Welcome to the sixth 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 April and done my best to provide people with some insight and assistance.
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 recently lost 120 pds through gastric bypass. I have had the extra stomach skin removed as well as a breast reduction to fix that area. I do not want another surgery. I only had those two because the extra weight was causing my back to hurt more. I need to tighten and tone my arms and upper thighs as well as lose some inches on my hips. I have incorporated lunges and squats into my workout. I am not noticing any improvement. The surgeons tell me I will not be able to tone it up without removing it in surgery. I do not know if its true or if he is saying that to make some more money off of me. Please help. How can I tone my arms and legs as well as lose a couple inches in my hips? Are there any specific exercises I can do? How many of them and how often? If you could help me I would be so grateful. You would be saving me from a couple painful surgeries as well as hours in front of the mirror being disgusted at the extra flab..
Concetta from Montana
Unfortunately the human skin is only so elastic, it varies from person to person and with age. Exercise does not improve the elasticity of the skin or can remove it. For excess skin you will have to see a plastic surgeon. There are definitely exercises you can do to increase the muscle size underneath the skin, filling up some of the spare room. I will have some exercise programs people will be able to download from the website coming up later this summer. For the time being try moves like overhead tricep extensions and barbell bicep curls for your arms. For the legs lunges and squat variations are the best. Depending on your fitness level a volume of 10-15 sets for the legs and 6-10 sets for the arms are sufficient. The reps should be in the 8-12 range achieving momentary muscular failure in good form.
Why do the muscles on the insides of my legs get sore when i run outside but not when I run on the treadmill. I want to do the Bluenose Half marathon in May and need help.
Bev from Halifax
It is possible that the treadmill you are using has a flex deck that absorbs some of the impact of running. You may also have weakness in your outer hips and core that permits your femur to internally rotate with each stride impact. If your knee goes inside your toe when you land and if you excessively pronate at the ankle joint a great deal of stress is placed on the inner thighs. I would recommend getting a run gait analysis performed.
I was talking to my sister about doing a body detox/cleanse and she thought you had mentioned something about them being a waste of time and money. I am a healthy 33 year old male who is very active in triathlons and many other sports, and thought this would be a good idea. What are your thoughts? Thanks very much.
Michael from Newmarket
I would question why you would spend money to detoxify your body. Our bodies already have a built in detoxification and cleansing system. Your liver, kidneys, lymphatic system and intestines do this job already. If you are eating clean healthy organic foods, avoiding processed foods, drinking distilled water regularly, and eating lots of fiber you are good. Spend your money on healthy food choices. Many programs want you to fast, force you to drink silly useless concoctions and may interfere with the healthy bacteria in our intestines.
I am a mother of two and a stay at home mom and i would like to not necessarily lose weight, i am 5’2 and 125lbs, but i wouild like to be in shape. my question is this, are protein shakes and powders and bars good for you and a good way to increase muscle mass or not?
Meghan from Brenton
I would recommend to avoid protein powders and bars. Eating healthy protein is not hard to do. Eggs, lean meats, lentils, beans, quinoa, fish are all excellent choices that not only give you excellent protein but energy to exercise and fantastic vitamins and minerals for cellular health. Companies that sell protein product exaggerate their benefit and often put preservatives, coloring and artificial flavoring in their products. If your goal is to focus on muscle building and you want to gain weight a protein shake maybe okay. People drink shakes that have trouble eating enough solid food to gain the size they want..
I notice in your show you tailor exercises for people to improve specific activities. I’m new to running and I was wondering if you had some ideas for strength training I should be doing to improve my running.
I’m following a couch to 5k plan. I’m struggling a bit with the program, I don’t think it’s an aerobic problem, as my breathing is ok during my runs (I’m a pretty active person, but running is new to me), but my legs burn fairly quickly into my runs. Would strength training help?
Steph from Ottawa
Absolutely strength training would help your running. Focusing on hip/core strength will not only make you a stronger runner but more efficient and have a less chance of injury. Exercises like squats, lunges, lateral tube walking, side planks and weighted torso rotations are some moves that would benefit you. I will be listing different exercise programs on my website (one being for runners specifically) coming soon. In the meantime try ordering an exercise program from me and I can design something specific for you or work with a trainer who specializes in strength training for runners.
I am 40 years old, I am taking a Fat burner product of GNC’s with CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid 1500mg). Would you please inform me if you know about some effects of this product or component.
You can give me some advices to eliminate the fat of the abdomen.
Thank you very much.
