Friday, August 2, 2013

Fitness Friday - Happy One Year Anniversary to Me - Mama Got Fit doing High Intensity Interval Training - And Loves it!

Well, I've come full circle.

I don't talk too much about what I'm doing from a fitness perspective. Maybe I should. But it always comes off braggy even in my own head. And I'm no expert. For some reason I feel more confident in sharing my recipe experimentation than in my fitness experimentation.

But fitness has become a huge part of my life. Again. And has helped and helps me feel good each and every day. Whether I work out or not. And this is my one-year anniversary of getting back into shape. A decision that was the catalyst for Mama-Going-Clean. The first step in a complete overhaul of our lifestyle.

Rewind one year from this weekend. I was about 3 or 4 weeks postpartum (baby #3).

I started off my pregnancy about 15 pounds heavier than my pre-kids weight. I ended up my pregnancy about 50 or 60 pounds heavier. I was barely walking for the last two months of my pregnancy. I was a hot mess. Ligament pain. Sore & tired legs. Achy. Not a picture of physical fitness.

Last August long-weekend I stepped on my Mother-in-Laws scale. And my jaw dropped. Holy hell I had a LOT of baby weight to lose.

This was bad. I was scared. What if it didn't come off? Why did I let myself gain so much? Why did I stop exercising for 5 years? Okay - I did a Zumba class here and there and went for a walk once in a while but it was minimal to say the least.

Back then I equated weight loss almost 100% with exercise. I thought you lost weight in the gym. Now I know that you lose weight in the kitchen. You get fit in the gym. You get strong in the gym.

So my first reaction to the numbers on the scale was to decide to start working out. And that meant getting my "slightly" round bottom and belly some new workout clothes and down to the classes at the YMCA. I had no big plans yet to change my eating. Give up chocolate bars. No thank-you.

So classes I did. Lots of them. Cardio, Strength, Zumba, Yoga, Cycle and Intervals. I did 4 to 5 classes a week. It was hard. I thought I was going to die the first few weeks. My face would be red for most of the day.  The retired ladies were my inspiration. I'm not kidding. There is a great group of them at my gym. Some of them are there everyday. EVERYDAY. They amaze me. They are always smiling. I remember struggling along and thinking "if grandma over there can do it, and be smiling, I can do it".

It was painful but it didn't take long and I was getting stronger. I was jumping higher, running harder, lifting more.

Somewhere along the way I started to realize that I LOVE INTERVAL training. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Tabata training. Plymetrics. Short bursts of high intensity training followed by active recovery periods. Using your own body weight as resistance.  Jumps. Quick moves. Light weights in between as recovery. Click here for a sample of a workout I might do or go to my MamaGetsFit Pinterest board for lots of HIIT ideas and general motivation.

And HIIT loves me. I feel great after a workout. I feel stronger than I can ever remember. I am in better shape than I can ever remember. And that's saying a lot because there have been times in my life when I was dancing over 10 hour a week and lifting weights.

And I don't mean my body "looks" better than ever. I am slim. Yes. I have great muscle definition. Yes. (I told you it would sound braggy). But three pregnancies have changed my body in some unpleasant ways that I can't seem to reverse. Varicose veins everywhere. Yes. Flat stomach. No.

But I FEEL fit. I FEEL strong. I FEEL like a beast when I'm working out. You would laugh your head off if you saw my scrawny arms.

I have a great base level of fitness to get through my everyday life without it even being a second thought. I can't remember the last time I felt out of breathe. I can carry my:  kids, groceries, diaper bags, workout bag and/or all of the above. I can sprint up the stairs when someone is screaming from their room in distress. I enjoy going for bike rides. I can pull a fully loaded up wagon on a picnic and easily throw my stroller in the trunk. I can run after a kite or a ball.

You might think "big deal". Yes. It is a big deal. I had let myself get really out of shape and I didn't enjoy a lot of those things. They felt like such a chore. I was out of breathe all the time.

