Your Guide to Weight Loss

If your doctor has suggested that you lose weight, know that she has your best interest at heart.  Reducing your weight by just 10-20 pounds can reduce high blood pressure, normalize blood sugar levels, lower high cholesterol, alleviate depression and ease joint pain. Self esteem also increases when you take positive steps towards a desired goal. 

Covering the Basics
Most people don't understand the difference between losing scale weight and losing body fat and replacing it with lean muscle tissue. The focus should be on losing inches (pure fat) rather than weight, which includes bone, soft tissue, organs, muscles and fat. A tape measure is the best way to track fat loss.  Weigh and measure yourself every two weeks and keep a log of your progress.

The term overweight and obese, though similar, mean different things.  Everyone that is obese is overweight, but not everyone that is overweight is obese. The most popular method for calculating obesity in the general population is the Body Mass Index, which measures the ratio of your height to your weight.  There are many easy to use online calculators such as the one on the Naional Institutes of Health website at

Exercise is key to keeping your skin toned and your muscles firm as you reduce in size. Exercise also assists in weight loss as it burns calories. Theoretically, you lose one pound for every 3,500 calories burned.  So, if you burned 500 calories with increased activity, and reducing your food intake by 500 calories per day, you could expect a safe and sane loss of 2 pounds per week.  Cardio exercise (walking, jogging, jumping rope, elliptical cross trainer or classes), as well as resistance training with body weight, weights or machines is highly recommended.

Healthy Meal Plans Mean Losing Weight Without Dieting

A diet is something you follow for a specific period of time then give up. Most overweight people have been on several diets throughout their lifetime, with varying success. There are no magic pills or quick fixes when it comes to losing weight. However a healthy eating plan is balanced and incorporates at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day, lean protein, high quality fats, and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and low-fat dairy.

Provide nutritional variety in your diet and avoid eating the same things day after day. Watch the portion size too. Most people are shocked to discover what an actual serving size looks like and how small ½ cup of cooked grains or 3 ounces of meat really is.  Make sure you are eating the proper number of servings from each food group in the proper amounts by reviewing "Keep an Eye on Portion Size" on the National Heart Lung & Blood Institutes website at

A trick for eating out in restaurants is to ask for two plates with the entre ordered and split it with your dinner companion, or order a doggy bag and box it up for later as soon as the meal arrives. American restaurants serve huge portins of meat and side dishes; most servings are plenty for two people.

A daily food log is an indispensible tool for managing your food intake and losing weight. There's nothing like seeing the calories wasted on soda, sweets, beer, or an after-work caramel frappuccino with extra whip. Online tools are easiest, as they have databases containing thousands of food items and items from fast food restaurants built in.

Food logs are helpful because its easy to forget the small things you've eaten over the course of the day, which quickly add up in extra calories. Online food logs track calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, protein and sodium. Some also have the capacity for entering custom foods as well as your favorite recipes.  Popular favorites are FitDay.Com, SparkPeople.Com, and ACalorieCounter.Com.

Expert Insight or Warnings:

Avoid very low calorie diets of less than 1200 calories per day. Be sure to eat 3 meals per day and two to three snacks, evenly spaced throughout the day. Avoid alcohol's empty calories which lack nutrition and pile on tummy bloat.



Picture Perfect Portion Sizes

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Quick Weight Loss and Diet Tips

Women Over 40 Happier With Moderate Exercise

Sept. 29, 2011 (Reuters) – Middle-aged women encouraged to exercise at moderate intensity were much happier and more likely to continue working out than peers who exercised more intensely, according to a study.

Researchers led by Steriani Elavsky of Penn State University in Pennsylvania recruited 255 women between 40 and 60 years old to do either moderate or vigorous exercise, then followed the volunteers to monitor their reactions.

Overall, women who did moderate exercise were about twice as likely to feel energized and confident they could do more exercise in the future, and more of them also showed decreased feelings of sadness and anxiety than the vigorous-exercise group.

“Exercise makes you feel better but it is going to be more pleasant when performed at moderate intensity as compared to vigorous, especially when you have been previously inactive or may be overweight,” Elavsky told Reuters Health.

They were activities “that would allow you to talk in short sentences while you are doing them, but would not allow you to sing,” she added.

Middle-aged women are among the least active and their level of physical activity declines with age. Understanding whether exercise of different intensities has different effects on mood and whether these predict overall physical activity in midlife women is an important question to address, Elavsky added.

Elavsky and colleagues at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey studied the 255 women, who were not on hormone therapy and who kept a daily diary of activities and feelings for two weeks. She presented their findings at the North American Menopause Society meeting in Washington D.C.

At the beginning of the study, the women completed two bouts of moderate or vigorous exercise. The vigorous workout involved exercising on a treadmill to the point where they could no longer tolerate the intensity, and moderate exercise involved a 30-minute session, also on a treadmill, at a pace the women selected for themselves but could be considered moderate.

All women also wore an accelerometer, a small device the size of a match box, to track their energy expenditure and their time spent in activities of different intensities.

The study found that moderate intensity exercise caused more women to report later that they were in a better mood and to have greater feelings of energy, psychological wellbeing and “self-efficacy.”

Moderate physical activity was also much better in these terms for obese and out of shape women, Elavsky said.

Vigorous exercisers showed smaller benefits to mood, and those who were overweight or had symptoms of illness reported “significant decreases in calmness” after the exercise bouts.

Examples of moderate intensity exercise include brisk walking, ballroom and line dancing, biking on level ground or with few hills, canoeing, general gardening including raking, trimming shrubs, sports such as baseball, softball, volleyball, tennis (doubles) and water aerobics.