Amilcar from Lima, Peru
II would avoid any “Fat Burner” product especially if it contains ephedrine and caffeine. The side effects are high blood pressure, increased heart rate, restlessness, dizziness, anxiety, stroke and even death. It is a temporary fix. Once you stop taking the product your metabolism returns to its previous level and may even drop. You can not do any specific thing to remove fat off specific areas of your body. Only liposuction does this. When you eat healthy and exercise fat comes off your body wherever you are genetically predisposed for it to come off.
Although emailing you from the UK, I am Canadian and used to watch X-weighted which is how I know about you and respect what you do. Now, with hubby I live here and love it. Moving on… I am just in the beginning phase of my Personal Trainer course with the YMCA here (first ever in the world, yeah okay I’m impressed with it!) and upon conducting a postural assessment of hubby I notice a slight lordosis curve on him. Hips are forward, shoulders forward, back curved more than normal at lumbar area. (He does sit a lot for work)
My question is what are the best exercises, in your opinion to correct/help this? He is athletic, cycles 15 miles a day, walks plenty, no weight trouble, used to play soccer, no longer. He does plenty of push ups so the upper body is strong but some muscles aren’t. I have researched and know that perhaps his gluts and abs need work along with stretches of hips but what would you recommend to begin with?
Thank you – I look forward to your reply!
Christine from London, UK
Your husband shows the classic signs off upper/lower cross syndrome.
The sitting position your husband is in at work is probably the cause of this. Prolonged sitting causes a collapse at the thoracic spine and excessive curvature at the lumbar spine. The first thing I would do is avoid the push ups, this will only make things worse adding to an already tight chest/shoulder area. Focus on stretching the chest and doing external rotations of the shoulder plus a cobra type exercise for the mid back. The posterior needs to be stronger than the anterior of the body. Stretching the hip flexors and hamstrings can help create better movement at the hip so the lower back does not have to compensate by going into excessive lordosis. Cycling probably adds to the problem putting him in the same sitting position he is already at work. Your husband is in fetal position for a good chunk of his day. He needs to do extension type exercises at all the joints with good core engagement. Try to do movements in an upright position that involve lengthening and opening up the body, the exact opposite position his body is in most of the day.
Just wondering what your opinion is on eating organic? Is there a huge difference between eating organic and eating just the regular foods?
Andrea from Ontario
The big difference eating organic is the foods are supposedly grown in a rich nutrient soil with no pesticides. If you can afford it I recommend organic. Some food purchases make more sense buying organic like strawberries versus bananas. The peel offers some protection against invading pesticides. I would focus on organic free range meats. I saw a documentary called “Food Matters” and “Food Inc.” if you watch these shows you will see how companies treat our meat supply. I almost became a vegetarian. I have definitely cut back on my meat intake.
I’m a trainer and have been passionate about fitness since I was 17 (25 years ago!). I love your show and even watch re-runs because your style inspires me everyday. I have a strange question! While I am not an exhibitionist by any means, I’d like your critique on my physique. A photo with appropriate workout attire can be provided. I believe the human body is an amzing machine (for performance) and a work of art as well, which can be molded like clay. My job requires me (in my opinion) to be a walking advertisement for health & fitness, so I would value the input of a professional like yourself. Let me know if this is feasible! Have a great day!
Melanie from Montreal
Sure send me a picture if you want the honest truth.
After a painful divorce then messy rebound relationship I went from 120 to 138 lbs. I want it off once and for all. Are the diet plans actually developed by Paul? I watch him on a regular basis and think he is the only one that can help me!
Carolyn from Halifax
Yes all the eating plans people sign up for on my website are set up by me. No better way to get back at the EX than developing a rock hard, lean and fit body
I have recently had a major surgery (blocked bowel) anyway it gave me a lot of time to think about my health… too bad we have to get sick before we wise up…anyway I am really wanting to get in shape now. I am 44 and weigh 188. In six weeks of hospitalization I only lost 12 pounds. My question is what do I do to get into some kind of fitness program? How does one start a fitness routine after surgery? I have been home now for 4 weeks and feel ready to do something. Thanks for your time…and thank you for your efforts in helping people get fit!
Amber from Prince George
II really recommend working with a trainer in your area for a few sessions to assess your body and design a program specific for you. Find someone who has experience working with people post surgery, can cooperate with your doctor’s advice and has the personality to be patient with you as you begin the road back to health. Don’t just go and do random exercise you see other people doing. Maximize your time exercising and avoid injury.
