Add Exercise to Boost Weight Loss
Jo Ann Kirby
Fighting the battle of the bulge is hard enough.
But when middle age strikes, losing weight can be even more of a challenge.
And while revamping the diet is a must, those who have been successful in shedding pounds say strength training boosted their flagging metabolism, as did a change in attitude.
Dana Hill was 46 with about 250 pounds on her 5-foot-21/2-inch frame when she decided to reclaim her body about two years ago.
"I had asthma, acid reflux, high blood pressure and just a lot of pain in my hips and knees," Hill, who works for the Diocese of Stockton, said of weight-related health problems. "I had gained a lot of weight as a mom. I knew I had to make a change."
She lost more than 100 pounds by watching her diet, hitting the weights at an In-Shape City gym and practicing daily gratitude.
"I got started by taking advantage of my employer's wellness plan through ACI Specialty Benefits. (I had a) wellness coach, and he called me every week," Hill said, describing tips on exercise and nutrition. "I learned to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables along with lean protein. I also concentrated on removing excuses from my life and thinking positively. And I work out with weights four to five times a week."
Now, Hill proudly says, she can get down and pump out 40 pushups.
"All that money I was spending on medicine, I now spend on the gym and yoga classes," said Hill, who also does some daily cardio. "A lot of women don't want to lift weights. Get over it."
Hill's journey illustrates how cutting calories alone isn't effective.
"The body 'defends' a certain weight and prevents changes -- mostly losses -- in body weight by adjusting metabolic rate when our dietary or physical activity patterns change. So the idea is that someone cuts back on 500 calories a day in their eating, but they don't lose weight, because their metabolism simply slows down to compensate for the reduction in food intake," said Mark Van Ness, an assistant professor in health, exercise and sports nutrition at University of the Pacific in Stockton, explaining the set-point theory. "It also helps people understand why adding exercise helps so much with weight loss."
Incorporating strength training into a workout builds lean muscle mass, which helps the body burn more calories throughout the day because it improves insulin sensitivity. That's what really helps with long-term weight management.
"Metabolism does slow as we get older, mostly due to loss of lean muscle mass," said Tracy Bento, a clinical dietician in Kaiser Permanente's Stockton medical office. "Regular consistent exercise, both aerobic and strengthening, are important. ... The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is. Our calorie needs also go down as we age, so a reduction in calories is helpful."
One couple found success when they switched up their diet and turned to strength training together.
Jason and Heidi Hensley were feeling old, tired and overweight when they joined Crossfit Cencal in Stockton.
"I injured my neck in 2009 and had to stop working out," said the 35-year-old mother of two, who is director of Quail Lakes Baptist Church's children and family ministries. "I gained about 80 pounds. It was horrible. When I was cleared to work out, my doctor told me to do something low-impact with weight training, so my husband and I joined Crossfit in March 2011."
Her husband, a police officer, was having a midlife moment.
Turning 40 and tipping the scales at 290 pounds made him realize it was time. At 5 feet 8 inches tall, she weighed 239 pounds.
"Now, I am very proudly 167," she said, adding that her husband shed 85 pounds by joining her at the gym five days a week for a workout that mixes cardio with weights. "We changed our diet. We eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables. We eat a fair amount of lean protein, primarily fish. Once a week, we go out to dinner and take a break."
Both the Hensleys and Hill say that their healthier lifestyle is a prescription for youth.
Shedding weight and getting stronger makes them feel, act and look younger.
Contact reporter Jo Ann Kirby at (209) 546-8256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c)2012 The Record (Stockton, Calif.)
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