What is Lean Mass and Why Does It Matter?

Lean mass is everything but the fat. Fat mass only includes adipose tissue. Lean mass is like your house – it takes plumbing, electricity, lighting, running water, etc to make it comfortable, not to mention the amount of energy you pour into living your life that operates between its walls.

On the other hand adipose tissue cells are big storage units. The body’s systems are on the outside of those cells more like a storage unit. You don’t pay for heat, extra lighting, plumbing, etc to create a more comfortable space. It’s just a place to put your stuff. When you increase lean mass you need more energy to manage it.

Fat is energy – it’s just fuel for the body. When there is more items within the body requiring more energy guess what gets used up?! FAT. The body goes into its storage unit and pulls out what it needs, thus you lose weight. By increasing your lean mass through strength training and cardio vascular work you decrease your fat mass by using up the fuel you’ve been storing.

Making America Great Again … I’m not so sure hate is the way to do it.

To all my African, Mexican, Asian, Native, Indian, and White friends who are experiencing this open door on hate & have been negatively affected, my heart hurts, too.
To all my religious friends who are displaying your faith. I like to display my spirituality, too. I support your right to display yours in whatever way is meaningful for you.

To all my friends who’ve experienced assault, I have experienced the invasion of my personal boundaries too, and I know cultural language played a large role in what was considered acceptable – “locker room”, religious, and community talk shape behavior norms. I will speak up for those who have no voice.

To all my friends embracing their sexual identity, I embrace mine, too. When you show your love it spills into my experiences of love, too. I want people who show love and respect to surround me. I do not care what parts that love falls upon. 

To all my friends who are diverse, my life is richer with your presence, more vibrant with your different cultures, values, and displays of heritage. My spirituality is deeper based on your questions and challenges to my own beliefs. I do not fear our differences. I am made whole by them. 

I want diversity in my America. I want my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to experience this vibrancy too. 

My America has no room for this kind of disgusting behavior. The America I know is one built on individuality and freedom. It is one where all are accepted and civility matters. In my America there are problems and struggles and items to work on. Work on them we do, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully. Yet, when we work on them together we get stronger. America gets better. America is great because we are all in this together and we all have a voice. 

I am embarrassed and horrified by the acts of violence and hate in this Huffington Post article. As Martin Luther King said “darkness does not drive out darkness, only light drives out the dark. And hate does not drive out hate, only love ends hate”.

Let us come together and stand strong against those who wish to drive us apart.

Photo graphic by: Jarmiła Rybicka, 26, Poland. The graphic represents one human countenance constructed from four pieces cut of four persons’ faces. It is suppose to symbolically unite diversity of human beings and their experiences present in the city in the one body.

Balancing Your Workouts

The other day we looked at using our energy systems efficiently by training them all and pushing our upper limits. Today we look at balancing workouts across the spectrum of intensity. On one hand, to impact metabolic changes (i.e. better energy utilization, blood glucose use, ATP production, blood pressure regulation, etc.) we have to workout with a high enough intensity. On the other, we need to train both our sympathetic system – the one that wants to run and fight – and our parasympathetic system – the one that wants to rest and digest. Both are important in the human ability to manage daily life.

If you spend all your time hyped up, under stress, and vigilant for any challenge, you are not truly present in the life around you. Instead this hypervigilant state keeps you hyper focused looking for danger, negative things that may impact your ability to survive, and narrow your experience of life overall because life options are too overwhelming. This creates a pattern of focusing on the negative – guess what you find when you put your attention somewhere? More of what you are attending. Attend the negative and you’ll find a lot more of it. Attend the positive and you’ll soon see how much goodness surrounds us.

In our society much of our daily activity could be focused in the sympathetic system. Our high intensity workouts can impact this system. Exercise creates stress on the body and raises inflammation rates; however seems to do so in an effective way that also assists in metabolizing the stress hormones it creates, unlike living in a stressed out state where inflammation wreaks havoc on our body systems. To balance out the sympathetic overload many of us live with, it is important to balance your workouts with a parasympathetic activities, too.