I was interested in what your diet consists of for a week.
Do you happen to follow most of the same portion advice and daily eating schedule advice that you give to the participants on the show, or do you have a different regimen because of your fitness/workout level and body size?
Thanks, and much continued success to you, X-Weighted, and the past and future participants.
David from Chicago
IAn eating plan definitely has to fit daily activity level and the size of the individual. My day typically looks like this.
- About two cups organic strawberry yogurt with kasha crunch cereal on top and blueberries
- Three carrots, one pepper, apple, grapefruit and orange which I snack while training clients through out the day
- Real turkey, cheese and veggie sandwich with homemade mushroom barley soup at a local restaurant I frequent
- Whole wheat pasta salad about three cups
Spinach salad with fruit, nuts and assortment of vegetables
Organic dark covered chocolate almonds, try to keep this to a minimum daily
I will eat hamburgers, pizza and have the occasional root beer but it is either homemade or I go to a restaurant I know has fresh quality ingredients.
Sorry for my english, I’m french,
What do you think of the supplement industry ? I recently wanted to buy three things (musclepharm Combat protein, musclepharm recon after-workout, and allmax vitastack) There’s also BCAA, Omega3’s, etc. There’s so much supplements out there !
Do you think that it works and worth the money (hundreds of $ – needless to say that it would cost alot) ? Of course all the ads says that they works. Even for a normal person ? (i.e not an elite athlete).
I rarely see trainers and dietitians speaks about supplements. The supplements seems so effective, that I don’t know if it’s worth it to get a gym membership without them ! I’ve also heard that supplements are only 5% of the results. Why pay hundreds of dollars ?
As most people, I am really confused about supplements.
Thanks Paul, I really like the show!
Po from Canada
I personally do not take any supplements of any kind. I have confidence in the food choices I make to give my body the nutrients it desires. Everyone wants a quick fix or magic pill, it does not exist. I have tried many products promising great results, I have never personally experienced anything that improved me in any way. Mankind has been trying to do a better job than Mother Nature. So far I believe he has failed. The obesity rates and the amount of money people spend on drugs/medication are increasing every year. The diet/supplement industry is a 40 billion dollar per year industry. Companies just want your money, not the improvement in your health. Save your money and spend it on good food. Plus who likes eating pills.
I watch your show whenever I can and I really like it. I myself have taken my own weight loss journey and very much enjoyed it.I have 2 sisters one is 10 and the other one is 9. There both gaining alot of weight and i fear for them. The 10 year old is about 5’2″-5’3″ and weighs 196. I fear that it could get worse then it already has because her weight goes up not be the number of years but by the number of months. I also fear my youngest sister is going to end up the same way, and i dont know what to do. Due to living at two different houses i cant controll what there eating and what kind of activity there doing. It worries me that its going to progress and get worse. I also fear that living in the same house hold that im going to gain all the weight i lost back and i cant take the stress anymore. Do you have any advice on what i could and should do? beacuse ive tried and its not easy trying to make someone exercise and eat proper when you almost dont have the motivation to do it yourself! I look forward to hearing back from you and i hope you can respond!
Natasha from Ridgertown
SYou have a real predicament. I would try to spend more time with your sisters and just play with them. Play is the most important thing children can do to maintain a health fit body. Use your imagination, go to a playground, kick a ball around, play tag, just enjoy each others company.
The food thing is a tough one. You are going to have to talk to your parents or care taker about healthy food choices. Try finding some recipes in a cookbook or on the internet that are nutritious and you may enjoy cooking yourself. Maybe you will make something so good that other people in the family will be receptive to it.
I am interested to hear your thoughts on Crossfit, and it benefits? I have been Crossfitting for sometime now and have found it to be an excellent program. I was just hoping to hear your opinion on it.
Mark from Calgary
I think Crossfit does have some great attributes. They do mostly movements that involve using your body weight and free weights. The workouts are intense. Many of the moves are functional for improving your fitness and energy for daily life activity and sports.
Where Crossfit lacks is that many places do not do kinetic chain assessments on each individual person. Some moves may not be appropriate because of postural dysfunctions of the participants. These dysfunctions need to be identified first before a program can be laid out. Many trainers just post a workout and have anybody try it. The amount of reps for exercises can be outrageous and pointless depending on the goal of the client. Cross fit has become an ego thing where people try intense programs that fitter people have done and see if they can match or beat their times. Form on the exercise begins to suffer, the workout may not be appropriate for your body and injury can occur.