Tag Archives: cardio

Cardio? Weight Training? Both!

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I like to remind people, especially the ladies who want to tighten their physiques, that eschewing weights is ignoring a really effective tool in that quest.  Doing lots of cardio without lifting definitely has some health benefits and it’s important for overall fitness but it doesn’t actually sculpt your body.  If you do enough cardio, it makes you look like a smaller version of what you looked like when you started.  Weight training adds the pretty curves and lines that make the critical difference in the overall look of your physique.  Working to be slimmer is a good goal and can be accomplished with a concentration on cardio but lifting to add that beautiful muscle in the right places does wonders for your overall look.

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(photos from Google)

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Running With The Dogs

My huskies are my favorite cardio companions.  They’re always eager to go out for long walks and more recently for kinda-sorta runs.  I can’t truthfully claim that we actually run since I’m pretty sure our pace doesn’t meet the standard but we trot along happily when we get to flat spots in the road on our adventures.  

For the longest time, I’ve had a bit of trouble with the female.  She wants to pull.  When I say pull, I mean she’ll strain against the leash to the point that she’s got the collar pressing on her trachea and she ends up breathing like Darth Vadar.  I figured that couldn’t be comfortable and that she’d learn not to do pull so hard eventually.  I was wrong.  I was talking about the issue with a friend of my older son’s and he told me they had experienced the same thing with their dog but had solved it by getting a harness that goes around the dog’s body and attaches to the leash via a ring at the chest instead of having the leash attached to the collar.  I wasn’t confident it would work since huskies are bred to pull and that’s what they wear on the sled when they pull heavy loads.  It seemed to me that the harness would make it much more comfortable and easy to pull (I envisioned myself flying along behind her like a kite in the wind)  but I decided to give it a try.  

Quelle surprise!  It actually worked!  I’m dumbfounded as to exactly why, since once I got the harness on her, she didn’t even TRY to pull.  It’s not like she gave it a go and got negative feedback.   We walked all over the place and she happily came along like a normal dog.  No straining, or yanking my arm out of the socket.  It was miraculous and wonderful. Little Miss (the black and white pup) is a happy camper and so am I!

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My dogs are always eager for exercise time.   Here they are with their new harnesses. They get so excited while preparing to go out, that keeping them from running in circles and getting tangled up in each other’s leashes is a challenge!

Want To Lean Out? Try This!

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If you’re a bodybuilder/fitness enthusiast and you want to get lean there are a variety of tricks to help you reach your goal. One of the more effective ways I’ve found is to add one minute of jump roping between sets when you’re lifting. When you finish a set, grab the rope and go. You can rest before starting the next set but you should try to make the rest sessions as short as possible. The added bit of cardio will help you lean out fast.

*This doesn’t mean you can forgo your other cardio. It’s just a good way to add a little extra, painless cardio into the mix.

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**If you don’t have a jumprope or you get frustrated because you’re not very good at it and you have to stop and start, you can substitute jumping jacks (the regular sort or the type where you keep your legs together while moving your arms if you find they bother your knees) or simply jump up and down for one minute between sets.

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Huskies – My Anti-Fat Weapon!

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This meme tickles my funny bone.  I especially love the second panel.  The expression on the dog’s face is priceless!  My husky puppies like to eat too.  Feeding time is one of the highlights of the day.  The other highlight is walking time.  I say walking time but it’s really more like “Hurry-up-woman-surely-you-can-go-faster-than-that” time.  They love to get out and about and I oblige them.  They are big contributors to my anti-fat plan.  We march up and down and up and down the hills by my house each day.  They NEVER run out of energy before I do.  They have boundless enthusiasm and it keeps me moving no matter what.  They are two of the best motivators for cardio I’ve ever had!

This puppy never says "no" to a good, long walk!

He never says “no” to a good, long walk!

They love to walk...rain, shine or on one of our trips to play in the mountain snow!

She loves to walk…rain, shine or on one of our trips to play in the mountain snow!  Nope, she’s not cold.  You have to chase her around to get her to take shelter and as soon as you turn your back, she sneaks back out to sit in a snow pile!

