How to tell your personal trainer that it's time to get up and go

Fitness Q & A

March 09, 2003|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I've been working with a personal trainer for six months, but I now am bored by him -- and his workouts. He thinks of us as friends. How can I end the relationship without making him feel bad?

This can be a sticky situation, particularly if your personal trainer is at your gym. But keep in mind that this is a professional relationship and not a friendship.

"You need to do what's best for you because it's your body," says Ali True, a personal trainer at Merritt's Downtown Athletic Club.

Tell your trainer you want to try someone of the opposite sex, or someone who specializes in a certain area. For instance, one of True's new clients is preparing for a marathon and wanted a trainer who is sport-specific. You owe it to yourself to find someone who keeps you challenged and matches your workout personality.

"Every trainer has a unique style," says True, "and there is a trainer for everyone."

I want to try the Atkins Diet, but a friend told me that cutting back on carbohydrates will make me tired. Is that true? I need to keep up my energy for work, family and daily runs.

The short answer is yes, you probably will have less energy on the Atkins Diet. Why? The premise of Atkins is that you greatly reduce carbohydrates so that your body burns fat instead of carbs when it needs energy.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple. The reason our bodies choose carbs for fuel is because they provide quick energy. Fat and muscle are not such great fuel sources, so it's unlikely you'll maintain the same level of energy that you have with a carb-laden diet.

Another culprit of energy loss is muscle breakdown. On the Atkins Diet, you will lose weight, but the weight you are losing is muscle as well as fat. Long term, this may actually undermine weight loss, according to dietician Tracy Gensler, of Wellness to Work in Chevy Chase. By decreasing muscle, you decrease your metabolism, making your body less efficient at burning calories.

If you try Atkins, Gensler suggests a modified version. She recommends not skimping on fruits and vegetables. "Humans are meant to survive on a certain amount of carbohydrates."

My teen-age daughter comes home after basketball practice tired and hungry. She often wants to take a nap or snack. I try to discourage that because I don't want her to have trouble sleeping at night or to ruin her appetite for dinner. Am I wrong to suggest she have an orange and start her homework?

It's natural for your daughter to want to refuel and rest after a grueling practice. However, personal trainer and nutritionist Lisa Blum says if this is happening on a daily basis, you should ask a few questions.

Blum recommends finding out what your daughter is eating during the day, how much sleep she is getting and whether she has gym class daily in addition to her after-school practice. At an age when girls are increasingly concerned with their physique, it's important to make sure your daughter's lifestyle is healthy.

Assuming she is just busy and a bit drained, your instinct is right. An orange, says Blum, is the perfect snack. A heavier snack and a nap will promote a cycle of skimping on dinner, staying up later and snacking again before bed. If you tend to eat dinner late, encourage a snack with some protein, like an apple and peanut butter. This will stick with her longer.

Recently I was diagnosed with high blood pressure (134 / 96). Does exercise help lower blood pressure, and what exercises should I avoid?

According to Dr. Douglas Clarke, a cardiologist at St. Joseph's Medical Center, "One of the major risk factors for coronary artery disease and blockage of the arteries is a sedentary lifestyle."

Losing weight and exercising are valuable steps in improving blood pressure. Thirty to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise seven days a week will keep the heart healthy and blood pressure down, says Clarke. Get cleared by your doctor first if you are out of shape.

Clarke suggests aerobic activity such as walking, swimming or biking. The absolute minimum amount of exercise you should be getting is 20 minutes, three times a week.

What exercises should be avoided? "Lifting weights," says Clarke, "although lifting up to 10 pounds would be fine."

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@baltsun.com.

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