Category Archives: Health
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?
Woo!! T-G-I-F!! This is an especially exciting weekend because my mommy is coming to visit! She arrives Friday evening and staying until we get sick of each other :)
I pre-wrote some of this post, so I’m going to keep the food rambles to a minimum. I just got back from an evening out with the gals from work and it’s waaaay past my bedtime!
Started the day off with my new favourite cardio sesh at the gym. 35 minutes of intervals on the elliptical – 1 minute sprints followed by 2 minutes recovery at varying levels. Then 10 minutes on the rowing machine and 10 minutes on the stepmill. I don’t know why but my heart rate was mega high today!! I maxed out at 179 (91%) which I typically only do in races or really fast training runs – not on the elliptical!
Refuelled at the office with smoked salmon, laughing cow, mustard, capers, onions, sprouts, lettuce on an english muffin.
And an orange :)
Lunch was a beast of a salad.
Tossed in some canola oil + red wine vinegar and topped with leftover Spinach, Ham and Ricotta Pie. The pie tasted awesome cold on top of the salad! Definitely deserves a remake for tomorrow.
Supper involved more ham because I have a huge chunk of it in my fridge I need to get through! For some reason my mind has been drifting to ham and cheese oatmeal so I made it for dinner.
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 whole egg, whisked in while cooking
- pinch salt and pepper
- 55g ham, cubed
- 15g old cheddar cheese
Look at those creamy custard oats!!!
Ohmygaaaahhhhthiswasgood. So, so good. I want it for supper again tomorrow too ;)
Now on to more serious matters…
I’ve noticed there are two kinds of food bloggers – those who are losing weight/maintaining a weight loss, and those who are in recovery from an eating disorder.
This has always fascinated me, that two people with seemingly opposite goals can be drawn to the other. While I’m in the former group – a weight loss gal – I know that I have a lot of readers who deal with disordered eating. Conversely, I read a lot of blogs written by those who are in ED recovery.
The obvious similarity is that our problems are problems with food. We eat too much, not enough, obsess over it, control it, and think about it all the time. But it has always gone beyond that for me. The things those struggling with ED write about often hit very close to home with me. While I have dealt with a few food issues, I have never dove deep into disordered eating. Any of my old struggles with food stemmed from a lack of knowledge, nothing deeper than that.
So why do I always read these blogs nodding my head in agreement? I know what it’s like to hate my body. I know what it’s like to find comfort in treating it badly.
I think this is something a lot of people can relate to, not just those who’ve suffered from an eating disorder.
In my REAL story, I say “I went to a deep and dark place, and for a brief moment, myself and my family had genuine concern I wasn’t going to come out.”
At this time in my life, I was suffering from serious anxiety and depression. I found comfort in my depression. I would wake up every morning, and instead of dragging myself through another day, I would cozy up to the awful feelings inside and stay in bed. I would often pull the covers over my head, wishing it was a hole I could just crawl into and lavish in my depressive thoughts forever. There were many mornings where I would collapse on the kitchen floor, crying hysterically to my mother who just wanted me to get up and go to school. I liked where I was in my miserable depressive state, and I stubbornly did not want to venture out.
I also found comfort in treating my body badly. I liked being reckless with it. I found an odd comfort in puffing back cigarettes, knowing they were slowly killing me. Yes, I ingested drugs, again liking how I felt when I was weak and helpless to their effects. I didn’t like myself, so why would I want to take the time to treat my body well? If anything, I wanted to punish my body.
This has been weighing heavily on my mind as I’ve been reading from a lot of bloggers recently about how they found comfort in their eating disorders. It just sounds so much like how I felt about my depression and body during my own darkest days.
So how did I get out of it? It was quite simple actually. My parents brought me to a psychologist who sat me down and told me straight up that I was responsible for my own depression and I was the only person who could get myself out of it. I don’t know what happened, but a light bulb went off in that moment. I realized I didn’t have to find comfort in my depression anymore, but I had the power and ability to crawl out of the hole I dug for myself. Only me. Just one decision.
The body-love took a lot longer to get the hang of. I don’t think that really clicked for me until I decided to lose the extra weight for good. I think part of the reason I was overweight for so long is because I didn’t love my body. During my weight loss process though, I woke up every day with a new confidence in my own skin. It wasn’t because I was getting skinnier, but I was getting skinnier because I respected my body enough to not treat it badly anymore.
So that is my story. My two take-home points are – only you can change your thoughts and state of well being, and your number-one relationship needs to be the one you have with yourself. Love your body, mind and spirit.
Question of the Day: What’s one thing you love about your body? One thing you love about your personality? I love my long, lean legs. I’m pushing 5’7” and most of that height is in my legs! I also love my simple personality. I’m a to-the-point kind of person. No drama, no extra fluff. Just plain and simple :)