Category Archives: Health

Weekly Workout Plans

My daily workout plan has changed a fair amount since my local gym changed their hours to open early on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. In the end, it is easier to get ready in the morning at home rather than the gym. I don’t have to worry about packing my lunch in a cooler or wondering if I missed a key piece of my wardrobe for the day.

2014: Before the gym times changed, I was headed to Zurich every morning. Monday was spin class, so I did strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on Wednesdays and Fridays I generally did my running. But if I wanted to, I could mix it up depending on how I was feeling and do running, elliptical, or whatever I felt like any day. The gym was always “there” for me.

2015: Since January, my local gym’s early opening on some days throws my schedule off. They don’t offer morning courses yet, so Monday spinning is gone. I also decided to switch to strength training on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays so that in the spring/summer I could stop running at the treadmill in the Zurich gym and start running outside, spending all my time in my hometown.

I do love getting ready at home every morning with Kay, but sometimes I miss my spin class and if it’s bad weather on Tuesday or Thursday, I don’t want to run in the rain! And it rains quite often here…

But after a year of working out, my workouts still look pretty comparable:

Strength training:I used to have a slower start up running in Zurich, but now I just jog to my gym and then spend the last 15 minutes doing different stretches and core exercises. My heart rate tends to bounce around a lot during weight training.

Spinning:My heart rate also always changes a lot during spinning, but generally it’s a lot higher overall than weight training. I have missed the good cardio workout from spinning, so I am trying to incorporate it into my schedule on Mondays again.

Running:

My running is also changing a bit as I start branching out to the real world. Running outside is a bit scary for someone who started on the treadmill. There’s so much going on! It’s definitely easier to push myself harder on a treadmill and know what I am doing, but I am enjoying getting used to running outside and Kay and I have finally been able to go on a run together.

Generally, on the treadmill my heart rate takes a constant climb:

Whereas outside, my heart rate bounces up and down a bit on hills and elevation changes:

Sometimes five days does not seem like enough time to do all my sports. Only two days for running, two days for strength training and one day for spinning. I would love to see the results from three days a week strength training, five times a week running, and two days of biking, but I’m sticking to my 5X a week gym routine, so that’s not happening. 😉

What is your gym schedule like? How do you like to mix things up?

 

Workout Criticism

When I switched from my skinny-fat, non-fit life to working out every single workday, I was surprised how much criticism I received. Friends and colleagues were sometimes downright outraged by my new endeavor.

“Five days a week is too much.”

“Exercising every day is bad for you!”

“It’s not healthy!!”

These are some of the things I heard over and over from good friends, even months after I started my routine. Honestly, I was surprised. Exercising weekdays is unhealthy? What? What about all those doctors who tell you that you should get a minimum of 30 minutes exercise every day?

One person even insisted that her doctor told her she should not exercise more than 2-3 times a week and never more than one day in a row. Others just told me I was doing too much, that it was too much for my body and that I should think about decreasing.

I had to ignore all of them and brush off their demotivating comments. Maybe they want to justify their own workout schedule. Many people in Switzerland do only workout 2-3 times a week. The trainers at my gym even expect that this is the normal amount because they know that usually people don’t have the willpower or time to come more often than that.

Usually trainers are surprised when I tell them I come five days a week, but never has a trainer told me that this is too much. Instead, they congratulate me on my good workout ethic! Never have any of my doctors told me that five days a week is too much and thankfully, Kay has never told me this either!

Kay is the one who inspired me to exercise daily because he was the one who was exercising every day at lunchtime originally. And by going to the gym every morning, I noticed that there are other people who go everyday too. I asked another woman at the gym if people also give her attitude for her gym schedule and she said they do all the time, telling her that it’s unhealthy to go every morning, but these same people will tell her not to workout too much while they themselves ride their bike to and from the office an hour each way. Doesn’t make any sense, does it? Meanwhile, my colleagues complain that they are not in shape or have gained weight with their 1-2x a week, or never, gym schedule.

