From the monthly archives:

August 2011

Top 10 exercise myths

August 31, 2011

Here’s some useful tips from the Times of India:

Exercise Myth 1
You Will Burn More Fat If You Exercise Longer at a Lower Intensity. The faster you walk, step or run the more calories you use per minute. However, high-intensity exercise is difficult to sustain if you are just beginning or returning to exercise, so you may not exercise very long at this level. It is safer, and more practical, to start out at a lower intensity and work your way up gradually.

Exercise Myth 2
If You’re Not Going to Work Out Hard and Often, Exercise Is a Waste of Time. Research continues to show that any exercise is better than none. For example, regular walking or gardening for as little as an hour a week has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Exercise Myth 3 Belly
Crunches will get rid of your fat belly. You cannot pick and choose areas where you would like to burn fat. In order to burn fat, you should create a workout that includes both cardiovascular and strength training elements. This will decrease your overall body fat content.

Exercise Myth 4
You should never eat before a workout. “Fuel” from food and fluids is required to provide the energy for your muscles to work efficiently, even if you are doing an early morning workout. Consider eating a small meal or snack one to three hours prior to exercise.

Exercise Myth 5
Exercise Is One Sure Way to Lose All the Weight You Desire. As with all responses to exercise, weight gain or loss is impacted by many factors, including dietary intake and genetics. Although exercise alone cannot guarantee your ideal weight, regular physical activity is one of the most important factors for successful long-term weight management.

Exercise Myth 6
If You Want to Lose Weight, Stay Away From Strength Training Because You Will Bulk Up. Most exercise experts believe that cardiovascular exercise and strength training are both valuable for maintaining a healthy weight. Strength training helps maintain muscle mass and decrease body fat percentage.

Exercise Myth 7
Exercise turns fat into muscles. Fat and muscle tissue are composed of two entirely different types of cells. While you can lose one and replace it with another, the two never “convert” into different forms.

Exercise Myth 8
The Health and Fitness Benefits of Mind-Body Exercise Like Tai Chi and Yoga Are Questionable. In fact, research showing the benefits of these exercises continues to grow. Improved flexibility, balance, coordination, posture, strength and stress management are just some of the potential results of mind-body exercise.

Exercise Myth 9
Overweight People Are Unlikely to Benefit Much From Exercise. Studies show that obese people who participate in regular exercise programs have a lower risk of all-cause mortality than sedentary individuals, regardless of weight.

Exercise Myth 10
You have to sweat to have a good workout. Sweating is not necessarily an indicator of exertion-sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself. It is possible to burn a significant number of calories without breaking a sweat: try taking a walk, or doing some light weight training, or working out in a swimming pool.

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Halle Berry Workout Secrets? No surprises here really but she does look great for a 45 year old!

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In a word…. NO!

Yet another weight loss fad is hitting the markets and this time it’s African mango. Please read the article right to the end. There is no conclusive evidence that this is any better than eating any other high fibre fruit so please don’t be mislead by people peddling this stuff at $40 a bottle.

It was only a matter of time until another unlikely fad hit the multi-billion dollar weight loss market. Move over, goji berries, pomegranate and açaí.

Enter the exotic Mango.

This time, all attention is on a humble ‘bush’ fruit which is giving more expensive weight loss solutions a run for their money.

Proponents of the latest health fad say that the African mango, indigenous to coastal west Africa, is an age-old Cameroonian bush medicine, its ‘unique’ properties apparently helping to budge fat and even lower blood fat levels.

The African mango, Irvingia gabonesis, is unlike other mangoes in that it produces an edible protein-rich seed that is commonly used in Cameroonian cooking. Extracts from the seeds are available in a tablet form, dubbed the ‘breakthrough supplement.’

The capsules were given the boost they needed when Oprah’s Doctor Oz gave the capsules his endorsement last year.

The Emmy-winning Dr Oz Show aired a segment on the ‘miracle in your medicine cabinet’ and the show’s Dr Tanya Edwards tried the pills.

Dr Edwards wrote on DoctorOz.com: ‘Sounds like a magic bullet to me! I tried it myself, and low and behold, in the first month of taking it (only once per day, mind you, instead of the recommended twice daily), I lost 7 pounds without making any changes in my usual healthy diet and exercise routine!’ She soon recommended the supplement to patients.

In no time, sites selling the supplement mushroomed online. Chris Khilam, known as the ‘medicine hunter’, told FoxNews.com that now, ‘the mango diet is here with a vengeance.’

A short search for African mango tablets reveals hundreds of sales sites in the U.S. and beyond brashly extolling the virtues of the supplement, which costs around $40 per bottle.

But is there any truth behind its miraculous claims?

Two studies by Judith L Ngondi and colleagues at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon, published in the Journal of Lipids in Health, support the hype, their data apparently showing the seeds to cause significant weight loss and improve blood flat levels.

In a 2005 study, the team studied 28 volunteers, comparing weight loss over four weeks between a group who were given a placebo and a group who were given African mango supplements. Taken before meals, three times a day, the study reported that those who took the African mango supplement lost 5.3% of their body weight, while the control group only lost 1.3%.

According to Dr IV van Heerden at Health24.com: ‘Considerable reductions in total blood cholesterol (39.2 per cent), triglycerides (44.9 per cent) and “bad” LDL cholesterol (45.6 per cent), were obtained in the treatment group. At the same time, “good” HDL cholesterol levels in the group receiving African mango, increased by 46.9 per cent.’

A repeated experiment in 2009 used a more highly developed extract from the African mango seed, IGOB131, and studied its effects on 102 individuals over 10 weeks.

