Welcome to the twelfth edition of "Ask Paul," where I answer a few of the questions I receive on the site. I get literally hundreds of questions every month from people all over the world, and a lot of them follow a pretty common theme. I've picked quite a few from June and done my best to provide people with some insight and assistance.
If you have a question for me, click here and fill out my online form. I can't answer them all, but I'll try my best to get to yours.
I hope you will read my email because I really need help with my weight. I am 54 years old, grand-mother of 2 babies that I love very much. In the last 6 years or so I stopped taking care of myself after I went into depression. I use to go to the gym 3 times a week, I was eating well and my weight was 128. Today I'm 170 and I hate myself for what I did to my health.
I've been watching XXL every week and I found myself judging the people when they don't really get into the program......well well well, who am I do that????
Today I decided that I will take care of myself, put my body into shape but I don't know where to start and what to do to give me the strenght to do the first move to get back healthy.
I hope you will help me put my body where it is suppose to be.
Thank you for taking the time read my email and hope to hear from you.
Carole from Laval
Where you start back into fitness does not matter. There are thousands of different ways to achieve the results you are looking for. There are some keys that can maximize your chance of success. A few are:
- Engage in activity that involves multiple muscle groups, causes fatigue in your muscles and increases your heart rate for approximately one hour every day. Does not have to be a continuous hour.
- Do something that you enjoy and allows you to be social at the same time.
- Find some fitter people to hang out with. Hang out less with your chubby friends.
- Identify the obstacles that stop you from being active and making smart food choices. Figure out or seek help in how to overcome them.
- Be prepared in your eating every day. Shop often, find healthy recipes, clear out all bad food in your home, eat out less often, possibly look into a healthy meal delivery service.
I have to say, I watch X Weighted all the time and love it. I enjoy your fitness tips, knowledge and advice that you give in the show's. I am wondering about my body fat. I am 4'11" and weigh 107lbs, an athlete/normal. I have been on a electric body fat analyzer at my gym and it stated my body fat was 20.1% The trainer was suprised who saw this. Can I be too fit/muscular for the scale to read correctly?
Charlene from Trenton
First the electric body fat analyzer is a complete waste of time to measure percentage of fat, the degree of error varies too much. If you want a more accurate % of fat you have to try either a DEXA Scan, underwater weigh, or Bodpod. You may be lower than 20% check one of the other methods first.
Help! I cannot put hardly any weight on my left foot after running almost every day for the past 4 months. (I should add that I started running weighing about 235 pounds and now weigh 209). I can appreciate that I should see a doctor (who will no doubt tell me to stay off of my foot to let it heal). My question is: What cardio exercises can I do in the meantime (given that I live NOWHERE NEAR a pool or a gym!!!) Feeling demoralized after doing so well!
Nicole from Hopedale
You can do many feet friendly exercises using your body weight, dumbbells and a stability ball at home. When you link 10 -12 movements in a row without recovery you will get a fantastic cardio/muscular endurance workout that burns many calories. The benefits are more so than running. You may never run again after doing a workout like this. For examples of the right exercises for you check out the new video workout program library on my website. Some knee friendly moves are “prone ball knee tuck ins”, “supine torso rotations on the ball” “butt blaster hip extensions supine on the ball”.
Hi Paul, I like everything about you 😉
Tell us what you think of those vibration trainer machines that are popping up in gyms these days?
Leah from Montreal
If you look on my website I wrote an article on Vibration Trainers. It is early in the Blog Archive, or click here to read it. Basically if you use the machine to perform exercises, it works like any other equipment aid. You get from it what you put into it. The vibration works to add another element of intensity to your program. If you are one of those people who believe just sitting or standing on the machine doing nothing is going to give you fantastic results then you are very mistaken.
I watch xweighted in the uk i have lost 61/2 stone over a period of 5 ys at the moment i am struggling to lose more i am very active do bootcamp training kettlebells circut gym and spinnin could you give me any advise how i can spur myself on as this is getting me down when i started my weight loss journey my motto was to never give up on my dreams but the old demons inside of me seem to be creeping back in
PLEASE CAN YOU HELP
Sue from Doncaster, England
Thanks for watching the show in the UK. You must realize that as you lose weight and you get lighter that the fat loss process becomes more difficult. Losing 6.5 stone (I think that is just over 90lbs) is a great accomplishment. To get to the next level you have to start training like an athlete. You need to train with people fitter than yourself. You need to engage into sports that you enjoy, you need to sign up for fitness competitions like a run, triathlon, tournaments of some kind. The key is to develop a competitiveness in your head. Training for something keeps you motivated at working hard and consistent. Training with and playing sport against other people takes your fitness level to another level. The fat loss will be a byproduct of your consistency and intensity. Going to the gym three to five times a week and grinding it out on a program you have been doing for a long time all by yourself will only get you so far.
Where do we start?
Hi I am 320lbs and should be about 150lbs. My husband has also put on the pounds since we met. He over 300lbs too. I feel lost, this is not me!! I just don't know where to start. When I think I have things figured out I find out I really don't. I have 2 kids now and I feel tired all the time. I need to do this for me and for my kids they need a mom who has energy and doesn't need to sit down after 10 mins cause my back hurts so bad. So My question is where do we start? How can we stay motivated to really do this?
