Archive for the ‘k-bells’ Category

The Perfect Workout

I just had the most awesome workout! Everything about it was good. The exercise, the music, the post workout stretch – even the foam rolling (which is always a drag). And even the post-workout lunch!

Why was it so good? Not sure. It may be that I had taken yesterday off and was therefore more rested. Maybe it was because I’d engaged in some pre-workout creativity, so I had something to think about and mull over. I actually have a lot of writing to do after this and all of the extra oxygen flowing to the brain really helped to solidify some of the ideas that I had been grappling with. I remember a friend of mine used to carry a voice recorder with him when he ran, because he got all of best ideas while exercising. I believe it.

Anyway, I did a little stretching warm up and then jumped on the Nordic Track Classic Pro Skier. I may have mentioned this before, but one of the things that I like about the Nordic Track is that it doesn’t give you anything. It’s no help whatsoever. Unlike a spinning bike or a treadmill (or an an elliptical) that pulls you along at least for a couple of seconds, the Nordic Track is all you. The minute – the second – that you stop moving, you literally stop. I used to hate that about it, but now I find it quite motivating. Because like many things in life, if you don’t do it, it’s not going to get done.

On the stereo was Linkin Park. I started with their first album, Hybrid Theory and let it bleed into the first three songs of their Live EP at the Soho Apple Store, which is available exclusively at itunes ending with the acoustic version of My December.

I then did a set of “Ladder Downs,” which are essentially 10 jumping jacks, 10 plank jacks, 9, jumping jacks, 9 plank jacks, 8 jumping jacks, 8 plank jacks, and so on until you get to 1 jumping jack and 1 plank jack – without rest. That’s a lot of jumping and plank-jacks! I got this idea from a video blog post that I ended up on when I clicked on an banner ad with the headline: Bikini Bootcamp! Now, I have never had on a bikini, but I never said that I didn’t believe in miracles. These ladies, whose company is called “Keep it Tight Fitness,” have a number of free exercise videos that you can check out. The chair squats look nasty. If anyone tries them, let me know!

I then finished off the workout (heart rate up) with K-Bells: Total Body Blast. It felt great.

I burned 725 calories and then did about 15 minutes of foam rolling.

Then another 16 ounces of water and lunch: a hummus and veggie pita pocket and a large spinach salad with roasted beets. Love it!

What’s your best workout sequence? And equally important, what do you listen to and how do you refuel afterward?

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Revisiting K-Bells (Re-Review!)

A few months ago I wrote that Michelle Khai’s Slim & Tone Program, available online, was fun, but that it wasn’t really that much of a workout.

But I liked it and I wanted to make it work for me, so I decided to cardio beforehand.

I also moved from the 4lb bell to the 8lb bell – that made a difference! Though I didn’t report it, I started rotating between Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred (using 5lb barbells) and KB Total Body Blast and really began noticing some changes in my body, especially in my arms and shoulders.

A few weeks ago, I decided to go back through my K-Bells set, which came with 9 different workout of varying lengths. I found one that I either did once with the 3lb bell and decided that it was too easy and moved on or I just missed it while I was running through the rest of the program.

Cardio Balanced, touted as “a powerful 40-minute fat burner that takes your kBell workout to the next level. Michelle’s expert coaching guides you through new K-Bell moves that supercharge your metabolism, combining cardio and resistance training for serious toning and weight loss.”

They’re not kidding. I really don’t know how I missed this one!

This thing is literally kicking my butt and I did P90X three times, so I’m no light weight! With the 8lb bell, Cardio Balance is my new best friend. It’s also whipping me into shape without a lot of jumping around and no high impact moves that hurt my knees.

Watch out Michelle Obama…
michelle-obama-vogue-cover

…I’m about to catch you on those arms!

Perseverance in Weight Loss:Keeping your eye on the prize (as opposed to your gut)

Over the last three or four days, I have really gotten my head around why cultivating perseverance in weight release (more commonly known as weight loss) or any other long term goal really matters.

