Over the past year, my crazy schedules have lead to a demise in my work outs. Every now and then I would sneak in a 30 minute elliptical session or a 30-minute at home yoga video, but that was the extent of my physical activity. Going from a full-time swimmer to a hobbyist runner and then nothing definitely made an impression on my body. I noticed a decrease in my strength and muscle mass…so goes the old saying, “if you don’t use it you lose it.” Now that my schedule is a bit more concrete I have been trying to incorporate weights and a mixture of light cardio activities to help build myself back up. I think that it is important to mix up a workout regime so that you can work different parts of the body and allow time for rest and recovery. It also keeps you from becoming mentally burned out from repetitive activity.
I boiled down my “workouts” to afford myself down time, and do things that I truly find enjoyable. I decided to start my weeks with a run on Monday, take a yoga class Wednesday and end my week with an activity of choice on Friday with the weekends off, since that is when I work and catch up on things. In between my active days, I am going to do strength training with weights on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
HOT YOGA: I took my first Power Vinyasa Yoga class this past Sunday, and I was in love. It was conducted in an 85-90 degree room and the constant flow of motion allowed my muscles to relax and be at their optimum flexibility. I woke up a bit sore the next day too, because I typically can not stretch that much on my own. I have taken some yoga here and there over the years, and found this to be the best for me. The classes at the studio I attended were a bit expensive, but I am going to try to do this once a week.
RUNNING: I ran 3.25 miles today and it felt like I was revisiting my long lost friend. My endorphins were through the roof , and I was ALL smiles for the rest of the day. I love the release and stimulation of running; it is freeing and serene. After my half-marathon in September 2009, I stopped running regularly due to weather conditions and lack of time, but it will always have a special place in my heart. As much as I hate treadmills, I am going to try to run for a half-hour at alternating intervals so I can slowly get back into it.
After committing to all of this, I began to wonder the BEST way that I can fuel and replenish my body to gain back my muscle? I always eat something pre-work out but often times when I hit the gym, lunch or dinner is about an hour away so I usually just wait until then. This got me thinking…should I have something right after my work out to replenish? What is the best type of food for pre and post work out? Should I add more protein to my diet on days that I work out? Naturally my curiosity lead me to conduct some research. I found a lot of information all that pointed to similar things, the most informational was this about.com link–CLICK HERE. In sum it is important to eat something carbohydrate rich, and low levels of fat and protein about an hour before you work out. You should never exercise on an empty or completely full stomach. Post work out it is important to eat something that is composed of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates within 2 hours.
I’m still contemplating whether or not I should immediately drink a protein shake or have a bar right after my work out, even though I will most likely be eating a full meal within an hours time. I tried a small protein shake out today
(1/2 cup soy milk, 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 a banana, 1/2 scoop organic vanilla whey protein powder, 1 scoop of green Amazing Grass, a dash of cinnamon and Ice) and was still hungry an hour later for lunch. SO my conclusion: What you eat and when you eat before and after working out DOES matter, especially if you are looking to build strength. I’m going to continue to experiment with pre and post work out food options to see what works best for me.
What is your pre and post work out routine? In terms of strength training, what have you found to be the most effective and efficient exercises and nutritional staples?