When Exercise Makes You Fat

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Just because you hit up the gym doesn’t mean you can hit up the cookie jar.

In just a few weeks I will be able to check off a bucket list item: complete a half marathon. I was encouraged to sign up by a coworker and have been hitting the pavement for long runs on the weekends. On days when I really push it, I feel like I deserve to reward myself with a delicious meal. I burned calories running so I can enjoy a burger and fries, right? Wrong.

While serious athletes such as marathon runners require additional calories to refuel and rebuild throughout the day and especially after a workout, it can be easy to fall into the “now I can eat whatever I want” mode and overdo it. This, of course, leads to stalled or decreased performance and could even result in increase fat mass.

There are a few things you can do to make sure you are supplying your body with the additional nutrition is needs without taking it too far:

1. Choose the right kinds of foods to add to your daily routine as training increases.

Because endurance athletes engage in low to moderate intensity exercise over a long duration, they rely largely on the glycogen (or stored glucose) within muscles to produce energy. That’s often why higher carbohydrate diets are touted for endurance athletes–it helps replace glycogen in the muscles. By including fruit, vegetables, and grains, you can provide your body with the carbohydrates it needs. Optimal amounts of high-quality protein (such as whey protein) are also important to repair muscle that becomes damaged from the prolonged bouts of training. Shoot for about 30 grams of protein per meal.

2. Be realistic about the amount of additional calories you need.

Just because you ran for 30 minutes doesn’t mean you can scarf down two pieces of pizza and a soda guilt-free. If you are casually jogging on a flat surface without much of an increase in heart rate, you aren’t going to be burning the hundreds of calories you think you are.

3. Listen to your body, not your mind.

Are you really hungry or does that maple-frosted donut just sound good? Our bodies are amazing creatures and have all the mechanisms in place to let us know when it needs sustenance. Unfortunately, many times we let our brains can take over and we eat to satisfy a craving rather than our hunger. Listen to your body and grab food when your body is really asking for it.

Serious endurance athletes need to provide their bodies with adequate nutrition, but remember that it doesn’t give you a get-out-of-jail-free card. You still need to eat healthy, balanced meals and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t let exercise make you fat.

Resource

Hulmi JJ et al. Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Jun 17;7:51.

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HIIT

When it comes to staying fit and healthy, I’m all about quick, high-intensity workouts. You will never find me at the gym casually strolling on an elliptical for 60 minutes. Not only is that boring, it’s neither efficient nor effective for burning fat or stimulating muscle growth.

Instead, I am a huge fan of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves quick bursts of energy expenditure (30 seconds to 2 minutes) followed by a rest period (30 seconds to 1 minute). The high intensity intervals get you sweating and your heart pumping in a short amount of time. That’s the best part–there’s no need for a 60 minute workout. For example, instead of going on a 4 mile run, I’d rather jog over to the park and do 10 sprints up the hill followed by a cool down. In just 30 minutes of HIIT, I feel accomplished and satisfied.

There’s a lot of research supporting HIIT for weight loss. In a recent study with over 4,000 subjects, researchers found that intensity of a workout mattered more than how long they exercised. Those who worked out at a higher intensity had a lower risk of obesity whether it was performed in sessions shorter or longer than 10 minutes.

Many of the latest workout videos are based on HIIT (think P90X or Insanity). While I enjoy going to the gym, there are hectic days when I can’t even afford the 10 minute drive and, instead, a quick video workout gets the job done. I personally like the Insanity DVDs. In fact, when I traveled for a work conference last month, I took the DVDs along with me and did the workouts in my hotel room.

Another great resource for workout routines can be found in health and wellness magazines (Women’s Health, Shape, etc). I actually keep a folder of tear-outs from magazines and randomly choose one to do at the gym–or for a morning workout, in my living room. These routines usually offer exercises that I have never tried before so I end up working new muscles and always feel it the next day.

For me, working out is more than just about staying in shape–it’s a stress reliever. For that reason, I also enjoy walking my dog or doing yoga, activities where you can let your mind relax. For a fantastic resource, try doyogawithme.com where you can watch free yoga and pilates videos. (I really enjoy the teacher Kim Wilson because most of her classes are around 20 minutes.)

Overall, I don’t stress about how long I workout. I focus more on how it makes me feel. My goal is 3, 3, 1–three days of cardio (running/spin class), three days of resistance training (weights at the gym), and one day of balance (yoga/pilates) per week. Many times those workouts mix together, say if I take my dog for a run and then do 15 minutes of yoga.

So, what’s the best workout? Whatever makes you feel refreshed, confident, and accomplished.

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Easy Workout For Busy People

Clicking your mouse isn’t exactly going to make the pounds melt away. Nice try.

Jenna Wolfe, the TODAY weekend anchor, offers some advice on exercise you can do while sitting at your desk. I printed out these tips and posted them on the wall in my cubicle. When it comes to your health, its the small things that add up! 

1.) If you’re sitting at your desk at work, try lifting both feet off the ground: 30 seconds on, five seconds off. Do it 10 times — you’ll feel the deep burn in your abs. 

2.) Also at your desk, you can do some strength training exercises. Place both hands flat on your desk and press down as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Then place them underneath the desk and press up. Do this a few times. You’ll feel it.

3.) Next, while still sitting at your desk, stick your legs straight out in front of you, cross one on top of the other, criss-crossing them for 30 seconds. Rest for five seconds. Repeat five times.

4.) Waiting for the bus or subway? Stand on one foot for a minute and then switch, working on balance and core strength.

