Sunday, August 05, 2012
I have a tip I use when figuring out how many cardio calories I have burned. This stems from something I read in David Greenwalt's book "The Leanness Lifestyle", which I consider my fitness bible. In the book he states that it's reasonable to assume that a man working very hard burns 10 calories a minute and a woman 8. Since he goes off of scientific studies and not hunches, I trust David's book and the things he says in it.
I've always felt like cardio machines are a little generous when it comes to how many calories they say I burn. I wanted to adjust it to be on the safe side of realistic for my logging purposes. So, working off of the 10/8 rule above, it's fair to guess that we women burn about 80% of the number of calories men doing performing the same activity at the same intensity. (8 is 80% of 10.) I assume the machine thinks I am a man, since while I have had a machine ask my weight and age, I've yet to see one that asks my gender. Given that, I take the total amount of calories it says I've burned and reduce it by 20% to give me 80%. (This is easier mental math for me than multiplying it by 80%)
So if I worked out on the elliptical machine for 45 minutes and it says I burned 450 calories, I assume I burned roughly 360 calories. (20% of 450 is 90: 450 minus 90 is 360.)
To break it down even further for my usually-exhausted mind at the end of a tough cardio workout, I just double what 10% is to come up with the 20% number, since 10% is easier to tell at a glance. So in the case of the elliptical workout above, 45 is 10% of 450. 45 times two is 90. So 90 is 20%, or what I need to subtract from the total the machine is giving me.
My personal method for logging my food and exercise is in my Weight Watchers tracker, which we all know uses a point system instead of calories. I assume every 50 calories is 1 Weight Watchers point. So I round the number I came up with (360) down (not EVER up- I am trying to err on the side of caution) to the nearest 50. For the aforementioned elliptical workout, this would give me 350. Then I just divide by 50 to come up with the number of Points to check off in my exercise tracker- in this case 7. (350 divided by 50 is 7.)
This is all very rough and by no means terribly accurate, but I've found it's a good way to guess.
If you are a man, forget it. As long as you entered your age and weight into the machine, just go with the number it gives you. If you are a man using the Weight Watchers system, round that number down to the nearest 50, divide by 50, and there 'ya got your exercise points.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
I must admit, I was a little misleading with that title.
Because now I am about to disappoint you. And I am also about to get lambasted by people for a myriad of reasons that even I can't predict. It's a touchy subject, but I have come to the conclusion that the answer to the question "How do I get my loved one to get in shape" is, quite simply, "You can't".
That's right. There's not a blessed thing you can plot to do to motivate someone who is not you to change. I've learned this by not only observing others, but by living it (and making the people around me miserable and resent me, I might add). The truth is I may have also stalled their trip down the fitness path.
Learn from my mistakes and those I have observed in others. Please.
When we get in better shape, we naturally want the people we love to also get in shape because..... well...... we love them.
But let's be honest- If someone tried to influence you to change back before you started getting your act together, would it have done any good?
Didn't think so.
Now what makes you think they are any different?
Your best bet is to continue to do what is best for you and hope it will motivate them. And chances are it probably will..... eventually. But I can almost guarantee it won't be as soon as you want. So stop waiting for them to get their keisters in gear and just get on with your own fit life.
Here are some things I believe you have the right to do:
-You have the right to insist on keeping trigger foods out of the house. In our house I get to choose what comes into the kitchen. If I am feeling strong, ice cream may make it through the door. But if I don't either bring it in myself or invite it in, it's not allowed. Maybe that sounds unfair, but I'm the one who's made the big changes for her health, here, and I shouldn't be expected to live with things that could sabotage that. It'd be like expecting a coke addict to live in a crack house: Completely unrealistic. And since my way of eating won't hurt anyone else, and keeping trigger foods around COULD hurt me, on this one I get my way.
- You have the right to expect the rest of the family to respect your workout schedule. It's what helped you get healthy, it is what will help you stay healthy, and you have a right to your health. No one else should be allowed to mess that up. (However, you should try to make your daily workout at the most convenient time for the people you live with. For me, this is first thing in the morning. It makes me available for my family the rest of the day.)
