Saturday, August 30, 2008

Give Your Body a Reason to Change

Two weeks down and two weeks to go at Fitness Ridge (now The Biggest Loser Resort) in Utah! Once a week, we take a class called Treading. It is the class people fear the most. Why? Because the goal is to have you challenge your body to the point where you can hardly breathe, can't go another second, and if you throw up - that's a bonus.

It's an interval training class where you take your heart rate beyond your fat burning stage and into your anaerobic state. Here's a quick explanation:

The words aerobic and anaerobic refer to energy pathways that are utilized during exercise. Aerobic means "with oxygen" and anaerobic means "without oxygen".

Fat needs oxygen to burn completely so in order to burn fat during an exercise we need to move slowly and smoothly. This enables muscle cells to be supplied with enough oxygen to continue with its aerobic capacity and utilize fat as the main energy source.

Anaerobic exercise requires moving at an increased pace or with greater effort. Exercising this way burns more calories but results in a greater demand for oxygen which cannot be delivered in sufficient quantities to allow cells to continue burning fat. When we breathe heavy we start to develop an oxygen debt and muscle cells switch to burning mainly carbohydrates, this fuel burns quickly and does not require oxygen.

So, basically, we were asked to take our bodies to the limit in intervals. How did we know when we reached our limit? We shouldn't have been able to breathe through our nose, we should not have been able to talk, and when it was time to recover, we should be gasping for air.

For 5 minutes, you go all out. If you are use to running on the treadmill at 6.0, you should run at 7 or 8 and, oh, by the way add an incline. Then, you recover for 5 minutes. Go hard for 4 minutes, recover 4. All the way down to one minute.

During the class, Michelle, one of the owners and the instructor, kept challenging us to push harder - "giving our bodies a reason to change".

I thought more and more about that phrase, and realized that we all need to give our bodies a reason to change. Why? Because most of us have been lying to our bodies and now it wants evidence before it responds to you. What do I mean?

How many of you have said any of the following:

"On Monday, I'm starting my diet."
"Starting next week, I'm going to work out 5 days a week."
"I'm going to start cooking healthier."
"I'm going to cut back, soda, alcohol, smoking."
"I'm not going to eat out so much."
"I'm going to cut back my sugar intake."
"I'm going to walk for an hour everyday."

I know I've been guilty of saying those things. It's like crying wolf and your body no longer believes you. Your body now wants evidence that you really want to be healthy and fit, no longer just taking your word for it. Once you give it that evidence - by what you eat and how you exercise - it will begin to respond to you. Your endurance will increase, your heart will become stronger, your internal organs will work at the optimal level, and, oh yeah, you'll lose weight.

If leading a healthy lifestyle is on your list of things to do, then you have to give your body a reason to believe you this time...a reason to change.

By the way, I made it through the class - barely. I didn't throw up, but on every recovery, I was leaning on the treadmill as if my life depended on it! And if you're wondering about my'll have to stay tuned. I won't reveal the numbers until the end of my 4 weeks!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

We had been staring at each other almost a full 5 minutes. He looked at me and I stared right back. Neither one of us willing to back down. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and was the first to cave.

"Please, Monte. Will you just pee for mommy. Pleeeeeeease!"

Yet, my cute, 7lb Maltese just continued to stare at me, unaffected by my begging and pleading.
You see, I'm not the only one trying to adjust to this crazy new lifestyle in Utah at Fitness Ridge (now The Biggest Loser Resort). My dog is also having quite the challenge.

When we arrived last Sunday, after almost 7 hours of travel, I finally took Monte out for a walk. He took a few steps, looked around, took a few more steps, looked around, and then looked at me as if I had lost my mind. You know what he did? NOTHING. Knowing he probably had to really go, I wondered what the problem was. Then I realized that we were in the desert. No grass. And this dog was refusing to go the bathroom in red dirt.

Later on that first day, Monte stared at me with slight disgust as he watched me put together the crate that he would be in when I wasn't in the room. This would be a HUGE change from life at home where he was king of the castle. With full reign of the house and a lush lawn to take care of his business, he was living the life. Here, it was a very different story. And Monte Rainey didn't look happy - at all.

But a funny thing has happend to both of us over the last week and a half. Monte happily pees and poops in the desert - granted, he did manage to find a tiny bush that he pretends is grass. And when he sees me putting on my tennis shoes? He goes into his crate - unasked - and lays down.

