Cardio Mash-Up

Exercise Monday: Cardio Mash-Up

I recently joined a local gym! Yay me!  It was because I yearned for spin classes and yoga but I’ve been mostly just using the equipment doing my own thing at my own time, ya know?  There is nothing wrong with the classes except for the fact that they are always at the butt-crack of dawn, but other than that, it just comes down to what I’m in the mood for.

If you like to use the machines but want a new routine, here is a mix of the treadmill and recumbent bike to spice up your calorie torching sessions.  I wear a heart rate monitor for this but you can guesstimate if you don’t have one by feeling how hard you are breathing or exerting.  It uses a scale called RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion.  It ranges from 1 – 10, 1 being easy-easy to 10 being not able to keep up longer than 30 seconds at a time.


I got this from: December 2013 Shape Magazine

Burn 300 in 30

Time (minutes)             What to Do                        RPE


0 – 5              warm-up: pedal at an easy pace       3 – 4

5 -7                       increase resistance                      5 – 6

7 – 8                     decrease resistance                      4 – 5

8 – 12       sprint for 30 seconds, then pedal at an easy pace for                           30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.                    4 – 8

12 – 14         increase resistance; pedal hard           7 – 8

14 – 15                  pedal at an easy pace                    4

15 – 18                 repeat minutes 12 – 15                 4 – 8


18 – 21                 jog at a moderate pace                5 – 6

21 – 23             increase speed by 0.3 to 0.7            7 – 8

23 – 25                 increase incline by 1.0                   8

25 -28              sprint for 30 seconds, then jog at a moderate pace                              for 30 seconds. Repeat twice.          5 – 9

28 – 30           cool down; jog at an easy pace        3 – 4






The Marathon Effect: Extra

Hi there!

I have been searching day and night since I posted the article about The Marathon Effect.  I wanted to give you all a reference for where I got my information. Leaving it open-ended seemed a bit unfinished.  So after hunting down the radio interview (this took hours on end to find) with JJ Virgin, I have a viable source you can decipher for yourself about what I stated.

I’m referring to the section where I said: exercising/endurance training in the fat burning zone for long distances will make your body store more fat when you are done to replace what it has burned.  You literally become a fat storer professional.  You will lose muscle also in the process compounding the problem of screwing up your metabolism. And…you release tons of stress hormones like cortisol that will also help you to store fat like a boss.  This is cardio for hours on end that I am talking about- not working out in the weight room for 3 hours.  That is different.


JJ Virgin has a resume as long as my body.  She was a health advocate on the Dr. Phil show and has done numerous appearances on T.V., written tons of magazine articles and her own army of books, and has appeared and spoken at tons of health conferences.  She has every credential in the book and is a huge believer in “Burst Training” or what I call HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  Please listen to this incredible interview with her on Blog Talk Radio hosted by Underground Wellness.  The marathon discussion happens around 31 minutes.

The Marathon Effect

Exercise Monday: The Marathon Effect


Hello People!

This is going to be a controversial post but I don’t care.  I need to talk about it because it is something that is near and dear to my heart personally.  About 4 years ago I participated in a Marathon; the Lake Tahoe one to be exact.  It is about 6,000 ft elevation and I not only had to train for endurance, but I had to train for high altitude. The “track” is around the lake and the up and down mountainous climbs also needed to be trained for.  Some of the inclines felt about 50% grade or more. It took me about 5 months to train and that was short. One more thing, I walked it – not ran.  I am not, nor will ever be, a runner.  My body is not built for it and I make no apologies.  I completed it in 7 hours which is a good time for a walker.

