Weekly Training Blog

muay_thai Hello all, I want to begin by apologizing for the serious lack of posts. I’m back on track and you can expect regular posts again.

In my entire life thus far, I really only have one true regret. My one regret is that I didn’t play football in high school. This may seem a bit silly but it’s true. The reason for this is that I have always been a very good athlete and never truly had an outlet to showcase that athleticism. Ironically, my reason for not playing was that I didn’t want to wake up early and now I wake up at 5am most mornings.
     Since high school I have obviously embarked on a career in fitness and genuinely love what I do but I have always felt like something was lacking. As it turned out, what was lacking has been something which would push my body to it’s physical limits.
     In the past 6 months, I have gone through major changes in my life and I made the decision to finally make an attempt at reaching my physical potential. I made the decision to train and compete in Muay Thai which is a form of kickboxing that originated in Thailand. I have had a Muay Thai trainer for the past 3 years but have not trained at a very serious level. I love it and I decided that this would be the perfect outlet for me. Even though I have some experence, I begin training seriously in September and for all intents and purposes, my approach will be as if I was starting from scratch. Every week I will be posting updates chronicling my progress up to my first taste of competition.

That’s all for now, check in next week as I will be posting what my pre- training workouts have been like. Thanks for reading.

Ask the Trainer: Is walking enough?

Question: Hi, I am a 54 year old woman. In the past few years I have gained some extra weight and have recently begun a walking program. Do you believe that walking is enough for someone in my situation?

Answer: As with many of these questions, there is not a  clear cut answer. Much of the answer lies in what your goals and capabilities are. In general, I absolutely recommend walking. From an activity and a psychological perspective, walking is great. For many of us, our surroundings are made for us to be lazy. We tend to lead very sedentary lives and walking is an activity that gets lost on many people. For many people, a 2-3 mile walk is a daunting task and it is much easier to take a cab, train, car or bus instead of the walk. So, I would definitely recommend anybody increase the amount of walking they do. It keeps you active, moving and also has psychological benefits. Making the decision to walk , either as an alternative to other modes of transportation or just as an activity, usually carries over to other things. You may find yourself taking stairs more often, preparing your own meals, getting up to change channels and choosing other, more active alternatives throughout the day.

Things get a little more cloudy when it comes to walking as a means of achieving results. Walking can be great for someone who is rehabbing an leg injury. It can also be good for an otherwise very sedentary adult with health problems. As great as walking can be, if weight loss is your goal, it may not be the most effective means of achieving that goal. A combination of a healthy diet and exercise are the components needed to lose weight. If the weight loss goal is small (3-10lbs) then the diet in combination with walking may be enough. For a weight loss goal of more than 10lbs, walking is not likely to be enough exercise. On average, walking will burn approximately 150-250 calories per hour. This may not be enough for someone looking to lose a significant amount of weight when compared to other forms of exercise:

Activity                                            calories/ hour

Running (moderate)                    530-630

Running (heavy)                        800-1200

Cycling (moderate)                    450-600

Weight lifting (moderate)       200-400

In addition to burning more calories, more intense exercise will increase the metabolism in a way that you are burning more calories, post exercise for up to 2 hours after the workout. More intense exercise is also important for the heart and developing the cardiovascular system and walking will likely not help in this area unless the person is severely deconditioned.

When it comes to using walking as a form of exercise, we get a mixed bag. While there are definitely benefits to increasing the amount of walking you do, it’s not a replacement for vigorous exercise especially if there is a specific weight loss goal.

Please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading.

Illustration of why it’s better to lose 1-2 pounds a week

Last week, I wrote about the importance of losing weight slowly and consistently versus a rapid weight loss program. This week, I am going to give an example of what frequently happens when someone loses weight too fast versus someone who does it at a consistent clip.

As I mentioned before, the body is only capable of losing 1-2 pounds of fat per week so any more than that comes from lean body weight which is weight that we don’t want to lose. For this example, we are going to take a person who is 200 pounds and 30% body fat. This means that the person has 140 pounds of lean body weight and 60 pounds of fat. I am going to go through two separate scenarios with this person to show my point.

Scenario 1- This person decides to go on a crash diet or a very low calorie diet. This person could very easily lose 30 pounds over the span of 5 weeks. If we average this weight loss out to 5 pounds a week, then in a best case scenario, this person would have lost 8 pounds of fat and 22 pounds of lean weight.  What results is that this person is actually less healthy at 170 pounds than he was at 200 pounds because his body fat percentage is still 30% and he has lost 22 pounds of valuable lean weight. What makes this example even worse is what happens next. 95% of the time a crash diet will fail within 6 weeks and the person puts back on all of the weight that was lost. In this case, if this person puts back on 30 pounds, he won’t put on 22 pounds of lean weight and only 8 pounds of fat. The likely outcome will be the reverse and he’ll put on 20 pounds of fat weight and 10 pounds of lean weight. The result will be that this person will be back to 200 pounds but with a body fat of 36%. He will have gone from 60 pounds of fat weight up to 72 pounds of fat weight because of the crash diet.

Scenario 2- The same person follows a program which includes a balanced and healthy diet with strength training. If the person is focused on losing 1-2 pounds a week the after 6 weeks, this person will only have lost 10  pounds but it will all be fat weight. After 6 weeks, this person would be 190 lbs but his body fat percentage would have dropped down to 26%. Another 6 weeks and 10 pounds of fat later, his body fat would have dropped to 22% and finally another 6 weeks and 10 pounds later and his body fat would have dropped to 17%.

As you can see, scenario 1 lost 30 pounds in 5 weeks but paid for the rapid weight loss by losing mostly lean weight. He also had the added negative  benefit of gaining back mostly fat. Scenario 2 took 18 weeks to lose 30 pounds, almost 4 times as long but this person was able to lose 12 percent body fat and 30 pounds of fat in that time.

