five friends dedicating 100 days to getting into the best shape of their lives.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 1: And so it begins.

Day 1 of 100 and I was up early.

Though there are surely numerous words that would be appropriate to describe the hour of 5:45am, "unholy" is the only one that comes to mind. But there I was, awake and determined. Quick as I could this morning, I wolfed down an apple and some water and took care of some work for an hour. I read yesterday that this is a good way to get food into your muscles before you work out. It was this article from the New York Times Run Well blog that included the advice:

At what point before exercise should we be eating?

I like it to be an hour before exercise. We’re just talking about a fist-sized amount of food. That gives the body enough food to be available as an energy source but not so much that you’ll have an upset stomach. So if you’re going to exercise at 3 p.m., you need to start thinking about it at 2 p.m.
This turned out to be a good idea, though later on in the workout I was starting to taste that apple again. Maybe I should have waited a bit longer, but I did have the energy to complete everything I wanted to.

Another surprising bit from that blog was about drinking water while exercising. I had always thought sipping water was the best way to get it to your muscles without upsetting your stomach. Not so.

Should we keep sipping fluids while we’re exercising?

How we drink can make a difference in how optimally we hydrate our body. A lot of people sip liquids, but gulping is better. Gulps of fluid leave the stomach more rapidly. It’s important to do this. It seems counterintuitive, it seems like gulping would cause a cramp. People are more likely to have stomach cramps sipping because fluid stays in their gut too long.

When you take more fluid in, gulps as opposed to sips, you have a greater volume of fluid in the stomach. That stimulates the activity of the stretch receptors in the stomach, which then increase intra-gastric pressure and promote faster emptying. This is why gulping is preferred.

Aside from all of that, my workout itself is very simple. I'm using strictly bodyweight exercises to shape up and burn fat, in league with a running regimen that the NYT says will put me on par to complete my first marathon in November. I'm not running any marathons in November, but what better way to get into shape and burn any excess fat than running regularly?

The bodyweight workout I've chosen is called the "Belly Off! No Gym Classic" from Men's Health. I know, I know, it's our sex's Cosmopolitan. But this is a good workout to build and tone muscle while burning fat, and all it requires is a pull-up bar (another confession: a few weeks ago I picked up the as-seen-on-TV Iron Gym pull-up bar, and it's awesome). This is an 8-week plan, after which I'll move on to the Bodyweight 200, and perhaps then onto a more intense bodyweight workout (assuming BW200 is not intense enough).

On top of that is running. The New York Times has a great web application to help schedule your runs, determine how far you go, and log your time/distance. It's called the Run Well Tracker and it allows you to pick the type of running schedule you want, designed by various marathon runners and coaches, and track your progress online. Highly recommended.

So, at 7am, I did a good warm-up, some step-ups, some pushups, some horizontal rows, and some squats. Then it was off to the races for a 3 mile run. Back at 8:30 for a shower and quick breakfast and off to work I went.

I bet the toughest part about all of this will be getting up early enough to do this all before work. I do enjoy working out in the mornings, but man do I hate waking up early.

See you tomorrow!

UPDATE, June 7, 2009: Wow, my legs and back are pretty sore. Off for some stretching and then a good swim. Hoping to swim on my off-days, not only because it's a great workout, but because I'd like to become a better swimmer.


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