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River Queen relates:

I am a forty seven year old female, who I think may be starting through the menopause! Its Not A Hot Flash---It's a Power Surge I have been overweight for twelve years and now it seems as if I have been in a 'coma' for that period of time and have woken up and thought, "Oh shit! Look at ya old gal, you better do something for yourself". So, in the past six months, I have been on a low-fat diet. I also have added regular exercise to my lifestyle in the form of walking. I am up to two miles a day. For the past two weeks, I have been trying some resistance training with weights, at home, as I cannot afford at the present to join a gym. I started this week on a program 'circuit training' I believe is the name of it, where you do an aerobic exercise for up to ninety secs. and then the resistance things. It certainly is a work out isn't it? I have read that it is suppose to burn fast faster and I am hoping along with the walking, and diet that I can get my body into shape. I know that I will not be able to tighten everything up, because age and the loss of elasticity does do certain things to our bodies, but, I am hoping to be the best that I can be Do you have any suggestions that would help me to have better control of my body. I do not have any physical problems, except for having had back surgery 16 years ago, that would prevent me from working out. I do take a blood pressure pill, which I hope I will be able to stop taking once my weight is in control.. I did weigh about 290 and I am down to about 230 now.. I think for my height, 5'6 1/2" and a large frame, and past experience, I will be about the right size around 150... So you see I have lots of more weight to get off. Of course I have flabby arms, thighs, and a hang over tummy, these are the areas that I would like to firm as much as possible. I would appreciate your response and suggestions. The River Queen can be found at: this address.

I have a southern recipe page, but, don't cook them any longer. Haha too fattening!. Maybe I should add a Low-fat page huh?

Gypsy replies:

Note: Circuit training is a type of lifting (resistance training) program (as opposed to uniset programs, multiset programs and split routine programs). It is often done as a time saver and is only aerobic if worked in a particular fashion.

You sound like I did four years ago. And like myself it seems you have decided to get into shape. One of the nice things about being older is the more relaxed feelings we have about life and that we are more apt to look for balance with a steady progressive attitude. We, also, as we get older take the shit happens events with more of a grain of salt. Accepting gradual change, rather than going for the fast fix is the key to successful body shaping. You can use your mind to change your diet, speed up your metabolism, build muscle and stay younger. Visualization is a good way to keep control of your goals to bring your body into the shape your mind wants it to be. If you picture yourself in better shape, then you will be more likely to stay that way. I like all the new things I got to do when I became stronger and my endurance picked up. I started boxing and bike riding, but even more important to me was that I could go on long walks with my grandchildren and easily pick them up when necessary or just for fun.. These were my motivating rationales. Just When I Think I Know Where It's At, Some Body Moves It

Actually you are doing the right thing. Circuit training is a method of doing exercise so that all the body muscle groups get worked in one workout. This is a good method and is time saving compared to the split day week type of exercising. The aerobics come in with the speed you work at and the time between each exercise should be short, so that you can keep you heart rate up for the duration of the exercise period. If you enjoy the exercise program and are having a good time (make this fun, not a chore) you will stick with it. Find a friend who might want to join you or just use it as a private time for just yourself and have fun. For those arms, thighs and tummy check out my exercises in the Muscle of the Month section of my site (Muscle of the Month). There are some fine exercises for legs, biceps, triceps and abdominals that you might enjoy. I found learning a variety of ways to exercise muscle groups keeps the boredom down, especially if you exercise regularly. It is also good to change exercise programs periodically to give the muscle something new to think about. Remember too to stretch (See my article on stretching: They Told Me I Looked Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, But I Thought That A Bit of a Stretch. You might be surprised at how much you can tighten up. You will find that once you get into shape (which is defined by you), it will be easier to maintain. Once you have learned how to combine exercise and diet (Fatty-Fatty Two-By-Four Can't Get Through the Bathroom Door) so that you are healthy and strong, it will be like riding a bike. You may fall off every once in a while, but you know what to do to get back on track.

As to Southern Cooking: I have a couple of wonderful books on Southern cooking that keeps health issues in mind. The Dooky Chase Cookbook and The Black Family Dinner Quilt Cookbook. Check them out.

Here is some information on exercise and high blood pressure. Most high blood pressure pills, are some sort of diuretic.

General Information:

When working out do not hold your breath.

Drink a lot of fluids.

Eat high potassium foods like bananas and oranges. Drink cranberry juice.

Avoid cold showers or baths. This will cause your blood vessels to close up causing more pressure as the blood pumps through.

Watch out for salt intake that comes from eating processed foods or foods with additives.

A word about diuretics and exercise.

