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Don’t Be Fat and Forty (Posted On: Wednesday, June 25, 2008)

 Decrease font would like to welcome Steven Bentley to the Southern Georgian Bay area.  Steve is a professional performance coach with almost 20 years experience helping people to reach their health and fitness goals.  In a future article Steve will explain why, even though he can live and work anywhere, he has chosen to live, work and play in the SGB area.

Right now though, I’ve asked Steve to write an article for for the beginner athlete/regular person on how to get (back) in shape and move towards improving your fitness and health.

Summer is certainly here or just around the corner and with that most people are thinking of the beach, T Shirts, shorts and minimal clothing.  For some people though those thoughts don’t sit too well.

I’ve been helping people reach their health and fitness goals for almost 20 years now.  An overriding concern people have whether they are serious athletes or just getting into shape is battling the bulge.  Putting on excess fat weight for many people results from declining exercise without a relative decrease in fuel intake.  However, for anyone that’s tried to release body fat you know it’s more complicated than that. 

Besides exercising and eating right (which are important) there are a number of other factors that will control how you do or don’t get your system burning body fat.  Let’s explore the more important of these factors including eating and exercising and what you can do to not only get (back) in shape but also enjoy the process as much as possible.

Yes Food.  We all love to eat either for fuel or flavour.  What and when you eat though has a huge impact on how your body uses those calories.  People often ask me how much they should be eating.  Obviously that can vary but for a general rule take your goal weight and add a zero to the end (ie goal weight of 150lbs, add a zero for 1500 calories).  That would be for your base calories for the day.  Now you need to factor in fuel for exercise and living.  Multiply by 50% (2250 calories total) for a normal amount of activity.  More if you are training/working out for more than 30-60 minutes a day.

What and when you eat
Most people eat way too much too late in the day and concentrate their calories into just a few (or less) meals.  Ideally try to eat earlier in the day, ideally around when you do your exercise, and less later in the day when you’re winding down.  Your body can only store 2000-3000 calories of glycogen (these come from the carbs you eat) in your muscles and liver so adding in more than you can store is only going to result in food that goes undigested thru your system or that gets stored as fat for future use.  Neither is a good option.  Working out (which we’ll get to in a minute) burns up these glycogen stores allowing you to store more of what you eat as glycogen and less as fat.  Simply splitting up your eating over more meals and trying to get an equal amount of calories in at each meal is a great plan.  Typically eating more than 400-600 calories at any sitting loads your body with too many calories to effectively digest. 

The result = Fat Storage.  In our above example, if you plan on getting in 2250 calories a day and divide your meals up into five or six meals then you’ll be ingesting 375 to 450 calories a meal.  If you are going to have one meal that’s bigger than the others, try to have that earlier in the day.  This is the exact opposite from what most people do which is eat their bigger meal late in the day.  If you get your ‘bigger’ meal in earlier then you will generally have better digestion, energy levels, utilization of the calories you eat, less fat storage etc.  Eating less carbs late in the day also gets your body into a better fat metabolizing zone when you sleep at night.  Hmmm burning fat while you sleep; I LIKE IT.

80% of all my clients whether they’re performance athletes or regular folks looking to improve their health and energy etc cleanse their system of impurities.  Impurities and toxins are holding them back from optimal health and simply releasing them from your system allows you to work and function better as a person, both mentally and physically.  I’ve been doing various cleanses for over 20 years now; some are great and some are downright nasty.  You’ll be amazed at the immediate and dramatic results you’ll achieve with a good nutritional cleansing program.  They are surprisingly easy to do and the results for health, energy, complexion, fat loss, lean muscle mass development, etc are incredible.  I could go on about this one but for more info contact me and I’ll steer you in the right direction.

Working Out
What’s the BEST exercise for getting in shape and burning fat??  The one you enjoy and will actually DO.  It doesn’t matter if running in the summer or Nordic skiing in the winter is the best thing for you to do, if you hate doing it you won’t last long if you pick that to get back in shape.  Choose something that you enjoy.  Even if it’s running around in a field with your kids chasing a ball or taking your (or a neighbour’s) dog for a walk.  If you like doing it you will do it and that’s what will keep you consistent and actually realizing the benefits.  Developing lean muscle mass should be the basis for any attempt to lose weight. As we get beyond our 30s the issue certainly doesn’t get any easier.  A lot of people I coach (including myself) are in our 40s and we realize that with age comes a different reaction from our body to the foods we put in it and the exercise we do (or don’t do). 

Every year after your early 30s you tend to lose a half pound of muscle mass a year.  This not only tends to reduce your ‘tone’ but also decreases your metabolism.  Doing what you can to increase your lean muscle mass will go a long way to keeping you looking great and maintaining a higher metabolism to keep that fat burning furnace humming along.  More lean muscle in your body won’t make you look bulky (ladies) and it’s required to get the metabolism up.  Ideally work your core muscles first (stomach, back) then your limbs (legs and arms). 

Women and your period
A few weeks ago I attended a seminar in northern California at the ranch retreat of John Gray (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus).  Dr. Gray is as knowledgeable in Health and Wellness as he is in relationships and he went into great detail about the fat burning differences between men and women.  Basically ladies you have a bit of a disadvantage around your period as increasing estrogen in your system makes it harder to burn fat. After your period more progesterone makes it easier to burn fat.  Take advantage of these hormone levels with your training.  Realize that leading up to your period your less likely to burn through your fat stores as effectively as after so keep exercising, just change your focus.  Work more on strength and muscle building activities leading into your period and take advantage of that better fat burning after your period by working on more aerobic fat burning activities (cardio).  And yes ladies it’s true, guys do lose more weight faster than women (we’re typically bigger so the percentage is generally the same), however you have an easier time losing inches, and you have way better shoes.

Stress and Cortisol
Don’t worry, be happy.  If only it was that easy for most people.  Stress is a part of life and what helps us to grow and develop into better people.  However, keeping your stress levels in control and manageable is important to allow you to progress at a rate your body can handle.   With stress comes increased cortisol levels.  Cortisol, unfortunately really hampers your body’s ability to metabolize fat as a fuel source.  I try to subject my clients to stress all the time, but only so much that they can adapt to that stressor, get stronger and then be able to handle a higher level of stress once they recover.  Too much stress too soon though and something will give, either mentally or physically you are going to break down.  Realizing that you really are in control of most of the stress in your life and having a plan to move through that helps tremendously to get you on track with your life.  If you are having a lot of stress you can use better nutrition to help as well as a number of techniques (including having a life coach help you with some direction) that will help you to get back in control.  Whatever you choose realize that stress has more of an affect on your ability to burn fat than you may realize.

I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about any of the above and look forward to providing more information in future articles for

Feel free to contact me at or visit my website.   

Have a wonderful and healthy summer. 





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