It’s A Dog’s Life

 

These pups have energy (and curiosity) to spare!

These pups have energy (and curiosity) to spare!

The puppies are growing fast. They’re happy, healthy and great cardio companions. I knew when we brought them home that they would need a great deal of exercise and I was prepared to see that they got it. It’s been a learning experience for all of us. At first I tried walking them on separate leashes but when one would be trotting forward at a nice pace, the other would veer off to the right, left or even run behind me. We were a funny disaster going down the street. I was sure I was eventually going to trip over one of them and couldn’t figure out what to do to prevent squished puppy. Luckily a friend with more experience advised me to get a Y-leash. It’s been a life saver. I can walk both dogs holding one leash. They like the Y-leash since it keeps them moving in roughly the same direction and therefore they aren’t getting tangled in each other’s leashes anymore.

The Y-leash has been a life saver.  I'm not sure which one of the three  us was most in danger from tangled leashes and tripping events but now we can make it down the street in a much more orderly fashion.  This photo is from this morning.  They seem to grow overnight sometimes!

The Y-leash has been a life saver. I’m not sure which one of the three us was most in danger from tangled leashes and tripping events but now we can make it down the street in a much more orderly fashion. This photo is from this morning. They seem to grow overnight sometimes!

Thankfully, they’re learning better manners when we encounter other dogs on our walks. Their instinct is to bound over to them in a wildly rambunctious fashion. Obviously that’s undesirable since other dogs don’t necessarily want to see them up close and personal, especially since their approach is so energetic. We’ve got that down pretty well. They now wait nicely (most of the time) and are able to walk up to other dogs in a more relaxed manner.

They approach other dogs more quietly and gently these days but they don’t approach other small animals that way at all. They are quite good hunters. So far the body count in the backyard is as follows

ONE MOUSE

TWO RATS – (I never knew we HAD rats in our neighborhood, I had never seen even one but they managed to catch two over the last few weeks. Chasing them to take the rat away from them before they actually eat it is quite the cardio workout.

THREE BIRDS  (a blackbird, a dove and a robin)

They also managed to trap a squirrel in the woodpile and would have eventually gotten it but I heard it screeching and managed to get them out of the area before they could complete the deed. Two days ago they treed a raccoon early in the morning.

Look what I gotz.  Ratz iz good!

Look what I gotz!  Ratz iz good!

We’re having lots of fun over here learning, exploring and exercising together each and every day!

Progress Report

I’ve been giving cardio a little more attention lately since my current goal is to get more cut  for the warmer weather (and fewer clothes) ahead.  I started the process a while ago but then had a little glitch and wasn’t able to concentrate on my workouts.  I was still going to the gym but my schedule wasn’t predictable and in light of what was going on in my life I switched to maintenance and just did what I could when I could.  Thankfully, things have settled down nicely and I picked up my plan to get good and lean.  This is always a balancing act for me since my body prefers skinny over anything else but I want to maintain as much muscle mass as possible AND get those lovely little striations to show.  To this end I have increased my cardio to hour-long sessions 3 times a week with at least one more short one (30 minutes) tacked on somewhere once a week.  I don’t do high intensity cardio sessions, I just do what I call “low and slow.”  I  get my heart rate up but do it at a steady pace over the hour.  These aren’t those crazy sessions that leave you gasping, hunched over (or on your knees) feeling sick. I do it this way since I’ve found over the years that if I’m more intense I’ll lose weight alright but mostly by chewing up my hard-earned muscle.  It’s actually pleasant, listening to my music, thinking about things, sometimes zoning out for a while.

This is a current photo expertly taken in my bathroom mirror yesterday.  I'm a bit more lean than I was in my last progress photo.

This is a current photo expertly taken in my bathroom mirror yesterday. I’m a bit more lean than I was in my last progress photo.

I’ll probably keep up my current routine for a while but add some heavier lifting in a week or so.  The concentration on lower reps with more weight will help keep me from dropping too much muscle during this process.  The human body is incredibly efficient.  It likes to use muscle as fuel but if you’re demanding use of the muscle at the same time you’re increasing your cardio activities, it will tend to hold onto the muscle since it’s being fully utilized.  Instead it will use more of the fat stores for fuel.  That way I get more of what I want…some pretty muscle and less fluff at the same time.

