By Stephenie Karony

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Body dictates
exercise during illness

Question: Should I continue to exercise when I have a cold?

Answer: That depends on the severity of your illness and how you feel. Try to tune into the messages your body is sending you. Does it just want to lie low for now, or do you need a workout to get your juices flowing, flush out toxins and rev yourself back up?

If it's a mild cold, and you have no fever, it's safe to continue your workouts. Just don't push yourself as hard as usual. Your performance probably won't be as good as when you're well, but a light workout shouldn't hurt you.

If, on the other hand, you have a severe cold or a viral infection accompanied by a fever, you should not exercise until you have recovered. Vigorous exercise will probably worsen your condition. You need to rest, stay warm, drink plenty of fluids, and take lots of vitamin C.

Q: How important are fluid calories in a weight loss program?

A: Very important. All the calories an individual takes in should be counted, including those from liquids.

Here's an interesting fact: the calories in liquids don't curb a person's appetite as much as calories in solid foods. People compensate for solid, but not liquid calories.

For example, if you give a person 100 calories as solid food, they would be likely to eat 100 calories less that day of other food. But if you give this same person 100 calories in a liquid, they won't reduce their daily food intake at all. Why? Because liquid calories don't trip the body's satiety mechanisms. These calories don't register.

If you're trying to lose weight, then cut back on all your calories, and recognize that if you drink a lot of calorie-containing beverages, you'll have to cut back even more somewhere else. A better bet: consume non-caloric beverages, such as water, green tea and seltzer.

Did you know that a fruit smoothie averages 700 calories? If your limit is 1200 calories a day, one smoothie uses up over half of your daily allowance.

Q: It seems I lose and gain the same 20 pounds over and over again. Can I blame my weight problems on the set point theory?

A: It's a familiar scenario: you diet and lose 20 pounds, only to gain it back six months later. It's easy to believe that your body just wants to be fat.

The set point theory holds that whenever a person gains or loses weight, his or her body adjusts the amount of calories it uses daily to bring one's weight back to its set point.

A new study by the New England Journal of Medicine substantiates the set point theory. The researchers found that adults who gained weight after overeating burned more calories, and underfed adults who lost weight burned fewer calories, suggesting their bodies were trying to return to their usual weights.

So how can a person get off this lose and gain roller coaster? The only way to achieve and maintain weight loss is to add exercise to the mix.

Let's say you decide to lose 20 pounds again. But instead of just dieting, you also exercise. According to the set point theory, your body may still lower its energy (calorie) use. But the calories you expend through exercise, and the increase in your metabolism due to the metabolically active muscle you've added to your body, offset the set point adjustment. In this way, exercise helps you maintain your new lower body weight.

Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

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