This week, I answer some of your health and exercise questions. As always, send me your fitness and training questions.
Q. Why is breakfast so important?
A. During the night, as we sleep, we are in a fasting state. For strength training purposes, it is important to understand that muscle repair and growth happen at night while you are sleeping. Muscle growth and repair must be supported with good nutritional practices that happen from the moment we awaken and eat our first meal. Breakfast is undeniably the most important meal of the day.
Q. What's the importance of the pre- and post-workout meal? Does it really make a difference? Give an example of a good meal. You should eat about an hour before a workout. A small apple with a little peanut butter or ½ of your breakfast smoothie is a good example. The body needs to have glucose readily available to supply you with continued energy for the workout at hand otherwise the body will utilize your hard earned muscle as fuel. When you have completed the workout, eat within the hour. This is the optimal time for you to push protein back into your system to further fuel and replenish the muscles while you entice your body to release fat from your frame.
Q. If you are REALLY sore from your last workout, should you modify your next workout? Should you skip it? What's your advice?
A. Hmm...This is a good question and as individual as you and I. Some will say that working out sore muscles actually helps to decrease the soreness. Others soak and take an additional day off from working out the affected muscles and choose an alternate body part. Do what keeps you in the gym and off the couch is the best advice I can give you. Cardio is your friend.
Q. How have you benefited from lifting weights? Has it changed your body? Has it made a difference?
A. From a very personal perspective, lifting weights helped me to quit a 37-year-smoking habit. My body's shape and size have changed even as my weight was maintained. Understanding the difference between body fat loss and weight loss has made a tremendous difference in how I view food and how I exercise. You will have to do it to make this assessment for yourself.
Q. Many women are intimidated by the gym. They are scared they don't know what they're doing, they're scared people will laugh at them, or they're intimidated by the grunting men. What advice would you give them?
A. We all start out not knowing what we are. I hired a trainer. That worked for me. I took what I was taught and built on it. During the process I became more confident and outgoing. There are a large variety of step aerobic DVDs and strength training DVDs that you can follow in the privacy of your own home. The question you must ask yourself is will you follow through and use the DVDs? The truth is people may laugh. The truth is you may be scared. But what’s the worst that can happen? You get fit, look fabulous and gain enough confidence to cease caring about the naysayers.