By Mary Beth Knight
When it comes to fitness, we know by now that there is no magic pill. We don’t lose weight overnight and quick fixes won’t work. So what DOES work? Read on…
The Right Kind of Exercise
The key to losing weight and avoiding weight gain as we age is muscle. All tissues in the body are metabolically active (a fancy way of saying that they use energy to function), and it just so happens that muscle burns five times as many calories to function as fat tissue. Five times! This is exactly why you must build muscle in order to lose weight, and to keep weight off you need to maintain that muscle. The key to keeping muscle tone is simple: use it or lose it. That means finding a resistance training program that works and sticking to it.
All too often women avoid resistance training because they are afraid they will “bulk up.” Let me put that myth to rest right now. Muscle is actually a more compact tissue than fat; in fact, five pounds of fat is almost twice the size of five pounds of muscle. Besides, women don’t produce enough testosterone to build huge, honking muscles. If you begin resistance training and your clothes start to feel tight, it means you’re still consuming too many empty calories and you need to ramp up the cardiovascular side of your workout.
To get a little mommymuscle, start with two resistance sessions per week. Work in three and you’ll see results faster. Hit all the major muscle groups—legs, glutes, chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps—never working the same muscles on consecutive days. When you’re ready for the maintenance phase twice a week will help you keep results.
The Right Kind of Nutrition
Want one more tip? Here it is: lean protein. You gotta eat it. Without the essential amino acids found in lean protein, we can’t build lean muscle. Protein also gives your body long-lasting energy—something every busy mom can use! In my house, we eat meats that are 100 percent natural, preservative-free, gluten-free, and contain no added nitrites or nitrates. (Hormel® Natural Choice® is one brand I like—they offer a lot of yummy options, including deli sandwich meats and carved chicken breast.) It’s easy to make a sandwich on whole wheat bread or add some protein to your veggies by topping off a salad with pre-cut chicken.
Making small but smart changes to your life in the areas of nutrition and exercise can have a powerful impact on your body, your energy level and your mood. Don’t just do it for your family. Do it for you.
About the Author
Mary Beth Knight is a certified fitness trainer and educator, mom to daughter Mazie, and founder of StrollerFit.® She believes that healthy moms raise healthy babies who grow up to be healthy adults.