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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Exercises and a New Attitude

I first learned about boxing to lose weight through one of Jillian Michaels' DVDs. Punching, kicking, and the various movements that go in to boxing make for a great cardio workout at home when you can't get to the gym. A great variation on this idea is the practice of punching while holding light weights, usually only 1 or 2 pounds though I use 5 pound weights. Your arms get tired much faster because they are being toned as you engage your core to throw the punch. Squatting while punching engages your legs as well, ramping up your heart rate and giving most of your body a work out.
Boxers use this method as seen in this article and others linked to it. I'm not a boxer but my arms are toning up nicely and I certainly feel the crunch in my abs when I am throwing the punches. I use a psuedo-plyometric method to keep my heart rate from spiking too high while working up a good sweat and giving myself a workout. I set my iPod to my workout playlist and stretch for the first few songs, then pick up my weights and begin jogging in place with a weight in each hand until the first song reaches its chorus or high point. It us during these high points that I begin punching, squatting down and keeping rhythm with the song. When the chorus is over I begin jogging again, switching between holding the weights on my hips, at my sides, and above my head in a military press. This pattern is repeated for three or four songs, though I will take a little rest or slow jog if my chest begins to hurt or my throat feels tight. After three or four songs of this I will put the weights down and jog in place, cooling down over the last song. I then stretch again and begin my weight lifting and floor work.
Another key to this exercise system is keeping water on hand. This workout, if done with intent, will really make a person sweat so replacing those fluids is important. A low calorie sports drink is a good idea if you're worried about electrolytes, but you won't need a full calorie one. You'll end up drinking in more calories than you burn! If you complete this exercise you've given your legs, core, and cardio system a good work out.

Nice!Now on to the floor work. I've recently started working with my exercise ball again, doing ball passes*. This exercise consists of lying on your back with your arms on the floor above your head and your legs straight out. With the ball in your hands and your back staying on the floor, bring your arms in an arc over your head as you raise your legs up. They should meet over your midriff. Pass the ball from your hands to your feet and lower them again. Repeat this motion, passing the ball back in to your hands and lowering your limbs. That is a one count. I do twelve of these at a time then move on to another exercise.
Another favorite of mine is a variation on the crunch: Lye on your back with your feet spread slightly apart. As you engage your abs (very important!) and come up in a crunch, cross your right ankle over your left keeping your right foot hovering slightly over your left. Come back down and uncross your ankles. Come up in a crunch again, this time moving your feet left over right. Come back down. That is one rep. Your crunches should be shallow since this exercise works the smaller muscles around your abs. Do fifteen to twenty of these and then move on to something else.
At this point in my workout I move on to standard crunches, push ups, squats, lunges, and various arm exercises using five to ten pound weights. I then finish up with another round of cardio and plenty of water sipped slowly so I don't upset my stomach.
The hardest part of working out this hard is that I used to be of the mind it gave me license to eat all the junk I wanted and that is simply not true. Scientists have recently provided evidence that exercise is actually an appetite suppressant, though I don't have any articles of journals to provide as reading on this. Scientific findings aside, I know that cookies start to look less sinful after a hard workout, but I try and make sure I eat a salad and some protein first. After that if I'm still hungry, that cookie is all mine!
My next post will be moving away from the realm of exercise and focusing on the Lunasa celebration I am planning for the last weekend of July.
NOTE: I am not a fitness or health professional. All tips and suggestions are my opinion via personal experience and research. They are not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a doctor before beginning any exercise program. 


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