Aerobics: This will increase your systolic rate. Your diastolic will stay the same or have a slight increase.

If you do aerobics such as jog, swim, cycle, dance or use aerobic machines, the secret is doing aerobic regularly and not intensely. If you do aerobics regularly it will decrease the action of your sympathetic nervous system.

Static exercise-lifting: Be cautious with exercise. This type of exercise elevates both systolic and diastolic rates. If you feel dizzy or feel tired while exercising,STOP! Breath properly. Wear loose clothing that allows you to sweat and cool off. Work light and do not overwork.

Yoga Exercise:I have been told there is a form of Hatha yoga, called Kriplau that has a flowing style and focuses on quieting the mind and body. This may be a good thing to look into.

Meditation: Either some formalized program or just daydreaming time. Looking at the clouds while lying on your back can relax your mind.

If you do not have highly elevated blood pressure, you should consider using diet exercise and meditation to help you.

The problem with diuretics is that they deplete water and salt and should be counterbalanced.

If your diuretic is lasix: this will also decrease calcium. Try to get more vitamin D into your system. I read that thiazide is less dangerous of the diuretics. Ask your doctor.

Increase your electrolytes.

If your doctor has not told you some of the negative affects of diuretics, he or she should have done so.

If find other methods of lowering your blood pressure, I would look into them. Diuretics sound like one of those drugs that should be taken in do or die situations. They do not sound compatible with an active physical lifestyle.

Buffed Body Builder asks:
  1. Could you please tell me what exercises I can do with freeweights in order to build the outer biceps?

  2. How do I know when my muscles are pumped after a workout? What will they feel like, also how long does the pump usually last?

  3. Also, do I have to have as much protein on my off days as I do on the days that I work out?

  4. Will incline dumbbell flyes help to isolate my upper chest muscles as well as build them up? Are there any other exercises with free weights to isolate the upper chest muscles?

Gypsy replies:

About outer biceps: Elementary, My Dear Watson! Love and Marriage = Horse and Carriage Almost any standing close grip barbell curl will work your outer biceps. Remember for standing curls to stand with head erect, back straight, head up and feet approximately 15-17 inches apart. Hold barbell in a narrow grip (12" apart) both hands with palms up. If you use an easy curl bar place hands on first curves of bar, also with palms up. The key is the NARROW GRIP! You can do seated curls by sitting on end of bench with feet approximately 2 feet apart. Bend forward at waist. Hold bar in both hands with palms up about 6-7 inches apart. Rest elbows against your inner thighs a few inches up from the knee. You can also curl lying over a high bench or on a preacher bench. You can use a low pulley or lat machine to do your curls. There are many ways to curl. Find the ways you like and just do it!

About the pump: Many people worship the pump, treating it as the climax of an exercise, rather than merely a way to develop biceps. Just going for the pump is going nowhere. You have to go beyond the pump. You can experience the pump rather rapidly, usually after two sets of an exercise. It is a result of blood rushing into the muscle and the lactate increases to that muscle. It really feels good. I like the tightness and I often feel it is a signal that my muscles are doing the right thing toward the productive process of body building. However this is a bit of an illusion. The pump is not the end result. If you do low reps you will not produce as intense a pumped sensation, yet muscle cell stimulation is best achieved with low reps (6-8 reps per set). With heavy weights you will produce a gigantic pump, but little strength will be achieved, however more blood is brought into the muscle (so more oxygen), thus producing the pump. By increasing your weights to greater than 80 percent of your maximum ability and performing 6-8 reps while maintaining high speed movement can increase strength and power as well as size.

The pump itself does not last that long - 5-10 minutes or 30 minutes at most (a claim I have not experienced). Body builders are advised to pump up 5 minutes before going on stage. They of course must be careful not to over pump, since over pumping can destroy some of the sculptured look that body builders try to achieve. Remember use the pump as a guide not as a be all and end all.

About Protein: Fatty-Fatty Two-By-Four Can't Get Through the Bathroom Door A too high protein diet can damage your kidneys and liver. By causing your liver to degrade excess protein into organic acids an ammonia, your kidneys have to work hard as you pass out the excess in your urine. This extra pressure on your kidneys can be damaging. It is an error to think you need a lot of extra protein in your diet, even as a lifter or heavy athlete. The average American diet contains plenty of protein. A daily intake of 445-55 (for women 360-75 protein calories) of protein calories daily will suffice. Lean quarter pound of hamburger or a serving of chicken or turkey (dark meat) or beans and a large glass of skim milk will provide this need. Other good sources are fish such as salmon, bluefish, mackerel. Liver if you can eat it is a good source of protein. Remember protein intake should be in balance with proper amounts of carbohydrates and fats. You don't want to get those "phosphorous jitters".

