Welcome to the third edition of "Ask Paul," where I answer a few of the questions I receive on the site. I get literally hundreds of questions every month from people all over the world, and a lot of them follow a pretty common theme. I've picked quite a few from February and March and done my best to provide people with some insight.
If you have a question for me, click here and fill out my online form. I can't answer them all, but I'll try my best to get to yours.
I seem to be someone who needs to see full effects of my actions before I can commit to doing something about it. I think the full-body scan would be a huge kick in the butt to me. Do you have any idea where in Nova Scotia that they may do this?
Oh also, for your nutrition plan, do you only do one at the start? Or do you offer another as the person progresses and adds fitness into their regime?
I am 20 lbs overweight and need to get started.
Yvette from Kingston, Nova Scotia
I do not have a specific location you can do a DEXA Scan in Nova Scotia. I would try a health audit clinic, or a medical professional centre that offers X-rays and has a lab.
The eating plan I offer is adjustable as your weight decreases. I work with people online directly throughout the whole process answering any questions they have.
Is there a way to learn how to just eat food that you don't like and not be disgusted by it? I mean actually get to like it enough to factor it in to your regular eating pattern? I have a real problem trying new foods because I don't like anything, and I'm not a "polite" eater. I can't force myself to eat something just to be nice when I'm out for dinner, for example. I know that no one likes everything and that's fine. But I hardly like ANYTHING that's good for me.
Kristen from Exeter, Ontario
Your best bet is to take a cooking class or experiment with recipes that look palatable for you. Stick with foods that you like and try different variations of preparing the food.
For example, find a fish you like, prepare it poached, baked or pan-fried. If there's a food you hate — maybe spinach — try it in combinations with foods you like. Put the spinach in a lasagna. Then try it in a Spanakopita.
Going raw is the next step. Put a small amount in a salad, add progressively more until you are finally eating a spinach salad.
Between September and December 2009, I lost 25 lbs. I've changed my workouts from walking for an hour, kick-boxing for 45 minutes and toning up with weights. Now I run for an hour ,do the elliptical for 90 minutes and bike for 30 minutes. My calorie intake is 1500 a day and according to what the machines at the club say, I burn about 1400 calories a day, five days a week. So why have I plateaued?
Danielle from Toronto
Realize that the cardio machines at gyms have a completely inaccurate caloric read out. Most times they are out by 30-40%. This could explain the plateauing. You are not burning the calories in a day you think you are.
I am currently on a diet and exercise program and have successfully lost 52 lbs in seven months. My BMI has gone from 43 per cent to 38 per cent but my percentage of body fat is still at 40 (from 45). What's the difference between BMI and Body Fat Percentage, and does having a larger frame calculate into the percentages?
Linda from Sherwood Park, Alberta
BMI is a ratio of your height and weight. A number of 20-25 is a good result. This reading only works for people who are not active. My BMI is 29 which means I am over weight. It does not tell you the composition of the weight.
Body fat percentage is the best indicator of a healthy weight. My body fat percentage is around 10 per cent. Which means my extra weight is composed of muscle. Women should strive for a 20-24 per cent reading.
Do you think the Wii Fit and Balance Board are any good for exercise and weight loss?
Jackie from Chester, England
If you have not done any exercise at all in the last year and are very out of shape, the Wii Fit might give you a bit of a workout.
Generally, I think it's a big waste of time compared to what you could possibly do in the same time. Do it if you want to have playtime, but not if you're looking for the best workout possible.
I watch you on X-Weighted and I am really excited about joining the 2010 Challenge.
Here's is my problem, I can work out 1 to 1.5 hours a day, eat properly (5 mini meals) weighing and measuring, but week one shows zero weight loss but a small inch loss instead. I know I shouldn't be discouraged but I am.
I have done enough weight and exercise plans that I am totally confused.
Exactly what is the best way to work out for weight loss. Is it walking, cardio, strength, weight or all of the above?
Liz in Calgary
The best workout for someone to do is something you enjoy that creates a high heart rate and creates increase in muscular heat energy through movement of as many joints as possible.
About four years ago, I lost almost 70 lbs. Near the end of my weight loss, I took up running. I have since kept off the weight and I've continued running.
