Too Busy to Workout?!?!
Excerpted from an interview with Dr. S.A. Foster of honorabledistinction.com and author of “Woman of Honorable Distinction: Lessons of Lydia“
- What is the number 1 challenge that women face with managing their weight when they come to you?
Detric: I find the biggest challenge my female clients face is the mindset going into their fat loss programs. They get so much media exposure that portrays images of the perfect body and women who seem to get it overnight that it creates unrealistic expectations. These women I work with often don’t realize much of this is simply done for marketing purposes and isn’t indicative of real world results. This often then causes them to ‘program hop’, as I like to call it, looking for one quick-fix after another. Instead, they need to be focusing on making permanent changes they can maintain for a lifetime.
There is just so much misinformation out there that women fall prey to it and wind up never sticking with anything long enough to see real progress. Couple this with the constant comparisons they are making with others and it’s a recipe for low self-esteem and lack of believing in themselves.
They need to start working with a trainer who will hold them accountable and view this as an investment they are making that will pay off in every area of their life.
- Women have extremely busy schedules and may have difficulty finding time to fit in exercise. Are there two or three thins that we can do when we don’t have time for a true workout?
Detric: One of my favorite time-saving workouts that I often do with my clients is called met-con training. This type of training positions strength training in such a way that you’ll also reap cardiovascular benefits, so there’s no need to do additional cardio training on top of that. You can easily get in and out of the gym in less than 30 minutes when done properly.
That and start focusing on simply adding more activity. Remember that it’s not just gym activity that counts here. All exercise will add up and contribute to helping you reach your goal body weight.
- For women that travel, what are the 2-3 things they can do on the road to stay in shape?
Detric: My biggest word of advice is to plan ahead. First, plan to bring (or buy) a few healthy snack and meal options that you can eat in your hotel room or wherever you are staying. This will help keep you on track as far as the nutritional side of things is concerned.
Next, always do your best to choose a hotel that has at least some exercise equipment. It may not be the ideal gym environment, but if you get creative, you can always fit in some type of workout in even the smallest of hotel gyms.
Finally, I’d say blocking off time to devote to those workouts is important. Again, plan this ahead of time. Figure out when in your day you’ll devote 20-30 minutes to getting in that quick workout. I find that for my female clients, doing it first thing in the morning is best. This way, nothing will crowd it out of your day. Schedules can be erratic when traveling, so you want to combat this.
By focusing on shorter time blocks – just 20 minutes say – you also combat the all or none mentality. If you ask a woman who’s traveling and busy to do 60 minutes of exercise per day, she’s more likely to just give up because it’s not realistic to find this amount of free time.
- There are so many numbers out there used to define whether or not we are in shape. What should we really focus on? What should we target?
Detric: The best number to focus on is your body fat percentage, found using calipers. This should be done by a trained professional such as a trainer however for best accuracy. It’ll give you the breakdown of your weight in terms of muscle and fat, so is so much more helpful than just using the scale weight. I’ve seen many cases where a woman is actually gaining muscle and losing fat, but gets discouraged by looking at the scale and seeing it stay the same or even go up. In reality though, she is making great progress. Likewise, almost all women will have day to day fluctuations due to hydration, foods eaten, as well as hormones, so scale weight tends to be a very inaccurate representation of what’s really going on.
If you can’t get your body fat taken, measurements are also great. They’ll give you a good idea of whether your body is getting smaller, which usually indicates fat loss.
I want to mention that I’m not a fan of bioelectrical impedance scales however for body composition testing as these are heavily swayed by hydration status and are not very accurate. Likewise, BMI often results in a poor indication of health in those who have more muscle mass as it puts them in the overweight category despite the fact they may have a very healthy amount of body fat.
- What are your tips for eating out at restaurants? Do we really have to push away the bread?
Detric: I’d say you should focus on portion control. Bread and carbs are all okay in moderation, because at the end of the day, it comes down to calories in versus calories out.
The reason lower carb diets work is because they cause you eat more protein, fiber, and foods with water like fruits and vegetables, all which fill you up. This results in a lower calorie intake at the end of the day without even trying. Then voila – you get weight loss.
I always recommend you stay away from extremes however such as very low carb or very low fat diets. You need to keep health in mind and all nutrients are needed to sustain a healthy body. Even high protein diets can be harmful if the protein is taken too high.
- Some of us love both carbs and sweets. If we had to give up one to optimize our health/weight, what should it be?
Detric: Again, I think moderation is key. I always base my plans off the individual. Someone who is more active can eat more carbs and not see weight gain. One thing to remember though is that you are getting no nutrients in terms of vitamins or minerals from sweets, so your body wants to keep eating. The body knows it’s not getting anything of value from these foods as opposed to foods that have protein, fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals. Quality foods send a signal to your brain that you are full and therefore you eat less without thinking about it.
Heavily processed foods set you up on a cycle to keep eating more and more. If it’s man-made, it was invented to sell and is usually not the healthiest option for you. The best business model is a repeat customer and organizations that sell these fast foods and sweets are focused on you coming back for more, not on helping you live your healthiest life.
- If we only have 10 minutes to workout, should it be weights or a quick jog?
Detric: When you’re short on time, strength training focusing on the core movements like push-ups, rows, shoulder press, deadlifts, squats, lunges, and so forth done without much rest in between sets is ideal. This gives you the benefit of strength training and cardiovascular exercise all in one. It’s the principle of Met-Con training I noted above and is how we structure our workouts for those who are busy.
People think of cardio as only being jogging, swimming, biking, elliptical and so on but this is not the case. While these may get your heart rate up for an extended time, they do little for your metabolic rate and can lead to overuse injuries in the long term.
- Exercise frequency versus intensity – which is more effective in regards to weight loss? Maintaining weight?
Detric: Frequency is more important, but what I really mean here is that staying consistent trumps everything. You can have the best program in the world but if you aren’t doing it regularly, you aren’t seeing results.
High intensity exercise is beneficial if you have less time to workout but you need to be at the fitness level to do these workouts or they will only lead to injury. You need to gradually increase the intensity of your sessions as you go so that you are building up to the level you want to be at. If you rush the process and try a very intense workout right out of the gates, you’re likely to only wind up injured.
- Last question – what is the one thing you want us to know about managing our weight?
Detric: I’d say go back to the mindset and really focus on having someone hold you accountable. This is key to results. Execution of your plan happens in the moment so don’t stress over the past or the future. Focus on the now – doing one thing right now that will get you closer to your goals. Your plan has to be set up to focus on building good habits that will persist over the long term.