Eat a balance diet regularly. If you do, there is no need to take in extra protein while working out.

About Upper Pecs: Daughter to Father: Does That Mean We Can't Get Married, Have Children And Go On the Oprah Show? Incline dumbbell flyes are great for upper chest muscles. For larger chest try some barbell incline presses too. Use a medium grip (a little wider than shoulders). Remember your form is what is most important. Keep your hips firmly on bench when pressing. When doing dumbbell flyes keep arms as straight as you can at the top of the exercise. Keep weights even at chest level and a little back (in line with ears). Do flyes slow and intense, yoking with each press. Close grip barbell pullovers will also do those upper pecs a service you won't forget and for shaping a finishing touch use dumbbells and superset your pullovers, alternating from barbell to dumbbell. Some lateral pulls on the low pulley is also a fine way to build uppers pecs. Push-ups will also help if you keep arms about two feet apart. If you do these between two benches you will intensify the exercise even more. One more thing I enjoy doing is using the pec dec machine, adjusting myself (sometimes I even stand) and start with chest expanded and really contract my pectorals throughout the exercise. Try these out and see your upper chest explode. I love these exercises.

Honorable Homemaker relates:

To my readers: I am including this letter in my advice column, although it is not a question, I am well aware of the fact that homemakers and mothers are often in an isolating position and sometimes end up feeling all alone in this world. While the capital letter "Feminist" movement has crowed loudly about the progress of women in the work force and taken much credit for this case, they have long and often neglected the woman who is a professional homemaker and mother, demeaning her work and keeping her out of any mainstream information. Many of us hardworking homemakers and mothers think we are the only ones with feelings of hopelessness, so we hide and when our child raising years are over we often feel that our usefulness to society is over. So I publish this letter with all respect, humility and gratitude to the courageous women, who have provided society with the greatest gift a human can provide "Our Future."

I just stumbled onto your page and decided since I was there, I would just check it out. The more that I read, the more soul-searching I did. A lot that you had to say, described me to a tee. Very scary thought on my part! I'm a housewife who will be 45 years old come June. I'm very bored with my way of doin' things...which is generally just not doin' them! I'm very happy with my family, but I seem to be lacking something in myself, well I won't say that I'm lacking it, I've just mis-placed it! I have a 23 year old daughter that is severely handicapped, and ole Mom here is about to get to the point that I can't lift her anymore without it putting such a strain on me, mentally and physically. I really need to get into a strength training program. I've stayed home since I married my husband Dan, so that I could care for him and my children, particularly Stacy( my disabled child). Through the years I've gradually gotten out of the habit of going anywhere or doing anything. It almost kills me to have to get out of the house now to go to the grocery store or go pay bills! I've gained somewhere between 40 to 50 pounds the last 12 years. I no longer carry myself with the confidence and dignity that used to be a big part of my personality. I went on the Pondiman diet last year and lost back down to my runnin' weight and kept it off for awhile, then slipped right back into the habit of not exercising. Now, I don't even want to go anywhere because I don't think my sweatpants and t-shirts are decent apparel. I shudder when I get out of the shower and have to face the mirror that's across from me. I think...Who is this?..It certainly isn't me! Love-making has become a chore, because I'm too embarrassed of myself...even though my husband will tell you that I'm the sexiest thing in the world, poor guy probably just knows I'd whack his head off if he said anything different. I have a home health care worker, for the last year, that comes in 5 days a week to care for my daughter. I have no excuse to be sittin' here on my ass doing nothin' but feeling sorry for myself because I have no energy, and I hurt all the time, and I'm too fat, and maybe I'll do something tomorrow, but it's too cold...wet...windy...hot...you name it...today. I think you've given me a lot of incentive, and for that, I'm very thankful. I just wanted you to know that! Give em' Hell!! I think that will be my new motto!

Gypsy thankfully rejoins:

Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement- yes it encourages me too to hear from people of like ilk! I guess one of the things I found out about picking myself up and getting out to do things is that I found many other people (men and women both) in the same bag as I was. Not only can housewifery and mothering get isolating, it is often very exhausting. So you put yourself out there and you are sure to find something of interest. Sometimes putting yourself out there is scary, especially if you haven't been out for a while. I know I found myself worried I wouldn't even know what to say to someone else. Now after four years at my gym, I know almost everyone there by name and have made some fair acquaintances and two good friends. Making new connections and talking to people in order to get more reality checks about what is going on around me, I have found quite helpful. I always assume someone has something to tell me that I don't know about. Even when I have found some info boring and wondering why I listened to it in the first place, all of a sudden something crops up that makes me glad I listened. This has been well worth my getting out. I recently had a set back, but after a month of moping and wondering, I just pulled myself back into it and started over. The second time is easier and I suspect if there is a third time it will be easier still. I don't know if you have read my article on feeling good I Feel Good! DA DA DA DA DA DA...You Know That I Should!. For those women like us, it is often hard to indulge ourselves, since we have been the caretakers and guides for all around us. But we are hard workers, who have done a difficult and precious service to our society (raising the future is an incredible responsibility). Another thing I learned is not to worry about what others thought, when it came to my health. Years ago before I started exercising, I had a serious back problem. When I started rehabilitating, I still had problems shopping or just walking from one place to another. One time when I was at a local department store my back started hurting. I was with my youngest daughter (at the time she was about 14) and she asked why I didn't sit down and fix my back the way I had been shown. I told her at my age women didn't do such things. It was undignified. She said "What is more important! What people think or how you are going to feel if you don't take care of yourself." Wise words from one so young. So I sat down right there on the floor of the store and did my torso twist, relaxed with my knees to my chest for a minute got up and felt much better. I learned not to sit too close to my dignity that day. So don't worry about you sweat pants and shirt, if what your doing helps you improve your health and well-being.

I hope you have also read my article on mothers -the often forgotten workers- Mother Nature - Mother Love - Mother of Invention - Mother Fucker - Mother of Us All - Yo' Mama I was encouraged by one of my older homemaking/childraising daughters to write that article and though for me it was cathartic, I am glad that it has been inspirational for others.

As for your husband who finds you sexy. I have one like that too. He finds me sexy no matter what- I've gained weight, lost weight, been sick, been healthy, looked like something that cat dragged in at time. However I believe him, because I find him sexy too and it isn't just how he looks- It is how he touches me (asks me what I like), speaks to me, supports my efforts, hugs me, kisses me and tells me he loves me not only when we are having sex, but all through the day. I don't think he tells me this just because I might get mad (I've gotten mad at him through the years and he's still with me and we are still honest and direct with each other). We've done a lot together (no the least of which raise and nurture a large family) and I find I fall deeper and deeper into love with him the longer we go on and sex has never been so good. So don't doubt that you are sexy and beautiful in your husband's eyes.

Well keep on truckin'! "Give 'em hell!" is a great motivating motto and as the Nike commercial and Ahhhhhrnold say "Just do it!" or my friend Myrna likes to say "You go girl!"

So I say back to you. "You Go Girl."

Leg-Lackster Lounger asks:

Note: This was a letter from a young woman to whom I was unable to send a direct answer, due to inability to get through to the e-mail address given to me. Hopefully she will see this in my advice column. Others may find this of interest.

I am a 16 year old female. I want to get advice about how a 16 year old, with bad legs, doesn't like to run too too much, and has a bad back (see my column on backs: Back to Back or "I Don't Think I'm Ever More 'Aware' Than I Am Right After I Hit My Thumb With A Hammer") can get good legs by May. And don't give me that "just exercise" crap, because it's easier said than done. I'm not trying to sound hasty,but I don't have a lot of time, and I am sick of people and commercials making getting fit sound sooooooo easy, when either they have no lives and plenty of time, or they are lying. Please help. I am waiting for your reply.

Gypsy answers:

I know how you feel about exercise. I felt that way until I was 50 and moving my body became an absolute necessity, at least if I wanted to do anything else but sit on my ass for the rest of my life. I wish I could tell you not to exercise, but unless you are talking about "good" legs being long when yours are short or muscled in a way you are not genetically prone to having, then I would say you are falling for the I have to fit into a particular Madison Avenue leg look and of course no exercise will help you with that wish. Women often are convinced to go cosmetic routes because they are considered in the short run the easiest fastest way to go about changing your appearance. Instead of appreciating our own bodily uniqueness, we often pine for what we have been told is "the perfect leg" or "the perfect breasts" or nose or teeth or whatever the market can sell. Check out my article on body control: Just When I Think I Know Where It's At, Some Body Moves It

Of course what they don't always tell you is that after surgery you will have to rehabilitate and in order to get better you would have to exercise. Well your damned if you do and damned if you don't.

However if you are serious about getting your legs in shape and don't like running start walking every day, dancing (ballet classes wouldn't hoit), soccer, bike riding or any other sport that requires leg work and is a sport you enjoy. I used to go to a lot of dances when I was in high school and in general was running here and there. Since I didn't drive (and don't to this day) everywhere I went was by foot. Because of this, even when I was out of shape, before I started a workout program, my legs were still strong. It was the rest of my body that was falling apart. If you do one or more of these sports 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes to an hour, you will build up your legs.

