Category Archives: Fitness

Atlanta’s Reverse Parade

THIS This Independence Day I ran the Atlanta Peachtree Road Race for the 6th time.  It’s one of my favorite traditions in this fair city and has become as much a Fourth of July tradition as fireworks. The Peachtree Road Race is the world’s largest 10K race.  60,000 runners, ages eight to eighty, clog Peachtree Rd/St starting at 7:30am.  Some runners are serious competitors, but most are in it for fun.  Especially those who run donning costumes.  This year I spotted a pair of Oompa Loompas and Harlem Globetrotter legend Meadowlark Lemon (complete with tri-colored basketball dribbled the entire 6.2 miles). Over 150,000 spectators line the course.  This year I ran past 4 live bands, 3 “free beer” stands, 5 citizens exhorting runners through a bullhorn, a clergyman cooling runners with holy water, and countless tiny American flags. The whole thing is a reverse parade.  Those on the sidewalks entertain the street bound passersby. But my love for the Peachtree serves another purpose: it’s a yearly motivation to stay in shape.  At least good enough shape to complete the race without much struggle, if not in personal record time. Make a “stay in shape” tradition of your own.  Find an annual race or competition in your area and vow to be there every year.  Even if you finish 17,653rd.

Remembering Workout Rule #1

forrest_gump

So far this year I’ve been struggling to find my motivation to hit the gym.  Oh, I’ve made it there several times, but it has felt like a chore. Chores aren’t fun.  You find reasons not to do them.

Then last week I went for a run and remembered the most important aspect of any workout regime…you have to like it.

Beating the streets has been my go-to exercise since high school.  I love how it clears my mind.  I love how easy it is to do anywhere. And I appreciate the immediate feedback of going farther than last time.

I know jogging isn’t the most effective way to work the body.  Too steady state.  But it burns more calories than deciding on today’s excuse for skipping the gym.

I really don’t mind hitting the gym.  In fact most of the time I like it.  Just, for some reason, not lately.  Which is why rediscovering my favorite form of exercise is so important.  For once again I’m looking forward to exercise.

“Figured, since I came this far…..”

2 Things I’ve Learned Never Going to Crossfit

crossfit

If you’re unaware, Crossfit is an intense, full body fitness regimen that has gained popularity across the country.

I’ve never stepped foot in a Crossfit gym.  At least not with designs on working out.  But my best friend and his girl are avid Crossfitters.  So I’ve picked up on a couple things talking to them.  I’ve also picked up that my buddy is in the best shape of his life.

Lesson #1: Reps baby, reps.  A lot of what Crossfit does is pretty simple.  Workouts are based on completing a certain number of reps of a particular exercise or exercises.  You work until you’ve done them all.  Rest as needed.

For example, if the workout calls for 50 pushups, by god, you do 50 pushups.  No matter how long it takes.  Which is lesson #2…

Lesson #2: Judge improvement on time.  From what I understand, Crossfit isn’t as concerned with how much you can bench.  Instead, Crossfit cares how long it took you to do those 50 pushups compared to last week.  Proper form required.

By focusing on time, judging your improvement, and sparking your motivation, becomes easier.  And constantly switching up the daily workouts keeps your body from plateauing.

So use the Crossfit design in your workouts.  Pre-determine the number of reps per exercise, then work as quickly as you can to finish.  See how you can improve your time over the course of a week or two.  Then switch up the workout.

Alternatively, attend a Crossfit class.  Especially this one…

(If you have any questions regarding what Crossfit is all about, post them in the comments section.  I’ll have my Crossfitter friends dispel any myths.)

New Series: Do This Now!

Today I’m introducing a new occasional series entitled Do This Now!  The idea is to present simple actions to lead you to a healthier lifestyle.  Read This Now!

Do This Now!  Sign up for a yoga class.

Doing yoga doesn’t necessarily make you thin.  But it keeps you limber as the sands of time push your aging muscles toward rigidity.  Don’t underestimate the benefit of being able to touch your toes.  Just ask professional athletes.

