For me, the journey to physical fitness is more a change in attitude than anything else. Getting up and getting moving every day is a choice. It requires constant effort and commitment.
I'm still moving in the right direction, but the going is slow because I have so much weight to lose.
Bob Greene on exercising for weight loss
After the how's your health? do you have any injuries I should know about? and consult your doctor stuff was out the way (and that applies to you, too!), he explained how the old way of thinking is wrong.
You know the old exercise advice, right? You're supposed to walk slowly enough that you can carry on a conversation.
Bob told me that exercising hard - sweating a lot, pushing your heart rate (up to 70-80% of your max heart rate) and breathing rate higher, talking only in sound bytes, not really wanting to talk at all, not being sure if you can finish - that's where the real progress is made. That's where the most fat is burned, he said.
I was glad to hear all of that because that's how I feel every single time I do the two-mile walk with Leslie Sansone. About twenty minutes in, I always think, "I'm not sure if I can keep this up for another ten minutes!" But I always keep going. Sometimes I walk instead of doing the side steps or knee lifts, but I keep the pace. I keep my heart rate up in the 150-160 range (which is 75-80% of my maximum heart rate), and I finish the workout and stretch with Leslie.
He also mentioned that breathing rate is a more reliable indicator of exercise intensity, but I didn't have time to ask him more about that, and I couldn't find any reliable info about it online.
Bob Greene on the length & intensity of workouts
As our conversation continued, Bob told me that 20-30 minutes of intense cardio is better - expends more calories, burns more fat - than an hour of lower intensity exercise.
He also said that walking continues to be the best cardio exercise, especially for those with a lot of weight to lose.
It's better to increase the intensity of a walking workout by walking hills or adding an incline on the treadmill than it is to increasing the impact of the workout (by running or jumping, for example). For those with a lot of weight to lose, increasing the impact of the workout will cause unnecessary wear and tear (and injuries) to the joints.
So, for those of you who wanted me to ask him about the best exercise to do to maximize your time, it sounds like it's not the actual activity that's important, but the intensity with which you do it.
Bob Greene on workout scheduling
I have been working out every other or every third day. If I exercise much more than that, I get really sore and end up walking around like an old lady.
Actually, not even Old Grandma walks around like that.
Some of you wanted to know how to schedule workouts for maximum calorie and fat burn, so I asked Bob about that. He said that losing weight requires 5-6 days of intense cardio each week. Some days, you'll work out harder and other days a little less so, but cardio should happen no less than five days a week.
I asked specifically about strength training, and Bob said something that was ground-breaking to me. He said strength training stimulates appetite, and he recommends delaying it for at least a month after making a lifestyle change.
He said that it's necessary to get your eating habits under control before having to deal with the increased appetite caused by exercise. Once you're in that place, you should do strength training three times a week in addition to the cardio.
Bob Greene on healthier snacks
Snack foods can be a struggle for everyone. We all have those moments in the mid-morning and late afternoon where we get snippy or tired or sleepy and need a snack to keep ourselves going until the next meal.
Bob stressed that all snacks should have protein and calcium but not too many carbs.
He recommends warm foods; he says they are more satisfying and comforting to our bodies than cold ones. He specifically mentioned vegetable soup or a healthy latte (made with 1% or skim milk).
Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest things you can eat, he said, and my mind went immediately to the baked sweet potato chips or baked sweet potato fries that we make at home.
He also said that nuts were a great snack, but only in the correct portion size. He explained that's a handful in which the fingers actually close against the heel of the hand, not a handful in which the fingers remain open as if holding a soft ball. The image of his closed fingers up in front of the camera are etched in my mind. That's not many nuts in that hand, but that's the point.
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