Essentially, if you have a strong sense of perseverance, you will meet your goals because you’ll be able to 1) face challenging social scenes and still make choices that support you; 2) automatically create solutions when faced with difficult environment (i.e.. packing in a ton of fruit and bringing your own blender to a two day conference!); and 3) maintain your self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem.

When you haven’t cultivated a strong sense of perseverance, you won’t meet your goals because you’ll be more likely to 1) abandon your plans in the face of difficult challenges or upset; 2) fail to see or to create opportunities to succeed; and 3) undermine not only your self-confidence, but also your self-respect and self-esteem. And once you’ve undermined those three puppies, all bets are off!

So what does it actually mean to persevere? Without resorting to Dictionary.com, perseverance, to me, means to soldier on in the face of adversity and unwelcome surprises. Remember when you were a kid and your mother made you clean your room? Not just put away the mess, but to really do some massive reorganization and to clean out the gunk and garbage that may have accumulated since last summer? It’s typically the case that it gets a lot worse before it gets better. Same thing with growing out a short hair cut. You can give up during the truly hideous stage or you can persevere until you get the long luxurious mane that you’d been coveting for months.

A few blog posts ago, I told the story of the hapless veterinarian, who essentially asked when I was expecting my first bundle of joy! Needless to say, I was a bit floored. Because not only am I not pregnant, I am actually smaller than I’ve been in my entire life. I weigh less. My waist is smaller. My clothes are smaller. No matter how you slice it, there is less of me to love. Yet, here I am being asked if I’m pregnant! Wtf?!

You may recall that over the last couple of months, I have moved away from my predominantly cardio based exercise regime. Instead, I have introduced a mix of weight training DVDs, including Michelle Khai’s Kettlenetics Slim & Tone Program, as well as Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred and No More Trouble Zones. What this has done, essentially, has caused me to lay on a lot of muscle in my waist and in my upper and middle back, effectively pushing my pudge front and center!

The result, ironically, is that my core is stronger but my stomach looks bigger—bigger, that is, relative to the rest of me! And to make things worse (or better, depending on your perspective) my hips and thighs have also gotten smaller. Not a flattering combination! So, although I was completely thrown by the vet’s question about my impending life changes, it was (unfortunately) completely understandable.

I think it goes without saying that looking three months pregnant was not a goal when I started my weight loss (that is, my weight release) program. It would be very easy for me to justify not persevering and convince myself that it’s better to be a size 10 who doesn’t look preggers than a size six who does. But to do so would not only undermine my health and fitness goals, it would eventually undermine all of the self-confidence, the self-respect, and the self-esteem that I have gleaned from this process so far. It would also cost me a heck of a lot of money since I have sold all of my old clothes!

So my only other choice is to persevere.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still getting rid of the shirt! However, what I really need to go is keep my eye on the prize and not my waist line.

An old friend and new patterns

Yesterday, I spent the day with a tweenage friend that I hadn’t seen since highschool (and even then we hadn’t been close since junior high). We reconnected on Facebook.

Because of my evening of over-indulgence the night before, I got up, did k-bells Total Body Blast (again, it’s a much more serious workout in the heat — yielding a 220 calorie burn instead of the 170 that I usually manage at home) and made a shake — destroying my parent’s blender in the process. Oh, how I miss my Blend-tec! Luckily my mother had a spare blade, so she wasn’t too annoyed!

When my friend arrived, we immediately went for a walk! Keep in mind that we hadn’t spoken in at least 20 years! The activity was good. We walked (and talked) for about an hour and 20 minutes, burning 520 calories in the process. Not a bad way to get reacquainted. We both showered and then went and hit the streets.