The other thing you could start doing is pick up some leg exercises from my Muscle of the Month section in my column (you can also get to it through my article An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Pain). If you pick 3-4 exercises and do them 3-4 times a week, I can assure you that by May you will have strong shapely legs. Remember if you do not want overly muscled legs, use light or no weights at all. It will take work.

The third thing you can do is a combination of sports you enjoy and a little resistance work as a back-up.

You should reach the goal you want by working up to a regular (start slow and build up to more) amount of exercise and using light or no weight and keeping in mind that you need to strengthen your back,(you can use some of the back exercises in the column on backs: Back to Back or "I Don't Think I'm Ever More 'Aware' Than I Am Right After I Hit My Thumb With A Hammer") and you should start to limber up your back with some gentle easy back stretches: They Told Me I Looked Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, But I Thought That A Bit of a Stretch.

On the other hand you may, given your original statement that you do not want to exercise, you may also find my article on sedentary living interesting (Won't You Sit Down? Lord, I Can't Sit Down! )

As far as diet: Eat a variety of food. Keep away from excess fat and sugar. Eat what you need for the physical effort you will put out in your day. Read my column Fatty-Fatty Two-By-Four Can't Get Through the Bathroom Door. It is loaded with info.

Crick 'n Neck asks:

I enjoyed your web site about stretching (They Told Me I Looked Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, But I Thought That A Bit of a Stretch) and weight lifting, and I do incorporate some of them into my workout. I am sending this email to see if you can help with my neck. I always stretch my neck from side to side, and back and forth, and I don't over stretch it. But frequently when I am doing military presses, and some other weight lifting exercises, I pull a muscle in my neck. And for the next couple of days, I can't move my neck from side to side---I have to turn my body to look to the left or the right. Are there any stretching exercises that you are aware of that may eliminate this? I would appreciate any advise. Thank you.

Gypsy answers:

There are some fine neck stretches. For the back of the neck try lying on your back with your fingers twined behind mid-head. Use your arms to slowly and gently pull your head until you feel a mild stretch. Do not go beyond that slight stretch. Hold that stretch for 6-12 seconds, then slowly lower your head back to the floor. Do this 3-4 times. I also have a chining bar in my home, which I hang from. If you hold on to the bar, relax your chin you will find a nice all over stretch, including your neck. If you are just beginning use a gradual approach. Hold stretch a few seconds and increase each time you go to do it. Relax! Relaxation is very important when stretching. Tense stretching or treating stretching like a resistance exercise will be counter productive. Bending your neck from side to side and back to front should be done slowly and gently (good that you don't roll your head). This is a good exercise for the front of your neck as well as sides. Another nice side stretch is laying on your back and turning your head from one side to another by turning chin toward shoulder as far as you can till you feel a gentle resistance, hold for a few seconds and switch. Repeat this 3-4 times. Or in a standing position lean your head to the one side toward a shoulder as you pull your arm down and across while holding on at the wrist behind your back. This can be done between sets or any time you feel your neck is stiff. Remember the cardinal rule of stretching at all times -"Relax".

Now that I have told you about stretching let me also say that you may want to watch how much weight you use in your military presses. I watch people in the gym (mostly men) who insist on using incredibly heavy weights to do shoulder presses. I have seen these men for years now and they have gained no more than when I saw them in the first place. You do not need extraordinary weight to build you shoulders. And, in fact, if you are injuring yourself, maybe you should be less macho and go to a lesser weight. I worked with a national winning bodybuilder, who insists you do not need heavy weight to build shoulders. You can see him in the demos on my site (oddly enough Keith demos in all muscle groups except shoulders,but you will see what I mean anyway). As you can see he has beautiful shoulders and what you can't see that everyone in our gym knows that he is one of the strongest people there. So cool it if you have to. Read my article on injury and the prevention thereof: An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Pain.

Bummed-out Bimbo-Basher asks:

Why is it that every time you think you are going to be happy and all of your problems are going away some bimbo has to try to ruin it again!?!

Why can't everyone let you be happy with your own life and them happy with thiers!!??

Gypsy replies:

You should stop hanging around with women you consider bimbos. You both will be happier.

The only life YOU are in control of is your own. Get your act together and let others worry about their own existence.

Check out my article on behavior: I'm Okay...You're An Asshole.

