Chris Powell, the uber-trainer who has helped people lose hundreds of pounds and change their lives on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition,” appeared on “Good Morning America” today to share his fitness tips and answer your weight loss questions.
You Asked, Chris Powell Answered!
ADDICTED TO SUGAR
Kathy asked: I am addicted to sugar. I have been since about age 13. I will binge on sugar, sometimes up to 1,000 grams per day. What is the best way to break this, and what food will take the craving away until sugar is out of my system?
Chris answered: I personally believe the best approach is not to go cold-turkey. You need to believe that you CAN remove sugar from your life. The only way to realistically do this is a little bit at a time. Right now I want you to think of one source of sugar for your day. Perhaps it is soda. Don’t remove it altogether, but your commitment to yourself should be to remove just one or two sodas a day from your pattern. Once you successfully do this for a week or two, you will begin to realize and BELIEVE that it is possible. Then you’ll be ready to commit to removing a little bit more. Take your time with this. It may take months to eventually come off of sugar altogether, but you will be getting healthier each and every day. Be sure to drink plenty of water, as it is one of the strongest ways to curb cravings — at least half your body weight in ounces daily!
WOMAN AT ‘ROCK BOTTOM’
Cassandra from Meridian, Miss., asked: I am 37 years old and morbidly obese. I had a massive heart attack at 35, and another lesser heart attack almost a year later. I am terrified I won’t live to see my 11-year-old daughter grow up. I plan on starting Atkins again because I lost 17 lbs. The first2 weeks I tried it last year. Exercise scares me. I get out of breath so easily and just don’t know what I can do. I have reached my rock bottom. I have to change now. I need your help and know how to teach me a new way to live. Please help me learn how to LIVE!
Chris answered: Pick one thing to change with your nutrition — maybe it is to eat breakfast, maybe it is to drink more water, maybe it is to remove soda from lunch. When it comes to exercise, walk in place while watching TV for just 5 minutes every day. That’s it. That’s how you begin your journey. Once you realize that you can do that, then you will realize that you can do more. This is where it all starts! Just these small changes will change your body more than you can imagine. Little changes over time are the secret to long term weight loss success!
I LOST 95 LBS. HOW DO I TONE MY ARMS?
Frankie from Cape Coral, Fla., asked: Good Morning! I have lost 95 pounds (woot woot)! Since Nov. 1, 2011. I started out by walking, watching what I eat and every day when I walked I would add another street in my neighborhood. I would also do some exercises in my home. I then found a boot camp and started that, 3 days a week. I have a HUGE problem area, my upper arms. They are horrible. With the weight loss, I just have this excess skin that just flaps! At boot camp when I run, you can actually hear it. I intentionally run either faster or slower than fellow campers, again you can hear my arms flapping! Is there ANYTHING I can do aside from surgery (not an option $) that I can do to at least shrink them a little bit? I won’t wear anything strapless because of them. BTW I am 45 years old. Thank You.
Chris answered: First and foremost, a HUGE congratulations on your amazing success!! Here’s the catch — when it comes to the skin, there are two possible ways to tighten it up: surgery, or develop the muscle underneath! It is like blowing up a balloon underneath some wrinkly sheets. It eventually pulls them tight! Depending on how much skin you have, you may only be able to develop the muscle to a certain point — then surgery may need to do the rest. Regardless, you should be DARN PROUD of that skin and the work you put in to get it!!
Danielle from Middlesex, N.J., asked: What are the best foods to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks? Also how long should I stay at the gym for?
Chris answered: Lean proteins, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some light dairy, and whole grains are the way to go! When at the gym, stay as long as you promise yourself you will be there. This can be 5 minutes or 50 minutes. Remember, any movement is going to send you in the right direction. Health and fitness are totally a choice for a better quality of life — you WANT to do this, you don’t need to!
ADVICE FOR WOMAN WITH THYROID PROBLEM
Debbie from San Bruno, Calif., asked: My question for you is what kind of advice can you give to someone with Hashimoto’s disease (underactive thyroid)? I work out three times a week doing kickboxing and boxing, so exercise is not the issue. I eat reasonably healthy, but have an issue with weight, I’m 5-foot-2, 56 years old and weigh about 145 right now. My problem spot has always been my tummy. No matter what I do it never goes away, and weight comes on super fast if I don’t watch it. Any advice?
Chris answered: First and foremost, check with your doctors to make sure your thyroid medication is stabilized. Once it is, you can make a few small changes to your diet to see how your body responds. Try removing most dairy and grains. Some people are sensitive to these foods and they can cause inflammation in the gut, leading to unwanted water retention and poor absorption of your foods. See how that works for you!
