Archive for the ‘yoga’ Category

15 Minute Results: Yoga (Day Three)

In my last post, I mentioned that I was looking for an easy and reliable way into yoga. Well, I may have found it! Rodney Yee & Marial Hemmingway’s 15 Minute Results:Yoga is great!

Why?

It’s short. It’s easy to follow. It’s totally invigorating. And it’s not “precious.” Instead, it’s two people doing yoga, who are obviously passionate about their craft and really enjoy each other. Some reviews have suggested it’s too chatty and that they prefer the Yee productions that are more scenic and have been voiced over. Personally, as a non-yoga adherent (at least not yet), it’s perfect. It’s like being at the gym with friends.

Additionally, if you are new to yoga, there is a lot of overlap between the total body, upper body, and lower body. Some reviewers have said there is too much overlap, but, again, as someone who is relatively new to yoga, I find the repetition useful.

It is pretty fast paced, but I don’t feel like I’m struggling all that much to keep up. Whenever I do lose my place, I just figure there’s room for improvement. Why invest in something if you can already do it perfectly right out of the box?

Overall, glad I got it and am looking forward to section four! When’s the last time anyone’s heard me say that about anything related to yoga?

Oh, and the other thing? It’s only 15 minutes! So if I feel my energy start to lag throughout the day or if I get stiff from sitting at the computer, I can always just do it again! I may even buy another copy for the office!

Still looking for an easy and reliable pathway into yoga

I went to Borders today and bought 15 Minute Results: Yoga with Rodney Yee and Mariel Hemingway. It looks pretty good. Fairly straightforward. There are supposedly four different routines, one for total body, upper body, lower body, and abdominal strengthening, but (to tell you the truth) the first three look remarkably similar! Though, given my skill at yoga, similarity is good. At least two of them include a little bit of rebounding, which is great not only for circulating lymph but also for elevating mood.

Regardless, surely I can do anything for fifteen minutes! Besides, I am determined to love it!

I’ll let you know how it works out for me!

UPDATE: I did the total body segment and at 15 minutes it was over, seemingly, before it even started! It’s actually not bad. Very, very doable! Will move onto upper body in the morning! Can’t wait! 😉

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.

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!