Jay’s answer: That does sound like a simple question, but giving an appropriate answer would involve my asking YOU several questions such as your weight, your gender and your activity level. Since you are not here to ask, let’s “ballpark it.” The average female should take in 1,200-1,600 calories to lose weight — 1,700-2,100 for males — but that doesn’t mean that these numbers will necessarily work for you.
The ability to lose weight depends on your resting metabolic rate and your activity level. These factor into the expenditure side of the energy balance equation, which then helps to determine the intake side as well. If you want the best and most accurate calorie estimate, you need to take a personal inventory. Talk to a trainer about getting your resting metabolic rate tested, or estimated, and then have him/her determine how many calories you expend each day. A good guideline is to take in 500 fewer calories per day than you expend (or expend 500 calories more than you take in).
By the end of the week you will have created a 3,500 calorie deficit — enough to lose a pound of fat. By the end of 2011, you’ll lose nearly 50 pounds if you start now and stay consistent. How would that feel? You can do it!
Question: I’m smack-dab in the middle of menopause and, as expected, I seem to be gaining weight. However, the weight seems to be finding its way to my midsection, which is odd for me. Any logical explanation?
Heidi’s answer: Yes, there is a logical explanation. As you’re probably aware, most women seem prone to gain weight in their hip and butt areas prior to menopause. Estrogen is the reason. However, as you reach your menopausal years and your estrogen levels drop, you end up storing that extra weight where men tend to gain their weight — in the midsection.
I’m sure you’re not thrilled to hear this, but it’s a fact of life. Naturally, most women want to know what they can do about it. While you can’t control where your body stores fat, you do have some say in how much fat it can store.
Nutrition and exercise become all the more important during this phase of your life. Turn up the quality and quantity of your exercise program and get really serious about the quality and quantity of food you eat and you’ll have a good chance of avoiding further weight gain in areas you’d rather not.
Question: My wife thinks she’ll get big and bulky if she starts lifting weights with me. How do I convince her otherwise?
Jay’s Answer: This comes up all the time and it’s one of the biggest myths out there. However, rather than explain to her that there is no science to support her fears and that it is next to impossible for women to get bulky muscles, just ask her to give it a try for a couple months. I always figure it’s wise to weigh the upside benefit against the downside risk.
Here’s the upside. She will increase her resting metabolism — she’s all for that, right? Second, she will improve her functional strength and ability to do the things she enjoys (biking, hiking, gardening, sports, playing with the kids). Finally, she might find she likes the toning effect of weightlifting on her muscles and her appearance.
Now for the downside. Let’s say she defies the odds and ends up with visibly bulky muscles. She gets to watch you eat crow. All she has to do is stop lifting weights and within three weeks all the muscle she gained will return to normal. It’s that simple. No harm done!
Also, a bit of advice for you. Hire a trainer for a few sessions to teach her how to work out.
I know, I know, you have been working out for years and you know your way around the gym, but you see, it’s very likely that the real reason she doesn’t want to lift weights with you is YOU. She has seen you work out. She has heard the weights slam. She has heard you grunt and groan. It’s the last thing she wants to do. Besides, you don’t want to put yourself in harm’s way. You’d rather have her be mad at the trainer than at you. I see too many injuries in the gym when husband tries to teach wife how to work out.
It’s usually not a good mix. Hiring a trainer will cost you a few bucks but could well save you some anguish in your marriage and make working out with weights less intimidating to your wife.
Jay Bryan is an exercise physiologist and Heidi Bryan is a certified personal trainer. To ask Jay or Heidi a question, e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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