Saturday, February 28, 2009

Do You Validate?

A little validation goes a long way. I can definitely see the results of the high intensity style workouts that I have been doing on the scale and pants/dress sizes, but sometimes a little outside reinforcement makes me feel that I'm not alone. Recently I spent my airplane/airport time reading some fitness magazines. Here are some articles that may make you think I'm not so crazy after all:

From Shape (March 2009)

Win the fight against ab fat
In a recent University of Virginia study, women who regularly did high-intensity workouts (where they were breathing hard) had significantly less belly flab at the end of a four-month period than exercisers who always worked at an easier level--even though both groups burned the same number of calories. Pushing it may increase production of hormones that help burn fat postexercise--and ab flab may be very susceptible to this effect. Try sprint intervals, walking at a steep incline, or both.


From Women's Health (January/February 2009)

Bulletproof your body
One of the top 10 workout trends of 2008, according to the American Council on Exercise, was "functional fitness"-training by doing movements that mimic activities typically done outside of the gym. This is good news, because too many women still follow the old bodybuilder model of training, isolating individual muscles with moves like bicep curls or tricep kickbacks. They may make you look good when you stand still and flex for the mirror, but those narrow-minded moves don't help you bend and twist in ways that are actually useful. Think about it: How often do you bench-press your groceries? In reality, lugging produce recruits muscles from all over your body--legs, back, shoulders--and you need to train them to work together.

So...common sense rears it's head!

But there's more....

Also from Women's Health (January/February 2009)

Banish belly fat!
The average woman's waist circumference has been growing for 15 years and now hovers at a dangerous 37 inches. Belly fat does more than make those Rock & Republics impossible to snap. Because it's linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, excess belly fat can wreck your health. Get there: Do speed intervals. A study from Canada found that exercisers who did 30-minute workouts that include short, hard efforts lost three times as much fat in 15 weeks as their peers who performed steady-paced, easier workouts for 45 minutes. "Technically, you burn more fat as fuel during low-intensity exercise," explains researcher Jason Talanian, PhD., "But you become a better fat burner overall (even when resting) by raising your fitness ceiling, which you do by going fast." Specifically, Talanian found that interval training increases your fat cells' fat-frying ability by up to 50%.

And finally...

From Shape (March 2009)
Female boxers don't just have abs of steel--their bones are superstrong too, according to a study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. Researchers found that women who box have a significantly higher bone mineral density (BMD) than those who do other types of exercise, such as running, biking and walking. BMD is an indicator of the amount of calcium in your bones, and the more you have (you guessed it), the stronger your skeleton is. The boxers' workout programs included plyometrics, jumping rope, and shadow boxing--all high-intensity, weight-bearing activities that have been shown to increase BMD, say researchers.

Still think I'm crazy to have you jump rope and step/jump up on the steps in the FLC? I know that I've been telling you that intensity matters, now you know that there's research to back me up.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Workout for Saturday, February 28

You say Tabata...

In the past few weeks we've done Tabata sit ups and squats, and we did a push up ladder. Today, we're going to combine push ups, sit ups and squats in one nice 12 minute Tabata.

Tabata Push ups, Sit ups, and Squats

Push ups for 8 intervals (20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest), then sit ups for 8 intervals, then squats for 8 intervals, moving from one to the next with only the 10 second rest. For your scoring, keep track of your TOTAL push ups, your TOTAL sit ups, and your TOTAL squats.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Workout for Friday, February 27

For time:

100 jumping jacks
10 sit ups
80 jumping jacks
20 sit ups
60 jumping jacks
30 sit ups
40 jumping jacks
40 sit ups
20 jumping jacks
50 sit ups

Use an Abmat or pillow for lower back support on the sit ups. Have someone hold your feet and get after it!

Push Up Challenge


Okay, so the push up challenge is to do 3000 push ups in the month of March. This averages about 100 per day. You need to try to do the hardest level of push up (from the toes, knees, countertop or wall) you are capable of doing with proper form. You can break these up throughout the day, just try to get 100 in each day--making up is very hard to do! (I know--I did this last year and had a couple of 300 push up days at the end!!!)

I can tell you that your push ups should be pretty solid by the end of the month. You can post your progress in the comments section...2900 to go, and so on.