Dr can Heerden said: ‘The treatment group lost more weight, had improved blood fat and glucose values, lower blood pressure, and other markers of the metabolic syndrome (e.g. lower leptin levels).’

The authors wrote that ‘Like other soluble fibers, Irvingia gabonensis seed fibre can bind to bile acids in the gut and carry them out of the body… This can result in the lowering of blood cholesterol as well as other blood lipids.’

Put simply, African mango is a high fibre food, and high fibre foods had long been known to support a healthy and balanced diet.

Mr Khilam said: ‘The connection between fibers from fruits and fat control is age-old. Many fruits contain fibers that help to reduce cholesterol. Apples, oranges, figs, dates, pears, nectarines, and a host of fruits contain beneficial fibers that help to control fats in the blood. So this purported benefit of the “amazing” African mango is nothing new.’

Where even the slightest shred of scientific credibility has gone, supplement manufacturers – and a willing public – surely follow.

Many an online testimonial reads like an advertisement for the pills.

David Jeffery, a 36-year-old journalist from Columbia, Missouri, told Post-Sentinel.com:

‘After just two weeks of using African Mango, I lost 22 pounds of fat, including a lot of fat off my gut.

‘I’m amazed at how fast the weight is falling off me. Already my jean size has dropped from 36 to 34.’

But it’s not time to invest in a swathe of mango farmland yet.

‘The connection between fibers from fruits and fat control is age-old… the “amazing” African mango is nothing new’

Critically, Dr Edwards from the Doctor Oz show points out that the two Cameroon studies ‘were performed by researchers with a vested interest in the company making the product.’

She admits that after recommending the pills to patients, ‘the results have been slightly underwhelming. A few patients lost a few pounds, but it has not been the magic bullet I had hoped for. And with continued use, I have not lost any more weight.’

Dr van Heerden cites further studies warning that limited knowledge of the plant can be dangerous – let alone whether the plant is as effective as claimed.

Known side effects are headaches, flatulence and difficulty sleeping and it’s certainly worth steering clear of supplements if pregnant or breast-feeding.

‘My advice would be to wait until more research has been done and enough scientific data has been gathered that we can recommend African mango as a safe slimming aid.

‘Keep in mind that we don’t know yet if African mango or Irvingia gabonensis is really safe, if it produces sustainable weight loss, if the high fibre content does not interfere with the absorption of vital minerals and other nutrients, and if taking such high doses of fibre won’t damage your normal peristalsis,’ he says.

Mr Kihlam, who has seen his fair share of exotic ingredient crazes, remains sanguine:

‘Capsules of African mango seed extract have a long way to go before they can serve the legitimate needs of an ever-obese public.

‘If you wish to lose weight, the basics apply. Eat smaller portions. Eat cleaner foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, eat fewer refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar, corn syrup) and stay away from fried foods.’

Good old-fashioned common sense seems to beat any flash-in-the-pan fad. ‘Walk a few miles every day. Take your weight reduction seriously,’ says Mr Khilam. ‘You didn’t get heavy in a week and you will not lose a lot of weight quickly.

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Here’s an interesting article that may go some way to explaining why I’ve been able to finally lose weight and keep it off. Apparently as you get older, it’s more likely you have the right attitude to losing weight, going for the long game rather than quick weight loss yo yo diets:

Could it possibly be easier for a woman to lose weight and keep it off after 40?A very beautiful old lady II

On the face of it, that sounds ridiculous. Even some of my most successful clients talk about how much easier it was to lose weight in their 20s.

“When I was 25, I could go on any diet and lose a stone (14 pounds) in a week or two”

So how can it be easier to lose weight and keep it off after 40?

In my experience, when it comes to their weight, women in their 20s are usually more preoccupied with quick results. Often this may be related to a particular event (like a holiday or a wedding). They are willing to go to extreme lengths as long as they get the results quickly.

And in your 20s, it is possible “starve” yourself down to a lower weight (if you can tolerate the deprivation) very quickly. Last week, a woman in her late 20s told me how she was trying a “slower” approach to weight loss. Despite apparently taking it slow, she had still managed to lose 4 pounds in the last week. This is the kind of weight loss a woman in her 50s can only dream about.

But the problem with this quick approach is that it is a recipe for yoyo dieting. You can do what it takes to get down to a lower weight, but as soon as you stop the diet, then what?

The best example of this is the young woman in her 20s or 30s trying to lose weight for her wedding day. She stops eating all the foods she loves, starves herself and goes through hell for the sake of looking good in a wedding dress. Of course, this approach to losing weight is guaranteed to be short term only, because once the wedding is over, she no longer has the strong motivation to tolerate such deprivation so she stops dieting and the weight comes back on.

In contrast, women over 40 have a much better approach to weight loss. In my experience:
1. They are more concerned with lasting results than the speed of their weight loss
2. They are willing to embrace the idea that you don’t need to starve yourself to lose weight. 3. They understand that small, gradual changes are more effective than “showy” drastic ones

This makes them the ideal clients, because they have the most important prerequisite to losing weight and keeping it off: they have the right attitude.

You might think that attitude is a minor factor in weight loss. But in my experience, a woman who wants quick results no matter what will generally make the wrong decisions when losing weight. They will go for short term strategies that may get them fast results, but that are so unpleasant that no one in their right mind would ever be able to live that way.

Contrast this, with someone who makes small changes every week that they know they can live with for the rest of their life. Over several weeks, they add more small changes. The beauty of this gradual approach is that it is gentler and much easier. There is no deprivation or suffering. And the easier it is, the more likely you will stick with it for the long term.

The ironic result is that while women in their 20s might be able to lose weight easier, it is women in their 40s who are best equipped to lose weight and keep it off.

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