CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dear Cindy,
I'm 41 and I've lost some weight since New Year's by jogging and reducing calories. I dropped about 18 pounds, but when I put on my two-piece swimsuit, I was not happy. My abs are flabby and my arms and legs look like I have never exercised in my life. I'm so disappointed because I was ready for this weight loss to make me excited for summer clothes. What should I do, and how long will it take? -- Jeanette
We love to bury our bodies beneath wraps and sweaters during the fall and winter, but usually end up in a state of shock when we peel away the layers in the spring. We swear we didn't look this way when we went into hibernation!
Actually, the spring stare-down is all too common. We are naturally disappointed when we know without a doubt that we've put forth an honest and steady effort. We expect great things, and we wince when the body we imagined doesn't materialize.
But you have to give yourself credit for doing so many things right. You stuck to your resolutions and made important dietary changes. Do you realize how many New Year's promises are quickly abandoned? Almost all. So, you get a high-five on the strides you've already made!
The starting gate
Positioning yourself is the first and most important step toward accomplishing your goal. You've done this. Now's the time to start adding muscle to your body so that in about six to eight weeks, when you dare to stare, you will be pleasantly rewarded.
You've lost weight, which many believe is all that is necessary to look and feel good. Unfortunately, if you are not strength training when you lose weight, you also lose muscle and when you lose muscle, your body will sag. Muscles are anti-aging because they fill out your skin and keep "things" lifted. You've focused primarily on cardiovascular exercise to lower your bodyweight, and you now have a lean and mean heart muscle. However, if you want a healthy heart inside a sexy body, you'll have to also spend time lifting weights.