Future Freeweight User asks:

In November of '96 I joined a fitness center to get in better shape. I'm 35 and weigh 140# at 5'3". I started the aerobics classes, but became discouraged with them. I started playing around with some free weights and I seem to get better results. I don't know that much about lifting weights, but it seems that the people at the fitness centers only know about male bodies. They think a woman should work out the same way a man does. I disagree, I want to achieve a well toned firm body without bulging muscles. I read about a program called freestyle weight training for women and was wondering if you know anything about it. It seems to fit what I'm looking for. After giving birth to two children, I feel my abdominals need the majority of the work out, but at the same time I'd like to decrease the size of my arms and waist. My legs are fairly muscular already from playing sports when I was younger, however I do still work on my legs some. Do you have any advice on how I might go about getting the results I want? Thanks for any help you can give.

Gypsy replies:

How right you are! Not only are the older training programs set up for men, but so is most of the equipment set up for the "average man." However as more and more women get into lifting programs that is sure to change (in fact at some gyms it is changing). Even with the machines available, women, if shown, can make adjustments so as to make these machines more female friendly.

Some good abdominal workouts will help you bring your abs into condition. Check out some good abdominal exercises shown in my muscle of the month. You can either get through to it by going to Muscle of the Month section on my site or my column on mothers Mother Nature - Mother Love - Mother of Invention - Mother Fucker - Mother of Us All - Yo' Mama. Once your abs are strengthened, you might want to add some bent knee sit-ups, jack knife situps and some side bends (weighted or not) for a flatter tummy.

Generally I do my aerobics separately (I teach step aerobics, plus I box, ride bike or in a pinch I use the stairmaster). Though I generally advise new lifters to use aerobic weight lifting with care (working too fast with too much weight can do more harm sometimes than good), there are some great circuit training programs. Circuit training programs are good especially if pressed for time. A good circuit training program will improve your fitness plus give you strength and endurance. A good program will have from 6-15 different muscle building exercises, done at least 3 times a week. Repeating a circuit 2-3 times around (3-5 being more than max but as you get stronger or have more time this is a possibility) with a total time of 20-30 minutes (perfect for aerobic workout), 15-20 reps or as many as possible in 30 seconds will give you a good strengthening and aerobic workout. There should be little or no rest at exercise intervals. If you rest no more than 15 seconds or you will lose the aerobic value of your workout. If you have doubts that you can perform such a program ask your health care provider what she thinks, but remember you are in the end the best judge of your stamina and strength. I also recommend warming up and stretching prior to workout. See my article on stretching under the title They Told Me I Looked Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, But I Thought That A Bit of a Stretch" Also remember breathing by inhaling at the start of lift and exhaling at finish. Cool down after workout by gradually lessening body movement.

As far as over muscularity (a common plaint of many women)-Without using steroids you would have to work out with extremely heavy weights, twice daily with a short rest period (5-7 hours) between lifting workouts to become 'overly' muscular. By keeping your weights light and going for more repetitions you will tone and develop muscles without increasing your bulk.

Good for you for starting now with getting back into shape. You will find more energy and strength to keep up with your growing children.

Tendonoidal Teenager asks:

I am 17 years old and lately when I go to aerobics my feet hurt. My instructor thinks it's tendonitis. What's the best why to treat this? If you don't know, where can I find out? By the way where are you? I'm in Logan,Utah using my Dad's computer at Utah State University. Thanks for your time I hope to hear from you soon.

Gypsy answers:

Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon caused by tearing of some of its fiber. There is swelling and tenderness. It is caused by to many repetitions of an exercise. it can also occur due to repeated injuries and rapid movement of the particular body part (hand wrist or ankle). Tendons are very strong and most are encased in a sheath that allows the tendon to glide smoothly over the adjoining bone. They are very inelastic type tissue with very little blood circulation and they are slower to heal than muscle injuries. Rest is often the best prescription to begin with. Rehabilitation for tendons should only begin after you can move the injured part through full range of motion with little or no pain. Stop running or stair stepping and try swimming or bicycling. Do some toe raises and when you can do that without too much pain start holding weights in your hands. Read my article on injury An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Pain You will find a good rehabilitation program for tendon or ligament injury.

Having told you this about tendons, I want you to know that since you say it is your feet, there is another possibility-Plantar Fasciitis (bone spurs). My daughter is a figure skater and bone spurs are the treachery of a skater's world. This is true for anyone whose feet are constantly taking a pounding. If this is occurring stop all sports requiring running. Try an alternative sport that places less stress on your foot. There are special shoe supports that limit pronation and takes some tension off the plantar.

I know when you are young patience is not often considered a virtue. All I can say is that if you don't ease up and take care of either tendonitis of plantar fasciitis you could end up needing an operation (worst case scenario) and lose a lot more time recuperating than if you take some time off until you are healed.

