy Smith, fitness icon and creator of the Ageless with Kathy Smith: Total Body Turnaround DVD, acacialifestyle.com
Answer: When it comes to working out (especially if you’re a beginner), the real change begins internally. It’s all about shifting your mindset and reprogramming the way you think about exercise.
Find something she loves to do, whether its dancing, getting outdoors or taking a class with some girlfriends; the activity should match her personality. And it’s okay to start slow: it’s certainly better to move consistently two days a week than it is to overload and lose motivation.
And when it comes to eating, you’ll be amazed at the impact cooking can have on a teenager. It’s easy to eat mindlessly when we don’t have to think about the sugar and preservatives that went into making the food. But if your daughter can cook a healthy meal with you, and get a real sense of the artistry that goes into creating a delicious, healthy meal, she’s more likely to incorporate that into her life in the future. (And you just might have some fun together in the process!)
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