Thursday, July 15, 2010

The lazy days of summer

Summer is a difficult time for me. In the winter I do a variety of exercise classes ranging from step aerobics to pilates to yoga. This builds cardiac health, muscle tone and flexibility and, most importantly, I have a lot of friends that work out so it's a great way to socialize. In summer I walk to work if it's not raining, golf and take only a couple of classes for fun. In the past it's been yoga but for now it's Zumba which is way more fun than I thought it would be. Since I totally change my activities I lose some muscle tone and, dare I say it, gain some weight.

This summer has been hard as there's been quite a bit of stress at work (not sure why exactly) and has marked the return of stress eating. For the first time in ages I had an whole small DQ Blizzard in one sitting and a regular onion rings on a different occasion. The horror! The weirdest part is the effect on my self image. Naturally the first place to loose tone is my tummy so I have this irrational image of me as a much bigger person even though my regular clothes still fit albeit a little differently than in the winter. Note to self - pretty well everyone looks large if they stand less than a foot away from a mirror. Get over it.

I give myself a pass in the summer because I know I'll be active again in the fall. This fall could be different though because I seem to have a chronic i-band injury that's made it difficult to keep up my exercise routine. Work out too hard and it creeps into lower back pain. The main thing for me to remember is that it's not my weight by my metabolic and cardiac fitness that matters.

I mentioned before that I read the Obesity Panacea blog. I would rather be effective than indulge in wishful thinking and these guys report on the latest research.

If I'm going to exercise for cardiac health, go hard. I've never understood that fat burning zone thing because if I stay if it I feel like I'm just coasting. The group leader where I exercise moved away from the heart rate charts to "how hard to feel that you've worked" way of assessing effort. Aim for a 7 or 8 (10 being near death). This year I'm planning on doing Bootcamp and Zumba (haven't you danced hard for an hour? It's work!) for most of my cardiac work outs. I'm also going back to yoga for flexibility.

New research has shown that how full your fat cells are determines your metabolic fitness. As long as they are not bursting you're ok. So you can be metabolically healthy without a low weight. That's good to know. Still, I want to eat "right". A higher fiber breakfast should last longer and could help burn calories more efficiently. I weigh myself every morning and if I drift up a kilo in a couple of weeks I scrutinize my eating to see where the junk food has crept in. Personal finding - those 100 calorie snacks are killers. I suppose they are better than eating a bag of chips but I can eat a much wider variety of snack items (a few pretzels, sliced strawberries and a caramel for instance) and stay under that 100 cal.

This winter will be interesting as I try to maintain fitness levels while making some changes to exercise styles to accommodate the payback for an active youth.