During the course of the weight loss and in increasing my activity, I've taken the time to educate myself about fitness. This leads to my question...
I usually wear a heart rate monitor (Garmin) for my running activities. My heart rate often soars to upwards of 190-200+ when running (probably within the first 8 minutes of my run). During this time, I am able to hold brief conversations, I keep steady breathing, etc. But over the course of a long run, it begins to take its toll and I eventually have to stop running. This is extremely frustrating, as I'm really hoping to start running longer distances.
Do you know why my heart rate may get so high? How can I get my heart rate to stay at a more normal level?
I have had my hormones tested, as well as my vitamin levels, and I've also had an EKG performed. My hormone levels are very close to normal — my testosterone is slightly elevated and is being treated by a naturopath. I was diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency, but my levels are now normal. The EKG revealed no abnormalities, and I'm waiting for a referral to an internist to investigate further.
In the meantime, I'm frustrated. Any ideas?
Tara from Fredericton, New Brunswick
Have you tried running more slowly?
Most people start off way too fast because they are not tired yet. Your goal should be to run at a pace slower than you want to in the first half of your run and faster than you want in the second half.
Try working with a run coach and have them do a VO2 Max test on you. They will set up heart rate training zones for you and the workouts you should do in each zone.
I have just lost the last of my baby weight (almost 60 lbs) and managed to gain a fair amount of muscle. I did it without modifying my diet, as I follow a Mediterranean diet and don’t see the need. I lost this weight by running, but now I really want to gain more muscle and tone as well as strength. I think I need a personal trainer, but have no idea on how to go about finding one. Help!
Sandra from Calgary
Hiring a personal trainer is challenging. Here are some things a good trainer should have:
- Be able to do a kinetic chain assessment, explain your results and provide you with the appropriate corrective exercises and stretches.
- Have a university degree in phys ed, kinesiology or movement mechanics.
- Have good experience training a wide range of individuals in a variety of modalities.
- Have a great motivating personality that makes you want to be better.
I realize this question is not going to appeal to the masses who frequent your website, but it's worth a shot anyways!
I am a 25-year-old female with a BSc in Biology and Kinesiology. I excelled at and highly enjoyed exercise physiology (lab and theory based), nutrition and fitness courses at school. I am considering taking the leap into the fitness industry by becoming a certified personal trainer, continuing my education in nutrition and coaching skills.
In your professional opinion what is the best first step? There are so many certifying organizations, I want to make sure am adequately prepared for a successful career changing lives.
Laura from Langley, BC
The industry is always looking for good personal trainers. Good organizations are the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Academy of Sports Medicine. They offer some fantastic certifications you can take. Good Luck.
I'm a long-time viewer of X-Weighted, first time writer.
I have been working out quite consistently for a year and a half now, and overall I am looking and feeling good except for my belly area. I have shrunk all over my body except for my abdomen and I really do look pregnant now. My doctor told me it is visceral fat, deep within my abdomen and I don't know how to get rid of it or to reduce its appearance.
Please help me and tell me what to do, or eat or something! Thanks! My husband and I love your show.
Nancy from Hawkesville, ON
Sorry, but there's nothing you can do to lose fat off specific parts of your body. The key is to do more intensity that your body is not accustomed to. Once you get used to a workload, keep making it harder.
The main key is to eat absolutely clean. It is much easier to not put calories into your mouth than have to expend them through exercise.
How long should you work out for and how often in order to get great results without overdoing it? I hear some people work out every day for hours and others three times a week for an hour each. Is there a magic formula?
Katharine from Woodbridge, ON
There is no magic formula.
A good start is to aim for 45 minutes everyday in volume. Focus on increasing intensity as you get fitter. At the beginning, maybe you can only walk for 45 minutes. A few months in, you will probably be able to do half running and the other half walking.
Increase the intensity and do activity you enjoy for a minimum of 45 minutes everyday.
I often find myself getting into debates with people over a couple things, so I was hoping you could give me your opinion on them. First, dynamic vs static stretching; second, free weights vs machine weights.
Matthew from Quesnel, BC
Both static and dynamic stretching can be beneficial.
