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The Confidential Challenge for her (part 4)

Helen Ramsbottom enjoys some exhaustion in the alfresco

Written by . Published on July 28th 2010.

The Confidential Challenge for her (part 4)

Week 7
As week 7 kicks off I’m a bit inhibited on the ability front. The 10k has taken its toll and I’m feeling tender all over. Opting for a light run on Monday evening, the aim is to try and loosen up the old leg muscles but it’s not happening. I downgrade to fast walking on a steep incline. At least it’s a token effort.

My pins are improved come Tuesday, however Chris is still suffering with his knee injury. That’s what he’s claiming anyway in the face of my better time again. Competitive? Me?

Tough love
Tuesday was to be our first joint session together. I have to profess to being a bit of a child at times. Certain things amuse me and once they do, the giggles take over and I’m done for. Must. Be. Sensible. Helen. Ha.

Observing Chris busting his balls with the kettlebells, does make the sadist in me chuckle. He is on the big bells. I was thinking ‘I’ll stick to mine thanks’, but I was laughing on the other side of my face when it was my turn. Heavier weights were also introduced to my programme and a change in some of the moves, from static to moving for more impact.

This week also saw our first joint circuit session. That was tough. Skipping for two minutes non-stop nearly killed me. We had to race up and down the grass and sprint against each other- Chris cheating by not running fully to the end I might add.

Then onto box jumping, only we were picnic bench jumping. Onto the seat. Both feet together. A near you’ve been framed moment as my toes caught the underside of the bench. Press ups. Kettlebells. Go, go, go! I felt fully worked out after that, I have to say.

Exercising outside is enjoyable and certainly much better than in a sweaty gym at this time of year. I did feel a bit of a muppet at first, as our sessions coincide with commuter time, so the city centre (secret) location can be busy. But I’m well into it now. That’s also the beauty of kettlebell training- you don’t need a massive range of weights, you can grab a couple, pick a spot and work your entire body in a quick session. Good things to have at home, though I need to ease myself into that next step as I don’t know where they’d fit in my apartment. I’ve already had to contend with a fridge that doesn’t just contain Champagne and Chanel nail varnish any more. I’m not sure I can bring myself to clear out wardrobe space to make way for weights just yet.

Food rules
Now I’m into the swing of things I love the new eating regime. I’m hardly ever hungry if I stick to it. Gordo keeps exclaiming ‘Bloody hell you’re eating again!’ All it takes is being a teensy bit more organisation and forward thinking to plan what I’m going to eat for the day.

My mum will be pleased to hear I don’t pine for crisps anymore. She’s been trying to wean me off them for years. Keeping the food chain going in work is dead easy. Hummus and cottage cheese have a permanent presence in the fridge (though I have to liven them up with spring onion, chillis and the like). Ryvitas are always at the ready. These days there’s a selection of more interesting seed-added varieties. Sweet potato done and dusted in the microwave for 5 minutes is a quick, nutritious lunch option, topped with tuna with salad cream and some seeds or veg mixed in.

It does help having Darren, our trainer from Elite Fitness Training, on hand to bob an email over to if we’re looking for guidance or inspiration. He’s there to tell us what’s good for our souls.

It is all definitely paying off. I feel great and can visibly tell the difference. This week I caught up with some snowboarding buddies I hadn’t seen for a while. Upon meeting them they remarked how well and notably lean I looked. This could prove costly on the clothing front however as things are starting to hang off me. On the flip side I am having somewhat of a wardrobe resurrection, certain items I couldn’t squeeze into any more are now slipping on with ease. Serious motivation.

Running laps/drinking lapse
Inspired by the 10k I got a Nike running pedometer this week. Pounding the treadmill in the gym was getting a bit boring. There’s a whole world out there and I wanted to get out there with something to help me keep track of my performance. This thing is great. Part of it goes in your shoe then it has a wrist band so you can see how far you’ve gone, what speed and for how long. It’s a portable treadmill on your arm. Like a total nerd I was excited to get home, load it onto my laptop and review the run. 5k in 27 minutes 19 seconds. Happy with that. Plus 335 calories burnt.

