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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Should I be incorporating some sort of weight training into my exercise workouts to help build some muscle?

Hi Gary,
Hope I am doing this right. Would love some advice as I havent a clue what i am doing.I am a 42 year old married, mother of 5. Last September I decided to change my lifestyle considerably as i was 134 kilos and feeling everyone of them. (Although my top weight was 140 kilos 3 years ago).
It is almost my 1 year anniversary of these changes and i am now 72 kilos! Really pleased with myself, and havent been this low since I was a teenager.

Now, I am doing approx. 1 1/2 hours- 2hours exercise each day, not counting work (part-time shelf stacker at the local supermarket). This exercise constitutes walking, biking and an elliptical trainer my brother gave me.

I am loving the changes (and comments), however I have an awful lot of loose skin, not too worried about this as feel it is the price you pay for getting so overweight to begin with. I am wondering whether I should be incorporating some sort of weight training into my schedule to help build some muscle.

My eating is pretty good, not as good as it could be, but compared to what it was, not too bad, I take no supplements at this stage.

Any advice would be magnificent as I am really flying blind here.
Thanking you in anticipation,
Gary replies:
Congratulations on your dramatic change in lifestyle and associated weight loss! And my apologies for taking so long to respond to your inquiry.

With regards to the loose skin, it is possible that it will be less obvious with time. Women are a little more prone to wrinkling and loose skin with ageing compared to men. This is because a woman's hormonal makeup makes for less robust collagen which is more liable to damage such as from stretching or excessive sun exposure. There are a number of nutritional strategies that one can use to improve collagen health, including extra vitamin C, regular bone broths (rich in minerals and gelatine), supplementary MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), flax oil, vitamin E and even some glucosamine and chondroitin. I would add lots of bright fruit and berries to the diet. These are all very good for the skin. Then you could add some extra silica to the diet. If you need any supplements like silica or MSM, you can get these from . Contact me if you need sorting through the confusion of options that I have just listed.

Moving on to your question now:

You should be adding weight training that is additional to the shelf stacking that you do in the supermarket. As one gets older, strong bones are important and the exercise you are doing is wonderful; but only for your hips and lower down (The cross trainer is a qualified exception). You need to add exercise that works the muscles and bones from the low back and upwards. In effect, you are setting out to exercise the muscles that defy the pull of gravity.

There is an added benefit of lifting weights: Packing on a bit of extra muscle helps keep that excess fatt you lost from coming back because healthy muscle burns calories like crazy when working out and even a little while at rest. The other benefit is the muscle will help fill out some of that loose skin such as is commonly seen on the upper arms of women who have lost weight.

You need to be doing some repetitive lifting that takes a weight from ground level to stretch above your head. Pages 111-112 of my book on back pain describes this exercise and how to do it safely. You can add all kinds of other exercises but these are optional. I prefer to use body weight, rather than machines. You can do exercises like kneeling press-ups and even just hanging from an overhead bar and lifting your legs in a reverse sit up. This exercise helps keep you tall and straight while conditioning the abdominals. I must make a You Tube video about this topic soon, so please keep a watch for it.

You do not need any expensive equipment for your weight training. Get a couple of discarded 2-4 liter plastic containers with handles handles from the supermarket and fill with either water or sand.
1 liter water = 1 kg weight.
Choose a weight you can lift about 15 times before losing form, then do 2-4 sets of about 14 repetitions between other exercises. Add a little more weight over the months as you get stronger. You never need more than about 4 kg per arm.

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