Never Ever Quit

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Probably one of the biggest lessons in life that I have learned is to never ever quit. Anything that I have ever accomplished was born out of showing up no matter what. I remember working full time, raising two sons and working on a doctoral degree all at the same time and never thinking about anything but getting up in the morning and showing up. No matter how difficult things would get, I would not quit. 

Now that I am older this holds true even more. When I was 47 years-old I started running and now ten years later I continue to run. But not without obstacles and days I think I might have to quit. Especially this past year when I have injured myself while running two different times. More than once I thought this is it, I am going to have to quit, I'm too old. 

But I have a sports medicine doctor that I see and he laughs at me when I ask, "Is this it, am I too old to keep running?" He treats my injury and his staff teaches me exercises and stretches that bring me back to running like the wind! And I am so grateful to them for not only helping me help myself but for reminding me to never ever quit!

The day before I did this shoot I visited my doctor for back strain from running on a mountain trail while I was in Arizona. He told me to rest at least a few days and then get back at it! I must admit as sore as I am from the treatment and exercise they put me though I didn't mind not doing too much for a few days. But I wanted to show you some of the things they recommended I do so I won't injure myself again or further. 

Not only do I do a lot of stretches, mostly part of my yoga routine but I also do several exercises on a roller. Let me tell you, these roller exercises are so helpful even though they hurt for a while until you build up. 

My plan for now is to slowly work my way back to a full run and concentrate on my running form. My goal is the annual 5K that I do in early May. So wish me luck.

I hope you will share with me your favorite ways to stay fit and if you have found obstacles to over come.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Peace!

Breaking Up - With Exercise

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Breaking Up With Exercise

I've exercised fairly consistently my whole life. But every now and then I need a break. Lately I have been really working out hard and regularly. Even when I had house guests for two weeks, I never missed a run, hike, or weight lifting session. But this week, all the events of spring and summer caught up with me and I realized I was tired. Bone tired. I knew it was time to do what I have always done when I hit a wall. I broke up with exercise. So how do I break up with exercise? I understand that the breakup is not a long-term thing; I relax and give myself a break understanding that mental health is as important as physical health and I take a day or few off. Experience allows me to understand that a break from exercise can actually improve my overall fitness by allowing me to rest, rejuvenate and prepare to get back at it, stronger in every way. 

Here is how I knew it was time to break up. On Monday morning I went for my trail run, it took all my energy to get ready, but I have a few tricks I use to help when that happens, so out the door I went. I did the run, but it felt slow, heavy, and I found no joy in it. I had to walk the last quarter of mile. Tuesday, I went for my hike, and came home and lifted weights. Again, it just didn't feel good. I had no energy the rest of the day and I could tell it wasn't just a passing thing. Wednesday, I was sore from Tuesday's weight lifting. With all this, I decided it was time to take a break so I took the rest of the week off. Almost as soon as I made the decision I started feeling better and even started looking forward to Sunday or Monday when I knew I would again be raring to go.

THE TRUTH

Sarah Gibson, Certified Personal Trainer finds that many fitness junkies equate the idea of taking a day off with Satan. My husband was that way when he was a serious distance runner who sometimes trained in excess of 50 miles per week. She points out how this is not true and my husband no longer over trains either.

Rest periods are a part of many professional training plans. They allow the body and the mind to recuperate to our benefit. As Sarah says, “As we work out, we place greater strain on our muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. Our immune system is activated when there are muscle tears or joint strains, but if the body doesn’t come out of continual practice, this system doesn’t have the time to catch up and start patching everything back up. Thus, if you’re building muscle, you should take a day off from lifting the same region so the body has time to repair the muscles you’re working.”

I have observed the truth of this in my own exercise regimen. Running and other impact activities stress joints and connective tissue. Those who exercise regularly generally have lower measures of inflammation but they also have higher measures immediately after vigorous exercise. Systemic inflammation (e.g., as measured by C-reactive protein) needs to return to baseline; otherwise you may experience joint damage from inflammation. Cycles of deep rest can aid in this process.

Rest days depend on the type of athlete you are, according to Gibson. Mind and body athletes (think Pilates and yoga) may want to take a day off altogether, whereas bodybuilders may only want to take a day off from lifting, but still do a little cardio. Your need for rest days may also depend on your fitness. We need to learn more about this.

