Being Adaptable

This week has been a bit of a crazy one with limited access to go to the gym. And I know, I know. Excuses. But I’m sorry, if I’m working until 7 most nights and then have to go to a work event AFTER that and barely have time to scarf dinner I actually don’t have time for the gym. There are some times when we are just making excuses, and there are some times when we legitimately don’t have the time. So what to do on those occasions?

My plan of attack involves 3 things:

  1. Get the diet spot on so the extra cardio won’t go amiss and ruin your weight loss efforts
  2. Try to get in some at home exercises when you can, even a couple sit ups is better than nothing.
  3. The few times you can get to the gym, do more body parts.

That last one is key for me. Normally, I split my weeks into a pull day (back and bi’s), a push day (chest, shoulders and tri’s), a heavy leg day and a plyo leg day with maybe some yoga done in there and cardio on most of those days.

Well that only works if I’m in the gym at least 4 days a week!

This week will probably be more like 2 times. Knowing this, yesterday I decided the normal split would not cover me, so I did a full upper body workout plus a pretty intense interval session. Today I plan on doing a leg workout that incorporates some heavy moves and some plyo ones so all my bases are covered.

Doing a full upper body workout can actually be nice. You work each muscle fewer times so you can go a little heavier/harder in each set than you might otherwise. I usually switch between a push movement and a pull movement each exercise so the alternate muscle group has a chance to recover. Yesterday’s workout was awesome… here’s what I did.

Cardio

30 minute interval run – I warm up for 2 minutes, then do 4 minute intervals increasing the speed from 4 mph to between 7-9 mph depending on the intensity I want. I do 5 of the 4 minute intervals, bringing me to minute 22 and then walk for 2-3 minutes and end with a tabata at 10 mph. By the end I’m usually drenched and feeling pretty good about myself!

Devil-angel2jpgFull Upper Body

Exercise Sets Reps Weight
Lat pull down 3 12 85/100/100
Bench press 3 12/10/6 95/105/115
Bent over row 3 12 70/80/80
Bench dips 3 15 Body weight
Lateral raises 3 12 15 lb dumbbells
EZ-bar curls 3 12/10/8 40/50/50
       

Since I did cardio first I was already pretty tired for the workout, but I must have pushed hard anyways because my whole upper body is definitely sore today.

Advertisements

All or nothing?

Yesterday in the gym I met a lovely lady who was doing what looked like a very fun, but very hard workout with a trainer. We were stretching near each other (always stretch after workouts please) and we got to chatting a bit. She mentioned that when it comes to dieting and exercise she has an “all or nothing” attitude. Now that sounds familiar!

I don’t know about you but I have definitely applied that attitude in the past, and as recently as a few weeks ago when I tried the sugar detox. While that style of diet can work for a short time, for a specified goal… health is so much more than that. Health is a lifestyle, and all or nothing does not work for life.

Let me walk you through what happens to me, and from what I’ve heard, happens to most people too.

Step 1: You decide you need to change and you set a goal. “I need to lose 10 pounds” for example.

Step 2: You set a timeline. “I will start next week” or maybe if you are ambitious “I will start tomorrow”

Step 3: You start to plan… this entails setting rules, limitations, regimes, measurements, and the dreaded restrictions!

Step 4: you freak the hell out because you can no longer have foods that you rarely eat anyways and your days will be occupied with cardio and weights so you eat a bag of popcorn, a mug of hot chocolate, and a bowl or 3 of ice cream and sit on the couch until 4am watching the entire third season of big bang theory because you can’t sleep from all the sugar.

Step 5: You may or may not start you diet and be successful but you have introduced a bunch of sugar right beforehand that you will now crave and will make the diet all the harder.

Sound familiar?

Well I’ve tried that approach, I’m not a fan. You know what I am a fan of? Things that work long-term. And yes I fall off the wagon, but it’s about a lifetime of fitness.

So what works for me?

