Back when I was new to working out, I just did whatever came along. It was hard to get started but if I had a chance to do something, that is what I did. I started with a workout game on my Wii. Then it changed to training for a 5K that a friend was organizing. Then I joined a gym with a friend who I went with to Body Pump and Zumba. Then more running with more friends.
Then everything changed and I lost my goals. What do I do now? This is something I’ve been trying to narrow down but without much success. I haven’t found the right fit for my life right now. Here are some of my criteria:
- A flexible routine that fits into my school schedule.
- Burn fat without losing muscle.
- Leaves me with enough energy to do homework at the end of the day.
- Uncomplicated exercises.
- Help me return to a regular running routine.
Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so! Am I overthinking it? Of course. I have tried a few routines lately though but each one has failed at least one of the criteria above.
- Jamie Eason’s Live Fit failed numbers 1, 4, and 5.
- Body Pump at the gym paired with C25K fails number 3 (and possibly number 2).
- Nike Training Center (app on my phone) fails 2 and 4.
I started poking around on the internet and found this great article by Mark Sisson (Mark’s Daily Apple) about how to burn fat without compromising your strength and muscle mass. You see, your body has basically 2 states – one where it burns things (catabolism) and one where it builds things (anabolism). You really can’t do both at the same time so it is basically impossible to burn fat and build muscle at the same time. This is why you hear about body builders “bulking” and then “cutting” – because they have to build the muscle with the fat and then remove the fat. The tricky part is to remove the fat while removing little to no muscle.
Mark lays out the answer pretty well which is what I knew along – lifting combined with HIIT training. But the funny thing is that I’ve done these types of routines before in The New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROLFW) and Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle. So why am I not doing them? They probably fail at least one of the criteria (or one I didn’t list such as “avoid boredom”). Mark’s article makes it sound so doable, so simple. I think he makes it seem like less pressure. Just do what you can and rest when you need it.
Mark’s article almost fails criteria number 5 – return to a running routine – as he does not promote long, slow cardio. I am okay with just training for shorter distances though and doing HIIT would be perfect for that. This is more about stress relief and enjoyment than how it affects my body so it is a compromise. To make it work, I will just do my HIIT workouts on a treadmill or running outside. Once I am in better running shape, I can see if I want to add distance running back in.
But what about the lifting? What will I do at the gym? Follow his recommendations of course. I just have to map out an actual routine. You never want to show up at the gym without a plan. That is when you usually waste time. He has a nice routine laid out, and I also have my old standby NROLFW. This will take a little planning on my part but it won’t take very long! I have some ideas but I need to test it at the gym so I will share it after it is all ready to go.
The last part of the program is the most important part though: Diet.
Mark Sisson is the author of the Primal Blueprint and the mind behind the Primal Diet – meats, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, and dairy (if tolerated) but no grains or legumes. When he writes about diet and exercise, I listen, since I have had great experience in the past with the Paleo Diet (same as primal but no dairy at all). The scary part for me is hearing “no more than 50 grams of carbs per day for fat loss”. It is not the limiting of carbs that scares me, that is something I am used to. It is the actual act of doing it. How do I create meals and combine foods such that my total daily carbs are under 50 grams? I don’t think I have every had a day this low! So with much apprehension, I am going to attempt to limit my carbs. This is going to be the hardest part for me and suggestions are highly welcome!
Now that I have a new goal and a new plan to tackle, I feel like it should be a lot easier from here on out. Now, I just have to do it.
What are some criteria for your exercise routine?
Have you ever eaten a low carb diet?