MOM SEEKS DIET PLAN THAT’S EASIER THAN ATKINS
Loralee from Ohio asked: I lost 40 pounds on the Atkins diet. Then we got pregnant. After baby arrived I lost all the weight but now it’s back. How does a working mom who works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. — plus does all the house chores and cooking — get on a good diet again? The Atkins diet just isn’t feasible at this time because of money issues — we can’t buy the expensive meat all the time like before. Any advice would help. By the time I pick up the baby and get home, cook, clean, give a bath and playtime, it’s time to go to bed. I don’t sit around and eat junk. I hardly sit down at all in the evenings. I also have polycystic ovaries so I definitely need to lose weight. Thanks
Chris answered: Have you tried carb cycling? I’m personally a big fan of it, and it yields pretty amazing results! For your protein sources, try eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or whey protein — they are MUCH cheaper than meat, and a LOT easier to prep — especially since you have your hands full with the baby. Because of the PCOS, you should stay away from processed and refined foods, sugar, etc. Keep it to whole grains, vegetables, and healthy fats like avocado, nuts and olive oil. Hope this helps!
HOW DO I KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF?
Julie from El Dorado, Ariz., asked: What is the best way to maintain your weight once you’ve achieved your ideal weight? I am 5 feet and hover around 107 to 110 pounds. It is very easy for me to be go above and below my ideal weight. Being so short, a few pounds either way can be obvious. My goal is really to target those problem areas and tone and build a little muscle. Currently, I run to stay in shape. Thank you for any advice you can offer.
Chris answered: In my experience, finding “maintenance” is a highly customized process. You must feel rewarded on a regular basis, whether it comes from personal confidence, feedback from others, reward foods or an event (shopping, nails, massage, etc). If you like to run, you should keep running! Make sure it is something that you truly ENJOY, though. If not, maybe it is time to “date” a few other types of exercise (maybe tennis, hiking, rowing, Crossfit?) If you want to “tone and build,” it is time to pick up some iron — that’s the way we can get a muscle to grow. Keep up the great work!
WHAT EXERCISES TO DO WITH BACK PAIN, BAD KNEES?
Dorothy from Princeton, N.J., asked: How do I get started with exercise when knees hurt, I’ve had one knee surgery, back pain and weak hand strength with numb fingers at age 60? Please give me an exercise to do for stomach weight removal that I can handle.
Linda from Exmore, Va., asked: Seven years ago I had gastric bypass surgery and I did super great and am very proud of my accomplishments. I lost 170-something pounds. I weighed 363 and got down to 189 with no problems. I was very happy with my accomplishments because I was able to shop in regular shops/stores and loved to be able to walk without heavy breathing or sweating. After my husband’s death I started to put the weight back on slowly, not realizing until after I reached225 and kept going up, now weighing in at 248. I want and need to lose this weight but I have very bad knees (and am) waiting to have both knee replacements done. I can’t do walking or active workouts. Question: What is the best way to work on losing the weight that will not put pressure on my knees? Also working on changing the foods I eat? I still can not eat large meals at one sitting, plus I live alone. Please help!!!!!
Chris answered: One word: Swim!! Find a local public or private pool nearby and jump in (er, actually use the stairs). You will feel amazing. You will use every muscle in your body. You will absolutely love it! I have worked with several people who couldn’t even walk — had them swim for their entire transformation and they lost 100 to 200 pounds!
NEW MOM SEEKS EXERCISE TO DO AT HOME WITH BABY
Deven from Clearfield, Ky., asked: I am 21 years old, am 5 feet, 2 inches tall and am just about 200 pounds. I recently had a baby. What are some ways that I can start losing baby weight? I would like it to be something I can do at home with my baby.
Chris answered: Congratulations on your baby! How exciting! To lose the baby weight, breast feed if you can (it burns 500 to 600 extra calories every day!) and walk. That is the best place to start. Get a stroller or baby carrier and start doing laps around the area. If weather doesn’t permit or it isn’t safe outside, then simply walking in place while watching TV is actually a pretty darn good workout. Drive those knees up high and keep breathing. Try making it through an entire sitcom — go get ‘em!
DISCOURAGED WOMAN HAS ‘NO MOTIVATION’
Debra from Hendersonville, N.C., asked: I’m so discouraged. My doctor has told me I am a stroke or heart attack waiting to happen. Today is my birthday — I am 49 and weigh 334 pounds. I am so self-conscious — I hate going out in public. I am taking medical leave as we discovered how I had let my fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue grow steadily worse, and of course my weight has been a factor in that. My doctor wants me to consider surgery — where they tie in a band or something like that. I have no motivation and I wish I had someone to show me the way, coach me along the way, and urge me on in the difficult days.
Chris answered: Debra — remember, this is your choice! There is no right or wrong decision in this. There will be difficult days; we all have them. That’s life! But you gotta start small. Lost motivation means that you broke promises to yourself and haven’t corrected them yet. You need to believe in yourself again. This can only happen when you start fulfilling the small promises you make to yourself. Pick one thing with your nutrition that you choose to change. Start by moving just 5 minutes a day. Once you realize that you can do those things, you can make bigger promises. Little by little, you will keep bigger promises (and, oh yeah, the number on the scale will start dropping like a rock). But it’s not about the diet and exercise; it’s about keeping the promises to yourself. Let everything else fall into place!