We browsed, chatted, shopped in boutiques where we would never actually buy anything. We had lunch (a veggie wrap with feta in a spinach tortilla and salad for me) and wandered around some more. Then, partly because it was so hot, we went to the mall. And because I knew she’d have no reason to lie to me, we went and tried on bathing suits. It’s been 10 years since I’ve had on a bathing suit! And, much to my surprise, they looked pretty good. Granted, I stuck to the one pieces, but they weren’t bad. There was one that was very 1930’s Hollywood starlit-esque with a tiny little skirt and a heart shaped neck. We both agreed that I needed a pair of stilletos and a big tray from which to sell cigarettes! I decided that it wasn’t practical as I was looking for for something to wear swimming (not selling). Although I didn’t buy anything, it was fun! It was also good to have someone there with me who challenged my initial preferences and urged me to take a second look at things I wouldn’t normally try. It was also good to go with someone who doesn’t really know my style, but it going on looks alone.

We when then went to my favorite Mexican restaurant, where I had exactly what I wanted: Pork Carnitas and a frozen marguarita. Not the healthiest choice, but it was a choice, as opposed to the out of control bienging from the day before. It was also absolutely delicious.

I’m heading back home today. Part of me is relieved that I am leaving the land of bar-be-que and frozen margaritas, but the other part will miss it — not the food and the drinks, but the people, the friends, and (believe it or not) the heat. There is something wonderful about the heat, especially when an unexpected breeze offers a much-appreciated moment of relief.

Christmas in July (well, technically it’s still June)

I decided that I needed to organize my exercise space, because (as noted previously) I am about to open up a new “home exercise phase” that centers more on low end cardio and toning.

As I was shifting through all of my k-bell gear, I found this super thin DVD holder:

Includes 2 Workouts:stretch & strength and cardio fit ballet

The stretch & strength workout features powerful floor exercises that combine Pilates, yoga and dance for chiseled abs and lean flexible muscles. cardio fit ballet offers you the best of a dancer’s workout with innovative leg exercises for the long lean look you crave.

Sounds good to me! So much for cleaning the house!

Mixing it up and toning it (down)

Like most people, I am a creature of habit.

Over the last 30+ weeks, I realize that I have moved through 3 different phases of working out. In other words, whereas most people cross train I tend to do things in 10 week chunks.

Last summer, I was heavily ensconced in P90X. For those of you who haven’t seen the infomercials, it’s a total body program with a focus on upper body strength. I definitely lost inches, but not a lot of weight. In fact, I gained some, which was undoubtedly muscle.

In the fall, I continued on with parts of P90X (especially Yoga X) and added in really high intensity cardio — typically an hour on the tread climber or spinning, holding nothing back. I still didn’t lose weight — well, not much — but I kept the form.

In the winter, I dropped the weights and just went for the serious cardio — again, the tread climber and a spinning bike were my tools of choice. I was definitely in the more calories burned the better mindset. It was nothing for me to go work out an hour before teaching a spinning class! And more often than not, I kept my heart rate at the top of my aerobic zone or above. Indeed, around 3 days a week — at least — I was burning over a 1,000 a day in exercise. Eventually, however, I was also eating close to 2,000 calories a day in order to fuel my exercise habit. It was also easier to fool myself into believing that it was okay if I ate the chocolate croissant, because I had “worked it off”! In fact, what I was doing was starving my body of oxygen at the very times that it needed it the most!

Notably, I actually liked the hard exercise. I liked spending that much time in the gym. I liked the sweat and the stench of hard work. It made me feel like I’d actually accomplished something. What I didn’t like about it was that even with all that work, even with the consistent and often times steep calorie deficits, I still wasn’t losing weight. In fact, if felt like every time I had a glass of wine or anything at all, I’d glob on three pounds before it even got past my taste buds!

During the spring (since mid March), I switched modes. I stopped working out at a break neck speed. I started spending the bulk of my time at the low end of my aerobic training zone and I started implementing real warm ups and cool downs. Essentially, I started doing what people had been telling me for years. 10 minute warm up, 40 minutes in your training zone, and 10 minute cool down. Guess what? I started releasing weight. Not only did I start releasing weight, I did it in about half the time and with less wear and tear on the joints.

