About 3 years ago I went on diet pills to lose weight, and I was close to 400 lbs. and about 140 lbs when I stopped taking them. My question is due to me losing the weight and not knowing until now that I was supposed to be working out to tighten up everything, my problem areas are my back, my thighs, under my arms and that disgusting second stomach. What kinds of exercises should I be doing to get rid of those areas that I mentioned?

Congratulations on losing 260lbs! That is a huge accomplishment. In a three year time frame, it would appear that you lost it gradually as well. The challenge now is to keep the weight off and continue your healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet and beginning an exercise program are the best things you can do to maintain your weight loss.

Exercising during the weight loss phase is important for increasing metabolism and aiding in the loss of body fat and not muscle mass. However, studies show that people who exercise during the weight maintenance phase are the ones who keep the weight off long term. So it is never too late to begin your exercise program.

In fact, a study of 3,000 people who lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for a year or more, 90% said that exercise was the key to their weight maintenance, according to the National Weight Control Registry. Furthermore, the USDA Dietary Guidelines for 2005 state that for sustained weight loss in adulthood you should engage in physical activity at least 60-90 minutes a day at a moderate-intensity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. However, if you have not been previously active, you may need to consult with a healthcare provider before participating in this level of activity.

Now, once you have been cleared for physical activity, I recommend that you begin a walking program that is gradually increased each week by about 10%. So, if you begin walking 10-15 minutes each day the first week, you can increase that each week until you reach the recommended 60-90 minutes required for sustained weight loss. In addition to a cardiovascular program, you should begin a strengthening program that will increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. The areas you mentioned were your back, thighs, underarms (or triceps) and stomach. While all of these areas are important to focus on, I would begin with your stomach – or what fitness professionals refer to as, your core. Your core muscles make up your abdominal muscles as well as your low back muscles. When you begin to work on your core muscles, you will find it much easier to strengthen other areas of your body.

One of the best core exercises I use with clients is called a prone hover. This exercise isolates and strengthens your abdominal muscles.
To do this exercise lie face down on a mat.

  • Assume a prone position with elbows bent and closed fists positioned under your shoulders.
  • Draw your lower abdominals inward toward your spine.
  • Tighten your buttocks and lift your body up on to your forearms.
  • Hold this position 15 seconds and repeat 10 times.

A great exercise for you thighs is a lunge. Every one of my clients does a lunge. No matter how old, fit, de-conditioned or experienced you are, with proper instruction it is a great strength and balance builder.

To do this exercise:

  • Stand with feet hip width apart. If you have balance issues, stand where you can hold the back of a chair or table.
  • With head, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle all in alignment, step forward with your right leg, bending the knees at 90 degrees.
  • Push off on the right foot and return to the standing position.
  • Repeat with the left leg.
  • Alternate legs 10 times, rest for 1 minute and then repeat another 10 times.

Begin with these exercise ideas and consider consulting with a certified personal trainer to set up a program that is specific to your needs and abilities. You have come a long way in your weight loss efforts, it is important that you maintain your exercise efforts in order to succeed at your goals.

Good luck to you!

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