5 Reasons I’ve added High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to my routine

I’m into week 5 of my quest for fitness. I’ve been faithfully using the treadmill six days a week with a couple exceptions. When I started the iFit walking program, I was able to alternate between increasing the incline (on iFit days) and increasing the speed/length of the workout. Now that I’ve been walking for five weeks, I regularly walk at an incline of between 4-10%, and I walk for 30 minutes at speeds between 3.2 – 3.6 miles/hour. The variety has decreased.

HIIT DVDIn the e-mails that flood my inbox, I started reading about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Here are five reasons I’ve added HIIT to my routine. (Three days a week I still use the iFit walking program and three days a week I’m doing the HIIT):

  1. Effectiveness – A 2011 study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine stated that the aerobic capacity developed by 2 weeks of HIIT was equivalent to 6-8 weeks of endurance training.
  2. Efficiency – There are a variety of HIIT programs available, but they are all relatively short, lasting anywhere from 4-10 minutes. This makes it easier to fit into a busy schedule. Some days I find it hard to squeeze the 30 minute walk in, especially if I want to do it before I need to leave in the morning. No more excuses for me!
  3. Variety – The DVD program I’ve started has 5 different 10 minute HIIT routines I can choose from: a general introductory segment, one that focuses on the abs, another one that works the upper body, one that introduces plyometrics, and the final one that works the lower body. Currently I only use one of the five a day. However, as my body adjusts, the DVD program gives me the flexibility to combine two or more segments into a personalized routine.
  4. Portability – I’m able to take (and do) the HIIT routines anywhere. All I need is my DVD, my laptop, and a 2 x 2 metre space and I can do my exercises. (At home I use my TV and DVD player.)
  5. Cost – I spent less than $10 on the DVD. I do want to invest in a good quality mat as well. However, for less than $50 I have a program that’s easy to use, fun, motivating, and inexpensive.

Delighting in Obedience: Redefining Success

How do you define success?

This is a question we need to answer for ourselves and revisit on a regular basis. Our definition of success will affect how we act and react to life and what it brings. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about “success”:

BiblePsalm 62:7 (Living Bible) “My protection and success come from God alone. He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me.”

Proverbs 3:6 (Living Bible) “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”

Proverbs 12:3 (Living Bible) “Wickedness never brings real success; only the godly have that.”

Proverbs 28:13 (Living Bible) “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.”

Ecclesiastes 4:4 (Living Bible) “Then I observed that the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy! But this, too, is foolishness, chasing the wind.”

Mark 4:19 (Living Bible) “but all too quickly the attractions of this world and the delights of wealth, and the search for success and lure of nice things come in and crowd out God’s message from their hearts, so that no crop is produced.”

2 Corinthians 3:5 (Living Bible) “and not because we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success comes from God.”

At the beginning of January I picked a chapter of Scripture to memorize while I walk on my treadmill. I have been working my way through 1 Timothy 4. This morning as I walked, this is the verse I memorized and meditated on (verse 8):

“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

This fits perfectly with what Lysa Terkeurst discusses in chapter 8 of Made to Crave.

“We need to define ourselves by our obedience, not a number on the scale.” -Karen Ehman

I Timothy 4:8 is NOT an excuse to avoid exercise. However, it reminds me of where my priority should be – becoming more godly. My job is to be obedient by:

  • Thanking God for the body He gave me (Psalm 139: 13-17)
  • Eating nutritious foods that will provide energy to accomplish God’s will
  • Getting sufficient exercise to become or remain fit so that I can use my body for God’s glory
  • Measuring my worth by what God thinks of me, not by a number on the scale

And even more importantly:

  • Reading God’s Word regularly to nurture my spiritual growth
  • Replacing my negative “self-talk” with true, uplifting statements from Scripture
  • Listening to (and making) music that will feed and nourish my soul
  • Meeting regularly with other believers to learn more about God and encourage others
  • Praying every day, throughout each day, so that I’m conscious of God’s promptings and fellowshipping with Him
  • Walking in obedience to God and His Word

We are told success is winning a prize, becoming wealthy, having influential friends, being beautiful, and myriads of other things people expect. As Christians, I believe our definition of success should be:

“Consciously and persistently pursuing God and His will in our lives, no matter what the cost.”

Do you agree? If not, how would you define success?


Pushing through the Breakpoint

footprintsMy journey to fitness hit a wall this week. It happened on Wednesday, January 29th. In the morning, while I was on the treadmill, it seemed like thirty minutes lasted for hours. Often I feel tired around the fifteen minute mark. On Wednesday it hit me seven minutes into the routine. I had to push myself, pray, remind myself why I was doing this, and ultimately just keep taking one step at a time. Most of the day I felt like I couldn’t go on. My cravings kicked in – I wanted sugar. More self-talk, more prayer, distracting myself with other things, continuing to take one step at a time. When I reached the end of the day and looked back, I celebrated. I made it!

