Archive for the ‘oxygen’ Category

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!

Diaphragmatic Breathing

One of the routines that I added in over the last month was the simple act of breathing. I take two sets of ten deep diaphragmatic breathing. By that, I mean taking a deep breath in (expanding your stomach), holding it in, and then exhaling slowly (while your stomach retracts). I tend do this on a 6-24-12 ratio; meaning, I breath in for a count of 6, hold it for a count of 24, and exhale for a count of 12.

Now, you may be thinking, I can’t hold my breath for 24 counts! Well, then try 3-12-6. It’s the ratio that matters, not the length. I started out with 3-12-6 and am now up to, on good days, 8-32-16.

Now, you may be thinking, why would I do that? The reasons are multitude. One, it’s incredibly relaxing. Two, it stimulates the lymph in the body. Lymph is essential in ridding the body of waste and other toxins. You get that stuff out of there and you start feeling better–almost immediately.

My own personal objection was, when am I going to have the time? My own personal solution is in the car. I have a thirty minute commute. It takes me less than 12 minutes to take 10 deep breaths. It helps relax me during the drive in (and on the ride home). It also helps increase my focus on the day ahead on the way in. And it helps me discharge any lingering stress of the day on the way out. Try it. You might be pleasantly surprised.