weight training

Book Review - My Diva Diet: A Woman's Last Diet Book

Some readers of a certain age may remember body builder and author Christine Lakatos from the 1989 season of TV's American Gladiators. Now an author and personal trainer, Lakatos has produced an informative weight loss guide for women.

My Diva Diet: A Woman's Last Diet Book tries to grab the reader's attention from the cover, which resembles a bright pink comic book with the Dieting Superhero Ms. Diva in the center (yes, she even has a sidekick lioness, Paw) and lots of bright headlines ("Expose & Defeat Your Diet Villains," "Lose Fat, Gain Health," and "Not a quick fix..."). The book is written in a cute, female-oriented voice and is a workbook with tons of quizzes, checklists, and graphics. At base, the program consists of a food program and exercise program for a weight loss phase and a maintenance phase.

While there is nothing bad about Lakatos' book, I have to say that the weight loss advice is not new and different, recommending 1200-1600 calories spread over four meals per day, lots of water and produce, lots of fiber and lean protein, low sodium, low chemicals and preservatives, and of course added exercise. This has been part of every single diet book I have reviewed at Blogcritics.

There are some elements that turned me off, such as Lakatos' claim that her method is partially based on "the centuries-old Judeo-Christian traditions of selecting pure and wholesome foods." Yes, Lakotos claims that only kosher foods as outlined in the Old Testament are fit to eat (funny, foie gras is kosher yet is about as ethically questionable and unhealthy as food can get). I am Jewish and understand the laws of kashrut and keeping kosher, but just because pork tenderloin isn't kosher doesn't mean that it is not a quality source of lean protein for those who eat pork.

In the end, this is a great diet and exercise guide for women that is packed with good information. However, there is to my mind nothing intrinsically new or different in what My Diva Diet: A Woman's Last Diet Book presents, and those who wish to have their weight loss information separate from religious doctrine may have some issues with this book.

Baby Food Diet? Really?

I thought I had heard it all. Really.

And then my friend Natalie sent me a link to her OK! Magazine column where she mentions yours truly, but about me later. In a column devoted to attaining the body beautiful before bikini season, Natalie mentions that Tracy Anderson, who trains Gwyneth and used to train Madonna, is advocating a baby food diet. Yes, you read correctly, BABY FOOD.

A word of warning: legs like La Paltrow don't come easy - Anderson advocates a strenuous two-hour, dance-based cardio sequence in a boiling hot room, six days a week. It literally melts off that fat.

Definitely not for the faint of heart and with one-on-one training sessions rumoured to cost $250 an hour, it is certainly the luxury of the uber-rich....

In addition to this grueling workout, Anderson also encourages her clients to follow the ‘Baby Food diet’, which is guaranteed to shed more than seven pounds in one week.

The basic idea is to consume 14 portions of pureed foods throughout the day. All the mixtures are free from oils, spices and salt and can range from fruit smoothies to dandelion soups.

In the evening a ‘normal’ meal of lean protein and vegetables is permitted. Anderson believes that the easier it is for your body to process food, the quicker the weight will fall off.

14 portions of baby food? Is she crazy?

But now for me. Ahem,

Meanwhile, Pilates and personal training guru Lynda Lippin has developed a fail-safe plan guaranteed to shift those stubborn pounds in just ten days.

Far from spending hours pounding away on the treadmill, Lynda advocates short, sharp bursts of cardio complimented with light weight training.

“Cardio should take no longer than 15 to 20 minutes,” says Lynda. “I put my clients on the treadmill at an incline of 8 and speed of 12km/h for three minutes.

"They are allowed a one minute rest and then return to the original speed. A series of three to five of these intervals will get the better of even my fittest clients.”

Your choice - 2 hours grueling exercise day and baby food, or my completely sane 20 minutes of high intensity exercise and real food.

Rules of Fitness Form

On Friday mornings I teach a Cross Training fitness class at Parrot Cay and after I typically spend some time at the gym talking to the guests and correcting form. I am still amazed at how many people are exercising in bad form and have back and neck pain.

