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Step by Step

Try this | with Deb Jones, 53

To lose weight, you've got to get moving

Deb Jones of St. Petersburg gets her cardio workout by riding her bike to Weedon Island several times a week. She gets her strength workouts at a gym two to three times a week.

Overhead press with leg lift: targets shoulders, chest, core and thighs (shown at left).

Standing tall, abdominals contracted, hold weights shoulder height with palms facing forward. Balancing on one leg, lift other leg out to the side, while extending arms upward over shoulders. Keeping upper body in control, lower leg and arms. Repeat eight to 12 times, then change sides and repeat. .

Tip: Do not lock knees and keep the knee facing forward with extended leg.

Stepups with high knee raises: (not pictured) strengthen the quadriceps (front of thighs) and the hamstrings (back of thighs).

Standing in front of a 6- to 8-inch step, hold a weight in each hand. With good posture, step up with right foot, lifting left foot off floor. Bring left knee to hip level; position knee over ankle. Step off step and repeat 10 to 12 times. Change sides and repeat.

Tip: A study from the American Council on Exercise tells us this move recruits up to 55 percent more muscle activity in the hamstrings than squats.

Bent-over row: strengthens middle and upper back and tones biceps and waist (shown at left).

Place feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Holding a weight in each hand, place bent arms at your sides with palms facing inward. Lean forward from hips, keeping back flat, neck straight and eyes focused in front of you. Squeeze shoulders together as you bring bent arms toward the rib cage, keeping abdominals contracted and elbows by your sides.

Tip: Leaning slightly forward (about 45 degrees) places less stress on the back.

When you are on a mission to lose weight quickly, do you try to severely restrict your caloric intake, then wonder why you don't see the pounds slipping away?

Searching for a quick fix for shedding unwanted pounds seems to have become the "great American obsession."

Yes, cutting calories is crucial to weight loss, but go too low and your body goes into starvation mode, which slows your metabolism, says Kathy McManus, a dietitian and director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Our amazing bodies become accustomed to working with less energy and will begin preserving instead of burning calories. According to Dr. Len Kravitz, Ph.D., coordinator of exercise science at the University of New Mexico, "Longer periods of calorie deprivation can inspire your body to begin burning muscle, which in turn, lowers your metabolism by as much as 20 percent."

And if you ever puzzled over why it is recommended to only lose 1 or 2 pounds a week, it is because if you lose more, you will be losing valuable nutrients and muscle. (If you want to lose a pound a week, eliminate 500 calories per day.) According to the American Heart Association's Guidelines for Weight Management Program in Healthy Adults, women should not reduce their caloric intake to below 1,200 calories per day and men should not go below 1,500 calories per day.

When you go on very low-calorie diets, as well as many other diets, the scales may indicate you have lost weight, but the reality is you will have lost water and muscle weight, along with some of the fat. When normal eating habits are resumed, the water and fat will be regained, minus the muscle mass.

Reducing calories without introducing exercise into your weight loss program will further depress your metabolism. In a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, people who cut 230 calories out of their daily diet for a year and did not include exercise, lost muscle mass, strength and aerobic capacity. Research tells us that resistance training is a valuable tool for prevention of weight gain, however for weight loss, you need to change your caloric intake and add aerobic exercise.

Nine tips to burn fat

1. Resistance Training: Strength training will replace lost muscle tissue. Strengthening large muscles around thighs, arms, shoulders and back are key players in preventing muscle loss. "With more muscle and less fat, you'll naturally be more active, which will help you burn still more calories," says Wayne Westcott, author of Get Stronger, Feel Younger.

2. Aerobic Exercise: You need an hour of aerobic exercise — at least five times per week —if you seriously want to lose weight, says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. "That doesn't need to be in one concentrated dose, because calorie-burning effects accumulate over time."

3. Mixing Cardio: When performing an aerobic activity, mix the steady-rate endurance, where you go nonstop for a certain amount of time, with interval workouts, where you vary the pace from somewhat easy to hard. If walking, alternate between fast walking and slower walking. Intervals burn a large amount of calories while offering a cardiovascular workout.

4. Challenge the Muscles: For building muscle tissue, it is important to gradually overload the muscles by increasing the weight load. "Lifting weights that are too light doesn't send the right kind of signal for the muscles to get bigger and stronger," says Timothy Doherty, Canada research chairman in neuromuscular function in health, aging and disease at the University of Western Ontario.

5. Be a Fidgeter: People who physically move a lot, or fidget, burn on average 350 additional calories per day, according to Kravitz. So go ahead and talk with your hands or pace while talking on the phone, instead of sitting down.

6. Frequent Meals: "Eating frequent meals during the day doesn't really boost your metabolism. However, it is easier to lose weight if you eat more little meals during the day as opposed to three big meals (at which people tend to eat more). The small meals during the day also help to keep your blood sugar at a much more healthy level," Kravitz said.

7. Add Variety to the Workout: As the body adapts to what you are doing and reaches a plateau, vary the exercise movements: Change tempo, mix up the order of the exercises, add new exercises.

8. Keep a Journal: This will help to keep you on track with your exercise and eating habits. List your long-term and short-term goals; record your progress (good days and not so good days). And don't forget to give yourself little rewards when goals are accomplished.

9. Ignore Quick Fixes: Accept the fact there are no long-term magical quick fixes and commit to a lifetime of healthy nutritional eating habits and regular exercise. Learn to be patient!

Small steps will get you there.

If you are 50 or older and have not been exercising, check with your physician before beginning ANY exercise program. Write to Sally Anderson, a trainer, in care of LifeTimes, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

To lose weight, you've got to get moving 09/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 29, 2008 4:30am]

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