- You have the right to tell people you are not responsible for doing the work for them. Trust me, along the line someone is going to decide they want to look better, too, and say something to the effect of "Just tell me what to eat and how to work out, since you've already done this." When someone doesn't make the effort to learn, they won't know how to implement the changes necessary to maintain their health after the goal is met. Teach them? Yes. Do it for them? That's not your responsibility.
- You have the right to stand up for yourself when people make fun of your healthier choices. Just because you are making choices that might make people uncomfortable does NOT mean you have to take their less-than-kind comments lying down. It's okay to say something like "Ouch! That hurt!'.
- You have the right to serve healthy food to your guests. If they don't want to eat the kinds of foods you serve, they need to host the event in their own home.
- You have the right to bring foods you can eat when you go to a place where you know there won't be any good choices for you. This includes restaurants and times you are invited to someone's house. If people don't like this one, that's just too bad. You have the business of being healthy that comes first.
- You have the right (and responsibility) to be kind. Remember the old saying "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar"? It REALLY applies here.
And here are some things I believe you do NOT have the right to do:
- You do not have the right to lecture other people on why the food you are eating is superior to their choices. People really resent this. Trust me- if they want to know, they will ask.
- You do not have the right to tell others what to order in restaurants. Unless it's your your child this is none of your business. (If they ask you what a good choice is, that's another issue all together.)
- You do not have the right to dictate what is served in someone else's home. It's okay to (nicely!) ask what they are going to serve, so you can prepare. But to ask them to serve something else entirely is simply rude.
- You do not have the right to nag someone else on why you want them to get fit. Was this ever motivational for you?
- You do not have the right to ask someone pointed questions like "How's your weight?" Oh, come on.... You know at least one person who's done something that. Don't become this individual. They know they are heavy- It's not like you are giving them a new revelation. (Besides, how are they supposed to answer? "It sucks. Thanks for asking! And yours?"?)
It bears repeating- In making wise choices consistently you might very well set an example for your loved one that will eventually motivate them to change. Let that be a motivator for you in doing the right things if you like, but don't let anyone else be your key reason for getting or staying fit. Keep YOU the focus of your fit lifestyle. You will be more genuine, and therefore more appealing, in your influence that way.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
So..... You are one of the lucky ones who has found a compatible workout partner with the same workout style, who respects your boundaries, and who has the same time availability. Blessed indeed you are! Here are some things I have observed and experienced that will help you be a workout partner they will appreciate and respect:
1. Firmly establish at the beginning what your partnership will look like. Are you doing the same program and taking turns doing sets so that you can assist and encourage one another? Doing the same program and working out NEXT to each other, in cadence? Simply going to be at the gym at the same time to support each other in your separate programs and spot the other when you need it? A combination of these? Make sure you know what his or her definition of "partner" is.
2. Show up on time. If you are going to be late, text or call and tell your partner. That way they can get in a little extra warm-up cardio while they wait for you. Nothing is worse than sitting in your car or on a bench in the gym thinking "Where is she? Is she Okay? Did she get in a car wreck? Oversleep? Should I get started working out, or wait?"
3. Let your partner know ASAP if you aren't going to be there one day. My partner tells me often a week or more in advance. I appreciate it. It lets me know I don't have to be there if I want to sleep in a little longer (we usually work out in the early AM), and also lets me mentally prepare for a workout alone- It's not going to be a heavy day if I'm flying solo!
4. If you are going to change your program, discuss it with your partner. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I've actually heard of people walking into the gym and informing their partner that they are starting something different that very day. This means the partner either has to change gears on the fly to accommodate or finds they are left out completely and in a very abrupt fashion. That's not fair. You are a team. Let your teammate know if you want to switch things up. Which leads to......
5. If you are going to implement a program that requires you to go solo, or you want to stop working out with your partner either permanently or for a period of time, let them know about this well in advance. This will give your counterpart time to adjust and regroup. You had time to think about the change you are going to make, now he or she needs time to think of what changes they will need to make in turn to adjust to not having you around.
