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How to Tighten + Tone Your Inner Thighs

HEY SAM: Wondering if I could get some advice from you on the troubling “inner thigh” — I really want to slim my inner thighs, but they seem to keep bulking up.  I’m getting to the point of wanting lipo. Help me, buddy. ~James, Salt Lake City, Utah

I have found that repetitive motions, using only body weight, to be very effective in toning up the inner thigh. For example, try squeezing a very small rubber ball tightly between your upper thighs, with feet raised off the floor at a 90-degree angle. Perform 25-30 crunches, then drop your arms and neck back, and just pulse the ball with your upper thighs over and over again. You will begin to feel the inside of your thighs burn. Keep going for about 30 seconds past the “burning” point. Don’t use ankle weights. In fact, I recommend using only your own body weight and isometric movements.

Another tool you might like are a series of DVD’s from a fitness studio in Los Angeles called Pop Physique, which is all the rage among ladies here in Hollywood. The principles behind their uber-targeted workouts are to tone the stomach, inner thigh, transform your arms, and lift your butt. My friend Lisa treated me to a month of Pop Physique classes for Christmas. As a dude wearing dance tights, surrounded by 20-30 ladies, I found the PopPhys workouts in the Silverlake studio to be both challenging as hell, and fun. I’m sure the DVD’s capture some of this while offering a great workout targeting these areas!  ~Sam  

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What Can I Do About My Low Thyroid?

I just found out I have low thyroid and am now taking a prescription for it [about a month now]. I haven’t been able to lose weight for two years and I’d been working out like a crazy person. I tried to gain muscle but my body fat just went up to 31 percent. I thought, WTF? Have you trained many people dealing with this medical condition, and if so have you seen success stories of people finally losing weight with the combination of exercise and Rx?  I think I’m about ready to invest again in weekly/daily exercise now that I know it’s not my diet or exercise routine that is the problem.  I just got so frustrated and gave up for a while.  Damn you, thyroid!  [well at least I now have a name for it and know what the problem is].  Just wondering your thoughts on the situation. —Betty, Lansing, Michigan

[Note from Sam: I asked my physician friend John (who's had low thyroid issues of his own) to share his thoughts on your question.  Here's what he said].

From a personal standpoint, I can tell you that I did not find much of a correlation between [weight loss and thyroid medication].  I’ve been on it for about 5 months now, and went off of it for about a month approximately two months ago. And, while that five month period roughly corresponds with my weight loss (which started in March), I do not believe the two are related. Actually, that one month that I was off the drug was the time when I began to really lose a lot of weight. It surprised me. The only explanation I can come up with is that I was falling asleep at 8PM because of the hypothyroidism, and therefore didn’t snack at night.

I know that a ton of people out there, who are morbidly obese, and want to attribute that to a thyroid deficiency. Never mind that their lips are shiny from Kentucky Fried Chicken even as they tell you this.

The gold standard for internal medicine is Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. My copy is a bit old (1987), but here’s what it says:

“Obesity can result from hypothyroidism because of decreased caloric needs. However, only a minority of hypothyroid patients are truly obese, and an even smaller proportion of obese patients are hypothyroid. Indiscriminate use of thyroid hormone in the treatment of obesity is to be deplored, and should never be instituted in the absence of documentation of decreased thyroid function.”

Perhaps the correlation with being simply overweight is clearer, but I don’t think there are many studies out there documenting this. There actually probably are not a lot of studies. But, still, lower thyroid function, so lower metabolic rate. Few calories expended, and before you know it, horizontal stripes are completely out of the question.

By the way, there are a ton of other great benefits from the drug other than just being able to stay up later. I found that it gave me a little more of a sense of well-being. Took away some sadness. Increased sex drive.

How to Mix Up Your Exercise Routine

HEY SAM:  You mentioned “shocking” the muscles when you work out and doing different exercises. Does that mean that every time you work out, it’s good to always change your workout, or should you be consistent and change your workout routine every couple weeks? -Joseph, Los Angeles

jocksniffer How to Mix Up Your Exercise RoutineThe body responds rapidly to any weightlifting or exercise routine. Yes, it’s important to continually challenge your muscles by “mixing it up.” When I train clients, I make sure to change up their routine (on average) every 4 weeks (or every 8-12 workouts).

The theory behind this is called “periodization” which means that workouts should be periodically changed to make them effective.

