April 5, 2011

Reclaiming My Cardio Queen Crown

This weekend, as previously mentioned, I ate a lot. For example, on my way out of Paris on Monday, I may have had more than one or two buttery croissants – they were just too delicious to resist! But while the taste was delicious and something to be remembered, the calories were not – and this trip was just the impetus I needed to start changing around my diet/exercise plan yet again.

While I absolutely loved Rachel Cosgrove’s Female Body Breakthrough for the amazing gains in strength it’s given me, my diet is just not good enough to get by without a lot of cardio. Cutting the cardio wreaked havoc on my weight, so it’s time to sweat my way back into shape. Beyond the whole “not fitting into my favorite jeans” thing, it’s harder to run with those extra pounds – and I have a lot of running coming up soon.

I had this message further reinforced on the plane, while catching up on episodes of Royal Pains, until one totally hit home. The episode starts with a flashback to the past, where two traders are walking along Battery Park (right where I used to work)… and one of the traders has a stroke and drops dead. Flashforward to the present, and the other trader has quit her job and moved to the Hamptons to start a more relaxed lifestyle so she wouldn’t end up like her friend. Honestly, it freaked me out. As most of you know, my lifestyle is very go-go-go… I’m often asked whether I even sleep! I think I like it that way, but sometimes I worry that I’m missing out on some of the little things in life. While my post last week talked about stopping to smell the roses, that too was a wakeup call when I realized it had been months since I’d gone out to a sit down lunch instead of picking up food and eating at my desk while I worked.

My current project is definitely not stressful or crazy hours (I only work about 50-60 hours/week, which I consider to be light for consulting), but from a diet and fitness perspective, consulting as a whole is pretty terrible for you. Last summer, I met with a nutritionist for a complete body fat analysis, and while he said I was in good shape at the moment (having only been traveling for work for about a month at that point), he also said that the traveling lifestyle was deadly. Yes, he actually said it would kill me someday! Scary, but I think he’s right. As further proof, this morning one of my Twitter buddies (don’t forget to follow me!) send me an article from Reuters indicating that people who regularly work long hours may be increasing their risk of heart disease. They defined “standard hours” as 7-8 hours/day, which I couldn’t believe – I don’t know if I’ve ever worked that little! But the point is, humans are not made to sit on our butts at our desks for hours a day (whether that’s 7 or 12). And despite my efforts to eat (somewhat) healthfully and work out (sometimes), that point is starting to show on me.

So, no more! It’s time for me to fight back and try to keep my job while also keeping my figure. After reading Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard, I’ve been inspired to make sure that whatever change methods I choose are simple, black-and-white, and require as few decisionmaking points as possible. So, I have three new rules that I think are tough but still manageable:
-30 minutes of activity a day. If I’m really strapped for time, that can mean walking to/from work instead of taking the subway – it doesn’t need to be sweaty exercise to count (though of course, some real gym time would be the best).
-Choose salad for at least one meal/day. This one isn’t that hard, given how much I adore Chopt and how doable it usually is for me to pick it up for lunch.
-Beer is only permissible one day/week. I definitely still may go out multiple days/week, but the difference is that I don’t drink my wine/mixed drinks down as quickly as I do beer, and beer is way higher in calories (keeping in mind that for cocktails, I usually opt for vodka/seltzer) than either of the other two.

On the exercise front, I want to continue doing some strength training (I love measuring my progress by how strong I am instead of just looking at the scale), but it’s time for me to add in some cardio as well. A while back, I received a copy of Beachbody Insanity, and when my phone malfunctioned and I was unable to watch Biggest Loser while heading down to the elliptical at the gym, I decided to check out the “Fit Test” they offer instead. Made up of simple movements for 60 seconds each at high intensity, you count the number of reps you can do and write it down, so that every two weeks when you retest, you can see your progress.

Well, I love goals, so this sounded great for me… until I tried the test. Boy, was it killer! To give an example, one of the sets was something called “pushup jacks,” where you combine the strength needed for a pushup with the lung capacity/endurance needed for jumping jacks. Check out this link for a good description, or see here for a video demonstrating them pretty well. They were, to steal the name of the workout, insane! I managed to survive the Fit Test (they don’t provide a scoring grid or anything, but in some cases I wasn’t too far off from where the models said they started), but I’m a bit scared going forward. This program might be too insane even for me!

Have you tried Beachbody Insanity? What are your favorite cardio programs when you need to get back in the groove?


12 thoughts on “Reclaiming My Cardio Queen Crown”

  1. Oh, burpees are actually another one of the tests, except they call them “suicides.” I sucked at those even more than I sucked at the pushup jacks – only 12 in 60 seconds! I blame that on already being exhausted since they were near the end of the test.

  2. Oooh – I think I might love beach body insanity because I love plyometrics and think they do wonders for me. Is it only a DVD series, or can you learn all of the workouts/moves from the book? I just don’t have enough room in our DC english basement apartment for any DVD workouts and have to stick to the gym for that.

  3. Liv, it’s only a DVD series (at least, mine didn’t have a book), but it’s only one DVD per month (with each of the workouts for that month on the DVD; it’s still a variety). However, I put mine onto my computer so that when I travel I don’t have to bring the DVDs along. Maybe you could do the same?

  4. My running mileage has been on the low side lately and coupled with a few too many restaurant meals, my pants are feeling tight. I like your plan of action – especially the salad for one meal a day rule 🙂 I love Chop’t!!

  5. I am excited to meet you Laura and looking forward to working with you as your Beachbody Coach. Insanity is off the hook cardio!! Lots of plyo and more. P90x is near and dear to my heart as it is the first program I did to start my health and fitenss journey. I am not in my 4th round. I love the muscle confusion philosophy and the upperbody workouts combined with the plyo and Yoga.
    Have a great day!


  6. Good luck!! I like the three rules you have for yourself. They seem pretty easy to stick with even with such a busy schedule. Travel ruins my routine and I find it much more difficult to stick with my workout habits when traveling.

    Also, dying to read “Switch” now!

  7. I just tried the jumping jacks pushup after watching the you tube link you posted. I closed my office door and gave 3 of them a try – totally uncoordinated! I like that you periodically revisit your goals-something we can all learn from!

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