Yoga is also an activity you can do as long as your upright.  If you’re still pushing 2oolbs off your chest in your 6th decade you may be doing more harm than good.  But it’s in these later years when yoga keeps your body ready for the activities you enjoy.

Yoga also helps me reduce stress, play better golf, sleep sounder, and be more flexible for other, ahem, bedroom activities.  Not bad for an exercise that has lasted thousands of years.

Try yoga this week.  Most studios will give you a complimentary first free class.  Go here to find a class near you.  Do It Now!

A Workout Scheduling Reminder

In late March I had surgery to repair a lower abdominal surgery.  This meant no exercising for 2 weeks post-op.  When I was cleared to do as I wish I went back into fitness with vigor.  Perhaps too much vigor.

After several strenuous workouts and an ill advised 5K with a sore abdomen, I injured the surgically repaired area.  Now my doc has given me another month sentence of only mild activity.  Thankfully he allowed hitting the golf course.

Since I’ve been convalescing I’ve put on weight.  More accurately I’ve lost muscle and gained fat.  Unfortunately that’s expected. It’s terribly difficult to adjust eating habits on the fly. It’s even hard when you see them coming.

Though this is frustrating I recently relearned an important lesson.

Schedule your workouts!

In my inactivity frustration I’ve mapped out all of my workouts for a month when I’m off restrictions.  I now have a road map to ease back into a solid fitness routine.  Hopefully one that won’t put me back on the bench again.

Follow my lesson, whether hurting or healthy.  Schedule your workouts.  Put them in your calendar like an appointment.  You’ll be less likely to skip.  And don’t get a hernia.  They’re a pain in the….

Running Without Shoes

barefooted.com

Tomorrow brings a favorite Atlanta Fourth of July tradition, The Peachtree Road Race.  Starting at 7:30am 55,000 runners and walkers will compete in the world’s largest 10K race.  Sadly, for the first time in 4 years I won’t be in the field.  But if I was, I’d be wearing shoes.

Ok, so that would be the norm.  But the new trend of barefoot running (or nearly barefoot) has grown a lot since I first ran the Peachtree.

Why in the world would someone want to run barefoot?  The most common answer is better form and fewer injuries.  Barefoot running promotes landing on the ball of your feet, the way, it’s believed, nature intended.

In well padded running shoes, we have a tendency to land on our heel first.  So called heel striking puts more pressure on our hips and legs, leading to injuries.

Some barefoot runners also assert their way is more efficient.  But a recent study refutes that claim.

Still, the advent of barefoot running has led to an explosion of so called minimalist running shoes.  You may recognize the Vibram Five Finger version. They essentially look like gloves, with a distinct place for each piggy to reside.

So is barefoot running superior?  Honestly, I’ve never tried it so I don’t know.  However, I think the merits of injury reduction are valid.  If you don’t count stepping on a pop top.

Diet > Exercise

Happy Memorial Day weekend!   It’s the “official’ beginning of summer and the time when I can wear white shoes without ridicule from my wife.

Summer is also the time of year when folks feel most insecure about their weight.  What with pool parties, beach trips, and the like, commonplace.

So here’s a quick reminder when you’re trying to lose a few or maintain where you are:

Weight loss and maintenance is 80% diet, 20% exercise.

Exercise is great!  It burns calories, lessens stress, and strengthens the body.  But it doesn’t do much for our weight compared to what we put in our mouths.  Consider:

  • 30 minutes of walking at a brisk pace burns 200 calories.  You can erase that with 3 Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies.  A 16 ounce Coca-Cola will cancel your walk too.
  • 3 miles jogging at 10 min/mile pace will burn about 350 calories.  One regular slice of pepperoni pizza undoes that workout.  As does a hot dog with ketchup and mustard.

Remember to keep working out.  Just remember, don’t exercise to “earn” bad foods.  Exercise because it feels good.  And eat smartly at this weekend’s cookout.  Two hot dogs max…