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Exercising Better

How do you exercise better to lose weight?

Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply:  With exercise, I’m pretty self-disciplined. I work out three or four days a week. My goal is three, but if I do four, I’m thrilled Exercise is just part of my life.

I love to run outside on warm, sunny days. I tolerate the treadmill by DVRing shows that I love. When my older son was a baby, I asked my husband to buy me a treadmill. I needed that a lot more than I needed fancy jewelry or other things. We bought a moderately-priced treadmill, and it’s been worth every penny. It’s lasted a really long time, and it gets a lot of use.

We put the treadmill in a corner of our finished basement. This way my kids can play on one side of the room, and I can exercise and keep an eye on them at the same time.

Also, I was lucky enough to hire a personal trainer; I split the cost with a friend. It was expensive, around $35 a week, but I justified it by saying I don’t get my nail done or wear expensive clothes. The cost is usually lower if you work out with the trainer at the gym, rather than having the trainer come to your home. Working out with the trainer really changed my body shape. She pushed me, but in a fun way.

Heather Orman-Lubell, MD, a mom of 12- and 8-year-old sons, and a pediatrician in private practice at Yardley Pediatrics of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

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Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: When I was ready to lose weight, I added Pilates to my usual routine. I didn’t want to have a tummy tuck! I wanted to tone my muscles. I took a Pilates class at a local studio. I think that Pilates is a great workout for women who want to work out all of their muscle groups. When I first started going, I felt so sore afterward!

Now I take a class called CrossFit. I won some free classes at a silent auction. It’s a core strength and conditioning program. (Visit CrossFit.com to learn more.) The classes really help me with my strength, flexibility, endurance, and balance. You don’t have to be in phenomenal shape to do it because you can scale it to your ability. The workouts are intense but a lot of fun. And it is rewarding to see yourself progress and get better. It’s drawn a very loyal following.

I feel healthier and stronger than I ever have. I recently ran a half marathon and beat my pre-pregnancy personal record!

Martha Wittenberg, MD, MPH, a mom of an eight-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter and a family physician with Seal Beach Family Medicine, in Seal Beach, CA

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Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: Even though I know that what I eat has a greater impact on my weight than how much I exercise, exercise is still indispensable to losing weight. I never miss a day of exercise, unless I’m sick in bed.

In addition to helping me lose—or maintain—weight, exercise gives me boundless energy, reduces stress, improves mood, and it makes me feel great. It’s self-reinforcing because when I exercise I feel great, so I want to exercise again.

A key to exercise for me is to prevent boredom. So I have a “menu” of exercise options that I enjoy, from which to choose. Today, for example, I took a yoga-spin class. Yesterday I went for a walk, and tomorrow I might swim. I like to mix it up.

I also incorporate weight/resistance training. Once you’re older than 45, you cannot lose weight unless you lift weight. If a 50-year-old woman has gained 20 pounds since age 20, she hasn’t just gained 10 pounds. She’s gained 20 pounds of fat, and she’s lost 10 pounds of muscle. Resistance work helps you increase your muscle mass, which burns about 70 percent of the calories you consume. It also helps you to prevent osteoporosis and preserve functionality. As you age, you want to be able to do everything you want to do in life.

Ann Kulze, MD, a mom of 24- and 17-year-old daughters and 22- and 21-year-old sons; a nationally recognized nutrition expert, motivational speaker, and physician; and the author of the best-selling award winning Eat Right for Life book series

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Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: Once I got a little momentum with weight loss with my diet alone, I started adding a workout. First it was really simple, just some walks. Slowly I worked my way up on the workout chain. One of my favorite workouts now is hot yoga. It was tough at first, but it has become my time to relax my muscles, strengthen my soul, and get a great calorie burn.

I did Bikram Yoga, which is a form of hot yoga, that involves doing 26 yoga postures in a 90-minute class in a room that can go up to 104 degrees.  Sounds scary?  To me it did, the first time I had thought of trying it.  But in reality, it was a big release of the stresses of the day, when I completed each session.  I was proud and excited as I saw my body transform and get stronger.  Though it was definitely hot, and I took it slow at first then built up to doing the classes regularly.

Arleen K. Lamba, MD, a mom of a three-month-old son, an anesthesiologist, the medical director of Blush Med Institute, and founder of the Blush Blends Skin Care line, in Washington DC

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Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: After my son was born, I was really looking forward to losing the weight. I had a C-section, so I had to go slowly. I started with mainly cardio, such as walking

What really jumpstarted my exercising was when I hired a personal trainer. People might think this is crazy expensive, but I split the cost with a friend, and we each paid $35 a session. He met with us for an hour twice a week. He exercised with us, and he also went over our eating plans. It was very helpful, motivating, and fun.

Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD, a mom of a son and two daughters and an emergency medicine physician at Emergency Medical Associates, in St. Johns, FL.

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.