On another note, the area where I do cardio affords me a view of a bank across the parking lot.  Up until yesterday every time I stepped on the elliptical machine I could see the flag at the bank flying at half mast.  As I wrote about in my last post, it’s been that way since the Boston bombings and it drives me crazy.  I decided that  instead of being bothered I should just go over there and see what the problem was and that’s what I did.  Right after I finished my cardio, I hopped off the machine and crossed the parking lot.  I went into the bank and asked to speak to the manager.  She was busy so I had to wait a minute which gave me a chance to look around.  The bank was modern and tidy inside, with two female tellers at the front.  There was only one other customer besides me and he was a young guy wearing long jean shorts (they were practically capris) and a white undershirt with a “Mom” tattoo on his arm.

The manager came out of the back in a few minutes and I told her I was “concerned about her flag.”  I wanted to know why it was at half mast.  She said she had been on vacation for a week and had totally forgotten about it .  I didn’t point out that it was supposed to be back to the top of the pole by April 20th which was a full 11 days before.  She said she’d put it up so I suggested since it wasn’t busy we do it immediately, which we did.

Yay...the flag is back up!  Now I don't have to look at that sad sight out of the gym window each morning.

Yay…the flag is back up! Now I don’t have to look at that sad sight of the flag at half mast out of the gym window each morning.

Wishing you a very happy May and lots of great workouts in the days ahead!

Musings While On The Treadmill

Today I was very diligently doing my extra cardio while listening to songs on my pretty, pink iPod.  I think I was at about 1 hour, 10 minutes (out of a total of 1 hour, 20 minutes) and I looked out of the front window of the gym.  From the cardio area that I was in, I was able to see the many cars in the parking lot and across the way a bank.  The bank has a flagpole, from which a tattered, dirty American flag hangs limp at half mast. It’s been just like that, sadly hanging there since the Boston Marathon attacks.  Every day when I pull in the lot to do my workout I see this same sight.  It inspired me to write an open note to my friends/children/family a couple of days ago and then when I saw the flag, still lowered this morning, I decided to add it here.

To all of you in my circle,

I will die sooner or later and my hope is that when I look back on the life I lived here I can say I did a good job.  I want to be able to feel proud of my efforts and of my contribution while I was here.  There is no telling how or when I’ll be leaving but the recent terrorist bombings in Boston have made me reflect on my preferences if I should meet my maker in any kind of similar circumstance.

If I am killed, do NOT under any circumstance lower the flag for me.  I understand this to be a sign of respect, of mourning and I know why various politicians ordered the lowering of the flag for the people killed in the bomb attack but I find it unconscionable to think that a cowardly terrorist could cause the flag to be lowered on my behalf…..EVER!  If anything, weld an extra segment onto the pole so it flies higher than before.

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If you need to cry, please do so in your bedroom closet.  Your tears are an honest expression and there is a place for them.  It’s not where those who wish us harm can see.  Stand tall and dry-eyed in public.

Do not observe a public moment of silence anywhere, anytime.  Talk louder, talk more.  Talk about freedom, talk about America, talk about our founding principles, talk about human dignity, love, sacrifice and appreciation.

Don’t concern yourself with my funeral.  Politicians are to make no appearances.  Have a party somewhere.  Celebrate life and the opportunities you have to improve and help others while you’re here.

Don’t wring your hands and ask “Why?” over and over.  Evil exists on this Earth.  Some people commit acts against the innocent precisely to fill their “enemies” with fear, to paralyze them, to make them weak, nervous and upset….to grind them down psychologically. They do it because they feel commanded by their faith to dominate and eradicate those who have a different orientation.  They do it to demoralize.  Don’t ask why, know why.  Inform yourself.  Pull up your socks, wipe your nose, take a deep breath and move forward.  Instead of asking why, say “NO!”  Do not allow them to win the battle for your spirit.

I assure you I’m fine, maybe sorry I had to go while there was still so much to be done but perfectly fine.    Perhaps we will run into each other on the flip side.  Until then, be encouraged, hold your head up and stay strong!

