Tip of the Week: Walk, don't run.
Since the 1970s, running has been a popular form of exercise. Once limited to track and field athletes and football players, running took a leap in popularity upon the release of the late Jim Fixx's "The Complete Book of Running." Since then, running has become the second most popular form of exercise in America, and while it certainly can have excellent cardiovascular benefits, I recommend you stick with the No. 1 most popular form of exercise: walking.
Although you won't burn as many calories walking as running, walking is considerably less stressful on the joints than is running, and it doesn't pose nearly as much of a risk to those with heart conditions, latent or known.
Of course, you should also incorporate resistance training into your training program. Neither running nor walking will do much in the way of developing strong muscles, particularly in the upper body. Walking combined with weight training, however, will provide you all the cardio and strength benefits you need.
Q: I'm a 48-year-old woman, and my doctor informed me a little over a month ago that I needed to lose about 100 pounds to reach a healthy bodyweight. I am 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed 252 pounds. Since then, I've hired a personal trainer at my gym, and while I've lost 6 pounds, I'm not sure the training is right for me. We do a lot of specific muscle-building exercises, but I'm not sure why if my main goal is to lose weight.
Joe: It's hard for me to say without actually being there whether or not your trainer has devised a program that is serving your needs well. I can make two general observations, though.
The first thing you might want to keep in mind is that weight training can go a long way toward helping you meet your weight-loss goal. If done at a reasonably quick pace (no more than 60 seconds of rest between sets), then there is a fat-burning element to it. Also, muscle burns more calories than does fat, so simply having some muscle where there once was none is a metabolism booster.
Now, with that being said, I have seen too many trainers who make the mistake of working their clients as if they were bodybuilders looking to increase definition in a specific body part, rather than someone who needs to lose weight all over. For instance, someone like yourself doesn't need to be doing an exercise like cable crossovers for the pectorals. Instead, you should be doing compound movements that employ several muscle groups at once, thereby burning more calories and creating better synergistic strength throughout the body.
So while you should indeed be doing some weight training, you don't want it to include isolation exercises. Leave that for after you've reached your weight-loss goal, when you will be able to discern such differences in your muscles.
Q: Can I get all of the protein I need by eating nuts and seeds? I ask because I'm considering going vegan, but someone at the gym where I belong told me it's almost impossible to get enough protein on a vegan diet. Is this true?
Joe: I've addressed my concerns about vegetarianism and veganism before. I think it's commendable that you would want to eschew meat from your diet for reasons I presume are either moral or health-related, yet I think that it's a tall task getting enough quality protein, especially if you exercise regularly.
Nuts, seeds and legumes do have a higher percentage of protein than most vegetables, but not nearly as high as meats, and the quality of the protein, as in its availability for your body's use, is lower.
To get a good amount of protein eating nuts, you will invariably need to consume a far greater amount of fat than protein. To get a sizable amount of protein from beans, you will have to consume a lot of carbohydrates.
While it's certainly not impossible to eat sufficient protein when following a vegan diet, it may not be easy to keep an appreciable amount of muscle mass coupled with low body fat, if that is your goal. Still, if you are committed to a vegan lifestyle, I certainly wouldn't let my caveat dissuade you. If you want to keep vegan and strong, know that it can be done!
Joe Weider is acclaimed as "the father of modern bodybuilding" and the founder of the world's leading fitness magazines, including Shape, Muscle and Fitness, Men's Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Hers, Golf for Seniors and others published worldwide in over 20 languages.To find out more about Joe Weider, write to him and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.