Sunday, August 28, 2011

Stressed Out!

We're gearing up to start our new school year next week and I couldn't be more excited! We've made some last minute curriculum changes and I think this year is going to be AWESOME! So why the stress? Well, I was planning out our days of the week and I realized that I have no idea where I'm going to squeeze in my workouts. Seriously. None. Not a clue.

My husband's helpful answer was "don't just say you'll go when you have time, actually schedule gym time like you would an appointment." Got it. I tried. I'm all booked up. Thankyouverymuch.

I know I'll fit them in somewhere, it'll just take a week or two for me to see how our lesson days are going to play out this year. I'm just freaking out!

So glad to have gotten that off my chest! Carry on.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why do we do what we do?

I've mentioned my friend, Karen, in the past several times. Slightly over a year ago, she and her family moved clear across the country and while we've stayed close through phone calls, facebook, and texting it just wasn't the same as the hours we used to spend chatting over our kitchen tables, drinking sweet tea and letting all of our boys run wild through the house. Until last week. My boys and I packed up our suitcases and headed across the United States on a redeye flight (the next time I decide to fly over night with two young children, smack me, OK?).

We showed up in PIT around lunch time on Tuesday and it was as if time had stood still and the entire last year apart hadn't occurred. Our boys were best friends immediately and Karen and I simply chatted away the entire ride back to her house. None of us had slept much on the flight, but that didn't matter, we were back with our friends and that was better than 10 espressos. The excitement was palpable.

Karen is a triathlete and she's also a Zumba and aerobics instructor. She knows that recently I've put nearly all steady state cardio on the back burner and have been focusing on strength training and she had a lot of questions about my workouts. I happily answered all of them, until we were on our way back to the airport on Thursday and she asked for my help in shaping a workout schedule for her ~ she said "I know you strength train and I know it's important and I need to do it, too. But, why?" "Why what?" "What do I get out of it? Will it make me faster in my tri's?, What will it do?" "It will make you stronger" "But why do I need to be stronger?" And then I was stumped. To be fair, I was also exhausted and functioning on about 50% brain power, but I've been thinking of her question ever since. This is what I've come up with:

For all of my adult life (and most of my adolscent one) my entire focus has been on losing weight ~ at any cost. I took diet pills in highschool, I drank diet shakes all through college, I started on caffeine pills during my first desk job and I tried every single fad diet known to man. Guess what ~ I was still fat. Not only was I fat, but I was tired all of the time, I battled depression and my blood pressure was going up.

Now, weightloss is secondary. I want to be healthy. Plain and simple. I've met a lot of skinny people that aren't healthy, but there aren't very many truly healthy people that are over weight. I decided to focus on health. I know the weightloss will come.

Enter strength training. There are so many benefits to resistence training ~ and I'm reading more and more articles about it every day. I can't ignore them. Weight training:

  • Increases your resting metabolism, which means you continue to burn more calories even when your workout is over

  • Takes the strain off of your joints & tendons and puts the pressure back on the muscles, where it belongs.

  • Builds stronger bones and fights against osteoperosis

  • Doesn't require you to spend hours at the gym, or on the pavement, trying to burn just a few more calories.

  • Builds lean body mass while at the same time melts body fat.

  • Has been linked to longer, healthier live spans.

  • And most importantly, weight training is BADASS!!!

One thing that is not on this list is heart health. Yes, one still needs cardio workouts to strengthen the heart. However, I'm becoming less and less of a steady state cardio fan and more and more of a high intesity interval training fan.

A few weeks ago, I came across this article by Rachel Cosgrove, in it she describes how training for an Ironman actually made her lose muscle tone, increased her body fat and basically turned her flabby. (Please click through and read her whole article, it's a fascinating, but quick read and she says it so much more effectively than I could!) She started to research this phenomena and found the following statistics and studies:

Learn to Love Intensity, Not Duration

Let's review some of the research:

• December 2006, Canadian researchers reported that just two weeks of interval training boosted women's ability to burn fat during exercise by 36%.

• In January 2007, a six-month study was published showing that adding aerobic exercise had no additional effect on body composition, over diet alone.