Elavsky added she hopes her study will reaffirm to women that exercise can be a powerful way to enhance their wellbeing, and that they don’t have to go all out with their level of exertion.

“The effects we observed were large and moderate intensity is sufficient, in fact it is optimal,” she said.

“We also hope that clinicians will realize the importance of considering the proper exercise intensity when making recommendations about exercise.”

(Reporting from New York by Fran Lowry at Reuters Health)

Borderline Hypertension – Can Exercise Help Me?

I’m 54, somewhat overweight and was recently told by my doctor that I am borderline hypertensive – something many African American men and women apparently suffer from. I’ve read that exercise can help me with my blood pressure problem. I’ve never exercised in my life! How do I get started?

First I am going to say that you need to clear ANY increase in physical activity with your doctor. He or she should advise you on the types and duration of any beginning exercise program due to the fact that hypertension can increase one’s risk for heart failure.

As a matter of fact, a study I read concluded that African American women who are overweight and have high blood pressure are at greater risk than any other group for developing heart failure. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, shows that while hypertension was the main cause of heart failure for 40% of African Americans, it was the cause of heart failure in just 7% of non-African Americans. So please take heed to my advice to discuss this situation with your physician.

Our blood pressure does tend to increase as we age, and is affected by such things as diet and weight. But unlike other potentially deadly diseases, hypertension, often called the “silent killer,” in the press, frequently has few outward symptoms.

However, research conclusively proves that physically active men and women have lower average blood pressures and are diagnosed less frequently with hypertension than their sedentary counterparts. In other words, to prevent or control your blood pressure, get up off the couch and get moving!

Medications can lower the heart rate even during exercise, and thus those suffering from hypertension should avoid heavy resistance over a long period of time, isometric exercises which might require you to hold your breath, and highly competitive situations involving vigorous exercise (which has a tendency to INCREASE blood pressure).. Therefore, we don’t usually incorporate weight training in a program with our hypertensive patients. Those with hypertension are prone to sudden drops in blood pressure following exercise. This can cause fainting, so gradual cool downs are very important.

And be sure to use a home BP monitor to check your pressure both before and after exercise. It’s probably a good idea to check it DURING your early exercise programs as well so you can stop exercising if it climbs too high.

Studies done in exercise labs report that low intensity walking and cycling programs do very well in reducing blood pressure in mildly hypertensive persons. Other mind-body and relaxation exercise programs like yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, dance therapy, water or chair aerobics, and movement therapy have all been reported to improve blood pressure status to varying degrees, independent of medication.

Getting in Shape for an Upcoming Wedding

I am in a hurry to lose this awful flab and get in some sort of shape for a wedding early next year. I’m interested in training with you twice a week and doing a body pump weight class at the local gym twice a week also. But there is a slight scheduling problem and I’ll be doing two weight workouts back to back. Hey, I’m no bodybuilder, so shouldn’t it be okay for me to lift weights two days in a row?

Some trainers and bodybuilders adhere strictly to the “alternate body groups” workout, known as a split workout. For instance, you might work back, shoulders, abs and legs one day, and chest, biceps, triceps on another. These proponents advocate a 48 hour rest period between workouts of the same muscle group.

However, I think that if a person is in moderate to excellent shape (NOT A BEGINNER) working the large muscles of the body on a daily basis such as the hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps would greatly assist in fat loss and toning. I would say it would be wise to use different exercises though, vary the intensity of your workouts, and work no more than 3 days consecutively before taking at least one day off to do nothing and rest.

With all that said, the best results are achieved when people listen to their bodies. Some of us have a higher tolerance or greater need for intense exercise than others. If you are really sore, take a rest or just do light cardio that day with stretching. Give your body a chance to recover and mend before you hit it with another challenging workout.

Try The Seated Physioball Woodchop!

How to do the physioball woodchop exercise

Not every woman wants to be skinny, but every woman wants to feel strong, toned and sexy!

The Thick Chicks Home Workout Program is designed to reduce fat stores, tone and reshape the figures of curvy women that want to stay that way. The carefully selected and increasingly more challenging exercise routines take a novice exerciser from being a complete couch potato to a woman doing some pretty impressive moves.

As you move forward through this book, you will drop inches as fluffy fat is reduced and firmed with lean muscle. Jiggly thighs will gain a new tautness; droopy buttocks will lift and become more shapely. Week by week you’ll be thrilled to see back fat and bra bulges disappearing as well.

This exercise is from the Thick Chicks Foundational Fitness routine, the first of six complete body weight, ball and dumbbell exercise routines in the book. The Seated PhysioBall Woodchop establishes a base foundation of core strength, trains balance, and opens up the chest and shoulder girdle while toning the abdominal muscles and the muscles along the sides of the waist.

Log onto for more information or to add your name to the mailing list. Be one of the first to get notification of when The Thick Chicks Home Workout Program is available for purchase!


Love Handles Be Gone:
The Physioball Seated Woodchops with Hands

The obliques are small abdominal muscles along the sides of your waist. When they are weak, you’ll see “love handles” and “muffin tops.”

Sit on ball with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell with both hands. Your arms should be reaching up over your right shoulder. Most of your weight should now be felt on the right side of your body.

Draw in your abdominals and sit upright on the ball. Elongate your spine.

Keeping your chest high and your arms straight, rotate your torso at the ribcage.

Shift your weight onto your left side as you move your hands slowly down to the outside of your left knee, while looking straight ahead. Return to start position and repeat all reps on that side, then switch to other side.

Hold a small dumbbell between your palms for more of a challenge.

This exciting new book for women will be available for sale in early 2013 right in time for those New Year Resolutions we all make every year.

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