Static stretches can help improve tightness in a specific area of the body that is out of whack with its opposing muscle group.
Dynamic stretching is more specific to real-life movement and speed of movement. It teaches your body to lengthen while the opposing muscle groups decelerate the speed of the limb.
With weight training, I think machines are completely useless. Sitting or lying down on a supported piece of equipment is a devolvement of human movement. No core usage, no synergy of muscular involvement, no stabilization or balance required.
The body is meant to work as a unit from head to toe not in isolation.
Last year I ran the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:39:09. I was very happy. It was my fifth marathon and my personal best.
I am a 37-year-old mother of three wonderful children. My eldest, Jake, is 9, Madelaine is 7 and Mac is 5. In June my husband passed away. Life stopped for awhile. Friends, family and my children have pulled me through.
I intended on running Boston again this year. I am a 5'4" woman who weighs 116 pounds. Today I set out to do an 18-mile run, and at 13 miles my knee gave me trouble. The same thing happened two years ago — an IT band issue. As a result, I ran in the water and cross-trained. Right now I am so mentally tired from the loss of my husband and all of my responsibilities. I need to run this race and I need your help.
I am not looking for a freebie. I will eat what you tell me and exercise how I should.
Please help me achieve this goal.
Roberta from Edmonton, AB
Congrats on the great time in the marathon. Fantastic! Running can be quite harmful on the joints of the body.
You should get a run gait analysis performed plus a kinetic chain assessment. Your body should be distributing impact forces evenly. If not certain areas will work harder than they need to, like your IT Band.
I recommend seeing Kevin Masters at www.aerobicpower.com He specializes in training endurance athletes. He will teach you to run safely and efficiently, plus he's located in Edmonton.
l know that you get a ton of comments. As a degree nurse with 25 years of experience and a work-out person, l have a comment: the majority of the people that you show on TV need serious psychological help.
lt reinforces to me that our obesity pandemic has a whole different component. You cannot convince me or the public that people do not realize that fast food is junk and adds weight. They need to take responsibility for their own problems.
l do not know how you keep it together when you listen to these people.
Lana from Barrie, ON
Wow, you sound tougher than I am!
I absolutely agree the psychology behind why people make poor eating choices plays a major role in achieving a healthy weight. I try to be supportive when I can but I will let someone know if I think they are just being lazy.
Some people need a kick in the pants while others need much more than that.
I am a big fan of X-Weighted and of you. I have a question. When is it better to eat: before you workout or after? I just got a gym membership and I would like to make sure I get the best out of my workouts.
Chantal from Thunder Bay
If your workout is less than 90 minutes, then eat afterwards. The post-workout meal is the most important one of the day. It will help repair the body from the workout and get it ready for the next hard training session.
First off, I love your show and am also really enjoying the National X-Weighted Challenge. It has proven to be very motivating for me and I am now working towards a 10 km run.
You've mentioned how important the post-workout meal is. I have read a lot about the benefits of chocolate milk post-workout and would like to know what your thoughts are on this.
It apparently contains all the carbs, sugars and proteins needed to recover from a workout. Is this accurate? Would you recommend or suggest that this is a good post workout drink?
Angele from Ottawa
I know many dietitians that recommend chocolate milk as a great post workout snack. I am not a fan.
Milk itself is a good option but adding chocolate just provides your body with unhealthy sugars. Regular milk already has sugar in it in the form of lactose. Try a cup of milk and a piece of fruit instead.
Before I ask my question, I'd like to say that I find X-Weighted one of the best weight-loss shows out there because it shows that working out isn't a quick six-week fix and takes a lot of continuous hard work.
I do have a question though. I started working with a personal trainer in September, working out three to five times a week (one-hour sessions that are a mix of cardio and weight training depending on the phase). I do my best to eat five small meals a day with no carbs after lunch and keep a food journal.
Unfortunately, I still can't lose the weight and have in fact gained more with my fat percentage decreasing by only five per cent. I've had my blood checked many times and every test comes back as normal. What could be the reason I'm not losing weight?
Arleigh from London, ON
I question why you are not eating carbs after lunch.
Carbs will not make you fat, just the wrong choice of carbs or the quantity. You need carbs for energy to do intense activity. Maybe your exercise sessions are not intense enough.
