You may have noticed from several of my past posts that I am a proud parent of 2 little doggies.  We live in a house in the Hollywood Hills with no grassy yard for them, so I make it a point to take them to the park every day.  As you can imagine, this can be quite time consuming, so, like any good woman, I look for ways to multi-task.  And if you find the right park, you can do just that.  All you need is a big grassy area for both you and your canine friends to run around in (and do yoga and crunches, etc).

The trick to allowing your dogs to run full speed—this is only if you have very well trained dogs (who listen to you when you tell them to stay close by you and that come when you call)— and you want to let your them off-leash, you usually have to wait until there aren’t any other dogs around and not many people, and definitely no park rangers.  I run late at night in a well-lit park in a very safe area (Beverly Hills) and I bring my husband along (he helps me keep track of the dogs as he enjoys a slower pace walk around the park).  If running late at night is not for you, you might want to try running early in the morning, if you’re so inclined.  I assume there aren’t many other people or dogs or rangers at that time too.

Next, you will want to know the distance that you are covering when running to keep  yourself progressing.  You can either use a pedometer or run in a park with a track or trail that tells you how long it is.  Alternatively, you can simply make sure you run at a fast pace for a certain period of time (30-45 minutes is what you should shoot for to burn the maximum calories without overtaxing your stress response system).  You may have to alternate walking and running for a while as you build up your endurance, but after a short while, you will find that once you get warmed up that you could run forever and you will really enjoy it (at first you will hate it, it’s true, but I swear you will come to love it if you push past that).  The runner’s high is real and I am an addict.  It’s true.  Another benefit, besides the endorphins, is that it makes your heart stronger (and, of course, it does the same for your furry friends, which, just like you, makes them live longer—everybody wins). For instance, I have noticed that my resting heart rate is already much lower than it was about a month ago when I first started adding cardio back into my work out.  This is the most clear sign that your heart is getting stronger.  It also helps you sleep better to have a slower resting heart rate, and we could probably all benefit from that these days.

I am using my run to not only burn calories, but to help build muscle in my legs, butt and abs.  I run on my toes and squeeze my glutes and contract my abs while running.  At the end of 45 minutes of squeezing those muscles while bouncing up and down on my run, I feel it—big time!  In fact, I am seeing more growth in my stubborn little calf muscles from running than I have since I began my weight training.  I guess it’s all about doing something really new and different to shock the body into new growth. But I’m not neglecting my weight training.  For instance, I hit the gym in the early evening, a few hours before my run last night and here’s what I did:

  • seated hamstring curl: 15 reps/105 lbs, 12 reps/120 lbs X 2
  • outer thigh machine: 4 reps/100 lbs (drop set to) 8 reps/80 lbs, 8 reps/80 lbs, 10 reps/90 lbs
  • leg press (where you lay down and press onto shoulder pads): 15 reps/90 lbs, 10 reps/150 lbs, 12 reps/120 lbs
  • calf press: (both legs) 10 reps/360 lbs X 2, (then, one leg at a time) 10 reps/300 lbs
  • standing calf raises holding a plate: 10 reps/35 lbs

Diet is VERY important when you are doing lots of cardio and burning fat, not only because you don’t want to lose muscle as you lose fat, but also because you will need more glycogen in your diet to compensate for the massive amounts you are losing to keep the brain functioning properly. Glucose is converted to glycogen in the liver and if you eat the right kind and the right amount, some of it gets stored in the liver and some is stored in the muscles and it gets used in small amounts to help you function normally in all your physical and mental daily tasks, and in large amounts when you work out (especially when you do cardio).  If you eat too much or the wrong kind, it gets stored in the adipose tissue as fat. That’s why you may have heard that it burns more fat to do cardio first thing in the morning before you eat.  That’s because when it’s been 8 hours or more since you’ve eaten you won’t have much glycogen in your liver or muscles and so the body will access fat stores to give you fuel.  This also happens when you engage in cardio exercise for longer periods of time or at higher intensities than the body is used to—you use up all the stored glycogen and the body goes to the fat stores for fuel.  When this happens, you will feel it.  You will feel a little foggy headed and weak.  It is a good sign to feel this way because, yes, you’re burning fat.  It is bad to feel that way for a prolonged period of time because you can damage your hormonal system, your immune sytem as well as your brain by making your body subsist at a deficiency of glycogen.  So, you want to eat the right kind and amount of glucose to replenish your glycogen stores in your liver and muscles (but not have it go to fat).

Glucose is a sugar that is found in lots of foods from junk foods to fruits to starchy vegetables.  I think that if you’re reading this that you probably know not to seek glycogen from junk foods and candy (although many body builders do).  This is foolish because every time you eat simple sugar, you WILL have an insulin and then cortisol response and over work your hormonal and immune systems, making recovery times between workouts take longer, and making building muscle more difficult.  (That’s why protein bars and powders with a bunch of sugar are so stupid.) It makes your whole system sluggish as your body seeks to clean up the free radicals from the simple sugars (yet you may feel extra hungry) and in that state you will put on fat much easier, even if you feel like you’re starving yourself.

