Changing up my approach to exercise

Sunday, November 23, 2014

At my last doctor's appointment, my doctor and I set a goal of losing six pounds by my appointment in February.  I had gained weight from my previous appointment in spite of the fact that I had reached of level of physical fitness and consistency that I hadn't seen in years.  It is likely that part (or maybe all) of the weight-gain may have happened during the stressful time while A was inpatient and recovering from intensive cancer treatment and friends were bringing us decadent, comfort-food meals, but even if that's true, I realized I needed a more effective fitness routine.

The old approach consisted of running three days per week and hot vinyasa yoga two to three days per week.  This type of workout routine worked wonders for my vital signs.  My previously slightly-high blood pressure plummeted.  We measured it once on a stressful day in the hospital and my blood pressure clocked in at 106/65.  My resting heart-rate dropped into the 50s.  But, while it is clear that my heart had strengthened, the cardio-based approach wasn't torching fat.

After some extensive research, I've changed things up just a bit.  Instead of running three days per week, I'm running once and doing 2 HIIT workouts from Fitness Blender (a fabulous site with free full-length HIIT workouts that require no equipment), I'm still doing hot power yoga about twice per week, I'm playing tennis once a week and have added one day per week of weightlifting with my husband at the gym.  The reasons for making these particular changes are mixed.  Adding tennis, for example, had nothing to do with improving my fitness routine and everything to do with happening to rediscover a game I love.  I decreased my running and added HIIT after reading up on making the change.  The impression I got from the articles I read was that you should consider adding in HIIT into a workout if your blood pressure is good and your resting heart rate is below 60.  HIIT stresses your body in different ways than cardio, depleting your oxygen stores and burning carbohydrates.  The hype behind interval training is that it kickstarts your metabolism and causes you to continue burning calories long after the workout has finished.  While HIIT seemed like a debatable change, the need for weightlifting seemed pretty obvious.  Almost every fitness expert recommends a balance of weightlifting and cardio because increased muscle mass changes the amount of calories your body burns.  Fitness experts would probably recommend weightlifting twice a week, but I have not yet developed a great love of weightlifting and I think it's more important to have a workout schedule I love than the perfect, ideal workout combination.

I am paying for the changes to my workout in terms of my ability to run.  It's not as easy to run one day per week as it was to run three and that has meant it's a bit more challenging each time I do run. I was able to ignore all of my feelings about my decreased running ability on my running day today because the weather was beautiful.  Running felt beautiful.  I ran with my arms outstretched.  Houston is perfect this time of year.

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