Latest update: November 2nd, 2012
Welcome to a new column where you can ask anything you’ve always wanted to know about diet, health, or fitness – and get your questions answered! Feel free to send your questions to Tanya email@example.com.
I have been exercising for a few weeks now and although I feel a change in my body, the scale has not moved! Why is that? I thought exercise was supposed to help you lose weight!
Frustrated at the scale
Dear Frustrated at the scale,
Exercise alone does not necessarily make you lose weight, but it will help you slim down and reshape your body by decreasing fat and increasing muscle. Regular exercise:
* Helps you burn calories that you have consumed during meals
* Helps combat muscle loss that can occur when you lose weight
* Builds up your muscle tissue
* Increases the amount of calories that you burn. The more muscular you are, the more calories you burn.
Remember that exercising does not always lead to weight loss (muscle weighs more than fat), but your body will be more toned and slimmer (you will fit into your clothes better). In addition, exercise is an excellent way to relieve tension.
I would suggest that you also take a look at your eating habits and consider making some changes. I recommend you do this with a qualified nutritionist so that the evaluation is as objective and accurate as possible. Meanwhile, definitely keep exercising!
My doctor kept talking to me about my BMI and its importance. I didn’t feel comfortable asking him to explain what it’s all about. Can you?
Dear BMI confused,
Don’t be confused, I’ll explain! The body mass index (BMI) is a simple way for men and women to estimate body fat based on their height and weight. From the BMI chart, it is possible to determine your healthy weight range.
For the majority of Americans, the BMI is the most up-to-date and scientifically sound method available for determining healthy weight. One of the limitations of BMI is that it can over-predict overweight or obesity in people who are lean and muscular.
It is important to know that people who are classified as overweight or obese can still be healthy as long as they are fit. In one well-known study, fit people with BMIs that classified them as overweight or obese were healthier and lived longer than unfit people who were at normal weight.
Hope this is helpful!
I want to get more tight and toned, but I’m afraid that lifting weights will create a manly look, or bulk, any suggestions?
Dear Afraid of bulk,
A common concern for many women is the misconception that lifting weights will cause you to become physically bigger and more bulky. This concern hinders them from getting many of the advantages of weight resistance exercising. Keep in mind that unless you specifically train to target for bigger muscles, weight lifting will not result in large muscle mass gains. I really recommend you work with a qualified personal trainer to teach you the correct way to lift weights for the results that you want. With weight training, getting it right is extremely important. It is not enough to just go through the motions.
You will also benefit by continuing to focus on improving sleep patterns, using stress reduction techniques and choosing a better diet.
What is the real deal with Splenda and artificial sweeteners? I really enjoy the calorie free way to enjoy my foods and beverages. Lately, there is a lot of negative hype them and my friends and family say I’m consuming too much, and it is dangerous! Can you clarify?
Scared of splenda
I’m sorry to break it to you, but your friends and family are pretty on target.
The FDA approved the substance as safe for human consumption in 1998 after the effects were studied on over 100 animals and humans – but only two of the subjects were actually human. Thus yet another artificial sweetener was born, putting people’s health at risk through marketing and profit-driven goals. What comes as the greatest surprise, however, is the fact that all of the testing done with Sucralose was completed on about 40 people – and much of the studies’ goals were only to test its effects on the subject’s teeth. So, is Splenda safe?
Fortunately, other non-governmental studies have been completed and the results have shown that Sucralose is responsible for a variety of ailments: headaches, blurred vision, short-term dizziness, and more serious long term effects such as depression and weight gain. There are other effects associated with splenda consumption as well, such as:
* Skin breaking out in hives or rashes
* Shortness of breath
* Swelling of facial muscles
* Eye irritation
* Joint pains
* General sensation of anxiety in a number of consumers
Although Splenda is considered the “better” of the unhealthy family (Sweet N Low, Equal, etc) it is still not considered safe. Many doctors will not allow pregnant or nursing women to consume these artificial sweeteners. A better alternative is anything from the “healthy family” such as Truvia, Stevia, or Xylitol. These are made from a plant, not a chemical. These are more expensive and can be found in health food stores, and some supermarkets.
Some additional side effects of splenda, which I do not have studies on, but are based on my clients’ reports, are craving sugar and a bloated midsection. Several of my clients reported that within a week of abandoning all artificial sweeteners, their abdominal area felt much more “flat.”
Keep in mind that even if you give up your splenda packets in your cappuccino or your cooking, it can still be found in many other products. Some of these include ices (especially “diet” ices), low fat muffins, syrups, and diet beverages.
If you don’t want to go extreme, cut BACK versus completely cutting OUT. An easy way to start is to carry around in your purse some truvia or stevia packets and ask your barista or waiter to put those in instead of artificial sweeteners (I do this).
Hope this clarified your splenda dilemma!
About the Author: Tanya Rosen is the co-owner of Shape Fitness in Flatbush. She is a certified nutritionist, Personal Trainer, and aerobics instructor, and is the creator of the SHAPE FITNESS KOSHER WORKOUTS DVD, available in Judaica stores or online at www.shapefitnessgym.com.
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