Things I Leared Today

You know those days where you get it done?  You feel productive with just about everything you do, from your profession, to your diet, to your health and hobbies.  You just feel like you can concur everything!  Well, today was one of those days, and if you couldn’t tell, I’m pretty damn excited about it.  Sure, the day isn’t over, but I’ll entertain you with the tale of how awesome day was.  Hopefully you can learn from what I learned today!

This morning called for an early wake-up, because I had scheduled a client to train before class.  After stumbling around the kitchen preparing some food for the day, I finally felt awake, and was ready for the day.  My cooler was loaded with two fruit/vegetable smoothies, some flavored chicken and broccoli, and a few Greek yogurts.  Perfect!

I was at the gym by 7:30, and while I spent a few minutes before my client arrived to ‘people watch’ the general population exercising.  The morning crowd tends to walk the treadmill and watch the news, and I found the weight room to be relatively empty, making it easy to work.  As much as I dislike long slow cardio, I’ll admit, that place was packed!  Sure, these folks could have been doing more, but they also could have been at home in bed.  Good for them!

After the training session was over, I headed up to Adelphi for 5 wonderful hours of exercise physiology.  Today, we went over exercise and health, including risk stratification and how to deal with specific disease states.  Unfortunately, we also went over weight loss.  This is what we were taught, and this is where you cue my facetious tone:

‘In order to lose weight, we need to be in a negative energy balance, which means we’re burning more calories than we’re consuming.  The easiest way to do this is to eliminate high-calorie foods from the diet, which means sources of fat.  If we eliminate sources of fat in our diet, we can reduce the overall caloric intake.  The ‘remainder’ of this caloric deficit should come from exercise, and we should invest our exercise time in modalities that allow us to burn the most calories possible.  This would mean higher intensity sustained aerobic exercise.’

Once I wholeheartedly agree with that on my final exam, I’m going to do my best to forget it.  It’s sad that the body of research has come so far, but education programs are behind this learning curve.  That’s kind of ironic, isn’t it?  To help drive that outdated information out of my head, I listened to two episodes of the Underground Wellness podcast later in the day, and they happened to be wonderfully related to diet, weight loss, and exercise.  The episodes were chock full of knowledge bombs, and you should certainly listen to them.  The first episode was Primal Body-Primal Mind with Nora Gedgaudas, and she explains some nutritional anthropology, which foods our bodies evolved to eat, and how we can get the most out of the food that we’re eating.  If you think that cutting fat is the best way to diet, you should definitely listen to this.  The second episode was The New ME Diet with Keoni and Jade Teta, two naturopathic doctors who explain how diet and exercise optimize hormones to improve your body composition.  If you’re looking for smart, effective fat loss, it’s a great listen for you.  Need enticing?  Lift weights, do intervals, eat protein.  Check it out.

The combination of podcasts and classroom lecture made me think of one of my favorite articles from Alwyn Cosgrove, The Hierarchy of Fat Loss.  Even if you’re not trying to lose fat at the moment, you know someone who is, and you can read it then share your new found knowledge with them.  You should read the entire article, but for those of you who won’t, I’ll include a severely abridged version below.

  1. Correct Nutrition
  2. See #1
  3. Activities that burn calories, maintain/promote muscle mass, and elevate metabolism
  4. Activities that burn calories and elevate metabolism
  5. Activities that burn calories but don’t necessarily maintain muscle or elevate metabolism

I’ve never included such a big link in a post.  I’m pretty much forcing you to click on it.  Please do.  If you don’t know how to read, then watch THIS VIDEO, which is this hierarchy of fat loss in video form.  That was a trick!  I know you can read.  Come on!

Now that we’ve debunked this less fat, more aerobic work myth, let’s move on to some thoughts from my workout today.  I’ve decided to rotate around some variations on the ‘basic’ lifts to see where I stand on them, and today I visited my old friend the sumo deadlift.  Now that my hip mobility is much better, it didn’t irritate my hips or back, but it was certainly much harder than I remember.  I was precise with my technique, and reset the bar in between every rep.  My adductors will be angry tomorrow!  As diverse as strength training can be, sometimes the same old exercises can get boring.  What can you do? Learn more exercises!

If you have a bigger repetoire, you’ll always have something to turn to for a fresh training stimulus.  I hadn’t pulled sumo stance in at least 6 months, and it felt food to try something that was ‘new’.  If you’re stuck in a rut, I’d recommend revisiting old exercises you haven’t used in a while, or learning something new altogether.  You’re sure to have more fun, and train harder.

In addition to the sumo deadlifts, I ran sprints for the first time in ages.  Adelphi’s indoor track requires 9.5 laps to complete a mile, which makes for short laps; perfect for wind sprints!  The work/rest ratio is fairly equal, but they go buy so quick that the recovery time is minimal.  This could have been my lesson of the day; sprint more.  I don’t mean cranking up the treadmill a few extra miles per hour, or going on a tempo run with your cross country friends.  I mean hauling ass as fast as you can.  It’s different.

On a side note, I sprinted in my new shoes and maintained a forefoot/midfoot strike the whole time…You want to talk about a great posterior chain exercise?  Max effort sprints.

Glutes? Hamstrings? Calves? Go sprint.

My cool down involved a few jogged/walked laps around the track in my stocking feet to let my body relax a little bit, but I had a sprinters high that was equivalent to 5 cups of coffee.  If you need a pick-me up for a workout, sprinting is the best stimulant there is.

After I got home from training, class, my workout, and teaching a drum lesson, my mom presented me with a small cardboard cylinder that contained the coolest tie ever!  It’s from Josh Bach, and the pattern is Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, also known as my favorite picture ever.  It’s the background on my computer, and it’s also on my brand new business cards.  You can see both in this picture. Sure, it’s kind of corny, but it’s also really awesome.  Here’s to the Vitruvian Man!

In addition to getting this awesome time when I got home, I also had the chance to swing a golf club for the first time since last fall.  I played a ton two years ago, and around once a week last summer, but this summer has been totally golf-less.  Huge mistake.  Hitting short little pitches with a sand wedge is pretty damn therapeutic, even if you suck; it just feels good.  I usually train to train, but playing golf is surprisingly good stress relief.  At least when my drives don’t look like the Panamanian Isthmus.  Next time my brother asks me if I want to play, I’m definitely going to say yes.  Now I just need to figure out when to go…

Today was a pretty damn good day.  I learned a ton, made myself healthier, made a client healthier, and remembered the importance of relaxing and having fun.  Hopefully, you can use some of this information to make the same improvements in your life.  If you slow down and relax, eat better, train harder, and learn a little bit more every day, you’re going to be happy when you go to bed.  Just don’t expect me to straighten out your drive!

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