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Training Experiences

Radon Imposed Alternate Training and Weight Update

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Since last October, my weight training
has been on hold. The radon levels in the basement were double the EPA maximum safe limit. It has taken months to get 3 phases complete and although the radon levels are lower, they are not at an ideal low.

In the interim, I have been doing manual labor: landscaping, chain sawing trees, clearing brush, hauling and stacking fire wood, etc. I’m not in as good of shape as when I was weight training, but it’s a good compromise until the radon levels are satisfactory.

My weight has increased a bit due to indulging on holiday sweets. The colder weather is keeping me indoors more than I would like as well. I’ve been slowly incorporating weighing foods again to facilitate food logging and using my scale as a progress gauge. I’m confident I can get back where I need to be once my weight room is back in business.

My Training Routine: Pros and Cons of Cable and Free Weights

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I typically lift every other day for 30-40 minutes. I train on a scale between 5 sets of 5 reps and 1 set of 25 reps per exercise. These sets are performed with emphasis on either slow or fast movement through the lift and varied rest times between reps. I have a max day once a week where I do as many reps as I can to failure (can’t lift anymore) to track my progress and determine whether I should increase my weights for the next week.

Cable pulleys are my go to for lat pull downs, cable rows, cable crunches and safe chest presses without a spotter. And as I progress to heavier weights, the cable system has a built in safety buffer. But, cables also limit range of motion. The weight range is also very structured as compared to free weights.

Free weights, on the other hand, offer free range of motion which is crucial in building stabilizer muscles. But, for heavier lifting, a spotter is required for safety. Customized weight loads are a big perk that I utilize for my arms, chest, back, shoulders, as well as dead lift and squats.

Both cable and free weights work really well together to build a safe and effective training regimen. The trick is using them both to your advantage.

As a side note, Power Racks can be a great substitute for spotters when using heavier free weights, but they are quite large and can be cost prohibitive.

Weighing Advice

Throughout the last year I have heard so much advice about weight loss, training, nutrition and gear. Some advice was sought and the large majority was unsolicited. Here are some tips I use to weed through advice:

1. Will the adviser benefit if you follow their advice? For example, money from a miracle product they are selling, or gaining a diet buddy, or savings on a multi person gym membership? If the advice giver is going to benefit, make sure what they are pushing really fits into your personal goals and lifestyle.

2. Has the adviser accomplished what they are instructing you to do? Have they successfully run a marathon,  gained muscle mass, or dropped 30 pounds? If not, be wary of advice that has no founding in personal experience or professional training.

3. Does the adviser want you to fail? Will your failure make them feel better about their failures? Will your success invalidate their excuses? Are they afraid of losing  you? Are they jealous of the attention your new figure and confidence will bring? These are all very good reasons to disregard any advice meant to change your course or hinder your health efforts.

4. Does the adviser assume their method will work the same for you, irrespective of varying genetics, body type, preferences and dispositions? Does the adviser claim to have the only weight loss and fitness industry product guaranteed to get results the world over? Time to do some research before implementation. The verdict of whether or not it will work for you may be hiding in the fine print.

At the end of the day, no one is going to care as much as you do about your health. And with such a huge responsibility, you owe it to yourself to logically think about all the fitness program, nutrition and gear advice that cross your path.

Scheduling Struggles

Life is really hectic for all of us. And like me, you’re going to have trouble at some point scheduling your training. From kids, to social obligations, to those nagging home repairs that must be done, there is always something standing in the way of your training, if you let it.

Not too long ago I was frustrated, mad, and fed up with how little time I had to myself. I had scheduled everything and everyone in front of me. I didn’t make time for me. It was absolutely my own doing and I had no one but myself to blame for not making the time.

Looking back, I think my biggest fear was to be thought of as a neglectful mom and spouse. I was afraid people would think I thought more of myself than anyone else. But that was not reality. That was  fear talking.

One day I got frustrated enough; bailed on laundry duty and made a break in the day to train. That day totally changed my outlook. That meant I could find an opportunity almost every day.

Taking time to take train has made me a better mom, a better wife, and a better friend as well. My life transformed when I started training: I started to value my time and effort a lot more. I started making choices based on what was best for everyone (including me).

I can absolutely say with certainty that I feel more empowered now dedicating time to training than I ever did in my life. I’m careful about the people I’m around, the time I spend at places, and where my attention gets focused. I don’t mindlessly go through my day anymore. I look at everything I do as a benefit to me and the people around me. I started including myself inside my support group. Because, I’m the only person who can ultimately make my health a priority.

Choosing Challenging Training Options

In my early attempts at choosing training, I always had the assumption I had to pick one thing and stick to it for a long time. But after reading article after article, I came to the conclusion: I’m not a one trick pony. And there are a whole lot of people out there just like me.

I like a lot of variety and the challenge of trying to master multiple skills. I also like going into a training session knowing I have a choice instead of feeling like I’m forced to do the same thing every time.

Enjoying an exercise also equates to a better mental state and affects performance. Starting training in an excited mental state means winning half of the battle going in. Training seems to fly by. And satisfaction with the time spent training will be higher.

If you are bored, not seeing progress or are tired expending large amounts of time training without feeling fulfilled, I beg you to find new, enjoyable, challenging training options.

Buying into Motivation to create Healthy Habits

When I finally committed to the idea of getting fit, I was convinced I needed a symbolic piece of gear for motivation. It would be a token of my commitment to get healthy. My first tracker was just that. It was a constant reminder of how much I was moving towards my goal. Seeing how many steps I took was fun and it was an easy way to connect with others via the shared interest of fitness. But, as time went on, I found myself forgetting to check my steps for a day, then a week then a whole month. But, to my surprise, my activity level stayed the same. Those early months of motivated tracking instilled a long term gift: a healthy habit of daily exercise. I personally think using fitness classes, a weight set, new haircut, running stroller or anything that gets you excited about embracing health is absolutely worth it, but only if that motivating factor is used consistently to form a healthy long term habit.

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