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I’m kind of a hermit.  I work, I sleep, I stay home.  It isn’t a bad thing, I love my family and I love my job.  I don’t really feel the need to get out a whole lot.  Last year I was working mornings and would drive to work in the dark and work in a room where we could not see the outside.  This year I work nights and sleep till noon.  Not exactly good schedules for a person’s circadian rhythm.  On top of that I keep the blinds closed all the time.  I have the house locked  down like Fort Knox.  Yes, I’m a little strange in that regard.

A couple of weeks ago I was researching circadian rhythm and found that mine was off quite a bit.  My peaks and valley’s weren’t high and low enough and they seemed to be out of sync with where they should be.  This was causing me to feel like I was dragging throughout the day.  The website I used to track my circadian rhythm suggested I get a Philips Go Light.  These lights are designed to simulate sunlight, which your body needs.  Typically people use these lights during the winter months when clouds often block out the sun.

So I’ve started opening my blinds and letting the sun in when I wake up.  I’ve noticed a real different in the past couple of weeks.  My mood is elevated and I don’t drink so much coffee anymore.  While my sleep schedule isn’t what my body and mind would prefer, I’ve taken steps to alleviate the problems.

If you think you’re not getting enough sun in the morning, I would recommend you change that.  Get up and eat breakfast in front of a window.  Open the blinds and let the light in.  Maybe even take a walk.  If you simply cannot do this because you get up too early and the sun isn’t up then look in to purchasing a Philips Go Light.  I’ve heard great things about them.

I realize this is an odd post for a blog called Minimalist Workout but I like to write about my life and pass along good advice that I’ve used to make my life better.

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For the past couple of months I have been on Tim Ferriss’ “Slow Carb Diet” from the book “4-Hour Body”.  To me, this diet and others like it (Paleo) are great diets because they are more about controlling your insulin levels and giving you fuel than calories in, calories out.  While I have been able to stick with it and get through the first couple weeks where I experienced carb withdrawal, my wife struggled with it and was not really able to work the plan.  Last week she asked me if I would be willing to go on weight watchers with her.  I agreed to it but wanted to finish out this past week because I didn’t want all my slow carb food to go to waste.

New Day, New Diet

Today I’m switching to weight watchers.  I’m a little nervous about it because my body has not had to deal with sugar and bad carbs in a while.  I’m also worried about getting addicted to carbs again.  While I do plan on eating with my family for dinner, I’m going to stick to a carb restricted breakfast and lunch (which due to my work schedule comes at the end of the day).

I’m also a little worried about gaining weight initially on weight watchers.  I believe running will help me quite a but in that department.  I’m at a good point in couch to 5k where I’m burning a lot of fat with longer runs and before too long I’ll be running 3.1 miles three times per week.

Weight Watchers has been very good to me in the past.  I lost 50 lbs on WW in 2010.  This was the weight loss that set me up for what I am doing now.  In fact, my wife and I were watching some old family videos and I cannot believe how big I was back then.  I was over 260 lbs, I had sleep apnea, acid reflux and high cholesterol.  Right now I feel healthy as a horse.  I ran 20 minutes straight yesterday for crying out loud (my grandma used to say for crying out loud all the time).

Taking A Day Off

Today, in addition to starting weight watchers, I am taking a day to rest.  I have struggled a little lately with certain exercises.  Some of the struggle was to be expected but I feel as if I’m a little too worn out and therefore am taking today off.  Yesterday I did Week 5, Day 3 of couch to 5k.  Up until this point, all c25k runs have been intervals.  W5D3, however, is a 20 minute run with no walking.  To me, this is the run that makes people realize they are runners.  I believe you are a runner the day you first put on your shoes and start running but that 20 minute run gives people a lot of confidence because they have proven to themselves that they can do something they never knew they could do.

Couch To 5K Week 5 Complete

At 5.6 miles per hour I ran less than 2 miles which is behind the normal pace of the program.  Most people do not run the 10 minute mile pace that is laid out in the original couch to 5k program.  I had been running at a pace of 5.5 until this point but am trying to slowly build up my speed.  If I increase my speed to 5.7 in week 6 and 5.8 in week 7 I will be close to the 6 mph point by the time I finish my program.  I plan to go on to work on my speed.  When I ran the program in 2008 I always wanted to get to the 10 minute mile point but I ran closer to a 13 minute mile.  This time around I started the program running faster on week 1 to set me up for that 10 minute mile target.   At 5.6 mph I would only get 2.8 miles in 30 minutes.  While I intend on running the entire 3.1 miles I would like to do so in the shortest amount of time.

