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Weights Vs. Aerobics

Saturday, May 08, 2010

As time has gone on, I've come to understand that weight bearing exercise is more important than aerobic exercise.

Let me say it another way: If I have to make a choice between lifting weights and doing aerobic activity, I'll choose the weight lifting. Every time.


I didn't always feel this way. I used to think the opposite was true. I believed the heart was the most important muscle in the body (still do), and that the best way to condition it was through aerobic activity. I don't feel like that anymore.

Here are some reasons why:

- Weight lifting shapes your body like aerobics can't. Ever seen a body that is aerobically fit but not muscularly fit? It's missing shape and, in the case of women, usually curve. You can actually CHANGE the overall line of your body by adding muscle. All aerobics does to your body shape, at best, is make is a smaller, less-fat version of itself. I've never been able to add pleasing lines to my body with aerobic activity the way I have been able to with weight lifting. Through weight lifting I've been able to build my naturally-very-slight-shoulders up and tighten my abs, which has helped to give me a more hour-glassed shape and therefore make my hips look more balanced.

Therefore, muscle tone makes men look more masculine and women look more feminine.

- Muscle burns more calories at rest, so when you have more muscle on your body, your resting metabolism (how many calories you burn just to keep your body alive) rises. Additionally, the calorie burn from the actual weight-lifting exercises themselves can continue for up to 24 hours. On the other hand, aerobic activity burns calories while you are doing it, but that calorie-burning effect stops very quickly after the activity stops. So it's a better calorie-burning-investment over all to build muscle.

In a nutshell, weight bearing activities are more effective at helping you shed fat than aerobic activity.

-Weight bearing activities are more practical because they make you stronger for doing daily activities. You can't gain strength to lift heavy grocery bags or help someone build a fence with aerobic activity. I'm willing to bet that no one is going to ask you to run away from something any time soon. But help them lift a TV? That just might happen!

- Weight lifting makes bones stronger, therefore enabling you to be less prone to injury as you age. This is especially important for women, who tend to lose bone density much more rapidly than men, but is still a significant benefit for both sexes. In case you are wondering how this happens, the muscles are attached to ligaments that are attached to the bones. When the ligaments tug on the bone, the body reacts by making the bone stronger to be able to withstand the pulling. The more and heavier you lift, the more dense the bone becomes, therefore the less prone you are to bone breakage.

Pretty cool, huh?

- It is my personal believe that if you are really working out hard doing weight-bearing activity, it can very well become aerobic. Particularly if you add aerobic intervals, like sprints on the elliptical or bicycle or step-ups on a bench, between weight lifting sets. Besides that, have you ever seen someone who is weight lifting huffing and puffing? That's because they are using oxygen! And the word "aerobic" means "With oxygen". 'Nuff said.

I could go on, but the thing I want people to take home here is that if given a choice, lifting weights is more important to your healthy functioning over the long-haul than aerobic activity. Do I want you to stop aerobic activity? NO! It's still important, but weight lifting needs to be at the top of your priority list.

If your not sure if you have time to do both weight lifting and aerobic activity on the same day, take the time you need to do your toning/weight bearing first. Then with whatever time you have left, do your aerobic activity.

Likewise, if you don't enjoy weight lifting as much, do it first, so that it's over and done with and you don't have time to talk yourself out of it.

Trust me: The more muscle, the better!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BREEVES3 5/14/2010 4:40PM

    Very well said. I've just started lifting weights, in addition to the walking/running that I've been doing. I can tell that I like it already.

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MAZZMLANI 5/13/2010 6:57PM

    thanks for the perspective!

I find my biggest conflict this way is weight loss vs. inch loss. (I'm currently working with the P90X model - which is alternating heavy weight lifting with cardio 6 days a week. I just finished my first round and am really happy with the results.) I still have it in my head that dropping weight is the most important thing, even though I am starting to see changes in my body that I really enjoy. it's just that the pounds are not coming off, and the changes are happening MUCH more slowly than they have in the past so I get impatient... but nothing seems to beat the way my body is more sculpted now than ever, so I guess I'm stickin' with it! :)

thanks again for the advice on prioritizing!


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TSANTEZ 5/12/2010 11:26AM

    Interesting I have been doing the complet opposite. I do way more cardio than weight lifting. However PERCJESTER suggest a good book "Men's Health Power Training". Whatever you are doing it works because you look good. Thanks for the post.


Comment edited on: 5/12/2010 11:27:18 AM

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DREMARGRL 5/10/2010 6:56AM

    WELL SAID, NANCY....I think the only thing that stops some women is the "time" they think it takes, but as you said, if you make lifting a priority, you may just have the time. Whatever you are doing to workout, it does take dedication and consistency. Keep up the good work. You are looking great. Because you are in such good shape, I'm sure your recovery from surgery will be swift. XO MaryAnn emoticon

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WREN67 5/9/2010 2:32AM

    Good or not, I much prefer weight lifting...but sure am happy that it's so good for me!

