Fit and fab

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Ever wonder why you don't lose weight after you start a new exercise regimen? You are not alone. I see this scenario all the time. People embark on a new exercise routine and expect to lose weight immediately. Some do, but many others do not.

The missing link always involves nutrition. More specifically, the culprit is too many calories. So how does this happen? Typically, women who are more sedentary or already have a restrictive diet also

have a slower metabolism. Once they begin to exercise, their metabolism naturally increases.

This metabolic shift, in turn, creates an increase in appetite. While the change may be subtle, it is real. The result is most women begin eating more, particularly after workouts, thereby increasing total

caloric consumption. While eating more calories may not be contraindicated in every case, many exercisers make the one critical mistake of "out eating their caloric expenditure."

To illustrate this point, let's look at running as an example. In our example, we will look at Jane, a 40-year-old woman (5'5", 160 pounds) who consumes 2000 calories per day on average and is not

exercising. She wants to lose 15 pounds. Therefore, Jane decides to start running three days per week (three miles each day) and lifts weights twice per week on her non-running days.

Most of us would assume this new activity would burn a lot of calories. You may be surprised to learn how many calories Jane will actually expend. Most estimates will yield the following exchanges:

  • 100 calories per mile run for a total of 900 calories per week
  • 200-400 calories for strength training, provided it is done circuit-style in target heart rate zone for 45-60 minutes
  • The heavier and less fit the person, the more calories that may be burned with activity

To make the math easy, let's assume she burns 300 calories during the strength workouts. This would yield a total caloric expenditure of 1500 calories per week. To lose one pound, you must have a 3500-calorie deficit. Assuming she made no changes to her eating pattern, it would take just over two weeks to lose one pound.

I know what you are thinking. Seems like a lot of hard work for two weeks to only lose one pound, right? The answer is yes. The reality is you will never be able to "out work" poor eating habits and lose weight at a rate that is satisfactory. Hopefully, this example will demonstrate how critical supportive nutrition is in the effort to lose weight.

The good news is that once you add lean muscle and get closer to reaching your ideal weight, the body speeds up metabolism a bit and is able to withstand the occasional 'cheat day' without a significant elevation on the scale. And speaking of the scale, my advice is to only weigh yourself first thing Monday morning or just once per week. Daily weigh-ins are hard on the eyes and mind as weight may naturally fluctuate 1-3 pounds day to day, based on hydration and consumption.

Strive for moderation with eating and consistency with exercise. This formula will help you avoid peaks and valleys (yo-yo dieting) as well as stabilizing metabolism. Keep in mind that in just one meal you can erase a week's worth of exercise. Also be sure to count liquid calories from soda, tea, smoothies and alcohol as these calories tend to sneak up on you. If you want to indulge more freely, consider extra minutes on the treadmill, bike or elliptical, or perhaps adding an additional day of exercise that week to counter-balance added calories.

In the end, know that it takes hard work to exact measurable change on the body. To lose weight, you must carefully balance caloric intake with energy output. This reality becomes more apparent as women age and begin to face the effects of hormonal changes that come after pregnancy and with menopause. Even with that said you can achieve the exact results you want once you understand and properly apply the impact exercise and nutrition has on your body.

Speed training for youth athletes

Ever find yourself thinking your son or daughter would be much better at sports if only he/she could run faster? Many parents seek out my help to improve speed on the field or court. Some people believe you are born fast or slow. Not really true.

Does this mean everyone is capable of being an accomplished 100-meter sprinter? The answer is certainly no. However, there is a unique window of athletic development where sports coaches and trainers can make a significant impact on the development of speed.

This important time period happens between the ages of 8 and 14 for most athletes. It is during these formative years that your son or daughter learns to integrate motor patterns with human movement such as sprinting, pivoting, jumping, cutting, changing direction and even stopping. Their brain learns these patterns very naturally through observation, education (or lack thereof), participation and specific training.

I often find that athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 have largely developed set motor patterns and movement strategies they implement on a regular basis. For some, these patterns are perfectly fine. But for others, faulty patterns limit speed and performance, with some even risking injury.

Below, I review three simple yet effective exercises your child can do at home at an early age to refine proper running form and maximize speed development:

1. Arm swings In an upright standing position, have the athlete bend the elbows 90 degrees and then move the arms back and forth reciprocally in a smooth fluid motion. Be sure that the hands do not go higher than the chin and the elbows drive backward past the hips. The shoulders should remain relaxed (no shrugging) at all times, the hands are lightly fisted or open, and the arms do not cross the midline of the body. Perform 2-3 sets of 20-30 seconds at a time.

2. Skipping Work on low and high skips between cones spread 15 yards apart. Emphasize reciprocal arm swing (as in exercise #1) and begin with the low skips. Once the athlete masters the form on low skipping, he/she may advance to the high or power skips. This drill teaches coordination and efficiency between the legs and arms, while heightening the response from the nervous system with movement. Skip back and forth 2-3 times keeping the foot flexed up and the driving the knees to parallel with the ground.

3. Wall runs The athlete stands about 3 feet away from a wall and places the hands at shoulder height. This position allows for a forward lean akin to accelerating or sprinting. Next, the athlete runs with hands on the wall alternating which hip and leg lifts off the floor and drives forward. Be sure to coach the athlete to maintain a 45 degree lean throughout as the tendency is to stand upright as fatigue sets in. This drill is done at 100 percent effort for 15-30 seconds based on form/fatigue. Repeat 1-3 times.

These three simple drills will help teach your son or daughter to begin mastering the basic fundamentals necessary to maximize speed and acceleration. They should be done at least 2-3 times per week during the off-season and pre-season and continued 1-2 times a week during the season until the skills have been mastered or ideal running form has been attained.

Brian Schiff, owner of Fitness Edge, is a nationally known sports and fitness training expert, specializing in injury prevention and return to play for professional and amateur athletes of all ages. Fitness Edge now offers Adventure Boot Camp for Women in Dublin, Westerville, Upper Arlington and Grove City.