As for me, who would have thought that I would get up before the sun rises to exercise? But I haven't missed a 6:30am hike yet. I could never have imagined that I could survive on 1200 calories. However, I now sometimes leave a little food on my plate. I certainly didn't think it was possible to workout 6 hours a day and have the energy to stay up past 9:00 - but I do.

What about you? Do you need to learn some new tricks? What habits do you need to break or change to create the life you want? I invite you to join me and Monte - for both of us have been retrained and are learning some new tricks!

Friday, August 22, 2008

What's Up With the Food in Utah?

I'm finishing up my first week at Fitness Ridge (now The Biggest Loser Resort) in Utah - with three weeks to go. The workouts continue to be intense with 2 hour hikes every morning and 4-5 additional classes throughout the rest of the day.

I have been so tired by the end of the day - I've been sleep before 10 every night! But it's amazing what your body can do and mine has been surprising me every day - burning thousands of calories. Just when you think you can't do one more squat, one more set, or even one more stretch, your body delivers!

So what are they fueling us with? All I can say - it's a good thing I went vegan/vegetarian a year ago! Otherwise, my body and tastebuds may have revolted!

Well, let me start by telling you what they are NOT feeding us. They do not have caffeine anywhere - no coffee, soda, or tea. Oh yeah - no juice. What do we drink? You either have water or herbal tea! Period. That's okay for me because I was already drinking green tea or water for the most part anyway. But the coffee and soda drinkers have had to deal with the headaches that come from withdrawel.

They don't use any meat except turkey/chicken/salmon - and out of 21 meals for the week, they use them 3-5 times. Since I don't eat meat and rarely eat seafood, they replace my meat with a bocaburger or just vegetables!

There is no dairy at the resort - that's right. They will use egg whites a couple of times a week, but everything else is soy. (They made a chocolate parfait with tofu - and it was pretty good!)
Looking for something white? Flour, bread, sugar, pasta? Nope. Not here.
So how much food do we get? 1200 calories. That's for the whole day - breakfast, lunch and dinner including dessert.

What's 1200 calories equal to? It's equal to a quarter pounder with cheese, large fries and a medium soda. Or 2/3 of an PERSONAL cheese pizza from Uno's. (That's right, you can't eat the whole personal pizza!) You could also have a Caesar salad, dressing, rustic bread, and large soda from COSI Sandwich and Salad shop.

Still, I have yet to be hungry! What have I been eating? French toast, pancakes, egg mcmuffin, bocaburgers, teriyaki bowls, meatloaf, stuffed potatoes, pasta, lots of good soup, sandwiches, fruit cobbler, and banana cake.

Now, none of these things taste like what you think they would, but nonetheless, if you want to make a change in your eating - things will not taste the same. That doesn't mean that they won't be good - they just won't be what you're used to. And I have to say that I've liked just about all the food.

If getting healthier is on your "to-do" list, why not start with your next meal? Whatever you choose - make it healthy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting Healthy and Fit - In Utah

What better time to start a blog than when I'm starting a new adventure!

I've been focused on living a healthy lifestlyle and last year, made a personal decision to give up meat, most dairy, and most processed food. Through that lifestyle change, I lost weight and felt much better. But that didn't do anything for my fitness level. So, in an effort to jumpstart my workout program, I enrolled in a 4-week fitness camp - in Utah called Fitness Ridge (now The Biggest Loser Resort).

After packing tons of workout clothes, new tennis shoes, and my doggie, I headed for the airport. I arrived this past Sunday - full of excitment and anticipation. Well, that all ended Monday morning when, at 6:30am, I headed out for my first hike in the mountains. By 7:15, not only was I ready to stop - I didn't think I had the energy to turn around. Instead, I just wanted to lay down by the side of the road and hope that someone would come by and pick me up!
But just when I was ready to give up, one of the guides came back to me and said 4 simple words - "You Can Do It". And for the last mile of the 4.5 mile hike (which was all incline), she helped me set a walking pace and talked me all the way to the top. I don't know how I would have made it without her.

What about you? Who is your supporter and encourager? Who can you count on to help you when you are ready to give up? Is it your spouse, a family member, a mentor, a coach, or someone you don't know but admire from afar. If you don't have someone, it's important that you find someone. They are the ones that will be your cheerleader - even when you're ready to lay out on the side of the road!

By the way, that hike was followed by yogalates, cardio circuit, circuit training, aquacise and tai chai. Yep, that's 6 hours of exercise - and that was just day 1!

I know what you're thinking - you're thinking with all that activity, we must be getting a ton of food for energy. Yeah, right. On my next blog entry in a couple of days, I'll tell you about the food. I'll keep you posted...just 27 days to go!