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SCHWARTZHUND 5/8/2010 10:46PM

    I agree with this wholeheartedly. Cardio doesn't do much for your resting metabolic rate, nor does it get anyone "ripped." I see it as a necessary evil that is required for me to pass my semi-annual PT tests.

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Palms up, thumbs back!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sometimes I get compliments on my posture. I do try to keep my spine in proper alignment, not only because it takes pressure off of my skeleton, but also because it makes me look thinner and more confident. Who doesn't want that?

So what is proper skeletal alignment? Glad you asked!

I have a little exercise for you- one that has come in handy and keeps me in check. And you can do it while you are sitting here reading my seldom-read blog. Ready? (This is so simple, it'll make you laugh!):

First of all, skooch forward a little, so that your back isn't in contact with the back of your chair anymore. Bend your elbows in front of your body, holding your arms at a 90-degree angle- like you are sitting in an arm chair. Now, turn your palms face up. Lastly, pull your thumbs back towards your body.

What did you do? Surprised? Yep! You sat right up strait, didn't you? THAT's proper spinal alignment, and the position you should be trying to achieve all the time.

It works equally well standing, also.

If you can do this little posture-check several times a day, sooner or later you will start to hold yourself in proper alignment naturally. Slouching will feel unnatural, and your body will thank you.

This, combined with conscientiously holding your stomach muscles in will help strengthen your core better than any ab exercise I can recommend.

This is also, coincidentally, the "proper alignment" and "neutral spine" people are talking about when they refer to exercising.

Let me know what you think!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SCHNAUZERGIRL 5/5/2010 12:35PM

    Awesome! Thank you, I definitely have a slouching problem. Practicing proper posture as I type :)

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WREN67 5/5/2010 7:56AM

    I'm going to share this with the kids...they know how to sit straight, but that doesn't mean that they do it...

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RAEVENSWING 5/4/2010 8:33PM

    Worked for me! I give myself a posture check several times a day.
Thanks, 1 more tool in my arsenal.

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MARLIMOO 5/4/2010 2:46PM

    Nice- will give it a try.

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NYCFA1 5/4/2010 12:52PM

    Cool! Thanks! I'm going to try to remember to do this thru out the day. emoticon

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Lift, Even if You are Overweight!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

If you are overweight with no intention of reducing your calories and therefore losing weight, you are at an advantage for gaining muscle over those who are restricting their calories.

Yes, you read that right.

Let me rephrase: People who eat too many calories and lift weights have an easier time putting on muscle than those who are lifting and eating to lose weight.

You can't build a very big house on a wooded lot if you use only the wood from some of the existing trees on the property to build and ship the remaining wood to someone else. You can build a much BIGGER house by keeping your existing trees and bringing in additional lumber.

In the same manner, it's very hard for the body to build muscle while you are taking calories AWAY from it. So someone who is overeating and lifting weights is probably going to put on muscle at a faster rate than someone who is trying to gain muscle while reducing calories.

Doesn't sound quite fair, does it?

But here is the deal, you can build SOME muscle if you are losing weight, and the good news is that you will actually be able to SEE it as your weight comes down. While the overweight person who is lifting the same weight as the thinner person is more than likely putting on muscle quicker than the thinner person, they probably won't realize it since it's covered by fat.

Case in point:

I was lifting weights heavily when I was at my biggest, which was here:

And the fact is that I was in the process of using my excess calories I was overeating to build the muscle I eventually uncovered here:

Was I as healthy in the first photo? No! But at least I was doing something more with my calories from overeating than simply putting on a lot of fat.

And this explains why I was never in as big a clothing size as my weight said I should be: I was more solid under all that fat than even I realized.

Now, I still have a ways to go. My backside is NOT where I want it to be. My next goal is to build up those legs and glutes and make them something splendiferous. But in the meantime? In the meantime I'm very proud of the muscle I've worked so hard to build, and that I kept up the lifting, even when I felt like my body was almost past the point of improvement. I didn't know it then, but I was helping my future self out.

My point, of course, is that it's advantageous for even the obese to lift weights. The worst that will happen is that they'll put some of those excess calories to good use building something besides more fat. Never mind the other myriad of health benefits that come from lifting weights, to include improved balance and maneuverability, as well as stronger bones.

And the best that can happen is that one day they will gain the frame of mind to lose the weight, and what they uncover might surprise them.

It sure did me!

