Question: Dear Monique, I'm a 39 year old female desperately looking for help with my weight problem. I'm 5'7 and 255 pounds. I'm shaped like a apple, most all my weight is in the abdomen. I have hypoglycemia when I try to go without eating. I also have hepatitis-c. I've always had abnormal menustrations. I had to have a hormonal shot to get my period started even after going through puberty. I have A LOT of hursitism. I have to shave daily and get a "five o'clock shadow." I can count on two hands how many times I've had my period without hormonal help. My daughter already has the symptoms and is only 17. Please help me. I've got to loose this weight, but it seems impossible to do!!! Gratefully, Kim
Answer: As a person with various medical problems, you need to be careful not to cause your metabolism to slow down. Going on diets, especially ones that restrict calories, is one the worst things you can do in your condition!
You could be much better off eating a balanced, nutritionally packed diet and going on an exercise regiment. I would advise that you do three things: weight bearing exercises to help build muscle mass (muscles are what burns alories); aerobic exercises to speed up your metabolism; and stretching to maintain flexibility.
When I say weight bearing exercises, I mean any activity that causes you to lift weight including your own body weight. Some examples of these are climbing stairs, squats, pushups, sit-ups, or any movement with some kind of heavy weight (like dumbells) in hand. Gardening and house cleaning can also become weight bearing exercises if you do squats instead of just bending over to pick up things. Try to do these activities for 20 to 30 minutes, twice a week. In addition to building stronger muscles, weight bearing exercises also help build strong bones and ward off osteoporosis.
For aerobic activity, you can take an aerobic class or try walking about 30 minutes, 3 days a week. Don't think of how far you walk, just try to walk as briskly as you can while maintaining good posture during this time period. Besides increasing your metabolism, walking for at least one hour per week will significantly lower risk of heart disease as well.
Stretching should be done on a daily basis to help improve flexibility and reduce stress. You may want to try some basic yoga moves or calisthenic cool-down stretches.
All these activities will rev up your engines so that you will burn more calories than you take in. You won't feel the deprived feeling of going on a diet, and you will be better able to maintain good health, both physically and mentally.
Another thing to remember, by building muscle mass I do not mean you will become like a body builder. Muscle weighs more than fat, but muscles burn fat. So the more muscle mass you have, the more you can eat and still maintain your weight. If you do not eat more, but instead move more, you will be able to lose weight, tone up, and do your body and mind a lot of good.
For more information about dieting, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dieting
For more information about exercising, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercising
For more weight loss advice, read my Q&A's . . .
"Weight loss program for vegans and vegetarians?"
"Safe Weight Loss?"
"How can I tighten my torso after losing a lot of weight?"
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Monique N. Gilbert, BSc. has offered guidance in health, nutrition, fitness and stress management since 1989. Through her writings, Monique motivates and teaches how to improve your well-being, vitality and longevity with balanced nutrition, physical activity and healthy stress-free living.