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Question
Posted by: terri | 2004/12/01

Stomach Weight and Fat Loss

Hi Doc

I have recently joined a gym mainly to lose weight, get fit and develop muscle and go to the gym twice a day (am and pm). My main problem however is my stomach area. I do not have a flat stomach naturally, but over the past year, I have gained weight with the main weight appearing on my stomach and it now looks as if I am pregnant.

The weight on my stomach is mainly in the front and it looks like one big lump (of fat), plus I also have some (small size) fat rolls on my sides extending to the back but with excercsise I am certain these would disappear. To stress the severity of the size of my stomach, I would go and have a tummy tuck and/or lipsuction if finances were not a problem. I can actually hold all this fat in my hands and distend it away from the stomach.

However, what are the best excercises I can do to reduce the size of my stomach and breakdown this fat? I would like to have a flat stomach once again, or just a little curve would be great.

By the way I am a 36 year old black female with a 13 year old son. I weigh 69.6 kgs and am 1.6m in height. I have not done any excercise for over 7 years, but do walk a lot (mainly to the local greengrocer, the shopping mall and the office - uphill).

Many thanks
Terri

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

HI Terri

It's great that you have decided to join the gym, I am sure that you will get a lot of success out of it, since you seem to be quite level headed about the goals and your expectations.

What you are experiencing is a common problem - people tend to gain weight in certain areas, and this is largely genetic. Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to gain the weight in a specific spot than lose it! In fact, the truth is that you cannot lose weight in the area only, you have to aim for overall, whole body weight loss. This means that the exercise you do must elevate metabolic rate, so that you use the body's fat stores for energy, and hence burn the fat off. To do this, cardio training is definitely the way to go. Weight training has its place, as I will explain, but the cardio is the vital aspect that needs to be there to kickstart weight loss.

Cardio would include activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, aerobics, swimming etc. It is important to exercise between 4 and 5 times a week, for a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes each session. It is also ideal to work at a moderate to hard intensity, but for a longer duration. You should aim to do these sessions at an intensity that allows you to complete the session without feeling completely exhausted, but having worked up a good sweat and feeling that your breathing and metabolic rate are elevated.

now, with regards to weight training, it is important because lean muscle has a naturally higher metabolic rate than fat does. So, if you can increase your lean muscle mass (by weight training) then the idea is that you will also increase the metabolic rate, which means that you will, even at rest, be able to burn more energy. Hence, you will be able to keep weight off. So, that is where it fits in. However, the most important thing is to get started and to actually lose weight, you must be doing cardio training - the increase you get in metabolic rate during a 30 minute bout of cardio (and for the few hours after) far outweighs the weight training increases, and so if it's weight loss you are after, then cardio is the way to go. Once you have achieved weight loss, or you are still busy achieving it, then the weight training becomes important to sustain it.

So the trick is putting all this together - I think that what you need to do is follow a structured programme - haphazard training does not work. To find a programme, I would check out the following website:

http://www.health24.com/fitness/Getting_started/16-474-488,24069.asp

Here you will see a number of options for training programmes. My advice would be to choose the Shape up for Summer programme (the first or second one) and then go for that.

Hope this helps
Regards

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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