We've been doing this now for nearly 3 weeks. How do you feel? Are you seeing any improvement in strength? Do you feel any less sore from the squats, etc? At the end of 4 weeks we will repeat the workouts from this past month. I'm excited to see your progress!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Workout for Wednesday, February 25

For our class, we'll do a team medicine ball clean workout.

If you are on your own...

Tabata Squats

Remember Tabata? That is 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest for 8 intervals. Count your squats for each interval. Your score is the LOWEST number of squats in any of the 8 intervals.

Fat Tuesday/Ash Wednesday

For many years now, David and I have adopted the tradition of "giving up" something for Lent. Of course we want to make our small sacrifice in order to remember the ultimate sacrifice our Lord made on the cross, but we also see this as an opportunity to have some discipline in our lives.

This year for Lent I have decided to give up grains and sugar. Specifically, I consider grains any type of wheat, pasta or rice type food and I consider sugar to be the refined, dessert type food--not fruit. This will be a difficult 40+ days. I did give up grains last year and I have it only rarely still. But sugar--that will be a true test of will power.

You all probably know that the gym I go to is a CrossFit affiliate. What you may not know is that there is a competition each year called the CrossFit Games. This is an event where "CrossFitters" from all over the country (and world, for that matter) come together to compete. The event was so large last year that they decided to divide the country into regions and hold regional competitions, determining the top athletes from each region, and bringing them to the CrossFit Games.

In an insane moment of weakness, I signed up for the regional event, which will be held on May 2-3 in Fort Worth. I am nearly certain that I will be the oldest female in the competition. There are NO age brackets. You compete against all women (or men). My goal--not to finish LAST! I will be competing against women 1/2 my age and even less, many of whom have been college athletes and life-long fitness fanatics.

Aside from the usual hard work at workouts, one of the things I CAN do to positively affect my performance is my diet. It is very difficult for me to make this type of diet sacrifice.

If you would like to get a glimpse of the type of punishing event the CrossFit Games is, go to this website and surf around a bit. There are great video clips of some of the top athletes from last year. (Beware: there is often colorful language!)

I think you will be amazed at what the human body is capable of! I know that I am astounded everyday. People overcome so many difficulties. For me, it was just getting over laziness. Physical activity is HARD! Eating right is HARD! Laziness is EASY! But that laziness was not leading me to happiness.

What are some of the difficulties YOU will have to work through to achieve your goals? Take some time to reflect on this. Then watch this video of another CrossFitter.

Any excuses now?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Workout for Tuesday, February 24

50 burpees for time

Watch the video if you have forgotten how to do these. There are other videos of "less perfect" burpees on the page with the video I have linked. These look more like real people burpees. You can do the push up portion from your knees.

Workout for Monday, February 23

4x400m sprint
Rest as needed between sprints

Tabata sit ups

We'll run around the church block, which is close to 400m.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vacation Workouts

One of the things I like best about the type of workouts that we've been doing is how "portable" they are. Most hotels have some sort of fitness room. I usually try to check it out online before I arrive. At the very least, there are usually some treadmills and dumbbells. I do a walk-through when I get to the fitness room and try to come up with some sort of workout. Today I ran a mile on the treadmill, then did the dumbbell/squat workout from the 20th. Total time: less than 20 minutes.

I've done other workouts with running, situps, pushups, kettlebells, swimming, squats, lunges, etc. You can come up with an infinite number of combinations and rep. schemes. Just get creative! One time we were in a hotel with no fitness room. I did 400 walking lunges up and down the halls of the hotel. excuses when you are on the road!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Workout for Saturday, February 21

4 rounds for time:

25 push ups
25 sit ups
25 squats
25 walking lunges
25 good mornings

Do the hardest level of push ups that you can for as long as you can before switching (from toes, knees, countertop or wall.)

Let me know how it goes!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Workout for Friday, February 20

Dumbbell push presses and squats

Use 5, 10, or 15 lb. dumbbells and do 50 push presses*, 50 air squats, 40 push presses, 40 air squats, etc. for time.
Carefully choose your dumbbell weight. You want this to be a challenge, but this IS 150 total push presses.
*Push presses--See video. Feet shoulder distance apart, dumbbells on shoulders, then dip slightly at the knees and straighten knees as you push the weight above your head. Keep body weight in the heels and fully extend the arms above head.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Want some sugar?

Well, just have a soft drink! I think you will be amazed by the amount of sugar that is in a bottle of regular soft drinks. Keep this in mind when you or your kids are drinking one!

