Exercising Efficiently

I'm going to go ahead take the liberty of b***h slapping the myth of "I have to workout for two hours every day to ________ [lose weight, be fit, eat a lot, etc.]." This. Is. Not. True.

Listen...to each his/her own. I mean, if you genuinely LOVE to run for three hours a day...then good for you - run, Forrest, run! But if the sole reason you're doing it every day is so you can "be skinny", then I hope you trip on your stupid neon laces and fall mouth-open onto a giant pile of greasy cheese fries. Ok...that was harsh...I'm only half-kidding. But I can honestly say that because I used to be one of those people. When I was on the Weight Watchers program, I would get on the eliptical for up to 90 minutes most days JUST so I could gain more "points" for treats and food. It was neither fun nor was it a good use of time.

I personally hate to run. For chronic medical reasons I won't get into, I actually cannot run for extended periods of times or for long distances (this developed my senior year of college). Not that mad about it. "But didn't you have to run a lot for your sport in college?" Well, yes. Aside from playing through the pain of a chronic calf injury my senior season, my collegiate experience was a completely different animal - I loved it. I wasn't lolligagging on the eliptical for two hours while "reading a book" or running aimlessly in a giant circle around campus (no offense to those of you who always run circles around campus)...I was playing a competitive sport - one which thrilled me, challenged me and essentially owned me in the most addicting and positive way. And when I was getting my ass whooped "on the line" (love you, miss Ginny), I was getting it whooped with 23 of my best friends.

High Intensity Interval Training

Now, having graduated, I initially struggled in finding a way to workout effectively. I would play on the stationary bike for an hour and half (aka I'd pedal at a pathetic pace and watch VH1 or whatever other trashy programs they'd play on the gym tv's)...and then, because I "worked out", I'd stuff my face. No wonder I wasn't losing any weight. Man...sometimes I laugh at myself when I realize how dumb I could (err...still can)  be. One day, my former head coach, Ginny, got me to try a "New Client Special" at an unfamiliar gym. I was reluctant at first...not because of the gym...but because I didn't want to go workout next to my steel-abbed head coach who runs marathons at a Kenyan pace. But I went...and I'm so glad I did. 

Holy guaca-paleo-mole...this place is UHmazing. It implements high intensity interval training (HIIT), combining elements of cardio, strength and power. Each workout lasts about 30-35 minutes (excluding warm up) and leaves you both full of adrenaline and completely wiped. It's freakin' awesome. I genuinely look forward to every workout.

What this style of fitness has helped me realize, is that we do not need to workout for excessive periods of time to be fit. If you exert max effort into a high intensity workout, all it takes is 25-30 minutes (plus warmup). Since embracing HIIT, I have become stronger, leaner and more agile than ever before. Not to mention it has given me back an ample amount of time to my day that I would otherwise be spending "elipticizing" (or reading Cosmo). While making cleaner food choices and transitioning to a practically paleo life has certainly played a substantial role in my fitness and health, I 100% recognize interval training as a fundamental cornerstone to my transformation.

Find What Works for You

HIIT has become my principle form of exercise, A) because I'm obsessed and B) because I have a chronic injury that won't allow me to run or perform impact-based exercised for long periods of time. That being said, however, don't mistake this post as me telling you that you must solely train through high intensity intervals to be fit. That's not what I'm saying at all. HIIT is a great complementary workout for the avid runner, yogi or dog-walker. Even doing it once a week can make a huge difference to one's fitness. It's all about identifying your threshhold and what works best for you.

I like to promote HIIT because it completely flips the notion of "being fit by working out for hours on end" backward. Better yet, when you train at a high intensity, even if it's just for 30 minutes, your body requires recovery...aka days off! How's that for some twisted hypocrisy? When was the last time you heard someone say "to maintain health, fitness and strength, you need to rest." As far as I'm concerned, I'd call that #winning. And with that, I look forward to lazing on the couch today.

If you're not the type of person who is interested in the intensity behind something like HIIT, I'd merely suggest you give it a shot. You don't even necessarily need a trainer to do it - you can very easily implement a HIIT workout on your own (I'm just personally not disciplined enough on my own, so I prefer to have someone else hold me accountable) - see below for an HIIT workout you can try at home or at your local gym. If you still don't like it after trying it, no sweat (pun intended)! There are still plenty of other ways in which you can move that take the bore out of exercising for a long time every day because you feel like you "have to." I'll save that post for another day.