How to Return to Exercising after an Illness

Over the weekend, I got food poisoning. Luckily, it didn’t last that long. However, I lost all my energy and overall felt like I was hungover. Yet, I wanted to return to training as soon as possible. In the past, I have been sick as well and getting back to exercising when you’re not feeling 100 percent is tough. Here are some tips to help you return to exercise after you’ve been ill.

Tips for Exercising after You’ve Been Sick

  • Take it slow. Don’t go all out to crush a workout (especially a CrossFit workout) after you’ve been sick. It’s okay to return to exercise not quite 100 percent, but don’t push your body to its limits. You open yourself up to injury and a longer recovery period from your illness if you do.
  • Drink more than usual during a workout. Stop at logical breaks or at least every two minutes and take a sip of water. Your body needs extra nourishment as it’s trying to fuel your body and recover from an illness.Image result for picture person in bed sick
  • Recovery after the workout is key. Drink your protein shake and recovery drink immediately after you’re finished and don’t cut the dosage. Your body will need all those electrolytes.
  • Listen to your body. I say this a lot, but it’s true. Over the next several days, your body will let you know when it’s ready to be pushed and return to your normal level of exercise. This is different for everyone who has different levels of fitness and a different degree of sickness. Food poisoning is quite different than pneumonia.
  • Be smart. Fitness will always be there. Recover and then hit it hard. Injuring yourself is just not worth it. If your body needs rest, then rest as hard as it is. You’ll be the stronger for it if you do.

Illnesses are a part of life. Luckily, as our immune systems get older, they aren’t a big part of our life. When you’re active and you get sick, take a break. Let your body concentrate on recovery and not performance. Use the time to catch up on a book you want to read or a TV series you want to watch. The mental break can be just as good for you as the physical break. Feel better soon!

Why I CrossFit

Hot Crossfit chicks crossfit competition
Power Snatch in CrossFit Competition

The CrossFit Games is not your average athlete. The CrossFit Games’ athletes are professionals who work out many hours every day. Most have professional coaches who do their programming.

I CrossFit once a day. I take rest days. I push myself but smartly. I strive and am competitive but am okay if I don’t win.

REASONS I CROSSFIT

  • To push my body to its limits
  • To transform my body composition and looks
  • To do things others don’t or won’t
  • To strengthen my mind
  • To improve my self-confidence
  • To improve my self-esteem
  • To have fun
  • To constantly challenge myself
  • To be different

It’s hard at this moment to quantify CrossFit and what it means to me. But this is my attempt.

Knowing When to Rest From CrossFit

Ever since Sunday, I’ve been hitting my CrossFit workouts hard. This week has been all about heavy weights, which I haven’t done for a while, especially after coming back from surgery. My shoulders are trashed. My calves are trashed. Squatting down in the simple things like doing laundry is difficult.

This morning I had a workout planned. I did not do it. I was too sore, and my body was crying out for rest.  Here’s some tips on how to know when to rest from exercise, CrossFit workouts, running, or whatever sport you do.

Tips to Know When to Rest from Exercise

  • Your body is crying out to you. This one should be intuitive, but I often ignore this one. When everything is sore and everyday movements become a challenge, it’s time for a break.
  • Your exhausted at the end of the day. Exercise causes trauma to our bodies that our bodies need rest and sleep in order to recover from. If you’re not giving your body rest, then you are not maximizing your time under the barbell. When you’re tired all the time, it’s your body crying out to rest, so it can do its job and repair muscle fibers and tissues, so you can be stronger for your next CrossFit workout.
  • Your mental game is affected. Loss of enthusiasm, motivation, and desire is a sure sign you need a rest day. If you’re only half into your CrossFit workout and you’re just going through the movements without any heart, then you’re not doing yourself any good. Rest and hit your workouts hard in the upcoming days.
  • You have a tweak that won’t go away. If you exercise or do CrossFit a lot, odds are you’re familiar with tweaks — some muscle feels a bit off and when you move it, you notice it. Most of the time, these tweaks resolve themselves on their own in a week or so. However, if you have a perpetual tweak that won’t go away, it’s time for a break. Take at least one rest day and then rest that muscle as much as possible. Modify the CrossFit programming to suit your needs or design your own CrossFit programming.
crossfit babes taking a rest day
Rest Day in CrossFit

As you can see, the key is listening to your body. Rest is crucial to progress in sports, but it’s so hard to take that day when our passion is our sport. Below are tips for rest days.

Tips for Rest Days

  • Active recovery. It’s hard for some of us to not do anything physical on rest days. Active recovery is a great way to let your muscles recover but appease your mind that is nagging at you to work out. I personally like to walk my dog on rest days from CrossFit or go swimming, which is no impact and gets all your built-up lactic acid in your muscles.
  • Distraction. Plan rest days during the week instead of on weekends, so you’re busy all day long. Plan rest days during the weekend if your weekend is packed, and you won’t have time to exercise.
  • Plan your CrossFit programming or workouts. Planning my next workouts satisfies the need deep within me to workout. It gives me something to look forward to when it’s time to hit my CrossFit workouts hard again.
  • Read a book. Alternate worlds are always good to enter when trying to NOT do something like exercise.
  • Get a massage. Let’s face it, we all need massages if we lift heavy weights. Schedule your massage during your rest day if possible to maximize the effects of rest on the body.
  • Go to bed early that day. Get extra sleep to afford your body the time it needs to repair muscle tissue and grow stronger.

We only get stronger when we rest. Adequate rest and nutrition play a big part in our muscle gains and, odd enough, our muscle loss.

Working out and lifting heavy weights, whether you do CrossFit or a different sport, is only half the equation. Keep in mind the harder part — eating right and resting — and you’ll see results quicker.

How Lifting Changes Your Metabolism

Why do you lift weights? Is it for muscle tone? To gain strength? Be healthier? Lose weight? For fun? Are you a competitive lifter or a recreational?

Odds are, you lift weights for a variety of reasons, some of which may be those listed above. Lifting weights changes your body as we all know. You become leaner, stronger, toner, and healthier. These are the outward signs that you lift.

But have you ever thought about what happens on the inside as your lift weights? Your heart gets stronger, making it beat more efficiently. Your lungs work more efficiently. Your heart rate goes down, making for a healthier circulatory system. You sleep better. You are probably more efficient mentally as well.

Your metabolism is also affected by lifting weights. In today’s article, we’ll explore how lifting weights affects your metabolism.

WHAT IS YOUR METABOLISM?

Metabolism (/məˈtæbəlɪzəm/, from Greek: μεταβολή metabolē, “change”) is the breakdown of food through chemical reactions in your body that sustains your life functions. Metabolism refers to three processes: the conversion of food (or your fuel) into energy, the conversion of food into what builds your body, namely, protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids, and the elimination of waste by-products from this process. Metabolism is from the Greek word “metabole,” meaning change. Metabolism is what keeps you alive. Sure, the food you eat is the fuel, but without a way to use that fuel, you’d be dead.

WHAT ARE THE CLASSES OF METABOLISM?

In order to facilitate discussions, metabolism is further broken down into two categories:

  1. Catabolism — the breaking down of compounds
  2. Anabolism — the building up of compounds

Breaking down results in energy being released; building up results in energy being consumed.

For the purposes of this article, we will strictly be discussing metabolism and the effect exercise has on your metabolism. However, we needed a bit of background material in order to understand how this relates to diet and muscle growth as well.

Image result for muscle growth chart

METABOLISM AND EXERCISE

We’ve just established that your metabolism includes all the things your body does to turn food into energy and keep you going, while eliminating the substances your body cannot use — be this through waste products or through fat storage. Some people have a faster metabolism than others. Factors that influence metabolism are:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Genes
  • Thyroid condition
  • Exercise

If you’ll notice, there’s only one thing on this list we can control: exercise, the rest being out of our control.

So what does this mean for us? It means we need to exercise if we want to speed up our metabolism, burn more calories, and thus lose weight and get stronger.

The best way to speed up your metabolism is through muscle building. Muscle cells need a lot of energy to function at their optimal level, which means they burn a lot of calories. In fact, muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells, even when you’re not exercising. Translation: the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Another way to look at it is: the time you spend working out is multiplied many fold as your body reaps benefits long after you stop sweating.

HOW MUSCLES GROWImage result for muscle growth chart

After you workout, your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process where it fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands or myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and number to create muscle hypertrophy (growth). However this process does not happen when you are actually lifting the weights. Instead, it occurs while you rest.

HOW DO YOU CAUSE MUSCLES TO GROW

Simple: you have to stress them. You have to push your body outside of its comfort zone (technically known as homeostasis or the tendency to stay the same). Otherwise, nothing will change. There are three ways to disrupt homeostasis and cause muscle growth:

  1. Muscle Tension. In order to produce muscle growth, you have to apply a load of stress greater than what your body or muscles are used to, and the main way to do this is to lift progressively heavier weights. This will cause changes in the chemistry of the muscle, activating the formation of new muscle strands.
  2. Muscle Damage. If you’ve ever felt sore after a workout, you have experienced muscle damage. The damaged muscle causes a release of inflammatory molecules and immune system cells that jump starts the repair process, resulting in more muscle being laid over the damaged muscle. You don’t have to feel sore for this to happen, but soreness is one indication your muscles are definitely not in their comfort zone!
  3. Metabolic Stress. If you’ve ever felt the burn of an exercise or had the “pump” in the gym, then you’ve felt the effects of metabolic stress. Scientists used to question this effect on your muscles when bodybuilders would say the “pump” caused their muscles to become larger. However, after studies were conducted, it was learned that metabolic stress does cause muscle cells to swell around the muscle, which helps to contribute to muscle growth without necessarily increasing the size of the muscle cells. The swelling is caused by glycogen, which not only swells the muscles but also the connective tissue surrounding the muscles.


