Help! I Have Bat Wings!

Dear Dani,

I’m in my 30′s, but my arms look about 70. I hate them! I work out about 2-3 times a week, but the bat wings, or mud flaps as I call them, won’t go away (you know, the extra flabby skin under the arms…). I’m really frustrated and wish I could just have nice toned arms without worrying that eventually it’s going to extend down to my knees. What can I do to get rid of it?

Thanks, Batwing Girl

Dear Batwing Girl,

I’m not sure how long you’ve been exercising for or what you’re eating is like, but 2-3 times a week isn’t really going to cut it if you want super sleek arms. You have to work at it 4-5 days per week and you have to include a balance of cardio, to burn calories and ultimately fat, and resistance training to tone the muscles underneath the skin. A sample schedule would look like this: Monday – 30-40 minutes cardio, Tuesday – resistance training, Wednesday cardio, etc… Keep alternating like this for a total of 4-5 days per week. Perform 8-10 repetitions of exercises such as dips, tricep extensions, push-ups. You want to choose a weight that is heavy enough so that by the time you get to 10 you feel like you can’t do another one even if someone paid you. Another thing to take into consideration is your food: Make sure your carbs are coming from whole-grains, fruits, and vegetables, and that you’re also getting adequate amount of calories, so that you’re body doesn’t go into starvation mode and try to hold onto every little morsel you feed it. Never dip below 1200 calories per day.

Also, take a look at your mother and grandmothers. Your arms may be the product of genetics, which doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it, it just means that you have to be realistic about your expectations. You can get arms that you’ll feel good about, but it just may take longer to accomplish and you might not end up looking like a fitness model. There’s a reason I never use videos or photos of women who look like that, and it’s because it takes either super lucky genetics to easily build muscle like that or such intense amounts of training and nutrition that it’s not really doable for the average person.

In the meantime, don’t hate on yourself. Most likely no one else is staring at your arms the way you are, so channel your inner black woman (as I always say) and flaunt what your momma gave you!

Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

Dear Dani – Desperate Doctor!

Dear Dani,
I’m starting a new job in July (I’m a first year doctor) and I’m worried about fitting my healthy lifestyle into my new schedule. In the past few years I’ve gotten really good about my food and finding the time to exercise – I even took off 60lbs! – but now I’m worried that it’s all going to go down the toilet, because I’m not going to have any time to even breath. What can I do to make sure that I don’t lose everything that I’ve worked so hard for and still stay sane about it all?
Thanks, Desperate Doctor

Dear Desperate Doctor,
Firstly, I want to tell you how awesome it is that you’ve worked so hard and took off 60lbs! Secondly, you should know that taking off 60lbs isn’t easy and that you’ve already gotten through the really hard part, which is creating the habits and behaviors necessary to accomplish that. Your new schedule is just going to take a bit of adjusting to, but it’s nowhere near as hard as beginning from scratch (can you remember what that was like?). Speaking of starting from scratch, I’m sure that when you started all of this “healthy stuff” you began little by little, by taking baby steps, until you got to where you are now. So, starting your new job is going to be the same thing. Pick one thing that you are going to work on every week to make the transition as comfortable as possible.

Here are some of my survival tips:
1. Be kind to yourself and be as realistic as possible. Meaning, have the goal of maintaining your weight when you first start your residency. If you’re too hard on yourself and want to try to lose weight while you’re having so many changes in your life you’ll be really disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
2. You’re probably going to be faced with lots of new and stressful things, so make a note of the behaviors you engage in when you’re stressed, so that you don’t fall into their traps. If you tend to reach for food during difficult times be aware of this and catch yourself before it gets out of control.
3. Keep lots of prepared foods, such as cut up fruits and veggies, Kashi Bars, portioned out servings of cereal, yogurt, etc. on hand, so that you don’t reach for that Snickers bar out of the vending machine when you get off your shift and you’re starving.
4. Plan what you’re going to eat the night before. Having a plan for the next day will keep you from scarfing down poor choices in the cafeteria.
5. Take the stairs! You’ll keep your heart rate up, which means you’ll be burning calories throughout the day.
6. Keep a jump rope and resistance bands in your locker, so that you can sneak in mini workouts whenever you get the chance.
7. Get sleep whenever you can! When you’re tired your body will secrete hormones that make you want to eat, so whenever you get the chance to sleep, grab it!

Ok, so there you have it. My 7 survival strategies to help you get through this tough first year. I’m always hear, so give me a holler whenever you need anything!
Good luck, you’re going to be great!

Have a question that needs answering? Send em in! Every Thursday I ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

An Exhausted Yo-Yo

Dear Dani,
I’ve been a dieter my whole life. I’m 36 and have gained and lost the same weight for as long as I can remember, and every time I lose weight and regain it, it seems like a little more creeps on. I don’t know what to do anymore. I want to take this weight off and keep it off for good, but it seems like that’s never going to happen. I’m always having to watch what I eat and it’s exhausting. Any advice?
Thanks, An Exhausted Yo-Yo

Dear Exhausted Yo-Yo,
I want to let you know that you are not alone. So many people out there are just like you struggling to keep their weight off. Dieting seems like the logical thing to do when you want the scale to go down, because it would make sense that if you’re eating less then their won’t be anything inside of you to gain. Now, I’m not sure if you’re a regular reader or not, but I often talk about how dieting will slow your metabolism down. When you’re cutting out food groups or drastically reducing your calorie intake your body will hold on to whatever you feed it, because it doesn’t know when it’s going to get more (which is sort of how dieters usually are when they finally give into their craving – one cookie turns into 10, right?).
I don’t have any specifics on exactly what kind of dieter you are, but first I want to tell you that if you have a scale I want you to throw it out. It’s only going to make you obsess more about taking the weight off, which will sabotage your efforts (you know how they say that you find love when you’re not looking for it? Losing weight is sort of the same thing. If you think about it too much it most likely won’t happen, because you’re not being intuitive about it). Instead, focus on the waist of your clothes. If they feel looser on you than you know you’re doing the right thing!
Secondly, I want you to write your Victory Vision. Be completely honest with yourself and write down why you want to lose weight. If you’re doing it for other people then it’s going to be hard to keep the weight off, you have to do it for yourself.
Lastly, make a list of your negative behaviors that keep you on the yo-yo diet roller coaster and then write down ways to overcome those behaviors the next time you’re faced with them.

Just know that you’ve lived a lifetime like this, so you’re not going to be able to undo it overnight. Give yourself time and be kind to yourself when you slip-up – nobody and no body is perfect. You can do this!

Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!