At first, when I started working out at 130-150 beats per minute (my real target zone) I thought: What a waste of time. This isn’t doing anything! But I was wrong. It did do something. I released the weight and it’s been easy to keep it from coming back. Granted, there have been minor bumps in the trend line, but nothing major. If you look at the trend line, it’s been slow and steady. In fact, I’m still releasing weight — though not nearly to the degree that I was in March and April. And that’s fine, because I don’t need to release it that fast. Indeed, I am actually at the point where I’m not sure if I need to release any more at all. Never thought I’d be in the position to say that before! (Which is probably why it never happened!)

Which brings me to my next 10 week cycle.

Despite my deep passion for cardio, my plan is to minimize its role in the next phase of my exercise career. I hope that by writing it down, I will commit to an even lower keeled routine for a while. One that includes some cardio (maybe every other day instead of five to six days a week and for maybe 30 minutes instead of an hour) and centers, instead, on a maintenance-oriented routine that includes toning, k-bells, and yoga. I’m thinking that yoga (60 to 90 minutes) and toning every other day would be a good thing.

My inner cardio-queen cries out in agony: Don’t do it!

The shift from weight loss to maintenance and overall fitness is challenging. Psychologically, it just feels wrong to exercise for an hour and a half to only burn 220 calories — my typical results after 90 minutes of flow yoga poses and balance postures. But I’m going to do it. As soon as spinning ends (June 11), it’s me, Michelle, Tony, and Jillian. Talk about changing your peer group!

Consider this my public declaration of commitment.

A month of maintenance

Yea!!!!

I am happy to report that I have maintained my goal weight (within a 1.5 pound +/- spread) for the entire month of May!

For those of you who know me well, you’ll recognize this as the accomplishment it is!

For those of you who don’t actually know me, in the past, I have been very good at reaching goals, but less successful at maintaining them! As a wise woman once told me, “You’re a striver, not a thriver.” In other words, I’m very good at striving, but less good at thriving — and, unfortunately, this applied to all areas of my life! In terms of weight-related goals, it meant that the one or two times that I even got close to 140 in the past, I only stayed there about one minute (the first time) or in the case of the second time, three days!

That I’ve been here for four weeks — in the midst of work-related hell and selling a house — is saying something! Truly, the thought of it makes me smile — at the very least — and want to jump up and down! I definitely think it’s time for a non-food related celebratory gift. Maybe I’ll finally succumb to all the direct marketing I’ve received since purchasing k-b slim and tone on line! I have to admit, it looks fun. It sort of reminds me of the bosu at the gym! But I digress.

Back to maintenance.

So, what’s it been like?

Sadly, for everyone who wants to be able to lose 10 (or 20 or 30 or even 90) pounds and then jump head first back into their favorite foods, it doesn’t work that way. Maintenance is just like dieting, you just get to eat more calories. Other than that, nothing has changed.

I still weigh myself regularly to make sure that I haven’t dropped too low (hasn’t happened yet, but it might!) or gone too high. When I’m up, I reduce my calories for a while. When I’m low, I add them back in.

Through repeating this process again and again, I’ve figured out that I can pretty much eat between 1,200 – 1,500 calories a day when I need to drop a pound or so and that I can maintain while eating between 1,500 – 1,800 calories a day. (This, of course, assumes that I exercise between four and five times a week!) Just knowing this little bit of information about my body has made a crucial difference in my ability to maintain my weight.

Now, does this mean that I just sit around and eat 1,500 calories worth of veggies everyday? No. In fact, just last week, I went out with friends and ended up eating 2,200. When that happens (and it will again), I automatically drop back down to 1,200 – 1,500 for a couple of days until my body stabilizes. It’s been great. And, importantly, it’s been easy!

