really stupid ???

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
really stupid ???
13
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 9:03am
We are always told that we have to overall reduce the body fat before we can tone anything or whatever. What do you do to get an overall reduction of body fat? I went to the gym once(we just got our membership) and I liked the bike. I tried the elliptical but it was too fast for me and I felt like I would fall off. The arc trainer just sucked but maybe I wasn't using i right. They have a rowing machine, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, stairsteppers, and some weights. I dont have a trainer to set me up on a plan so I need some good advice! LOL Anybody have that? :) TIA ~N

~shesminetoo

Mom to 3yr old *E* and stepmom to 10 yr old *M*

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-03-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 9:41am
Hi, welcome to the board!

Burning fat and losing weight tends to boil down to calories in vs. calories out. There's no good way to do it unless you concentrate on both at the same time. To do this, you really need to do three things:

1. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, full of fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, *good* fats (like olive oil, nuts, avocado), and whole grains. Try to cut out overly processed foods, refined starches, foods high in added sugar, and trans-fats. Be careful about "low-fat" foods -- they tend to have added sugar and are high in calories. Most people find it easier to eat 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day to minimize cravings. Also, no matter how healthy you're eating, you need to keep track of how many calories you're eating during the day. A lot of people on this board use www.fitday.com which is a free website that allows you to enter in what you eat and will track your calorie intake and nutrients for you.

2. Do some form of aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate pumping and has you sucking in oxygen. This will help burn calories and will also improve your overall cardiovascular fitness. There is a lot of complicated information out there about maximum heart rates, fat-burning zones, etc. I personally haven't found it easy to sort through all of this information. I tend to go by a different standard -- how hard am I working? If I feel like I'm about to pass out and die, I'm working too hard and need to tone it down. If I am barely breaking a sweat and could whistle a tune, I'm not working hard enough and I need to step it up.

It doesn't matter that much what *type* of exercise you're doing, since all of it is better for you than no exercise at all. Depending on your fitness level, you may want to take long brisk walks, ride a bike, jog, swim, take an aerobics or step class, use the elliptical trainer, use a rowing machine, etc, etc. There's no "right" exercise that everyone needs to do in order to lose weight. Variety tends to be the key to stick with it and keep from getting bored or stuck in a rut. It also helps to mix up your level of exertion within one workout (e.g. walk/jog).

3. Build lean muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn 24 hours a day, even just sitting around or sleeping. This is different from aerobic exercise, where you burn calories WHILE you exercise. Muscle also takes up less space than fat, so you may weigh the same but notice your clothes are getting to big for you.

To clarify something you send at the beginning of your post, what is commonly thought of as "toning" is really just a combination of building muscle and losing body fat. You need to focus on both of these things in order to get that "toned" look you want. A lot of women tend to focus on the dieting/cardio part, but are afraid to train seriously with weights because they are worried they will get bulky. Given our physiology, it is almost impossible for women to build muscle like men. There's only about 99.9% of the female population who easily pack on muscle mass, so whatever you do, DON'T waste time worrying about getting huge just because you pick up some weights. I've known women who can bench press their body weight & higher and who are simply *tiny*.

OK, I'm stepping down from my soapbox now. These are just generalities, and I'm sure the other regulars on the board will correct anything I've gotten wrong and add things I've left out. It should be noted that everybody is different -- what works for me may not work for you, and it will take some experimenting before you hit your perfect combination. It's a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting any exercise program. When it comes to changing your diet, you should start slowly, be sure to keep a journal of what you eat and how you feel, and don't make any changes that you aren't prepared to live with for the rest of your life.

If you're interested in learning more about weight training and how to get started, you will find no better resource than this website:

http://www.stumptuous.com/weights.html

Good luck and let us know how it's going! I hope you stick around.

~ Vanessa

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-03-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 9:54am
One more thing... I hope no one is telling you that you have to lose body fat before you do any kind of weight training. That is one of the most common "lies in the gym" and always gets me mad! To begin with, a sensible weight training program will help you lose body fat. Also, who wants weak muscles? A good weight training program (starting slowly, gradually building strength, concentrating on perfect form and getting plenty of rest between workouts) can do wonders for posture, back and knee problems, and is great for your health.

Also, a lot of overweight beginners (myself included) find weight training easier and more rewarding than cardio. For me, weight training was the key to getting into fitness. I was so impressed with my beginner gains and my ability to lift ever heavier weights. It was the key to changing my attitude from obsessing over what my body LOOKED like, to celebrating what my body could DO. This is gradually translating into more willingness to sweat the cardio -- I want everyone else to see those great muscles that I *know* are there!

