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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.

Since joining a gym 6 months ago, I've lost 1 1/2 stones (ed. note: for those of you outside of Great Britain, that means 21 pounds or 9 1/2 kilos). Now, however, I am concerned that I will lose too much weight. I go to the gym 3 times a week and do 45 minutes of cardio and 45 minutes of weight training. I am afraid that if I cut down on the cardio I will put the weight back on. Should I eat more even when I'm not hungry? I drink protein shakes but I've been told they are a waste of money. How much cardio is enough if I still want to build muscle?

(Article continued below.)

Congratulations on your weight loss. It is probably no consolation, but there are a lot of people who wish they were afraid of losing too much weight! The truth is you don't need to be so concerned about cutting back on the cardio - all that weight won't come leaping back on the moment you decide to reduce the time you spend doing it. You just need to find a balance. Cut back to half an hour for a couple of weeks and see what happens - if the weight seems to be creeping back on, then do more; if your weight still seems to be dropping, do less. The important thing is to keep up your weight training. Weight training will keep your muscles strong and your bodyfat ratio down no matter how much (or how little) you weigh, and that's important.

You need to find balance in your diet the same way you need to find balance in your cardio. If you are healthy and have no issues affecting your metabolism, you should only have to eat when you are hungry. The protein shakes are a matter of choice - if you enjoy them and they are helping you fit a meal or snack in when you otherwise wouldn't have time, then they are certainly not a waste of money. If you really don't like them, but are forcing them down just for the extra calories, then you would be better off eating something else - a sandwich, maybe, or a wrap. Like working out, you will probably have to experiment a bit to find out what works for you. Just make sure that the foods you choose are wholesome - fresh, without a lot of additives or preservatives, whole grains, etc. Read the labels - if there aren't a whole lot of ingredients listed and you can pronounce all of them, then that's a step in the right direction. Just use common sense, remember that food is both fuel and one of life's little pleasures, and you'll be okay.

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