Okay, so you only drink diet soft drinks. Before you start thinking you're doing the right thing...


Even more disturbing is a study this year in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation. After tracking the health of more than 6,000 middle-aged adults, researchers found that those who drank one or more soft drinks – whether diet or regular – had an increased risk for metabolic syndrome compared with those who didn’t drink as many. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, including high blood pressure, too much fat around the middle, and low levels of good cholesterol.

The soft drink industry primarily uses aspartame (brand name NutraSweet) in its diet drinks. Diet Rite is the biggest selling non-aspartame diet soda brand. It uses a combination of sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

How could these non-nutritive sweeteners possibly be associated with weight gain and the metabolic syndrome? The authors of the Circulation study led by Ravi Dhingra, MD, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, think that the high level of sweetness “may lead to conditioning for a greater preference for intake of sweetened items.”That’s controversial. But an even more disturbing mechanism that the authors propose is that, “The caramel content of both regular and diet drinks may be a potential source of advanced glycation end products, which may promote insulin resistance and can be proinflammatory.”

The trouble with diet drinks is that they are "tricking" your body with the sweetness. Even though the sweet is sugar free, it still creates a growing wish for sweet things in your body. This is particularly unfortunate news for me, a heavy diet soft drink abuser.

So, just like the plain, old fashioned exercises I am having you do--we need to go back to drinking plain, old fashioned water.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Workout for Wednesday, February 18

Dumbbell Push Press 3-3-3-3-3
PVC Overhead Squat and Burpees--21-15-9 for time

We'll work on the technique for deadlifts, cleans, push press, and squats. Then we'll do dumbbell push press, working to maximum weight, 5 sets of 3 each. Last we'll do overhead squats with PVC pipe and burpees. We'll do 21 overhead squats, 21 burpees. 15 overhead squats, 15 burpees. 9 overhead squats, 9 burpees. For time.

You can see a video of burpees to the right. Takes your breath away! Whew. Many athletes call them "up/downs".

Monday, February 16, 2009

Workout for Tuesday, February 17

Workout for today:

Push up ladder

With a stopwatch (or clock with a second hand), do 1 pushup in the first minute, 2 pushups in the second minute, 3 pushups in the third minute, etc. until you cannot do all the pushups within that minute. Push ups need to be ALL in one style (from the toes, knees, counter top or wall). If you start on your toes--do all of them that way.

So, if you get to the minute with 8 pushups and you cannot get all 8 completed within that are finished. Record what round of pushups you were able to COMPLETE. I know that the first 3 minutes go by SO slowly. Believe me--you won't think the minutes go by slowly at about the 5 minute mark!

Many of you have told me that you feel you are lacking in upper body strength. The good old pushup is one thing we'll do to improve that. In fact--I am going to give you a pushup challenge in March--3000 to be exact. I hope you will consider taking up this challenge, starting on March 1. The challenge amounts to approximately 100 pushups each day. You will be AMAZED at what this will do for you! Let me know if you are in...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Workout for Monday, February 16

At our class on Monday, we are going to work on several lifting movements. We'll practice deadlifts, cleans, presses, and squats. After learning these movements, we will do the following workout:

5 rounds (not for time)

5 dumbbell deadlifts
5 dumbbell hang cleans
5 dumbbell push presses
5 dumbbell squats

We'll start with very light (or no) weight and work up.

Our FCC warm up each class time will be:
  • 1 minute jumprope (or 1 minute step ups, or 1 minute jumping jacks)
  • 15 overhead squats
  • 15 sit ups
  • 15 push ups
  • 15 dips
  • L-sits (accumulate 20-25 seconds)
As soon as you come in to class, you can get started on the warm up. Any of the warm up that you are unfamiliar with, we will be going over when you arrive.


I would be very surprised if you have done the exercises this week and have not gotten sore. Muscle soreness is just part of the deal. As I told you before, I have been doing this for close to 2 years and I am still sore nearly every day. Honestly, the most sore I ever get is from the 400m walking lunge that we did yesterday. That never fails to get me.

