The Skinny Daily Post™

Short, daily essays on weight loss and fitness
from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs.
and works every day to keep it off.

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Friday, October 10, 2003  

The Shape Part
Fitness for what you want

I hear this a lot: "I'm ALREADY working out." "I go to the gym EVERY DAY." "I put in HOURS on the treadmill/stairstepper/elliptical machine, but it doesn't make a bit of difference to my legs."


These complaints come to me from people who have already figured out the hardest part, how to carve out some time to exercise in their crazy lives. They've already committed to exercise, made it a natural part of their day. But they're just not getting the results they're looking for. Specific results.

Targeted results.

They want to see results in their butts, their upper arms, their butts, their abdominals, their butts, their thighs, and of course, their butts. Well, these are mostly women, to be sure, but I've met bottomless men in my day, too.

There is good news and bad news for these folks.

The good news is, we CAN get the kind of results we want. The bad news is, it means we have to work harder for it. And that's another choice. Do you want to work hard, to work hard enough to experience actual pain?

By now we all know there is no such thing as "spot reducing." We can't hope to move the fat from a particular area of our bodies without surgical help. To get rid of the fat, you have to burn it off, and it will burn off proportionally according to your body shape. So if you're prone to saddle bags, you'll continue to have them as you come down the scale. They will get smaller, along with the rest of you, but you won't be able to lose just the saddlebags until your fat percentage gets really tiny or you make that lipo appointment.

However, building muscle does all sorts of things for your shape. It gives you hard contours that can diminish the look of any pockets of fat. It gives your skin, which may be loosened through weight gain and loss, more "cling." And that new muscle has to come from somewhere, be built of something. Your body uses fuel to build new muscle. Fuel comes from your daily nutrition and your fat stores.

Working out moderately is great for your whole body. It helps your circulatory system, your digestive system, it lubes and greases your joints, builds bone. Helps you fight off disease and illness. It's the single best thing you can do for your self and for the people who depend on you.

But working out HARD gives you a different shape. How do you know if you're working out hard enough? You grunt some. You groan some. You pant. You sweat a lot. And you get sore, get better, get sore, get better. You challenge yourself constantly and perform better, more, bigger, faster all the time. And as you do, your shape changes.

So, it's not just yoga, but power yoga. It's not just Pilates, it's working to advanced Pilates mat classes and private sessions on the machines. It's not just lifting a few weights, it's pushing your muscles to work to exhaustion three times a week. It's working your biceps until they tremble. Doing situps until you can't. Lunges until you walk all wobbly.

Happily, heavy lifting, power yoga, and calisthenics all burn just about as many calories as running does. Pretty close. These are not quite as good for your heart as all those aerobics, but good for your numbers at the end of the week.

Nothing works faster than hard work. That's the good news. But it's still never, ever, ever as fast as we want. That's the bad news. I've been at it consistently for a little over two years now, and the results have been great, but like everybody else, I can always find room for improvement. And I'm sitting on it. So, now I will stop writing and get moving.


Great exercises for all your parts from the Times of London:

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

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posted by Julie |
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