The expression "no pain, no gain" has always seemed rather ironic. We're trying to lose weight, not gain it, right? Yet experts say that exercise is critical for weight loss and especially for weight maintenance.
How much exercise do you need, and maybe more importantly, how much exercise are you really getting? The average person overestimates the amount of activity she's doing by about 30%, and she underestimates her food intake by about 30%. That makes for a huge reality gap!
Doctors recommend getting around a half hour of moderate aerobic exercise each day through activities such as brisk walking or dancing, plus two days a week of strength training major muscle groups by lifting weights or doing exercises such as pushups, situps, and leg lunges.
Here's what our Mommy M.D.s — doctors who are also mothers — do to exercise better.
"I exercise every day," says Deborah Gilboa, M.D., a mom of four sons, a family physician with Squirrel Hill Health Center in Pittsburgh and a resilience expert whose advice is found on her website, Ask Doctor G. "It's not so much that I love to exercise, but I have a belief that our bodies were built to move. I don't do anything unusual; I run or work out on my elliptical trainer."
"When my kids were born, I started walking a lot," says Antoinette Cheney, D.O., a mom of a son and a daughter and a family physician with Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Parker, Colorado. "I was a huge fan of the double jogging stroller. I walked my kids everywhere. Once I was able to start running again, I did that instead. Running while pushing that stroller is twice as hard as running alone."
"One of my favorite ways to exercise is having fun in our pool with my family," says Amy Barton, M.D., a mom of three and a pediatrician at St. Luke's Children's Hospital in Boise, Idaho. "We were fortunate that our home came with a pool, and we spend hours out there, just goofing around and diving underwater for pool toys. It's a fun, great workout. We also take our kids golfing. When our kids were young, we couldn't always finish 18 holes, but 12 was a good goal!"
"My favorite exercise is walking," says Debra Luftman, M.D., a mom of two grown children, a board-certified dermatologist in private practice, co-author of "The Beauty Prescription," developer of the skincare line of products Therapeutix, and a clinical instructor of skin surgery and general dermatology at UCLA. "You don't need to join a gym; all you need is a good pair of walking shoes. It also helps if you have a dog. I have a lot of motivation to get out and walk my golden retriever. I live near a wildlife preserve, and it's a beautiful place to walk. I walk outside with my dog around three days a week. I also have an elliptical trainer, and I'll work out on that for 20 minutes if the weather is bad."
"I also do situps on a disk-shaped balance ball," Dr. Luftman adds. "The beauty of using a ball is that it supports my neck and it also helps me engage my core muscles. Plus, it's small enough that I can keep it in a closet."
"When I was ready to lose weight, I added Pilates to my usual routine," says Martha Wittenberg, M.D., MPH, a mom of a son and a daughter and a family physician with the Institute for Progressive Medicine in Irvine, California. "I didn't want to have a tummy tuck! I wanted to tone my muscles. I took a Pilates class at a local studio. I think that Pilates is a great workout for women who want to tone all of their muscle groups. When I first started doing it, I felt so sore afterward!"
"Now I take a class called CrossFit," Dr. Wittenberg adds. "It's a core strength conditioning program. ... The classes really help me with my strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance. You don't have to be in phenomenal shape to do it because you can scale it to your ability. The workouts are intense but a lot of fun. And it is rewarding to see yourself progress and get better. It's drawn a very loyal following."
"I must confess, I don't go to the gym," says Edna Ma, M.D., a mom of two, author of the bilingual Chinese children's book "Travel, Learn and See" and an anesthesiologist in private practice, in Beverly Hills, California. "Instead, I try to make everyday tasks more active. For example, when I go for walks, I carry five-pound weights. This way I can also work out my arms while I walk. Also, I almost never take the elevator. Even when I go into work in the morning, and I'm carrying my breast pump, briefcase, and lunch, I walk up the stairs."
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, founding CEO of woman- and veteran-owned custom publisher Bright Communications LLC, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years" and six other books in the Mommy MD Guides series. She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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