#200 Shape Up for Summer!

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"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."

Russell Baker

6 Quick Tips to Tip the Scale in Your Favor
By Denis Faye

The annals of Beachbody are filled with Success Stories, which is probably why you buy our products. But what happens when, no matter how hard you Push Play, and how fascist you get with what you put in your mouth, that scale just won't budge? Usually, you get mad, you swear, you throw the scale at the television, then settle down for a tub of Ben & Jerry's and a good cry. Well, dry your eyes, little darlin'. Odds are you can solve the problem easily. Following one of these six solutions should earn you a ticket on the Tony train to Fitsville.

  1. You Aren't Losing Weight

    The problem: When you exercise, you gain muscle, which weighs more than fat. If you're really getting a lot out of an exercise regimen, oftentimes, the first four or five weeks will find you losing fat and gaining muscle at a similar clip, so it appears you're not losing.

    The solution: Use a tape measure to chart progress. That will give you a truer representation—and remember, muscle gain levels out quickly. The change is probably right around the corner.

  2. You're Eating the Wrong Things

    The problem: Especially in this shove-it-down-your-throat consumer society, knowing the right way of eating the right things is tricky. There are lots of foods that are supposed to be good for you, yet actually work against you if you're trying to lose weight. The classic example is fruit juice. Great stuff, full of vitamins, but also devoid of fiber, so drinking a glass is basically a couple hundred calories of sugar water from a weight loss perspective.

    Another example is peanut butter. Fats are highly caloric, meaning a little goes a long way and a lot goes too far. When the nutrition facts say a tablespoon is 100 calories, that means one flush tablespoon. Any amount of heaping can quickly double, triple, or quadruple the calories.

    The solution: Go through your diet with a fine-tooth comb, questioning anything that's not whole fresh produce, whole grains, or lean protein. If you need help, pop over to the Beachbody.com Message Boards and ask the Advice Staff.

  3. The Daily Cheat

    The problem: This is sort of a subset of the above dilemma. You eat like a monk all day, but you tell yourself you deserve one daily reward. A candy bar, a Coke, chocolate, a bag of chips—maybe even something that doesn't start with the letter "C." As far as we're concerned, you deserve anything your heart desires, but will that help you lose weight? No. It doesn't seem like much, but that daily cheat can cause all kinds of problems. It can cause a sugar spike. It can send your fat percentage through the roof. It might just be those extra 300 calories that are holding you back.

    The solution: Treat yourself once a week instead.

  4. You're Not Eating Enough

    The problem: I know, I know, logic dictates that if you eat less, you lose weight, but it doesn't always work that way. In general, the body wants to have more fat than you want it to have. Fat is an emergency fuel source and it protects the vital organs. While your brain thinks in the 21st century, your body still thinks in caveman terms. If you don't eat enough and you're under stress (such as from exercise), the body can panic, fearing famine or drought. It conserves energy (or fat) and gives you less juice to do what you do throughout the day.

    The solution: Bump your diet up in healthy 300-calorie increments until you start losing again. When you plateau, bump up again. Another trick is to zigzag, eating 1,200 calories one day and 2,000 the next, so your body thinks it's getting more than it really is.

  5. You're Overtraining

    The problem: People tend to think that the body can handle as much punishment as we can give it. They buy Slim in 6® and decide to double it, thinking they'll lose weight twice as fast.

    Won't happen. When you exercise, you're actually breaking down your muscles. If you don't give them enough time to recover, they just won't be able to do the work. You won't progress. What's even worse is when you overtrain your cardiovascular system, you're tiring out your heart muscles, which can lead to a chronic state where you're tired and lethargic.

    The solution: Just do what the Beachbody program recommends. Take a day off each week. Take recovery weeks seriously. Another thing you can do is take your resting heart rate each morning. If it starts to go up even though you're working out, that means you're overtraining, tired, and it's time for a recovery week.

  6. You're Not Exercising Enough

    The problem: It's possible to go through the motions on just about any workout video without benefiting. Just showing up doesn't get the job done. Also, working out three or four days a week is fine if you're only trying to maintain fitness, but odds are it won't help you progress.

    The solution. Make sure to hit it five days a week, minimum. Six would be great. When you exercise, make sure you're sweating. If you push yourself to a point where you need to stop, that's okay. Stop and take a drink of water. Better to get yourself to that point than to underperform. This might also be a good time to try a heart monitor, to make sure it's getting up there.

