Exercise: 4 Types, Which Is Right For You?

Last week I talked about food interventions for weight loss.  Now it’s time to talk about the other half of the plan.  Exercise!  What does it mean?

There are 4 types of exercise to choose from:  increasing everyday activity, cardio, resistance, and HIIT.  What do they mean and which is right for you?

Increased Everyday Activity:  Parking at the far end of the parking lot, taking stairs instead of escalators and elevators, carrying your child instead of putting him in a stroller, walking the dog.  Walk down the hall instead of sending an email to your coworker. These are all examples of increasing everyday activity.  Take the little opportunities to be a bit more active during your day.

Cardio:  This type of exercise is anything that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder and break a sweat, ideally for at least 30 minutes.  It is SUSTAINED activity, so basketball counts but baseball doesn’t.  Walking the dog generally doesn’t count either, unless you’re jogging and your dog doesn’t take potty breaks, LOL!  There are lots of fun ways to get your cardio, some of which aren’t immediately apparent.  Dancing (especially ballroom dancing) is fantastic exercise.  Tennis and racquetball, martial arts, Zumba…  Try something new, and have fun!

Resistance:  Most people think of weight lifting when we talk about resistance exercise and, of course, this IS one type.  However there are other types of resistance exercise.  You don’t need a big weight stack and lots of equipment to do very effective resistance exercise.  Calisthenics and bodyweight exercises are tremendously good exercises.  Here are some examples of good bodyweight exercises:  Greatist, NerdFitness, StrengthStack. I like NerdFitness because they are actually routines, not just lists of exercises.  The other two sites are great for those who want to make up their own routines (like a “leg day” routine, an “ab day” routine, etc.)  The benefit of resistance exercise is that it builds muscle.  Muscle is metabolically active tissue and burns calories whether you use it or not.  Building muscle helps weight loss by increasing your metabolism.

HIIT:  HIIT is High-Intensity Interval Training.  The goal is to do short (20-30 seconds) periods of intense exercise at maximal or near-maximal effort, followed by a short rest, then repeat.  The advantage of HIIT is you burn lots of calories in a short period of time and the body doesn’t get used to the exercise and get more efficient at it.  Remember you’re working as hard as you possibly can for a very short period of time.  But as you get more fit, “as hard as you possibly can” stays the same!  It’s self-adjusting exercise.  Neat, huh?  There’s evidence to suggest that overweight and sedentary people lose weight and get fit faster with HIIT than with cardio alone.  Want to see my favorite HIIT?  Check here.

So I can hear you asking “Dr. Jen, which one is the best?  Which one do YOU use?”  Well I believe they ALL are good and I use them all.  I’m a jogger and addicted to the “runner’s high” so I try to run twice a week.  I also use HIIT for quick workouts and hit the weights when I can.  I take the stairs and my staff will tell you I often do laps around the office.

If you’re looking to lose weight and not sure how to go about getting more active, don’t overthink it!  Just pick something that looks like fun and give it a try!

QUESTION:  What’s your favorite type of exercise?  Is there something new you’d like to try?


Weight Loss: Choosing a Program

So now you have committed to weight loss. You decided how MUCH you are going to lose and you declared it to friends and family.

Now what?

Now you have to choose a weight-loss program.

There are lots of weight-loss programs to choose from and for the most part they ALL work. Whether they will work for YOU however is another question.

Do you want a program for rapid weight loss? Do you want a program that provides slow and steady weight loss?

Are you super busy and looking for convenient meal options? Do you love to cook? Are you interested in guidance about portion control and meal planning?

Do you have food sensitivities? Are you sensitive to artificial preservatives, sweeteners and flavors? All these questions have bearing on your choice of weight-loss program.

In my experience there are two types of Losers. (Thats my affectionate term for folks working on weight loss).

One type is those who adore food and love to cook, and just need help with portion control and substituting healthier ingredients. They don’t want any type of prepackaged or convenience food, they cook all their meals themselves at home. This type of Loser does very well with a program like Weight Watchers.

Then there’s the rest of us. We lead busy lives. We sometimes need a quick and convenient meal option.

I do medically supervised weight loss. I have seen and heard about nearly every program out there. In fact I’ve tried a few of them myself. Atkins, South Beach, SlimFast, protein sparing modified fast.  In my experience there are three things to watch out for in weight loss programs.

1. Mysterious ingredients: if you can’t find the list of ingredients or its a “proprietary blend” that’s so secret they won’t tell you what’s in the product, think twice about it. Remember, the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements so let the buyer beware.

2. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Devices and products that “melt away fat while you continue to eat whatever you want” are not generally worth wasting your money. Remember, if weight loss was easy no one would be overweight.

3. Carefully look for artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated fats and other chemicals. No one is quite sure how those lab-created substances affect the human body in the long term. For instance it’s recently been shown that aspartame and sucralose raise blood insulin levels just like sugar does. We have known for a long time that diet soda does not promote weight loss. Now we know why 🙂

Now I can hear you asking “So Dr. Jen, what program do YOU recommend?” I recommend (and use myself) the Shaklee 180 program. Busy people rejoice! A program that is simple and effective with products that taste good is available 🙂

QUESTION:  What one thing would be most important for you in choosing a weight loss program?