One of my skinny friends — a woman who rarely exercises and is someone that I never would have assumed ever even thought about her weight — asked me what the difference has been for me this time. I told her and she said, “That’s exactly what I do! I can tell when I’m up. Or when I’ve eaten too much at a meal, I’ll cut back for a few days. And when I know I have something coming up, like a party or a holiday, I cut back a couple of days beforehand.”

Notably, she doesn’t count calories like I do (and I still do, religiously), but she does know what she eats and, perhaps even more importantly, what it does to her body.

So maintenance — it’s really nothing more than a diet with more calories. You still watch what you eat. You still make daily adjustments to your calories. You still weigh yourself regularly. You still — or at least I do — avoid those foods that make you crazy!

This is why, I suppose, that people always say that it’s not about being on a diet, it’s about changing your lifestyle. Because if you think about it as a diet that you can quit when you reach you’re goal, as opposed to a lifestyle that you’re committing to for life, you’re setting yourself up for failure or, at the very least, a lifetime full of diets.

K-Bell Total Body Blast – Review

As noted previously, I purchased the latest trendy exercise program, K-bells (with “Master Instructor” Michelle Khai) and actually liked it.

I had worked through the introductory package, which has a lot of good instructional material as well as one decent cardio workout and one 50 minute circuit training DVD.

Despite that I liked the idea of a k-bell exercise program, the flowing movements, the knowledge that I was working out micro-muscles, the workout itself, and the instructor, I realized that I just wasn’t doing this workout. Whenever I made a decision about what type of exercise I was going to do, I would go to the gym and hit the Step Mill (which my massage therapist lovingly calls “The Gauntlet”), the Tread Climber, Spinning, or if I stayed at home, I’d more often than not jump on the Nordic Track or do Yoga. So what was going on? If I liked the program, why wasn’t I doing it?

It boiled down to this — the premise of the workout is that you get your heart rate up and you do the bell work and this combination “blasts” the fat from your body!!! Sound good? Sure it does. But there’s only one problem: it was physically impossible for me to get my heart rate up into my fat burning zone doing this workout alone. Thus, I wasn’t burning any calories. It’s not Michelle’s fault, nor is it the fault of the k-bell program. In fact, I have the exact same problem with all of Jillian Michael’s home workout DVDs. I also have the same problem with Tony Horton’s Kenpo X (the kickboxing segment of P90X) and Cardio X. And, for that matter, Billy Blanks Tae-Bo the last time I did it. Essentially, it’s not them; it’s me. They may actually work in terms of toning and building muscle, but psychologically, I feel like I’m wasting my time.

And it’s not that I’m not trying, it’s just that after teaching spinning for 4 years, I have a super low resting heart rate: it’s about 42 first thing in the morning and around 56-60 after I’ve been up a while. It takes a lot of umph to get from 60 to 130 (which is the low end of my target training zone) in a 30 – 45 minute work out tape.

However, I really wanted to do the KB Total Body Blast and I really want to be able to incorporate it into my summer routine without feeling like I’m wasting time. It’s fun; she’s doing a lot of really interesting moves. I can feel the little micro-muscles doing their thing. I feel like my balance will improve if I keep it up. I like the momentum generated by the bell as I swing it across my body. And unlike a lot of newer cardio blast programs, there isn’t a lot of jumping. There is hopping, but that doesn’t bother my knee the way that other more plyo-centric programs do.

So, determined to get a good workout and do KB Total Body Blast, I got up this morning, put on U2’s, “No Line on the Horizon” and jumped on the Nordic Track. This album is a good choice for getting into and staying right in my target zone (between 130-145 beats per minutes) as it has a good mix of fast and slow songs. Also, there is a good mix of tight (or short) notes and loose (or long) notes, lending itself to intervals. It’s also relatively short, clocking in at only 54 minutes. That’s 15 warm-up, 30 minutes in the zone, and the last two songs are slow, which starts a pseudo-cooling off period.