HOW HORMONES AFFECT MUSCLE GROWTH


Hormones are another component largely responsible for muscle growth and repair, namely growth factors and testosterone.

Testosterone is the main hormone that most people think of when lifting weights and for good reason: testosterone increases protein synthesis, inhibits protein breakdown, activates satellite cells, and stimulates other anabolic hormones, which contribute to muscle growth. Strength training helps to release more testosterone and make the receptors of your muscle cells more sensitive to this testosterone. Furthermore, testosterone stimulates growth hormone responses by increasing the presence of neurotransmitters at the damaged fiber site, which can help to activate tissue growth.

Growth factors regulate help muscle mass growth by enhancing protein synthesis, facilitating glucose uptake, repartitioning the uptake of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) into skeletal muscles and activating satellite cells to increase muscle growth.

WHY MUSCLES GROW WHEN YOU’RE AT REST

 

As most of us know who lift weights, lifting weights alone will only get you so far in terms of muscle growth, which affects your goals such as weight loss. Your body needs adequate rest and nutrition to reek the benefits of your weightlifting regimen. Otherwise, you can actually reverse the anabolic process and put your body into a catabolic or destructive state.

The response of muscle protein metabolism to a resistance exercise session lasts for 24-48 hours; thus, the interaction between protein metabolism and any meals consumed in this period will determine the impact of the diet on muscle hypertrophy (a fancy word for growth). Keep in mind there is a certain limit on how much your muscles can actually grow dependent on gender, age, and genetics. For instance, men have more testosterone than women, which allows them to build bigger and stronger muscles.

 

HOW FAST DO MUSCLES GROW?

Muscle hypertrophy takes time. Huge muscle gains will not be seen overnight. In fact, muscle growth is relatively slow for the majority of us. Visible growth in your muscles won’t be seen for weeks or even months as initially changes are taking place in your nervous system first, which has to activate your muscle growth. Factor in the uncontrollables we talked about earlier, such as genetics and age, and muscle growth can be even slower. The amount of hormones your body releases, the type of muscle fibers you were born with, and cell activation of your muscles all play a factor in muscle growth and is different for all of us.

Remember muscle protein synthesis must be greater than muscle protein breakdown in order for muscle growth to occur. This requires an adequate consumption of protein (especially essential amino acids) and carbohydrates to help facilitate the cellular process of rebuilding broken down muscle tissue.

Building muscle takes time and seeing the results of your hard work is your reward. However, most of us are somewhat impatient, and those who are unsuccessful in meeting their muscle growth goals are those who quit because of what they deem “lack of results.”

You’re body is an amazing machine. But like a machine, it takes time to process change.

MUSCLE GROWTH AND METABOLISM

As we’ve seen, muscle growth can increase your metabolism, thereby making your overall goals much more attainable. If you want to lose weight, you lift heavy weights, which will increase your muscle mass, burning more calories in the process.

To be more specific, when you lift heavy weights, you increase your resting metabolism, which is just like it sounds: your metabolism while at rest. Let’s fact it: we spend the majority of our days in this resting metabolism state. You sleep, eat, watch TV, go to work, stare at a computer all day, or stand for portions of the day. Even if you have a fairly active job such as landscaping or oil field work, you still have a considerably amount of down time throughout your day — much more so than actually exercising.

Hence, we rely on our resting metabolism to get us to where we want to go, whether it be competitive powerlifting or bodybuilding, losing 20 pounds, getting rid of our beer bellies, or just being leaner and fitting into more of our clothes without a belt pinching our mid-section.

CrossFit babes deadlifting at CrossFit Competition
Deadlifting at CrossFit Competition

