Blog Archives

Hittin’ the HIIT

Soooo…guess what? I forgot my camera at work today. I didn’t have many food pictures to begin with – but I always like including my yummiest eats in my posts! Ah well, you will just have to wait until tomorrow to see the awesome breakfast I had (I know, you’re holding your breath, aren’t you :P)

Anyways I do have a lil’ somethin’ I want to discuss tonight. It’s called interval training. Namely, cardio intervals.

I love interval training. Especially in the wintertime when I’m stuck on boring gym equipment. I especially love doing something people fondly refer to as HIIT – high intensity interval training. This is doing what I like to call “sprints” or just a burst of high intensity cardio, followed by a period of recovery, and repeated several times. Because it’s high intensity, it shouldn’t be drawn out for too long.So it’s a perfect way to get sweaty and breathless in a short period of time. You can do it on things like treadmills, ellipticals, rowing machines, stair machines, stationary bikes, or basically any machine you can get your hands (or feet) on.

First and foremost, you need some sort of continuous training base before attempting interval training. You should be accustomed to exertion, because well, you’re going to exert yourself!

Interval training is based on a work-to-rest ratio. What ratio this is depends on your fitness level. Some people are fine with 1:1, some require a little more rest in-between like 1:3. I personally like 1:2, particularly one minute of work followed by two minutes of rest. I don’t recommend recommend doing your high intensity intervals longer than two minutes as it’s hard for your body to provide proper fuel after that length.

However, even short bursts of 10 seconds work, followed by 30 seconds rest is perfectly doable. This could be something like jumping jacks, followed by marching in place for recovery. These shorter bursts can also be done in “sets” with an easier recovery in between. (Hmm, sound like weight lifting to anyone else? Hint hint ;) )

Proper relief between intervals is important so your body has time to replenish its ATP stores, otherwise it will rely on lactic acid (ie ow). Relief also clears the lactic acid in your system and helps its ability to handle it.

But what is this ATP I speak of? ATP is a chemical compound which stands for adenosine triphosphate. More importantly, when food is broken down, the energy it releases is captured by this compound to power your body’s cellular needs. Basically, if you want to perform an activity, you need ATP. 

 

The easiest way to monitor your intensity is by heart rate. I have a Polar F11 heart rate monitor to do this. Today for example, I peaked at 183 bpm during my treadmill intervals. This is damn high for me, and I knew I was challenging my cardiovascular system. But I also like to keep an eye on it to make sure it lowers enough during my periods of recovery. A lot of people have the tendency to work too hard during their rest interval. Mine will often dip down to 140 bpm during recovery, but it’s all up to the individual.

If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, the RPE scale is a pretty good measure. It stands for rate of perceived exertion. In order to not make this post a novel, go read Janetha’s amazing post on the RPE scale to get an idea of how it works.

Intervals also lead to something called EPOC, aka excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This is when your body continues to take in oxygen after exercise is finished. This doesn’t happen as much in steady-state cardio because there is faster recovery, which means less of an oxygen deficit. But in anaerobic activity (when the body can’t get oxygen to the muscles in time to produce ATP) there are increases in lactic acid, body temperature and hormone levels. Depending on the intensity and duration of exercise, it can take up to 24 hours to return to normal oxygen levels. This is commonly referred to the “after burn” in weight lifting – when your body continues to burn calories at an increased rate for a certain amount of time after you workout is finished.

On top of the sweet after-burn, interval training will also increase your speed and endurance. You will train your heart and muscles to endure high levels of intensity, making it feel easier the next time you do it.

Okay, so let’s recap all the awesome things about high intensity interval training:

  • It’s short and efficient. You can challenge your ticker and burn calories in a shorter period of time than with lower intensity cardio.
  • It breaks up the monotony. You’re always changing it up so it keeps you interested.
  • Mentally, it’s easier to talk yourself into, knowing you’ll get a period of rest between each interval.
  • EPOC. Depending on what you do, you can burn calories at a higher rate for a certain period even after you leave the gym.
  • It will build your endurance, training your body how to handle higher exercise intensities.

A few things to remember:

  • You should only to anaerobic training 2-3 times a week.
  • Remember to warm-up and cool-down for at least 5 minutes. An improper warm-up will use up your body’s ATP stores so you don’t have access to adequate stores during your actual workout. It’s also important to get your heart rate back to normal during your cool-down, as well as flush out the lactic acid in your muscles.

