Thu | May 26, 2022

I want to lose 20 pounds!

Published:Wednesday | May 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Dear Dr Gardner,

Recently I gained 20 pounds. I am 34 years old, 5 ft 8 in. tall, no children and attending school. I think the weight gained has a lot to do with the hours I sometimes study and eat. I purchased some exercise machines. How often and how long should I spend on each of these machines and what should I eat to go back to my old weight and maintain it? Also, my husband and I would like to start a family soon. Up to what stage can I continue exercising during pregnancy? Thanks in advance for your response.

- Concerned about weight gain

Dear Reader

It is normal to gain weight if there is no deficit in caloric intake and expenditure. If you don't have any problems (basal metabolic, here-dity, nutritional, medical or situational problems) losing weight is a matter of reducing the number of calories consumed daily and modifying caloric output.

Your goal should be to lose the weight largely by decreasing your fat mass while maintaining muscle mass.

Weight loss should occur gradually; don't lose more than one to two pounds each week. This must be done through diet and aerobic exercises. Eat balanced nutritional meals totalling at least 1,200 calories daily. Your exercise routine should use the large muscle groups for a minimum of three days weekly for 30 minutes each session.

Using the elliptical machine

Trying to lose weight using an abdominal board is not the most efficient way. The abdominal board will tone and strengthen your abdominal muscles. However, aerobic exercises (like those done on the elliptical machine and treadmill) will be more effective in losing weight. The elliptical machine simulates walking or running without causing excessive pressure to the joints thus decreasing the risk of impact injuries.

It offers a non-impact cardiovascular workout that can vary from light to high intensity based on the resistance used. It is designed to provide a cardiovascular workout, not to build muscles. It provides a total body workout with synchronised upper and lower body movements.

The elliptical machine and the treadmill will target basically the same muscle groups so you may want to consider getting another exercise equipment. If you get the treadmill, you can exercise for a part of the session on the elliptical machine and then on the treadmill. Another option is to alternate the days you use the machines so that you keep the experience novel. One or the other will be very useful in helping you lose weight.

Exercising while pregnant

It is commendable that you are looking forward to the inclusion of exercising during pregnancy. The benefits are exceptional. However, you and your physician will have to decide on the timeline for your exercise programme. Individuals have considerably different experiences during pregnancy. Some women are able to exercise for most of the pregnancy while others are not.

Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center; email: