Answers to your weight loss questions

I’ve recently started running but I’ve heard it’s very hard on your knees.Do the benefits of that type of exercise outweigh the negatives?

Most people either love running or hate it. If you hate running and you are just doing it because you think it is good for you, you should probably find something else you like because you won’t be able to maintain doing it daily if you hate it; it is also hard on your hips, knees, ankles, and feet, especially if you do not have good shoes. (If you are going to start any exercise activity I highly recommend that you get shoes fitted to you- try “Rush Running” near Rainbow Curve or “Fleet Feet” in Fayetteville). If running hurts you or is very uncomfortable, I would recommend that you find another exercise activity. If you love running and it enhances your quality of life and you have no joint issues, you may continue as you feel capable. Stop as soon as it starts hurting.

Power walking is a fabulous form of exercise and the most popular for people that have lost significant amounts of weight and have kept it off for more than 2 years. Bike riding and swimming are good exercise if you have joint problems.

What suggestions or ideas do you have if you are exercising (cardio) 3 to 4 times a week and eating right and just CAN’T lose that last 20 pounds? How do you kick start your metabolism?

Well, it depends on each person’s idea of what “eating right” is. Do not count on exercise to create weight loss — it helps prevent weight gain, it helps you maintain your current weight, and it is wonderful for your heart, health, and mind, but it won’t magically make you lose weight. As far as diet is concerned, you must focus intently on your diet when you are wanting to lose weight. Most people highly underestimate the amount of calories they eat in a day and grossly overestimate the amount of calories they burn in exercise. You can use a food diary or an app on your phone that helps you keep up with your calories, carbs, fat, protein, and exercise. Most women only need to consume about 1200-1500 calories per day; most Americans far exceed this daily, which is why we are gaining weight.

Please don’t think that I don’t recommend exercise. I highly recommend 1 hour of cardio daily and at least 2 weight/resistance training sessions per week with some stretching exercises daily. This is for health benefits and weight maintenance.

Many Americans do not eat breakfast. Eat a breakfast that is high in protein (about 30g) or use a supplement if necessary to get this in. People that eat a healthy breakfast consume less calories throughout the day, and, as a whole, weigh less than they’re non-breakfast eating counterparts.

Do not go out to eat during your lunch break- pack your lunch with a lean meat, 1-2 vegetables, and a fruit, and a2% or skim cheese stick for a snack if you need it. If you must go out, order a salad (no fried meat on it) with vinegar and oil dressing on the side (always order your dressing on the side). Dip your fork in the dressing, spear the lettuce, and eat. It is amazing how many calories you will save yourself by doing this.

Cook your own meals. When you eat out the restaurant adds fat, salt, and sugar so your food tastes extra yummy and keeps you coming back. Also, restaurants have done their homework and they use little tricks like music, colors, food presentation, booth positions, and all sorts of deceit to get you to spend more money at their restaurant on appetizers, entrées, drinks, and deserts. After all, the food industry is a business; it doesn’t care if you’re obese, get diabetes, or die of heart disease at the age of 40, as long as the machine is making money. It sounds harsh but the food industry is a business just like the tobacco industry.

How does a working mom with small kids and a husband who travels make time to exercise?

A pedometer is a great option for very busy women. We recommend “Omron” it is a brand you can get at Walmart and it looks like an upside down egg. Wear it every day and keep a record of how many steps you take and work it up until you get 10,000+ step daily. This is where the little things throughout the day count, and you don’t necessarily have to devote 1 hour a day to exercise.

Depending on how small your kids are either put them in a stroller or on a bike or trike and go to the park. You walk next to them, with the dog if you have one, and let them get their exercise too. If your child is in a stroller, you are going to get an extra good workout in because it is great for your arms. This can be a great family fun bonding time for the kids and you.

Put exercise on your to-do list and you are more apt to get it done. Make sure that you have scheduled some time for it and don’t let anything get in the way. Remember, a logger has a stacked amount of wood at the end of the day that measures how productive he was that day. If he never stops and sharpens his saw because he was “too busy” he will only log about ¼ to ½ of what he could have done. This is the same for us as women. We always feel like we have to do everything for everybody and never stop- not even for a second, but really what good are we to our families if we are exhausted, cranky, quick to become irritable and angry, and wanting tothrottle our husband and children at the end of the day?

That is not pleasant for anyone- and women we have all been there, so remember what it was like when you were a child and you wished your mom would just go take a chill pill or do something for herself-nothing has changed now that you are the mom- you need to help yourself and your family by making compressedelizabeth-thompson-pa.jpgsure that you get some “you time” to keep yourself healthy and on your feet.

The answers above were provided by Elizabeth Thompson, a physician’s assistant with Mercy Health of Northwest Arkansas. Elizabeth works closely with Dr. Randall Feezell, a weight loss physician and gynecologist with Northwest Arkansas Gynecology.