I trained in horrible summer heat of about 95 -100 degrees due to the marathon taking place at the end of Sept.  It also happened to be a bad fire season in southern CA that year.  I had to wear a surgical mask when I trained so that I wouldn’t breathe in ash. On one excruciatingly hot day, I was at mile 18 and fainted from the heat. I also needed to eat something because training can be strenuous on the body especially when you are up past 3 hours.  There is no stopping to rest in training. I wore one of those strap on waist packs that carries two water bottles.  I looked like a freak with my fanny pack and mask on marching around in sweltering heat, but I had a mission to accomplish. One woman, after seeing me look like hell, asked if she could give me a ride somewhere.  That was embarrassing!  After the fainting spell, I ran out of days to train. I was actually supposed to go 2 more miles that day, but the fainting/heat/fires put a stop to it. Plus, I didn’t want to experience that again.  So I knew going into the marathon it would be painful because I had only trained up to mile 18. A marathon is 26.2 miles for the record.  On one afternoon, around mile 16, I ran into a bear.  He actually saw me first and ran away, but I was about 30 feet from him.  That got me running!

Anyways, I want to talk about the fact that while I was doing hours and hours of training for this monstrous feat, I gained a lot of weight in the process. This was the most frustrating and irritating problem for me.  I wanted to do the marathon to lose weight, not gain it for heaven’s sake!  Think about it: exercising for hours on end burning hundreds if not thousands of calories only to gain weight steadily every week you train harder!!!  This was confounding.  Then I heard someone explain a principal of fat storage that began to make a lot of sense to me.


It was about 2 months after the marathon that I heard about this concept or bodily process, but it suddenly dawned on me that it made perfect sense and that I was an unfortunate victim of it.  I want to say up front that I don’t have any facts to share with you yet, but just theories and guesses.  I also have my own body as a guinea pig to prove it.  The idea goes that your body uses different types of fuel to get you through a workout session: Fat, Glycogen (sugar in bloodstream), and Muscle.  Muscle is used in a desperate situation when the body is overtaxed and has nothing left to operate on (you NEVER want to be in this state).  Most people burn either fat or glycogen when they exercise.  An endurance trainer needs to exercise at a pace that will carry them through a long period of time. If they go too hard, they will burn out quickly and have nothing left.  I saw this happen in the marathon.  Many runners racing past me were cramping and sitting down up the road when I reached them due to them either not training enough, or pushing too hard too fast. They were probably pacing themselves wrongly in what I call the High Intensity Heart Rate Zone which is approximately 80 – 90% of your maximum heart rate.  This is very hard on the heart and lungs for long periods of time and is usually only done in short spurts of energy output such as what a sprinter or pole vaulter would do.  Endurance runners/walkers have to not work out as hard and keep their pace in the Fat Burning Heart Rate Zone which is about 60 -75% of your maximum heart rate. This will ensure that they have enough energy to empower them to go long distances without fatigue or failure. And to go even further, those who work out in the HIHRZ burn/use glycogen as their fuel (at first, until it runs out) and those who exercise in the FBHRZ burn fat as their fuel.


Here’s the problem.  Once upon a time it was thought that burning fat as you worked out was a great thing! It sounds it, doesn’t it? The idea of piles of fat melting off as you walk up and down the block is a dieters dream come true.  The controversial part of this post comes here: Only burning fat as fuel while you work out sets up the body to immediately store fat once you stop exercising and eat your next meal.  The fat burned off will be replaced by more fat (the body protecting itself) and the more you keep doing that,the more fat you store making you gain more and more weight. Even if you are working out 6 hours a day like I was.  You also have to keep in mind that strict endurance training does very little in building muscle mass or tone.  It can also use muscle as fuel if you start to overtax yourself.  Burning glycogen on the other hand, like sprinters who work out in minutes of fast explosive episodes, makes the body replace glycogen when you are done exercising and not fat.  Also, exercising in the HIHRZ makes the body burn fat when you are at rest, oddly enough. (I’ll keep searching for relevant articles relating to my conjecture here.  I know that this may sound like a bunch of hoo-haw.)