Any questions of the day for me to answer? How about you? What’s your favourite interval workout?

Fatty February

As I mentioned yesterday, it is one of my goals for this month to get more fat in my diet. You would think that the amount of nut butter I eat would be enough. But it’s not. In fact, some days, I get around only 20g, which in my opinion is too low.

Part of this is because I buy a lot of low-calorie foods, which in turn are low-fat. Dairy and lean meats are good examples of this. Another reason is that I just gravitate towards foods that aren’t fatty. Lunch everyday for me is typically a tuna or turkey pita with a side of raw veggies or fruit. It’s what I usually crave, and the thought of a high-fat meals don’t really appeal to me.

Most importantly though, the number one reason why I don’t eat a lot of fat is because I have a digestive intolerance to it. Foods like avocadoes, olive oil and butter make my stomach literally churn. Guacamole will have me keeled over for hours in pain. The idea of an oil fondue is like pure torture to me.

As a result of this, my skin, fingernails and hair are in awful shape. My nails are brittle, grow slowly, and often chip and peel apart. My skin is actually cause for concern. It is not only dry and flaky, but my shins and forearms now have rashes and scabs from scratching it unconsciously. It’s gotten to the point where I’m embarrassed to wear shorts to the gym, and will probably have to see a dermatologist.

As we all know by now, fat is actually good for you. Studies are now showing that even the uproar over saturated fat may have been a bit premature. Trans fat is really the only thing I do not eat. Ever. There’s also monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, and the coveted omega 3’s, with the frowned upon omega 6’s. At this point, I don’t really care what monopolyomega fat it is, I just need any fat I can get!

When I started increasing my protein intake waybackwhen, I did it by making sure I got a protein in every single meal and snack. If I missed one, then I would make sure I made up for it the next time I ate. This frame of thinking got me from eating 70g of protein a day to 130g of protein a day, and now I don’t even have to think about it, it’s second nature. It’s this line of thinking that I’m going to apply to fats as well. With each meal and snack I’m going to ask myself “where is the fat in this meal?”

So, what will I be using as fats?

Salmon.

Oh, sorry, this is a food blog, right.

Better? :P I love salmon, why I don’t eat more of it, I don’t know.

In the same vein, I’ll also be eating more sardines.


Bonus: the bones have lots of calcium!

Butter.


I’ll admit, I grease my pans with Pam. While butter does give me tummy pains, a light coating when I cook up protein pancakes should be fine. And um, make them more delicious!

Cooking Oils.

 
This is the one that scares me the most as my tummy pains are often directly linked to olive oil. But like butter, I’m going to experiment with using just small amounts of olive oil, as well as sesame oil, canola oil, safflower oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, etc. Well, okay, maybe just one or two of those. Cooking oils are expensive!!

Flax seeds.

I can pretty much throw a tablespoon of flax in anything and not even know it’s there! Helloooo omega 3.

Nuts.

 
I’m a volume eater, so a small handful of nuts never sounds as good as a big bag of fresh veggies to me. But, while dense, nuts are also incredibly filling and an easy grab-and-go snack for work. I’d also like to include more nuts in my dishes, like adding some roasted pecans to my veggies, or topping salads with sliced almonds.

Nut butter.

This is the most obvious, and my current main source of fat. It’s that big dollop of nut butter on my oatmeal that keeps me going all morning!

Whole eggs.

Yolks are your friend :) Also, Vitamin D is very important this time of year!

Tofu.

Did you know tofu is high in fat? It’s a new discovery for me – and a good one! Bonus: this is high in calcium too ;)

Cheese.

   

Not that low-fat crap. But the real, full-flavoured good stuff. I’m licking my lips at the thought of the above brie.

Olives.

Another ingredient that I can add to things to enhance flavour. I’m already sticking them in all my salads!

Avocado.

Maybe. This is another food that is directly linked to digestive issues for me. But I can eat the small amounts in sushi, so maybe a slice here and there won’t hurt.

 

So how did I do with my fat intake today??

Well first I had to work up the appetite! :P

Hit up the gym for a treadmill and weight lifting sesh.

