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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 exercising regularly since last July but my stomach is not going anywhere and I feel like my exercise regimen is going absolutely nowhere as well. I am 40 years old, weigh 148 pounds and consume approximately 1900 calories a day. I work out three times a week, cardio for 30-45 minutes, 10 minutes on abs and 20 minutes of either upper or lower body resistance training on alternate days. I have been taking Anorex for about 3 months (4 a day). I haven't lost any weight for 3 months, nor have I lost waist inches. My legs are shapelier and my arms are definitely stronger but what is up with my waist - help!

(Article continued below.)

First off, you might as well stop taking the Anorex - you haven't lost any weight in the amount of time you've been taking it so it isn't working for you. And it is probably not a good idea to search for a replacement. Many brands of weight loss pills can have serious side effects. At the very least, they contain amounts of caffeine and other drugs that can make you more high strung and nervous. At their worst, some weight loss pills have been known to give the users heart problems. Taking these pills is not something to do lightly. You should research any weight loss pill - including those bought over the counter or claiming to contain "herbal" or "natural" ingredients - before taking it.

You are getting some results from your workouts - stronger and shapelier arms and legs - but you are seeing no improvement in your midsection. There could be any number of reasons for this, not all of them having to do with your workout. You are 40 and it's possible your body is going through hormonal changes. Sometimes those changes make it harder for certain women to lose abdominal weight. The only way you can know if your hormones are fluctuating is to have a checkup with your gynecologist and ask. Weight issues aside, it would probably be a good idea to know if you are perimenopausal since it affects more than just what is reflected on the scale.

Another thing that may be keeping you from losing weight is your diet. Perhaps 1900 calories a day is too much if you want to lose weight. Keep in mind that the older you get, the more likely it is that your metabolism will slow down. You work out 3 days a week for about an hour or so - are you sedentary the rest of the week? If so, then you should consider cutting back to about 1600 calories a day and see if that makes any difference. Make sure that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet - as little refined sugar and starch as possible, lots of vegetables, and a moderate amount of protein, whole grains and some fat. Keeping a food journal is always a very good idea - it keeps you honest (everyone is tempted to "forget" the occasional cookie or handful of chips and those forgotten calories add up!).

It sounds like your workouts are in a rut, and so is your body to a certain extent. If you really want to kick up your exercise regimen - and get results - invest in a personal trainer. You don't have to keep him or her forever, just long enough to get you back on track. A trainer will assess your current program and make changes that will be more likely to help you achieve your goals. He or she may also give you a reality check. Unless you are very short - around 5 feet tall or under - you are not all that overweight. In fact, you could even be in a normal weight range for your height. Do you want to lose a few pounds to improve your appearance and feel better, or are you aiming to have the figure you did at 20, or to be as svelte as a TV star? You need to have goals that fit in with who you are now, not who you were or a fantasy image you have of yourself. Perhaps that sounds a bit harsh, but it's not really - if you become more accepting of where you are today, it's quite possible that you can accomplish more than you realize. It gives you a starting point. When it comes to exercise you need both a starting point and a goal to truly enjoy the journey. A personal trainer will help set you up in the right direction.

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