Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cardio or Sculpt - That is the question!

As always, I fell off the exercise wagon about November and am only starting to get motivated again.  While I did feel less stress and more fit, it really didn't provide the body changes I was looking for.  Women of a certain point in life fight the odds when it comes to keeping their figure in check.  When I talked with my specialist about these difficulties her response was pretty much, "Suck it up, buttercup."

I don't believe in making huge changes that cannot be maintained.  The data on yo-yo'ing weight is pretty clear at this point and it's not good.  An article at the Hughston Clinic states,  "Individuals who diet frequently have a significant decline in the basal metabolic rate."  The lower the metabolism, the more difficulty maintaining a healthy body weight.  So while the basics of eating still apply - calories consumed versus calories used - there is a lot more to the formula for success.

A web search provided access to research on current thoughts in exercise and there is a growing body of evidence that encourages increasing muscle mass over aerobics to help maintain or lose weight, especially that associated with aging.  As men and women age, their muscle mass naturally declines over the years.  Unfortunately for women it declines faster than for men.  As muscle burns more calories, this creates a no-win situation where you have to keep eating less and less to maintain the same weight.


I am fortunate to have a daughter that is almost finished with her degree in Human Kinetics who I could run my findings by. This discussion has come up in class several times and again, the research is coming down on the side of building muscle over extended cardio.  The added benefit is that improves and maintains balance and conditioning as you age.  So I decided to move away from the combined cardio/weight DVD I was using alternated with an attempt at jogging (6 weeks and I never got those endorphins) to a sculpting DVD focusing on building strength alternated with a Yoga DVD (I am trying 3 different ones and will cover them in another blog).

The DVD is Hi-def Sculpt put out by The Firm.  You will need some hand weights and I use theirs, partially because they came in a kit I bought, and partially because they have a hand strap so you can grab 2 at once if extra weight is needed for a specific exercise. They also let you build your size by having screw on weights.  For me - a set of 5 pound and a set of 3 pound weights work best at this time.  The 5 pound set is what I use the most, but I switch to the 3 pound if I get muscle fatigue or double the 3 and 5 pound together if I need a little more challenge.


So far so good.  My muscles are seriously tired by the end of the workout which is the whole point.  It's not about repetition with super light weights, it's about tiring the muscle to the point you can't do another repetition.  That's the best way to build the kind of muscles that will make a difference.  As always, I wouldn't suggest you do this unless you have some body awareness.  Your posture and form is of utmost importance to avoid injury.  So if you're not sure, best to start off with a personal trainer.



Sorry, but the question of food is still a part of the equation.  For anything to be sustainable over time, you really have to find a happy medium.  Never having a bite of ice cream or a glass of wine again in your life is not a realistic goal. Try to improve your diet one small step at a time.  Allow yourself the occasional indulgence, just try to keep it small.  Buy one beer at the store when you want one instead putting a 6-pack in the fridge.  Get the smallest individual bag of potato chips when the craving is there instead of the giant party pack.  Then try to amp up your movement whether it be a walk, dancing or whatever turns your clock.


Will this routine provide the changes needed to keep me focused.  I have a 6-week attention.  If I see results coming - even slowly - I can keep it up.  If the changes don't make a reasonable difference, then it falls by the wayside.  So we'll just have to see. The only other thing I would love to add at this point is dance. It used to be a big part of my life and  I miss the movement.  This was the one exercise I truly loved and at one point was in the studio every day.

A new journey begins again!

Want to read a little more - Women's Health has a lightweight comparison of Cardio Versus Strength Training at http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/cardio-vs-strength-training-workouts#axzz1lH2mPPG7.

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