Frequently Asked Questions

According to the BMI chart I’m overweight. I don’t think I am so why is this?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a figure calculated using your height and weight. The exact formula is your weight in kilograms dived by your height in metres squared. It is a crude measurement only suitable for sedentary people because it does not take into account your muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat and is the reason why most toned people will have a BMI measurement that is not very accurate. This may lead to disappointment and a questioning of their training program. A better measurement is a body composition test that measures your bodyfat %. Cheaper and simpler is to check your progress against your clothes. If you feel good in them, you’ve got it right, if you think they’re too tight/slack for you, then you must do something about it.

Do carbohydrates make you fat?

Any food eaten to excess can make you fat, not just those foods high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, like protein, provide 4 calories per gram; fat provides 9 calories per gram. But complex carbohydrates (starches such as bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes), especially those derived from whole grains, are the body's best source of energy nourishment when they replace saturated fats and excess protein in the diet. Eating more calories than you work off and leading a sedentary lifestyle are what generally makes you fat.

Do females go bulky with weight training?

Simple answer is no they don’t. Weight training will tone your muscles giving them a tight defined look. The leaner they are, the more calories they burn even at rest. Testosterone is the hormone that makes you put on the bulk (with specific training of course). So unless you’re already shaving every day, you should be fine.

How can I get faster results?

Faster than what? Permanent adaptation whether it is weight loss or muscle gain should be slow and gradual to be safe. You can make this more effective by changing your workout every six weeks, or switch the order of what you do to avoid reaching a plateau. For example, if you usually do weights and then aerobics, switch it around. Better yet, try new moves for old ones in your weight routine and try a new form of cardiovascular exercise. This way you challenge your muscles in a new way, which forces your body to work harder.. In addition, it wouldn't hurt to take a look at what you're eating. Your exercise efforts won't trim you down if you eat high-fat and high-calorie foods to excess.

How much exercise should I be doing each week?

That will depend on what your specific goal is. The amount and intensity will vary according to your desired outcome. It stands to reason that if you wanted to run a marathon, you would have to do more intensive training than if you only wanted to maintain your fitness level as it is now.

A good rule of thumb is as follows.

The minimum should be about 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day to maintain a good level of fitness and wellbeing. Moderate exercise could be anything from a brisk walk to a run, a cycle, swim etc. It could also include some resistance exercises. If you were working harder, 3 or 4 sessions a week is sufficient for a healthy lifestyle.

If you are looking for changes in your shape, more work is required. I would be working pretty hard at least 5 times a week for an hour each time. If you are looking to change, you must ensure that you have a program designed to assist and not hinder the progress you are striving to make.

I finally got the weight off - now how do I keep it off?

The best way to keep your unwanted weight off is to carry on doing what you’ve done to get it off in the first place. If the weight has come off gradually and safely as suggested in my book, then reaching your target weight should not be like crossing the finishing line of a race. This is a common trap for a lot of people. They get to their preferred body shape and stop everything believing that they’ve “made it”. Weight management is constant and therefore has to be maintained for life. It is possible to cut down on your training to move into a maintenance program where you are not looking to make any more changes.

I have high Cholesterol, would exercise help to bring it down?

Yes it would. Aerobic exercise along with a balanced diet, high in fibre and low in saturated fat would bring your cholesterol down. Giving up smoking will also help if you do smoke.

If I eat too much sugar, will I get diabetes?

For someone with a blood sugar disorder, sugar can aggravate the situation if intake isn't regulated. But, like salt, the substance itself does not cause the disease. There is a caveat: Too much food, especially sugars and fats, leads to obesity. Obesity can lead to insulin resistance and possibly to diabetes. A balanced diet plus moderate exercise—about half an hour's worth each day—can help prevent that from happening.

In your book you say “Breakfast Like a King”, but I can’t stomach anything

Maybe your internal body clock is set to such a routine where you eat your main meal of the day later on in the evening. If this is true you can re-train your body to accept food in the morning by gradually eating less and earlier in the evening and eating something at breakfast time whether you are hungry or not. Your body will soon adapt to the new style of eating. But remember, this is an ideal, you might be coping very well in the way you are eating already. If you find that you have enough energy throughout the day without energy highs and lows then stick with what works for you as an individual. Don’t try to mend what’s not broken.

I’m always too tired to do any exercise. How can I overcome this?

Doing regular exercise will in fact give you more energy to more and more. People often get mistaken between their body being tired and their mind being tired. If your job leaves you mentally tired at the end of the day, the brain is in need of a pick-me-up. Exercise will re-energise your brain making you feel more alert and less tired. On the physical side, exercise makes us stronger therefore making everyday tasks easier to perform without getting tired. The bottom line is, the more you do, the more you can do.

I’m big, is it because I have extra fat cells?

A commonly believed theory is that we are born with a certain number of fat cells that just grow and shrink when we gain and lose weight. This is correct for the most part. You develop fat cells between the ages of 12 and 18 months and again during puberty. After that point, your 25 to 35 billion fat cells respond to weight gain by growing up to twice their size. But if all of your fat cells have already doubled in size and you continue to gain weight, your body cells have already doubled in size and you continue to gain weight, your body starts making new ones. So if you have gained more than 30 or 40 pounds since your teens, you could have more fat cells than someone who has gained less.

Should I take pain relievers before a workout to head off aches and pains?