LOL... sorry, you'll find that I tend to sound a little cultish when I get started talking about weights. :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 10:01am
great post vanessa! and great of you to take the time, especially since jean's gone.

i totally agree with everything you said except one minor thing - avocados actually have saturated fat and aren't really a "good fat." avocados are better than saturated animal fat, but the general wisdom these days is that still should be eaten in moderation. other good fats are seeds, canola oil, flax oil.

to add a few things - vanessa touched on this, but i want to add that people should find what kind of cardio they like to do (or hate least for those of you who don't like cardio!) - you are more likely to stick with it if you enjoy it. your gym should have someone show you how to use the cardio machines, including the elliptical, so that you can use them properly and safely (and not feel like you are getting thrown off!). also try some cardio classes if your gym offers them. personally they are my favorite type of exercise to the point where it doesn't feel like "work" at all.

finally, i really do recommend that people learn to take their heartrate and gauge whether they are in their target zone. the perceived exertion test generally only works accurately for more experienced exercisers who already have a sense of what heart rate causes what perceived exertion. alot of the cardio machines will take your heartrate for you, or you can buy a heartrate monitor, but it's easy just to take a 10 sec count on your pulse, too (then multiply that number by 6 to get a 60 sec count). to get a general idea of the target heartrate you should be exercising at is easy...subtract your age from 220 and that's your maximum heartrate, supposedly that's as fast as your heart will go (i'm 32, so mine's 188). a beginner should work out at about 65% of her maximum. for me, that's 122 (.65 x 188 = 122). a more experienced gym rat should shoot for 75-80%.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-03-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 10:12am
shoot! and here i thought they were unsaturated fat.

still, they're better than bacon. but they're even better WITH bacon. ;) mmmm... bacon.

(sorry jen, having a homer simpson moment. something about feeding bacon to a six month old).

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 10:20am
you know what, i doubled checked, and i'm wrong. there is saturated fat in avocados, but only 2g out of the 14g of fat per serving are saturated. that's really not bad at all, i was just thinking it was "high" in saturated fat because most vegetable oils don't have any significant saturated fat. so sorry, enjoy your avocados everyone!
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 10:23am
i think what she meant by "you have to lose fat before you can tone" is that, as we always point out, it's great to build and tone your muscles, but you won't be able to see much of a visual difference until you lose some of the fat that's on top of the muscles.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-03-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 10:29am
well, that's better than it sounded... but it's still a fairly high % of the maximum you should be getting in a day.

especially when you eat it with bacon.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-03-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 10:32am
I hoped that's what she meant... but I have seen this come up in other venues. It's a fairly common, extremely misguided bit of information that is often passed on. Another variation is "don't work your abs if you're fat because you won't see them." HUH??? Like that's the only reason to have strong abdominal muscles?
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2002
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 2:39pm
Vanessa, you're cracking me up!

I also heard, and I haven't checked to substantiate it, that avocados and other vegetables with fat are a good source of fatty acids, which you need in order to absorb....ummmm....calcium? Jen, do you have any info on this so that I can go back to work? ;)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Thu, 07-03-2003 - 5:25pm
i've never heard that about fatty acids and absorbtion of anything. this is a confusing subject and i still have a lot of questions about it. nuts and seeds are good sources of essential fatty acids which do various things to make our bodies work properly but i think deficiency is rare. the reason you hear about the EFAs is that a good balance is thought important for cardiovascular health and is thought to reduce risk of stroke, cancer and other diseases. that's what all the omega 3 and omega 6 talk is about - most americans get way too much omega 6 as compared to omega 3s. so people supplement omega 3 with flax seeds, walnut oil, etc.

i think the number one most important thing about fats is to avoid saturated animal fat and trans fats (hydrogenated oils, deep fried starches, highly processed foods), among other things they interfere with the body's ability to manufacture EFAs. if you eat limited amounts of good fats only, no bad fats, you'll be getting everything you need to avoid deficiency and you'll be avoiding the dangers of the bad fats. then the next most important issue, in my opinion, is trying to get a better balance of omega 3 and omega 6. but then there are all these claims that omega 3s help with brain functioning and have all these other effects on the body, and i'm not really clear about what in those claims is valid and what is hype. if anyone has more info on this, i'd love to hear it. i find that even people who are otherwise knowledgeable about nutrition still really don't get the whole EFA thing, and i personally am confused about it, as i mentioned earlier.

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