The First Rule
If you are moving your legs or arms you must not move your spine!
Keep a steady neutral stable spine and you will get more work in your legs, butt, and arms with less back strain.

The Second Rule
If you cannot maintain form stop the exercise.
Pushing through a set with bad form is almost worse than not exercising at all! You will strain yourself and you are not getting the full benefit of the exercise, so what's the point?

The Third Rule
Use your abs, back, and butt at all times.
When you are exercising, whether yoga, pilates, or weight training, keep your "core" muscles constantly engaged to maintain optimal stability and form (see above rules).

Pilates and Weight Training

Hi Lynda. As a complete beginner to working out, I am looking for a routine that can give me good size gains as well as making me strong.

I have a bad posture and suffer from shoulder instability. My hip flexors are very tight and I have many other muscular imbalances so I would like a routine that can address these imbalances whilst allowing me to make the size gains I'd like.

So I'd like to have a combined pilates and weight training regime. I would like to workout 4 times a week. How would you suggest I split the routine? I was thinking of 3 weight training/cardio sessions a week with once a week pilates.

Does this sound like a good routine? Would once a week pilates be enough to reap the benefits?

Thank you.

Dear Tommy,

Thanks for your question!

Now, I never give out training routines to people I haven't met, because only when I can see you move and see what your problem areas are can I give you good advice. So my advice in terms of routine is to see a trainer for at least one session and have him or her give you what you need. This way you will be doing the exercises most appropriate for your body and your goals.

Note that some people gain size easily while others struggle with size. Your workout will need to depend on your body. Plus, you need to watch carefully that you maintain great form in upper body work or you could very well injure your shoulders. A trainer will help keep you in great form!

In terms of a split yours sounds fine, but if in a few weeks you want more pilates or more weights change it accordingly.

More Muscle = Less Fat

We somehow still have it in our heads that weight training is unnecessary for fat loss and that cardiovascular exercise is what we need to do to lose weight. I hate to break it to you, but that's just plain wrong! Muscle tissue is more compact than fat (so takes up less space but is a bit heavier), has a higher metabolic rate than fat (so the more muscle you have th emore calories you burn even at rest), and is the first to go as we age (we lose 6 pounds of muscle mass every decade unless we lift weights to maintain it). To quote fitness professional Wayne Westcott writing in the Patriot Ledger,

"Let’s do the math. An adult who does not strength train is likely to lose six pounds of muscle and add 18 pounds of fat every decade. In terms of bodyweight (assessed accurately by the bathroom scale), this is a 12-pound change (18 pounds to 6 pounds); but with respect to body composition, (assessed accurately by laboratory techniques and reasonably well by the bathroom mirror), this is a 24-pound change (18 pounds plus 6 pounds).In other words, the bathroom scale offers only a half-truth, indicating a 12-pound problem when, in fact, there is a 24-pound problem."

This is a problem even for folks who are extremely fit cardiovascularly.

"Unfortunately, endurance exercise does not attenuate the muscle loss associated with aging. A University of Florida study of masters runners found that these aerobically active athletes lost five pounds of muscle over a 10-year period. In other words, standard modes of exercising do not productively address the underlying causes of fat gain, namely muscle loss and metabolic slowdown. While everyone should perform regular aerobic activity, it should be in conjunction with sensible strength training."

And all it takes is 20 minutes of strength training three times a week. Just one set of 8 repetitions of 10 different exercises!

"Our research with more than 1,600 study subjects averaged a three-pound muscle gain after 10 weeks of training for just 20 minutes per session. Our program participants performed one set (8 to 12 repetitions) of 10 weightmachines two or three days per week. This represents a modest amount of training time for a significant increase in muscle mass.

It makes sense from every perspective to perform regular strength exercise. In addition to reversing the muscle loss, metabolic slowdown and fat gain associated with the aging process, strength training reduces the risk of numerous degenerative diseases and disabilities. These include obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, colon cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, unfavorable blood lipid profiles, low back pain and depression. These important health and fitness benefits, not to mention improved physical appearance and functional abilities, make strength training a must-do activity."

Tags: Weight Training, Weight Loss, senior fitness, Fitness News