So I was gaining weight even though my diet was roughly the same and I was working out like a bitch. Oh the frustration!!! (I am not the only one who has experienced this and has talked about it).  Look at the difference between an endurance trainer and a sprinter.  The sprinter is often times very muscular; whereas the endurance runner can be skinny (scrawny?), and oddly flabby in the upper body.  Those who are older than 35 look down right pudgy. I know because I passed thousands of them the day I raced.

Side Note: The people who look ”buff” also do strength training in addition to running and/or are usually below the age of 30 (males).


Conclusion: Don’t do endurance training if you want to build muscle and be fit and toned. Keep workouts short: 20 -30 minutes, but with high intensity.  Do endurance training if you like wind in your hair and running all day long.

Think of it this way as well, endurance training such as walking or running on a machine for an hour or more while reading a magazine or talking to a friend will burn calories.  But the minute you get off that machine, the calorie burn is over.  Strength Training on the other hand allows you to quit exercising and burn fat for hours on end after the workout has ended.  That sounds like a better bargain to me.  I’m not against cardio training, but only do it in moderation of short periods of high intensity now.

P.S. I couldn’t walk for 4 entire days after the marathon.  This is not a good thing to do to the body.  It wreaks havoc on the joints, ligaments and sockets. The repetitive motion causes way too much stress and strain. There is a reason that the original marathon runner promptly died after doing it.

5 Things

Think It Through Thursday: 5 Things

Hello People!

It has been a few months….6, to be exact, that I have been a blogger.  My weight hasn’t really gone down a whole lot during this process, but I have been discussing the reasons why here periodically.  Particularly, I think most of my issues relate to blood sugar problems, and I’m currently working those out.

So I wanted to do a post that was upbeat and positive today because there isn’t enough positivity in the world, in my opinion.  Therefore, I want to discuss 5 things I have learned during these 6 months of blogging that I will continue to implement for the rest of my life regardless of weight-loss or not.  They are healthy habits that I wish to pass on to you, dear reader.

5 Things

1. What You Eat Matters


This means that it doesn’t matter if a “calorie is a calorie.” The quality of the food is utmost important.  Forget the counting calories bit.  Look to the nutrition of the food/meal/snack first.  Calories matter too, no doubt about it, but there is a hell of a big difference between the nutritional makeup of two foods with the same amount of calories: a snickers bar vs. a  a few pieces of fruit.  Those nutritional qualities differ in that one of those items your body will store most of it’s calories as fat because of the high sugar content, and the other will be used by the body for re-building, supporting, digesting, etc.  Now which one do you want?

2. Vegetables & Fruit Are Your FRIENDS!!!


You’re hungry?  You want to binge out? Have a tangerine.  Still hungry? Have a cucumber.  Still hungry? Have a bowl of cherry tomatoes.  Still hungry? No?…..Well even if you were, the calories in these foods are so small in comparison to junk foods that even if you binged on them, the worst case scenario would give you gas and bloating.  Junk Foods? You will be seen wearing them on your thighs the next day for sure.

3.  All Exercise is Not Created Equal


The older you get, the more muscle you lose (up to a pound a year!!!).  This is key to understanding why your treadmill antics ain’t working like they were at 20.  Don’t do tons of cardio.  Do tons of weights/strength training/bodybuilding workouts.  Then do some cardio – but no more than 20 minutes (HIIT would be optimal).  You can start burning your muscles right off if it’s any more than that.  EEEKK!

4.  The G-Free Life is For Me


Gluten was giving me blood sugar spikes. Why? Mostly the gluten was in the form of bread which has flour.  Flour, in any form, 100% whole wheat or otherwise, digests fast.  Gluten was also coating the villi in my intestine causing me to have skin irritation problems.  Going gluten free is not easy, but it is doable and I am not starving like I feared I would be.  It definitely has cut down on the carb consumption in my life.  I am not a no-carb preacher, but I would advocate low-carb (220 grams or less a day) eating. I am eating approximately 120 – 100 grams a day now.

