Re-connecting deeply with your physical presence is one of the most powerful steps you can take when working to take control of your weight. So many of us who deal with serious weight retreat into our heads and become numb to the body that can feel like a burden. But ignoring the external “advice” and taking cues from your own body will eventually reveal your unique path.
My primary goal in working with my own training clients is to teach them how to listen to their heart—literally—and let it be a fitness indicator that brings purpose and direction to their exercise regimen. I am exercising more these days to lose the 20lbs I’ve regained. I’ve pulled out the BodyBugg in addition to the heart rate strap. As I went through an exercise session yesterday, I observed some interesting physical responses that illustrate how the body moves toward improvement.
I did 600 kettlebell swings with a 25lb bell, but not all at once! Starting my workout fresh, it took 300 consecutive swings to get my heart up to 150 beats per minute because I am in pretty good cardio condition already. I continued my workout with steps, the Armyman, and Hindu squats. I kept my heart rate above 100 as I took brief periods of rest.
I was getting a little tired so for the second round with the kettlebell, it took 200 swings for my heart to reach the 150s. I decided I wanted to push my heart to hit 160. That proved to be VERY difficult! Or at least it seemed that way. My breathing was getting really intense and I knew I was very close to my VO2Max—the point at which your cardiovascular system maxes out its ability to take in oxygen, pump blood, and get it oxygenated. It’s the point when your breathing gets out of control and you can’t keep going. I could not maintain proper form with the kettlebell swings so I started jumping on the Stepper. When I finally saw that 160 on the heart rate display, I was just about ready to drop!
I’m also monitoring my per minute calorie burn while I’m doing this and I see it gradually ticking up from 3.8 to 4.2 to 4.5 when I was above the 150 heart rate mark.
I continued my workout, switching between exercises to keep my heart rate up while managing fatigue. I wanted to reach 600 swings for that session but I found that I reached the 150s by that point at just 50 swings! I stopped for just a few seconds to catch my breath and pushed myself through another 50, trying to reach that 160 heart rate again. I dropped the kettlebell and tried jumping on the Stepper again but I was so tired by that point I could not keep going. I did not see 160 on the heart rate display a second time. I was maxed out!
When some people attempt to exercise for the first time, they just jump in and exhaust themselves. It usually makes them feel very limited in their physical ability. Learning what’s really going on in your body allows you to know exactly where you need to go to move toward true fitness. It might take a long time, but you’ll know you’re working with a specific purpose that’s far more than just trying to put in time on a treadmill.
I can workout to a heart rate level in the 150s. If I want to push myself harder, I need to work toward the 160s. My cardiovascular efficiency would be even better and I would nudge my calorie burn up just a bit more as I would be able to work at a higher intensity. The maximum heart rate for my age would be around mid-170s so I would be pushing myself about as far as I can expect to go. The real result would be improving my ability to work out in the 150s for longer.
Fighting with a weight problem can make us feel like our bodies are utterly inscrutable but if you know how to listen, your body will speak to you.