I understand that some are intimidated by the idea of doing something every day, but there’s nothing heroic about doing 45ish minutes of exercise in the morning. I alternate weight training with cardio so that I’m never pushing muscle groups too much and I see nothing wrong with running, cycling or weight training every day. If I had to cut down to 2 days a week, I would be so limited with what I can accomplish.

I am proud that I have the will to get up and go everyday and I don’t need any negative Nancys trying to convince me otherwise!

Have your friends and family ever reacted negatively to a new, healthy choice of yours? How did you react?

Why a skinny fat person chose to exercise

I’m one of those lucky people blessed with “skinny genes”. I’ve been 5’9″ since I was 13 and stopped exercising at 15 when my last high school gym requirement was completed. Even with more than a decade avoiding exercise, I’ve never weighed over 140lbs even when I was drinking Coke every day during my Swiss internship or when I survived university on Buckeye Donuts, sugary coffee and 20-30 energy drinks a week.

My “normal” range is somewhere between 135-140lbs, which I only check at the doctor annually and when I visit my parents. Kay and I don’t own a scale and I don’t intend on buying one. Scales just inspire me to weigh myself obsessively and stress why the number isn’t lower, even when I am a normal weight. Don’t need that negativity in my life!

(Circa 2009, about as pudgy as I get.)

I might have gotten a little softer and pudgier at the end of university and while I was a nanny here, but I never gained enough to require buying new clothes. And with the celiac diagnosis, somewhere along the way I mysteriously lost weight and dropped to 128lbs when I was diagnosed last year, so I really don’t need to worry about my weight.

So why does someone like me need to work out?

(On the Kalalau trail during our honeymoon in 2011)

When I first came to Zürich I had a lot of trouble going on hikes and climbing all the hills around the city really winded me. Like… gasping for breath at the top of stairs and stopping for breath on hikes every 20 minutes or so.

In 2009, I found the perfect flat to move to Zürich and Kay couldn’t believe I wanted to live on the fifth floor of a building with no lift. Neither could I… It tired me out every day climbing all those steps!

(On the Kalalau trail during our honeymoon in 2011)

Kay pressured me for years to exercise and I knew I should start at some point. It began to feel like a sinking, guilty feeling. We would go on hikes together and walk a lot, but I always said that I didn’t want to exercise and be really fit because at some point I would have kids and exercise would go by the wayside and I would lose all that hard work, like it was for nothing.

I didn’t want to start for a time, quit and then be left with the larger appetite and have to readjust to eating smaller portions again, opening me up for weight gain. I didn’t want to gain muscles and be proud of them only to be sad when they melt away later.

When we moved into our home in 2013, we did the whole move by ourselves. Two days of moving things down 5 flights of stairs because we had no lift in the old flat. I was a little overzealous on the last day and I strained my back a little bit, but I thought it was fine.

(Our DIY way of carrying down boxes without a lift)

But a couple days later, we were moving a sofa in the new apartment and when I went to lift it up, I really pulled my back. I dropped the sofa in pain and Kay was mad because he didn’t understand that I had something really wrong to my back. For a few days, many movements made my sciatic nerve flare up in sudden, debilitating pain. Kay realized I was having real back problems when he found me on the bathroom floor crying in pain. It was a wake up call.

I had been having increasing back pain every day at work for months and knew we had a bad mattress and that my sitting all day at work is not good for my back. But it took the moving incident to frighten me enough to realize that if I don’t work to strengthen my back now, it might give out on me long term.

It turned out I had some extremely tight/unhappy gluteal muscles and after using massage therapy for a couple weeks, the pain went away, but I knew I had to get serious about my health.

I hadn’t been doing anything for my health really. I ate whatever I wanted and never exercised. How could that be healthy long-term?

(On the Kalalau trail during our honeymoon in 2011)

I knew that if I didn’t work exercising into my daily schedule as something that happens every day and is not optional, I would skip it in a heartbeat everyday. I wanted to make exercising a part of normal life in the hopes that if I get busy or if we ever have kids some day, that I will still find a way to exercise.