Hello Utah!! By the way I am from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Biceps Builder asks:

Could you please tell me what exercises I can do with freeweights in order to build the outer biceps?

Gypsy responds:

Almost any standing close grip barbell curl will work your outer biceps. Remember for standing curls to stand with head erect, back straight, head up and feet approximately 15-17 inches apart. Hold barbell in a narrow grip (hands 12" apart) both hands with palms up. If you use an easy curl bar place hands on first curves of bar, also with palms up. The key to working outer biceps is the NARROW GRIP! You can do seated curls by sitting on end of bench with feet approximately 2 feet apart. Bend forward at waist. Hold bar in both hands with palms up about 6-7 inches apart. Rest elbows against your inner thighs a few inches up from the knee. You can also curl lying over a high bench, a preacher bench, squatting. You can use a low pulley or lat machine to do your curls. There are many ways to curl. Find the ways you like and just do it!

Biceps exercises can be found in the column:

Elementary, My Dear Watson! Love and Marriage = Horse and Carriage. Remember: Clicking on pictures takes you back and forth between explanations.

Courageous Chemowoman comes back:

Thank you so much for your quick response. Your information and suggestions give me a wide range of approaches back to a healthy body.

Question? Do you think a speed bag or punching bag would be helpful?

Gypsy rejoins:

Glad to hear back from you. I am a kickboxer and have always loved the heavy bag workout. It is quite aerobic. However, to begin with, I would advise you to do a low impact (don't go all out in hitting the bag). Movement alone ( as if shadow boxing) will give you some stellar exercise.

I have attempted, but not mastered the speed bag. I am rather slow in my rhythm. What can I say? I love boxing and I know from experience that it is a wonderful exercise. Start slow and work up. My boxing class lasts an hour. Fifteen minutes is put into stretching and then we do bag workouts, sparring, and across the floor exercises. After class I generally do 200-300 abdominal exercises. If I have time, I stretch again. If not I try to stretch some time later in the day. I initially had to deal with some wrist problems, but between the boxing and resistance work I was doing (plus leaving off when I needed to), my wrist became quite strong.

Remember whatever sport or exercise you go into, make sure you start slow. Persistence and Patience are key word here. I box with people young enough to be my children and find that what I may not have in quickness, I make up for by being patient. No hurry!

Exercise, whatever the kind, if it's fun and done with care and a respect for your body's ability, is good for you. There are often some very fine instructors, who work with older people getting into workout programs of various types. Check it out.

To Me, Boxing Is Like a Ballet, Except There's No Music, No Choreography, and the Dancers Hit Each Other.

Curious Chemowoman queries:

I just came across your website for first time. It was very informative. Wondering what advice you would have for a 52 year old women coming off 6 months of chemotherapy who wants to get back in health and shape, strengthen her immune system and start jogging. Whew!

Gypsy replies:

It is always good to start an exercise program in order to be able to function physically, even after hospitalization, chemotherapy or just because you haven't done anything physical for a while and need some rejuvenation. Before beginning an exercise program, make sure you are healthy enough to handle the hurdles. Before beginning any program you might want to consult your primary health care person.. Begin slowly and progress in a moderate way. Keep in mind any signs or symptoms that indicated your body is not up to the exercise program you have chosen. Develop a body awareness. Find where your tension points are (forehead, jaw, neck, shoulders ,back etc.). Unless you have some specific physical problems, exercise is always appropriate. Remember to listen to your body. If you are tired slow down the rate and duration of your exercise. You may not be as active as you were before your chemo, so do what is best in the here and now. Going for walks to begin with or swim or jog a short distance at a time (if that is what you enjoy doing). There are many ways to get physically stronger. Hatha Yoga is a good beginning program. It is a good way to develop body awareness, plus giving you many of the other benefits of exercise by realigning your physical posture and releasing muscle tension. If you start a resistance program (weightlifting), start with light weights and moderate amounts of time and gradually increase your poundage and repetitions. I read an article when I first started weight lifting about a woman who was a body builder and had to go through chemo several times. She said that even though she felt weak at first gradually her stamina and strength increased. She worked as hard as she could between treatments. Not only did it add to her quality of movement, but helped her in times of remission. She was able to retain muscle development that allowed her to do the other things that she loved.

Basic Rule: Start slowly and build (generally and within each exercise period). Muscle growth comes from muscle movement. When you push your muscles a little further each time you will get stronger. Remember to stretch (See my article: They Told Me I Looked Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, But I Thought That A Bit of a Stretch) Stretching will give you more flexibility. Watch out if you are cold or stiff or overtired and tense. You can easily tear tendons and ligaments if out of condition. You may even do some severe muscle damage. If you are doing activities that put stress on joints make sure that your surrounding muscles are strengthened. Work up to exercising several times a week for 15-20 minutes. Taper off after doing heavy exercise. You need to bring you heart rate down slowly. Find something you love doing and do it with someone you love.