Alicia from Sherwood Park
I think the best place to start is to work with a trainer to begin with. Right now you are not highly motivated to lose weight or you would not have let yourself get up to over 300lbs. Getting some help first is a good idea and over time hopefully the process will become more self motivating and you will want to make smart food choices and put time to becoming more active. If you live in Sherwood Park I recommend True Form Personal Training. Call them and ask to speak to Craig. He is a great guy and help get you started.
When starting on the path to eating healthy and exercise you must address the obstacles that will prevent you from making the right choices. I would recommend you and your husband sit down one night and write down all the reasons you can both think of what will prevent you from making the changes you want. If you want to give the health and fitness thing a try you must come up with a plan to overcome your personal obstacles. Many of these can be solved on your own with others you may need some outside help.
I'm a big fan of X-Weighted here in the UK. I am nearly 20 years old, 5 foot 4 and weigh about 166 pounds. You have motivated me to do something about my health and fitness. However, this will not be the first time I have tried. My attempts usually fail within the first few days; my main problem is hunger pangs. I experience physical pain when I don't eat as much as I am used to eating (which is a lot!) and I feel as though I am eating all the time. I also eat when I am bored or stressed. How do I overcome this? Can you suggest some foods that will help keep me feeling fuller for longer?
Also, I have scoliosis and have been told high impact exercises are a big no-no. I think this rules out the treadmill, which probably would have been the basis of my workout. What can you suggest for me that is low-impact, yet effective at strengthening and burning fat?
Chloe from London
The research shows foods that provide us the most full feeling are proteins, healthy fats and fiber. An example of a healthy meal that will do the job is Fish (not fish and chips) more like salmon, tuna or tilapia baked-yams-steamed green beans. The quantity of each depending your physical characteristics and daily energy expenditure.
If you are bored then find something to do other than eat. I like playing sports.
If you are stressed, identify the stressor and find a strategy to eliminate it. Eating just makes you feel good temporarily.
For non impact exercise that burns lots of fat, works cardio and improves muscular shape and endurance nothing beats – Full body functional core circuits. See my new video exercise fitness library for more info on the website paulplakas.com
My Question is regarding doing stairs so far it's been great for me I LOVE DOING THEM. I have seen faster results doing them in 6 months than when I use to go to the gym.
I was wondering how much calories do you think one can burn?? I do 20 going up and 20 going down.
There are 184 stairs takes me 1 hour to complete I change it around I run,lunges,double step ect...
I am 33 years old 5"2 and weigh 140 I have lost 50 pounds so far.
Carla from Edmonton
I am definitely a big fan of the stair workouts. It is impossible to tell you how many calories you burn in a session. There are too many variables to accommodate for. Just focus on intensity. Right now you are doing 20 sets of 184 = 3680 steps going up (never count the ones on the way down). Here are some step progressions you can focus on.
- Walking one step at a time.
- Walking two steps at a time.
- Running one step at a time.
- Running two steps at a time.
- Sprinting two to three steps at a time (focus on about 60 steps full out)
- Jumping one step with two feet landing.
- Jumping two steps two feet.
- Jumping one step with one foot.
- Jumping two steps with one foot.
- Bungee cord around your waist, sprint steps one at a time with someone holding you back as they walk up while you sprint.
I used to be quite active and in-shape. I've walked 5 marathons, the last one being in New Orleans. The reason I walked the marathons is that I have osteoarthritis in the hips and walking was gentler on my body. While training for the last marathon, I slipped on ice and landed on the small of my back - the fall flattened my water bottle. So now I have crushed vertebrae in the small of my back and I'm on a waiting list to have nerve ablation done on my back - an 18-mnth waiting list.
My question is - what type of exercise can I do to get me back in shape and lose weight. If I exercise too strenuously, I trigger a flareup. I hate being limited by these injuries/conditions, so any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for any help Paul!
Liz from Calgary
The key is to work with a trainer that can assess your function and what movements trigger a pain response. You need to have a professional watch your posture as you perform exercise. Giving feedback on how your body feels will provide the trainer information so that they can plan a workout program you can do. No matter how much you are injured there is always something you can do to be active. I have had someone with a rotator cuff tear, bulging discs in the lumbar area plus a torn MCL in their knee and still managed to give them a good workout. The key is to identify what causes you acute pain and work around it.
I have a brother who is stubbornly underweight. he thinks it's okay because he is a distance runner. he is very skinny, dry pale skin, buldgy looking eyes, absolutely no body fat, or muscle! barely eats, over exercises heart rate at 42.
He never resistance trains and has orthorexia. (which I don’t know if u agree is an actual term or not but it is said, as I’m sure you have heard to be an obsession with health foods to the point where it runs your life)
is there any way u can think of that I can explain to him about healthy weights, even for distance runners? he just looks sick. like I did when I had anorexia, which runs in our family.
PLEASE HELP ME HELP HIM!
What do I say to him?
