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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why Steady-State Cardio is NOT Where It's At!

The other day, a young woman I know was lamenting that she has lost weight, but can't seem to get her abs to look more toned.

She's made great changes to her life, has lost 30 pounds in a year, and exercises regularly.

What's her exercise routine?  30 minutes on an elliptical trainer, followed by lifting weights.

My first thought -- how boring!  I'm not a big fan of cardio machines.  But, worse yet, 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise isn't going to help you bust through a plateau.

This is what is referred to as "steady state cardio".  Getting on a machine, doing some low-to-moderate intensity exercise for a set period of time, without breaking much of a sweat.  True, it's exercise, but it's completely ineffective at reshaping your body or helping you to lose weight, especially if you're at a plateau.
To make change, you need bursts of intensity.  Moving from exercise to exercise.  Challenging yourself.  For example, running, then doing some burpees, then push-ups, then frog-jumps, then star-jacks, then some dips, then squats...... I'm tired out just writing these exercises, let alone doing them.

For me, I have two of these types of workouts in my weekly regimen, in addition to challenging track, cycling, and swim workouts.  While you can do something like this on your own, I always find it more fun, and more challenging, to do a challenging workout like this with a group.

My favorites:
Fitamorphosis -- www.fitamorphosis.com -- Corey Enman's fat-burning inferno, voted the best bootcamp in Burbank

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Push-Up Challenge

Do you challenge yourself?  If you want to get fitter or stronger, you definitely should.  Several of my teammates from Fortius Racing Team and I have taken on a 100 push-up challenge per day each day for the month of June.

It's been an interesting experience.  On the first day, I struggled to get the 100 pushups done, 14 here, 10 there, then 5, then 5, then 5, and finally they were done and my arms and chest hurt!!!

A week into it, and I've gotten stronger and a bit more creative.  Here I am stopped on my bike ride yesterday doing some push-ups.

And on Friday, I did a few after my swim in the ocean:

Even after a week, I feel stronger.  Today as I got out of the pool in the deep end, I was able to do a full "deck-up", whereby I use both hands on the pool ledge to pull myself straight out of the pool.  No leaning on a forearm, no ladder, no lurching my belly onto the pool deck.  I pushed myself straight out of the pool.

By the end of the month, I will have done 3,000 push-ups.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Stuff Vegans Ask Me, Part Two

I've got some really motivated patients who have survived heart attacks or have had angioplasties.  They listen when I encourage them toward a plant-based diet, they read Esselstyn's book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, they read Ornish's books, Mcdougall, Fuhrman, and so on.  And then they make changes -- go plant-based, cut out the oil and the animal products, and learn to love things like kale and quinoa.

And then they ask -- I'm eating perfectly.  Do I need a statin?

Great question.  I'm a big advocate of less being more when it comes to medications, cutting down medication to the bare minimum.

Studies have been done on secondary prevention, that demonstrate that statins reduce risk of recurrent heart attack and can decrease plaque burden in the arteries.  That said, so do whole-food plant-based vegan diets.  So if you're on a vegan diet, do you need a statin too?

There will never be a study randomizing vegans to a statin or no statin -- it would simply be unethical.  My recommendation is, statins are pretty benign medications.  Most people tolerate them.  I recommend that all patients with coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease, regardless of diet, take a statin.  A statin has very little chance of causing harm, almost no chance of causing permanent harm, and yet may have benefit.