Tag Archives: Physical fitness

Gassing Up

When I was the interim manager of a travel agency in Starkville, MS, a coworker joked about going over to Columbus to this Mexican restaurant to “gas up.”  The food was really good, but his assessment was right on the money; so, out of respect for each other, we scheduled those trips on Fridays.

My three kickboxing classes have reminded me about gassing up correctly.  For Saturday morning’s class, I remembered to get up in time to prepare the only breakfast that gives me enough energy to make it through that workout – a bowl of old fashioned or steel cut oatmeal with chia seeds, milled flax seeds, cinnamon and a mashed banana.  I’ve tried cold cereal.  Nope. Eggs, bacon and toast. Nope. Pancakes. Nope.  For me, this is the only breakfast that fuels me properly.  It’s my best way to gas up.  I have to eat it at least 60 minutes before class, but no more than 90.  Fewer than 60 may have me nauseated, but more than 90 and I run out of gas before the third mitt drill.  For my son, it’s different.  He needs to eat two hours prior and he needs a meal heavier in protein.

Speaking of protein, I have been hit this week with some pretty strong cravings…..for chicken and eggs. I know, right?  We’ve talked about cravings before and I truly do believe that they are often direct communication from our bodies addressing a specific deficiency.  When I think of food cravings, sugary foods usually come to mind.  My body is usually feeling tired and is demanding something for quick, ready energy; so, it creates visions of chocolate donuts dancing in my head.  Right now, my body doesn’t need the extra energy – it needs those amino acid chains. Right now, my body is telling me that it needs protein.

Working and building muscles – with push-ups, ab sprawls, squats, etc – actually damages them with tiny tears.  Protein repairs that damage, making the muscles stronger than before.    After hours of aerobic and isometric exercises, my aren’t ultimately feeling tired – they’re feeling damaged; so, my body is giving me A Chorus Line with barnyard fowl. (Take a moment and envision Bob Fosse choreographing for chickens. That’s priceless.)

Chicken Barn Dance by Matthew Finger
Chicken Barn Dance by Matthew Finger

Preparing for exercise, exercise itself and feeding your body afterwards are all crucial and, I believe, all very individual.  Walking is less effective for me than for many I know.  Lifting weights is good for everyone – but different weights and in different manners.  My body craves meat. You may be fine as a vegan. It’s all about YOU – your body, your metabolism, your heredity, your lifestyle.  Because it’s so personal, I think it’s important to educate yourself and to consult a professional.

In my profession, I hear it regularly: people have read this book, watched that show or listened to something else.  More than many, I can appreciate the value of self-education; however, I still go see my doctor for annual check-ups, you know what I mean? So, as you change your fuel and activity, talk with a doctor, a nutritionist, or a personal trainer.  When you see your doctor, your healthier stats are reported to your insurance carrier (which can have great effects on your rates, depending on what coverage you have.)  As for nutritionists and personal trainers,  health and fitness are ALL they do.  They’ve read more than you and I have time to.  They are educated on the subject – sometimes for years – and they know their professions.

You can make significant headway on your own, sure; however, this is what these people do. They are too valuable a resource to waste.

Kicking My Fanny Into Gear…Literally

I’m actually typing this blog with my nose. It is the only part of my body I can control to any degree right now. It is Wednesday night and I am writing my Thursday blog now because I’m fairly certain I won’t be able to do it tomorrow.

For the first time in about 10.5 months, I attended a kickboxing class tonight.  Before my knee surgery, I attended class with Karin’s Kicking Fitness three times a week.  I. LOVED. IT.  The class is hard, hard work if you really get into it.  You can take it easy on yourself if you like and hardly break a sweat, but I don’t.  I work hard and smell like a goat when I leave.  Here’s the thing: if I’m going to take it easy on myself, I’m going to be on the couch and some beer drinking and hockey watching are going to be involved. If I’m going to pay to attend an exercise class, then, by golly, I’m exercising.

left hand and heavy bagMy first class was on Valentine’s Day 2012.  I attended three times a week until late July when I hurt my knee (not in class, by the way).  During those six months, I missed no more than three classes and became a beast!  I was in the best shape of my life, hands down. My core was strong.  I could do push ups on my toes and first two knuckles. Squats, lunges, planks, mountain climbers, boot strappers, burpies – bring ’em on!  While the classes got easier, they were never easy.  Again, I. LOVED. IT.  And I have missed it terribly.

Fast forward now through those lazy 10.5 months of The Great Regain and we get to tonight. I was so excited to be able to go to class.  I had my knee in a brace and, because Karin is a physical therapist assistant who had worked with me during recovery, I was confident that she would watch me to make certain that I didn’t do anything to hurt myself. My confidence was well placed.  She watched me and suggested some adjustments that would give me a good workout, but that would protect that knee.  The workout was hard – harder than I remember.  There were a couple of times when I was afraid I might have to excuse myself to go “call some dinosaurs.”  I managed to hang on, though, and made it through with my dignity mostly intact.

As you decide to exercise, my advice is:

  1. talk to your doctor to make sure your body can handle it – seriously, a heart attack on the treadmill is just a buzzkill for everybody,
  2. consult a professional (a certified personal trainer, if possible) and ask for their help in developing a program that works for you,
  3. DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY! If you hate it or just tolerate it, you’ll never stick with it.

Tonight, I drove home with my knees, can’t lift my arms and had to pretty much fall out of the car when I arrived at the house.  The four-inch step to the stoop required a Herculean effort.  Thursday, I may have to pay someone to apply my make-up, brush my teeth and do my hair.  Friday, I’ll likely start crying the moment I wake.  Saturday, class is at 8 AM and I’ll be there because, yep, I. LOVE. IT.