So if you are overweight and aren't lifting, START! As I like to say: Lift heavy, lift hard, and lift often. You never know how much you may appreciate your efforts in the future.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CACTUS-WREN 5/6/2010 12:06AM

    Wait a minute - let me get this straight - I may have some muscle under all this fat? I've just started lifting - I'm not interested in competition-type muscles but nicely defined ones. This is good info - thank you!! emoticon

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WREN67 5/4/2010 11:41AM

    I love lifting so much more than cardio. Kind of limited in what I have at home, but I'm determined to do all I can and more!!

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FUNKYMONKEY302 5/3/2010 1:42PM

  Thanks for the info! I don't think I have ever heard that before. I definitely need to be lifting more than I am so thanks for the motivation!

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REDEMILY 5/2/2010 12:51PM

    I think this is really important for people to remember. I lift regularly because I find that I love that "good sore" plus I have an athletic build that can build muscle... I hope that more people read this and take your advice!

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GOLDBERG73 5/2/2010 10:31AM

    Thanks for the info! emoticon

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ETORRES88 5/1/2010 11:34PM

    How much do you lift? How did you start? What is your regime like? You look amazing!!

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HARISHABAD 5/1/2010 10:58PM

    Great point!

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Exercise- Your Non-Negotiable Appointment with Yourself.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

How do I manage to keep up a 5-to-6-day-a-week exercise schedule? I make it a non-negotiable appointment with myself. If I didn't, I'd find every excuse in the book to not do it.

Exercise and self-care don't happen by accident. You have to be purposeful.

If necessary (and it probably is), write it down on the calendar, or your day-timer, or wherever you keep your appointments. And then make it non-negotiable. By this I mean that aside from an emergency (and by emergency, I mean an-ambulance-has-to-be-called-emergency), nothing is going to stop you from getting your workout.

There have been a few days when things happened and I couldn't get to the gym. For instance, one day this past winter we had a very unexpected snow storm here in Texas (THAT was weird!). Not only was the gym closed, but driving there was treacherous on untreated roads. So, I got up early before the family was awake, did step aerobics with a DVD in the living room, then lifted weights with my dumbbells in the bathroom. (In case that sounds weird, my workout equipment is in a closet in the master bath.) If I wouldn't have had dumbbells at home, I'd of made it work with body-weight exercises. But I sure wouldn't have done nothing!

The point is, I made it happen, anyway.

It's a difficult way to start thinking at first, but eventually it's a habit and something you can't imagine not doing. Your family gets used to it being important to you and eventually they adjust...... it all starts to fall into place.

But you have to take the first step: YOU have to schedule your exercise.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HARISHABAD 5/1/2010 11:03PM

    I have to do what you suggest otherwise would never work out. I work from home so I have to go to the gym, I cannot work out here with all the work staring me in the face, so I plan to get away 3-4days a week without fail. It's worked well so far..

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MISSYGEEN 5/1/2010 9:05PM

    Although I've been working out regularly since February, I have not thought about it this way. If someone ask me to be somewhere or do something I put my workout on the back burner. I have never thought to plan around my workout! It's like work, church or my son's game. These are important to me so everything else has to wait. You are so smarrrrrrrrrt. I do have trouble saying no. I'm going to give myself a fresh start this week. If I can stick to it, I owe you a goodie. emoticon

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MRSAWILEY 5/1/2010 6:12PM

    That is what helped me a lot. I have certain days that I schedule myself to work out. I'll look at my work schedule, then what work out I'm doing that day, and make a point of getting it all done.

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RAEVENSWING 4/30/2010 9:41PM

    Lol, my workout schedules me! I wake up first thing in the morning
and just get to it. If I don't, I feel very out of sorts the rest of the day.
The few times I have had to miss one, I am very restless with way
to much energy. Have a great weekend!

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WREN67 4/30/2010 1:06PM

    It is so easy to forget. And I have started writing it as an appointment - i just need to get back to actually following my planner (being a SAHM makes it a little easier than I had it in the past to actually follow that). That said, I'm not late for my kids, I'm not late to the drs appt. Just need to get this in my head has being the same deal.
Yesterday (other than frantic cleaning - and then a frantic run through Costco, where I still forgot stuff!), exercise didn't happen.
Today is strength-training day. I had it scheduled for 8am, but had to is on for this afternoon - 1pm!

Thank you for the reminder and the encouragement!

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RUBIA_LIZ 4/29/2010 10:07PM

    Great blog Nancy Anne! I know I need to approach it this way too. My commitment to myself needs to be the most important, because if I'm not on top of my game, how can I be of any use to anyone else? Funny, you talked about that "ambulance-needs-to-be-called" type of emergency that prevents you from working out. My blog today was about the reason why I didn't work out - and while it wasn't for any emergency (thank goodness!), it was still a strong enough feeling for me to know that I needed to switch my day off to today instead of my usual Saturday. LOVE your words girl! Your hard work has paid off a million times over and I'm grateful to you for sharing your wisdom!