Treadmill

Minutes Speed – MPH Incline
0-5 3.5 0.0
5-6 5.5 0.0
6-7 6.0 0.0
7-8 6.5 0.0
8-9 7.0 0.0
9-10 5.5 0.5
10-11 6.0 0.5
11-12 6.5 0.5
12-13 7.0 0.5
13-14 5.5 1.0
14-15 6.0 1.0
15-16 6.5 1.0
16-17 7.0 1.0
17-18 5.5 1.5
18-19 6.0 1.5
19-20 6.5 1.5
20-21 7.0 1.5
21-22 5.5 2.0
22-23 6.0 2.0
23-24 6.5 2.0
24-25 7.0 2.0

 

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Romanian deadlift to row 50 lbs 8-12 3

 

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Reverse lunge with forward reach 15 lbs ea 8-12 2
Dumbbell shoulder press  15 lbs ea 8-12 2

 

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Incline pushup bw 8-12 3
Wide-grip lat pulldown  55 lbs 8-12 3

 

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Bulgarian split squat 15 lbs 8-12 2
YTWL  7.5 lbs ea 5 ea letter 2

 

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Barbell 21’s 20 lbs 21 3
Cable Pushdown 30 lbs 8-12 3

 

Another awesome weight workout! I kinda made this one up as I went along too. I gotta thank Janetha for the Barbell 21’s. It reminded me a lot of what we do in Body Pump. Curls kill my forearms and wrist though.

Then it was off to work where I enjoyed a fatty breakfast ;)

IMG_3510

A big piece of April’s low carb sweet bread with some peanut butter and Crofter’s superfruit spread sandwiched in between. Mega tasty!  

My fatty lunch featured a smoked salmon sandwich.

IMG_3508

With laughing cow, mustard, capers, sprouts and romaine. Baby carrots and sugar snap peas for extra munchables on the side.

Dinner came in two courses, because I was starving! While I waited for the main course to bake, I threw together a garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

IMG_3516

Those are pickles on top btw ;) Normally I come home starving and that’s when a lot of the major munching damage is done. But having a small salad while dinner cooks curbs that immediate hunger and gets some veggies in me :)

Oooh, and the main course was worth waiting for!

IMG_3520 
Mollie Katzen’s Spinach Ricotta Pie from the Moosewood Cookbook. Except I skipped the crust and de-vegetarianized it by adding ham.

IMG_3522
Yum! This will make for some excellent leftovers.

After dinner I did something I haven’t in a while – I went to yoga! Specifically, Body Flow at my gym. The times they offer it aren’t always the best for my sometimes wacky work schedule. But it was well worth the trip tonight. This release has some good tunes, and the twisting song is full of my favourite mix of warriors :)

After yoga, I decided to continue the relaxation with Deb’s hot chocolate smoothie.

IMG_3534 
This time I added 1/4 tsp each guar and xanthan gum as well a 1 1/2 cups hot water, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tbsp splenda. The extra gums made it so much thicker! Check out this consistency!

IMG_3541

It was amazing.

Total fat for the day: 67g! Heck yes!

 

Now that we have the appetizing food out of the way, I’m going to share some “before” pics of my awful, awful skin. If anyone out there can diagnose it for me, please feel free! I’m prone to stress-induced eczema, so I’m hoping this is related to it and can easily be fixed. Here’s the worst part, my legs:

IMG_3530

My forearms:

IMG_3532

And my hands:

IMG_3549

You can see my lifting calluses under my fingers! I forgot to take a picture of my nails, but they’re really embarrassing too. Being a guitar and piano player, I’ve always kept them short and ignored.

Hopefully increasing my fat intake will help some of my skin issues among many other things. Fat is also quite satiating for me, so I’m interested to see how it affects my hunger levels!

 

Question of the Day: Will you be participating in Fatty February with Emily and I? What are some of your favourite ways to incorporate fat into your diet?

Survivor

Love that so many of you plan on doing races! I will say though, I do agree that training for one can add unneeded stress and pressure. That’s the main reason why I don’t plan on doing another triathlon this year. I’m happy I did one, but I spent way to much physical and mental energy stressing about it. The goal for this year is to participate in a few events and have fun doing it :D

Onward!

