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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 am determined to get in the best shape possible. I have been eating 50 per cent carbs, 30 per cent protein, and 20 per cent fat, and I eat about 6 to 7 times a day because I read that this was one of the ways to increase metabolism. I drink lots of water, and I exercise aerobically in the morning before eating anything, as my research also indicated I should do. I also lift weights 4-5 times a week. The only problem is I'm not getting the results I want. I have put so much energy into this and it seems like a big waste if my body isn't changing at all. Should I exercise more? Should I change my diet? I eliminated sweets and most simple carbohydrates already. What am I doing wrong?

(Article continued below.)

If it seems like you are doing everything right and you are not getting results from your fitness program, there are two possible reasons. One is that you're not really doing everything right, or at least it's not right for you. The other is that you are expecting too much from your body.

Everyone is different and their bodies have different needs. What works for one may not work for another. It's good to read fitness magazines and books - you'll find lots of great advice. But not all of it will suit you, and just because you read it somewhere doesn't guarantee that it will help you get results. When you are not getting results, you need to scrutinize your program and see where the problem lies. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

1. What and how much am I really eating?
This is where a lot of people slip up. Most commonly, a person claims to be eating a healthy diet, but they forget the little snacks they indulge in - a beer here and a candy bar or bag of chips there will add up. And these days everyone seems to have forgotten what a serving size really is. For example, one slice of bread equals one serving of grains - that means that when you eat a sandwich, you have two servings of grains. If you're at a restaurant and the sandwich comes on a roll or baguette, you're probably having more than two servings - maybe as much as three or four in one sitting. A plate of spaghetti at most restaurants is actually three to four servings, not one. Keep an eye on your portions, and when you eat out, immediately ask for a doggie bag and fill it with at least half of your meal.

Other people go in the opposite direction - they skimp so much that their bodies are starving for nutrition. If you're on a really strict diet and trying to build significant muscle at the same time, you are sending your body mixed signals. On one hand, it's starving and on the other hand you're pushing it to do more. The body's response is typically to store as much fat as possible because it doesn't know when its next intake of adequate energy (i.e. food) is coming. Any food you do eat is used just to keep your body going instead of being used to build muscle. In other words your body is treading water just to stay even. Exercise to excess and function at a caloric deficiency for too long and you risk collapsing. Dieters must walk a fine line between getting enough nutrition to build muscle and eating fewer calories to lose fat. Often it takes adjusting to get the right mix.

A food diary is a great help in examining what you are eating, how much you're eating, and when you are eating it. Anyone who is serious about making changes in their body will benefit greatly from keeping track of their food consumption.

Next page >> Assessing Your Workout >> Page 1, 2, 3

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