Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Firm Up To Fight Flab?
I don't want to lose weight! How can I lose flab and get in shape without losing a lot of weight? I like my size. I just want some muscle.
Answer (Published 8/8/2003)

Updated 4/01/2005

You don't say whether you get any regular exercise at all, such as the daily cardiovascular activity I recommend for general fitness and heart health. Regardless of how much you weigh, daily exercise should be a part of a healthy lifestyle. I suggest starting off with a 10-minute walk five days a week and building up slowly so that you're walking for 45 minutes a day, at least five days a week. This will burn calories and may result in some weight loss unless you increase your intake of healthy foods. It also will help to tone and strengthen your leg muscles, so you'll be achieving part of your goal to eliminate flab.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Fitness - It's never too late to get fit! Promote a healthy weight, increase your energy, encourage better rest and feel great with a regular exercise program designed for your needs and capabilities. The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online plan has all you need - sign up today and get 14 days free!

To build some muscle in your upper body - your arms, shoulders, back and abdominal muscles - you have to do strength training. This means working with weights or on machines available at gyms and health clubs as well as learning to do abdominal exercises. If you can afford an occasional session with a personal trainer, I suggest finding one to teach you the exercises you need and how to do them safely. A trainer can also outline a program geared to your ability and goals. As with any form of exercise, the idea is to start slowly with light weights and gradually add more weight and increase repetitions as your strength increases. If you work with a trainer, consider booking a session every few weeks so that your progress can be evaluated and your program adjusted to your increasing strength. If you join a health club or gym, make sure that an experienced member of the staff instructs you in the safe use of the weight training machines and starts you off with exercises geared for beginners.

You can also learn strength training exercises from the many books on the subject. One that I've recommended is The Whartons' Strength Book, by Jim and Phil Wharton and Bev Browning (Times Books, 1999). You won't necessarily lose weight as you build muscle. As a matter of fact, because muscle weighs more than fat, your weight may stay the same or even increase slightly as the flab disappears and your muscles become toned and stronger.

A fitness program has three elements: the cardiovascular and strength training components I've described, plus stretching for flexibility. Yoga is a great way to stretch, improve flexibility and experience deep relaxation. Exercise can improve the way you feel as well as the way you look and can benefit your health in many other ways. Good luck with your flab fighting program.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Related Topics

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here