If you have been planning on starting the couch to 5k program I recommend you don’t worry about speed or even distance really.  Work on completing the program and becoming a 30 minute runner.  You are supposed to run at a pace where you could have a conversation with someone.  A lot of people go very slow but they are running.  At the end of the program, if you wish, you can work on speed or simply increasing your distance at the speed you are running.

A Couple Tips On Running

I’ll give you a couple of tips I discovered on speed.  While I’m not a running coach, I discovered that once you get to 3 miles, 1 mile is so much easier.  You could run 1 mile much faster than you’d be able to run 3 miles.  If you want to run 3 miles faster than you should train at a greater distance.  Also, running isn’t completely about how fast you move your legs.  It is how much pressure you apply to the ground.  This is why Usain Bolt has such big leg muscles and a marathon runner doesn’t.  He is built for speed, not distance.  Distance runners have to have a certain amount of muscles but are built for endurance.  Simply because someone can run 26 miles doesn’t mean they can run 100 meters very fast.  There is a balance between the two.  I looked it up and in 2009 Usain Bolt ran an average of 23.37 mph (see comments on reference page) with a top speed of 27.45 mph.  By comparison, the world record time for a marathon is roughly 2 hour 3, minutes.  That is an average of about 12.7 mph.  Why couldn’t the world record marathon runner beat Usain Bolt in a measly 100 meter dash?  Because his legs are too skinny.

Work on the overall package.  Distance runners have to have strength to get to 12 mph.  My minimalist workout is very complementary to running.  By doing sit ups your work your core, by doing push ups you work your arms which are very important to running.  Squats will give your legs the strength to run faster.  The complete package will take you farther and faster so do yourself a favor and don’t just run, build muscle.

One of the blogs I follow is called “Truth About Exercise” written by Alastair.  Today’s post showed an app on the BBC website where you put in your information and they show you how you compare to the rest of the world in BMI.  I put my information in the app and found the following global fat scale results for my BMI.

Global Fat Scale - BMI

According to this app, my BMI is 29.  My fat loss meter said a couple of weeks ago that I was at 27.  I probably have a fair amount of muscle built up.  Either way, this puts me above average for BMI, even considering that our country (America) has a weight problem.

I would encourage you to visit the app at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18770328.  It’ll give you a comparison of your BMI to other countries in the world.  At the top of the app if you click “See It In Action” you can read about a few people that they tested this on and what their BMI was.  I’m hoping my BMI will fall fairly quickly now that I’m on a diet and working out.

The equation to calculate you BMI which can be found on Wikipedia.  I’d rather use this BBC app to calculate it however as I’m poor at math.

The title of this post is a little misleading.  There really is no bad side of drinking water when you’re working out.  There are, however, a lot of benefits to drinking water when you’re working out or even when you aren’t.  Even a minimalist workout needs a maximum amount of water.

My favorite benefit of drinking water while I work out is to prevent muscle pain.  If you’re working out and have muscle pain as a result then you are not drinking enough water.  I’ve encouraged friends to drink more water only to have them say “I drink plenty but I’m still  very sore”.  I don’t believe that.  We’ve all been told to drink 8 glasses of water per day.  The is generally accepted as a minimum amount you need to drink per day.  It is about 2 liters of water but you need a lot more when you’re working out because you dehydrate at a higher rate.  I drink water all day.  I drink a glass of water about once an hour throughout the day.  While my muscles get worked out and tired it is rare I ever get sore muscles and when I do it is because I didn’t drink enough water.

During a workout water works to prevent fatigue.  When I was a runner I would have bad runs at times because I didn’t have that extra glass of water before I went out.  There were times when I was excited to reach that next milestone and ran out the door without my water.  The results were often tragic.  I ran one 5k, it was a virtual 5k which meant I ran it at home at a certain time and recorded my time online.  Without proper hydration I did poorly in the 5k.  I ran it in 48 minutes, had to walk much of the way, and came home feeling like a failure.  A couple of days later I ran that same route in 35 minutes.  The difference was the amount of water I drank.  If you want to set yourself up for success, which you do, then you should be drinking water.

So how much water should you drink?  Did you know that even a 5% drop in hydration can cause a 25% to 30% drop in energy.  It is recommended that you drink at least 20 oz. of water about two hours before your workout as well as 8 oz. during warm up.  During your workout you should drink at least one cup of water every 15-20 minutes.  After your workout you should drink another 8 oz. of water.

Something else to consider is if you are getting cramps during your workout, a lot of runners get this in their rib cage, that is another sign of dehydration.  If you are not a big fan of drinking water then at a little bit of lemon to add flavor.  You can also drink fruit juice or milk because they contain water but nothing will fully take the place of water.

