I have been in the Health and Fitness Industry for about 11 years and I always get asked the same questions. I am sure other fitness professionals out there can relate. Whether I am at a family gathering, in a bank queue, or at a cocktail party, I cannot escape the questions as soon as people discover my profession. Below are some typically asked questions and their answers.
1. How do I lose my stomach?
Losing belly fat starts in the kitchen. Research shows that 80% of what we look like is influenced by what we eat. This means if our bodies are holding excess body fat, a really good look and analysis of what you are eating is required. There are various reasons why you are holding excess body fat: QUALITY, e.g. natural vs. processed, QUANTITY, e.g. the amount of food ingested, whether too much or too little, FREQUENCY, e.g. how often does one eat or not eat and what sort of times. All these affect weight and metabolism. If you need an overhaul on this matter, I advise you to seek guidance from a nutritionist.
Exercise helps to loose belly fat, too. A typical error a lot of people make is only targeting the stomach muscles when trying to shed off excess stomach fat. Actually, the most effective way to trim your waistline is to work your entire body. Your core muscles are nearly always involved when working major muscle groups. Your body will burn excess body fat wherever it is stored on you with exercise. Putting the two together (diet and exercise) will ensure success. Interval training, resistance training and weight training with some cardio will help to achieve an overall lean and toned body.
2. Should women weight train?
My answer to this is always yes. I encourage women to weight train; the benefits are astounding. Weight training helps increase bone density, it increases strength, and it results in an overall toned, youthful and athletic look. I believe the reluctance in women to use weights in training is fear-based.
Usually, women are worried that they will look too manly as a result of weight training. I will educate you a little further. Naturally, this is nearly impossible. We do not have enough testosterone in our bodies to put on muscle as fast and as easily as men do. Women experience less muscle growth (hypertrophy) in comparison to men, who have greater amounts of testosterone. Those images that one may have seen with women with far too much muscle can be intimidating. Those are not your average everyday women. Those are examples of bodybuilders who spend their lives eating and training to look that way with the possible aid of enhancers. Weight training in women results in a lean physique. Get lifting, ladies.
3. Should I exercise whilst pregnant?
It is encouraged for expectant mums to exercise. If one was exercising well before they fell pregnant, they can most often carry on throughout their pregnancy with modifications to suit each stage of the pregnancy. When an expectant mother approaches me, there are few things that have to be crossed out on the checklist. The most important is The Doctors’ Approval, which comes in the form of a clearance letter. The gynecologist will give the thumbs up if the expectant mum and baby are both healthy.
The top reasons why one may not be allowed to exercise include high blood pressure, an incompetent cervix, history of miscarriages, history of heart disease, multiple pregnancy (e.g. triplets) as this is considered a high-risk pregnancy, etc. Depending on the case, one may only be restricted to walking and gentle exercise and sometimes nothing at all.
4. What is the fastest or best way to lose weight?
There is no one answer or best way for this. What may work for one person may not work for the next. It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to exercising. One may say running or boot camp and the other may say resistance training. The most important thing to understand is that shedding off excess body fat is a process that take times and patience. There is a need for consistency in whatever physical activity you would have picked up, as well as eating clean and healthy.
There are principles that fitness professionals follow when setting and designing programs that will increase the chances of losing weight fast. The question that almost always follows this is, “How long will It take me to lose X amount of kgs?” My answer is always, “I don’t know.” I don’t know how one’s body will respond to a specific way of training or way of eating. We are all different and our bodies will always respond differently. Age, genetics, size, etc. are all factors to consider. Yes, there will almost always be progress, but making guarantees on a specific amount of kgs to be dropped is impossible.
5. How often should one exercise?
Again, this is dependent on the goal. If one is on a weight loss program, one should ideally exercise 4-6 days a week for 20-60 minutes per training session. If one is on a maintenance program, perhaps not as many days of exercise are necessary, etc. However, we recommend an average of 3 days per week of exercise in order to make a positive impact on health.
6. What should I eat or not eat when trying to lose weight?
One must strive for balance and optimum nutrition when looking at food. Cutting out junk, processed food, excess sugars and excess carbohydrates is always a good start.
Tip: Watch out for nutritional advice that encourages the cutting out a food group entirely, as this will most certainly create deficiencies in the long run. Again, this is another answer that requires specifics (no one-size-fits-all). There is so much information out there, diets, fads and more diets that suggest they have “the secret to losing weight.”
7. What are the benefits of training with a personal trainer?
This is a great question. Engaging a fitness trainer when pursing a goal gives you access to knowledge. This means that the approach is tailored and guided, which often results in success. There is also the accountability factor. Knowing that someone is waiting for you will push you to show up for training.
8. If I stop training, will muscle turn into fat?
This is a huge Misconception, and I suppose it has arisen from real examples when it comes to retired bodybuilders and boxers who go from being muscular to chubby and sometimes fat. This is because these retired athletes are generally used to eating huge amounts of food and continue to do so even when they are idle. In order to maintain a great physique when you stop training, you should decrease the calorie intake.
Tip: When trying to maintain your current body, calories in should equal energy expenditure. When trying to gain, calories in should be more than energy expenditure. Whey trying to lose weight, calories in should be less than your energy expenditure.
Barbra Jambga is a Certified Fitness Professional (Diploma in Exercise Science -HFPA) with over 10 years of experience in the industry as an Advanced Personal Trainer, Sports Fitness Coach and Group Fitness Instructor.
She is the owner and founder of Sweat Nation Fitness, which is known for their Fitness Bootcamps and their exclusive and private Boutique Studio in Harare. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.