My life is not especially sedentary these days, since cooking, cleaning, and chasing the kids around keeps me on my feet, and the gardening season is just getting revved up. But my post-baby weight loss has plateaued, and although I am only 4 pounds over the weight I was when I got pregnant with Theo, I was about 2″ smaller around both hips and waist at that same weight when I was running regularly. That tells me that I have quite a bit more fat and less muscle on my body now than previously, so my goal is to rev up my metabolism with some real exercise and work on toning.
However, seems like no matter what I try to do these days, life interrupts me. The baby gets into the dog food, Nolan runs by with no clothes on and asks for a snack, the phone rings, the oven timer goes off, and so on. That’s life with kids, lol! For the past 6 months or so, pretty much all I have managed is the occasional 2mi walk with Theo in the stroller for a visit to the playground. Every time I try to squeeze in a few minutes to work out, someone pages me, so to speak.
That means that if I am going to meet my exercise goals, my workouts will have to pack a punch in a hurry. No more time-consuming long runs for me, at least for the time being! I figure this is as good a time as any to test out the HIIT method of training which is currently gaining popularity in the fitness realm over straight endurance cardio. The basic principle of HIIT is right in its name: high-intensity interval training. You do a short intense intervals of activity followed by brief (very brief!) rest periods in a circuit format, and the whole workout is over in no more than 20 minutes. There are lots of slightly different methods you could use to go about this: CrossFit, Burstfit, Peak Fitness, and Tabata are just a few examples, but they all work on the same principle, and you can apply it to pretty much any activity you like. My personal preferences are sprints and kettlebells, but I like to have variety too.
So far it has been a week, and I squeezed in a 15-minute calisthenics-based HIIT workout (jumping jacks, mountain climbers, bicycle crunches, squats, etc.) and a 25-minute treadmill-based version (sprinting at 7mph and walking at 3mph), plus a short walk around the neighborhood with the little guy and a 10-minute upper body challenge. That equals just over an hour of dedicated exercise over the week with 40 minutes of HIIT, and I have already lost a half-inch around my waist and hips! I was incredibly sore for two days after the calisthenics, and I can feel my arms and torso from the plank challenge, but other than that I am in good shape and have plenty of energy to carry out all my other duties during the day. So that means I will try to keep at this for a while!
Here are a few more resources for interval training and workouts if you want to join me:
- Interval Timer app for Mac: I am using this free app for my treadmill and Tabata-style workouts, and it works great for consistent intervals; it is customizable, you don’t have to stop and start the timer, and you can listen to music over it.
- Jessica Smith has some of my favorite free workouts on YouTube, and she includes some HIIT workouts in the wide variety of options, including a low-impact set.
- The New York Times had an article last year about a 7-minute workout based on exercise science research about the most efficient way to organize a body-weight workout successively, so that you are always working some muscles intensively while resting others.
- If the social aspects of exercise appeal to you and you live in Colorado, you may want to consider the Colorado Get Movin’ Challenge that starts on May 1. It works through Map My Run (which incidentally has a nice GPS app for tracking run data), and actually has some prizes for working out 30 minutes or more daily in the month of May. I did this myself last August and got a free tech tee.
- Spire is another inspirational social community devoted to healthy living, with a decent feedback and reward system.
- Finally, be sure to check out my Pinterest page: I am currently developing boards for HIIT training and real food fuel for athletes!