Anyway, for those who are interested in reading about muscle pain and soreness, I got the following from, written by Elizabeth Quinn:

What Causes Muscle Pain and Muscle Soreness After Exercise - What is DOMS?
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) describes a phenomenon of muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness that is felt 12-48 hours after exercise, particularly at the beginning of a new an exercise program, after a change in sports activities, or after a dramatic increase in the duration or intensity of exercise.
This muscle pain is a normal response to unusual exertion and is part of an adaptation process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover and build hypertrophy). Delayed onset muscle soreness is thought to be a result of microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers. The amount of tearing (and soreness) depends on how hard and how long you exercise and what type of exercise you do. Any movement you aren't used to can lead to DOMS, but eccentric muscle contractions (movements that cause muscle to forcefully contract while it lengthens) seem to cause the most soreness.
Examples of eccentric muscle contractions include going down stairs, running downhill, lowering weights and the downward motion of squats and push-ups. In addition to small muscle tears there can be associated swelling in a muscle which may contribute to soreness.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness - Treatment--

There is no one simple way to treat delayed onset muscle soreness. In fact, there has been an ongoing debate about both the cause and treatment of DOMS. In the past, gentle stretching was one of the recommended ways to reduce exercise related muscle soreness, but a study by Australian researchers published in 2007 found that stretching is not effective in avoiding muscle soreness.
So does anything work to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness? Nothing is proven effective, but some people have found the following advice helpful, but it's best for an individual to try a few things to see what works for them. Ultimately, best advice for treating DOMS is to prevent it in the first place.

Here are some tips for dealing with soreness after exercise:
--Wait. Soreness will go away in 3 to 7 days with no special treatment.
--Try an Ice Bath or Contrast Water Bath. Although no clear evidence proves they are effective, many pro athletes use them and claim they work to reduce soreness.
--Use active recovery techniques. This strategy does have some support in the research. Perform some easy low-impact aerobic exercise to increase blood flow. This may help diminish muscle soreness.
--Use the RICE method of treating injuries.
--Although research doesn't find gentle stretching reduces soreness, some people find it simply feels good.
--Gently massage the affected muscles. Some research has found that massage was effective in alleviating DOMS by approximately 30% and reducing swelling, but it had no effects on muscle function.
--Try using a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (aspirin or ibuprofen) to reduce the soreness temporarily, though they won't actually speed healing.
--There is some evidence that performing Yoga may reduce DOMS.
--Avoid any vigorous activity that increases pain.
--Allow the soreness to subside thoroughly before performing any vigorous exercise.
--Don't forget to warm up completely before your next exercise session. There is some research that supports that a warm-up performed immediately prior to unaccustomed eccentric exercise produces small reductions in delayed-onset muscle soreness (but cool-down performed after exercise does not).
** If your pain persists longer than about 7 days or increases despite these measures, consult your physician.
--Learn something from the experience! Use prevention first.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day Workout

Happy Valentine's Day!

The workout for today is:

400 meter walking lunge for time--counting your steps

For me, 400 meters takes about 400 lunges. Use that as your guide if you don't have a good 1/4 mile route, or if you need to do it inside. Okay, so that is a lot of lunges. Just go until you are so wobbly that you can't go any further. This is very hard and you will definitely feel it over the next couple of days on your backside. Do it anyway. If you can't do 400, fine--do less. One of these days you will do them all.

As for form, please watch the video. It was really slow uploading for me. You can do a YouTube search on walking lunges and probably find a good video. Just make sure that the knee of your front leg stays over your heel. The knee of your trailing leg should almost touch the ground. Also, DO NOT put your hands on your thighs and lean into the lunges. You can put your hands on your waist, or leave them loosely on your sides.

This will take a long time. The fastest people can do this in about 12 or 13 minutes. I would say that typically it should be around 25 minutes.

There won't be any homework listed for Sunday the 15th. Enjoy the day off!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Workout for Friday, February 13

Just a reminder that we WILL be having our 12:30-1:30 class on Monday even though school is out that day. We will have babysitting available.

13 x 13 on the 13th

For time:

13 squats
13 good mornings
13 sit ups
13 push ups
13 jumping jacks
13 squats
13 good mornings
13 sit ups
13 push ups
13 jumping jacks
13 squats
13 good mornings
13 sit ups

I have posted a demonstration video of how to do a good morning to the right. Do this with no weight and with your hands clasped behind your neck (elbows out). Do the push ups from toes if possible, or from the knees, counter top or wall.

Good Luck!

Protein--You need it!

Take a break today! Or, if you aren't too sore, do one of the workouts from the last 2 days.

