Read more about exercise induced inflammation and how to reduce it from the Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.
Professor Wayne Westcott offers an uplifting antidote to the news that the TV show’s contestants tend to gain back all the weight and burn fewer calories.
In this guest post, my client graciously shares his inner struggles and physical challenges while preparing for his first half ironman. I thank him for sharing his story and my friend, Pam, for the guidance in the pool.
Glug! – Plunging in at the deep end
Have you ever hastily committed to something, caught up in the excitement of a great vision or goal, and then realized you have neither the skills nor the time to do it?
My brother, an experienced triathlete, asked if I’d like to join him and friends for a Half ironman in July. Over the last 5 years I had been gradually getting fitter, losing 100 lbs and taking on cycling and running challenges. I loved the idea! I could see myself drinking a beer, celebrating a great event. My wife and kids loved the idea too and within a moment I parted with a big entrance fee and made travel plans.
Oh S**t what have I done!
“I can’t swim, I’m over 50, I go into panic when my head goes under water, I swallow water like it’s Guinness, I can’t swim half the length of a pool, and the thought of open murky water terrifies me.”
The sobering thoughts hit me like a bolt of lightning and I went into a grieving process.
- Denial – Surely I can’t have been stupid enough to sign up. Tell me this is a bad dream. I didn’t really sign up for a triathlon with open water swim–that’s not me.
- Anger – How could I be this stupid? What possessed me? I have set myself up for failure!
- Bargaining – Can I switch to a relay? Can someone else do the swim leg? Can I use water wings?
- Depression – I am going to let everyone down and never challenge myself again.
- Acceptance – Do the best. It’s going to be an experience and I’ll learn something in the process.
5 P’s of success
I use to be a heavy, unfit guy a few years ago. Slowly but surely I became fitter by challenging myself to do more. I conquered the Manitou incline, my first 5k and my first hike up Pikes Peak to name just a few. July’s half ironman was my biggest challenge yet but I persevered by focusing on these 5 P’s of success:
- Perspective – Who is going to die if you don’t do the swim? – Are there rescue boats that can help you if you get in trouble?
- Plan – How are you going to learn to swim? Join the “Y” and my friend can teach you the basics
- Persistence – Just do it, get yourself in the pool 2-3 times a week. Turning up is half the battle
- Practice – Even if you can only swim half a length, swim it multiple times, just practice!
- Patience – Be grateful for small steps. Don’t be critical and compare against expectations or others. You are unique
Of course, I continued to build strength, endurance and flexibility out of the pool; swimming skills needs arm, shoulder and leg strength. Without a regular sanity check against these principles, set backs are out of context.
Getting it done.
I read books, watched videos and spoke with people in the hope of getting that miraculous secret to overcoming my water fears. Every week I hoped that it would all come together like switching on a light. It didn’t happen, my progress was slow, and was more like a very slow unveiling until my first lake swim just a month before my big event.
To say I didn’t feel confident for the swim would be an understatement. Come the day of the race I was still unsure if I could complete the 1.2 mile swim. Family and friends were rooting for me. I was very slow, the rescue team were eyeing some action! I kept to the plan to finish within the cut off time, not to race the others. I remained persistent and patient and remembered to enjoy the moment as I passed each buoy. I was one of the last out of the water but I had such a sense of relief that I smiled all the way through the bike and run and finished the triathlon in the rain nearly an hour before the cut off.
Glutton for punishment and gambling addiction
What a huge emotional high! To complete something extreme that I could never have dreamed a few years ago. My brother asked if I’d do the Boulder half Iron next year, I signed up and am happy to say I haven’t gone through the dread of last year (yet). I hope to be more confident and prepared. People ask if I would like to do a full ironman, I would like to try one in a couple of years if someone will do it with me!
- Fear is an incredible force – Accepting that trying as hard as you can is reward enough can be hard to come to terms with. While this gamble turned out well this time, the more I push for bigger goals, the more inevitable setbacks will be. Reminding myself that when those occur, it’s okay, the experience of trying and learning is part of the adventure.
- The power of the mind can be greater than the body – Patiently balancing training of both is crucial.
- Getting the help of a professional trainer – One willing to take the time to look at the complete picture and help figure a way forward for both mind and muscle is imperative
- It’s very hard to do anything big on your own, being with friends and family on the journey. Celebrating, commiserating and putting things in perspective makes such a difference.
