Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Great April Experiment

Only two more days until my experiment with more intense exercise and calorie counting. Beginning this Thursday, I will be devoting four hours per day to exercise. I will be strict with my calorie count, and I'm going to keep track of my measurements. It's like my own mini version of The Biggest Loser. I'll chronicle my progress here each Tuesday, and I'm hoping that it will be productive and inspiring. This comes at a good time because I've been traveling for two weeks now, and though I haven't seen a big weight gain (probably because of the amount I've walked), I can feel the need to get more strict with both exercise and food intake.

Since it's spring now, my activity options have opened up. There's the yard to be mowed and flower beds to be weeded. Walking outside is always more fun than on the treadmill. And that feeling of renewal and happiness that comes with spring and warmer, longer days fuels the desire to better oneself. So that brings me to my question to you all -- what fitness/health goal would you like to set for yourself in April? Share them in the comments, and each Tuesday tell us how you're doing. Stating a goal publicly and reporting in regularly are proven ways to meet those goals, and we want to see all of your meet those goals on the road to being a healthier writer.


Rachel Kleinsorge on March 30, 2010 at 8:53 AM said...

In preparation for a Spring 5K I've set a goal of running every other day, no matter what. I know that consistency is the key to achieving my goals, so I'm going to be consistent.

But Trish... I'm a little worried about 4 hours a day. Be sure you incorporate lots of low or no impact exercise in that schedule. I know Biggest Loser is an inspiration but you don't see enough of the pain and health side effects that the contestants must go through for me. Please be careful with yourself, a stress fracture or injured tendon will put you off exercise for a long time.

Michelle Butler on March 30, 2010 at 9:46 AM said...

Spring and Daylight Savings Time are making it easier for me to motivate to go to the gym after work. Like you, I am trying to increase my exercise and do a better job of accurately counting (in points) what I eat daily.

I know you've interviewed biggest loser contestants. Did they have rest and recovery times planned into their weekly schedules? That makes a big difference in how my body feels, and I find them helpful. It always amazes me how much more I can push in the gym the day after a rest day.

My most intense regular exercise period in my life for the past ten-fifteen years was last summer and fall. (Really, longer and warmer days help me get to the gym.) I had to build up to it. There may have been days when I approached 4 hours of exercise a day, but I doubt it. Perhaps 4 hours of activity (counting walking, house cleaning, standing, etc.)

I know I had many days of 2-3 hours of exercise, but I definitely built up to it. I also felt it and had to plan so that I could recover. For example, the weight lifting class was pretty intense. I never did that two days in a row. I liked to have at least one day if not two between them. I also might skip or coast through the strength training exercise components of a step class after the body pump class or even the day after a body pump class.

Are you training for an endurance event? A long run or walk or bike ride? That can sometimes include very long periods of exercise, but they also have very definied training plans, and I think they limit the really long stretches of exercise to certain days of the week - not every day.

Best wishes for your goals, Trish! I know you love to set ambitious goals for yourself.

Sally Kilpatrick on March 30, 2010 at 10:43 AM said...

Trish, good luck with your regimen--I know you'll do well. I think measurements are a very important part of getting in shape because sometimes the scale lies when the tape measure doesn't.

I have considered training for a half marathon. I think I'm out of my mind to think about it since I haven't run a 5K in well over ten years, but I've thought about it. My main goal this spring is to corral my schedule to get to the gym on a regular basis--as soon as the burn on my arm heals. It's frustrating because it's deep enough that I can't lift weights with that arm; I also can't get sweat into the wound. . . so I'm spinning my wheels for now and playing lots of Wii Tennis. : )

Michelle Butler on March 30, 2010 at 11:18 AM said...

Best wishes on the recovery of the burn on your arm! It sounds painful.

Rachel and Sally,
The Cool Running Web site: http://www.coolrunning.com/index.shtml
has a lot of training plans for running including a couch to 5K plan that many of my Weight Watchers buddies swear by. If you do end up training for a 5K or half marathon, you may find some helpful information there.

Elise Hayes on March 30, 2010 at 11:35 AM said...

I'm going to keep to my 5-day per week workout schedule, but try to start picking up the pace on my runs again. With all the ice and snow this winter, footing was treacherous and I had to slow WAY down. Time to pick it back up again!

Trish--Like Sally, I'm a bit worried about your 4-hour daily workout goal. That's something you really want to work up toward--and I worry as well that the four-hour goal is too ambitious. I have friends training for triathalons and iron men who, after 6 months of intensive training, may do 4 to 6 hour workouts twice a week--but they don't do it daily.

I'm no trainer, but when I had a series of groin pulls about ten years ago and was having trouble coming back from the injury (I kept reinjuring the stupid muscle), my marathoning friends took me aside and gave me advice. They suggested that I start with a very, very short run (like 5 minutes--about half a mile) and then add 10% on to that daily. If you *haven't* been working out regularly in the last six weeks, you may want to take something like that as a guide: start with a shorter time walking/running/biking (whatever) than you have been engaged in thus far (maybe a near-daily 20-minute walk, if you've been doing 30 minute walks just a couple times a week), and then add 10% to that daily. The idea is to start yourself at a *lower* point so that the near-daily workouts are sustainable without injuring yourself--and you build up to a bigger workout in a sustained, even way (again, with fewer chances of injury).

And really think about whether you want to commit to working out daily. The only time I've ever run daily was back in grad school when I was going through a particularly stressful period and running every day to handle stress. To manage that daily run, I actually cut my mileage back (from 6 miles to 4 miles daily) because the risk of injury is much higher once you start running more than 30 miles a week. I was really careful, because I did *not* want an injury to sideline me, when I was relying on the running to keep me sane.

I love your enthusiasm and dedication and I think you're going to have a really successful April--but make certain you're not pushing yourself too hard!

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