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What is the best for me?
An_245429 posted:
Hi Rich,

I am 42, 4' 11', 115.7 lbs and waist 39 inches. I have been very good at my body shape and weight; a fracture costed me this. After that I feel I am losing my muscles (don't imagine me to be a body builder; had a well toned body, though) in patches on a daily basis. Just a couple three days of change in diet like eating outside and eating with friends, makes a considerable change. Now my muscles are loose. I had wonderful thighs. I have started to loss that feminine shape there.

I am from India and I cannot count calories, keep a track of my protein intake etc but I take a balanced diet to the most part. Somehow, I have worked out a good diet plan. It is not impossible to tone my body again. My question is; What kind of exercises I have to do to just tone my body(obviously flat abs)? what are the reasons for me to lose muscles this way?! Can I reverse this? I know the basics of a good diet like portion size, carb+protein+vit+minerals, 6 small meals, lots of water, exercising etc. Will that alone hold good in my case or do you have to say some more?

Here I have an interesting story. My friend(42) and her mother(60) are mindless eaters. It is not that they are very active.; moderate. They don't have a balanced diet either. It is mostly carbs and their portions increase if the food is tastier. This is their lifestyle atleast for the last 12 years. How come they have a very toned body?

Well. Genes play an important role. Would love to have your advice.
An_245429 responded:
Its me again. One important thing that I missed mentioning was one of my knees mildly got hurt during that fracture episode. My physician said that it would settle on its own and no need to worry. Except I should give enough time for that to heel. The fractured part is fully ok, though.
Rich Weil, MEd, CDE responded:

Hi An
Tone is a function of the architecture of your muscles (determined by genetics as you said), and the degree to which the central nervous system is active sending signals to the muscles to fire (determined by how often and how hard you work out). If you've lost tone and there is no medical condition responsible, then the loss of it is due to the factor you have control over, that is, working out. Now, you may have poor genes for muscle tone, and so if that's the case then you may have to work harder at toning than someone who has better genes, and so likewise it will be the case that when you stop exercising you will lose tone faster when you stop than when someone with superior genes stops.
You have not mentioned what you do, or did, for exercise, so I cannot comment specifically.
As for what to do, I suggest a mix of aerobic exercise (cardio), and resistance exercise. Cardio could be walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing, or any other activity that gets your heart thumping and you can sustain for 30-40 minutes, and do 3-4 days a week. Resistance exercise would be 2-3 days a week, all the major muscle groups, 2-3 sets per exercise, 10-15 repetitions to start. You can accomplish this at home with equipment or at a gym.
Exercise tubing is one way you could do resistance exercise at home. Tubing is inexpensive and versatile. You can start with a set of three for about $20. They come in colors to denote the tension. If you order them make sure to order the strap that allows you to attach the tube to a door (this is essential for many exercises), and if you want to work your legs, ask for leg straps. Here are some vendors that sell them.
And here's a site with great videos

Here are some excellent ab exercises. Make sure to stretch your low back before and after doing them.
1. Bicycle Maneuver: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head. Bring knees up to about 45-degree angle and slowly go through a bicycle pedal motion. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee. Keep even, relaxed breathing throughout.
2. Captain's Chair: Stabilize your upper body by gripping the hand holds and lightly pressing your lower back against the back pad. The starting position begins with you holding your body up with legs dangling below. Now slowly lift your knees in toward your chest. The motion should be controlled and deliberate as you bring the knees up and return them back to the starting position.
3. Crunch on Exercise Ball: Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. Let the ball roll back slowly. Now lie back on the ball until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and slightly tuck your chin in toward your chest. Contract your abdominals raising your torso to no more than 45 degrees. For better balance, spread your feet wider apart. To challenge the obliques, make the exercise less stable by moving your feet closer together. Exhale as you contract; inhale as you return to the starting position.
4. Vertical Leg Crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands behind your head for support. Extend your legs straight up in the air, crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knee. Contract your abdominal muscles by lifting your torso toward your knees. Make sure to keep your chin off your chest with each contraction. Exhale as you contract upward; inhale as you return to the starting position.

continued in next post...
Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
5. Reverse Crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head or extend them out flat to your sides-whatever feels most comfortable. Crossing your feet at the ankles, lift your feet off the ground to the point where your knees create a 90-degree angle. Once in this position, press your lower back on the floor as you contract your abdominal muscles. Your hips will slightly rotate and your legs will reach toward the ceiling with each contraction. Exhale as you contract; inhale as you return to the starting position.

6. The ab exercise that almost all ab exercises are judged against is the simple crunch. The form is on your back, legs in air, knees and hips both at 90 degrees, arms in the air slightly pointed up and backward behind the head, and then contracting the abs while crunching up.

If you join a gym have one of the trainers show you around. The gym might offer 1 or 2 free training sessions. If not, I suggest you hire a trainer for just 1 or 2 sessions to get you going.

I will also post a starter weight lifting program for you. The program is broken up by muscle group (chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs, abs) and is three days a week, but you can modify it if you like for more or less days.