Weight Loss: What To Do First?

Hi, everybody!  I’m starting a short series about weight loss, since I’ve been talking a lot about it in the office this week.

OK, so you want to lose weight?  What’s the very first thing you should do?  Do you research weight loss programs?  Go shopping for clothes in the next size down?  Throw away all the junk food in the house?


The very first thing you need to do is COMMIT to losing weight.  The act of making a decision and committing to seeing it through changes the way you think.  It alters hormones and chemicals in the brain.  Commitment makes success more likely.

It’s not “I wish I could lose weight.”  It’s not even “I’m going to TRY to lose weight.”

It’s “I’m going to lose 10 pounds by Thanksgiving.”

Make sure your initial commitment is a doable goal, reachable in a set amount of time.  It increases confidence and makes it more likely that you will stick with it during tough days.  If you set a very aggressive goal, it’s easier to say “I couldn’t have done it anyway,” and give up.

After you’ve chosen a weight loss goal and committed to achieving it, what’s next?

Next you have to DECLARE your commitment.

If you keep your goal to yourself and don’t share it with friends and family members, only you will know if you don’t reach your goal.  Sharing it with others makes it much harder to give up.

Also, if you tell others about your goal you may inspire others to start THEIR weight loss journey with you.  It’s much easier to walk the weight loss path if others are walking with you.  Those who do not have a goal to lose weight are likely to provide lots of support and encouragement as well.

If you need and want to lose weight, here are your very first steps:

1.  COMMIT   Decide to lose weight.  Chose an initial goal and make it doable and realistic.  One example would be 10 pounds in 3 months.  Remember that weight loss is a long, slow journey and 1 pound per week is a healthy target.  Fat loss goes slow!  Then when you reach your goal you can set a new goal for the next step of the journey.

2.  DECLARE  First write your goal down on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror where you can see it every morning.  Then read it OUT LOUD.  Sounds silly, but speaking aloud activates different centers of the brain than silent thinking.  Tell close friends and family members about your weight loss goal.  Give them the opportunity to support you.  Also, you may well inspire others to start their own weight loss journey.  Health is contagious!

Over the next few weeks I’m going to continue to share other steps in the weight loss journey.

So here’s my declaration:  Two weeks ago I committed to losing ten pounds of fat over the next 90 days.  I have lost 1 pound so far and am very proud of my success!

QUESTION:  Do you have a weight loss goal?  Here’s your chance:  DECLARE it in the comments below and let us support you!


3 Reasons I Hate Vacations

Vacation.  Relaxation.  Downtime.  Family.

You guys who have been reading these blogs for awhile should know that I’m usually pretty positive.  For weeks before my recent vacation I was so excited!

AE10828We went to Charlotte NC and spent the weekend with family.





ridingWe spent two days in Gatlinburg TN and had a blast!





Me&MaryThen we went to Nashville TN for the Shaklee Global Conference and I got to connect with other businesspeople and re-energize.  Goal-setting, learning new skills, and just pure fun and pleasure.


However, vacation has its downside.  I have not been having a good week since I got back and I thought I’d tell you why.

BEFORE  So what happens when you’re planning to leave the office for a week?  You are VERY focused on getting all tasks done before leaving.  I stayed late in the office every day for a week before leaving, making sure all the labs were reviewed, documents filled out, messages returned, emails sent, etc.  It was very stressful and I remember wondering if vacation was worth all the extra work.

DURING  Even though I tremendously enjoyed my 9 days away, spending time with my kids and the rest of my family, in the back of my mind was all the work piling up at the office!  Isn’t that silly?  I found myself wondering how things were going at the office, whether my partners were getting overwhelmed and if my patients were having a hard time getting through to the staff and getting appointments.  (I knew for a fact they were going to have a hard time because two of the four of us were out of the office!)  I purposely tried to put all thoughts of work out of my mind but I kept circling back.

AFTER  As you can probably guess, this was the worst of all.  I had 11 nursing home admissions while I was gone.  I came back to a hospital census of 9 patients and it stayed at 8-10 the whole time I was on call.  The office was an absolute zoo.  Packed schedule, pages of labs and correspondence and messages and Xrays galore.  I have been buried all week and haven’t even had time to post on my Facebook business page!  As Russ will tell you, I am ADDICTED to Facebook.  Too busy for Facebook is WAYYYYY too busy :-p

Now it’s the weekend (FINALLY!) and I’m still digging out from under the mountain.  However, I think I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m catching up on my sleep and looking forward to a little downtime (and maybe even some exercise!) today.

Summertime__Beach_Umbrella_Sun_Clipart-1Even with all the frustration of getting back up to speed in the office, I’m glad we went.  We had a great time and I know it’s important to schedule time away.  I just wish it wasn’t so hard coming back!


Question:  What is your experience when you go on vacation?  Is it easy to get back to work or do you spend a week or two catching up?