Question: I really enjoy your website. It has been very informative. I would just like to know if you can help me come up with a diet and exercise plan to help me lose 50 pounds and keep it off. First, I am a single mom with three children and two jobs. I work full time during the week and I work about three nights a week and one weekend day for my parttime job. These days vary, so as you can tell, I cannot always follow a regular routine for going to the gym. When I do go to the gym, I generally walk for 45 minutes and usually weight train (upper and lower) for about 30 minutes. About the walking, I do so on the treadmill and I have been told different things by different people about how long you should walk. I have heard anything after 20 minutes is burning off fat to anything over 20 minutes is useless. Please give me your opinion on this. Also, when dieting, should I eat the amount of calories for how much I would LIKE to weigh or should I decrease the calories I need for my current weight by 500? Also, the simple exercises you see in magazines that do not seem like a workout, do they actually benefit you? Between the end of January to the end of May I lost 25 pounds and have managed to keep it off. All I did then was cut back on my diet and drink one gallon of water a day. I do not eat as much as I used to, but I have not tried to "diet" in the last two months. I have not lost weight, but have not gained any weight either. I have not been to the gym in the last two months either. Also, is it true that spot-training does not work? Are sit-ups not doing any good to help slender my waist? Thanks for your time and advice. Jennifer
Answer: Congratulations on your success so far. For someone as busy as you, a less-demanding workout routine will be best. Forget the gym workouts. Walking is best for you now for 20 - 40 minutes or so on days you are busy, and longer on your days off. The 20-minute rule is that you burn most of your calories from fat after the 20-min. mark. This is a general statement about when the body switches from burning your energy mostly from carbohydrates (glycogen) to burning a higher percentage from body fat. I don't think this is that important. Just put in time that you can afford. Some days you might only walk 10 minutes, but that counts because it's the frequency that's going to get you somewhere. Regarding your question about calories. It's a pain to count calories. If you're looking for a good guide to get you on the right track, Weight Watchers is good. But if you want something more simple, try focusing on 5 a day (fruits or vegetables). If you pack your meals with these nutritions foods, you'll cut out room in your body for calorie-dense foods. Spot training does not work.
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