GMA: Jim Karas' Fitness Plan

First Jim Karas told Diane Sawyer she could stand to lose a few pounds. Then he actually helped her lose more than 20!

In about three months, Sawyer shaped up while following Karas' weight and diet plan.

Sawyer has called Karas a "life coach," who helps people change their habits and their outlook on health and fitness.

Now Good Morning America's Antonio Mora is getting in on the fitness act. Mora is known for his sweet tooth around the set of GMA but Karas is going to try to whip him into shape too.

Karas says getting fit is just like flipping a light switch. He says you just have to make a real resolution to change your life. Karas believes that any person, even people over 50, can shed unwanted pounds.

In his new book, Karas debunks many common myths about weight loss and fitness that he believes keeps people from getting themselves healthy and trim.

Karas says the secret to getting in shape lies in strength and resistance training, which doesn't require a lot of equipment.

Cardio for the Heart, Weights for the Waist

The cardiovascular exercise that many people do is not helpful in losing weight, Karas says. It is great for your heart, but doesn't increase your metabolism and so it won't help you shed pounds. The bottom line, Karas says is that muscle burns calories; the more you have, the more you burn.

The evidence is everywhere, he says: Look around your gym and notice the number of overweight people on the treadmills; then compare them with the physiques of people in the weight room. In 1987, there were 4.4 million treadmill users in the United States, and 37.1 million by 1998, Karas notes. Meanwhile, Americans have continued to get fatter.

Karas recommends his clients devote 25 percent of their exercise to cardiovascular work and 75 percent to strength and resistance training. So if you work out for an hour, you should spend 15 minutes on cardio and the rest in the weight room, according to Karas. He recommends working with elastic ropes and free weights that can even be carried with them when they travel.

Mora and Karas focused in on three exercises that most people can start out with — the "back row," the hip extension and the "bicep curl."

Mighty Motivator

Jim says motivation is the key to sticking with exercise and healthy eating. People need to identify what it is that excites and motivates them.

Is it sight of yourself in the mirror when you step out of the shower? Or is it the article of clothing that no longer fits, or that was purchased small in the hopes that through weight loss it might fit? Karas suggests that you find your own motivator and look to it often so you'll stay on the right track.

People should also draw up a "business model" and crunch the numbers to lose weight, according to Karas. First off, they need to understand their own metabolism and determine how many calories their body really needs to be healthy. People who want to lose weight must either consume fewer calories or increase their metabolic rate through exercise to lose weight.

To become more calorie-conscious, Karas recommends learning to visualize the proper body proportions and recognize the importance of not overeating.

Plump with Pasta

Most Americans eat far too much, he says. An entire pound of pasta, for instance, is about 1,600 calories; but an appropriate serving size is 200 calories — one-eighth of that.

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