I've had some questions about food/nutrition in the last few days. I thought I would give you a couple of easy tips. First of all, I truly believe in the Zone diet and keeping a good ratio of proteins, carbs, and fats (about 40% carb, 30% protein, 30% fat). I know from experience that I just feel better if I keep close to this ratio. Do I cheat? YES! I did big time yesterday with a piece of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. It was delicious! But I feel I can indulge every now and then as long as I stay in check the rest of the time.

The biggest problem I have is getting enough protein in a day. I love meat, so I never thought that would be a problem, but it seems to be. Most women need to eat about 11 oz. of lean meat (or similar protein source) a day. The thing about protein is that it helps keep you full. Back in my trying-to-diet-but-failing-miserably days, I would have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and then for dinner I would eat what came down to my ONLY real protein source for the day. I was so hungry! Why? Carbs! I was essentially on a carb diet. Low calorie, yes. But certainly not balanced. Now I find that if I eat about 3 oz. of protein or more at every meal I am satisfied for much longer. Same with fat. Don't think of fat as the enemy! Try to have some GOOD fat with every meal--you will be much more satisfied.

One of my FAVORITE snacks is:

  • 2 pieces of string cheese (2% mozzarella)
  • 1 apple
  • 10 almonds (or a little peanut butter--2-3 tsp.)

The idea is to BALANCE your meals. So, if you are going to eat some type of carb, be sure to balance it with some kind of protein and some kind of fat. I love to drink a glass of wine (or 2!) Wine is a carb source. Whenever I drink wine, I have gotten in the habit of eating a few nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans) as my fat source and some cheese as my protein source.

Try not to just get a salad for lunch. Get a salad with chicken or some other meat on it. Or, get a side salad and a burger. Don't eat the bun though!

Speaking of burgers...I eat out a lot. Sometimes it has to be fast food. I usually get a hamburger with everything on it. I'll take off the bun and eat it with a fork. Skip the fries. Some places even offer their burgers wrapped in lettuce.

So, while I'm on my protein eating soapbox, I will give you this great little recipe for BBQ chicken that I got from my friend Kim (who happens to be the wife of my trainer, Jason.)

BBQ Pulled Chicken

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, frozen or fresh
2 bouillon cubes
1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
1 tsp. Onion powder
1 tsp. Cumin
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (more or less to taste)
6 Pepperidge Farms® 100% Whole Wheat hamburger buns
1/2 cup 2% Shredded cheese
Shredded cabbage (optional)

Place chicken breast in slow cooker and add enough water to cover completely. Add spices. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. To serve, remove chicken from liquid and pull apart with two forks until shredded. Mix in 1/4 cup of liquid and BBQ sauce. Divide chicken and cheese evenly between the buns. Place in microwave or broiler to melt cheese. Top with cabbage, if desired. Serve with a steamed vegetable and side salad.

I will tell you that for my family, this is not enough BBQ sauce. They usually add some bottled sauce. Personally, I do not eat the bun. It is delicious on its own. I will typically make this on a weekend and then put it in containers to have at lunch during the week.

If you are interested in more nutrition stuff--let me know!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Workout for Wednesday, February 11

Tabata Sit Ups

A tabata is eight 20 second intervals, with 10 seconds of rest in between. sit ups for 20 seconds (counting them), rest for 10 seconds and repeat for a total of 8 times. Your "score" is the lowest number of sit ups in any of the intervals.

I know that I am heavy on the sit ups for the homework this week. I'm doing this because I think your legs are probably a little sore from the squats. Hopefully everyone will be less sore tomorrow and ready to go hard at it again! If you missed the workout from Tuesday, plan to do that on Thursday. I plan to leave Thursdays and Sundays as open days--you can either rest or make up a workout from another day.

Thanks for all the great comments! I know this style of workout probably surprised you by the difficulty--don't worry--all of that will get easier. I will warn you though--I have been doing this for almost 2 years and I am STILL a little sore nearly every day. I love that though-and I bet you will too!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Workout for Tuesday, February 10

As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of:

5 push ups
10 sit ups
15 squats

For the push ups: if you can't do them from your toes, do them from the knees, or counter top, or wall. Try to get full range of motion (chest to the floor.) The push ups will be the hardest part of this workout. See the video link on the right side of this page for correct push up form.

Either put your number of rounds in the comments, or record them someplace at home--we will do this again!

Remember to use good squatting form--watch the video! Roll a towel up or use a pillow for your back on the sit ups.