I wake up each day and enjoy two glasses of water.  Sometimes I add cinnamon but not always.  I try to make them as cold as possible because it does burn a few calories.  It gives me more energy in the morning and throughout the day.  Drink up!

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It is a great day when you wake up and go outside and there is nothing but blue sky and sunshine as far as the eye can see!  I woke up slowly and then did 20 sit ups.  Sit ups are a great way to get the blood flowing.  They are also starting to get easier for me.  When I first started doing sets of 20 I started to feel a tightness in my abs at the 15th or 16th rep.  Now I get to the 20th rep before I feel my abs starting to become tiredn.  Because I have some extra weight in my mid section I cannot see the results visually yet but I can feel them and know that my sit ups routine is working because I’m getting better at them.  If I do five sets of 20 today I’ll have 100 done today.

When I was in high school I played basketball for my first two years.  I was tall for my age and at 6ft 1in I was a center.  The problem was I was very skinny due to the  fact that I took Ritalin for my ADD.  My coaches wanted me to be able to box out against the other teams we played and put me on a strength training program.  One thing I remember doing was 100 sit ups at practice.  I had one of the strongest set of abs in my school.  I remember how proud I was of my washboard.  To be back to the 100 mark means a lot to me.  Now, we didn’t do a minimalist workout in basketball practice.  It was more intense and I realize I have a long way to go but I thrive on milestones such as this one.

This morning I woke up and had to run out to get eggs.  It really is beautiful out there today.  Especially after the tropical storm we had go through earlier this week.  My neighborhood is the type of place that has a lot of big trees.  The beauty of where I live puts me in a great mood.  I called my wife on the way to Aldi which always puts me in a good mood.  I heard my girls arguing in the background which made me laugh.  Mostly because I didn’t have to deal with them.

I’ve been eating ground turkey almost every day for a couple of weeks now so I picked up a bag of chicken breast and some broccoli.  I also picked up some olive oil which I should be using every day.  I find that I lose weight better when I use olive oil in my cooking.  Here’s a tip-

Tim’s Tips: When buying olive oil, make sure you get it in the darkest color bottle possible  This blocks out the light and prevents the light from destroying the nutrition in it.

With these many good feelings I’m ready to go conquer the day.

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Here is my article I wrote a few years ago when I got in to running.  More for distance than as a minimalist workout but it is effective.  Hopefully it’ll inspire me and you to get out there and run!

Like everyone else I was once an out of shape do nothing couch potato. I used to watch people running and wonder “How can they run so far for so long and not die?” It fascinated me. I longed for the days when I played High School basketball and would play 40 minutes without being subbed out. I played Center so I ran baseline to baseline every play. I can’t imagine how many miles I ran a week between games and practice! But the reality is I wasn’t born a basketball player. It took years and year of hard work and dedication to get to that point. It all ended my junior year when I was just too short to play center and girls were more fun than practice. That started me down a long sad road. In the end I found myself 80 pounds heavier, 30 years old, married with kids and watching a lot of TV. I made a decision one day. I decided to get back in shape. I read somewhere that you should start real slow. Just walk. I walked around the block that day. The next day I walked around the block the next 7 days. It didn’t do any good. I was able to walk a lot. I just couldn’t go any faster! I started doing my research and found out about interval training. I’ll give you a schedule to run to but I need to address some things first.

As always, it is important to consult a doctor before starting any workout program.

At first running will not be easy but will be manageable. You’ll be able to do it. You’ll need to be aware of a few things. Your body will not be happy about you running. It isn’t going to know what you’re doing. It’ll hurt at times and want to stop but you need to find ways to stay motivated. With that said, if the pain becomes too bad you need to find out if you’re pushing yourself too hard. You don’t want to risk injury. A couple of common places you’ll feel the bad kind of pain is in your anterior calf and your knees. Also, if your hamstring or quad muscles seem strained then you need to rest up a couple of days. These are also areas where you’ll feel good pain, pain where your body is just trying to get itself in shape.

Last summer I was watching the Olympics. I couldn’t believe my eyes when they had the speed walking competition. Speed walkers walk as fast as they can but must keep at least one foot on the ground at all time or they’ll be disqualified. There were some walkers who were disqualified. This is how you want to define your running. Taking strides, feet leaving the ground. It’s running, you’ve done it before, you know what to do. Another event that I really enjoyed was the marathon. You are not running a marathon. You are beginning a running program so don’t try to run a marathon! It isn’t a race. Keep it slow and once you’re a 30 minute runner you can work on speed. You will be running 3 days a week.

Week 1

5 minute warm up walk then for 20 minutes run 60 seconds, walk 90 seconds. You will run these intervals 8 times then a cool down walk for 5 minutes.