Feel free to comment or ask questions. Any involvement would be greatly appreciated.

Weekly Exercise Journal 3

Diet: This weeks goal was to build back some structure to my diet. Due to my hectic schedule, I’m constantly eating on the go which is a waste of money and way too many calories. This week was about going back to basics for me. I made a trip to trader Joe’s and got a ton of food. I prepared ground turkey, chicken breasts as well as sliced steak. I also got tons of fruits and healthy snacks. I’m making sure to have something to eat every 3-4 hours and for me I’m munching on whatever is in my refridgerator. I’ve been able to keep to it this week.

Exercise:The focus this week was to include some cardio. I was happy with the frequency last week but strength training is not enough. My goal this week was simple, one 1.5 mile run.

Results:

Weight- 175 (-3)

Bodyfat- 9.4 (0)

Journal: I absolutely hate running, it’s the bane of my existence. It must be a combination of thngs for me. First of all, I have asthma so I get short of breath quickly but that’s not a real excuse as I have no problem playing basketball for hours or sparring for 5 rounds. Second is after about 5 minutes of running, my body starts to itch sometimes violently. I’ve read articles about this being a medical condition but sometimes I think that it’s my mind messing with me because of my hatred of running. Finally, running is just boring and I don’t have the attention span to keep it up for an extended period. Even with all of these reasons not to do it, I realize that if I want to lose the weight quickly, I’m going to have to suck it up and run. This week I set a modest goal of 1.5 miles. I decided to do it outside as it was a nice day so I took my ipod, put on a sweatshirt, shorts and went out. About .5 miles into the run, the itching began and I started to feel winded. I was very much inclined to quit right on the spot. A minute later the itching got more intense and I could sense that I was mentally starting to give up. I had reached to proverbial fork in the road, I was either going to quit and likely not run again or I was going to push through and get past this barrier. I decided to put on my favorite song (Rosetta Stoned by Tool) put my head down and made the decision to push through. I made the 1.5 miles and hated every minute of it but in the end I was very proud of that accomplishment. It was a big moment for me to finish that run and I’m more excited than ever about what the future holds for me.

 

Please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading.

Ask the Trainer- “When should I stretch?”

Question: I run regularly and whenever I run in the park, I see people stretching before they run. I’ve heard some people say to stretch before a run and some that say to stretch after. When is it best to stretch?

Answer: It is very common for people to go through a long stretching routine prior to running or any exercise for that matter. Generally it is not advisable to go through an intense static stretching routine before running. Static stretching would be the type in which you move into a position and hold that for a period of time. What happens is that in the short term, the stretch will reduce the contractile efficiency or the power that you can develop in the legs. This can cause a decrease in performance and sometimes lead to injury. The only time it is advisable to perform this kind of stretching before a workout or run would be if you have a muscle that is excessively tight and you would want to stretch only that muscle.

Before a workout or run, you definitely want to warm up the muscles. There are a few methods of doing so, a fast walk, light jog, various jumping exercises, dynamic stretches are all ways to warm up. Generally it’s bets to warm up for 8-10 minutes prior to exercise.

Flexibility is still very important as it reduces the risk or injury and fixes muscle imbalances. I definitely advise stretching but save it for the end of the workout.

Strategies for maintaining healthy eating habits (Part 1 of 2)

As mentioned in a previous post, the majority of diets fail. Diets fail for a wide variety of reasons but there are a few basic reasons why most diets are destined to fail right off the bat. The key to maintaining healthy eating is to change the approach one has to their “diet.”

Why do diets fail?
Of the many reasons why diets fail, I think the biggest comes from our perception of the word “diet.” When people think of that word, they associate it with something temporary, something restrictive, painful and a means to an end (losing weight). These are all negative associations and automatically make the diet likely to fail.
Another reason why diets fail is because they are generally not sustainable. Most diets are so restrictive that a person can only stick to It for a finite period of time. A person may notice significant weight loss from a new diet but once they go off of it, the weight is likely to come back on in equal or greater numbers. The final reason why diets fail is because they are often not specific to the person. Everybody has different habits, lifestyles and physical needs. A diet must take all of these individual needs into account in order to be successful.

How do I approach an effective diet?

In order to have successful diet, one must overcome the obstacles mentioned above. The first thing that we need to do is to change our mindset when it comes to the word “diet.” The word “diet” simply refers to the way we are currently eating. Whether your diet is healthy or unhealthy, the word still applies so there is no need to apply those negative connotations. For a diet to be successful, what is needed is the proper mindset. It needs to be approached as a lifestyle change and not simply a way to lose weight. While weight loss may be a goal, it is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to keep the weight off long term.

A typical crash diet is designed to be used for a finite period of time and generally to lose a significant amount of weight over a short period of time. While these diets can yield good results initially, the person will almost always gain the weight back once they stop the diet. For this reason, a good diet must be sustainable. It needs to be something that the person can stick to for an indefinite period of time. If someone can sustain a healthy diet, they will lose weigh at a steady and consistent pace but more importantly, they will keep the weight off.
The reason why I use the word “strategies” in the title is because it is essential that a person have a strategic approach to their diet. Everybody is different and requires a different approach to structuring their diet. Specificity is very important and we need to take a variety of factors into account. Things like work schedule, availability of food, sleeping habits, religion etc. all may have a potential impact and should be takes into account. If a person can pit together a diet which takes into account their lifestyle, they are more likely to stick with it than if they are simply given a sheet of paper with what they should do.

Please check back next Tuesday for part 2 of this series as I will go into the 4 basic rules and you can start to build the frame of a good diet.

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