You can “periodize” your weight workouts by trying these 6 steps, in order:

  • CHANGE THE ORDER. Do your current workout backwards. For example, if you generally finish by training abs, on your next workout, start with abs and work backwards.
  • CHANGE THE REP PATTERNS. If you generally lift in four sets of 12, consider changing your rep pattern to an inverted pyramid (i.e., 12, 10, 8, 6, then 12) or change the number of repetitions for a given set from 12 to 15, or 20.
  • PLAY WITH THE WEIGHTS. If you’ve become accustomed to a certain weight on an exercise, try reducing the weight and working with higher rep patterns with extremely strict form. Or if you’re using light weights, try “upping” the weights to heavier amounts and doing fewer reps (again, with very strict form).
  • CHANGE THE EXERCISES. Probably the most obvious thing to do is to do different exercises to hit the same body parts. For example, if you’ve been doing squats, try lunges or the leg press instead.
  • CROSS TRAIN. Remember that the goal of weight training, for most of us, is not to become a competitive bodybuilder, but for “real life” strength. Cross train your muscles, using circuit training, “boot camp” like classes, “core” classes, and other types of training that brings resistance work to a new level.
  • TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESSES. I’m a sucker for a good pull-up, because they are by far my worst exercise. But I manage to do several pull-ups every day in my quest to improve. What are your body’s weaknesses? Be honest about them, then hit those areas in the gym with rigor and fierce dedication.

How to Start the Zig Zag Meal Plan

HEY SAM, I recently started your Zig Zag meal plan. Can you tell me the names of a few low-carb shakes, powders, or bars you recommend? How do you know if they qualify as “low carb?” Roger, Los Angeles

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Word of the Day: Ketogenesis

low carb1 Word of the Day: KetogenesisKETOSIS (kee • toh • sis) is a metabolic state in the human body made possible by the process of KETOGENESIS, characterized by elevated levels of ketone bodies in the blood. In layman’s terms, being in a state of ketosis just means that our bodies are using fat for energy, instead of glucose.  Ketosis is experienced by people on low carb (or “ketogenic”) diets, such as the Atkin’s Diet or BodyOpus diet.

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At Least 10 Good Reasons to Do Yoga

yoga on the beach At Least 10 Good Reasons to Do YogaHEY SAM: My doctor recently told me that I’m at risk for high blood pressure and placed me on blood pressure medication. What’s the best way to augment my workout routine in this situation?

A: People who participated in a regular yoga program experienced a natural drop in blood pressure, according to new research from the Washington University School of Medicine. The study, published in HIV Medicine, followed 60 HIV-positive adults over the course of a supervised, 20 week yoga program. Resting systolic and diastolic blood pressures were reduced more in the yoga group than in the control group, despite no greater reduction in body weight, fat, or overall quality of life.The best part? T4 levels were not adversely affected.

Practicing yoga is an intelligent idea for other reasons, too.

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yoga on the beach

Exercise Slows Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy causes pain (sometimes described as tingling or burning) and numbness in the hands and feet. While HIV is one cause of the condition, it’s certainly not the only one. Diabetes and cancer treatments (such as radiation or chemotherapy) are also common causes. Exercise may not actually reverse the condition, but it can most certainly help.

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Should I Use Steroids?

Supraphysiological levels of testosterone and growth hormone will reduce fat and increase lean body mass, but the long-term effects are largely unknown.

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The 5 Best Fat Burners

Used intelligently in concert with an exercise regimen and clean diet, these four supplements may prove useful as you work to shed a few extra pounds.

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Girl Scout Cookie Solutions

samoas.thumbnail Girl Scout Cookie SolutionsI HATE THIS TIME OF YEAR. I love Girl Scout cookies (who doesn’t?) and I am often guilted into buying them by my office co-workers. This year I have 8 boxes of Thin Mints and 3 boxes of Samoas—11 boxes total!! WTF!? What am I supposed to do with all of these cookies? —Sick of Samoas

I LIKE THEM TOO, but let’s face it: ever since the Girl Scouts took the trans-fat out of the recipes, they don’t taste nearly as good. Sort of like how you expect the bride’s wedding dress to be freakishly white, but instead she comes down the aisle wearing a “neutral gray.” The same holds true for the taste of the new Girl Scout Cookies. So your first line of defense when you’re under pressure to buy: Remember: they don’t taste as good anymore.

Second, you’re getting ripped off. I don’t understand how a “box” of Samoas can equate to 15 TINY cookies. And is it just me, or do the cookies themselves seem to be shrinking each year? My point is, you’re getting much less cookie for your money. If you’re addicted to Thin Mints, a better value would be had by trying the Keebler brand Grasshopper cookie, which is nearly identical in shape and flavor.

If you’ve already caved, then rationing is one way to put some control on your inner cookie monster. If you’ve already purchased the cookies, take one or two boxes of your favorite cookies and put them in the freezer and limit yourself to one every other day, or whatever you feel is reasonable. If you have problems controlling your consumption of the cookies, try my concept of Zen Cheating.

Give away the cookies to your local food bank, church, or community center. Send them overseas to our military personnel. Take them to an expecting mom. Or the next time you fly, bring a box for the flight attendants. They almost never receive anything nice from passengers, and it might just get you bumped up to first class.

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