- Having a goal can be fun – Like looking forward to a vacation, having an event on the calendar can be great for keeping the spirits high and adding some spice to life.
Get strategic — and a little tricky — to eat more fruits and veggies
|Are you getting your fruit-and-veggie quota? You want to eat a variety of these nutritious and delicious foods. Why? Because it’s simply one of the best things you can do for your health. Each heading also provides a link to recipes or additional information!
1. Top off breakfast
2. Whip up a smoothie
3. Take a dip
Raw or lightly steamed vegetables offer the same satisfying crunch as crackers. Dunk them in salsa, hummus, garlicky low-fat yogurt or low-sodium marinara sauce.
4. Snazz up your sandwich
Go beyond the typical tomato and lettuce. How about tucking in some baby spinach, sliced peppers, avocado or cucumbers — or even sliced apple?
5. Make a Sunday roast
Of veggies, that is! In a hot oven, roast a colorful assortment of cut-up veggies, such as broccoli, red bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Use these flavorful jewels for dinners or quick snacks all week long.
6. Go for grate-ness
Grated vegetables add an extra layer of flavor and nutrition to your favorite recipes. Try any number of veggies — carrots, beets, squash, cauliflower, etc. — in sauces, mashed potatoes, meatloaf and casseroles.
7. Be a puree pro
Blend steamed butternut squash to make soup or for mixing into mac and cheese. Do you like to bake? Try fruit purees, such as mashed banana and unsweetened applesauce, to replace about half the fat in recipes for muffins, breads and other baked goods.
8. Grill to perfection
9. Order up
When dining out, select a light salad, steamed vegetables or fresh fruit as your side dish. And ask for extra veggies to enhance your omelet, tacos, pizza or pasta.
*Source: United Health Care newsletter September 2016
My friend Carrie–and her friend Laura–created this short video explaining how to properly adjust their fitness center’s spin bikes. I found the information extremely helpful and with their permission, am sharing it!
Carrie teaches at the Goldsboro Family YMCA and BellaMorphosis women’s gym at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. She is a certified Schwinn cycling instructor, AFAA certified group exercise instructor, and NASM personal trainer.
Even though your local fitness center may have different spin bikes, the basic adjustments are the same.
To adjust your spin bike, follow these steps:
- Adjust the seat height. Stand next to your bike and move the seat to your hip level.
- Adjust the seat height again, if necessary. While pedaling look at your knees. Is your knee lifting above hip height while pedaling? If it is, adjust the seat height so your knee is slightly below your hip.
- Move the seat forward or back (fore and aft position). While pedaling slowly, stop your feet at the 3 and 9 o’clock position. If a string was hanging from your knee, it would hit the center of the ball of your foot. Move the seat forward or back to correct this alignment.
- Adjust your handlebars. A higher handlebar position is suggested for beginners and lower position for advanced riders.
Have a road bike? Adjustments are similar. Access this link for further information.
Check yourself. How many minutes of structured aerobic activity do you accomplish weekly? According to federal physical activity guidelines, which are supported by the American Heart Association (AHA) & American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) we should strive to achieve:
150 minutes of moderate-intensity (65-85% of max heart rate) aerobic activity (a.k.a. “cardio”) per week.
This amount is for enhanced health and quality of life. In other words, this is the minimum amount of cardiovascular activity every individual should strive for to maintain their health.
Are you training for an event or race? Are you wanting additional health benefits? Looking to lose weight? If so, you’ll require additional aerobic activity. Yes, you have to do more! Such as:
300 minutes moderate-intensity aerobic activity (a.k.a. “cardio”) per week.
To ensure that you are meeting the aerobic activity guidelines, use the steps below:
|Choose your mode of activity.
Examples include: walking, running, aerobics class, cycling, swimming, hiking, Tabata, circuit, interval
|Create a weekly action plan. You will write down your plan for each week by listing:
|Record your daily aerobic activity.
Tools such as apps, pedometers, heart rate monitors, activity tracking devices, journals & online websites can be used to hold you accountable. Choose what works best for you and use it consistently!
|How to accumulate 150+ minutes of aerobic activity per week.||According to the CDC, 10 minutes at a time is fine!
We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Not only is it best to spread your activity out during the week, but you can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. As long as you’re doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time. Try going for a 10-minute brisk walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week. This will give you a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
|Apps that can help||Habitica, MapMyWalk, MapMyRide, MapMyRun, MyFitnessPal, Charity Miles|