Round One: Battle Of The Bulge

“Some people use exercise as an excuse to eat more food,” says Jane Riley, a fitness expert at Kauai Athletic Club, “but at least 70 percent of significant weight loss is because of a proper diet.”

Today is the first day my husband Dan and I will train with Riley, and she knows diet could be our pitfall. To get a baseline, she has me step onto a scale, which reads 187.4 pounds. I shudder inwardly as Riley quietly records it on a note card.

Finished with body measurements and fat percentage, she calculates my ideal weight to be 133 pounds. Dan, who weighs in at 263 pounds and 28 percent body fat, should aim for 15-20 percent total body fat.

As we walk past the free-weights area to the cardio machines, Riley explains how to use the treadmill, elliptical trainer, ski machine and stationary bike. I’m trying to listen, but my head reels and tears well up in my eyes. It’s been 10 years since I was at my ideal body weight. I’m turning 48 this month, and Riley tells me my life and my health are in my hands.

“Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and some types of cancers can be prevented by adopting a healthy, active lifestyle that includes moderate to vigorous exercise,” she tells me. Riley also has something to say about the fact that I sit for hours while I work.

“The U.S. National Library of Medicine-National Institutes of Health has published articles that suggest excessive sitting is a serious health hazard,” says Riley, who is a former nationally ranked bodybuilder and powerlifter. “Break up periods of sitting — sit less and stand more, and reduce the time spent in sedentary pursuits.”

I try various strength machines,and Riley adjusts positioning and resistance. As I perform the exercise, she corrects my form and creates routines for my upper and lower body.

Both Riley and Joshua Nations, KAC owner, recommend a liquid meal before and after a workout. The pre-workout meal ensures my body will perform optimally during a workout by reducing muscle glycogen depletion, muscle protein breakdown and post-workout cortisol levels.

“The two most important elements of the meal are protein and carbohydrates, and the timing of this meal is also an important consideration,” explains Riley. “One option is to have a balanced meal between 60 and 90 minutes before the workout. The second option is to take a liquid meal immediately before the workout and even continuing into the workout time. Make sure to consume equal amounts of protein and carbohydrates at the recommended .25 grams per pound of your desired body weight.”

Post-workout meals, which should be the same ratio and quantity as preworkout meals, will replenish muscle glycogen that was depleted during the workout, reduce muscle breakdown, increase muscle protein synthesis, reduce soreness and fatigue, enhance recovery and reduce cortisol levels. The post-workout meal should be consumed immediately after the workout or before 30 minutes have elapsed.

“I drink Isagenix shakes, which are a full meal,” says Riley. “The protein is organic, the shake has digestive enzymes for full assimilation, a proper balance of nutrients plus a little bit of healthy fat. Clean food maximizes muscle recovery and minimizes body fat, unlike most whey protein shakes, which are contaminated with pesticides, herbicides and made from GMO cow’s milk.”

At KAC, you can belly up to the Shake Lab. There are 13 flavors to choose from, including the Green Monster ($6.75) with bananas, strawberries, peanut butter, kale and chocolate protein. “Super Powers” can be added for 75 cents and include supplements to increase muscle size, speed up recovery, burn fat, increase endurance or strengthen your immune system.

“We can make your shake entirely organic with rice or soy milk,” says Nations. “All of our frozen fruit is organic, and we have organic hemp protein. Fruit juices, such as cranberry or apple, are not organic. Shake ingredients are listed on the menu board, and we are always glad to tweak recipes to suit our members’ individual needs!”

Between the Kapaa and Lihue locations there are more than 100 group fitness classes, including ZUMBA, yoga, INSANITY, belly dancing, BUTI and RIPPED, as well as LesMills BODYPUMP, COMBAT, CXWORX core and BODY ATTACK.

“We find that newcomers stay motivated and achieve faster results when they engage in group fitness and/or personal training programs,” says Nations. “I recommend a little coaching (Riley costs $50/hour), which makes people confident when engaging in self-guided workouts.”

There are regular monthly rates, day rates and rates for temporary members and visitors. Discounts for seniors and students also are available. This February, KAC is offering a sweetheart deal. “We FIT Together” includes one free month for couples who sign up together.

There is no quick and easy way for me to lose weight and get healthy. After all, it took me 10 years to get here. I’m told lifestyle changes are more successful if you take baby steps. I’ll start by increasing my activity, monitoring my diet and sharing my progress with you. Over the course of 2014, I’ll write about healthy options while eating out, enjoying healthy meals at home and healthy holiday strategies.

Jane Riley, M.S., B.A., C.P.T., Certified Nutritional Adviser; 212-1451

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Marta Lane is a Kauai-based food writer. For more information, visit