Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rest & Recovery

We never stop. We go to school, we go to work, the kids soccer game, cruising youtube, cleaning the house...does it ever stop???? Granted, I'm the worst at stopping but I am a big proponent of rest and recovery in diet and exercise.

For those over-achievers out there, hitting the gym twice a day, working full-time and all the other commitments you have, don't you just feel burnt out? I know I did last summer. I was bordering on over-training syndrome (http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/overtraining/a/aa062499a.htm). I was cooked, nothing left it, it wasn't fun, I wasn't proud of myself! I was violating one of my very own cardinal rules~~~REST AND RECOVER. When we push ourselves, in particular in the gym, we tear ourselves down. In lifting weights, we make micro tears in our muscles in the negative phase of the lift. This isn't building our muscles, this is damaging them. The way we increase and improve our muscular strength is from the recovery. The rest day after a hard lift is when these tears are healed together creating a larger and stronger muscle fiber. It's absolutely essential to have a recovery day when lifting.

I also find the "free" day or diet free period is as important as the diet itself. I hate feeling like I can't or shouldn't have something but if I know that I have a "free" day coming up, I can usually talk myself into waiting. It is similar in the concept that I posted with the zig zag diet. By not providing a level, steady state amount of calories/nutrients, the body has to work harder to metabolize and digest them. If you stay in a low carb state for long periods of time, your body will begin to work more efficiently with less carbs and you'll see your diet starting to slow. If you throw a high carb day in there, your body is suddenly working harder to process the new way eating and thus kicking you back into a more efficient calorie burning machine!

So take this as your permission slip to take a break! Enjoy a day off and find a renewed sense of optimism.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Down A Pound and a Half!!

Mark Sisson, Ilove you!!! (Don't worry honey, it's for his diet!) Weigh in this weekend was 137.5, not bad for a chick that struggles to drop a 1/2 pound a week.

As you know from my last post, I've stumble across Mark Sisson's Primal Diet. The concept harkens back to the caveman days when we were hunters and gatherer. Yes, the concept is about restricting starchy and sugary carbs (some of my favorites and definitely my weaknesses).

Here's what I've mapped out for my first 2 to 3 weeks on my version of the primal diet. I'm not counting calories but I am counting carbs. I am not doing the goofy fiber v. carb content right now. For the kick off, a carb is a carb is a carb. My daily goal is to eat near (usually slightly above) 100 g/carb/day. My protein is around 1 g/pound a day also. I am monitoring my fat intake but not restricting it. I am making sure that my fat choices are healthy ones (olive oil, avocado and my new favorite, Kraft Light Mayo with Olive Oil). Do I miss all the bread and cheez its that I chow down on, oh, my yes but I'm so impressed with the weight loss it just seems to click. I love my veggies and my salads so I'm still enjoying things that I would eat every day anyway!

In addition to my macro nutrient change, I'm also being sure to have my Omega 3 supplements 3 x day, 1 multivitamin x day and 1 calcium/vita D 1 x day.

My exercise hasn't really changed much. Since I teach 3-4 x week and then I take yoga, it's fitting the exercise goal. The big difference (and really thanks to the daily apple for this) is that I don't feel guilty for not doing MORE. Coming from the gym rat, competition mind set, the philosophy was hours in the gym, grunting, sweating and straining. I've released that and instead I'm using my teaching as my intervals and those peak moments and I'm making a point of the low level continuous activity as being prominent. What freedom.

I'll keep you posted but I'm actually excited for bathing suit season!!! Still rockin it at 40!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I'm going PRIMAL.....

I felt like I found my home a couple of days ago when I was searching the internet on ways to bust a diet plateau. As many of you many know, this year was my year for balance. I'm looking for a natural way to live, to find ways to restore and maintain not only my health, but my sanity (good luck with that and having 5 kids and 2 dogs!). I've been feeling like I've been swimming upstream and that my homeostasis had very little to do with 3 hours a day in the gym and crazy calorie/macronutrient tracking. I've fallen in love with yoga and I've scaled way back on my workouts. I've been drawn more to the mind body rides in our spinning class but my weight is still sticking around my gut. I just don't have the heart to do the competition or cut diet that I did last year; I felt like I was losing my mind!

Low and behold...Mark Sisson and his amazing blog....http://www.marksdailyapple.com

The thing that I appreciate with Mark's information is the simplicity and the level of gut reaction I had while reading it. It felt right, it felt balanced and it felt natural. Mark's premise is that our genetics have not morphed that far from when we were primal beings hunting and gathering. Diabetes, obesity and a host of many other ailments are stemming from our highly refined and processed diet. Now don't go getting all organic and freaked out on me. This isn't why I LOVE his primal diet. The thing that sold me is the fact that he talks about filling his 6 cup tupperware container up with his 20 veggie salad and chows down...NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!! Give me the grub! I'm quite happy with giant greens and veggies with my side of beef!

I admit that lately due to dashing between work, teaching, T's karate and J's cough I've been eating way too much processed foods. (I ate 2 poptarts for dinner last night-vanilla milkshake flavor~yum but oh so bad!). So I've decided to jump on board the primal eating project. I'm going to try and limit my carbs to 100 g/day with the idea that some days may be higher and some lower. Mark also recommends the calorie and muscle confusion that I hold near and dear to my heart...(see my post on zig zag calories and muscle confusion is coming soon!). I'll keep my protein at .8- 1 g/1 lb of body weight per day and keep my fats healthy.