I wasn’t a complete angel though this week. I’d left half a big bar of Green & Blacks from the last treat day lingering in the cupboard and did demolish it one eve, in one go. If it’s there you’ll eat it, so my tip is to remove the temptation. I also side stepped my Friday run session to make way for a (disappointing) Sex and the City 2 screening. However the halo fully slipped on Sunday evening as this was the bank holiday. I had a pass on the drinking front and went wild to devastating effect. I’ve already confessed to my mum so I have no real fear of this getting out further, but I’m not sure I can fully publish the aftermath on here. I’ll make my mind up by next week as that was to set the start of week 8.

Click here to see how my weigh in went this week. An update on body measurements will follow next week.

Darren comments on Helen’s results: “With these numbers it can be hard to demonstrate accurate changes in body fats and muscles, but things are certainly moving in a relatively short time frame. The idea is to be consistent with progression on a regular basis until the goal is reached. Helen’s body is losing fat and gaining muscle and her clothes are loosening- the mirror never lies. The actually body measurement next week will clearly demonstrate this.

“Her resting heart rate has improve by 15 beats. This means her body is now able to supply itself with oxygenated blood over each minute, with 15 less beats. That means the heart is stronger and also slightly larger in volume along with the lungs.”

Hot topic – Wasteful long cardio sessions
The consequence of the 10k was quite considerable. An endurance stint at that level certainly takes it out of the body. What I’ve been pleased to find in my workouts is the lack of long cardio sessions. Darren recommends we keep runs to shorter, harder, faster sessions so around 25 minutes, really pushing yourself for the long sessions. Interval training is the other type of cardio we do- this is across running, cycling and rowing.

On this subject Darren had the following wisdom to add:

“If you’re looking to achieve maximum benefit from the time you put into your workouts, long duration, low intensity, fat burning cardio is not the way to do it.

“For many reasons not least having enough time, you’ll eventually burn it off, won’t be anywhere near as lean as a weight trainer and have to maintain hours of cardio every week- forever. I know guys who spend 15-18 hours a week on the bike and still don’t lose those extra pounds.”

Click to watch the video

Darren’s top 5 reasons why long cardio sessions are a waste of time...

1. Far too much time involved: Very rarely do I ever exceed three hours of exercise weekly. That could be four 30 minute sessions and one 60 minute session.That’s all you need.

2. Minimal calories burned: 45 minutes jogging on the treadmill may burn a whopping 300 calories, if you’re lucky. That’s the equivalent of one tenth of a pound of fat. Exercise ten hours a week and you might just lose a pound. Initially you may lose more, but after a while you will be used to this same old exercise and hit plateau whilst probably gaining some injury.

3. Cardio is boring: Sitting on an exercise bike staring at the wall for 45-60 minutes? Jogging day after day on the treadmill for miles just plodding along? No thank you.

4. Slow-go cardio provides no prolonged metabolic benefit : With higher intensity exercise it is possible to continue to burn calories for up to 48 hours post workout? It’s true and we’ll be discussing this ‘afterburn’ effect in another article.

5. Minimal fat loss: Minimal calories burned during the session and virtually no additional calories burned afterward = minimal, if any fat loss results. And let’s be honest, the only reason anyone is doing cardio is for the result.

So if slow-go cardio isn’t the solution, what is?
Short duration, high-intensity exercise. Less time, faster results. But it has to be effective and right for your body/training stage. Going all out as a beginner will not do you any good, so build up to it. Remember, ‘high intensity’ is relative to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re already in great shape or if you’re 30lbs overweight, you can exercise with intensity.

Interval training can be defined as the repeated alternating between higher intensity period of really hard work, and lower intensity periods of active recovery (ie. walking).

Its benefits over traditional cardio include:

- Greater total calories burned (due to the ‘afterburn’ effect)

- Greater fat loss (up to nine times greater)

- Greater improvements in both aerobic and anaerobic fitness

- The fastest possible fat loss

Darren Casey is Master Personal Trainer and Director at Elite Fitness Training. If you’d like to follow a plan similar to ours, designed for you or be kept up to date with other health and fitness advice click here for more information.


Confidential Challenge for him (Part 4)

Confidential Challenge for her (Part 3)

Confidential Challenge for him (Part 3)

Confidential Challenge for her (Part 2)

Confidential Challenge for him (Part 2)

Confidential Challenge for her (Part 1)

Confidential Challenge for him (Part 1)

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