Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Talkin' Bout A Revolution

Today marks day four of my new year's revolution (song link this time: Tracy Chapman - Talkin' Bout A Revolution.  I have been preparing for my next session with the Master Cleanse.  I still need to get to the store to buy some lemons, but that should happen in the next day or two.  I already have a good supply of maple syrup - though I will need more by the time the cleanse has run its course - and I should have enough cayenne pepper, so it is really just the lemons that I am waiting on.

As of today, I am out of kefir.  In keeping with my revolution, I have been drinking about 6-8 oz. of kefir each morning.  I purposefully didn't make any more kefir, though, so as not to let it go to waste when I start on the cleanse.  I am also running low on milk to make it from!  I haven't been able to get to Deerfield Farm to get more.  As with the kefir, though, this has not been a priority.  I want to get enough for the family, but without me consuming any milk during the cleanse, our needs are considerably smaller.

As planned, I have begun each day with some exercise.  Prior to eating anything, I have been spending about 30 minutes following Dr. Mercola's Peak 8 principles - though with my own twist on it.  Essentially, Peak 8 is interval training - after a warm up, alternate 90 seconds of lower intensity exercise with 30 seconds of high intensity exercise for 8 cycles followed by a cool-down.  The principles are based on heart rate zone training.  During the high intensity periods, you push your heart rate into (or close to) the anaerobic zone.  As the session progresses, your heart rate will peak 8 times - hence the name - and recover somewhat between the peaks.  Though he uses a recumbent cycle for his program, Dr. Mercola doesn't specify any particular type of exercise for the Peak 8 program, just so that your heart rate is elevated effectively.  For my purposes, I am using the Wii Fit Plus as my activity.  One of the fitness 'games' is the 'free step' which can be set for 10-, 20-, or 30-minute durations.  This activity simply counts your steps on and off the balance board and keeps the pace for you.  You can select 80, 90, or 100 steps per minute as a pace.  Note that each footfall on or off the board counts as one step.  I have been using an eight pound medicine ball in addition to the 'stepper' program.  My routine has been to simply step for 90 seconds at the highest pace while carrying the medicine ball (after a warm up, of course) followed by a 30 second bout of faster stepping - out-pacing the Wii pace - while raising (above my head) and lowering (to my waist) the medicine ball.  I go for a full 30 minutes and complete anywhere from 8 to 15 cycles.
Tomorrow's session will be fun!  I found my heart rate monitor today!  I have actually acquired several monitors over the years.  When I worked for NordicTrack - before they filed for bankruptcy and were purchased by ICON Health and Fitness - I purchased one of the Polar heart rate monitors that we sold.  That was my first experience with heart rate training.  I used it religiously!  A good heart rate monitor is an amazing tool to use when exercising.  Though you can find companies that make/sell monitors that don't require a chest strap, I don't recommend them.  Using a chest strap frees up your hands to do other things.  As well, the chest strap will usually communicate directly with the equipment that you might be using for exercise.  Many treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary cycles have the heart rate technology built in.  Lacking a chest strap, you will need to grasp a handle on the machine to read your heart rate.  In the case of the watch that doesn't require a chest strap, you will need to touch the watch with your fingers to activate the reading.  Either way, your hands will need to otherwise be empty to get a reading.  This seems counter-intuitive on a machine like the elliptical trainers which are designed to incorporate your whole body in the motion - something you don't get when you are holding the stationary handle to get a heart rate reading.  Mind you, using any heart rate zone training is still better than not using it so if all you have access to is the hand-held monitors go ahead and use it!  You'll be amazed at how hard you are working when you don't really need to!
I am really looking forward to tomorrow morning!

So, my mornings for the last 4 days have looked like this:
  • Walk Ginger - due to the temperature, this just consists of letting her take care of 'business'
  • Exercise
  • Kefir
  • Breakfast
What is different now when compared to 2010 is that I have added in the exercise step where I would previously have gone back to sleep.  After walking Ginger, I would usually do some deep breathing which, more often than not, would lead me to fall asleep.  While I realize that I generally fall asleep because I NEED sleep, this kind of sleep is not terribly beneficial.  Now, I am making better use of that time and improving my sleep cycle.  I have known for a long time that it is more beneficial for me to exercise in the morning than at any other time of day.  I have always been interested in fitness though I was never truly fit except for a relatively brief period in my life.  It was during this time when I was getting out of bed at 5:30 AM and jumping on my NordicTrack skier with my heart rate monitor.  I used my skier so much that I actually wore it out - twice!  It actually would have cost me more to repair it the second time than it would have to replace it.  It was due to 'right-eating' (or, at least what I believed to be right eating at the time consisting mostly of highly processed 'health' foods) and proper exercise at the right time of day for me.
It is never too late to learn and grow.  As such, I am always open to learning new things.  This time around (revolution), I have learned more about what 'right-eating' really means and I now have the stamina for the first time since the onset of my symptoms (March, 2006) to go back to what works for me - early morning, heart rate zone training before breakfast.  Sure, things are not quite the same as the first time around - I have limitations that I didn't have and no longer have my NordicTrack - but I have no doubt that I will see some amazing results.  Weight loss is still not my primary goal.  There are many other benefits to be had that I am focusing on.  Better health and being symptom-free are at the forefront of my mind.