Unfaithfully Faithful writes:

Came across your home page and had to make a comment on your Let's Talk Marriage-"Lovers" section. I have been married for a number of years (11) and was living apart from my wife and kids for several years. I was working out of a base about 1500 miles away from where our home was. The company did not know how long the base would be there (the contract only remained in force for as long as there was work at that location) and therefore called it a temporary base. I was able to get home for holidays and the occasional weekend. We were in touch constantly by letters and phone. I found that I had a lot of free time while away at my temporary base(evenings and most weekends). And that's where my thinking began to change. I found that I had an "apart" life and a "together" life. However, when I was away I began to think of my situation as being "by myself" (as in single). As such I had several brief relationships with other women. I was up front with my "affairs" in that I told them that my job was temporary and that I lived elsewhere and that any relationship we had was temporary.They accepted that. My wife knew nothing. I plan to keep it that way. I could justify it in that I was not cheating my family out of "time with me" as I had to be away anyway and I got home whenever possible. When I was home, I was 100% dedicated to them. I never lost sight of the fact that my #1 priority was my wife and kids. That still stands to this day.

So, the questions are: How do you spend that much time apart and not have thoughts of "straying"?

If you always make sure your family remains "priority one", is it necessarily wrong to indulge in a brief, safe, satisfying relationship outside of your marriage?

If you knew that you could have an affair with certainty that your spouse would never find out...would you? Should you? I didn't always feel this way about affairs. I didn't know that I was capable of having an affair. When I got married it was for all the right reasons and with every intention of honoring all the commitments and promises that come with marriage. We tend to judge others by how well they conform to rules that we ourselves live by. What I did has never been repeated to anyone as I do not wished to be persecuted by those who might feel that I've gone beyond the boundaries. In my own mind, I cannot say if what I did was right or wrong. I only did what I felt was natural in the situation that I found myself in. In short, I surprised myself. Would I be upset to find out that my wife did the same while I was gone? No, as long as she took the precautions that I myself took with my "affair".

Do I ever regret doing this? No.

Did I feel guilty? No.

Would I do it again? Given the same situation, I don't know.

Gypsy replies:

We are "only human animals" and as such we cannot control our thoughts (sexual or otherwise), we can only control our behavior. Members of our family were in a similar situation. They were in the Air Force and she got transferred to another country. He was going to school in the US and was doing well, but got lonely and missed his wife and child. He made the decision to drop school and follow his wife to her place of work. During the time away he too contemplated extra-marital relationships. I don't know if he indulged himself or not. There is a lot of pressure when apart from a mate to want to satisfy sexual urges. My husband and I have been apart so little and have had very little pressure of that sort, but I know from past experiences (this is not my first marriage) fidelity is very difficult. I could name you a lot of reasons for "staying true" but you already probably know them. Besides being found out there is the danger of venereal disease. Of course you can be as careful as one can be, but as you well know SHIT HAPPENS.

I am not one of those self-righteous moralists, who will tell you that outside sexual relationships are right or wrong, having dallied myself and knowing many others who have done so. People have to answer to themselves, if no one else, for their own behavior. As I point out in my article Elementary, My Dear Watson! Love and Marriage = Horse and Carriage, we all must make the decisions with which we feel comfortable. Involving others into one's sexual relationships can be a bind, though you seem to be saying that it was no skin off you. Except of course it is now your secret.

I have found that it is very difficult for me to live a lie, especially when it comes to the people I love. I have difficulty with the concept of "cheating" on my mate, whether over sex, love, money, business or politics. I know I might feel pangs of hurt and jealousy over an affair, but I also know that if I had to find out this information from another source other than my mate, I would feel betrayed. I would hope my mate would understand what I was doing and my reasons for it. On a less righteous note, I have learned, that secrets have a way of getting out and the longer the lie lasts, the more likely the results are to be dire. We all have different ways of dealing with events (even the ones we all share). We must do what we must do. If you feel comfortable with your decision (as you seem to be) and are otherwise a good mate (which it sounds like you are), throw guilt to the wind. Guilt without redemptive behavior is hardly worth a cup of coffee at the local restaurant.

You obviously understand the "what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander" philosophy, which at least keeps you from being a hypocrite.

Thank you for your thoughts on the subject.

You may send your comments and suggestions to Gypsy --- The Gift of Youth via electronic mail by sending email to:

gypsy@dreamagic.com (Gypsy)

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