Keep telling yourself--it's only 10 minutes... was the first day?

For those of you who came to our class was it? Were you surprised? Please comment your thoughts, etc. I would love to hear from you! Especially today, and not tomorrow when you are pretty sore!

So, the workout today was:

30-20-10 Double unders and sit ups
(subs for double unders: 3x single unders or 1x step ups)

I will e-mail those who did this workout in class their time. Enter that on the comments if you want to have it to refer back to in a month or so when we do this one again. I will be very surprised if you don't see an incredible improvement in time.

Did you like the Abmat? I love them--sit ups are really much more comfortable with that little bit of support. I will need to order some more for our class. There is a price break if I order more than 10--is anyone interested? The price with shipping would be $29.50. These would be great to have at home for our homework!

The always clever Trish came up with a better, more interesting name for this blog--"Get Lean with Laura". I'll get that changed when I figure out how to do it!

Sometime later tonight I will post tomorrow's homework. I'll try to remember that you will be sore. For the next week or two, please practice your squats. Try to do 10 at a time, three different times during the day. Build up to doing 50 in a row (but you only have to do this once a day) Yes, I said 50. This may take several weeks to get to. Be sure to use your good squatting form!

Finally, I have added a list in the lower right corner of some items you might want to begin accumulating at home for our homework. The jump ropes are only $4 at Academy. I'll try to have homework with minimal equipment needs at first, and there are always substitutes.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You Do Know Squat!

The very first thing we will be doing during our very first hour of our very first FCC workout class is the air squat. Why? Because it is the most important exercise we will do to keep us healthy and mobile for the rest of our lives, that's why!!! But isn't it bad for our knees? NO! Done properly, it is good for not only your knees, but your hips and back as well. Squatting is how you get in and out of a chair. Squatting is how the majority of the world's population sits. I'm sure squatting is how you sat much of the time when you were a kid---See! You do know squat!

After you learn to properly do the squat, we will be doing them...a lot. Not only is squatting a natural functional movement, but it also helps with the appearance of the backside. I don't know about you, but my rear end was residing on the back of my legs for more years than I want to contemplate. NO MORE! And that is because of the squat.

I have put a link to a video on the right side of this blog--watch it! This will give you valuable information on how to perform the air squat. We'll work on this in our FCC exercise group. I know you will become as proud as I am of saying "I do know squat!"

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What's Up?

Sit-UPS, Push-UPS, and Pull-UPS--that's what's up! Sounds old-fashioned and boring, huh? Never fear--I don't think these will fall into your 4-letter word category anymore.

These exercises have been around for years, and for good reason. They are effective and they require little or no equipment. You can do them anywhere. Sit-ups are a great developer of ab and hip flexor strength. We'll be using an Abmat, which to me is like a little sit-up miracle.

Push-ups, while difficult to perform, have great benefits. Serious health and fitness enthusiasts believe it to be the most effective exercise for increasing overall body fitness.Pushups offer the advantages of stretching, weight lifting, as well as cardio vascular exercise all in one exercise. Apart from increasing upper body strength, a push up workout program also develops abdominal and hip stability. This leads to a more balanced upper and lower body as well as good shoulder, trunk and hip movements. (

That brings me to pull-ups. Pull-ups force you to lift your own body-weight. They are the best strength training exercises you can do for upper-body strength. Unfortunately they are hard. Very hard. And, unfortunately for us at the FCC exercise class, we do not have access to a pull-up bar. I believe pull-ups to be so beneficial that I am going to try to come up with a solution to our lack-of-pull-up-bar problem. We'll see.

I can't wait until Monday when you too will get excited about What's UP!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why Weight?

If you are a woman, you probably want long, lean, sculpted and toned muscles, right? I know that is what I wanted. I had a huge fear of getting, well...huge. I have learned that I can't get huge. Almost no woman can without some chemical assistance. We just don't have the testosterone necessary to do this.

