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Monday, March 24, 2008

HealthQuest2008: March - Walking ain't just for gettin' places

Victoria's Secret has announced an exciting new shoe that actually helps you get in shape -- get this -- just by walking around!

That's right, all you do is slip on the FitFlop, and you will automatically burn calories and get firmer legs just by walking. This is the miracle product we've all been waiting for!

Wait... what's that? Walking burns calories and tones muscles regardless of the shoe you're wearing or whether you're even wearing shoes at all? Even shoes that recreate the gait of barefoot walking?

You don't say...

So, just to be clear, I don't have to buy the FitFlop in order for walking to benefit my body? Man, that was close, I was just about ready to put down $49.95 for these babies.

Well, since the FitFlop plan has fallen through, I'll have to stick with my original plan of stepping up the number of days I go to the gym each week. For HealthQuest in March I've added another day at the gym to my week, but my yoga class ended, so I'm still only doing three days a week of exercise total. That's all going to change starting this week, however, as I am going to add a fourth day at the gym to my regimen. The plan now will be to go to the Fieldhouse Mondays-Thursdays after work. Eventually, I'd like to add a fifth day, and that's where I'll stop. I think exercising 5/7 days is optimal. I'll probably add a little yoga to my weekend as well, so effectively, I'll be getting some exercise every day.

I'm having a much easier time with the exercising bit than I ever imagined I would, based on past experience of not being able to stick with the gym. This time, I actually really enjoy going to the gym, and I'm looking forward to continuing to improve my muscle tone, strength, and endurance.

The eating part is kicking my ass though. Whereas I was 6 pounds down after the death flu last month, I'm pretty sure I've gained all that back. I don't seem to be making much progress on the fat burning front. Clearly the problem is all the Easter candy. That will run out soon enough, and Ian has strict instructions to ration out my remaining Cadbury's Cream Eggs so I don't go hog wild on them, so hopefully the sugar addiction will abate soon. But I'm still not very disciplined with controlling what and how much I eat.

I was discussing this with Ian last night, and it occurred to me that it may have a lot to do with the attitude of plenty. Here's what I mean: When I was poor (making about $300 per month, and paying half of that for rent), I would pay very close attention to how much money I spent on groceries, and I would try to make sure I ate all my food before it rotted and had to be tossed out. But I would still allow myself certain indulgences. For instance, I would buy a package of ELFudge cookies, and I'd allow myself about one a day, so the package would pretty much last all month. And let me tell you, I really appreciated each cookie more that way.

My control wasn't so much discipline as it was knowing that if I ate the cookies all at once, I couldn't afford to buy more for quite awhile. So I respected all my food more.

Now that I'm richer, I know that I can have as much as I want, because I don't have the same financial constraints. Want to eat the whole box of powdered sugar jelly filled Hostess donuts in one go? Sure, go ahead! If you want more later, you can get more later. Obviously this is a destructive mindset.

So Ian suggested a tactic of artificially creating that financial constraint by putting most of my money from each paycheck in savings. I think it's a fine idea. For one thing, I'm trying to save money for a potential move next year, and for the day when my '91 Buick Park Ave decides to finally bite the dust. So increasing my percentage of monthly savings would help me two-fold.

And then maybe I would appreciate the food I put into my body more, and think more carefully about my choices.

I will apply this strategy for April and see how it goes.

Finally, I've heard a lot of people say that they simply can't break a sweat on the bikes at the gym, and I've been next to plenty of people carrying on completely un-winded conversations while biking. So, I'd like to tell everyone who feels like exercise bikes aren't real exercise that YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG, AND THAT'S WHY IT ISN'T WORKING FOR YOU!

Steps for correctly using the bikes:

(1) Find your Base.
To do this, get on the bike (and obviously adjust the seat height so your legs are mostly extended when the pedal is compressed), put the bike in manual mode, press start, and start pedaling. Slowing increase the resistance level on the bike until you get to the point where you just barely have to expend a little effort to get the pedals to revolve. You want to feel like you are in control of the rotation, and inertia isn't playing much role. It should still be pretty easy to pedal. Note this resistance level: it is your base. My base is 10, but this number probably depends on the type of bike you are using. Your base is the easiest resistance level that your bike will be on during your routine.

(2) Exercise!
You can either keep the bike in manual mode, but then you will have to control your exercise by manually increasing the resistance and employing various types of routines yourself, or you can pick a program -- the better choice for a beginner. The programs are usually categorized as Fat-Burning, Strength, and Endurance. Once you select one, press start, and then manually bring the resistance level up to your base. This step is key. The computer automatically raises the resistance during the program relative to your base number. If you don't bring the resistance up to your correct base, then the computer will assume your base is 1 (or 0, depending on the bike) and your routine will be too easy for you, and that is why you will not break a sweat or lose your breath or get your heart to beat any faster than it does when that hot gym guy gets on the treadmill in front of you.

There you go, exercise biking 101.

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Loralee Choate said...

In bootcamp we always have to lunge or leapfrog or skip (or whatever stupid-looking torture they think up for the day) past the spin room and OMG those people are some serious workout FIENDS.

I couldn't do it.

I got on a spin bike once and felt like I was being raped.


Sra said...

Yes, the first few weeks of spinning do rather rape you. You get sore in all the wrong places. But after awhile, you kind of get addicted to it.

natabird said...

I attend one of those spin classes at my gym twice a week. It is killer. Biking is definately a good workout and I agree with you... Anyone who says otherwise is doing it wrong.

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