By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
August 6, 2015
Working out during the summer is frustrating as hell. I have to admit, there is no other time of the year that makes me want to give up on the whole fitness thing and just stuff my face into oblivion. In fact, a couple times this year has actually compelled me to do it (but not too badly). Anyway, the heat in my house can become quite infuriating, merely to the fact the brick and mortar based house is quite exceptional at trapping heat, while trapping cold during the winter time. When the humidity is high, there is no escaping the heat because a swamp cooler will do you no good. And even if you are one of the lucky ones that has an actual air conditioner, say hello to $300 electric bills. Either way, escape is pretty darn difficult, merely because you just can’t peel off your skin and hope for the best. I think that is why I would like to try a more temperate climate one of these days, just to get the heck out of the heat and wake up without a sweat.
Now working out during this time of the year is especially tricky. With the heat and the humidity colliding into a hellfire that will make you wish for death every time you walk outside, one has to assess just how much they will need to work out. For me, the biggest problem has always been the heat. Being a heavy sweater, I am usually drained by the middle of the day because all of my salts and fluids are now residing in whatever clothes I am wearing. Unless I am working, I have this disturbing need to fall asleep and take a midday nap. It’s not really because I’m tired per se, but it might be just to blow off an hour or two while the heat permeates my house. And don’t even get me started on my sleeping patterns, for they instantly become erratic. I have to directly position myself under the cooler vent just so I can have some semblance of rest for the evening, and that might not help all that much due to the fact I tend to be a light sleeper for a the first couple hours until I begin my REM cycles. Call it bad luck or something, for it was probably honed during the early days I had my dog Rusty, who would blurt out and sing the song of his people every time a “shady” gust of wind went through my front yard. It was made worse by this great Simpson’s clock I have where Homer and Barney are clinking beer mugs at the top of every hour. You can imagine how old that gets when your little guard Chihuaschund turns into a vicious protector every time it went off. That clock is merely a decoration for the living room these days, destined to never work again or until my pups finally pass the rainbow bridge (hopefully that is many years away).
Running in this weather also makes me feel awful, and weirdly enough, compels me to eat too much if you can believe it. Wednesday night was no exception to the rule, for I did a rather slow 4.34-mile run around Reid Park and when I got home, I just couldn’t settle my stomach. Fortunately all I had was PHOD “pro-nuts” that I had procured earlier that day from Christa, who also let me taste test her new Apple Cinnamon pro-nut that might soon be hitting the shelves! It had been the end of a rather long day, so to speak, for I put together a hard workout in the morning and then installed a couple light for Jon and Christa in their insanely dark kitchen (seriously, how could anyone cook in that place!). One could easily tell how tough the heat has been on me, especially in regards to my sleep patterns. On Tuesday, I just didn’t have it at all. We started with some back squats and by the time I got to 275 pounds, my body just ran out of gas. For the first time, I had to actually bail on a lift lest I wanted to end up like a Fail Army video. I had to struggle through some other exercises as well, like barbell rows and hang clean-push presses. It was not my best workout so to speak, and even though I loaded up with some good food the rest of the day to make up or my lack of energy, the run I did that night was also tough. Maybe it was the humidity of Reid Park’s sprinkler system or the horrible elephant dung smell that was literally blowing in my face from the zoo. I don’t know, something about Tuesday just didn’t sit well with me. Maybe it was the fact I drove across town in 109-degree weather with no AC (or blower) for that part and got caught behind every red light along the way. Or maybe it was the fact I sweated like a dog at Jon’s house despite being in air conditioned comfort. I don’t really know what happened, by the combination of lost sleep and poor diet probably had the most to do with it with the heat being an accessory.
August in Arizona truly lives up to the “Dog Days” status, for the main selling point the Arizona Diamondbacks use for coming to the ball park is “We have a ginormous AC in the ball park!” Seriously, I kid you not. Nevermind the team has consistently stunk since Jerry Colangelo left the team, leaving the Diamondbacks and the Phoenix Suns to be run into the ground by “businessmen” who only care about making money rather than fielding good teams (if we don’t spend money on payroll, we don’t need wins and people in the seats!). Of course, it is useless if you are sitting in the highest ten rows of Chase Field, because then the air will blow right past you. But on the other hand, the Diamondbacks only fill half of their 44,000 seat arena, so it’s not like you can’t move closer to the field, as long as you don’t get too greedy and catch the eye of the fascist security team that works Chase Field when you spot that front row seat that is empty because the regular is on vacation or suffered from heat stroke (temperatures can get as high as 115 during the summer in Phoenix!). Some days I wished I lived in Green Bay or maybe Calgary,places that are so ridiculously cold that it might make me appreciate the warm weather again. I’ve always wanted to see the difference running in colder weather would be like, and see just how difficult it would be for my body to adjust.