5. Plan Meals For the Week


Not planning what to eat is planning to FAIL! If it is 12:00 noon and you don’t know what you are eating for lunch…you are doomed friend.  Your hunger will override any will you had to stick to a calorie regime.  Don’t fool around, designate 1 day a week to prepare, cook, and portion out your meals for the week.  No second guessing, no last minute drive-thru runs, no excuses. (Video on this subject to come!)

Cardio Ideas: Beginning Running

Exercise Monday: Walk/Jog/Run Plan (Beginners)

Hello People!

Hope wherever you are the signs of Spring are showing up.  Take time to appreciate at least 5 things around you everyday.  It will make things more tolerable and give you more determination.

Taking advantage of the warmer weather (I live in SoCal, so that’s not saying much), I decided to give my “Running” Program another go.  The last time I did this was Summer 2012 and didn’t enjoy it.  Perhaps it was because I wasn’t as fit cardiovascularly as I am now.  Now, ALL of my workouts are high intensity and burn tons of calories.  This program isn’t so challenging this time around.  If you would like to give it a go here is the gist:

My Exercise Routine

Today’s Exercise Monday Post:

summer-exerciseI want to include on my Exercise Monday posts my “workout routines” that I continuously rotate through.  This is a plan that I did during summer 2012 and really enjoyed it. (I have rotated to a different routine since then.)  Most likely I will do a version of it again next summer.  Doing this plan helped me shed 7 pounds off of my 26 pounds goal. I don’t know why, but I love doing those magazine tear-out routines in the summer.  Also I should mention that I don’t run anymore.  It seems that this last attempt (the 5th) didn’t make me feel 100% and decided to find another form of intense cardio to replace it.  I’ll get back to you in another post about which activity I chose. If you do want to try the running program you can see it here: Running Program (keep clicking on it and it will appear, I promise!)

P.S. Sorry this video’s pace is super slow.  I was DELIRIOUS from heat.  It was literally over 100 degrees that day in my house.

Get Moving People!

Work it Out!

I’m sure you’ve read millions of posts like this before.  The author imploring the reader to get out there and exercise!  Well, add this one to the list because maybe you (and I) need to hear it again.

I will never try and tell anyone what type of exercise is best because there simply is no such thing.  You see, for the longest time I thought that running/jogging was the only type of cardio that could only burn off enough fat to be effective.  But what if you hate running and the thought of it wants to make you crawl into a hole?  Then perhaps it is not so great after all.  One must find movement that makes sense to their body and be able to sustain that motion for a long period of time for it to be effective.

Different strokes for different folks.  What may be my ultimate cardio blast may be your idea of hell on earth.  So what?  Find what makes sense to you no matter what anyone tells you!  Not your spouse, trainer, friend, parent, child or whomever. You must explore different types of exercises to make a choice though. Don’t write anything off before giving it one good try especially if someone is recommending it.  For example, I always heard that cycle class would build my quadriceps to mammoth proportions and that the class would be too difficult to do because it is “SO HARD!”  Well, guess what? One day someone invited me to try their spinning class and I loved it and don’t care if it develops my quads more than dance or swimming would. It is fast paced, full of awesome energy, music is pumping and working out with others can be very encouraging.  No matter that I am not at the same level as the gal next to me.  Who cares?  She wasn’t always at her level either. She worked to get there and so will I.

If you are new to exercise, start small and work your way up the mountain.  Don’t go full out or you may burn out and become completely discouraged.  Try walking at a medium pace.  Alternatively, you could ride a bike casually around the neighborhood.  Also, try going in a pool and “running” back and forth across the shallow end; it will feel like more of a bounding bounce, but it will get your heart rate up which is the point.

So, you want to do things that get you moving for an hour or so a day and you want to get a good burn at the same time.  I will post soon about heart rate zones, but for now try to work-out at a level where you can still say your name and address at the peak of exertion, but not easily. If you don’t break a sweat, you aren’t pushing enough.  There should at least be some light dampness on you at the end. Don’t worry about it, just try and if you don’t like it, try again with something else.

What is your current favorite form of exercise?