My little Mia is getting so big! She turned 8 months on the 17th of October, and time is just flying by. It's getting harder and harder to work in my daily exercise, but I am still determined! Mia is busier by the day, crawling all over, pulling herself up on absolutely everything, putting everything in site in her mouth, I'm sure I'm burning a few extra calories chasing my pink pixie around the house. Since Mia is 8 months, how about we discuss 8 sprints that can change your life?
Like I said, we don’t have a lot of extra time as busy Mom's, but the time you do have to work out you want to make the most of. I get it. Well if you don’t have those extra 30 minutes to jog in the mornings, how about 20 minutes for some intense and yet incredibly effective cardio? Here are some pointers that will help you to see result when you try on your skinny jeans in a couple of weeks from now.
For starters, let’s talk basics. What are you doing before you work out?
The very best time of day that you can work out is first thing in the morning. So after you’ve been woken up at that wee small hour of the morning, such as 5:30, or 6:30am, this is when you start thinking “I’m going to get my burn in.”
Start with drinking a massive glass of water. I’m not talking one of those 12oz Crate and Barrel tumblers in your cupboard. I’m talking one of those giant 24-32oz brightly colored plastic cups you keep on the top shelf, so guests don’t see them immediately. Fill it up with room temperature or warm water, and preferably some lemon. I keep sliced lemons in a Ziplock in the fridge for just those occasions, or if lemons are out of season, I buy organic lemon juice in those squeezy little yellow plastic lemon-shaped deals and use that. I might even add a couple drops of stevia. Pound the whole thing while you are nursing or feeding baby their first meal of the day.
The best time to exercise in the morning is prior to consuming anything at all. Studies show that exercising after a night of fasting will lead to maximum fat burning. Some say that consuming high quality whey protein 30 minutes to working out is second best to fasting, and can even up your fat burning a little bit (http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2010/05000/Timing_Protein_Intake_Increases_Energy_Expenditure.21.aspx). But if you’re like me and like to avoid whey, then consider a superfood made with hemp protein powder.
My favorite pre-workout snack is 2-3 of my spirulina-hemp-cacao balls (titled “Little Black Balls” under my recipes label) or a cup of my Incan Warrior Hot Chocolate. I try and go on an empty stomach, but let’s face it; sometimes we just can’t pull that off. I usually need a little “umph” to get going, especially after a rough night, so that’s when the Incan Warrior or superfood balls come in handy.
The worst thing to eat before hitting the pavement or hand weights is carbohydrates (fruits, energy drinks, a bagel, cereal, etc.). Eating carbs activate your parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), which promotes energy storage. This reduces your fat burning efforts, which is the complete opposite of what you're trying to do!
The same applies to your post-workout regimen. You must avoid the sugar/starch/simple carbs post workout (including energy drinks!), otherwise you are sabotaging your body’s HGH production, limiting your ability to burn fat. Avoid these type of foods for at least 2 hours post workout, otherwise your insulin sensitive and HGH production will be inhibited (check out Dr. Mercola’s in depth article regarding this topic here, if you are interested: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/19/post-workout-routine-and-fat-burning-strategies.aspx). So what do you eat? Eat a low-carb meal such as an egg white scramble with some vegetables, or you can also go with something like my green smoothie (under my Recipes section) which is just vegetables, fats and hemp protein powder. Try and avoid protein and other meal supplement-type bars, as they are usually loaded with unseen sugars and carbs.
Now moving on to what you should do for maximum fat burn in a minimal amount of time; “Peak 8” exercises is the absolute best. Here’s what I do. I take off from my front door, jog over to a long stretch of street with minimal traffic, and break into a sprint.
I sprint for 30 seconds, then jog or walk for 90 seconds. Repeat this 8 times (hence their name, “Peak 8’s”). If you are having a particularly energized day, try for 9 or 10 sprints. Then simply jog home.
Jogging to the street where I like to run my sprints takes about 5 minutes, then the 8 sprints take about 20 minutes, then I jog 5 minutes home, and in 30 minutes I’ve burned more fat in a day than a lot of people will. If you don’t have 30 minutes, but have 20?
Take off with your first sprint right out the front door! Don’t have 20 minutes? Try for 6 or 7 sprints… something is always better than nothing!
Your goal is to get your heart rate to its maximum (220-your age; mine is 191). If you are really getting into this and want to check your heart rate, then simple take your pulse at your wrist or neck, count for 15 seconds and multiply by four. Otherwise, I’m sure if you’re going all-out for 30 seconds for all 8 sprints, you are doing just fine. J
I don’t carry a stop watch, and usually I am giving Mia attention in her B.O.B. stroller in between sprints, so I just keep track on my phone or in my head. As soon as I start to somewhat catch my breath in between sprints, I know it’s time to go again. If you are a real hard-core runner, then you can do the stop watch and everything, or running on a treadmill, using an elliptical or stationary bike are also optimal for this kind of workout. But if you’re a Mom like me, and getting into the gym has turned into a long running family joke, then take to the streets ladies -early in the morning, baby in the stroller or napping at home with Daddy on duty.
The reason why Peak 8 exercise is so effective (also Circuit Training, same concept; Peak 8 can also be done on a stationary bike, elliptical, etc. as I mentioned above) is because it is the only type of exercise that is going to promote the production of HGH in your body. HGH is produced when your “super-fast” muscles are engaged, in contrast to engaged your “slow” or “fast” muscle fibers. For a detailed report on this concept see Dr. Mercola’s article: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2010/07/27/the-growing-promise-of-shorter-more-intense-strength-training-workouts.aspx.
This is just more proof that there is a way to get it all in. Even if you just do these 8 sprints 2-4 times per week, you will see results and feel a million times better for getting in the burn. Your clothes will start to fit a bit loser, and your daytime stamina will increase, as well as your deep sleep at night.
Now for the question you pregnant gals are dying to ask… “Can I do these sprints pregnant?” I did. They got slower and fewer towards the end of my pregnancy, and I wasn’t a maniac. I listened to what my doctor said about where my target heart rate (for pregnancy) should be, and I did what she said. I was in great shape prior to my pregnancy, so I didn’t just start all of this out of the blue once my e.p.t. test came back positive, so use your common sense, talk to your doctor about all of your questions and concerns, and go with your gut. I found the sprints to give me marvelous energy, and avoid unnecessary fat gain during my pregnancy. But only you know your body, and when/how/where to push yourself. If you have never had a consistent workout routine, and want to start one for the first time during your pregnancy, then I would consider some other options, as a beginner. Talk to your doctor about a good place for you to start, and maybe work up to some moderate sprints. Either way, stay hydrated and always use your common sense.
You can do this!