Amy Dungan is better known as "Sparky's Girl" at our Low Carb Luxury Discussion Forums, Talking Low Carb, where she serves as a moderator. Amy understands the challenges of motherhood very well, as she juggles the many
hats she must wear.
Iím entitled to be a couch potato. My typical day is filled with cleaning, cooking, laundry,
home schooling, and running errands; the list is endless. When I finally finish my many responsibilities, the last thing I want to do is exercise! I just want to find a nice, soft place to rest my weary bones. I can easily rationalize my position; I get enough exercise by walking, bending, lifting children, and carrying laundry baskets! Besides, I donít have enough time to work out, and with everything else I do, I deserve to sit down and just relax. Why on earth would I want to wear myself out further by getting sweaty and smelly, when I could be lounging on the sofa watching Dr. Phil make people cry?
Donít get me wrong, I have tried many exercise programs over the years only to quit because they didnít hold my interest. Other than building and toning muscles, I saw no real benefit. I have no desire to look like a body builder and I doubt Iíll ever look like a super-model, so why bother? Does any of this sound familiar? These are the lame excuses Iíve used for years to avoid exercise.
Enter low carb. When I started low-carbing almost 2 years ago, I walked to help lose the weight,
but that was the extent of my exercise program. I believed it was enough. Then earlier this year I realized how flabby I was. I had lost the weight, but not the jiggle. Walking might have helped me lose the pounds, but it sure wasnít doing anything to firm up what was left. I had to face the fact that, like it or not, I needed to exercise. I set out to find a program I could endure.
After a few months of searching and arguing with myself about the perfect regimen, I finally found something I could live with. I now exercise 3 times a week and love it! I am actually hooked on exercise. I would have never believed this was possible years ago as I sat on the sofa, watching aerobics videos, cheering on the participants, and stuffing unhealthy carbs in my mouth. Iíve since learned that there are many benefits to exercise that I never fully appreciated. I am now experiencing them first hand. To help my fellow couch potatoes get up and get moving, I sought some expert advice from Amy Germaine, who along with her husband Clint, owns and operates a Curves franchise in Owensboro, KY.
AD: What are the benefits of exercise? Why is it important?
AG: Overall, exercise benefits nearly every aspect of health. Aerobic and strength training
increase bone density and decrease the risk for osteoporosis and arthritis. Exercise also reduces the risk of developing diabetes. Those already suffering from Type II diabetics will benefit as well since exercise uses up excess insulin. Furthermore, many women suffer from back problems that can be improved by strengthening abdominal muscles, which in turn, help keep the spine properly aligned. Of course, of great interest to anyone on a weight loss program is the benefit of increased metabolism. One pound of muscle at rest will burn 50 calories a day. If you add 5 lbs of muscle to your body, youíve raised your metabolism to burn an additional 250 calories a day at rest! Exercise can even help to control depression and appetite. There is nothing better than exercise for improving overall health.
AD: Are aerobic and strength training both required to achieve the maximum benefit?
AG: Yes, both are necessary. Aerobics or dieting alone may cause you to lose up to 40% muscle
mass. This will reduce your metabolism and actually hinder your efforts. A U.S. News and World Report study showed that the aerobic-only group lost 3 lbs of fat and a 1/2 lb of muscle. The aerobic/strength group lost 10 lbs. of fat and gained 1 1/2 lbs of muscle!
AD: What is the best combination of exercise?
AG: For those working out at home, it is best to try to fit in 30 minutes of aerobic
exercise along with weight training. In weight training, you should make the eccentric
(upward) motion fast while making the concentric (downward) motion slow. Exert
yourself 60% harder than what you are accustomed to for the maximum benefit. Stretching is
important also. Exercisers who perform stretching exercises following a strength workout
show an average 19% increase in strength gain versus those who donít stretch. (Westcott & Loud, 2000)
AD: Can anything have a negative impact on exercise?
AG: Yes, stress can be a problem. Too much stress causes the body to produce a hormone called Cortizol, which can collect around the abdomen. Without adequate exercise, Cortizol can build up and cause bloating. When this happens, you may experience an increase in measurements and your clothes may seem tight. Another problem may be medication. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist about any side effects common to the medications you take. It is not uncommon for medications to cause weight gain. Often people do not realize this and mistakenly blame exercise or diet, then give up out of frustration. Also, keep in mind that blood pressure and cholesterol medicines are known to lower your heart rate.
AD: What is the best way for my fellow couch potatoes to get started?
AG: Find something you enjoy doing. Start slow and give it your best effort. Even beginning with 10 minutes a day will produce a positive result. Increase your activity by a few minutes each day and be consistent in your efforts. You will begin to experience the benefits quickly and that will motivate you to continue.
AD: Why do you think people avoid exercise?
AG: Mostly, I think some people are afraid, or simply donít know where or how to begin.
AD: How can they overcome this?
AG: Knowledge is power. The first step is to learn as much as possible about exercise. It is also helpful to get into a structured program. Those that join a gym will want to get comfortable with the trainers. Take advantage of the available resources. Most importantly, set goals and stay focused on them. Tracking your progress will help keep you motivated. Remember, avoid doing too much too fast. Try to workout 3 times a week, if you can, 20 minutes at a time. Also, it is a good idea to weigh only once a week and measure once a month because weight can
fluctuate as much as 3 to 5 lbs daily.
Iíd like to thank Amy Germain again for sharing her valuable insight. Recognizing the many benefits of exercise has given me even greater motivation to continue exercising. If this couch potato can do it, so can you. Letís get moving!
Copyright © October 2003 Amy Dungan and Low Carb Luxury