Group Class May 2016Are you carrying a lot of extra body fat? Although our society as a whole tends to fat-shame, the good news is some evidence suggests that fitness is more important that fatness, as the primary factor in reducing someone’s risk for developing various health problems. The message is this…..

… is very important whether you’re fat or not. In fact, if you are an exerciser who carries a significant amount of body fat, you can still be fitter and healthier than someone who doesn’t exercise at all and may be skinny.

If you’re not working out, you need to start and if you lose weight on the way, which you will if you follow a good workout program, it’ll be a bonus.

Here’s a few workout tips:

Cardio Conditioning

You’ve got to find an activity that you enjoy enough that you will do regularly in order to see any significant change in your health and fitness. Activities that will work best for you if you are carrying a lot of extra weight include walking, cycling, hiking, swimming, Zumba and other low-impact classes/activities. Avoid participating in any activity that involves a lot of impact – it may be too much for your joints at this point. Start with 20 minutes of activity 3x/week and build up to 20-60 minutes of activity 5-7x/week.

Be sure you’re working out at the right intensity – not too easy or too hard. You can use a technique referred to as Rating of Perceived Exertion. Think of it as a scale from 0-10 with zero meaning you’re in bed sleeping and 10 being you’re working out at a maximal level. During your workouts, strive to be between 4 and 6. Being at 4 on the scale would represent a low level of activity like a stroll or an easy bike ride with a slight elevation in breathing. You are still well within your comfort zone. Being at 5 represents a moderate level of activity like walking briskly. Your breathing is elevated higher than in level 4 but you are still well within your comfort zone. Being at level 6 represents a moderate level of activity like walking briskly to a very late appointment. Your breathing is faster and deeper but you are still at a level that is within your comfort zone. You feel that you can comfortably hold a conversation. As you get more fit, you can start to push towards higher levels on the scale for a few of your workouts.

Resistance Training

Muscle conditioning will help you to develop muscular strength and endurance. Since muscle tissue is energy burning tissue, having more muscle on your body will directly affect your ability to burn and lose body fat. A general recommendation is to allocate a third of your exercise workout to muscle conditioning and the rest to cardio conditioning. In an hour, this would mean 20 minutes would be spent on muscle conditioning and 40 minutes on cardio. Or you could intersperse muscle and cardio conditioning to maximize your caloric expenditure during the entire workout. So for example, you might do a Lower Body exercise, an Upper Body Exercise, a Core Conditioning Exercise and then 5 minutes of cardio. Then repeat using different exercises including squats, lunges, step ups, rows, presses etc. Use a resistance that is challenging enough so that you fatigue your muscles in 8-15 reps. Complete at least 1 set of a variety of exercises to challenge all the muscles and actions.


It is true that you cannot outrun a poor diet. Think of it this way. It takes about 5 minutes to consume 1000 calories but it would take you about 90 minutes to burn off those same 1000 calories. Clearly, gaining weight is a lot easier than taking it off. So to maximize the benefits of your workouts, assure that you are consuming nutrient-dense, calorically low foods. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains with high fiber should make up the majority of your diet. Minimize the amount of processed foods you eat. Drink at least 10 glasses of water per day and reduce your intake of alcohol. Being fit AND maintaining an ideal body weight and body fat percentage will definitely give you an advantage in terms of your overall health….so that should be the ultimate goal.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details. 

columbia river tri 2016 swimJoin us for the COLUMBIA RIVER TRIATHLON & MULTI-SPORT FESTIVAL
August 18th – 20th
Frenchmans Bar, Vancouver WA

This summer weekend Triathlon & Multi-Sport Festival at a beautiful venue along the Columbia River offers something for everyone from a Sprint & Olympic Distance Triathlon, Duathlon, & AquaBike, Girlfriends All Womens Triathlon/Duathlon/AquaBike, 5k & 10k runs, Kids Triathlon and so much more! It is one of the most scenic areas with views of the Columbia River, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Vancouver Lake.


Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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