Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Secrets to Being Fit and Fabulous: SWEAT

PHS Editor Michelle Styles reveals the main reason why she is a US Size 4 instead of the size 20 she was 2 years ago -- SWEAT

It took me 47 years on this planet to figure out that if you want to look good, you need to sweat. Some people may be just born that way, but believe me if you don't move and look after it, it goes SOUTH!
However your shape does become how you move so you need to chose the sort of exercise you do. In particualr what sort of cardio. For cardio, the one BIG light bulb moment I had was when I read it had to be continous. If it is stop and go instructional, you are not going to melt the fat. You need to keep moving.
First take a look at the top atheletes who practise your chosen sport. Do you want to look like a rower? A marathon runner? A ballerina? A boxer? A top butterfly swimmer has different shape to a top freestyler. A cyclist looks different from a runner because they use different muscles. And triathletes look different to swimmers, cyclists and runners. Cross country skiers look different to downhill skiers and so on.
Equally men are built differently from women. Our differences should be celebrated, rather than suppressed. We need to move in different ways. One shape does not fit all and it is possible to look good and find positive role models for your particular shape. But one thing is certain to look your best, you need to put some effort in and sweat.
I personally like what is called the dancer's build. Long, lean but with curves. It is currently in fashion. And when I went looking for the sort of exercise I wanted to do after plateauing badly, I discovered Tracy Anderson. She currently trains many of the fashion industry in New York  but there are other people such as Body by Simone or Tonique.
Other people like different shapes and go for things like PX90 or Turbo Jam or CrossFit or a hundred other dvds. There is no right dvd/exercise programme for everyone. It depends on the person and their goals.
Some people like the convivality of a class and do zumba or even that old stand by Jazzercise. Or they might need to the competitive urge and go for team sports or something like running where there are any number of fun runs, half marathons and marathons to do. My sister swears by running. She recently had gret fun completing the Disney World Half marathon, with a tiara firmly fixed to her head! She had a personal best. The more power to her, but I don't do running. Never have. I have tried.
Some people need to go to the gym. Other people like me know that the only way they will carve out the time is to do something at home. I had gym membership which I never used. Unfortunately just paying for a membership or buying a dvd doesn't actually do it. You have to sweat. In fact  you have to seriously drip with sweat for 30 -60 minutes 6x week to get your body into shape with cardio. In addition, you have to do some sort oweight bearing exercise. This can be just your body weight or it can be lifting weights. But if you just do the cardio without the structural work, you don't end up with any long term muscle tone. If you just do structural work without the cardio, you might have a great structure but you are likely to have a thick layer of flab over it so no one can tell. It is a matter of balance.  Many people need to do at least 30 minutes of structural work 6x a week.
It does depend on your genetics. Some people burn through their energy rapidly. Other people (like me) are very efficient users of their food. In other words, I have slow metabolism and I do pile on weight when I don't sweat.
I used to think that I couldn't find the time to workout, and certainly not for an hour and forty minutes at a time. However then I discovered the mental benefits to sweating. Not only is my body fitter but my mind is much sharper. I am far more efficient now than when I wasn't working out. I am mentall much more alert. I get more done. It did take me about 3 months of getting up at 5:30 am, putting my exercise clothes on and working out to discover this but it did come.
Sweating is the best way to relieve stress. It is also a great way to get rid of toxins and so your skin looks healthier.
In order to look good and be healthy you have to sweat, and you just have to do it like brushing your teeth. It doesn't have to be fun. It just needs to become part of you and eventually you do discover that the mental benefits.
Next Month I am going to start exploring emotional eating -- what it is and how to proactively combat doubt demons rather than stuffing them down with soporific food. But for now, remember the best way to deal with stress is to drip with sweat. The lesson took me 48 years to thoroughly understand but now I start my days Monday -Saturday with an exercise session. It makes me much more mentally alert, besides helping me to remain at a US size 4. It is never too late to start exercising. Don't expect perfection, just do it.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical. Her next publication is His Unsuitable Viscountess (August 2012). You can read more about Michelle's books on


  1. Yes Michelle. I'm 48 and I know for a fact that I could look much better than I do. It is something I'll have to work on.

  2. Really? Sweat... I can't just read about it?

  3. Liz I am sorry. For years I thought you had to be born that way. Or that you had to be perfect when you did exercise. There is really no alternative, particularly as the amount of incidental exercise people get has decreased over the years.
    Sweat does help your skin to look younger as well.
    Maria -- 1964 was a good year. I have been surprised how much younger I look now that I have started really working out and sweating. The trick is to choose an exercise scheme which will deliver to you the sort of body you want.

  4. I read PUSH by Chalene Johnson recently and she said something that really connected for me - you have to find your "soul-mate workout". You found it and had success. No matter how many other things I try, I always come back to P90X. I love how it makes me feel.

    She also said something about how people ignore the importance of nutrition and I know that is an area I really need to focus on. The little cheats are so easy to get sucked into. Just this week by cutting out a few bad habits, the weight has started coming off again.

    The good news is, I bought a few pairs of shorts on sale last night and opted for the smaller size rather than what I KNEW would fit. Turns out the smaller size fits anyway. :-)

  5. Any winners for male mondays