5.) Instead of the elevator, take the steps — and don’t hold the rails to add some extra umph to your stair climb.

The Fountain of Health

Hydration

Summer is coming and temperatures are rising. Whether you are training for a marathon or simply enjoy hiking once in a while, it is extremely important to stay hydrated during these blistering Arizona months.

Fast Fact: There is a 10% decrease in your mental performance when you feel thirsty.” -Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation

Water makes up about 70% of total body weight. Exercising in the heat can cause the body to lose excessive amounts of water, leading to rapid onset of fatigue, swelling, joint pain, dizziness, cramps, nausea, headaches, confusion, and more.

Here are some tips on how you can make sure your body is getting the hydration it needs:

  1. Follow a schedule: Do what works best for YOU. Have a glass of water first thing in the morning and right before bed. Drink before, during, and after exercise.
  2. Recognize the early signs of dehydration. DO NOT rely on thirst; by that time, it’s too late. Check the color of your urine. The less clear it is, the more you are in need of hydration. Are your lips dry and cracked? If so, grab a bottle of water.
  3. Get a water bottle/jug that displays measurements on the outside. By having a water bottle that shows exactly how much you are consuming, you are more likely to actively stay hydrated.
  4. Eat foods that have a high water content: Fruits & vegetables are great carbohydrate snacks and are packed with water. Pair with protein such as peanut butter, beef jerkey, hard boiled egg or string cheese for a balanced snack.
  5. Freeze your drink. Put bottles of water in the freezer overnight to allow the drink to stay cold longer.
  6. Make water tasty. Fill ice cube trays with fresh lemon or lime juice to make delicious frozen cubes to throw in a glass of water. It’s an easy and healthy way to add some flavor.
  7. Weight yourself. Chart your weight before and after exercising to see how much weight you lost– this is mostly due to water loss. After activity, drink 24 oz for every pound of weight loss (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics-Sports Nutrition). Remember that it is dangerous to overhydrate as well.

water bottles

So how much water should you drink each day??

0.5 ounces x Body Weight in Pounds = Daily Fluid Requirement in ounces: For example, a 130 lb adult would require about 65 ounces of water per day.

To put things into perspective, standard water bottle is about 16.9 ounces. So a 130 pound person would have to drink about 4 standard water bottles per day to reach adequate hydration.

Fast Fact: If you are intensely exercising (especially if it is in extreme heat) for 60 minutes or more, a sports drink may be beneficial in helping with electrolyte replacement. 

I like this idea for keeping track of how much water you drink throughout the day:

water measurements

Slaying Lower Back Pain

Hi guys! Say hello to my first guest blogger, Jordan Wolf:)

 

Hey Skinny Dippers,

Jordan Wolf signing in here. First of all, thanks to Gillean and followers for allowing me a guest spot on here. While Gillean is in charge of taking control of your sexiness from the inside out, I’m going to take a shot at the outer shell. Follow me if you will….

Whether it be an athlete or an everyday warrior the most common beast to rear its ugly head is the dreaded Lower Back Pain. Treating lower back pain is estimated to cost Americans approx. 20-50 Billion dollars a year. While this is great news for chiropractors all over the world, lower back pain (LBP) is not only hurting our bods but our wallets. While the Rice Krispie Chiropractic treatment (snap, crackle, pop) has people walking out of the office feeling good the real issue has not been adequately addressed. Instead, why don’t we focus on putting out the real fire (muscular imbalances) instead of the smoke (localized pain)? Whether your daily activities involve sitting in front of a blue screen all day, driving countless hours, or just taking care of the little ones we spend an incredible amount of time in hip flexion (think of your body as a folded up lawn chair). This position not only comprises hip mobility but manipulates the spine as well. As you read this, is your mid-back (thoracic spine) rounded? Is your head in the forward Turkey Gobbler position? You just straightened up, didn’t you? Yeah.

Attacking the hips:

After sitting in that ghastly folded lawn chair position for God only knows how long, the front side of the hip becomes locked short, specifically the psoas complex (also known as the hip flexors, which surprisingly attach the spine) and rectus femoris (those beastly quads). Got a bed or couch? Perfecto. Before shooting out the door in the morning take a second and hook one foot on the edge of your bed and open that front side of your hip. Resist the urge to bend back crunching your lower back even more and shooting a disc thru your belly button, but instead think about pushing the front of your hip forward and dipping as low as you can go without making the ugly pain face. Side bar- stretching so far as to where you make the pain face is never bueno, stretching to a point of pain may cause the target muscles to go into protect mode and contract further. When you get home from the day, grab your favorite beverage, or a Gillean inspired snack, turn on Dancing with the Stars and throw that foot up on the backrest of the couch with your knee on the butt cushion, other foot on the ground and re-open that front side. If someone yells at you for having your feet on the couch, tell them Gillean said it was ok, leave me out of it.

Message in a bottle: Front side hip mobility, or lack of, is the number one culprit of lower back pain. Keep that front side open. Sneak in a quick front side stretch with your chair when your boss isn’t looking. If you get active frequently in the gym a quick front side mob (active stretch) before your workout will provide noticeable differences with your range of motion throughout your activities.

stay mobile. stay sexy.

Here is a link to a youtube.com video demonstrating a few quality hip stretches:

http://youtu.be/XNN3K2qj-L0

Wolf

 

Jordan Wolf is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S.) and a Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He received his BA in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Exercise Science. Jordan has completed courses from the Postural Restoration Institute and The Prague School of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization.