Ask the Anytime People – Expert answers to your health and wellness questions
By Grant & Cathy Pritchard
Question: I love fast food, but I am trying to lose weight and improve my health. Is it okay to eat fast foods while on a diet program?
Answer: Yes, but as always, there are a few important points to keep in mind. We all know fast food isn’t necessarily the healthiest meal in town, but we also know that setting realistic goals is an important component of any successful weight loss program. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to completely deprive yourself of fast food, especially if it’s appropriate for your specific situation. In other words, if you’re crunched for time, fast food may be the only reasonable option. That said, if an occasional trip turns into four or five weekly trips, your weight loss efforts and health goals will likely suffer as a result. The key is to become a savvy shopper and watch out for calorie-laden foods with added sugars, sodium, and fat. Look for a Nutrition Facts pamphlet in local restaurants and educate yourself on their menus. If you make the effort, you’ll be able to find a sensible meal no matter where you go. Remember, balance, variety, and moderation are the words to live by when it comes to food. If you apply these principles regularly, you won’t have to sacrifice your health and wellness goals when eating out.
Question: I’ve heard some people say dieting just doesn’t work, and that you should focus on exercise if you want to lose weight. Is this true?
Answer: No, this is simply not true. If you’ve ever looked at food labels and compared them to the calorie counters on your exercise equipment, you’ll likely come to some startling conclusions. It is much easier to decrease your calorie intake by 300-500 calories per day than it is to expend that many more calories each day through exercise. Researchers have addressed this issue as well, and it is generally accepted that diet is the more important variable when it comes to weight loss. Exercise is still beneficial however, and actually plays a much more prominent role in weight maintenance. Here’s the bottom line… incorporate both healthy eating and exercise no matter where you are in the weight loss process.
Question: My wife thinks she’ll get big and bulky if she starts lifting weights with me. How do I convince her otherwise?
Answer: This comes up all the time, and it’s one of the biggest myths out there. First of all, women simply don’t have the proper hormonal balance to put on large amounts of muscle tissue. Secondly, even if they did have the right physiology, it would take some serious training to do it. Getting bigger muscles requires high-volume workouts (lots of sets and repetitions) and a pretty high intensity level as well. Picking up a few weights here and there isn’t a recipe for building mass—it’s what you do and how you do it that really makes the difference. Remind your wife that weight training programs can always be tailored to specific goals, so if she doesn’t want to put on large amounts of muscle, that’s just fine. Generally speaking, a full-body circuit with higher repetition ranges a few days per week would work well if she’s just looking to tone up or maintain her current level of muscle tissue. If she wants to get an individualized program based on her goals, look for a qualified personal trainer in your area.
Exercise is still beneficial however, and actually plays a much more prominent role in weight maintenance. Here’s the bottom line… incorporate both healthy eating and exercise no matter where you are in the weight loss process.