Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Friday 5

Hey and happy Friday! I hope you guys had a great week. We’ve been busy this week, catching up with life and get ready for back-to-school for both Mal and Quinn. We are looking forward to a mostly low-key weekend with family and friends.

In this week’s edition of the Friday 5, there’s a mix of food, fashion, and random finds, like donut seasoning, say what?! I hope you have a lovely weekend!

1. Kid Walkie Talkies – Quinn’s been having so much fun with these camo green walkie talkies. It’s amazing how something so simple as a walkie talkie can keep kids occupied for a chunk of time. For less than $25 on Amazon, they’re a great option to take on camping trips and they also make a great kid gift!

2. Tokyo Tote Bag – I’m loving this bag so much, it deserves another mention! 🙂 It’s the perfect summer bag for carrying all the essentials like beach towels, sunscreen, sandals, you name it! I love this fun red color that Mal picked out. It’s been my go-to tote for all of our summer adventures, and I will definitely be using it well into the fall and beyond!

Bellroy Tokyo Tote review

3. Fanmaps on Instagram – I love following this account on Instagram. Mal introduced me to it awhile back, and its maps are always so interesting. Definitely give them a follow if you’re on Instagram!

4. Chocolate Donut Seasoning – I shared this favorite a few months ago, but now I’m officially obsessed. This week, I tried it on a caramel rice cake with peanut butter and… OMGGGG! I also like it with sliced banana heated in the microwave with a few chocolate chips. Mmm! If you’re interested in trying it yourself, use code TINA6E9REJRH to save 10%!

chocolate donut seasoning

5. Vemvan Long Sleeve Color Block Striped Top ($19) I’m really into stripes + color block lately, so I love that this long sleeve top was so affordable on Amazon. The quality is really good, and I see myself wearing it a lot with jeans or leggings!

Sales of the Week

 

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Recovery Workouts: Two Simple But Powerful Ways to Speed Fitness Recovery

For my entire athletic career, I considered the gold standard of recovery to be sleeping, resting on the couch watching T.V., and generally being still and inactive. Come on, what could be more effective than couch potato mode to recover from the hormonal and inflammatory stresses of marathon training runs or long days of extreme swim-bike-run workouts? I’m kidding (mostly), but it’s not a total exaggeration. Our understanding of fitness recovery has grown exponentially since I was in the elite arena, and it’s exciting to see new and better approaches taking root that genuinely speed recovery and stave off burnout. I’m sharing two such techniques today. They’re simple, mostly free, and accessible to anyone with the most basic fitness opportunities and venues.

Note: Here’s the thing…. This is the stuff you should focus on before considering advanced techniques like exposure to cold or heat, Theragun treatments (although I happen to be a fan of this device), hyperbaric oxygen chambers, etc.

“JFW”

The first recovery technique is to move more instead of just sit around. That’s right, science is validating the idea that if you make a concerted effort to increase all forms of general everyday movement in the hours and days after strenuous workouts, you will help minimize the inflammation and oxidative stress caused by strenuous workouts.

Let’s call this strategy JFW—Just F—ing Walk.

Moving your body through space helps you burn fat better, which will maximize the fat reduction goals of your workouts. Walking also helps boost brain function. A 2017 UCLA study comparing MRI scans revealed that active older folks (over 60 and walking more than three kilometers per day) have faster brain processing speed, better working memory for quick decisions, and better memory consolidation than inactive folks. In his book, The Real Happy Pill: Power Up Your Brain By Moving Your Body, Swedish researcher Dr. Anders Hansen reports that just taking a daily walk can reduce your risk of dementia by 40 percent.

Walking and general movement of any kind improve lymphatic function for a huge recovery boost. The lymphatic system is a plumbing network running throughout your body that detoxifies every cell, tissue and organ through a separate operating system from the cardiovascular system. The lymphatic system operates through a pumping process instead of a beating heart. This means that you’re obligated to move your muscles and joints to turbocharge lymphatic detoxification and avoid the pooling of lymphatic fluid caused by chilling on the couch in the hours and days after heavy workouts. Even the old-time exercise apparatus of the mini-trampoline has come into vogue recently because bouncing around for even a few minutes has been shown to significantly boost lymphatic function.

To help your lymphatic system function optimally, be sure to hydrate adequately at all times. While my original Primal Blueprint presentation suggested that you simply honor your thirst to achieve good hydration, recent science suggests that successful hydration can be a little more complicated. Stacy Sims, Ph.D., a hydration expert who studied thermoregulation at Stanford and is currently a senior research fellow at University of Waikato in New Zealand, is doing some great work in this field. Check out this fantastic infographic. Her research suggests that the female menstrual cycle can influence hydration needs and strategies. Another breakthrough insight is that strenuous workouts have the potential to mute your thirst mechanism; you may become too hot and tired or distracted to notice that you’re actually getting dehydrated. For most minimally active folks, going by thirst might be just fine; the kidneys do an excellent job regulating fluid and sodium balance in the body.