TIPS FOR INCREASING METABOLISM WITH WEIGHT TRAINING

  • Frequency. In order to increase your metabolism, grow muscle, and achieve your desired results, you’re going to have to lift weights frequently. Stronglifts Strength Training Program is designed to do three days a week.
  • Commitment. You need a plan with a logical progression that focuses on the basic lifts — which is Stronglifts defined. The back squat, deadlift, and bench press are  foundational moves (along with barbell row and overhead press) to work all of the muscles in your body. You increase the weight incrementally, incorporating rest and healthy eating, to maximize results.
  • Intelligence. The goal of weight training is to lift more over a period of time — not to lift too much, end up getting hurt, and then not see any results. If you overdo it, you could actually end up losing muscle, which can slow your metabolism. Stronglifts is a program that does all the work for you. It tells you what to lift, how much and when. It tells you what exercises to do. And it shows you proper form, so you won’t hurt yourself. Stronglifts is an all-inclusive weight lifting program.
  • Take care of yourself. As we’ve discussed, being healthy is a holistic approach: you have to choose wisely what you put in your body, choose wisely what strength program you do, and rest and recover. This will maximize results and keep you safe. And an added benefit — you are lifting for life. Overall, you’ll be healthier to do the things you enjoy doing such as mountain climbing or skiing.
  • Lifetime activity. Exercise becomes even more important as you get older. You naturally lose muscle mass with age, which slows down your metabolism. Lifting weights can help stop that slide, allow you to keep more of your muscle mass, and keep building muscle mass. As you age, you slow down and spend more time in the resting metabolic zone. This makes building muscle even more important because muscle uses more calories than fat, strengthening your muscles will make you into a more efficient calorie-burning machine for life.

THE LIFTING WEIGHTS CHOICE

Lifting weights has led thousands of people to amazing health and wellness. They have achieved the look they desire, and the health they’ve always wanted. They look great and feel great. They are more successful in all aspects of their lives because of their health. They have an active lifestyle, friends that support them, healthy relationships, a thriving career, and time and energy to do what makes their heart sing. Lifting weights has given thousands the ultimate freedom. Join them today!

Crossfit: How NOT to Cherry-Pick Workouts

Today’s CrossFit workout I wanted no part of. If you skip a CrossFit Workout that was programmed, it’s known as cherry-picking in the CrossFit world, meaning you only do the workouts you want to do and skip the ones that are hard or the ones you dont’ want to do. Today’s programmed CrossFit WOD was this:

3 rounds of:

hot crossfit chicks
Power Snatches in CrossFit
  • 10 power cleans
  • 10 front squats
  • 10 push jerks

1st round was 95 lb, 2nd round was 105 lb, 3rd round was 115 lb

Then we had a WOD that was this:

3 Rounds for Time:

  • 10 power snatches 80 lbs
  • 20 box jump overs
  • 30 wall balls

I haven’t lifted that much in push jerks since August. I knew that was going to be tough mentally for me more than physically. But I did it. Not happily (I’m glad it’s over), but I know I need to do this stuff to be stronger and to improve at CrossFit. Here are tips when faced with a workout, so you don’t cherry-pick it:

  1. Go at your own pace. Don’t worry about what others are doing around you. Remember this is your workout, so do it your way.
  2. Concentrate on good form. For weights that heavy for you (80% and up), good form is crucial to a) being able to do the work b) being able to lift heavier weights moving forward. Take that extra second to get set before you lift to ingrain muscle memory to these Olympic moves.
  3. It’s about the work. Take it one rep at a time if this is tough for you mentally. Just get the work done and finish.

In CrossFit, we all have the movements we love and those we hate. When faced with those you hate, don’t avoid them like you do your mother-in-law. Do them. You’ll be a stronger, more well-rounded athlete overall. And you may even find you like the moves once you get good at them.

Starting CrossFit Open Training Off Right

This morning I did Bert, a CrossFit Hero Workout named for U.S. Marine Cpl. Albert Gettings, 27, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, who died on Jan. 5, 2006, while conducting counter-sniper operations in Fallujah, Iraq. 

This one, like most CrossFit Hero workouts, is long. It’s:

  • 50 burpees
  • 400 m run
  • 100 push ups
  • 400 m run
  • 150 walking lunges
  • 400 m run
  • 200 air squats
  • 400 m run
  • 150 walking lunges
  • 400 m run
  • 100 push ups
  • 400 m run
  • 50 burpees

I finished in 1 hour and 6 min, including time to take my jacket and gloves on and off for the runs. Fun workout. All body weight exercises. Great cardio.

Preparing for CrossFit Open 2019

I’m trying to get motivated for the CrossFit Open. This was a good workout. I’m beginning to log my food again with My Fitness Pal. I’m hoping to get stronger and gain more skills. Really, I’m hoping to stay fit and healthy and be happy with how I look.

 

CrossFit Open Dates Announced for 2019

Image result for crossfit open 2019

The CrossFit Open officially kicks off February 21st, 2019.

This is the qualifier for the 2019 Games.

And I am not ready.

I don’t feel like I’m any more ready than last year.

Between injuries, surgeries, and frustrations, I just haven’t been caring much

I have 75 days to prepare.

Once I get my stitches out next week, I think I’ll be ready to hit it hard core.

But we’ll see.

It’s been tough mentally this year for me. I just haven’t cared all that much.