The simple answer is no. Pain is there for a reason. Taking a pain killer will just mask the pain and you will still have the cause of the pain. Masking pain in order to exercise could aggravate an injury. It is better to get a proper diagnosis on what is causing you the pain and get that treated. Having pain in one area though should not stop you from exercising other body parts, it is a poor excuse not to train.

What is Circuit Training?

Circuit training involves moving quickly from one muscle group to the next during a workout, which allows you to burn more calories by working more muscles in less time. The key to minimizing your total downtime between sets is by using opposing muscle groups in sequence, such as going from a biceps move to a triceps one, or working your quads followed by your hamstrings, or going from an upper-body exercise to a lower-body one. To design your circuit, pick eight or ten exercises that will challenge your major muscle groups. For each exercise, choose a weight that you can lift in sets that last about 30 seconds between sets. If, however, you start to feel dizzy or your form becomes compromised due to fatigued muscles, give yourself more time to recover.

What is Stress?

The stress response of the body is meant to protect and support us. To maintain stability or ‘homeostasis’, the body is constantly adjusting to its surroundings. When a physical or mental event threatens this equilibrium, we react to it. This process is often referred to as the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response. We prepare for physical action in order to confront or flee from a threat or, in certain cases, just freeze. The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked, and stress-related tension builds. Think about stress the way you think about blood pressure. High blood pressure or low blood pressure can be problematic, but you never want your blood pressure to go away completely. It’s the same with stress. When unregulated, uncontrolled or ignored, stress can be harmful to your health and well-being. Therefore positive stress can have a positive effect on the body, spurring motivation and awareness, providing the stimulation to cope with challenging situations. Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition called ‘distress’ - a negative stress reaction. Distress can disturb the body's internal balance or equilibrium - leading to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases. Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems. More often, the initial cause of the stress in the first place is not tackled. Ways to relieve the stress in your office Whenever we encounter a stressful event, our bodies undergo a series of hormonal and biochemical changes that put as in ‘alarm mode’. Our heart rate increases, adrenaline rushes through our blood stream, and our digestive and immune systems temporarily shut down. If the stressors continue and we stay on high alert for a prolonged period of time, we experience exhaustion and burn out. None of us can avoid stress, but we can return to a state of balance and regulation through a variety of means: exercise, humour, play, music, prayer or meditation. These activities provide calming and relaxing sensory input for stress relief and can be selected according to lifestyle, preference and the practicality For a more detailed program to beat stress, check out my book "The FBI".

What's the best way to burn fat?

There is a lot of debate about whether longer, slower workouts are better as opposed to shorter, more intense ones. Technically, you burn a greater percentage of fat calories with the slower workouts (long jogs, walks). But high-intensity workouts such as running or multi-impact step aerobics burn more calories overall, so you end up burning more fat calories in total. You really can't go wrong either way, though - both approaches will help you lose weight if you are consistent. It basically comes down to personal preference - do whichever you prefer - and whether you have time for a longer workout or more energy for a shorter, very intense one. My approach is to do as much as you can in your allotted time. Time is precious, use it wisely.

Why do I sweat so much?

Sweating is how your body dissipates heat and keeps its core temperature down when you are working out. Usually the more you train, the more easily you sweat, because your body knows it is going to get hot and starts working to cool itself off. There is also the possibility of some people having more sweat glands than others have - men generally sweat more than women do for this reason. The good thing is that when you find yourself sweating, take it as a good sign you're really working well. Trust your body to control your core temperature, it knows what it’s doing.

Why Lift Weights?

As we age, our lean body mass shrinks and our metabolic rate - the rate at which we burn calories – slows down. We can eat exactly what we did ten years ago and weigh the same, but have a higher body-fat percentage. More fat carries risks including diabetes, arthritis, back pain, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It can even raise your risk for certain cancers. Strength training lowers body fat by building lean muscle mass; 20 minutes, two to three times a week, is all you need. Strong muscles require more feeding. Get your body fat measured at a gym or from a Personal Trainer - that number is much more important than your weight.

Will I Get Fat Eating Pasta?

Pasta is a good complex carbohydrate, especially wholemeal, which will give you lots of energy - hence the high calories. It is recommended that about 60 % of your calorie intake is from carbohydrate, preferably complex (starch) rather than simple (sugar) based products. Carbohydrates are an easy accessible fuel for the body to use, however what the body does not use for fuel, will be stored throughout the body as fat. A lot has to do with what you put on the pasta. Sticking to low fat sauces, such as tomato, rather than creamy, or pesto versions, will help lower the total amount of calories you are consuming.

Will I lose weight if I go on a vegetarian diet?

That depends on how you eat overall. A vegetarian diet is not automatically a low-fat diet. Deep-fried vegetables have more fat than a grilled, skinless chicken breast. Vegetarians who rely on nuts and full-fat dairy products for their protein (versus beans and peas) and have a low intake of fruits and vegetables could find themselves on a higher-fat diet than someone whose daily menu includes lean meats along with plenty of steamed vegetables and fresh fruits.

Will Sit-ups etc help me to get a flat stomach?

No unfortunately, but they can help to tighten the abdominal muscles in question. To rid the stored fat around the stomach area you need to concentrate on upping your calorie burn. It is impossible to “spot reduce” fat and the body will use fat for energy from where it wants to, depending on to some extent your genetics. Working the big muscle groups will burn the most calories. Running, squats etc are highly recommended exercises, as is circuit training that also includes the upper body. Toned muscles require more feeding so the more toned you can get every muscle the more calories you will burn even at rest. Eventually the fat will be used from around the abdominal region leaving the flat stomach that you desire.

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