A New Way to Work Out

Let’s do a quick recap, shall we?
Rewind all the way back to last Thursday…

[Photo Credit: Yessenia Carrera**]

[Photo Credit: Yessenia Carrera**]

Yessenia was gracious enough to agree to take corny/cheesy pictures of Mayra and I. They were graduation-esque pictures and a lot of them were supposed to be of us in our cap and gowns… and then this happened:
My gown was about 100 times too big.

But I got it all figured out which leads me to Saturday..
The day feels like a dream and I remember it as one big blur, but my family was there and it was an amazing day. The past four years have been an absolute roller coaster but I could not have asked for a better ending. Very bittersweet, to say the least.
 My poses need work…

Sunday was the Mother’s Day 5k.
Our time was somewhere around 28 minutes.  I am telling you… ever since this half marathon, I have been struggling with running… and after spending all day Saturday in heels, all sorts of places were sore.

Ain’t no rest for the wicked so Monday morning came and off to work I went!
That would be my jacket that I wear 🙂 it looks more like a sign in the picture, but it’s the back of my jacket 😉
and of course, my name tag. So official 🙂

It’s been a rough and challenging week of learning the ins and outs of the company, figuring out how to manage our personal training businesses within the company’s umbrella, and just getting a grasp on everything that comes with the territory. Needless to say, I learned a lot of stuff over the past 6 days that I cannot wait to share with you all!

So, let’s just jump into it. Feel free to chime in and let me know that I’m a moron for not having known some of this stuff before, but I feel ridiculously ashamed for not being aware of some of this stuff before. But I’m a work in progress, right?

First of all. Heart Rate Monitors. I had one and loved it and liked to know how many calories I was burning during my workouts when I wore it, and I also liked that my Garmin kept track of my paces while running, distance, and all sorts of other cool stats, but I never really paid too much attention to my actual heart rate and what it was necessarily telling me.

I know that max heart rate is 220-your age. So for me, I knew that my max HR right now is 198. But it wasn’t until I got what our company calls a “Cardio Point” that I realized what I can do with my heart rate. What a cardio point does, is tell you your 5 heart rate zones. Everyone has different zones, and no two people are the same- but every has 5 zones and each zone means the same thing for each person.
Here are what each zone means:
Zone 1: Recovery. Promotes fat burning capacity, increase oxygen consumption. You can exercise for a long, long time and it’s easy to carry on a conversation during this phase.

Zone 2:  Endurance. Train the body to burn fat efficiently and improve endurance. You’re working out comfortably.

Zone 3: Lactate Threshold. Increase work tolerance for anaerobic training (without oxygen), and you can feel the burn. It’s more difficult to workout here- if you talk, you can’t finish your sentences.

Zone 4: Working here improves your anaerobic threshold- you are no longer burning calories from fat in this phase, but rather using readily available sugars in your blood. This phase is hard and you can only speak in one word sentences.

Zone 5: Working here increases Vo2Max or the body’s ability to efficiently uptake and utilize oxygen. This is an athletic-training level. It’s impossible to speak in this zone.

We were hammered with information about heart rate zone training this week. And I finally got the courage to ask: “Isn’t it more about total calories burned? If you work out at a higher intensity, you burn more overall calories.. so, how is this even relevant?”
Answer:  That is true. Higher intensities do burn more overall calories. However, higher intensities require instant fuel, and that fuel is coming from your blood stream- from the carbs and sugars readily available in your blood, and not coming from the stored fat already in your body. Coincidentally enough, fat has more calories than the carbs floating around in your blood from the lunch you just ate. Fat has 9calories/gram where protein and carbs both have 4calories/gram. However, protein is NOT used as a fuel source unless you are starving or completely depleted of energy sources.

Then, a man from our group who was running his own gym for a while pulled me aside on our lunch break and he said: “so you’re a marathon runner, huh? How’s that going for you?”
And so I told him.
And then he explained to me about how he sucked at running for a long time because he was always training at high intensities- going balls to the wall for most of his workouts but never really reaping any benefits. He never took the time to build his *aerobic base!  Aerobic base is built by working in between zones 1 & 2, but primarily 1.
Everyone’s zones are going to be different, in that your actual heart rate in each zone will be different for everyone.