If you are a novice fitness enthusiast, a high performing athlete, or routinely exercise in hot temperatures, a deliberate pre- and post-workout hydration is a strategy worth considering and implementing. Sprinkle some high quality natural mineral salt in each glass of fluid, which will help it become better absorbed in the tissues throughout your body.

“Rebound” Workouts

Joel Jamieson, a noted trainer of world-champion MMA fighters in Washington (8WeeksOut.com—as in eight weeks out from a title bout), and developer of the Morpheus Recovery app, advocates a system called Rebound Training where specially designed workouts can actually speed recovery time in comparison with total rest. The idea that a Rebound Workout can boost recovery is validated through the tracking of Heart Rate Variability. Joel is a pioneer in Heart Rate Variability and has been tracking his fighters and other high performing athletes for decades. Yes, decades, as in dating back to the original hospital grade $30,000 units that required placement of a dozen electrodes on your skin.

The idea that a Rebound workout can beat couch time is an extraordinary revelation. Amazingly, when you drag your tired, stiff, sore body into the gym and do some foam rolling, deep breathing exercises, dynamic stretches, and even very brief explosive efforts, such as short sprints with long recovery on the bike, or “positive-only” deadlifts (lift the weight then drop it to the ground to prevent soreness caused by eccentric contractions), you can stimulate parasympathetic nervous system activity and actually accelerate recovery. The parasympathetic is known the “rest and digest” component of autonomic nervous system, and counterbalances the sympathetic “fight or flight” component.

You can learn more about Rebound Training and see a sample workout here. If you just want to dabble in the concept, know that increasing your walking and general movement in the hours and days after a challenging training session will help boost blood circulation and lymphatic function to speed recovery. I always find ways to walk more and spend more time at my stand-up desk in the 24 hours following a tough Ultimate Frisbee match or sprint workout.

Sample Restorative Workout

The next time you throw down a killer workout, trying heading to the gym the following day and creating a restorative experience.

Start by lying flat on the mat and completing 20 deep diaphragmatic breath cycles. When you’re in the prone position, you can hone good technique by placing your hand on your abdomen and making sure that the abdomen expands upon inhalation. First expand the abdomen, which enables the chest cavity to then expand outward and enable the full use of the diaphragm for a powerful breath. You notice this sequence better when laying down.

After 20 deep breaths, commence 10 minutes of foam rolling, dynamic stretches and flexibility drills.

Then, get a little sympathetic stimulation going with some bike sprints or positive only deadlifts as follows:

  • Exercise bike: Warmup five minutes, then sprint for 10 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of easy pedaling. Repeat for five repetitions.
  • Deadlift: With 70% of your one rep maximum weight, raise the bar three-quarters of the way to the top, then allow it to fall to the ground with minimal muscle engagement. Repeat five times.

The idea with these efforts is that you’ll trigger a brief stimulation of fight or flight sympathetic nervous system activity, but because the effort is so brief, you’ll prompt a compensatory parasympathetic reaction during the recovery period. The net effect of the session is to turbocharge parasympathetic for hours afterward to a greater extent than just chilling on the couch watching Netflix.

Thanks to the gentle nature of the session, you enjoy an increase in energy and alertness from getting the oxygen and blood flowing throughout the body—but without the cellular breakdown and glycogen depletion of a more strenuous workout. You should leave the gym feeling relaxed and a little looser than before the workout.

Implementing “Rebound”-style workouts, along with making a general effort to walk around more in the hours following your most challenging sessions aren’t just fun diversions; they’re part of putting recovery as the central element of your training program.

Final Thoughts…

Speaking of HRV, Jamieson offers a breakthrough insight that has helped me further appreciate the value of tracking HRV over time, and also alleviate some confusion that arose during some data accumulation over the past several years. If you’re a fan of HRV, you know a high HRV on the familiar 1-100 scale is indicative of a strong and rested cardiovascular system. You have a greater variation in beat-to-beat intervals than a lower score, indicating a harmonious balance between fight or flight sympathetic nervous system function and rest and digest parasympathetic nervous system function. A low HRV indicates a more metronomic heartbeat, and sympathetic nervous system dominance over parasympathetic. These are reliable signs of overtraining or a general overstress condition in life, or a weak cardiovascular system in general.

By tracking HRV for several weeks, you can establish a healthy baseline, then gauge your level of stress and readiness to train based on daily HRV fluctuations. Low equals overstressed, high equals healthy. That’s all well and good, but here’s an important nuance I learned from Joel about HRV readings significantly higher than your baseline: An 86 seems better than the usual 72-75, but actually an abnormally high HRV could be an indication of parasympathetic dominance versus a sympathetic-parasympathetic balance. When your parasympathetic kicks into overdrive, it’s possibly because you trashed yourself way beyond healthy limits, and you’re struggling to return to a rested and stress-balanced state. This explained some strange outlier readings where I felt pretty cooked after coming off a jet travel binge or a series of extreme workouts in a tight time frame but delivered a rock star HRV reading.