Well I find the exercise part of fitness pretty easy. I like exercise, it makes me feel happy and accomplished. So I start there. I start with what I find easiest and most enjoyable. I get that on track and some things come with it.

The PWO meal

The PWO meal

Once I start exercising I like to get my nutrition timing in check. I hate feeling like I’m not getting the most out of a gruelling workout so I make sure that (depending on my goal) I have a simple carb (like fruit) and a protein shake with extra glutamine right after a workout. I might even include some BCAAs during the workout.

Then I might do some more cardio to go with my workouts because it helps me warm up the muscles and get a better stretch.

And if I’m putting in the effort to do cardio there is NO WAY I am going to waste that effort by eating a bunch of ice cream right after.

Omelette of 1 egg, 1/2 c. egg whites, 1 slice proscuitto, 1 oz. goat cheese, wilted spinach and fresh tomatoes

Omelette of 1 egg, 1/2 c. egg whites, 1 slice prosciutto, 1 oz. goat cheese, wilted spinach and fresh tomatoes

Slowly but surely the pieces fall into place and I have it together. My healthy lifestyle is back on track. My mornings get filled with beautiful omelettes, my sugar intake gets slashed and my protein intake goes way up.

Hello health… I missed you.Do you guys have this problem? What are your strategies for tackling the all of nothing approach?

Morning Workouts FTW!

So that last post was supposed to be posted last night, here is the one that is actually meant for today… enjoy!

I am now a little less than 7 weeks from my competition and starting to freak out because my weight is not dropping as fast as I had hoped… that and it’s my birthday this weekend and I want to be able to enjoy it. So the next 5 days have to be perfect. In my humble opinion, the key to perfection is planning. This week I will be in the gym every day either doing cardio or weights and I will be eating within my calorie range every day with at least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass per day.

These are variations of Jamie Eason’s Protein Bars using spelt and gluten free flours.

So how does one manage this when your company throws you on a job out in Mississauga last minute with no gym in sight? One might stay up until midnight on a Sunday after being at the cottage and cook 12 mini turkey meatloaf muffins along with 18 protein muffins with a plan to make pre baked breakfast frittata’s in muffin tins and a whack load of chicken breasts for salads tonight. My kitchen was a mess and will be again! But I now have a week’s worth of healthy meals that will save me time in the mornings so I can get to the gym.

That is step 2 of the plan. Go to the gym in the mornings! I failed this morning due to the midnight baking marathon, and will therefore have to go tonight after braving the traffic in Mississauga. I did this all last winter, so I know I have it in me. A key ingredient in this is having made coffee the night before and refrigerating it so that you can chug it on the way to the gym without burning your mouth.  Mmmm iced coffee.

There is something terribly rewarding about morning workouts. You can all call me crazy if you want to, but knowing that I have already done more most people will do all day before they have even woken up makes me feel like a champ. Sometimes a grumpy champ as my boyfriend can attest to, but that solves itself about 30 minutes into the workout when I am feeling like superwoman. Seriously… give it a try. Better yet, convince your friend to meet you at the gym, that way you can’t bail! Knowing you will be letting someone else down if you don’t get up will make sure those comfy covers don’t get the best of you.

If you can’t force a friend into waking up at the crack of dawn with you, here are some tips to make sure that you follow through with your plan:

  1. Tell people – This may be the point of this post, if I put this out in the ether I will feel mighty silly if I don’t get up and go tomorrow morning. Same thing applies for you, tell someone you know you will talk to the next day that you planned an early morning sweat session, and when they ask how it when make sure you can honestly say… awesome!
  2. Pre-prep – Prepare your workout clothes, work outfit, breakfast, lunch, work bag, whatever you need, the night before. If you only have to brush your teeth, out on the cloths that you have already laid out and scarf some breakfast (please eat btw), it will seem much less difficult to achieve.
  3. Write it down – this can be as little as writing in your calendar that you will go to the gym at 7am, or as much as writing out a specific timeline from alarm going off to leaving the house. Writing things down has a way of making them more real and more permanent.
  4. Be positive – instead of thinking about how awful leaving your warm blankets will be, think instead about how amazing you will feel after you actually achieve your first morning workout, or for in my case, I like to think about those little endorphins that will be crashing through my system making me feel oh so happy.

