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March 2001

by Gabby

Slim up for Summer - Part 2

Last month we started shedding a few pounds. This month we'll add a little exercise to jump start our metabolism. You're thinking of chucking it all because you're still carrying around an extra 15 pounds. Or maybe you're not getting stronger, faster, or more energized. Before you give up on exercise, no matter what type you're doing, here are five steps to fine-tune your workouts for maximum results:

1. Be a little pushy If you've been doing the same type of exercise for more than 3 months, you may be stuck. It's easy to amble on walks or coast along on your bike. But for meaningful results, you've got to challenge yourself. Push to go just a little faster, a little longer (even an extra 5 minutes can do the trick), or to do it more often. (To avoid injury, increase only one aspect of your workout at a time.)

2. Experiment The more proficient your muscles become at a particular activity, the fewer calories you burn. Add a new activity such as swimming, kickboxing, or volleyball to your usual exercise routine. You'll burn more calories as you master a new skill -- and you'll have fun! Cross-training is also a great way to prevent injuries and boredom.

3. Be active all day Don't think that you can veg out the rest of the day just because you took a low-impact aerobics class or a brisk hour-long walk. The 300 to 400 calories that you likely burned won't make up for all the calories you're not burning throughout the day thanks to the TV remote, automatic garage-door opener, e-mail, and more. It's estimated that in the past 25 years, labor-saving devices have decreased the number of calories that we burn daily by no less than 800.

4. Check your fridge Exercise is key to losing weight and keeping it off, but you can't ignore what you eat. An extra slice of pizza, for example, can put right back the 240 calories you burned jogging for half an hour. And even if you're choosing low-fat, nutritious foods, eating too much of them can have the same effect. Be aware of what and how much you're eating so that you don't negate the calorie-burning benefits of exercise.

5. Take a break Doing too much, particularly vigorous, high-intensity exercise, can actually hinder your progress. Your body needs time to recover from intense workouts in order to get stronger. Take at least 2 or 3 days off between these high-intensity workouts to let your muscles recover; or mix in some lower-intensity walking, swimming, yoga, or stretching.

Next month I'll tell you about my progress and give you some resources that will help you reach your goals.