For questions and/or comments on newsletter articles, please email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. Responses to your questions may be seen at Steve Edwards' Mailbag.

For Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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6 Best Moves for Summertime Arms
By Jude Buglewicz

Oh the weather outside is . . . beautiful! Time to shed those long sleeves for tanks and tees. If that's enough to send you into a panic, with visions of jiggling arm flab or flapping batwings, fear not. We'll have you sporting sleeveless fashions with confidence in just a few weeks with these six classic, no-nonsense arm-sculpting moves.

But before we begin, please know that if you're currently following one of our fitness programs, you're more than covered, as they all include upper-body sculpting workouts. If you're between programs, though, or you just want to zone in on those arms and chisel away, have your dumbbells or resistance bands handy. Remember—exhale on the exertion (when you're doing the move), and inhale as you lower the weight or return to starting position.

  1. Bicep curls. We'll start by isolating the muscle in the front of your arms. Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, abs tight, shoulders squared, and arms at your side, gripping dumbbells (or band handles), palms facing forward. With elbows tight against your rib cage, lift the weights (or pull the handles) until they're at shoulder level, then slowly curl back down, resisting all the way. Don't swing the weights—keep your movements slow and controlled. Too hard? Use lighter resistance.

  2. Triceps kickbacks. You'll feel the burn on this one. Buh-bye batwings! Using dumbbells (or a resistance band), bend forward so your torso is parallel to the floor, tummy tight, and knees slightly bent. Bend your elbows so they're even with your back. Keeping your arms close to your rib cage, slowly raise the weights (or band handles) until your arms are straight behind you. Squeeze your triceps, then lower your hands, returning to starting position. Too hard? Do one arm at a time, holding on to a chair for support.

  3. Overhead press. And now for sleek, sexy shoulders . . . Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, tummy tight, and chest out. Grip a dumbbell (or band handle) in each hand at shoulder height, just to the side of each shoulder, palms facing forward. Extend your arms, pressing the dumbbells (or band handles) directly overhead, bringing them toward each other, and pause for a moment, then slowly return to starting position.

  4. Reverse curls. Don't neglect your forearms! Especially if you enjoy playing tennis, throwing a ball, swinging a golf club or a baseball bat, rock climbing, water skiing, and so on. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, gripping a dumbbell (or band handle) in each hand, arms hanging in front of you, palms facing in. Lift the dumbbells (or pull the band handles) up slowly, keeping elbows close to your rib cage (but not propped on your hip bones for support). Lower the weights, returning to starting position.

  5. Dips. You can put the resistance tools down now and grab a chair. We're targeting the triceps again, the back of your upper arms. Sit on the edge of your chair with your hands next to your hips and your legs straight out in front of you. Bring your hips in front of the chair and slowly lower your body until your arms are bent no more than 90 degrees. Push back up. Too hard? Bend your legs and move them closer to your body.

  6. Push-ups. Cap off the session with this powerhouse exercise that uses your body's own weight to work your arms, shoulders, and chest. Form is everything. Start facedown with your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart and toes on the floor. Your elbows should be close to your rib cage the whole time and fully extended at the top of the move. Look forward slightly so your chin—not your nose—is pointing down. Keeping your back straight and tummy tucked in tight, lower your body slowly until your chest is parallel to the floor, then push up, reversing the motion.

    Too hard? Support your weight with your hands and knees until you build enough upper-body strength to perform push-ups on your toes. Want more variety? Check out Tony Horton's Top 10 Push-Up Moves using his patented PowerStandsTM.

How many and how heavy? If you want arms that are slim and toned and noticeably defined, use lighter weights so you can do 12 to 15 repetitions before your muscles tire. Rest, then do another set or two. If it's Popeye arms you're after, built-up and buff, go with heavier weights that tire your muscles after just eight reps. Rest, then do another couple of sets.

And don't despair if you're working hard and not seeing great results as soon as you'd like. Keep in mind that to see real definition, you need to reduce overall body fat. So stick with the cardio and a healthy eating plan while you're sculpting away. Resistance training is great for boosting your metabolism when you're trying to lose weight—and it'll help keep skin from sagging when the weight does come off!

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