As I’ve written about before, I’m not a fan of overdoing biofeedback devices. I’ve used them and still do occasionally when I’m attempting something new or just want to check in with some hard data, but too much tech can disconnect you with your intuition—what should always be front and center in your assessments. Dr. Kelly Starrett references scientific research indicating that the single most valuable and accurate metric for your state of recovery is “desire to train.” I wonder how this goes up against the blood lactate meters at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and any ring or watch data you can accumulate. I have confidence it would hold its own in most scenarios.

Thanks for stopping by today, everybody. How do you do recovery? What have you learned over the years in your own study and experience. Have a great end to the week.

Chocolate_Coconut_640x80

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How My Workouts Have Changed

Just like our diet changes with the seasons, so do my workouts! Add in a baby nap schedule and things are about to shake up. When we last spoke in May, I was doing a lot of running and not a lot else. Let’s look back to where I started….

Winter

  • Outside: Cold
  • Priority during naps: a good workout followed by work later in the day
  • Babysitting help: twice a week
  • Workload: medium to low
  • Gym classes: 0-1
  • Time of day: 9am, right after B went down for morning nap
  • Strength sessions: 2-3 at home with Aaptiv
  • Treadmill use: high
  • Outdoor workouts: low
  • Soccer games: once a week indoor

Spring

  • Outside: Warming up
  • Priority during naps: ramping up work
  • Babysitting help: twice a week
  • Gym classes: 1-2, usually without B
  • Time of day: lunchtime, either outside with the stroller or on treadmill during nap
  • Strength sessions: some on treadmill days
  • Treadmill use: medium
  • Outdoor workouts: medium
  • Soccer games: on Sundays

Summer

  • Outside: HOT. Too hot for stroller anytime but first thing.
  • Priority during naps: working hard! Lots going on.
  • Babysitting help: high!
  • Gym classes: 1-2, without Birch
  • Time of day: many evening soccer games or quick noon solo runs while sitter was here. Some early morning walks.
  • Strength sessions: very low
  • Treadmill use: very low
  • Soccer games: very high!! 🙂 2-3x a week

Starting Now

  • Outside: still hot but getting cooler
  • Priority during naps: working hard! Lots going on.
  • Babysitting help: ZERO (eek!)
  • Gym sessions: 2-3 with Birch
  • Time of day: In between morning and afternoon nap. Or late afternoon.
  • Strength sessions: needs improvement! Possible night class.
  • Treadmill use: needs improvement!
  • Soccer games: will move back to Sundays

What hasn’t changed?

I do what I feel like doing!


As you can see, my priorities and workout types are constantly changing depending on if I have any help at home, the weather, and nap/work timing.

What has surprised me is that I have barely taken Birch to ACAC KidsZone this year. With Mazen, I used to go to the gym everyday to meet up with friends, workout, shower. It was our routine. Maybe my memory isn’t clear and that didn’t start until he was older, but I remember arriving at the gym when KZ opened at 8am so I could rush home by 9:30 nap. I do think Birch and I will go a lot more when he transitions to one nap in the middle of the day. I should be taking advantage of the awesome child care there.

I was getting into really good shape when I was running on my treadmill a lot. Those interval workouts are great! But I moved my running outside for the warmer weather and am not pushing myself as hard. My strength training has dwindled a lot too. I’ve been doing a lot more running + walking and almost no weight lifting. I think that is also because I am sore and tired from hard soccer games twice a week. I like to weight train when my muscles feel fresh.

Plan Going Forward

Here are my goals, which obviously are subject to change:

  • Continue running outside with the stroller. It’s so easy and a great way to get B some fresh air after nap and before lunch. Once it cools off a bit it will be so much easier to do this at that time. Can’t wait for fall weather!
  • Aim for 1-2 gym classes a week. I’d like to take both boys to the gym more in the 4-5pm time frame. It’s a little slower in KZ then, and Thomas is also there a lot at that time. Birch is up from nap. Lunchtime would be my preference, but it interferes with B’s lunch too much I think.
  • Bring back some strength. Sarah and I went to night strength class a few weeks ago and it was fun! It hangs over me a bit, but I was sore for two days so it was a great workout. Once B goes down to one nap, I’ll be able to go back to my favorite 10:30am strength class on M + W. Gym classes are the best way for me to strength train. I don’t cheat out early!
  • Use the treadmill a bit. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to get up at 5:30am to do that, but looking towards the winter I think doing home workouts before the boys wake up OR after Thomas is home from work will make sense when I don’t want to leave the house on the cold, dark nights.

What workouts are you digging these days?

Previous Posts On Postpartum Fitness

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Apple French Toast Casserole Recipe

This apple french toast casserole will have your house smelling amazing and your tummy feeling very, very pleased with itself.

I love good comfort food, and this definitely fits that description! … Read more →



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