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ADRIENNE29 4/29/2010 6:36PM

    It is VERY true that the family starts making adjustments and getting used to my workout schedule...they ask me everyday when I'm going to wrok out, when I don't, they think somethings wrong.

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SHANNON267 4/29/2010 6:11PM

    Thank you for sharing! I need to do that myself. Make it a planned appointment that can not be missed. Thanks for the needed boost!

I hope you are having a great day! emoticon

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False Starts Aren't Wasted Time

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I tried over and over again for years to lose this weight. I'd sometimes give up before I barely got started, and other times I'd lose some weight and either just hold there (got from 197 to 187 this way), or lose and then gain it back (went from 187 to about 174 and back I can't tell you how many times).

And you know what? Every time I lost without success, it was a valuable learning experience that began to put my head in the right place to lose for real. I learned what did work for me (Weight watchers, eating clean, having a ton of variety in my diet, varying my calories from day to day), and what did not (pre-packaged food diet plans, limited food choices, the same calorie level every day). And without all those false starts I'm almost certain I'd have weighed more than I did when I finally decided to get serious and make the real changes to improve my health permanently.

Plus, each time I took a few pounds off I gave my heart a break for a bit.

They say that most smokers who finally stop successfully have tried and failed multiple times. I'm thinking that making a permanent and healthy change in one's diet could very well be the same- Maybe that's just the necessary process of stopping any bad habit or addiction.

So if you have tried and quit multiple times to lose weight, or tried and lost weight and then gained it all back, don't count it as wasted time. Count it as a valuable lesson learned. Think about it, glean what you can from it, then get back to trying again! You never know when this try is the one that finally gets your head where it belongs to make it "for real" this time.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUZBFIT 4/30/2010 10:58PM

    Just what I needed to hear as I am still stuck trying to lose the same 5-10 pounds for a couple years now. I know eventually I will learn from my mistakes and keep it off. Actually...I think that time may be very close because things that weren't clicking before are clicking now!!

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SNAPPEAS 4/29/2010 8:17PM

Great blog post and really significant.Many people ,especially those new to SPARK could benefit from reading this post.The major difference between my efforts to lose wei-
ght this time and on previous occasions is the fact that I may fall off the wagon on a meal or two or three .I may fail to get a workout for a day or a few ,but I'm not throwing in the to-
wel and giving up which translated to my returning to a sedentary lifestyle and eating what
-ever and whenever I felt like it.
I've found the more water I give myself the more I crave and the same is true for ex-
ercise and balanced meals.Although,I still experience some fall backs I'm not bowing out .


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ETAYLOR777 4/28/2010 12:51PM

    I completely agree!

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MARK1963113 4/27/2010 8:07PM

    I agree with you Nancy Anne. Great blog and great advice.

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    Great stuff. Goes right along with the stages of change.

The stages of change are:

Precontemplation (Not yet acknowledging that there is a problem behavior that needs to be changed)

Contemplation (Acknowledging that there is a problem but not yet ready or sure of wanting to make a change)

Preparation/Determination (Getting ready to change)

Action/Willpower (Changing behavior)

Maintenance (Maintaining the behavior change) and

Relapse (Returning to older behaviors and abandoning the new changes)

People can fluctuate between various stages before the change really sticks.

Cut and paste this link for more info:

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TESENISIS1 4/27/2010 12:39PM

    This works the same for relationships. I did the same thing when choosing men to date...finally I learned and found Mr. Right! And I am a better person for all the mistakes I made and terrible choices in men I made...


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DS9KIE 4/27/2010 10:20AM

    great blog

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FUNKYMONKEY302 4/26/2010 11:45PM

  Thank you so much. I really needed to hear this today. I have been working my butt off for a month and only lost 1 pound of 30 that I recently gained back. I need to remember that everything is a learning experience. Thanks!

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GOLDBERG73 4/26/2010 9:39PM

Need to hear this from time to time!


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IAMFIRMIN 4/26/2010 6:07AM

    Great read.. I AGREE

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SUNSHINE667 4/25/2010 10:13PM

    If at first you don't succeed, try try I have done many times before. We should not beat ourselves just learn from our mistakes and keep working hard until we get it right to reach our goals.

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ELIZABETH525 4/25/2010 9:53PM

    Everything in life offers a lesson. Each "failure" is not really a failure because you learn what NOT to do next time. So many people are scared of trying, scared of the hard work that comes with losing weight that they never even they never fail. But they never succeed either.

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WRITINMYSTORY 4/25/2010 9:45PM

    I couldn't agree more NancyAnne. If you don't beat yourself there are many valueable lessons to learn in "failure". Have a great week!

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