I make it a habit to have fruit in the mornings, when liver glycogen levels are at their lowest or right before a workout.  I don’t eat much fruit at night after my workout because of the problem of putting a bunch of glucose in my system at a time when I’m going to be hitting the hay.  I wait until morning when I’m going to be getting myself going and needing energy.

Also, it’s really good to know that the kind of glycogen that is stored in muscles is a starchy kind of glycogen, and for that reason nothing seems to heal me of the foggy-head that follows a big workout like a potato.  Make sure you don’t eat the brown-skinned russet potatoes unless you are really hurting and you are sure your muscles will absorb the glycogen right away.  They have quite a lot of glucose and if you don’t need a big bunch of glycogen right away, some of it may go to fat.  It’s a safer bet to eat the thin-skinned red or golden potatoes.  They have the sort of glucose that is more slowly absorbed and is more likely to get used by the muscles than turn to fat.

And don’t forget the vegan protein.  It’s very important to keep protein levels up when doing lots of cardio, so you don’t lose muscle!!!  If you are counting calories, make every calorie count—for vegan protein.  Spinach is SO wonderful because it is SO high in protein (and other important nutrients) and so low in calories, and it goes well with almost anything you may find yourself cooking!  In fact, try to throw some extra green leafs from plants into everything you can this summer!  I have a basil plant in my kitchen and I throw fresh basil into so many dishes and it is SO delicious.  I also have some mint plants and I love adding a huge sprig of mint to iced chamomile or mint tea–so refreshing! (Make sure you eat the mint and don’t just discard it!)  What about parsley?  Anybody got that in the garden? Add it to almost anything and it raises the calcium and protein content of what you’re eating, and it aids digestion, so that less of your food goes to waste/fat.  Every time you do this you are adding nutrients, and yes, protein to your diet!  The more sneaky little sources of high nutrient, low calorie vegan protein the better! Right?

OK, so here’s what I ate yesterday:

  • Breakast (25 g protein): 2 cups Optimum Slim cereal (18 g protein) with 1 cup soy milk (7 g protein) with several strawberries.
  • Lunch (36 g protein): sandwich with Alvarado Street Complete Protein Bread (10 g protein), 1 slice of Veggy Cheddar Slices (3 g protein), 1 Tbsp hummus (1 g protein), 8 slices of Tofurky deli slices (19 g protein), handful of raw spinach (3 g protein), Vegannaise, mustard.
  • Dinner (40 g protein): tacos with crumbled Chipotle burgers (15 g protein), mexican seasoning, 4 blue corn taco shells (8 g protein), 1/2 cup daiya cheddar cheese (2 g protein), romaine lettuce, red bell peppers, miso dressing (1 g protein).  With a large glass of soy milk (2 cups=14 g protein)
  • Snack: (25 g protein): 2 cups Optimum Slim cereal (18 g protein) with 1 cup soy milk (7 g protein)
  • Before Bed: large mug of chamomile and lavender tea with 1 cup soy milk (7 g protein)
  • Total: 133 grams of protein for the day!

Note: today I am eating more glucose-rich foods since I did that big run last night and am feeling it today.  Check back tomorrow for more on that.


4 Responses to Park Dog/Human Workout + Weights + Vegan Protein

  1. Awesome post many people dont understand the “whats” , “whens” and “whys” of nutrition and thats why you see so many people beating themselves up in the gym and not getting results or young girls restricting calories and overdoing cardio catabolizing any muscular gains they may have made otherwise.
    I love your posts with your furry children! haha. I rescue, foster and rehabilitate dogs so I have alot of furry faces I should take for a jog…However we dont have the beautiful parks like you have in the Bevery Hills area.* Sigh *
    Oh yeah I almost forgot…I’ll dig up that almond flour Muffin recipe and send it over to ya.Probably this weekend. My daughter recently had surgery so my days have been so hectic and chaotic.
    Have a fantiastic week!

  2. Brenda Carey says:

    Yay! Can’t wait to get that recipe! Sounds yummy! My best to you and your daughter in wishes for a speedy recovery.

  3. Charlotte says:

    I’m amazed at the amount of protein you got on a vegan diet without any protein powder. Very inspiring.

    • Brenda Carey says:

      You should look at my posts from a few months ago when I was in my “bulking up” phase. I was getting over 200 grams of protein a day! It’s not hard if you know which vegan foods are high in protein. Check out the “article” with the protein contents of many vegan foods. You can access “articles” at the bottom of the home page.

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