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Taking Care of Yourself with Exercise

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Regular exercise isn't just about the many benefits; it is about the value of you. What is your intrinsic value to yourself, your family, and the world? As you value yourself and your contributions, you understand that taking care of yourself is essential to giving to others. Just a note here: if you are a caretaker or are in a care-giving career, it is very important that you take care of you. Many overweight people are primary caregivers and forget to also care for themselves.

Demonstrate your own self-esteem and self-worth by taking good care of yourself through exercise.

Boost Your Metabolism

Exercise boosts your metabolic rate. As you exercise, you increase your muscle mass, leading you to sport a higher metabolic rate. This means you burn through your food faster. Thus, you actually need to eat more food to stay at your ideal size.

For example, let's compare two women. Both are the same age and weight. The first woman works out by doing strength training three times a week. The other doesn't do any form of strength training. The first woman needs to eat more calories to stay at her ideal size than the other one—simply because she has more muscle and less fat on her body.

This is why. A pound of fat requires only three calories per pound for maintenance. A pound of muscle requires 35 to 50 calories per pound. It's highly beneficial to your weight loss to have a low body fat percentage and high muscle mass.

As we counsel our weight-loss clients, it's amazing how some of them need such little amounts of food while others need lots more. The ratio of body fat to muscle makes a big difference in how much food it takes to maintain your ideal size. A woman with a high body fat percentage, say at 40 percent, can eat such small amounts of food and still gain weight, while a woman with 20 percent body fat can eat way more food and stay at her ideal size. It doesn't seem fair.

Get your body fat down through strength training and use the “passive” activity of your higher metabolism to stay at your ideal size.

Maintain Your Ideal Size

We question whether a person can really lose weight through exercise alone. We've never seen this happen. We suppose that if a person went from being totally sedentary to running in marathons then he or she would lose weight. But a person could gain weight from exercise. Since muscle weighs more than fat, a person could do strength training and gain weight, yet fit into his or her clothes better. In other words, the person could be a smaller size and yet weigh more. At that point, who cares? The person looks great.

But research shows over and over again that the people who maintain weight loss are the people who continue to exercise over their lifetimes. This is because of the boost in metabolism and because exercise lifts mood, soothes anxiety, and improves health. When you feel good about yourself, you tend to make healthier decisions about food, eating, and your life.

Shape Comes from Muscles


Sandy is a perfect example of being at her ideal size all her life. But as a result of getting older and letting her exercise regimen fall by the wayside, she put on too many inches. As she says, “I am intelligent and teach others this concept—I live with a triathlete and marathoner for goodness sake! I feel better when I exercise, … but if I get out of the habit because of an extended vacation or whatever, it might take me months to get back into a regular routine again.

“Exercise isn't my top priority—I'd rather do other things. I am my best at exercise when I do it first thing in the morning and go to work a little later rather than trying to fit it in after work. My early evenings are not consistent, and after supper I am surely not going to rev up my exercise motor! The motivation to exercise needs to come from within. Know that at first, exercise … won't be fun—but it has to be done—then it does become fun. Use a wide variety of exercise techniques so you don't get into a rut.”

If you lost a lot of weight and didn't exercise as you were losing, you might get to your ideal size, but you could never get close to your desired shape.

Joan started at a size 22. Within a year and a half, she was wearing a size 8. This is terrific. She exercised by doing the five Tibetan exercises every day, and she rode her exercise bike three times a week. She looked terrific as a size 8, and you couldn't tell that she had ever been overweight.

But if she hadn't exercised—oh, dear. Joan would have had sagging, loose skin all over her body. Her muscles would have been flabby. At that point, no amount of exercise could have firmed up the sagging, loose skin. Her only alternative would have been plastic surgery and lots of it.

Don't let this happen to you. If you exercise as you lose weight, your skin firms up and tones as you lose each ounce and pound. It shrink-wraps to fit your muscles. But if you don't strengthen, stretch, and do cardio, the damage can be irreparable. We want you to look good in your clothes and on the beach. If you think you may need some nips and tucks after weight loss, make sure to maintain your weight loss for at least nine months before you opt for surgery. Yes, we have friends who had the work done too soon and then gained the weight back. It's not a pretty picture.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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