Have you any tips on how to broach the subject of weight loss and exercise with my girlfriend?
Karl says: I think this is one of the most important questions I have received in regards to this column. Now, it's going to be a tricky one to answer, but it's important that we be honest with our partners in trying to help them lose weight and get fitter. This can go a long way towards getting people healthier and lighter, and helping them to live longer. All of these things come from being fit and healthy, not overweight.
I think the best way to approach this is as a team. Don't lecture or give out to your partner, simply suggest that you both start eating healthier and you both start walking or going to a gym. By doing it as a team, chances are you will succeed and your partner will lose weight. Not only that, but you will be healthier, too.
The second, slightly braver option, is to buy your girlfriend a voucher for a personal trainer. This is risky advice and is not to be taken lightly. You need to know your partner well, and know that she will see this as a positive rather than a negative.
Hearing the advice from someone outside of your usual environment can often be more powerful and have a greater impact.
Option three is to buy her a fitness book, explaining that you think she needs to get healthier and that the book could be the way to do it, and that you will help her along the way.
Of the three options , the first is certainly the one that I would recommend. Proceed with caution, my friend!
Back pain precautions before Ironman participation
Q. I have been doing triathlons for a few years now and am registered for an ironman race later this year.
However, I have recently been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis which means I have back pain and stiffness, especially in the mornings. I still want to train and have been advised that exercise is even more important with this condition, but I am wondering if there are any special precautions I should take when doing the endurance training for this event.
Karl says: Congratulations on signing up for an ironman! Having done some research, there are several athletes who have completed ironman races with ankylosing spondylitis. My advice would be to work with your GP over the course of your training and listen to their advice.
The benefits of exercise for your back include:
* Increased flexibility – the more flexible you are the easier it is to do everyday tasks, such as putting on your socks or reaching for something on a high shelf.
* Increased range of movement – the more mobility you have, the easier it is to do things.
* Improved posture – better posture makes you feel better in yourself.
* Improved sleep – exercise is physically draining, which improves sleep quality.
* Reduction in stiffness and pain – exercise can result in less soreness during the day.
The only issue I see with the ironman is the volume of training and the amount of pressure it places on your back, especially with the long distance running.
Ensure you change your runners every few months to get the maximum shock protection, and you may need to work with a coach to build a specific training plan that will give you more rest time.
In terms of the bike, make sure to get a good bike fit done. This will take the pressure off your back and make your long bike rides more comfortable.
My advice is that while you certainly can do an ironman, don't overexert yourself. Get a specific plan made for your training and talk to your GP along the way.