Breakpoint: According to Wikipedia, there are many different types of breakpoints. In computer programing, it refers to “an execution stop point in the code of a computer program.” In commercial leases, a breakpoint is “the gross sales amount that triggers payment of percentage rent.” In meteorology, breakpoint refers to “a location referred to when issuing watches, warnings, or advisories for specific areas.”

I hit my first fitness breakpoint on Wednesday – the critical time when victory was possible, but defeat was nipping at my heels. The i-fitness instructor on my walking program says it this way, “Come on, push through. I know it’s hard, but you can do it.”

There are several things that helped me “push through”:

  • Remembering my goals
  • Reminding myself I was doing this for myself and for God
  • Taking one step at a time
  • Focusing on my successes, not on how much further I had to go
  • Praying and asking God for strength I didn’t have

Since Wednesday, the journey has been easier. The good, healthy choices seem more automatic. It’s like I’ve crested a hill and am on the downward slope. I know there are more hills, maybe even mountains, ahead. But now that I’ve pushed through this one, I know I can do it again.

What about you? What keeps you going? What helps you push through those times when your goal looks impossible?


3 Things I’m #Determined to Do

This week in our Proverbs 31 study of Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food, by Lysa Terkeurst, our key word was “Determined”. Our key verse was:

1 Peter 5:7-8a, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.”   NIV1984

There are three things I’m determined to do this year:

  1. IMG_00000206I am determined to follow God with all my heart and strength. Determination requires a choice. In Joshua 24:14-16, Joshua challenged the people of Israel to choose who they were going to serve. This choice resulted in actions – they had to throw away the gods their ancestors worshiped and serve the Lord. In Ephesians 4:22-25 we are given more details about how this choice to follow God should affect us (emphasis mine):22 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”   I will choose to follow God, to seek His will, and to do what He asks. I will choose not to pursue my own selfish interests, not to engage in activities which will draw me away from God, and not to do things I know are wrong.
  2. I am determined to make lifestyle changes which honor God. I was reminded lately that I was not taking care of my body the way God wanted me to take care of it. I was feeling sluggish and the number on my scale was the highest it has ever been. Although I ate mostly healthy food, I ate too much of it, and snacked instead of waiting. Exercise was also something missing from my schedule. One of my resolutions this year was to make lifestyle changes which will honor God. I Corinthians 6:19 reminds me that my body really doesn’t belong to me; it belongs to God. I am determined to make the following lifestyle changes: eating mindfully, no snacking after supper, taking smaller portions, and exercising regularly. Although I have set some weight loss goals for myself, they are secondary to honoring God with my choices. I started this journey on January 2nd and am blogging here on Fridays about my journey.
  3. presentI am determined to use my spiritual gifts to honor God. I believe God gives each of us spiritual gifts to serve Him and His people. (If you’re not sure what your spiritual gifts are, take this gifts test.) My spiritual gifts are administration and exhortation. Although I don’t always like to lead, people tell me I’m good at it. Last year I took on the challenge of leading InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Writing is a gift I’ve enjoyed most of my life. However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started taking this gift seriously. I’m thankful for a group of Canadian Christian writers who are determined to encourage, mentor, challenge, and equip one another. I will choose to use my writing to exhort others as God leads.

What about you? What are you determined to do?


Ups and Downs on the Road to Fitness

Caution SignIt has been 3 weeks since I started down the road of healthier choices with a view to becoming more fit. I’ve had some encouraging victories:

  • Cutting out snacks  – I no longer crave food in the evening. During the day I have felt hungry a few times between meals, but I’ve been able to satisfy that by drinking water and putting my attention elsewhere.
  • Eating more mindfully – Just the act of paying more attention to what I’m eating and when has made a difference. I consciously slow myself down and enjoy the flavor and texture of my food. I have been amazed at how I feel satiated even though I’m eating smaller portions.
  • Birthday HatAllowing myself some treats – Somehow this decision has freed me from craving “forbidden” food. If I want a treat, I allow myself to have one, but pay more attention to the serving size than I used to. I also try to eat my treat along with a meal so that my blood sugar level is not affected so drastically. Finally, I don’t sweat it if I’m invited out. This week I celebrated my birthday and thoroughly enjoyed my black forest cake with a generous helping of homemade ice cream.
  • Consistently using the treadmill – Up front I decided I would use the treadmill 6 days out of 7, giving myself Sundays off. In the past 3 weeks, I have only missed 1 day and that was because I left home at 6:15 in the morning and didn’t get home until 8:00 at night. The i-fit routines continue to challenge me – I’m now up to 30 minutes at a speed of 3.4 miles/hour and an incline between 5-10%.
  • Losing some weight and becoming more fit – I am down 7 pounds from where I started. I know the first pounds are the easiest to lose. This past week I only lost 1 pound, but at least I’m still heading in the right direction. And weight aside, I’m getting more fit. The other day I only had 20 minutes to spend on the treadmill. I challenged myself to walk at speeds between 3.5 – 3.8 miles/hour at an incline of 2%, and barely broke a sweat. This is a huge contrast to three weeks ago when I huffed and puffed my way through 20 minutes at speeds between 3.0 – 3.3 miles/hour.
  • BibleMemorizing scripture and learning – While I’m on the treadmill I alternate between Scripture memorization and watching videos on my iPad. (TedTalks is one of my favourite apps on my iPad.) In the past 3 weeks, I’ve memorized 5 verses; not a lot, but more than 0.

