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Exercise Advice Needed



Hi there,

I am a 47 year old female and am trying to lose weight as I am very obese and need to lose this weight so that I can have surgery. I have gone through 3 surgerys in the past 18 months and now have a colostomy and a large hernia in my stomach.

The plan is that I will be able to have the colostomy reversed and hernia repaired once I lose 50 pounds. I have already lost 20 pounds of that since October but I don`t feel like it`s coming off fast enough.

I am doing at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise daily and have cut my food intake back to 1500 calories a day. I am trying to get some of the fat off my stomach but am limited as to what I can do because of the hernia and colostomy. What I`m looking for is some suggestions of what additional I can do to help me lose weight but more importantly help me lose some of the fat off my stomach.

Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated


Based on the information you have provided, it seems that you are losing approximately one pound per week, which is well within the healthy range of .5 – 2lbs per week. Without knowing more information, I can’t directly address your caloric needs but I am going to assume that your physician or a Registered Dietitian (if you don’t have one, I highly recommend seeing one) assigned that calorie budget to you and it is correct. So the remainder of my email will solely address your weight loss from a fitness standpoint, rather than the nutrition standpoint. If you are currently doing 30 minutes of cardio/day and feel like your weight loss is at a plateau, here are a few suggestions to shock your body back into weight-loss mode and get the most out of your fitness routine:

  • Mix it up! Don’t do the same type of cardio each day. Walk one day, do the elliptical or arc trainer the next day. Try a group fitness class like spinning or kickboxing to recruit different muscle fibers into action and keep your body guessing. Your body will adapt and be less stimulated by repetitive activities, thus generating less results over time.
  • Add in strength training. Yes, it is a myth that females will “bulk up” from strength training. This will only happen if you are ingesting high doses of testosterone. Strength training increases the lean body tissue (muscle) which is responsible for burning calories throughout the day, whether you are being active or not. The more calorie-burning machines you have in your body (muscles) the more efficient your metabolism/daily caloric burn is. This will ensure that your body fat percentage is lowering along with your body weight and it will help you fight off osteoporosis in the future as well. 
  • Stay in the zone! Everyone has a “zone” of intensity that they should maintain during physical activity. This range/zone varies from individual to individual but can easily be calculated and measured. This zone is measured by your heart rate. Take 220 – your age = your MAX HEART RATE. You want to keep you heart rate below this number. For example, 220-47=173. To calculate the range of intensity (intensity is measured by your heart rate) you should maintain while doing cardio and strength training, take your max heart rate and multiply by .65 and .85. This will give you 65%-85% of your max heart rate. Example: 173 x .65 = 112 and 173 x .85 = 147. Your TARGET HEART RATE RANGE is 112 – 147 beats per minute. If you stay within that zone, the higher the more intense = more calorie burn = more weight loss during your workout, then you will definitely increase your rate of weight loss and should knock yourself right off of that plateau. 
    • To measure this, you can use the sensors on the cardio equipment to take your heart rate during your workout, stop and take an exercise heart rate every 10 minutes during your workout, OR invest in a reliable heart rate monitor. Quality heart rate monitors can range anywhere from $30 – $300, depending on your needs. The higher end will include calorie burn tracking and online GPS tracking, mostly designed for distance walkers and runners. Monitoring your heart rate and utilizing it as a training tool can be one of the best things for you to ensure that you are challenging your body at the proper intensity. You may notice a difference in the way you feel training at that level but I assure you, it will all be worth it. 
  • It’s in the genes/jeans. Unfortunately, you cannot spot reduce. I would definitely suggest incorporating abdominal exercises at the end of your cardio workout and as a part of your strength training. However, cardio must be done to burn the fat off of those stubborn abdominal muscles. This, unfortunately, is determined by your genes and body type. By now, you probably know from which area of your body fat disappears first and sadly, last. If your stomach happens to be the last place to blast fat, just remain patient and follow the above steps. Once you kick your workout into overdrive by training yourself using your target heart rate and cross training by incorporating different types of cardio, classes, or strength training, (or better yet, invest in a personal trainer that will do all of this for you if it seems overwhelming) your stomach will have no choice but to slim down. 
  • Keep in mind, 2lbs of weight loss/week is the maximum amount recommended, so don’t stress too much about losing 1lb/week. Stress can get in the way of your weight loss goal and so can negative self-talk. 20lbs is something to celebrate! Stay positive and focused and you will be a success!

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Go to the Exercise and Fitness health topic.