• In June of 2007, a twelve-month study was published which had the subjects doing six hours of aerobic exercise per week, training six days a week, for one year. The average weight loss was only three pounds for that one-year period.

• According to a British study, levels of Human Growth Hormone, which assists in building muscle and burning fat, skyrocketed 530% in subjects after just thirty seconds of sprinting as fast as they could on a stationary bike.

• Australian fitness researchers had eighteen women perform twenty minutes of interval training on a stationary bike — eight-seconds of sprinting followed by twelve seconds of recovery — throughout the workout, three days a week.

The women lost an average of five-and-a-half pounds over fifteen weeks, without dieting. Similar groups performing forty minutes of moderate cycling, three days a week, actually gained a pound of fat over the same period. Two of the heavier women who did intervals dropped eighteen pounds.

• In a side-by-side comparison, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario measured fitness gains in eight interval exercisers — using twenty to thirty minute cycling workouts that included four to six thirty-second sprints — against eight volunteers who pedaled at a lower intensity for 90 to 120 minutes.

After two weeks, the interval group was every bit as fit as those who worked out three to four times as long.

I'm a convert. I enjoy running and I'm not giving it up completely and I still have every intention of completing a triathlon ~ but I'm no longer looking at it as the fountain of fat loss. These activities are for pure enjoyment ~ the fat loss is going to come from the weight room and intense intervals. Period. So, THIS is why I strength train!

Our summer is winding down and while I'll miss the carefree days, spontaneous playdates at the park and the various traveling we've done, I'm looking forward to settling into our routine. We've had a busy, fun filled summer and we've made lots of family memories, but my workouts have taken a huge hit!

This is the first year that I'll be homeschooling both boys full time. While I know the work load will be much bigger, it will ease our schedule quite a bit ~ the boys will be doing the same activities on the same days now, rather than running from A to B and back to A again. Last year just about killed me! HA!

I'll be using the next two weeks to convert our current "arts & crafts" area back into our "homeschool" area (it seems to morph every single year!) and also sketching out a tentative schedule to see where I can fit my workouts in around the boys' activities. I'm not sure why we call ourselves homeschoolers as we're very rarely HOME!

Anyway, if there are still any readers out there, stay tuned ~ I'll be back to blogging more regularly. Thanks for sticking around and I hope your summer was a fun and full as ours (and I hope you had better weather! The NorthWest is the ONLY area that never got struck by a heat wave. BOO!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We made a little detour for x-rays this morning, but we still managed to make it to the gym. Thankfully there are no broken bones, but he jammed his pinky pretty good. 

Monday, August 1, 2011


I workout in my bikini all of the time. Don't you? I headed back to the gym today and it felt AHmazing. The last several workouts have been very sporadic and usually pretty rushed. It was nice to go to the gym today and be able to take my time and focus on the exercise I was doing and not worry about having a time limit. I was afraid that my on again/off again schedule this past month would rear it's ugly head today, but I felt so strong and my muscles were ALIVE. I felt awesome. I'm pretty sure come tomorrow morning I'm going to feel pretty DEAD, but I'm going back for more! Today: weights. Tomorrow: Intervals

Today I did:

Squats: 3 sets of 10 reps ~ 32.5 lbs for the first two, 35 for the last set. I'm sssooo close to being able to squat the Olympic bar. I can't WAIT!

Pushups: 3 sets of 10. I hate pushups. With a passion. I have this horrible mental block against them. I do them at about a 30% angle ~ on the weight bench.

Seated Cable Rows: 3 sets of 10 reps at 90 lbs. My back is going to be CHISLED! Whoot!

Step Ups: 3 sets of 10 (each leg). Well hello glutes, there you are!! I stepped on a 12"(ish) step using just my BW. Using ONLY the leg on the step. Not using my foot on the floor at all. OUCH!

Prone Jack Knife: 3 sets of 12. In case you don't know what those are:

After my workout, I met up with a friend and we walked for half an hour. Tomorrow my plan is to do intervals using Jacob's Ladder. 30 seconds on the ladder as fast as I can and then 2 minutes walking. I plan to do that about six times and then sit and relax on the stationary bike for a bit until I have to get my kids out of their class. Then we're all going swimming! Yay!