Whatever it takes to get you out of bed, it can be done! Trust me though, if you are a bus person, morning workouts are the way to go. If you leave your workouts for after work so much can get in the way: you might have to stay late, friends might want to catch a movie, you realize you have no food and need to go grocery shopping (this happens to me frequently). What is going to happen in the morning? NOTHING! Work isn’t going to unexpectedly call you in early, mornings are routine and routine is exactly what you need in order to stick to a workout plan.

Morning workouts for the win!

Cottage Life

Friday I was feeling pretty under the weather (day 6 of this seemingly never ending cold) and didn’t end up writing my blog, so I’ll write one with a couple topics in it today to make up for it. It’s a rainy day up here at the cottage, so why not?

Topic 1: Training while travelling

Frequently I (and I’m sure many of you) am travelling and not around a gym. While most of the time this is for short stints and might be a welcome break from the gym, it can sometimes really interfere with a training schedule.

I have been pushing my workouts pretty hard throughout my sickness, which is something that I wouldn’t normally, in order to keep on track for my competition in October. This has left me pretty drained most days. On Friday, I had planned to do a chest and abs day in the gym as I knew I wouldn’t have access to any fitness equipment over the weekend. My body was completely drained however and that did not happen, so Saturday has come and I need to keep on going.

Thankfully, Chest and Abs are 2 easy muscle groups to work without equipment. Here is the workout I did:

Chest/triceps circuit – repeat 3 times

  1. Wide pushups x 15
  2. Bench tricep dips (between 2 chairs) x 12
  3. Normal width decline push ups (feet on a chair) x 12
  4. Side to side push ups (see here for a demonstration) x 10

Abs Circuits – repeat 3 times

  1. In and outs (like a jack knife but knees bent) x 15
  2. Oblique sit ups (knees to the side) x 10 each side
  3. Frog sit ups (knees out to side and feet together) x 15
  4. Wide scissor kicks x 20

    My brother opening up his birthday present shortly after my workout.

I did this workout while my 10 (soon to be 11) year old brother and friend were running around and over top of me. Both of them are pretty rambunctious kids so it was pretty quick with little set up aside from positioning the chairs and putting down a blanket. I was sweating by the end and my abs and arms were definitely pumped. Not the hardest workout I’ve ever designed, but definitely accomplished what I needed to.

I always recommend going to the gym over working out at home because there are no distractions at the gym. I also find when I am in the gym atmosphere I naturally push a little harder. I have so many more options available to me that if I feel like something isn’t hard enough or working the right part of the muscle; I can use a different weight or piece of equipment. But a workout regardless of intensity is always better than no workout. So if you find yourself stuck without a gym and you want to do a workout, then think of ways to mimic the movements you would have done in the gym without equipment. Use your bodyweight to challenge yourself in new ways. There are lots of different bodyweight exercises available online. One of my favourite resources is bodybuilding.com.

Topic 2: leg workouts and the dreaded DOMS

DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is that lovely sensation that your muscles have turned to jelly and are super sensitive to any movement or touch after an intense workout. It’s “delayed” because it doesn’t happen right away. The peak time for DOMS is 48 hours after a workout. DOMS can happen to any part of the body, but I have always found legs to be the worst.

Unfortunately this stops a lot of people from coming back to the gym after the first few times. People beginning a new workout plan are particularly susceptible to DOMS and if you can’t workout for 4 days it can be pretty hard to stick to a regime you have set yourself, but there are ways to avoid or lessen DOMS.

