Exercise Plan

Exercise Monday: My Current Exercise Plan

Hello People!

I wanted to update you all on what I am doing in the exercise department.  I told you a while back that I was doing an 8 week challenge series that was really toning up my body.  I finished that one and am on to the 2nd one and love it!  It is by FitnessBlender and here is a video showing the results of people who participated in these programs:

Basically, it is a lot of strength training and cardio alternating days with different body parts.  They include about 3 days worth of high paced interval training (hard!) and alternate with days of not so strenuous stuff, like, standing abs, or kick boxing routines.  It has really changed the shape of my legs and butt as I can see in the mirror and the fit of my clothes.  I have not lost weight doing it, that is my fault – not theirs, but if I had, my body would be smokin’!  It is average about 5 days on, 2 days rest, although they give an alternate 6th day of pure cardio.

Also, I have not been walking my dog as much due to the extreme heat of the summer lasting well into the night (he has a weak heart and gets overheated easily).  But I did add walking myself at night briskly for one hour.  I usually do this on days I’m not doing the FitnessBlender workouts or if I am up to it, I do it in addition.  That was the summer though, and I was not working as much as I am now, so that may change soon.  Time will tell.

I am not disillusioned to the fact anymore that exercise will keep my weight down.  I have written numerous posts on why that is, but the fact is, I love the feeling of exercise and I feel better about life and myself when I move around.  Plus, I love the shape of my body better.  Having more muscle does help the metabolism, but that will not take the weight off – it will be diet alone that does that officially. Remember: 85% diet and 15% exercise is the recipe.

Notable Quotable #1

Inspirational Sunday: Notable Quotable #1

Hello People!

I am following an exercise program (more on that in tomorrow’s post), and daily, I am given a quote to ponder.  I found this one particularly pertinent to me:

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’ “.                    -Unknown

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The program is rigorous. My commitment to keep up the 6 days a week regime at the start, were solid, and then there were snags 3 weeks into it…I got raging sick, twice.  I was working so hard and following the plan so well.  Pictures were being taken weekly for a before and after sequence.  It made me so mad that I woke up one day not able to get out of bed, much less lift a dumbbell.  Not following the program was hard enough, on top of that, when I get sick, for some reason my appetite rages out of control (not surprised, I’m defaulted to overeat by nature; being sick just heightens that even more) making me crave carbs like nothing else.  I suppose this is because of the lack in energy the virus is stealing from me and my body needing to fight off whatever ails me.

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That Katy Perry song has nothing on me, my “Roar” sometimes is a deeper promise for tomorrow. You know my desire to lose weight has been haunting me for years, I’m not going to now let a temporary sickness get in my way.  I told myself, “take the time to heal, then jump back in full force when you are up for it.”  It took about a week and a half, and many carbs later, but I’m back in the saddle again.

It’s not just the big reasons that make me break my commitment at times, it’s also the small things that come up.  Today, I just had a lack of energy to follow through on what I planned to do this afternoon.  The plans made for the day were put aside just to listen to what my body wanted: rest and relaxation.  I don’t have a good reason why, that is just how I felt.  I did not waste my workout or good eating habits though.  These remain a part of the plan no matter what.  But if I plan a day to garden for 4 hours, but all I want is a nap, then I compromise.  Instead of 4 hours, I did 40 minutes of simple stuff out in the yard.  I’ll make up for those bigger plans another time.  No big deal.  Tomorrow is another day and I can always do more if I’m up for it.

I also want to re-state that old stand-by: Consistency is Key.  It isn’t about just today, it’s about the total addition of day to day, week to week, month to month commitments.  One, two, or even three days out of a month that get “ruined” for whatever reason don’t need to derail one’s plans permanently.  Get back on the wagon tomorrow even stronger than before. That’s my roar speaking in a quiet voice!

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The Marathon Effect

Exercise Monday: The Marathon Effect

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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?