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Q & A

Got a question about some aspect of mind-body-spirit fitness? Ask! It can be as earthly as "Can a heart monitor really enhance my workout?" (the short answer to that is yes) or as heady as, "Don't I need to sell all my worldly goods and go live on a mountain top to find enlightenment?" (the short answer here is no). Needless to say, we can't answer every question we receive, but we will take one every month and answer it here. If you've got a burning need to know about something, email us, and you may find your query featured next time around.

I have been dieting and exercising for almost two years now and have lost 140 pounds. Some problem areas — my love handles and thighs — don't seem to want to tone or lose fat. I go to a nutritionist and have been eating healthy from the start of my weight loss. I go to the gym 6 days a week for two hours a day — an hour cardio and an hour weights. I change my routine once a month and don't work the same group of muscles every day. I don't know what else to do — could there be something I'm not doing right?

(Article continued below.)

First off, I want to congratulate you on your awesome weight loss! 140 pounds is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of the progress you've made. And you've done it the right way — through proper eating and exercise. Now that you've got a body that's within a healthy weight range, you're discovering something that nearly everyone goes through — no matter what we do, there are just some areas of our bodies that refuse to do what we want them to. For many women, it's their "love handles" and thighs, so you are definitely not alone!

Since you have the nutritional aspect of your fitness program taken care of, let's examine your exercise routine for a moment. Two hours a day, six days a week, is quite ambitious, and it's impressive that you have the time and determination to have kept it up. That said, you might want to look at your routine to see if you are really using the time effectively. Even though you make changes regularly, are you just running through familiar exercises that you were doing, say, a few months ago? In other words, has changing your routine become routine? There are a number of ways to change your workouts — you can do different exercises, you can superset them (do sets of two or three related exercises, one after the other, without taking a break), you can change the speed with which you are doing the exercises, and you can change the load of weight you are using. It's one thing to change up your routine on a regular basis; it's another thing altogether to give some thought to your goals when you are making your changes.

If you've been changing your routine without giving too much thought to what you really need, that's okay. Not a lot of people do, and that's why many of them don't get the results they want, or they get partway towards the body they want and then get stuck in a rut. That's the time when you look to an expert to offer you guidance — a personal trainer. You already know how much help your nutritionist has been in helping you to achieve your weight loss. Now's the time to add a trainer to your team to fine tune your body. A trainer will pull out all sorts of tricks you would never have dreamed of to kick your workout program into gear. He or she will assess your current routine and suggest changes based on the goals you want. Find one you feel comfortable with, follow his or her directions to the letter, and chances are you'll start seeing some progress in getting your body where you want it.

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