Week 2

5 minute warm up walk then 20 minutes of intervals. Run 90 seconds, walk 2 minutes. 5 minute cool down.

Week 3

5 minute warm up walk then this set of intervals twice. 90 second run, 90 second walk, 3 minute run, 3 minute walk. Remember to do that twice then 5 minute cool down.

Week 4

5 minute warm up then 3 minute run, 90 second walk, 5 minute run, 2 1/2 minute walk, 3 minute run, 90 second walk, 5 minute run.

Week 5

Day 1- 5 minute warm up. 5 minute run, 3 minute walk, 5 minute run, 3 minute walk, 5 minute run, 5 minute cool down

Day 2- 5 minute warm up. 8 minute run, 3 minute walk, 8 minute walk. 5 minute cool down.

Day 3- 5 minute warm up. 20 minute run. 5 minute cool down.

Week 6

Day 1- 5 minute warm up. 5 minute run, 3 minute walk, 8 minute run, 3 minute walk, 5 minute run, 5 minute cool down

Day 2- 5 minute warm up. 10 minute run, 3 minute walk, 10 minute run. 5 minute cool down.

Day 6- 5 minute warm up. 25 minute run. 5 minute cool down

Week 7

All 3 days – 5 minute warm up, 25 minute run, 5 minute cool down.

Week 8

5 minute warm up, 28 minute run, 5 minute cool down.

Week 9

5 minute warm up, 30 minute run, 5 minute cool down.

If you need help timing your runs there are plenty of interval training podcasts on the internet.

I ended up with 80 push ups for the day yesterday.  I feel like my push ups are on cruise control and I have a great handle on my form and strength.  While my arms feel tired at the end of the day I am not worn out leading me to believe I could be doing 100 per day on my push up days very soon.  I may soon need to increase the amount of reps I do per set to 20 in order to maximize the amount of push ups I do in minimal amount of time.  It honestly takes only a minute out of my day to drop down and do 10 or 20 push ups.

I didn’t drink enough water yesterday and am paying for it with a little soreness in my shoulders.  The good thing about being sore is that I get a sense of what muscles push ups workout.  Push ups are an excellent exercise because they workout not only your arms but your shoulders, chest and abs.

Today is my sit up day.  I’ve increased my reps to 20 per set.  It is challenging but I don’t feel that my muscles are being exhausted by the end of each set.

My legs are feeling good today while gives me a good idea that I’m on the right track with my squats.

Tim’s Tips:  I’ve added cinnamon to my diet quite a bit lately.  Cinnamon lowers your blood sugar which in turn tells your body not to store sugar which turns to fat.  While it wont keep you from gaining weight, it will aid you in losing weight if you’re on a diet.

No working out today.  Today was a rest day.  The funny thing is all I can think about is working out.  I am really enjoying it.  I’ll admit my muscles are a little tired after 50 push ups yesterday but I drank enough water that they weren’t sore.

Tim’s Tip #3 – If your muscles are sore, you didn’t drink enough water period.

Many people have told me that they did, in fact, drink a lot of water but their muscles are still sore.  I’m not buying it.  I’ve heard from professional trainers that you must drink a ton of water to flush out the toxins that your muscles release when you work out or else you will be sore.  I’ve experimented and found this to be completely true.  I have done P90X for 45 minutes (and I’m out of shape), drank a ton of water and not been sore the next day.  I have also done lesser workouts and not drank enough water and been extremely sore the following day.

Wednesdays are very busy for me so I decided that they would be my rest day each week.  I thought to myself a few times, “I could do a workout set right now” but decided not to.  I need the rest in my legs and arms so I took a day off.  Tomorrow I’ll get back to working out and do 2-3 days in a row before I take another rest day.

Today I was doing my first set of sit ups and my 4 year old sat down and started doing sit ups too.  She was struggling a bit with her feet lifting up in the air which had me cracking up.  I told her to stop for a minute and held her feet down.  Then I had her do her sit ups and she did they really well.  She kept her back straight, put her hands behind her back and busted out 5 push ups.  It was the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.  After that her mom decided she wanted to video tape.  My wife is a perfectionist so she kept having Callie do them over and over again.  By then Callie was getting tired and ended up doing 20 sit ups.  I finally told my wife she wasn’t going to get a perfect video of her doing sit ups and we stopped.

The fun part about working out in the living room is having my kids join in.  It makes it more like a game than exercise.

Tim’s Tip #1 – Work out with your kids.  It makes it more of a game.  If you don’t have kids then grab a relative or neighbor’s kid (with permission of course).

Push ups 15

Squats 25

Sit ups 20

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