When it comes to workouts for our Fitness Rx challengers, one size definitely does not fit all. What works for Stefanee, who's losing weight but needs to build muscle, won't necessarily work for Jeff, who has muscle to burn but wants to amp up the weight loss. Trainers Michael Lin, Matt O'Connor, and Sega Songha have fine-tuned individual workout plans that are designed to get both of our challengers closer to their goal weights, and with only a few months to go in the year-long process, it's time to get moving!
Supersets: Real Calorie Burners
Weight: 195 lbs.
Goal: 170 lbs.
For Jeff, Lin designed fast-paced "supersets" workouts. "He's pretty strong and well-balanced, and we use this workout to burn as many calories as possible," Lin says.
Instead of having Jeff do several sets of one exercise, such as bicep curls, before moving on to the next, Lin runs him straight through bench presses and tricep extensions for his chest and triceps, then seated rows and dumbbell curls for his back and biceps, followed by leg presses. Next, Jeff hops onto the bike for an intense three minutes of pedaling at near-maximum exertion. Then ... he starts all over again.
"Supersets burn the calories," says Lin. "You don't need as much of a break between exercises, because you're working different muscle groups, so you can keep your heart rate elevated and maximize the use of your time."
Jeff, who can finally tighten his belt comfortably to the next smaller notch, says, "I'm happy about my progress. My son came home from school and said, 'Wow, you've really lost a lot,' and that made me feel great."
Still, he has a ways to go. Jeff's Challenge goal is 170 pounds. He's lost a total of 15 pounds and is leaner all around, but he's still 25 pounds from his goal. "It's going to be rough, but I think I can do it," he says. "I'm seeing a big difference, and people are noticing. I'm more muscular at 53 than I was at 20."
What hasn't changed? "I love to eat! And sometimes I just eat too much."
"He was doing really well because he gets so much exercise, but then when he was done training for his triathlon [last September], he slipped a little," says nutritionist Kathleen Zelman. "He was eating empanadas and french fries, cookies, and chocolate. I've been working with him to lower the fat in his diet."
But even with the occasional slip, Jeff says his eating habits have changed for good. "I don't eat junk anymore. I want to come out of this with great eating habits."
Find out Jeff's current vital stats -- weight loss, inches lost, cholesterol levels, and more.
Battling Skyrocketing Stress Levels
Weight: 168 lbs.
Goal: 160 lbs.
In contrast to Jeff's "supersets," Stefanee's workout is a "pyramid" setup -- working first the bigger muscles and then the smaller ones. For each muscle group, she starts with lighter weights and more repetitions; for the second set, she adds weight and decreases repetitions.
By the final set, Stefanee hoists the heaviest weight she can stand, for eight to 10 reps. "This workout helps her concentrate on muscle strength and endurance," Lin explains.
As for her diet, Stefanee has discovered something about herself -- she's a stress eater. Between planning her son's first birthday party and juggling her job, workouts, and motherhood, the last few months have sent her stress levels skyrocketing. "I've lost weight, but I've had a really bad sweet tooth," she says. "I went into the Godiva store and got three chocolate balls and ate them right away. They tasted so good, but after that I felt so guilty!"
Between chocolate therapy and the decision to cut out the oatmeal she was downing daily for breakfast -- she'd eaten so much it was making her gag -- Stefanee wasn't surprised to see her "bad" (LDL) cholesterol number start to creep back up (up from 108 last month). "I kind of expected that, but it was still disappointing," she says.
Oatmeal has reappeared at her breakfast table -- with a new kick. "I was eating a specific cholesterol-lowering oatmeal, but now I'm spicing it up with one that has apples and cinnamon and some granola. It has a few more calories, but I like it."
Smart move, says Zelman. "There are many oatmeal products -- you don't have to eat the same one every day. It helps her feel full, and it will help her get her cholesterol back on track."
Stefanee also feels guilty about missing workouts as a result of her endless to-do list. "She needs to take a deep breath and give herself permission to take a little time off here and there and not worry about it," Zelman says. "If a week is rough, then watch your portion sizes and try to get some exercise, even if you're not getting to the gym. If you only go twice -- that's two times more than none."
See Stefanee's current vital stats -- weight loss, inches lost, cholesterol levels, and more.
Published March 1, 2007.