Body For Life: Part One {Exercise}

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This is my fourth week doing Body for Life (BFL for short). I've lost four pounds; yay! Do you want to know more?

Body for Life is a combination of workout plans & a changed diet. You're supposed to work out six days a week (three aerobic, three weight training), and also diet those six days -- and then take one day off from both. My friend Meg & I are altering the plan slightly to work out four days a week (two aerobic, two weight training) and diet six days. If we get crazy, we work out five days, but not every week.

I've been reading the book slowly, and I've found a few parts of it particularly interesting. {Sorry, in advance, if you don't!} I thought I'd break this into two posts: one about diet & one about exercise. And then we'll be back to our regularly-scheduled "I'm in love with this million-dollar TV console" posts, don't you worry!

So -- exercise first.

Bill Philips, the BFL founder, talks a lot about how you don't need to spend a ton of time at the gym to get a good workout. He points out that not only do people get discouraged by spending a lot of time at the gym (because they know they can't sustain that from week to week, month to month, year to year), but also that it's not good for you to "overextend your body's recuperative ability." Workouts are about quality, he says, not quantity. This is hard for me to wrap my mind around. "If I'm going to the gym," I think, "I want to go to the gym." Make it worth my while. But Bill says 20 minutes is all you need for a good aerobic work out. "After all," he quips, "if those long, boring, unfocused exercise routines -- the type that so many millions of people conduct, week in and week out -- worked, why do so darn many overweight women and men who take part in {them} look exactly the same now as they did a year ago?" Hmm. Good point.

Body for Life is based around the idea that you have to combine aerobic exercise with weight training to transform your body. When your body gains muscle, it requires more energy to maintain that muscle (as opposed to fat, which doesn't require any energy to sit there). "That's why weight training is even superior to aerobic exercise for people who want to lose fat: It addresses the core of the problem -- the rate at which your body uses energy." Muscle burns way more energy than fat. By building muscle, I'm enabling my body to continue working long after I've left the gym. It makes sense, but I've never thought of it that way before.

If you're anything like me, though, you're totally intimidated by weight training. It's hard to know what resistance to use, how many reps to do, and what all of those crazy machines at the gym are even for! I have never trained with weights before, and I would not have the first clue what to do on my own. The book explains exercises and helps you develop plans, but I am thankful that I'm able to go with Meg twice a week. It's so much more fun to go with a friend, and I'm fortunate that she knows what she's doing! {But more than likely, there are also people at the gym, whichever gym you go to, who are able to help get you started.}

He also mentions that it's better to do workouts in the morning. I resisted this for a LONG time -- I hate mornings, you guys -- but after I drag myself out of bed, it's really great. There's nothing that I hate more than thinking about going to the gym after a long day at work. Plus, apparently working out in the morning is more effective?

"To further enhance the fat-burning effect of workouts," says my BFF Bill, "do them in the morning, in a fasted state (before eating). Scientific studies indicate that fat is burned much faster -- up to 300 percent faster -- when you exercise in the morning as opposed to doing the same exercise in the afternoon. (By the way, if your primary goal is to lose body fat, consider doing your weight-training workouts in the morning on an empty stomach, too.)"

So here's my routine so far (6-6:45 a.m. at the Seminary gym with Meg):

Tuesday & Thursday: Weight training -- one day we do upper body, the other day we do lower body

Monday & Wednesday: 20 minutes of interval aerobic exercise, usually the elliptical on manual with Meg calling the shots -- level, speed, intensity, etc. Let me just tell you, it is a MUCH better workout than just picking the "interval" option. The first time we did the elliptical together, I thought I might die. But she pushes me, and it's a good thing. {Sometimes when she asks me what speed I'm at, I barely have the breath to tell her... it's kind of pathetic. And funny. But I can't laugh, because then I can't breathe, and then I'm even more of a mess than I already was!}

Saturday: We've been dragging our husbands with us on Saturday mornings to swim at the gym, which is a fun, different way to get a good aerobic work out. Wes has been dying to teach me how to swim "properly" for ages... once I learn how to do it right, I'd imagine it will be an even better work out. :)

We'll see how long this exercise plan lasts, friends, but I'm really hoping it becomes a habit! Fingers crossed....


Anonymous said...

First, I've followed your fun blog for awhile now. Your writing style makes me smile.. and we all need more smiles in the day. I've never commented until now, and I really hesitated. I'm just not the 'commenting' type. BUT, I'm a Body For Life advocate! When I saw your first post about starting BFL I was very excited. I LOVE the BFL philosophy and it changed my life drastically. Sending BFL well wishes your way*** Katie

Beth said...

Katie, you made my whole day by commenting, so I'm really glad you did. :) I'm encouraged to know that I'm not the only one who's really energized by the BFL philosophy!

Have a great day!

In Definition said...

i'm so proud:)

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