6. Leave your phone in the car. If you must bring it in for emergency reasons, explain what is going on to your partner. This way they'll be supportive when you have to answer or call mid-workout. Plus, they'll be looking out for your phone and are less likely to step on it!
7. Ask how they prefer to be spotted. A lot of guys lifting heavy weights want to be spotted right above the elbow. Women often want to feel a set of hands more mid-upper arm. Some people want to hear "It's all you!" when lifting a heavy load, while others want you to lie and say "I've got it!", when really you are applying minimal pressure to help them. You will get to know their needs and preferences in detail as you continue to work out together, but at the beginning you really need to ask.
8. For Pete's sake, pay attention (and I mean rapt attention) when spotting your partner. This means no talking to other pals, looking at the hot member of the opposite sex saunter by, admiring yourself in the mirror, or anything else that is not staring right at your partner. And put the music in your headset on pause so you can hear your partners signal (often difficult breathing) that it's time for you to kick into action and spot them. Texting and calling shouldn't be an issue, because you left your phone in the car, remember? And even if you brought it in for an emergency per #6, talking and texting should wait until your partner is NOT mid-set. They are depending on you for safety. Don't let them down.
9. Help them switch out weights, even if you are using different lifting aparatus'. It's considerate and besides, lifting with a partner already takes longer than lifting solo- this will help you both get out of the gym a little quicker.
10. Encourage, but not to the point of urging them to do something that could hurt them. It takes time to figure out when your partner is not pushing themselves hard enough and when they are stopping because their body truly can't take anymore. But until you get to know each other a little better, here's a clue: Phrases that are doubtful, like "I am not sure if I should move up to the 45's for the next set", usually mean they are simply unsure of their own strength. If you feel they can do more, tell them to go pick up the 45's and you will help if it's too much. On the other hand, if they are making a definitive statement like "My elbow can't take that weight", respect it. You don't want to be responsible for your partner getting injured.
11. If you decide you aren't compatible as partners after all and find it in your best interest to "break up", it's best to be up front about it. Are their feelings going to be hurt? Probably a little, at least. But it's a lot kinder to let them know they are free to find someone else to work out with than to let them stumble awkwardly around the gym wondering if they have a partner or not. Saying something along the lines of "I am finding that our lifting partnership isn't working out the way I had hoped. I'm so sorry, and I do appreciate what I have learned from working out with you. I think it's time we looked for other lifting partners. In the meantime, if you need a spot, please don't hesitate to ask!" should suffice. If they ask for specifics, tell them. It might help them in future lifting-partner relationships. Otherwise, keep specific reasons to yourself. It could wind up adding insult to the injury.
12. Above all, treasure your partner. Often we have to look years for someone that has that magic combination that works in the gym. Treat them with respect, and expect to be treated with respect in return. Who knows? You might find yourself with a life-long friend.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Lately I've learned first hand that some of the things I have read but was never sure about are indeed true. I would recommend you take my word for these things and not try to find out first-hand. The process stinks.
Here they are, in no particular order:
- Extreme stress really does hinder fat loss. I hired Julie Lohre as a coach. She is awesome, with the most comprehensive program and organizational skills I have seen to date. But, bless her heart, she couldn't elicit a change in my body, despite her best efforts. I was (and still am) under a ton of stress in my personal life. I am absolutely confident this stress stopped my body from letting go of the fat she was trying so hard to wrangle off of me. I only did her program for 8 weeks because I felt bad. She has limited availability and I felt her time was better spent with a client who she could actually gain some satisfaction from. I'd of worked with her longer, otherwise.
- L-glutamine powder taken either pre- or post-workout really does help with soreness. Spent all last week sore when I forgot to take it (because of the stress). And my routine didn't change at all, so it's not like I did anything new to elicit the pain.
- If I start eating refined sugars (white flour or white sugar), it's pretty much guaranteed to trigger a binge.
-Same with diet soda.