Last Saturday was one of the “downs” in my road to fitness. It’s the day I left early in the morning and arrived home in the evening. I wasn’t able to spend time walking. I did eat breakfast before I left home, which I was very thankful for later in the day. After breakfast, I spent 3 hours driving and arrived in Edmonton just in time for a meeting to start. The meeting lasted just over 3 hours and then a few of us chatted for another hour or so. During our visit I ate a gluten free cookie and some cheese. About 3:30 that afternoon I was feeling light-headed, so I stopped for a Wendy’s hamburger and some water. Then I went shopping. That’s when the craving kicked in. I was tired, I hadn’t eaten well, and I had another 3 hours of driving ahead of me. I gave in and bought chips, chocolate chip cookies, and some chocolate. Not healthy choices at all!

When I had time to reflect, I decided I should have planned ahead a little better and taken some healthy snacks with me, like carrot sticks, nuts, etc. If I had snacked during the meeting, my energy levels and blood sugar would have remained more stable. However, I was able to move past this “downer” and the next day I was back on track again.

What tips and tricks do you use to keep yourself going when you “fail”?


Week 2: Exercise progress report

It’s Friday. Time to check in and let you know how the exercise adventure is going.

  • I’ve managed to walk on the treadmill every day since I started, except for Sundays.
  • I use the i-fit walking program 3 days a week and design my own the other three days. The i-fit program focuses more on strength training, so I’m working on endurance every other day.
  • One of my friends encouraged me to “Start priming your subconscious by imagining that you love exercise, that you love how you feel when you are on the treadmill. Try it, by envisioning a positive experience and mentally rehearsing how great it is going to feel, gamboling like a calf on your treadmill.” I’ve found that if I can distract myself from thinking about the process of exercise, it’s more enjoyable. One way I do this is to work on memorizing Scripture while I walk. That way I’m thinking about Scripture rather than how I feel about exercising.
  • I’ve discovered that I can watch videos while I exercise. This makes my time on the treadmill more enjoyable and I feel good because I’m exercising my mind as well as my body. One of my favourite video sites is Ted Talks. This is one of the videos I watched this week. [ted id=1900]
  • Before I even watched the video, I had decided to focus on sustainable life changes rather than dieting. That’s why I picked walking on the treadmill. I can exercise at home, at whatever time of day works for me. That makes it harder for me to make excuses.
  • Although I have set a weight loss goal for myself, I’m focusing more on getting fit.
  • I’ve been encouraged by the fact that I’m not huffing and puffing as much when I do my walking. I still work up a good sweat, and my heart rate is still elevated, but I can actually carry on a conversation if one of my kids comes to talk to me in the middle of my walk.
  • Exercising has made me more aware of what I eat. When I walk for 20-30 minutes, my treadmill tells me I’ve burned about 150 calories. When I’m tempted to eat too many treats, I think of the work I’ll have to do to burn those calories and often skip the treat.
  • When I thought about healthy changes I could make, I made a choice to stop eating after supper. So far, so good. The one night I struggled with this the most was last Sunday. Since then it’s just been something I expect of myself.

Day 2 on the Treadmill

TreadmillI have a confession to make. I don’t like exercise. No, let me be totally honest – I hate exercise! It’s something I’ve always had to work on and often I make excuses NOT to do it. If I can do something fun (like play volleyball or curling) and get exercise at the same time, great. However, with my current family responsibilities it’s difficult to do those things on a regular basis.

Not exercising is bad enough, but add the fact that I love to cook AND eat, and you have a recipe for disaster spelled O-V-E-R-W-E-I-G-H-T. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve moved from thinking about changing, to making choices that will help me change. I’m still working out the details so that I’ll stick with my decision to get back into shape. However, here are the choices I’ve made so far:

  • Set a weight goal
  • Decided to use my treadmill again, including an i-fit walking program
  • Asked my husband to move my treadmill so I can use it
  • Figured out a time of day I can consistently exercise
  • Started the walking program

I’m on day 2. I huffed and puffed my way through the 20 minute walking routine which helped me walk just over a mile and burn 143 calories. This is hard. I don’t like it. But I’m going to grit my teeth and do it, because I know it will be good for me in the long run. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are 7 benefits:

  1. Exercise controls weight
  2. Exercise combats health conditions and disease
  3. Exercise improves mood
  4. Exercise boosts energy
  5. Exercise promotes better sleep
  6. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life
  7. Exercise can be fun

Add to that I Corinthians 6:20:

“Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” (The Message)

If I forget, I give you permission to remind me. I’m looking at this as a life change, not a resolution. I’m aiming to blog about my exercise journey every Friday. I hope you’ll join me.

What about you? Are you choosing to do something that’s hard for you because you know it’s the right thing to do?