  1. Go easy. If you are starting a new regime after being inactive for anything longer than 2 weeks, go easy. I think we all have a habit of thinking “ok, I’m back in the gym. I have to make up for lost time and really give it my all”. Of course then you end up not able to walk for 4 days and that leads to more lost time. You have to ease into a new workout plan. Start with lighter weights than you might normally use, do higher repetitions and fewer sets. Your body will thank you for giving it a breaking in period. It should only take about 2 weeks before your body starts to remember what this is all about… or discovers it for the first time!
  2. Do similar exercises for a few weeks in a row. You may have heard of muscle confusion; that is the special ingredient for really getting results, but it also results in increased DOMS because you are constantly doing something different to your muscles and they don’t know how to deal with it. So if you aren’t looking for drastic results you can slow it down a little. Only change your exercises up every 3-4 weeks when your body has fully adjusted and is no longer getting the most out of the regime. You will experience way fewer days of DOMS and only have it come back when you switch training methods.
  3. Take active rest. As painful as it may be, going for a reasonably light, long walk will really benefit your muscles and help you recover faster. When you get the muscles moving they are getting more oxygen and blood flow and this in turn helps eliminate the lactic acid build up that is causing so much pain. Don’t do anything too strenuous, just get the blood flowing and you will feel much better, I promise.
  4. Pay attention to nutrient timing.Your body needs fuel for your workout before you start and help to repair itself after. This is a complex topic that I’ll probably end up writing a lengthy post about later, but generally:
    • Eat simple carbs that are easy to digest before a workout (banana and other fruit work well) 
    • Eat protein after a workout to give your body the building blocks it needs to repair the muscle you have just broken down. I like protein shakes. My current shake of choice is BioX Xtreme Power Whey Complex in Rocky Road. It tastes like hot chocolate that has gone cold.

      Yum!

    • Optional: you can also eat some simple carbs like fruits after a workout especially if it was very difficult to help your body use to protein better, but if you are trying to lose weight, just the protein is enough. If you are trying to build muscle, definitely eat some fruit after.
  1. Supplement. If you are doing all the other things and still getting DOMS or you want to be able to push yourself that much harder, there a few supplements that can help.
    • Fish oils – Omega 3’s help your body more efficiently repair itself and can really help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation
    • BCCAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) – There is some interesting science behind these, but I won’t get into that here. These help limit the amount of muscle your body breaks down for energy during workouts and therefore saves a lot of your muscle. It should be taken throughout the length of your workout.
    • Glutamine – This is an amino acid that your body can produce, but if you are working out hard, it usually can’t keep up. So mixing some extra glutamine or just a plain protein shake can help to replenish your body’s stores and it can use this to help rebuild your muscles.

I hope that can spare some of you a little pain.

Hello my busy friends!

Hi all!

Being new to the blogosphere I will let you know a little bit about who I am and why I am starting this blog.

First off – ME: I am in my mid twenties and live a very busy life. I work for a professional accounting firm which means I sometimes work 14 hour days (mostly in the winter months) and I am rarely working in the same spot for more than a few weeks. I have a passion for fitness and health which directly conflicts with my absolute obsession with good food. Like most women, I have had many ups and downs with my body image and my health, and in recent years I’m starting to find balance in all areas of my life. My family, friends and boyfriend are always there for me, support me and are generally the most important things in my life. You can read more about my journey up to this blog here The Whole Story, but for now, let’s explain what this blog is all about!

Having a crazy work schedule, trying to keep family and friends a priority and still remain fit is a struggle! BUT it is doable. I have seen many blogs, websites, articles, you name it, about how to get in shape and stay that way. While all these things have great advice (ok, not all, not even most) they don’t really seem to fit into a life that requires you to sit in a desk chair for 10+ hours a day. Through the years I have pulled together lots of different tidbits of information and seem to be making it work. Sometimes I fall off the wagon, but overall I live a healthy and balanced life, even with the crazy work hours. So I thought I would share how you can fit it all in when you are constantly On The Go!