As I moved forward in changing my lifestyle as far as eating goes, I started having conversations with a friend of mine, Tommy Tinajero. Tommy had worked as a personal trainer at the Cooper fitness center in Dallas for several years. He had trained several professional athletes so I respected his fitness advice quite a bit. One time when I was whining to him about not losing much weight, he challenged me in a critical way. He said that If I wanted to burn more of the stored fat on my body I would need to do some form of cardio and weight lifting. “Me, lift weights?!? Are you kidding me? — I’m a mother of 4 kids, and have never been to a weight room in my life!”, I said.
But he persisted. He said that muscle needs more calories and so by building up more muscle I would be making my body a powerhouse that would burn calories and at the same time shape and slim my body down. He described it like an engine in a car. If you want to burn more fuel (calories), get a bigger engine (muscle)!
But the thought of lifting weights scared me. I did not want to turn into the stereo typical body builders you see on TV or in those creepy grocery store magazines at the checkout aisle. Tommy assured me that would not happen and he walked me through some basic free weight and machine weights that would work the muscles for my entire body.
That was the key. You need to work all your muscles. arms, legs, shoulders, back, chest and core. Lots of little muscles all over your body, all getting stronger really adds up! So for the first couple of weeks I did a basic weight lifting routine that focused on two exercises for each area of the body (biceps, triceps, back, shoulders, chest and legs). I would do 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions (called reps). I also learned some muscle names. I would focus on triceps, chest and shoulders on one day and then do biceps, back and legs on the second day. Then repeat doing at least four days of weight lifting a week.
I started out with light weights but as the reps became easier, I moved up to heavier weights. You always want to challenge your muscles and make them work hard so they can grow. Bigger muscles burn more calories, which means more fat will get burned even when you are NOT exercising. “Say that again?!?” If you can increase your muscle mass across your body, your whole body will burn more calories, even when you aren’t exercising. Picture a big engine car or truck that is stuck in traffic. It’s burning more gas than everyone else even though its not moving.
Of course Tommy didn’t let me off the hook with just the weight lifting. He recommended that I try to run for 30 min every day. Yikes! I hate running! But that’s another blog post…
When I added cardio exercise and especially weightlifting to my daily routine of eating healthy, I went from losing 1lb a week to about 1 1/2 to 2lbs a week. My body also started looking more trim and healthy.
The change wasn’t overnight but a slow process over time. It was not an easy process but I was determined to get in shape and change the way I looked and felt. It was my driving motivation. If someone like me in their 40’s, never athletic, and starting after having 4 kids can do it, there’s hope for all of us.
So jump in no matter your age, shape, or hatred of exercise. I would love to hear any comments you have on your own journey. Or if you have any questions, please ask.