Hit up the gym before work today Had an excellent weight lifting sesh, totally making up for the lacklustre one I had on my birthday. Can’t win ‘em all I guess! Here’s what I did:

Treadmill

Minutes Speed – MPH Incline
0-5 3.5 0.0
5-6 5.5 0.0
6-7 6.0 0.0
7-8 6.5 0.0
8-9 7.0 0.0
9-10 5.5 0.5
10-11 6.0 0.5
11-12 6.5 0.5
12-13 7.0 0.5
13-14 5.5 1.0
14-15 6.0 1.0
15-16 6.5 1.0
16-17 7.0 1.0
17-18 5.5 1.5
18-19 6.0 1.5
19-20 6.5 1.5
20-21 7.0 1.5
21-22 5.5 2.0
22-23 6.0 2.0
23-24 6.5 2.0
24-25 7.0 2.0

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Front squat push-press 30 lbs 12 3
Wide-grip lat pulldown 55 lbs 8 3

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Step-up 50 lbs 10 3
Seated cable row 55 lbs 8 3

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Lying medicine ball throw 13 lbs 15 3
Russian twist 13 lbs 30 3

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Medicine ball pullover with stability ball 13 lbs 15 3
Swiss ball crunch 13 lbs 15 3


Elliptical

Minutes Level Effort
0-1 8 2/10
1-3 10 5/10
3-4 19 9/10
4-6 10 5/10
6-7 19 9/10
7-9 10 5/10
9-10 19 9/10
10-12 10 5/10
12-13 19 9/10
13-15 10 2/10

Phew! My heart was pumping during this one! This was also my first time doing the lying medicine ball throw. Definitely felt it in my triceps, loved it. A fun departure from my usual dumbbells :)

Went straight to work after and dug into my packed breakfast.

IMG_3299

Overnight oats!

  • 2/3 cup yogurt
  • 40g package of instant oats
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla whey powder
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • raisins

Holy moly this was thick.

IMG_3304
I’ve dabbled in overnight oats a few times, and I must say, I still don’t care for it. I’m not the biggest fan of cold breakfasts to begin with, and this is just always unsatisfying for me. If I’m eating oatmeal cold, I want it in cookie form please :)

I also had to dig into my snack a little early…

IMG_3301

Granny smith and two squares of cheddah. Apples and cheese, almost as good as apples n’ PB ;)

Then for lunch, my co-workers took me out for a belated b-day meal!! We had planned on going to a local Greek spot, but it was closed due to “equipment failure.” So we instead went to a place called Yoo China Curry House, which I’ve been to once before. I got some chicken thing with a side of some cauliflower and potato thing. And some basmati rice. It was tasty treat, and a nice change from our regular lunch routine :)

I had to work again tonight, so I came home for a quick meal in-between.

IMG_3309

Leftover turkey mini meatloaf! I always like to save a few servings of everything I make and put it in the freezer. Perfect for weeks like this one where I don’t have the time to do a lot of cooking.

IMG_3312
My veggie side was butternut squash fries. I had this exact same combo the other day, it was so good I had to have it again. This was a particularly good batch of b-nut squash fries. My oven must have been in a good mood today :)

For my evening snack I decided to mix two things I love: protein powder + applesauce.


With the addition of cinnamon + peanut butter of course. Surprisingly, this was just alright! But I’m not crazy about the vanilla protein powder I have right now. I bought Whey Gourmet vanilla sweetened with stevia, and it tastes “off.” Stevia has the tendency to do that…

So, much of my job is writing content for the university’s website. This includes going to campus events and doing postings on them. Tonight I went to a lecture featuring a Holocaust survivor. My. God. It was inspirational, heart wrenching, moving, almost inexplicable.

This man was taken to a death camp with his family when he was 12 years old. The very same day he arrived, his parents and twin sister were killed. He somehow lucked out and was taken to a work camp instead.

For the four years that followed, he escaped death time and time again. Made friends with the right people, then lost friends at the same time. The man subsisted on almost nothing for food, including a few days where he drank nothing but water and sugar.

It got me thinking about how humans are built to survive more than we can even fathom. I constantly cross paths with people who go through seemingly impossible ordeals, and still come out alive. I’ve watched best friends and family members go through hardships, who to this day still can’t explain how they got through to the other side. They just “survived.”

This Holocaust survivor saw and lived things I will never understand. But at the same time, it gives me hope that no matter what life throws at me, I can get through it, and I will live to tell the tale. We may not think we can get through something, but we absolutely can. Because we are so much stronger than we think.

So no question of the day today my friends. Just a few thoughts for the day :) See ya tomorrow!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 485 other followers