In any attempt to lose weight and get healthy, exercise is a must. I know, biggest understatement of the year. I don’t claim to be a fitness expert but I do know that to be fit, one must reduce body fat percentage, increase lean muscle mass, increase stroke volume, and increase VO2 max. These are things the average bear doesn’t think about–hooray for having a biology background!
One of my personal fitness goals is to get my resting heart rate down to 60 beats per minute. Right now, it sits at a healthy 76 bpm, but I want it lower. To lower my resting heart rate would mean that my stroke volume would be increased and that my heart would not have to work nearly as hard when it pumps blood. Stroke volume is the quantity of blood ejected by the heart’s ventricles with each beat. The higher the stroke volume, the fewer times in a minute the heart has to beat to circulate blood around the body. And the fewer times in a minute the heart has to beat, the better shape the heart is in (for the most part) because it doesn’t have to work so hard to do its job. And how does one increase stroke volume? Doing cardio exercises, of course.
One of the things that we often forget is that the heart too is a muscle, and it needs to be worked out just like our skeletal muscles do. So we spend excessive amounts of time on cardio exercises, whether it is walking/running, using the elliptical (which I am convinced I will never learn to use because it terrifies the hell out of me), riding the stationary bike, or Zumba-ing, to the exclusion of strength training. Sometimes we spend so much time devoted to cardio activities that we forget we have to do strength training too. I am just as guilty as the rest of us at forgetting to work in strength training and that is something I promised myself I’d do more of as I move into 2014.
Today while I was getting dressed to go to the gym, I noticed some muscle definition in my legs that I’d never seen before. This was really exciting and freaky to me all at the same time. That’s one thing that has continually blown me away–seeing muscles under all this loose skin as the fat slowly takes its leave. While I don’t like what the fat is leaving behind in its wake as it disappears–the loose skin, wrinkles, and rolls–I quite like seeing the musculature underneath it all. Because I’d like to see even more of it, I’ve decided it’s time to finally start strength training. So tonight, after I did my time on the bike (30 minutes and nearly 5 miles–next time I’ll shoot for 5 miles), I decided on a light upper body workout. So I did the following:
- Lat pulldowns: 3 sets of 15 reps, 30 pounds
- Seated dip (triceps): 3 sets of 15 reps, 47 pounds (the machine is weird and the seat moves as you dip, so you’re moving your own weight as well)
- Bicep curls: 2 sets of 10 reps, 36 pounds (again, the machine’s seat moves as you lift)
I think next time I do upper body, I’ll add in chest press too, as well as some more upper back exercises like the seated row. I’m trying to remember all the stuff my old trainer used to have me do, and using that as my reference point. I also need to see what other machines our gym has, and learn some exercises I can do with the free weights too.
Funny, I thought about that time in my life–the time I hired a personal trainer for a year. I did build some muscle mass, but during that entire year that I worked with him, I lost and gained the same 10 pounds all year long. And I was a hundred pounds heavier then than I am now. When I sat down on the machines to do my exercises, it was so much easier than it was 100 pounds ago. So many things are easier now, 134 pounds lighter than I was 7 months ago!
Tomorrow I may go back for a leg workout. I haven’t decided yet. But I know strength training is something I need to do on a consistent basis to help tighten up some of my loose skin, to tone the muscles underneath it all, and to increase my body’s capacity for burning fat. Building my lean muscle mass is going to be extremely helpful getting these next 90+ pounds off of me, and what better time to start building it than now?
I was a protein beast today, getting in 90 grams of protein, along with 56 grams of carbs (which I DID NOT FEEL ONE BIT BAD ABOUT) and 38 grams of fat. I made an outstanding Mexican Chicken Lime soup from this recipe, and made some modifications to bump up the protein content and the flavor. Holy wow…it was awesome! I am looking forward to eating it for breakfast and lunch tomorrow! We are going out for shawarma with a friend tomorrow evening for New Year’s Eve, which I am looking forward to. I’ve already scoped out the menu for the place we’re headed to, and hubby and I are splitting a shawarma combo plate–it has beef and chicken shawarma on it, so I’ll eat the chicken, and he’ll eat the beef, and then we’ll both eat a bit of the hummus and baba ghanoush that comes with it. And maybe a bite or two of the pita. 🙂