Marsh column: Thanks goodness for great weather

  • Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 12:58 a.m.

SALISBURY — I don’t know about you but I am ready for spring. I am even more ready for my mom and sister to come and visit me from the Netherlands one week from yesterday.

With this beautiful and warmer weather, it is almost time for shorts and tank tops.

This week, I hope to give you tips and guidance how to shape up your legs and next week I will get into the core and how to get a flat belly and get rid of the “muffin top.”

One thing I have noticed with age is that gravity can be ruthless. Skin loses its elasticity, and sag can occur. Throughout the winter we really do not worry about it too much because our legs are covered with warm pants, panty hose, long skirt or slacks.

But that first weekend when you put (or want to put on) your shorts for the first time, you might find white and/or ashy legs, skin tone below acceptance, firmness going south, etc.

Picture perfect would be going through the winter gracefully and maybe just deal with white legs and that is it. A bit of sun or using the tanning bed once in a while can take care of that. Watching your weight and figure throughout the winter is another way to prevent that shock when you put on your shorts for the first time, but only in a perfect world, right?

There is hope. And yes, it takes work and dedication. Is it excess weight or untoned muscles? Or both?

Excess weight needs to be addressed by a healthy diet. Remember it takes 3500 calories to lose one pound of weight. Cutting 500 calories per day (very doable) will have you lose one pound in one week (and keep it off)

For untoned muscles, the following are my favorite leg exercises. These favorite exercises do not mean I like them — it means they work and I love the results.

Squats — like you are sitting on a chair and when your quads (upper legs) are parallel with the floor stand back up, repeat.

Lunges — make a big step forward bending your front leg making sure your knee does not pass your toes and press back to standing position repeat on other leg.

Leg extensions — Use a machine but check with a trainer to make sure you are doing it correctly.

Leg curls — again, check with a trainer.

Calf raises — There are machines you can use or you can stand on a step with the balls of your feet and raise your heels up and lower to start again.

You want to work on strength (higher weight with lower repetitions, such as 4 sets of 10 reps), and strength endurance (higher reps and lower weight such as 2 sets of 15-20 reps). Make sure between each muscle group that there is 48 hours of rest in between sessions.

You need to be patient. Just because you started does not mean it all gets into shape immediately. How long did it take you to get out of shape? Well, it takes a while to get it back into shape.

A healthy diet, hydrate with plenty of water and regular workouts, and a bit of sun will make a world of difference in how you look and feel in your summer shorts or skirt.

Ester H Marsh ACSM Cpt

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