- Exercise really does stimulate feel-good hormones that help lift your mood. It's much harder for me emotionally in the early mornings since my life has encountered sadness that is not going to go away (maybe ever). And the weekends, which I take off of exercise? I'm a wreck! After I work out, however, I feel better the rest of the day. For this reason I am going to try and split my workouts up to lifting in the morning and cardio at night, just to get the good stuff going through me 24/7. And I am going to start adding in weekend exercise all I can.
- Cardio is not as important as lifting, but it's still important. I don't drop weight nearly as fast without it.
- 1600 seems to be the magic number for me. If I eat calories much below that, I don't drop weight nearly as quickly. And the lower I go below 1600, the more my weight loss stalls. Additionally, I get really hungry if I eat below about 1450. Seems my body wants the muscle I've worked so hard for FED! I've heard this. I've blogged about it. (See "Moving Past a Weight Loss Plateau" here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=3931594 ). And now I have lived it numerous times.
- Stress really does give you more grey hair! (This has nothing to do with physical fitness, but it's true nonetheless.)
So there you go- I have been my own, unwilling, science experiment. Maybe my experience can help someone else who thinks, as I used to, "I wonder if that's really true?". And now I am curious- What fitness data have YOU found first-hand to be true?
Saturday, July 14, 2012
This is a subject that brings a lot of confusion, and understandably so. Thankfully, there is a short answer: Protein and Carbs.
Both protein and carbs work in conjunction to both fuel and repair your muscles. Easy 'nuff, right?
But there are a few additional things that may come in handy to know:
- First of all, fat intake slows digestion. So if you want to eat before your workout to fuel you a little fat is Okay (although not necessary), because it keeps you from blowing through the nutrients quickly and running out of steam before your workout is done. For me, this typically is a whole egg and three or four egg whites scrambled together along with 1/3 C of plain (not instant- bad for you!) dry oatmeal, cooked. The fat is in the egg yolk. However, after a work out it would be ideal (not necessary, but ideal) to keep fat intake to a minimum so that the carbs and protein can get into your muscles as quickly as possible. Whey protein is a very fast digesting protein and the carbs in fruit are also a quickly-digesting sugar. So if you have a scoop of whey mixed in water or skim milk and a banana on the way home from the gym you can fuel your body optimally.
- If you work out later in the day and eat meals every 3 hours or so that have both protein and carbs in them, you really don't need to worry too much about what you eat before or after you work out, because your body has both nutrients already continually fueling it.
- If you work out first thing in the morning, you need to give it a little more thought. At this point, it becomes more about personal goals and how much food you can stomach before a workout. For instance, if you are someone who is interested in burning fat, there is a school of thought that says doing cardio on an empty stomach burns more fat. The reason for this is that, presumably, there is little glycogen in the cells and the system goes strait to fat for fuel. (I'm doubtful about this for reasons that will take another blog, but for now let's assume it is a likelihood that you do indeed burn more fat doing cardio on an empty tummy.) This would, of course, be best accomplished first thing in the morning.
However, if you want to do your strength training at the same time of day as your cardio, you stand the potential of running into a problem, because you may not have enough energy to lift weights to your maximum capacity without something in your system to fuel you. I've seen some fitness competitors manage this by doing the cardio on an empty stomach, then eating a little something right in the gym and proceeding on to weight lifting.
For me personally the solution is to eat a full breakfast and wait about an hour before lifting (it takes me that long after I've eaten to get my household in order and myself driven to the gym). I do my weight lifting first, while I am at my freshest and I have the most energy (it's always a priority for me over cardio,anyhow). Then, after my muscles have had a chance to deplete some of the glycogen from the carbs from lifting, I go on to my cardio.
If you are someone who gets an upset stomach if you eat anything before you work out..... well, Duh! Don't eat! :-D
- As a last point, I'd like to express that if you don't do any/all/some of this, please don't think your workout is a waste. The truth is that most, if not all, of this is splitting hairs. The important thing is that you both exercise and eat clean (minimal processed foods). Period. If you are a fitness competitor or model these things can add up to make the difference that gets you the trophy or translates best for the camera lens. For the rest of us, these are good things to know but not necessary rules to live by.
The truth is that for the everyday person, eating clean and training dirty is enough. Your body will thank you!
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