So what does my fitness life look like a year later.
  • I have cut back my work outs to about three times a week for 45 minutes. Sometimes one extra work-out. Sometimes 15 extra minutes. But sometimes less. I try and listen to my body and rest when it needs it. And I give it a workout or a good stretch when it is crying for one. My general rule is that I don't do HIIT two days in a row (too hard on my body) but I try and never go more than 2 days in a row without a work-out (because then I start to feel lazy and don't want to start again).
  • I'm not going to lie, when I work out for those 45 minutes I work out hard. I push. I don't have time to be at the gym for hours. I go hard and then I go home. Plus I do my strength and cardio as part of the same workout (kill two birds with one stone) so I try and keep a fast pace with active recovery and very short rest periods to keep my heart rate up the whole time. 
  • I started the year using 5 pound weights for strength training. I ended the year using 12 1/2 pound weights. I could do heavier weights but I want long lean muscles not bulk so I keep them light and focus on repetition. 
  • Although I still love group fitness I have FINALLY, after all these years, found something that I can do at home or at the gym in my own time. I don't have to be a slave to the  class schedule.
  • When I'm at home I usually use the online Tabata timer . At the gym I just use the clock  on the wall or the timer on my phone. I do a high intensity exercise for 1 minute and then do an active recovery of light weights. 
  • On days that I'm not doing HIIT and/or my body needs a break I will go for a walk, bike ride or take a strength or cardio class to change things up. 
Why am I sharing this. Because I'm sure there is someone else out there that has given up on fitness. That thinks they are too out of shape to go to the gym.  That they don't have time. That its not worth all the effort.

It is. You will feel so good. You will feel strong. Maybe HIIT is not for you (although I swear it is so fun and it will give you results in the shortest amount of time). But find something you love. Something you can look forward. And do it.

Don't do it to lose weight - you will likely be disappointed.  Start eating clean to do that. But if that's what gets you to the gym, then sure, do it to lose weight. But do it. If you are like me and tipping towards 40 now is the time to take your fitness and health into your hands. Don't be passive. Don't think you will have time next week, next month, next year. Life if busy with kids. Its not going to get easier. Or by the time it gets easier your body might not appreciate your new hobby. And it might not even let you get started again.

You have to just decide to do it. Make time for yourself. For your health. And ultimately for your kids. A fit Mom is a funner Mom - she dances longer, she throws them in the air, she goes tobogganing, she skates - she enjoys these things because they don't exhaust her.

I started the year 30 pounds over my pre-kids weight and I ended it 10 pounds under. But who gives a crap about that - I'll probably just gain it back when I stop breastfeeding. I'm just saying it out loud because most people are motivated by weight lose success stories. So maybe I will get someone's attention. And like me they will hit the gym to lose weight. And in the meantime find something else there a lot more valuable. Fitness. Strength. Fun.

So why do I say I have come full circle this year? Well, I started it out being motivated by the retired set at the gym (and still am). And this week, not one, but two, of the female trainers at the gym stopped by to tell me that I inspire them. WHAT. SERIOUSLY. The little scrawny armed Ukrainian dancer that runs like a girl and can't hit a baseball to save her life is inspiring the trainers. Its frigging awesome. It's my one legged squats. I'm up to 8 on one leg and 10 on the other. Plus I go like hell. But I'm only there 3 times a week for 45 minutes. You could make time for that? Couldn't you?

That's what you can do in a year girls. You can go from not being able to walk up a set of stairs without getting winded to inspiring trainers.  Do it. Get busy. Start slow. Find something you love. And go. Go hard and then go home. You will be glad you did!

NOTE TO SELF - Please come back and read this in 6 months after being off maternity leave and make sure you are still following this advice. Do you still love burpees Chantel? If you think you can't find 45 minutes 3 times a week you are just making excuses? Don't give it up Mama - it makes you happy. Keep going. Give up something else. Just don't give up this. And if you have to start from scratch again that's okay. You did it once. You can do it again.

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