My goals were also pretty clear: I wanted to improve my general health, strengthen my back muscles and improve my endurance so that I can keep up with Kay better on hikes and outdoor activities. I wanted to learn to like running or at least not be in critical pain every time I attempted to run.

Being skinny doesn’t prevent one from being extremely out of shape and since my gym journey began, I have accepted that sitting for ten hours a day in an office is not good for anyone’s health, especially not mine.

That’s why this skinny fat girl decided to morph herself into a skinny muscular girl!

One Year Gym-iversary

It’s hard to believe that one year ago I was heading to my first spinning class as I started my weekly morning gym routine. I honestly never thought that I could be a morning person, let alone a person who gets up early to work out. That was just not “me”.

(Sunrise in Zurich)

Now here I am on the other side of a whole year of waking up at 6:05-6:15am to get to the gym for 45minutes to an hour of exercise before showering and heading to work. I’m not going to say it was easy to do it everyday, but deciding to work exercising into my schedule with no excuse but to go every morning turned it from a question to a part of life.

It changed my lifestyle: When my muscles started slowly growing, I became excited to go to the gym and “work” on my goals. I also stopped staying out past midnight during the week not only because the trains stop running, but because I’d be feeling it at the gym the next day.Exercising every day forces me to prioritise sleep. I need my sleep if I’m going to do anything productive at the gym and it’s too depressing and painful to be at the gym while I’m tired, knowing that I don’t have enough energy to do much. I also won’t allow myself to slag off the gym if I had a late night because Kay will be getting up then anyway, so off I go. No excuses!

People told me it was too much, but for me, it feels just right. Because working out is a part of every workday, I cannot decide whether or not it’s worth skipping some days or not. An everyday schedule also gives me the opportunity to have a balanced mix of cardio and strength training with cycling, running, machines, lifting weights and stretching.

Also, I’m not going to lie, a year of solid gym work definitely makes a difference in body toning. Like… I have some muscles now. When we went to Australia, Kay pointed out that some lady was checking out my arms while we were waiting in immigration in Zurich. People at work notice them. They aren’t nonexistent anymore! 🙂

I’m looking forward to seeing how my body develops in the next year, from stretching to cardio and strength, it is definitely making changes slowly, but surely! And moreover, I feel like working out is improving my overall health.

Running for the train is a breeze and for the first time on our trip in Australia, I was keeping up with Kay on a moderate incline and he commented how he was impressed because usually he’s miles ahead of me. Even when we went cycling together, Kay felt like he noticed a difference in “new Katie” vs “old Katie”. Old Katie would have gotten off her bike and walked up certain hills. New Katie pushes through. 😉

Do you work out regularly? What’s your biggest motivation to get out there and do it?

Fitness Friday: Balancing Act

Kay joined the same gym as me awhile back and took advantage of the complementary wellness checkup. He came home and told me his balance was awful. My balance has always been OK, but while I was buying my official running shoes, the salesmen recommended that I think about buying some balance balls to strengthen my ankles and feet for running because they seemed a little weak after looking at the analysis scans.

Normally I don’t buy into extras like this. I actually went home and didn’t buy the balls for a couple weeks, but eventually I thought it would be a good idea for us to try them out. The balls came in a pack of two. They have a flat side to rest on the floor and spikes to stimulate the blood flow in the feet.

To use them, I stand with one foot on the ball while I brush my teeth. We have electric toothbrushes that buzz four times for the different sides of the mouth, and top and bottom, so after two buzzes I switch feet. The whole thing takes about a minute and a half and I only do it at night because the salesman said once a day should be enough.

I finally had my own wellness checkup this week where they tested my balance and I was pretty darn good! I was almost exactly in the middle of the “green zone” and the trainer said that most often, people are completely in the red zone and that he was really impressed.

Kay is still working on his balance, but he’s a little less consistent about doing it every night, although he did start doing it in the morning as well. Maybe at his next checkup, he’ll have improved a significant amount! It is a small way to improve stability.

Do you make any small efforts to improve your health or multitasking efforts to work exercise into your daily routine?