So here's my jumping off point...Today I weigh 139 pounds and the weight lingers on...I'll keep you posted. Better yet, join me on the primal path!!!!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Power Yoga

I've been in the fitness industry for 20 years. I started out when we wore g-strings over our spandex tight (eeek!). I was also introduced to Kripalu Yoga (www.kripalu.org) in 1989 by my mother. It was my first taste of non-western exercise. Kripalu is a wonderful yoga although it didn't satisfy my very busy 21 year old mind at the time and I soon drifted into many other forms of fitness.

At the end of 2008, I reflected on my year and I felt the desire for balance of mind and body. After dedicating so much time and effort to what my outside should look like, I felt very lopsided. Training and living in the life of figure competitions is a very disciplined lifestyle but I found it very one dimensional. I have huge respect for all of the competitors but I was missing the nuturance and the balance of my spirit. Additionally, I had lost a great deal of range of motion due to the training. All of my muscles were being trained in a contraction.

I read an article in the newspaper about a place in Shadyside called Amazing Yoga (www.amazingyoga.net). These were the yogi's the Pittsburgh Steelers. Boy, did that appeal to me. I figured if it's physical enough for the Steel Curtain, it's right up my alley. I took my first class in January and was instantly hooked from the physicality of it. As I continued my practice, I became more aware of my imbalances such as tight shoulders, tight hips, etc. It started to become a source of frustration AND a challenge. Also as an instructor, the yoga practice greatly enhanced MY classes. I became more mind-body focused.

Yesterday I took Karen Conley's class (http://www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A20488). Karen and her husband Sean, own Amazing Yoga. The class was intense and varied from the other classes I had taken. Her transitions were seemless, her guided meditation was powerful. For the first time in years, she took me to a place of physical and emotional surrender. I felt a release and success within myself that I had never before experienced. I felt my strength in a way in which I never had while cutting and training for a competition.

Needless to say, I'm inspired and I'm hooked. I am looking forward to what the next 20 years will unveil with the help of Amazing Yoga.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Autism and Yoga

My youngest son has autism. He is very high functioning, some people may call him "quirky". I think he's fanatastic. Lately little T has become enraptured with yoga and martial arts. He will often join me while I do a series of sun salutations and often cracks me up when he does his "om" (which he learned from the cartoon Skunk Fu).

His stepdad just took him to see his first martial arts class this week and he was over the moon. He has learned how to bow and how to do the greeting. He's raring to start his karate lessons with his big T (his stepdad).

One of the interesting things that is starting to emerge with my son is the effect that Eastern based activities are providing him. Because yoga and martial arts are based so much on the internal discipline rather than group competition, my son is beginning to recognize the control he can have over his world. A child with autism perceives the world in ways in which the "typical" person can't understand. Quite often their frustration and reaction are due to the fact that they don't "fit" and can't participate the way that the rest of us take for granted. The gift of yoga and martial arts is that it provides these kids with the opportunity to find their strength and their stillness in the chaos that autism cloaks their perception with.

So I have great optimism in what little T and I will find in the coming months as we explore our Eastern based training programs. Little T & I are working on some videos to share his progress with you!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The joy of SPINNING

I love Spinning, I love teaching it, I love doing the ride and I love the music! We had an excellent class today; we did TONS of climbs to old rock music. Nothing like busting hump to "Sympathy for the Devil". My quads burned like I was pushing the leg press!

I'm finding a complete body workout through spinning and yoga. I like the similarity of the mind~body connection that I get in both workouts. Yoga makes me feel incredibly long and strong, particularly my upper body. Spinning challenges my lower body in so many different variations from hill climbs to sprints to long saddle runs.

If you've never tried spinning, I heartily encourage it! Unlike traditional aerobics, spinning is an individual workout in a group setting. As an instructor, I often tell my students that my directions are really just suggestions. I know as I'm leading, I have specific type of ride I have set up for them but it is an individual choice whether you want to take that ride on that day. Today we did many, many variations of hill climbs and I was very happy to see that some of my students took the challenge and even happier to see that some knew when to back off and tailor the ride to their needs.

I always try to incorporate a meditative ride right after a particularly difficult segment; I've found that when we push our bodies beyond our comfort zone, we often find a new clarity and insight in that fatigue. In weight lifting that point is often called the "failure", I'm not a fan of that description for spinning. In spinning, I find it to be just short of "I can't". I will tell my class to find first position and find a visual focal point or to close their eyes. In this position, we can look inside after being stripped of our defenses and give ourselves a high five for meeting the challenge and focus on what we want from our ride and our day.

Come and ride with us!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Do you follow your heart?

I woke up the other morning with the thought, "do I live life or does life live me?". There are so many external influences in my life at the moment that have been weighing heavily on me and I've been feeling rather beat down.

I've taken up the practice of yoga, initially to help balance my physical well being, but an unexpected side effect has popped up. As I struggle to perform poses that are just outside of my reach, I'm often guided by a gentle voice that allows me to modify, accept, and celebrate the position that I can achieve. There was a psychic shift that took place this week for me also. I could no longer hang out in the dark where so much is out of my control. I realized that I was having wonderful thoughts of success and change. They were appearing in my daily consciousness and also showing up in my dreams. It's amazing how these intangible thoughts and feelings have lightened and brightened my outlook.

And so I come back around to my question, "do I live life or does life live me". Yes, I do both. I took action that changed my feelings/thoughts. Suddenly the life I was living was coming alive inside of me. There's a saying that you have to learn to walk the walk before you can talk the talk. I may stumble but the first steps have been sweet.