I speak of this because of a new “trend” (or someone trying to arbitrarily create one out of thin air) might be hitting the gyms soon enough. Now some of us have heard of Bikram Yoga, which is essentially the hell spawn of intrepid yoga champion Bikram Choudhury, where practicing yoga in 100+ degrees and 40% humidity is preferable to say, like 72 degrees. Now of course, doing this with yoga can work, for you are more or less working muscles, improving balance and strength. I can’t see this going well with Zumba, Spin or even Jazzercise (yup, Tucson still has a Jazzercise studio). It would especially be bad if Jon decided to turn off the cooling at Parsons Training, for I alone would probably leave a drip of sweat on every spot of the floor. The biggest problem he always runs into is people trying to turn the cooler up, effectively keeping the room at a lower temperature. Truth be told, doing this really makes no sense since we live in the desert. It’s gonna get hot no matter what. But someone out in this world is seeking to try this idea out, and most likely charge a pretty penny in the process. http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2015/07/30/cool-workouts-could-next-hot-fitness-trend/30706193/
Now the whole idea behind “Cool Workouts” seems pretty simple, for if you keep the room temperature between 60 to 62 degrees, the subsequent burn your body will feel trying to heat yourself up is bound to expend more fat. The instructor mentioned in the article, Kelly Brabants, pontificates that working out in colder temperatures can activate a different kind of fat burn within the body. Personally, I had never heard of this called “brown fat,” which is something Brabants is trying to say can be burned. Brown Adipose Tissue, or brown fat in layman’s terms, is a type of fat that is usually synonymous with infants and toddlers. You see, in order for the human body to survive extreme cold as an infant, the brown fat is essentially that special insulator that gives infants their “baby fat.” Now it was generally posited that brown fat eventually disappears as we get older as “white” fat becomes the norm in our body. But some recent research indicates brown fat may stay with us well into adulthood. In the animal kingdom, brown fat is sometimes referred to as “hibernation fat,” meaning it is the sustainable medium when bears or other animals sleep for the winter. But in humans, it could be a form of pesky fat that usually hangs around the neck.
Now, in order to really properly burn this fat, it is stated cold temperatures will aid i the loss. But here is the issue….right now the indication is we have little to no brown fat left in our bodies as we get older. While we are still scraping the surface of this health finding, it does go without note it probably does very little to the body in regards to helping lose weight. Right now, no one has a real idea just how many calories can be burned during a cold workout, but I did touch on the subject a couple months ago about climate training. http://blog.parsonstrainingtucson.com/2015/06/hot-cold-or-altitudewhat-weather-is.html Now I have already indicated just how cold weather can aid in the working out process, mainly in regards to giving you more leeway to work with as your body heats up to warm itself. Like I mentioned in the blog post, some of my best runs were on nights where the freezing point was being pushed. But now comes the question, is “cold training” the next money making scheme to utilize on suckers that believe anything through the power of suggestion, or is it a legitimate enterprise worth looking into?
Right now, some people speculate we could burn up to 500 extra calories a day in regards to training in colder climates while also helping out the immune system. But on the other hand, isn’t working out just working out, regardless of the temperature. Unlike running, where the calorie count can vary in regards to the weather, standard weight lifting and functional training still needs to be looked at in regards to how this would actually affect the body. I think the ultimate caveat for any workout philosophy is how it caters to yourself. Personally, I have no issue with the level of temperatures in the gym, for this can be easily remedied with a more paced approach and extra trips to the water fountain. Running is a little different, for the heat can affect not just your body, but your distance and speed as well (I want to be faster and run longer!). But I will say one thing about my own journey in this fitness life. The biggest changes in my body were not just my legs but my neck and face, as in I have a neck now as opposed to what I used to be. Perhaps I burnt off all the excess brown fat during my three years of training. Either way, the changes keep coming, not just myself but to the fitness world as well.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.