I was wondering if you would ever consider doing The Biggest Loser Canada? I would love to be part of it. I need to lose 50 lbs and need a good meal plan. I exercise about three times a week now but am starting five times a week next week. Can you help me?
Amanda from Winnipeg
I don’t think I would ever do The Biggest Loser in Canada. This is a game show where people are trying to win money. I would not want to be part of a show that kicks people off for only losing 10 lbs in a week.
I hope most people that watch just see the show as entertainment. Otherwise, it's not a healthy way to view weight-loss.
I must admit I do like watching the trainers kill the participants. But they make them do such inappropriate exercises so early in their programs. Plus the trainers allow the participants to do exercises with terrible technique. No wonder so many of them are getting injured.
I had gall bladder surgery last Tuesday. When can I start on the treadmill again?
My family and I are huge fans!
Jackie from Kelvington
I say get started as soon as possible. Take it easy at first; your body will tell you what is too much. Add duration slowly to each workout and when you start feeling good then focus on increasing the intensity.
I watch your show whenever it is on TV and I noticed that you do not have older people on it. I am 60 years old and in very good health, but I do have a weight problem. I am 165 lbs and 5 feet tall. That is not a good thing.
I exercise six days a week about a half hour to one hour a day. I eat anywhere from 1400 to 1700 calories a day. I have two labs and walk them four times a day about 20 minutes each time. I did not include that in my other exercise. I eat whole grains, fruit and vegetables every day.
Oh yes, did I mention that I would love to be on your show? I hope that you read your own e-mails or I will probably not get a response from you. I do not want a generic reply. I am very committed to losing weight.
Thank you for your time,
Donna from Edmonton
I am happy to let you know that I answer all my own emails.
To lose the extra weight you need to do some resistance training. It's never too late to improve your muscular strength and endurance. This is a great way to elevate your metabolism so that you are burning calories all day long, even when you are sleeping.
Since you live in Edmonton I recommend calling my personal training studio — Custom Fit at 780-451-2476. I can have one of my trainers design a program specific for your fitness level.
Look forward to seeing you at the studio!
My daughter is taking my 11-year-old grandson to a weight-loss clinic and he is being injected a few times in his stomach and someplace else.
My grandson is about 4'10" and 140 lbs. My question to you is whether or not this treatment is safe. Also, he is on some diet which does not make sense to me for a growing boy.
Thanks for your time given to my question. God bless you.
Carolina from Bowmanville
This does not sound right to me either. If she is taking him to a Bernstein Clinic I would strongly discourage this. No child should be subjected to needles for weight-loss.
For pete's sake, just get him playing more and don’t feed him junk food.
I am always very bothered with the number that appears on my scale. I usually weigh myself once a week and when I have a great week, eat very healthy (no crap food at all and I do not drink alcohol) and exercise the same every day the number sometimes is even higher than it was a week ago when I had a bad week.
People do say that muscle weighs more than fat and anything can affect the number on the scale, even drinking a glass of water before weighing yourself.
I just want to hear it from a professional that the number is not as important as how your clothes fit and that I should throw away the scale.
Daina Marie from Edmonton
Hi Daina Marie,
Even though we use a scale on the X-Weighted show, I believe it is not the best method of measuring correct body weight. The scale does not measure body composition. Muscle is 18 per cent more dense than fat and takes up less space. A tape measure and a body fat composition test is your best bet. Women should be between 20-24 per cent for a lean and healthy fat to muscle composition.
Love your show! My spouse and I have been eating healthy for about four months now and have lost about 20 lbs each. However, I notice my resolve is diminishing. I am sneaking things back into our eating plan from our old ways.
Any suggestions on how to renew our resolve?
Thanks for you time,
Paula from Moncton, NB
I had this exact question from one of my clients I train regularly. I will tell you what I told her...
Have a professional photographer do artistic nude shots of yourself. Pay for it in advance and set a date. You will be motivated to eat clean and look good in the pictures. Put your shoots in a nice album you can surprise your spouse with.
My client gave her pictures in an album to her husband for Valentine’s Day. She looked good and her husband was quite surprised.