Mark Rippetoe, well known in power lifting circles, has this to say:

With that in mind, and counter to the conventional industry wisdom, here are some more unfortunate truths:
-Your muscles cannot get "longer" without some rather radical orthopedic surgery.
-Muscles don’t get leaner—you do.
-There is no such thing as "firming and toning." There is only stronger and weaker.
-The vast majority of women cannot get large, masculine muscles from barbell training. If it were that easy, I would have them.
-Women who do look like men have taken some rather drastic steps in that direction that have little to do with their exercise program.
-Women who claim to be afraid to train hard because they "always bulk up too much" are often already pretty bulky, or "skinny fat" (thin but weak and deconditioned) and have found another excuse to continue life sitting on their butts.
-Only people willing to work to the point of discomfort on a regular basis using effective means to produce that discomfort will actually look like they have been other-than-comfortable most of the time.
-You can thank the muscle magazines for these persistent misconceptions, along with the natural tendency of all normal humans to seek reasons to avoid hard physical exertion.

I think my favorite line is about working to the point of discomfort on a regular basis. I mean really, what is the point of working out or exercising if you are not going to work hard enough to be uncomfortable?

Why would a woman want to BUILD (or grow) muscle? If your muscles don't grow, they won't look any better or different than they currently do. So, why not use really low weights and lots of reps? Well, by doing that you would be building the endurance of your muscles, but your muscles wouldn't grow. Your muscles won't grow unless you use challenging weights.

Other than improving physical appearance, is there any reason for weight training? Yes.

From the book, "The New Rules of Lifting for Women", by Lou Schuler:

Consider this: In a study of elderly women who were disabled to varying degrees, researchers for the U.S. National Institute on Aging found that those with the least strength were twice as likely to die from heart disease as the strongest. The researchers on that study, published in 2003, used hand-grip strength as a measure of total strength.
A University of Pittsburgh study published in 2006 looked at an additional measure of strength-testing the quadriceps (the muscles on the front of your thighs)-and found a similar effect. The weakest women had 1.65 times the risk of death from any cause, compared to the strongest.

So, at our FCC exercise class, we'll be using some challenging weights--and you'll love it!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In the Beginning...

There was food. Wait, that's not how it goes. Unfortunately, that is pretty much how it goes in my life. Food. Gotta have it. For most of my many years I have dieted. I've done Nutri-System, Jenny Craig (twice), Weight Watchers (twice), Adkins, Fat Flush, South Beach, Low Fat, Low Calorie, The Grapefruit Diet, and I'm sure others that I cannot remember at the moment. I have lost weight doing ALL of these diets. Every one of them. I've also gained it all back, plus some, every time. So, that brings me back to--

In The Beginning...

When I began my exercise journey nearly two years ago, I had no intention of messing with my diet/nutrition. Thank you very much, but no thank you. I wanted nothing more than to exercise my way to weight loss and to merely attempt to moderate my eating. After all, I am a veteran of all the above mentioned diets and know how to eat, right? Well, not so much...but here is what really happened:

I went to CrossFit OKC for personal training with the owner/trainer (Jason) twice a week. I asked him to send "homework" home with me to do in between. I was becoming afraid that I was going to get weaker and less able to do ordinary things much too early in life. I worked at it...hard. Progress was made. I even began losing a little weight. I started going to regular class time workouts after a few months and then began going to the gym about 4-5 days a week. After 6 months, I looked and felt much better, but progress was tapering. I began following the Zone Diet (Barry Sears) and that changed EVERYTHING. I think I lost about 15 pounds in about 3 months. And, it was really easy. Now I have taken it a step further and I loosely follow the Paleo Diet (Loren Cordain.)

So, why do these diets work better? First of all, they are SIMPLE. Not EASY, but simple. Simple as in you eat meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. That is about it. Hard because you don't eat bread, grains, cereal, sugar, and for hard-core Paleo followers-no cheese or milk. The more I stay away from grains and sugar, the better I feel. And by that I mean that I feel better in EVERY way. Less tired, more alert, clearer thinking, etc. I can do workouts better. Plus, I look better. I eat almost no grains anymore. If I do, I immediately notice that I am bloated. It is as if it is an allergic reaction. And...maybe it is.

Yes, I have read most of the Paleo and Zone books, and I have read an infinite number of articles about them online. I know there is scientific data to support their views, but personally, I have no interest in getting bogged down in the chemistry and science. All I know is that it seems to work, and it seems to work for everyone I know who has seriously tried it.

For what it is worth, here is my suggestion to anyone willing to take my advice. Try it. Drop the grains for a while. Just eat meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts for a few days. Eat like a cavewoman! Or, try the Zone Diet--there is a little latitude with the Zone on eating grains. My friend Christi has a great blog with her Zone recipes and meal plans. Check it out!

What do you think? Are you ready to give it a try