Lindsay from Winnipeg
I would recommend you talk to a health professional in the field of eating disorders. If your brother does have one then he needs to be treated right away. Go to your local hospital and get a referral .
I am thinking about starting the South Beach Diet. I hear it has good results and reviews
I need to lose about 30 pounds
Do you recommend the South Beach Diet ?
Thanks for your time!
Alice from Victoria
Please throw the South Beach Diet book in the fire right away. It has shown to temporarily help people who are massive carb consumers lose weight but the results are short lived. It is not a way of eating that can be sustained long term. Anyone I know who used to do this diet has put all the weight back on. It is a gimmicky diet that does not teach people the issues of food selection, portion sizing, nutrient density, food preparation and how to integrate ALL healthy foods into your diet long term.
As a workout for my core I do mainly crunches, reverse crunches, a few planks, etc. I'm noticing that I'm developing the "six-pack" abs, which as a female, isn't really the look that I'm going for. Are there moves that are better for "flattening" the abdomen and won't make my rectus abdominis muscles so obvious?
Paula from Toronto
Crunches and reverse crunches do not work your core. When your entire body is supported by the ground then there is very little need for the deep spinal stabilizers to work. The rectus abdominal muscles which are the ones closest to the skin and furthest away from the spine grow just like any other muscle. If you put tension on them for a period of time they will adapt and the muscle fibers will thicken. The key for a flat abdomen is to first look at the foods you are eating. Any food that causes you gastro distress can cause an inflammatory response in your gut. Avoid processed foods, too much gluten, too much dairy and sugar. You want to be consuming foods that enter your body, vital nutrients and energy absorbed with the rest being eliminated. You should be going to the bathroom at least twice per day for a bowel movement. Focus on lean meats, whole grains, nuts, seeds and plenty of plant based foods. When training your abdominals focus on compound joint while keep the muscles braced. Heavy deadlifts, squats, lunges, torso rotational movements and bending movement patterns are great. If you want functional flat abs always train them on your feet.
As a FORMER peanut butter addict, I have to tell you what got me off it so you can share with the other thousands of women who LOVE pb. I saw a Dr. Oz episode and he said that they are allowed a certain amount of RAT HAIR in pb. Ewww. Now I'm sure if we knew what was in the food we are eating we would all be thin, but this really grossed me out, and I haven't had pb since October. I ate pb everyday for breakfast and to start the day with something obviously so bad...the rest of the day just seemed to follow badly. I have now lost 18 lbs and am well on my way to a healthier body. I do have a question though...how does one keep motivation up? I want so much to have a healthy body but those old bad habits just keep coming back. I'm sure at this point I would have been down a lot more than 18 lbs if my motivation was stronger. Any suggestions? Thank you and I am a huge fan of yours.
Susan from Oshawa
Rat Hair really, that would get me off of the Peanut Butter as well. I always remove it from people trying to lose weight because the calorie content to nutrient ratio is not very good. My comments on “motivation” vary. It is different for everyone. I keep fit because I like the freedom to do whatever I want with my body. I am also very competitive and love playing sports. Keeping fit to be a better player is motivation enough for me. One other thing. I love eating. To support this pleasure a certain amount of energy expenditure has to occur for me every week. If not then next time I might be a participant on the show.
I was watching an episode and you were saying how you weren't keen on the eliptical machine. Why is that? I have arthritis in my knees and that's the only machine I use for cardio when I'm at the gym. I needed something that would really push me that wouldn’t have any impact on my knees.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Jackie from Dartmouth
There is an entire article on the elliptical I wrote in my Blog archives. Check it out here. Essentially it is the worst choice for your time exercising. If you are looking for knee friendly exercises that work all components of fitness plus develop function, your best bet is body weight exercises with free weights in a circuit style. Check out the video exercise program library on my website. You will find many workouts suitable for your arthritis.
Just went on Jenny Craig and am working out on the treadmill an hour a day, I was kinda working out before the diet but never consistent. Just had my weigh in and only lost 2 pounds, was frustrated, thought I should lose more in the first week.......any suggestions? And yes I am drinking the water and not cheating lol!
Cathy from Calgary
First I would recommend getting off Jenny Craig immediately. I am not a fan of any diet program that forces you to spend large sums of money buying processed foods promoted as being healthy and low fat. What are you going to do, eat Jenny Craig the rest of your life? Spend your money at a healthy grocery store buying real food. You need to learn how to prepare food and develop a good relationship with food. Jenny Craig teaches you to open up a package filled with additives and preservatives, heat and eat. Buy a healthy cookbook. Spend 15 min a day preparing food that is healthy and that you enjoy.
The other recommendation is get off the treadmill. Continuous, repetitive moderate pace exercise is not the based way to spend your exercise time. Spend time doing more intense cardio intervals combined with functional free weight exercise. This will provide you more fitness benefits than walking or running on the treadmill for an hour. People that walk or run on treadmills while holding the handrails or watching TV drive me crazy. Focused intense exercise that is purposeful needs a mind muscle connection. Hire a good trainer for a couple of sessions and get a program set up specific for you that requires your undivided attention.