Day 1: Chest (bench press with bar or dumbbell press, flyes, pushups), triceps (bench dips, kickbacks, )

Day 2: Back (bent over rows) biceps (curls, standing or seated), deadlifts

Day 3: Shoulders (lateral raises, front raises), legs (squats, lunges)

Do 10-12 repetitions, 1-3 sets per exercise. That means select a weight you can lift 10-12 times to momentary fatigue with good form. When you can easily lift the weight 12 times, increase the weight.

You can experiment with different splits. For instance, you could try the following

Day 1: Chest (bench press with bar or dumbbell press, flyes, pushups), Back (bent over rows, pulldowns),

Day 2: biceps (curls, standing or seated), triceps (bench dips, kickbacks)

Day 3: Shoulders (lateral raises, front raises), legs (squats, lunges)

There are dozens of exercises for both your lower and upper body. I've given you just a few. You can go to the for pictures and videos of exercises organized by muscle group and select any of them.

You can also try for exercise DVD's you can do at home. There are even DVD's that target certain body parts.

I also suggest that you take circumference measurements for objective data to compare with later on. The standard measurements are arms (flexed and relaxed), chest (after a normal exhale), shoulders (the widest part), waist (the narrowest part below the ribs and above the belly button), abdomen (across the belly button), buttocks (at the maximum extension of the buttocks), gluteal/thigh (high on the thigh at the groove where the buttocks end), mid-thigh (halfway between the crease in the groin and the top of the knee cap), and calf (at the maximum circumference, either with leg hanging freely off a table or with legs 8 inches apart and weight distributed evenly). Keep the tape horizontal during measurements and pull the tape lightly so it indents the skin only slightly.

Here are some excellent WebMD and governemnt resources for starting exercise:

1) (This article has superb fitness resources at the end about getting started)



As for your diet, you can post your questions to the Diet Community:

And the Food and Fitness Planner

Finally, I suggest you make a plan for your workouts. Write down what you will do and the day of the week that you will do it, and then review it each week.

I hope that helps. Take care, Rich
An_245429 replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
Hi Rich,

I can't thank you enough. Such a detailed reply!

Have to ask a few more, though.

1. I have been doing moderate exercises for the past 20 years. After the fracture episode, when I got serious with my work outs I have started doing the following:

* Cardio - Mostly stationary bike - sitting postion as I have the knee problem - 20 mins - gradual increase in the speed - 6 speeds - 3 sets - last 2 mins as fast as I can

* Weight training
push ups - 12 reps - 3 sets
dumbbells - arms- for each muscle group(I switch the muscle groups) -
I am doing something for the thighs and back. But, I am not satisfied (reason - I don't want to hurt my knee).

2. I have pains even after 3,4 days of weight training. May be, I don't drink enough water. I wonder if I am stretching properly. Can you please help me with that?

3. Actually, I read in one of the Webmd pages that we can spread out the time that we exercise. Do they mean 30 minutes of exercise split into 3 times of 10 mins. Is that right? And, it said we can do exercises anytime of the day? If that is the case, we have to adjust the meal times. Don't we?

Thanks again for your time. I have been badly wanting to change my structure. Now, your reply motivated me to a great extent.
Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to An_245429's response:
Hi An

If you have pain for days after lifting then yes, stretching might help. has stretches as well as lifting exercises for every muscle group. Do some light cardio first, then stretch the muscle groups that are sore. If the soreness interferes with your next workout, then you may also be overtrained, in which case, yes, drink more water, but you may also need to rest a day or two more in between sessions until you are less sore. But do not rest. Do cardio. It will help with the soreness.

You can split your workout into two 15-minute sessions, or three 10-minute sessions, for general health, but for improving fitness significantly I recommend one 30-minute vigorous workout. You can do intervals like you are where you finish strong, but spread those out throughout the workout, say one minute hard followed by 3-4 minutes at your normal pace to catch up, then hard again for another minute.

You can exercise anytime during the day you want. Adjust meals only if you find you need to eat a snack before the workout because you run low on energy during the workout. Otherwise you may not need to adjust your meals. You have to experiment to find what works best for you.

Keep up the good work. Rich
An_245429 replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
Hi Rich,

Your advice means a lot to me. I will religiously follow everything you said. Shall get back to you as a successful one.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to An_245429's response:
You're very welcome. Good luck with your training. I look forward to hearing back from you with an update.

Take care. Rich
An_245429 replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
Hi Rich,

Its me again.

Let me tell you what happened. My knee started hurting, I couldn't even speed up in stationary bike and for a while I lost my hopes about a sound body. I consulted an Ortho. There was nothing much to worry,though. He suggested some strengthening exercises thrice a day. I did it religiously for sometime and gained confidence. I googled a lot about knee problem and exercises. Got so many ideas. Slowly, I added weight while doing the strengthening exercises which my Ortho suggested. Now, my knee problem is almost gone.

For the past two weeks I have been into a strict diet and exercise routine which earned me a loss of 2 lbs. Feels so good and it is time to thank you.

Shall keep writing to you. Thanks again.
Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to An_245429's response:
You're very welcome. Thanks for the update. It's nice when people post how they are doing. Keep up the good work and I'll wait for another update. It's an affirmation for you to declare it, and inspiring for others. Take care, Rich

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