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Mean Mr. Mirror

Yesterday, Mean Mr. Mirror told me I was fat.
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No, I don’t look like this yet and perhaps I should be more accurate in my description.  I’ve learned over the years not to say I’m fat out loud where non-gym going people can hear me.  They don’t understand but any other bodybuilder or serious lifter does so automatically.  What I’ve learned to say is that my fat-to-muscle ratio is off.  In other words although I haven’t put a bunch of pounds on, I’m still carrying too much fat on my frame.  Even a very thin person can have a disproportionate amount of fat compared to muscle.  It’s what’s commonly known as being skinny-fat.
     I’m not one to pay an inordinate amount of attention to what a scale says.  I rely on my own eyes and when the normal muscle definition I have starts to look a little blurry around the edges I know it’s time to take steps to bring it back into sharper focus. The beauty of it is since I don’t ever let things get out of hand, it’s a relatively easy, painless process however it still requires some thoughtful effort.
     The very first thing I do is increase my cardio a little bit.  No, I don’t start doing 2 hour sessions on the treadmill with a weighted vest (the figure competitors at my old gym used to do that when it got close to competition time and they looked miserable).  I simply add 15 minuets to each session of cardio I’m doing regularly at the time.  If I’m doing 30 minutes on the treadmill 3 times a week, I’ll start doing 45 minuets 3 times a week.  It’s an easy increase and not too much to handle.  I don’t normally workout on the weekends but I’ll squeeze in a brisk paced walk around the neighborhood on Saturday or Sunday.  In 48 hours it’s not difficult to find 1/2 an hour to put on comfortable shoes, grab my iPod (which for safety I only listen to with one ear on low volume) my pepper spray (cause it’s precisely where you don’t think it’s likely you’ll need it that you just might and like the Boy Scouts preach, it’s good to be prepared) and head out the door.
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Since I mentioned pepper spray here is what I take.  It has an elastic strap so you can run or walk with it in your hand.  If you fall or you’re startled by an angry dog…or person, you can’t drop it.  Ladies, do not go out walking by yourself without it even if you think walking your neighborhood is like walking the streets of heaven.  Better have it and not need it a thousand times than to need it and not have it just once.
     The second thing I do is address my food intake.  I generally stick to the healthy stuff anyway but I cut some of the carbs from my diet.  This usually takes the form of my toast in the morning….I’ll add another couple of egg whites to fill me up.  I’ll also crack down on my favorite naughty treat which takes the form of any chip I can get my hands on….potato, tortilla, bagel, pita…I love them all but I say goodbye for a while.  I cut my usual two 1×1 squares of dark chocolate a day down to one and I’ll substitute two of my regular mid day meals to homemade soup.  I have a couple of favorite soups I make for this purpose.  They taste delicious, they’re low-calorie, healthy, they have a good amount of protein and they’re filling.   I included the recipe for Mexican Chicken Soup below.  I made it yesterday and actually made a double batch so I’d have plenty for the coming days.
Mexican Chicken Soup
4 bone in chicken breast halves
1 28-oz box or can of organic chicken broth
2 14-oz cans stewed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Diced avocado (optional)
 
Cook, debone and shred chicken
Combine chicken and remaining ingredients except cilantro
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer
Cover and keep on low simmer for 1 hour
(if you do this in a slow cooker cover and cook on low 8 hours)
Stir in cilantro
Serve in bowl (with avocado) if desired.
 
*to save time and make it even easier you can skip step 1 and shred the meat from a grocery store rotisserie chicken*
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     My overarching philosophy where food is concerned is that what I eat has to taste good and I don’t allow myself to go hungry.  Bad tasting food and deprivation are nails in the coffin of a successful campaign against excessive fat.  You’ll NEVER find me at the dinner table with my family picking sadly at a dry chicken breast while they enjoy spaghetti and meatballs.  I just eat a very small portion of the pasta and fill in with more meatballs, salad and veggies.  Sustainability is the key.  Substituting soup for a couple of my mid day meals is easy to do.
     I’ll be doing my part and soon Mr Mirror and I will be friends again.
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