Adding items like quiet reflection – noticing your mood, the environment around you, colors/sounds/the feel of your clothing/mat/breeze, changes between the pre and post workout mind states, mindfulness of the body following a workout – where do you feel stronger, longer, lighter, what is the sensation of these areas?, and mindful movement like yoga, tai chi, gigong, 5 rhythms dance, authentic movement flows, or ecstatic dance (think bursting into dance in your kitchen and loving it) – into your daily routine and used as active rest or even a full workout in their own right are very important to creating a balanced workout week and helping the body embrace all the positive benefits you are creating by allowing it space and rest to “digest” the changes you are making.

High Intensity Training is the Rage for Good Reason

HIIT training allows us to access the higher level energy need and then recovery only to rebound back to the higher state of energy need. This back and forth helps us burn more calories than sustained longer workouts at a lower training rate and do so in less time.

HIIT is a wonderful way to fit exercise into your life in short bursts of time. The body has 3 energy systems and we need to train them all. The Creatine Phosphate (CP) system is for explosive energy – often used in weight training, Anaerobic Glycolytic System (A-G) system gets used in stop and go movement, bursts of energy, and at the top ends of our endurance curves – think team sports, sprints, etc., and finally the Aerobic System is where we sit most of the time. Cardiovascular training is about making this system broader. The other two have some issues – the side effects shorten how much work we can do for how long. Creatine gets used up quick in the CP system, the byproduct of the A-G system is acid build up that results in cramping and the muscle’s inability to use the oxygen for production of ATP (the body’s energy), but in the aerobic system we only get CO2 and sweat plus more energy as we continue to breathe. In this system we feel like we can go on and on and on. This is the system we want to expand to get more efficient at movement. Then life becomes easier for us to move within every day.

HIIT training helps us push the upper boundaries of this system and broaden our endurance for it. There are a variety of options for interval training. You can do straight up 1 min on 1min type ratios, you can play with that by shortening one side or the other 2min on 30 sec rest, etc. In Tabata, a structured interval system, you do the same exercise for 20 sec on 10 sec off 8x, resulting in 4min of work at the high end of your training zone. You can use physical items like lamp posts or telephone poles – sprint the distance of 2 poles and recover/walk for 3, etc. Doing adding sprints, agility drills, running stairs, sports type specific movement patterns (often called Fartlek Training or speed training in Swedish) are all ways to include HIIT training into your regular routines.

Some workouts are completely based around HIIT others are steady state cardio, running/walking/biking/swimming/etc for an extended period of time at about the same pace. In these workouts the participant completes a portion of steady state and then does a round of interval training, coming back to steady state. This is a great way to challenge your endurance or add strength training sets to a cardiovascular workout.

Today try some intervals and see how you like it. Notice where your body feels strong, where it feels overwhelmed in the work and find your edge to push yourself within you limits while heeding the body’s wisdom. Enjoy!

Exercise vs Physical Activity

To live a healthy lifestyle you need to include healthy doses of movement. Many people believe this movement must be intense and have a goal to be worth anything. When I was doing my dissertation research I found many participants did not understand what physical activity was. Yet it’s an important component of active living. Here’s how the two differ: Exercise has intensity goals, usually based on your training goal – i.e. lose weight, run a race, gain mass, etc. Physical activity is all the small things you do to be more active – i.e. park as far from the store entrance and walk in, stand when you can at work, around the house, during chores, while spectating, and taking the stairs rather than the elevator, etc.

Living a physically active life is about making sure you make choices to move everyday as often as possible without concern for an intensity goal. Exercise is about determining your goal and then deciding to act upon the necessary intensities to make those dreams reality. Exercise tends to have a scheduled timing both in your daily life and in the cycles of the work to make sure you are reaching and overcoming the program goals. Activity is just about moving everyday – How will you be more active today?