I’ve been reading about interval training, which, if you believe the hype, is the guaranteed sure-fire way to lose weight, improve your health, and attract the attention of the hottest guy/girl at the gym. Also, get rich. And smarter.
It works like this: You warm up for five minutes (low-intensity exercise). Then you begin the intervals. Thirty seconds of flat-out, full-speed exercise, followed by 90 seconds of low-speed exercise (that’s for beginners). Repeat 6 to 8 times. Then a five minute cool down.
Here’s the theory: when you engage in the often recommended 30-60 minutes of low-intensity exercise, you burn fat. That’s good, right? Turns out it’s bad. (I know, how weird is that?) It’s bad because you only burn fat while you are exercising.
When you do high-intensity exercise in short bursts, you burn glycogen, which is basically the glucose that’s stored in your muscles and liver. (Correct me if I get any of this wrong, Eva.) When you do a bunch of those short bursts, separated by active rest periods, you deplete your stored glycogen. And that’s good. Because your body has to have glycogen, so after you use it up your body will do whatever it must to replenish it. And that means burning fat (which is broken down into glucose and stored), for 24-48 hours.
So okay, I was sold. I went to the gym today intending to Do Intervals and burn me some fat. The interval training gurus swore I would lose at least two pounds a week if I followed their program three times a week. And I have about ten pounds to lose, so on with the intervals! (Yes it is the same ten pounds I’ve been trying to lose for four years. Shut up.)
First question: what sort of exercise to do. The gurus say that sprinting is the very best high-intensity exercise. Speaking as a Creaky Old Person, 30 seconds of flat out sprinting, repeated 6-8 times, would result in a Creaky Old Person in the hospital. So sprinting was out. I decided on the stationary bike, which would eliminate several dangers, not the least of which is the creaky old clumsy person tripping over own feet and sprawling on the floor danger.
I accomplished my first session of interval training on the bike with no serious mishaps. I’m now trying to figure out if I’m burning fat while I’m sitting here typing. How would I know? What does it feel like? I do feel tired, but then it is 9 pm and I often feel tired even when I’ve done nothing more strenuous than walking from the door to the car all day. Do I sound like I’m burning fat?
Anyway, while I’m here there’s something I want to complain about. I stopped at the grocery store today, and in the parking lot was one of those gigantic pick-up trucks, a Ford F-350, jacked up about three feet over the tires so it towered over all other vehicles, taking up THREE parking spaces. It’s not that parking was in short supply, it’s just that I hate those trucks. When they drive towards me I feel like they are going to drive right over me, and it’s not like my Honda Odyssey is a small vehicle. And there is just no good reason for a city boy to drive such a monstrous thing. (The truck didn’t look new, but was sparkling clean and had not a scratch on it. Clearly not a work vehicle.) And occupying three parking spaces is a definite indicator of a high degree of unearned self-regard. Don’t make me spell out the impolite descriptor I’m thinking.
Inside the store I picked up a few items and proceeded to the express checkout line. The one labeled “12 items or less.” You know where I’m going with this, right? Yes, the woman several people ahead of me unloaded ten jars of baby food (yes, I counted) plus about 15 other items. (Note to shoppers: with the exception of produce that gets weighed all at once, multiple iterations of the same item count as multiple items!) I wondered if this example of unearned self-regard was in fact the driver of Godzilla Truck (making it a city girl rather than the assumed city boy). And I wondered why no one said “Yo, lady, can’t you read da sign?” But we’re very polite around here.
When I left, Godzilla Truck was still there, so I guess Illegal Express Line woman was not the driver. I don’t have anything else to say about that. Just wanted to vent.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to watch The Wire and burn some more fat. I wonder if the Bengay will help?