Then, with my heart rate at 100 (instead of 58!) I immediately jumped into KB Total Body Blast — which is only 30 minutes — and it was perfect. I stayed in the zone almost the entire time. I was tired when I was done. I actually worked up a sweat! I only burned 204 calories doing it, but it was only 30 minutes (and when I’d done it without raising my heart rate first, I had only burned 157)!

However, add that to the cardio that I’d done on the Nordic Track (400!), I burned 604 calories. Not to shabby for a leisurely Sunday morning at home. Especially since 1 hour out of that 1 hour and 24 minutes was in my target training zone!

So, bottom line: if you are already fit and you find home workouts to be a waste of time, do something else first to get your heart rate up. I really think that KB Total Body Blast is going to be worth it. Besides that, it’s a lot of fun! This is also going to encourage me to shake the dust off of some of my other programs and give them another go!

Update!

Do NOT underestimate the power of a 4lb kbell

My inner thighs are killing me! You know, that part of the body that never gets worked out? Well, they must have yesterday! Wow!

K-Bell Review — Finally!

I got up this morning, determined to do my k-bell routine.

I bought the basic introductory package and then also bought the up sell.

The original deal comes with 6 DVDs, varying in length: kb elements, flowMotion Basics (both of which are mainly instructional), cardio balance, kb target toning, stretch and strength, and cardio fit ballet. It also comes with two wristbands, which I did not wear, but probably will in the summer, and a 4 lb k-bell.

Cat and I watched kb elements and then Cat watched while I did flowMotion basics (burned 64 calories). I am not the most flow-oriented person on the planet, so I actually found this to be little problematic. However, part of the reason that I was drawn to this program is that I wanted to work on accessing my “feminine energy,” so part of my lack of flow is mental, as opposed to physical. Despite my personal limitations, both of these introductions are very good and I found the founder, Michelle Khai, to be a very good instructor. Not to mention a great model, as she has an amazing body that is not only fit and lean, but also strong and sexy. To tell you the truth, I don’t think I thought people could actually look that like!

I then moved onto cardio balanced. This is a good workout. There were some moves that required traveling, which I couldn’t quite figure out while I was still trying to master the kbell, so I simply stayed put. Again, despite my modification, I still felt like I was getting a good workout. Although I didn’t burn that many calories (a little over 200), I definitely felt my muscles working in new ways. Again, one of the selling points of this program over other programs that I have done is the emphasis on slimming and toning over bulking up or fat burning.

I didn’t do kb target and toning, but I might tomorrow.

Overall, I think — as with anything — that I will get more out of the program as I get better doing it. It’s challenging, but not so much so that it’s frustrating. And because you start with the 4lb bell, there’s less likelihood of injury while you’re still learning the movements. Once I feel comfortable here — more from a movement perspective than a strength perspective — I’ll move up to the up sell, which included an 8lb kbell and two additional DVDs, kb total body blast and kb flowMotion dance. Talk about girly!

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted as I move through the program! And as soon as I look like Michelle Khai, I may even post pictures!

Talk about your bad timing!

My k-bells finally arrived and I am too busy to use them! Alas! Maybe I’ll get some time on Saturday (sad)!

Alas…

The K-Bells didn’t arrive as expected, so I ended up hitting the Nordic Track and doing Ab Ripper X, the 20 minute ab routine from P90X, instead! It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it’s always good to have a contingency plan.

Needless to say, I’ll be waiting for the mail delivery tomorrow with baited breath!

Impulse Purchase

If anyone asks, am blaming this one on my friend Bernie!

I normally don’t do the trendy exercise thing and I certainly tend to avoid anything with dance in the description or that looks even remotely girly! Oh well; things change. In five days, I will be the proud new owner of a k-bell exercise and fitness program. I’ll let you know how it works out for me!