Natalie Thomas, Us' deputy news editor, is hitting the gym with Buff Brides author Sue Fleming (Katie Holmes was a devotee prior to marrying Tom Cruise!) before saying "I Do" to her beau of three years, Zach Friedman, on May 30. Check her weekly blog -- with step-by-step workout plans, diet details and photos -- on UsMagazine.com every Thursday.
If you're like me, you've done your fair share of browsing through fitness magazines, pausing at infomercials and contemplating -- and sometimes even succumbing to -- the gimmicks over the years. And all of the conflicting information has left this girl confused! So this week I decided to ask Sue her expert opinion to help sort through all of the nonsense and get the facts. Knowledge is power, people! Feel free to post your additional questions below and we'll answer those too!
Q: If I only have 30 minutes to exercise, what's most effective?
A: A combination is always best. Cardio for improving cardiovascular endurance and calorie burning, weight training for muscular strength and lean muscle mass. Remember, muscle burns more calories than fat at rest.
Get the celeb wedding scoop on WeddingChannel.com!
Q: If I want to drop a few pounds, besides exercise, what can I do?
A: There are no shortcuts! Follow a balanced diet. Don't go crazy, make smart choices and be sure you are staying in the daily recommended calorie range for your height and age. And, make sure to get at least 7 to 8 hours sleep in order to keep your metabolism running efficiently.
See stars' gorgeous wedding photos
Q: What's the quickest way to drop a few pounds by eliminating things from my diet?
A: Biggest culprit for most: SUGAR. Eliminate excess sugar from your diet.
Q: If I want a lean body, how do I go about doing that?
A: A balanced diet and a consistent exercise regime. Working out once a week doesn't cut it. Aim for 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise combined with weight training 3 to 4 times per week for optimal results.
Q: How many times a week do I need to work out to notice a difference? For how long?
A: For results that you can see and feel, aim for 3 to 4 workouts each week. Make sure your workout combines cardiovascular exercise and weight training. If you don't have time for both, do your cardiovascular workout one day, your strength training the next day. Keeping on this track, you will notice a difference and feel better in about 3 to 4 weeks!
Q: Does lifting weights burn calories longer/while resting?
A: Yes. Strength training is essential for calorie burning. Lean muscle is your metabolic furnace that will burn extra calories/energy 24 hours daily and not just when you are exercising.
Q: Does caffeine/coffee boost metabolism?
A: Actually, caffeine does the opposite. If you are trying to lose weight, it is recommended to stay AWAY from caffeine. Caffeine increases your appetite, increases your insulin resistance (making weight loss harder) and will have the opposite reaction of what you really want.
Q: How can I boost my metabolism?
A: To build metabolism, build lean muscle, stay away from sugars, eat breakfast, drink lots of water and get a good nights sleep.
See photos of the most-discussed star bodies of all time
Q: Can stretching boost metabolism?
A: Stretching is part of a complete exercise plan. After a 5 minute warm-up, take another 5 minutes to stretch all of the muscles of the major muscle groups. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds without bouncing. After your workout, take another 5 minutes to stretch again. Stretching will decrease your risk for exercise-related injuries such as muscle strains and back and knee problems
Q: Is it important to rest a day in between workouts?
A: Resting between strength training workouts is important. General rule of thumb: you should not workout the same muscle group two days in a row. For muscular growth and strength, your muscle needs to "heal" and recover. So, do arms one day, legs the other!