For example, one of the guys in training with us- his zone 1 was when his heart rate was between 100-113 BPM. However, my zone 1 is when my HR is between 163-172. This is pretty ridiculous for zone 1, but is indicative of my training. While I was half marathon training, I trained my body to be able to withstand a high heart rate for long periods of time. This also means that my body is just used to cardio endurance- which should be the case, in my instance. But, as you can see, it varies. More often than not, someone’s zone 1 will fall between the lower hundreds.

By improving your aerobic base, you’re telling your body to burn more fats not only when you’re in zone 1, but when you’re at rest instead of teaching it to continue to use your sugar sources.

Being aware of your zones and your heart rate makes for a more efficient, less intense workout that can still provide benefits. I’m not saying stop all of your HIIT or Tabata workouts. I’m not saying quit doing BodyRock or Insanity workouts. I wouldn’t do that ever, nor would I ever advise anyone to ever quit doing that- that’s not the point. I’m going to continue with my HIIT workouts, sprint intervals, and all that good stuff- but I need to remember that I don’t always have to go balls-to-the-wall in order to get a good workout in. This is important for all of your endurance fiends (like myself) who are out there reading.
On the other side of the spectrum- for those of you who are maybe still working your way up there, still trying to piece together your endurance- you don’t have to spend HOURS AND HOURS on the stair-master, elliptical, or treadmill trying to shed pounds. This can be counterproductive in many ways. If there’s one thing that really hit home for me this week, it’s this: if you’re trying to lose weight- endurance activities are not going to be your best bet. At all. For so many reasons.
I wrote about this before in the post called How Running Makes You Fat, and it’s so true!
Endurance events, usually over 60+ minutes of activity, release excess cortisol into your blood stream. Long story short, excess cortisol makes it harder to lose weight and can also make you gain weight. Endurance events promote muscle catabolism (breakdown) and all sorts of other stuff. However, I still love running. Knowing all of that stuff- I continue to crave running distances. I’m just telling you guys all of this stuff in an effort to educate you. Whether or not you want to run, whether or not you want to lose weight, or gain muscle, or what have you- running a marathon should not be turned to as a means to an end. Don’t take up distance running in hopes to shed all of your unwanted weight and show a 6 pack. So many other factors come into play when it comes to losing weight. If your goal is to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles- THEN DO IT!!! If your goal is to shed weight, show some muscle, or something alone those lines- perhaps following HR Zone Training is your best bet.

By developing a well-rounded cardio plan, one in which you workout in ALL of the zones and not just sticking to ONE zone for most of your workouts like most people tend to do- you will be a lean, mean, fat-burning machine! (Or you should be.)
It’s important to incorporate steady-state workouts about once a week- in which you maintain one zone for a longer period of time- but unless you’re training for an endurance event- banging out hours and hours of cardio each week is not necessary to lose weight or to remain healthy. Zone 1-2 workouts for 30-40min a few times a week, some interval training that varies through all zones, and some steady-state zone 2 training and you’re good to go. I feel like a lot of my long runs were in zone 3- which is not okay or necessary. My aerobic base needs some work so I think I need to scale my cardio down a bit.. but I’m excited to incorporate different “zone workouts” into a new cardio routine.

This is my brand new HRM!
The Motorola MotoActive

So freakin’ awesome! It’s an automatic pedometer, has a full-color touch screen, you can sync your cell phone to it and email so that you can get your emails and texts forwarded to it. It’s an MP3 player and can connect to your itunes. The screen slides off of the wrist strap so that you can clip it to your shirt or put it in an armband if you want. And, of course, it’s completely programmable so that you can set up your zones in there and get the most efficient cardio workout. And, best of all, it tracks pace, distance, and all that good stuff for when I do decide to train for another half 😉

I’m trying to work with my boss to see if I can get some sort of discounts on HRM for some of you wonderful people, but for now it’s still a work in progress. While we wait for that to go through, if any of you would like more info on this HRM or any others- please let me know! I’d love to be of help. What I can offer you is 20% off any and all supplements and vitamins! Also, my company is moving towards Virtual Training, all done online, which I cannot wait to share with everyone! I’m hoping to create something for this blog that connects to my company’s training site and maybe we can get some sort of group, virtual training sessions going.

With this new job and wealth of knowledge that’s coming my way, as overwhelmed as I am, I hope to be able to throw some new info at you all that will help you take your health and fitness goals to the next level! Bear with me as I figure out a set schedule, get adjusted to the sleeping schedule, and get used to being back home!!!

**Yessenia and her photography have a facebook page! Check her out hereShe also has a website for her photography that is still in the works- stay tuned!

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