For the past week I have laid off any strenuous work outs because of the injury to my knee from over doing it on the running track (see Day 16 – Dyn-o-mite!). The injury also coincided with my birthday week so it was awesome to see my weight remain at 253 pounds without gaining. Wanting to get back to the rec center I called my daughter, Mandi, a very knowledgeable person who takes her health seriously, and asked her advice about how to proceed with working out in order to lose weight.
Keep in mind this is for a 53 year old man with no health problems other than weight.
This was some of her response:
Hey Dad! I did some research and talked to John about your workout plans, and I came up with a list of some suggestions that I think might help/improve your workouts.
- Weightlifting routines can cater to one of two things: power or endurance. To build power, fewer reps are better. A power routine would be something like doing three sets of 8 or 9 reps for each machine in the circuit. I imagine you’ve already got plenty of power, and if you’re concerned about joint and ligament pain, focus on muscle endurance instead (it will allow your muscles to develop the ability to withstand future workouts without injury). Do three sets of 12-16 reps for each exercise. You should barely be able to finish the last rep. It’s a good idea to take a rest day between weightlifting sessions to allow your muscles to recover (again, preventing injury). A fun way to do this is to work out the upper body one day and the lower body the next (and you can do aerobic work about 5 days a week, but take at least one to two days a week off from that as well).
- On elliptical machines, treadmills, or running, an alternative to slogging away for half an hour is to cut that time in half and do intervals. For instance, (after a warm-up), go five minutes at a relatively easy pace, then one minute at, say, 90% of your maximum effort. A few intervals of that will get your heart rate pumping harder than a long-slog, which burns more calories more quickly and prevents your knee from enduring at least some repetitive movements, which may help reduce pain. Keeping your body surprised is one of the best ways to lose weight and get fit. Interval training does just that. (Try googling “interval training” to get more information on this. It makes your workout so much more effective and is the foundation for CrossFit, which is considered one of the best current workout trends).
- Find a running store somewhere and invest in a good foam roller. Some running stores will also offer classes to teach you rolling techniques, which can improve your workout and avoid injury. The one John and I use is called the Rumble Roller (in black, which, with foam rollers, indicates the firmest foam, but be warned, it can really hurt!). Use it before and after work outs (you can watch videos on youtube of people using foam rollers). It’s a good idea to use one regularly, because it helps push lactic acid out of your muscles, which will help prevent soreness, and it helps eliminate trigger points (the places where your myofacial tissue needs to be ironed out…..you’ll know it when/if you have any trigger points when you roll over them….it’ll bring a tear to your eye. When you find sensitive spots, spend 30 seconds or so rolling slowly back and forth over that area. After a few sessions, you’ll feel better). Don’t roll onto or over joints, just in between them. Think of myofacial tissue as a shirt. If it’s wrinkled, it’s not going to lie as nicely when you put it on. If you iron the wrinkles out, the fabric moves more fluidly over your body, fitting more correctly. Your myofacial tissue is the same way. It can get scars, or wrinkles, that prevent your body from moving as effectively as it could otherwise. By using a roller, you can iron out the wrinkles, adding flexibility to the tissue, reducing pain, and improving your workout.
- Muscle is heavy. It weighs considerably more than fat, so if you lift weights regularly, you will gain a moderate amount of weight in muscle. The benefits of that though are tremendous. The tearing down and building up of muscle caused by weightlifting will have you burning calories during and well after you workout, even as you sleep. Stronger muscles require more energy, which your body will take primarily from your fat stores. Long story short, more muscle leads to less fat, so don’t worry about the weight you’d gain from muscle; it will be way offset by the amount of fat you’ll lose, and it will hasten your weight loss, not hamper it. The most effective weight-loss regimens now focus heavily on weightlifting.
- Consider seeing someone from Airrosti, or someone who specializes in myofascial tissue work to monitor knee pain. It’s good to start treatments early so you can avoid further or more permanent/long term injury.
- Ice (don’t heat) the knee for 20 minutes, take a 20 minute break, and then ice for 20 more minutes after exercise. Do not ice before working out.
- Always start with a 10 or 15 minute warm-up, and cool down after aerobic exercise. Walking for 10 minutes is a nice cool down. It helps prevent injury.
- Do not “push through pain” when lifting weights or engaging in aerobic activity. Pain means you’re using too much weight or going too far. If there’s pain even when you’re not exercising, rest the knee completely until the pain stops, and then pick back up using lighter weight. If you’re worried someone who is watching you might be judging you for the low weight you’re using, just tell them you’re rehabbing an injury (this is advice John gave me because I was embarrassed that I was lifting so little at the bench press).
- Don’t obsess over the “weight number”. Keep other numbers in consideration, too. Measure inches lost. If you have access to a machine that measures body fat content, track that number. Track the amount of weight you’re lifting, time on the track, etc. Those numbers more accurately reflect health improvements than the numbers on the scale. Weight can be attributed to various factors (water retention, muscle mass vs. fat content, etc.) while the other numbers are more straightforward as to their cause. Remember that the goal is health and weight is only one factor of the equation. John is suggestion taking a picture of yourself once a week (one picture flexing, one picture relaxed), and comparing each weeks photo to the last. You will be able to compare your overall improvements each week and see how your body is changing for the better.
You’re doing great Dad! I liked reading about your new cravings (sweet potatoes and peppers). I crave broccoli like crazy when I’m working out and being healthy. Our bodies are neat, complex things and I’m really glad to hear that you’re taking care of yours so well lately. I hope these tips and things help!!
Thanks Mandi, great advice!
The knee felt fine today so I took Mandi’s advice and surprised my body by doing a 20 minute warm-up on the recumbent bike followed by a rather hard weight work out on the circuit. Today, I did only upper body machines and applied just the right amount of weight on each to as Mandi suggested – 3 sets of 12 to 18 reps resulting in the last rep turning me purple. Tomorrow I will do lower body machines the same way. I was at the rec center for just over an hour and feel pleasantly worked out. For some reason the knee is a little sore but not debilitating like last week.
Breakfast consisted of a banana strawberry yogurt, cup of coffee and a couple of bites of a pear. This doesn’t sound like much but believe me, it filled me up. After my work out I had a hamburger patty with a sliced Roma tomato. Tonight, I will be enjoying a light salad, bean soup, and some left over smoked butt!
Hopefully, tomorrow will mark a new low in my weight. The other advice about the progress pics – yup, be warned, they are coming.
End of Day 22