Happy Monday, dear gal. I’m so tempted to wish you a “Happy New Year” because somehow, being a Monday and all, it just feels more like today is the beginning of 2020 to me. In fact, I’m putting my personal New Year’s goals and routines into effect today. Of course, a big part of my goals have to do with staying physically fit. What about you? That’s why I thought today might be a good time to share with you why I quit running and how I exercise instead.
I ran for years and thoroughly enjoyed it. No, I was never a long distance runner. I kept my mileage around 3-4 miles, 3-4 times per week. And I ran at about an 11 minute mile pace. But, during my 30s and 40s that was enough to keep my metabolism churning and my clothes fitting nicely.
I also enjoyed running because it made me feel better emotionally. If I was having a no-good, horrible, terrible day, I’d hit the pavement and, sure enough, life would look a whole lot better around mile two.
But when I hit my 50s, my exercise regimen of 3-4 runs and a little weight training each week no longer did the trick. I steadily put on weight and also started to feel exhausted. My runs no longer invigorated me. They wore me out and left me feeling depleted. So I started just walking…long distances. Up until a couple of years ago I was walking about 5 miles 5-6 times a week…and still putting on weight.
When I discovered the FASTer Way to Fat Loss quite accidentally a couple of years ago, I was mostly intrigued with the intermittent fasting component. And observing a shortened (7 hour) eating window definitely played a big role in my loss of about 20 pounds and two sizes.
But I also learned from participating in the FASTer Way to Fat Loss that I was, in fact, over-exercising. That is, I was doing too much long cardio.
Aerobic exercise – or long cardio – is what we generally think of as a cardio workout. It’s any exercise where you raise your heart rate for a sustained period of time while working your body. Cardio or aerobic workouts include speed walking, running, swimming laps, bike riding, rowing, etc.
On the other hand, anaerobic exercises are those that involve quick bursts of energy performed at maximum effort for a short time. In fact, because you’re using so much energy, you then require a segment of time for recovery between those bouts of exertion.
Aerobic exercise, like running or walking, maximizes oxygen flow in the blood. Your heart rate speeds up for a sustained period, and that’s definitely good for your heart. We all need to move more each day for sure.
But I discovered that if I want to keep my metabolism burning and keep fat at bay, I have to incorporate more anaerobic exercises into my routine. And in fact, anaerobic exercise is more efficient and necessary for keeping us strong, lean and healthy as we age. Why? “During anaerobic exercise, your body requires immediate energy. Your body relies on stored energy sources, rather than oxygen, to fuel itself. That includes breaking down glucose.” (from healthline.com)
Anaerobic workouts include things like HIIT or high intensity interval training, Tabatas, sprints and other weight lifting regimens. These don’t have to be high impact, mind you, simply high in intensity. So even if you need to take it easy on your joints, you can participate in high intensity workouts.
While aerobic exercise strengthens our hearts, increases our stamina and can even elevate our moods, it doesn’t necessarily build sufficient muscle mass, strengthen bone (for instance, swimming doesn’t help strengthen bones) or burn fat. In fact, when exercising aerobically, we generally have to keep our heart rate up for at least 30 minutes before we even begin to burn fat stores.
The bottom line is that if we want to build sufficient muscle mass so that we can stay active, vibrant and strong and if we want our bodies to efficiently burn fat, we’re wise to incorporate more anaerobic exercises into our weekly routine.
- burns fat
- builds muscle
- strengthens bone
- increases stamina
But here’s the catch. While most reasonably healthy people can begin an aerobic exercise program – such as walking, swimming, Zumba, hiking or biking – on their own, anaerobic exercises can be more risky. They’re simply harder on your body. That’s why it’s important to seek out a personal trainer or fitness coach to help you establish good form as you begin higher intensity workouts. (In the FASTer Way to Fat Loss you have access to daily live workouts, taped workouts and consultations with trainers to help you exercise safely and effectively.)
For the past two years I’ve been getting in two cardio workouts a week, but even those are anaerobic workouts. I generally do Tabata or HIIT workouts on Monday and I run 20 minutes of 20 second sprints followed by 40 second recovery walks on Tuesday. So whereas my cardio workouts used to last 40 minutes when I ran or 75 minutes when I switched to walking, I’m finishing them up in 20 to 30 minutes these days. That’s less stress on my body and less time out of my day.
Then I get in three weight training workouts, ideally, during the rest of the week. Of course, these are anaerobic workouts, too.
If you’ve not been exercising at all, you may want to begin with mild aerobic exercise. Whether you walk, swim, row, hike or take a Zumba class, just go! Start slow and low. But set goals so that you build up to at least 30 minutes of steady, heart-pumping movement 3 to 5 times a week.
But if you are can relate to my experience and your metabolism has slowed, I suggest you look into adding more anaerobic workouts to your routine. By the way, I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism just before I began FASTer Way to Fat Loss and went on medication to improve the function of my thyroid. But medication did not improve my metabolism. So don’t go looking for the solution in a pill. Medicine can help level out your thyroid count, but it won’t speed up your metabolism enough to help you lose the weight.
Please keep in mind that I’m not a doctor or a fitness expert. I’m simply sharing what I’ve learned and what has worked for me. Definitely seek the advice of your doctor before making drastic changes to your fitness program. And certainly seek out professional help if you choose to begin high intensity, anaerobic workouts. That’s why I do suggest the FASTer Way to Fat Loss wholeheartedly and without apology. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, this program simply is the best I know of for learning healthy dietary practices and effective workouts. I’m glad to answer any questions you have. And if you hurry on over to the website, you may be able to get into the FWTFL round that began today. It’s well worth the investment in your health.
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Blessed for My Day
As we look out on the upcoming year, most of us are seasoned enough to know that there’s no way to predict what is to come. There will be joys and sorrows, unexpected twists and ho-hum days, gains and losses and more changes than most of us care to navigate. Looking at a blank calendar is both exciting and a little sobering.
But this I know. While we’re dodging pitfalls and overcoming hurdles, Jesus will be preparing a place for us in heaven. While we’re celebrating and mourning, Jesus will be preparing a place for us. And while we’re getting through the monotonous and laughing through the hilarious, Jesus will be preparing a place for us. And then, one day soon, He’ll come back for us. Mark my word. Better yet, mark His.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” ~ John 14:1-3