I have also observed that it is important to eat differently on days of rest. In general, eat less and perhaps consume fewer carbohydrates. It is OK to stick to your nutrition plan, but make it a light day. This will be different for everyone and your body will probably hit a point where you feel ravenous because your metabolism has shot through the roof as you work out more regularly. Just remember to eat right, eat on time and drink lots of water.

Give your body love and attention and know that every successful athlete does this, too. Take your day of rest to reflect on how far you have come and plan how far you will go!

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That's it for this week! Let me know if there is anything you want to know about how I incorporate health, fitness, and beauty in to my life. And thanks for stopping by!

Peace!

TIP
I have little tricks I use to get myself going on days I don't feel quite up to it. On days that I am feeling slow, I put on my exercise clothes thinking just because I put them on doesn't mean I have to do anything. Then I tell myself to just head out the door and if I still don't want to do it I can come back inside. Almost every time I go that far, I end finishing and feeling really great. Another trick I use is to do a different exercise. If a run sounds too strenuous, I take a relaxing walk. I always feel much better when I do something. If none of those things work, I take a break and I don't beat myself up. I focus on my next workout.

HIIT What What?

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What the heck is HIIT?

I have to start this post out by emphasizing that this is how I incorporate High-intensity interval training (HIIT) into my workout repertoire. In my opinion, which is supported by some research, HIIT activities are best practiced after you have established a baseline of fitness. Someone just beginning an exercise program is more likely to sustain injuries with HIIT activities. Wait until you are at an intermediate fitness level before adding HIIT to your workouts. Always consult an expert if you have questions. 

HIIT workouts are thought to be one of the most effective ways to improving cardiovascular health, respiratory endurance, metabolic function, and perhaps muscular neurological status as you age.

HIIT involves repeated short bouts of high-intensity exercises followed by brief recovery periods. This sequence is repeated several times in a row usually for 20 to 30 minutes.

HIIT workouts can improve your health due to their effect on several important systems within the body:

  • Cardiovascular health and endurance
  • Ability to use oxygen
  • Hormone levels
  • Muscular innervation

HIIT is not a new concept, I can remember doing similar activities 15 years ago. Last year when I participated in a six-week boot camp I got the full modern HIIT experience. I was supposed to run or sprint as fast as I could for 20 seconds, then slow down to a moderate pace for 20 seconds and repeat for 20 minutes. Our snow was too deep for me to get outside and my treadmill wouldn’t adjust that quickly so I used my stair climber. To me it was a hardcore workout. I was surprised I could even do it and more surprised that I didn’t get really sore or just plain die!

For the last couple of years however I have incorporated HIIT into my workouts in a more practical manner. If you google HIIT, you will find an unending list of specific workouts but I am the kind of person that likes to fit things into my life that I can actually do and stick with. I love to run and currently run trails here in the mountain forest. I run up and down steep inclines on varied terrain. I will run on soft sand, to firm dirt, to rocky areas. It requires balance, and endurance. To add HIIT to my runs I speed up to maximum exertion for one to two minutes and then slow down to a moderate pace for a couple of minutes and repeat until I pretty much can't do any more. Sometimes just running up an incline if it is steep enough pushes me to maximum exertion.  I only do HIIT a couple of times a week. It is important to allow time for recovery.

My point to all of this is when you are ready to add HIIT to your workout, add it in a way that fits your workout routine. Read as much as you can and then take the information and adjust it to work for you so you can maintain over the long haul. Because we’re here for the long haul, right?

THE TRUTH

There is a lot of noise on the Internet that HIIT is the fastest way to loose weight and is currently a trendy new program with classes being offered in gyms and online. HIIT is not necessarily the best way to lose weight for most people. It is being reported that many people are injuring themselves trying HIIT because they are not at a fitness level required for it to be effective. HIIT should be something added into your fitness routine when you are fit enough to do it without injury and is a supplement to exercise not your only form of exercise. Far more benefits come from a long brisk walk or slow run. 

There is too much research for me to unpack in this post but I will provide a link to one of the best articles I have found regarding HIIT and how it benefits aging muscles. Dr Mercola is one person who seems to take a knowledgeable and reasonable approach to fitness in general and HIIT in particular. Read here to learn more.

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That's it for this week! Thanks for stopping by!

Peace!