Two weekends off

I bet if I told my friends and colleagues that I didn’t exercise weekend before last (actually from Friday through Monday), they wouldn’t believe me. And if told them that I didn’t exercise last weekend either, they would probably die of shock.

Before I started my weight-release (on March 15, 2009), I was one of those people that lived at the gym. It wasn’t uncommon for me to spend two hours a day doing serious cardio (most of the time anaerobically, or without oxygen). I also went through the hour of mostly anaerobic exercise, followed by an hour free weights, followed by 20 minutes of ab work stage. It’s a wonder I ever got anything done! It was also a wonder that I weighed as much as did and had such an easy time gaining weight.

Over the last six weeks or seven weeks, I have shifted my focus on exercise. Now I exercise for shorter periods of time. I exercise with less intensity — that is, I stay within my aerobic training zone. I actually warm up and cool down — something that I used to do only when I was teaching spinning. And, finally, I take days off. These four things, which I believe have been essential in releasing the last ten — now 12 — pounds, go against everything that I used to believe about reaching and maintaining my desired weight. They also fly in the face of everything that I used to do when trying — and failing — to achieve my goals.

So why the slow down? At a recent seminar, the facilitator was talking the importance of exercising in oxygen. His point was that you should exercise in oxygen instead of out of oxygen. You are more likely to do it again. You’re less likely to get injured. You’re more likely to burn fat and avoid the build up of lactic acid. And you’re going to be refreshed when you’re done, instead of ravenous and exhausted, which is often the case after your body has used up all the excess carbohydrates in your body when you exercising anaerobically. He essentially said that this was more efficient and would give you more energy. He also warned that we’d probably feel like we weren’t working all that hard and might be tempted to work harder — but to fight that urge. I thought, I’ll try it. I need to spend more time on other things — like, working, for example. If this doesn’t work, I can go back to my breakneck schedule in the summer, once classes are over.

So I tried it and I did feel like I was wasting my time, because I had trained my body to burn sugar and to maintain an anaerobic threshold for long periods of time. However, I stuck with it and it actually worked! Now when I go work out in the mornings, I feel refreshed afterward instead of depleted. And, more to the point, there are no blood sugar crashes. I’m neither ravenous nor exhausted when I’m done. It’s great.

Now, about those days off — when I was traveling, they really were days off. Last weekend, I actually did some stretching on Saturday and some yoga on Sunday. If you’re one of those people who are afraid that if you take a day off that you’ll never get going again, sub in some yoga in place of your normal cardio routine. Although it may not get your heart rate up, it will provide you the benefits of toning and greater flexibility. There are many different types of yoga, so find the one that best suits you or take the opportunity to really mix it up!

2 comments so far

  1. admin on

    nice blog! 🙂
    interesting fact about the exercise with and without oxygen. does that mean that running outside is better than doing it in doors?

    • KJ on

      It’s definitely nicer to run outdoors –that is, if one likes running! But actually, no. Exercising in oxygen refers to running within your aerobic training zone (or between 70-80% of your maximum heart rate, instead of between 80-90%, which is anaerobic and literally means without oxygen). When you’re exercising in oxygen — so, for example, you can still talk in short sentences and you’re not gasping — your body is burning fat predominantly, instead of simply eating up the body’s supply of excess sugar and, eventually, glycogen and muscle. I think it’s particularly important to workout in oxygen when you don’t have that much weight to lose.

      I’m glad you like the blog; and thanks for the question!

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