Just wanted to report that I’m killing it in the gym at lunch time. I’m feeling amazing and I’m so glad that I have made the effort in the past two weeks to commit to this plan of action. No results on the scale just yet and no results as far as how my clothing is fitting, but BIG results in moods being boosted and stress reduction.
I am not a fan of group exercise–I find the adherents more annoying and more persistent than religious canvassers.
Reasons you won’t catch me at a group exercise class:
1. They are tailored for all fitness levels: Isn’t that great? I am doing the same workout as a 70 year-old woman and a morbidly obese man–everyone’s invited and everyone can participate. No. That’s not great–I prefer to have my strengths and weaknesses evaluated and exercise proscribed based on my current fitness needs and goals.
2. Coordination is key: I am not one who easily follows instructions. I get lost easily and I flail my limbs wildly during most choreographed movements. I am too focused on getting the damned steps right and not focused on the muscle groups or the intensity…I’m just worried about looking foolish–which I do.
3. I find the instructors annoying, not motivating. This is self explanatory.
4. Territoriality: some people get down-right zealous about their class…they like a particular piece of equipment or spot in the studio…and they can make it unfriendly and intimidating for others. Likewise, if a smaller group exists within the larger group, it can seem unwelcoming and cliquey. That is completely demotivating for me.
5. I’m going to hurt myself. Some of the classes that I have deigned to attend have really focused on volume…not form. I’m a form fanatic. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right or not at all. Doing 50 light-weight bench-presses is great…well, unless you’ve got your grip wrong or you have positioned the bar too high or too low to hit your target area…too bad you didn’t get help with your form before you wasted those reps and that time. I’d rather be able to focus on my form and not worry about keeping up with the class.
Now, all that being said, I have joined a group weight-training class. I’ll tell you why though: this class is 2 – 8 people; you are paired with someone of like fitness level (or by yourself if no such person is in your group) and the trainer monitors you at each exercise station. Not everyone is doing the same circuit, it is customized weekly, based on your fitness goals and needs. You will be shown proper technique if you are unfamiliar with an exercise and you will be given a set number of reps and sets, relevant to your program.
Other group fitness I don’t have a problem with: yoga, spin class, running in groups (yeah, I know, it’s not really a class, but I’m counting it).
Cortisol is naturally released in the body in response to stress. There isn’t a specific kind of stress that cortisol is related to, it can be anything from a traumatic accident to walking up a flight of stairs. High levels of Cortisol make it easy for the body to store fats, retain water, and lower immunity–you know that spare tire around your mid-section [I will begrudgingly call it the “pooch” as so many other do, but for whatever reason I HATE that word]? That could be because of high levels of Cortisol.
Some signs that you might have high Cortisol levels: w
- eight gain, moodiness, muscular or skeletal weakness, high blood pressure, blood-sugar issues, and problems sleeping.
I’m being extra careful to combat my stress right now. My partner and his ex are going through a custody dispute (no end in sight) and tensions are running high. This could explain why I’ve had a sinus infection for the past two weeks, just after recovering from a nasty bout of cold/flu, and why I’ve needed some help sleeping in the past month.
Prevention.com has a good article on cutting your Cortisol levels, you can read it here.
I have some of my own ways to deal with stress and the accompanying overdose of Cortisol:
1. Workout: I feel better when I workout, it’s a great way to get my mind off whatever it is that is bothering me.
2. Yoga: A different kind of strenuous from lifting and sprinting, Yoga has the ability to make me feel relaxed and refreshed. I love Yin Yoga for this reason and I find the temperature in a Hot Yoga studio to be very therapeutic.
3. Watch a “Safety” Show. Okay, so this isn’t the best solution, but I find that it does help me shake a mood. I define a safety show as a non-controversial show where the characters nearly always come out on top and the plot is mostly predictable. They do not challenge your views of the world in any way. Examples of good safety shows are: Gilmore Girls, Friends, Golden Girls, Alf, Saved by the Bell, Will & Grace, Full House, I Love Lucy, Leave It to Beaver, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Drop Dead Diva.
4. Go For a Tan. Okay, I know, you’re thinking it’s not the best choice to purposefully expose yourself to UV rays. I’m not telling you to turn yourself into a jerky; I’m suggesting going outside into the sun and lying out in the grass or on some sand, with no plans beyond doing just that.
5. Magnesium. I have an extra dose of magnesium with my supplement mix, it is supposed to help the body combat high Cortisol levels.
6. Fish Oils. I take liquid fish oils in the middle of the day (yes, they are extremely yucky), they too are supposed to help with symptoms of stress.
7. Boss naps. The Prevention.com article did mention sleep and napping as an effective way of lowering Cortisol, but I’ll reiterate. There is nothing like having a little cat nap in the middle of your day to make you feel refreshed. I’m not talking about a 3-hour tour kind of nap, just a 45 minute eyelid rest. Thomas Edison had a cot in his laboratory for these kind of occasions, maybe you should, too.
My trainer recommended I do 30 – 45 minutes of fasted cardio every morning to help burn fat. The idea behind doing a moderate cardio exercise before you’ve eaten anything is that you won’t be using the new food energy you’ve consumed, you will be using stored energy (i.e., fat). I’m going to give it a whirl–I did a 35 minute walk downtown; the sun is shining and I was up early anyhow. I really wish I was someone who could spring out of bed at 5:30 am, but for me 7:30 was early enough.
I really like going to the gym with my partner. It motivates me to have him with me; I like being able to make faces at him in the mirrors or have him give my bum a pinch when he walks by. I also like that if I forget a water bottle, I can use his, or if I’m feeling ready to leave and he’s not, I have to stay…
But there’s the problem. At the moment, I feel like that isn’t reciprocated. If he’s ready to leave and I’m not, I tend to give up my last set or last few reps to cater to his needs. This isn’t his fault, it’s mine for not being firm and using it as an excuse to get out of the hardest part of the workout.
I can and do workout alone, perhaps I need to make a point of it during contest prep, so I don’t feel any outside pressures that may diminish my workouts.
Does anyone else out there have any strategies for working out as a twosome? Or maybe you’ve put the kibosh on bringing that special someone along to the gym?