Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

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apricity
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Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

Postby apricity » Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:37 pm UTC

I suppose it's my turn!

Age: 20
Weight: 150ish
Height: 5'8
Objective: To eat healthy and exercise, and generally put myself on a path toward a life of being as healthy as I can be.
Short-term goal: To not get out of breath walking up the steep hills to/on my school's campus, or running to the bus.

My story: I lost almost 40 pounds in my freshman year of college, by tracking what I was eating and going to the gym for exercise multiple times a week. It really helped every aspect of my life, from my energy to my self-confidence. The problem is now that I've stopped tracking everything, I'm starting to slip. I am kind of a binge eater by nature, so I tend to buy a big bag of chips and eat the entire thing in a day, or a box of cookies or something. Now I'm in studying in Italy, land of gelato and pasta, and I really need to buckle down and be healthy. I walk everywhere I can, which is especially good because I have to walk a good 45 minutes uphill to campus for my classes. But when class starts at 9 am, I usually just take the bus because I'm too tired to walk, and when class ends at 8 pm it's too dangerous to walk home alone in the dark, so I take the bus home. And the other day when I was running to catch the bus I got way too out of breath to be allowed. Additionally, I've been eating a lot of food that's not very good for me. They have really good cookies and pastries here and I need to cut down on that. Too much sugar and carbs, not nearly enough protein. They don't have much in the way of prepackaged food, so I've been going for pasta or eating out almost every night, which is bad for my diet and my wallet. I've been good about eating fruits and vegetables (soooo cheap, I love it!) but not so good about staying away from the sweets at the same time.

What to do: There's a gym on campus, which I'd like to start going to at least twice a week to run on the treadmill. Last semester I could do a mile and a half in 15 minutes, and this semester I want to get back to that point and eventually go up to 2 miles in 20 minutes. I definitely need to keep walking as much as possible. I also need to be cooking for myself... not just pasta, but chicken and other more healthy stuff. I can't have gelato every day, it should be a treat. The other thing is sleep. I need to aim for 8 hours a night, and not let myself fall into the "I'll stay up and then get a cappuccino in the morning" trap.

So let's get started!
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Re: Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

Postby microwaved » Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:33 pm UTC

While the treadmill is a good for when the weather is bad outside, it's no substitute for putting it the mileage yourself. Try and put as much mileage as you can on the ground. Parks and running trails work best because of the soft ground, but you can run on the streets/sidewalks just fine if your knees and shins can handle it. Also, try and get some running shoes if you can, they can really help alleviate and stress you may put on your legs will running.

good luck

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Re: Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

Postby apricity » Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:47 pm UTC

I don't think it's a good idea for me to run outside. I can't breathe well outside due to allergies, so my nose gets all runny and my throat starts to hurt. I also get terrible cramps if I run on any concrete, and since I'm in a city (Florence) there's not much in the way of grassy areas to run in. Actually, I get cramps anyway. Is there anything I can do to help with that? I always stretch and have plenty of water before I run, and I'm never too out of breath, but I still get cramps in my right side. The pain can sometimes last for days. Which is also one reason I'm dreading starting to run again...

I do need to buy running shoes. I don't have any sneakers with me. They're sooo expensive here though, so I keep putting it off. I'm getting them tomorrow though, I've promised myself, because it's incredibly counterproductive to hold off on exercising because I don't have the proper footwear.
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Re: Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

Postby Token » Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:34 pm UTC

Hey, if you aren't going to be running outside, then why run at all? There's better ways of getting exercise - cycling, for example, or cross-training - if you're in a gym. Long term, running is actually not hugely beneficial for the joints, so it may be a sensible idea to pick something else, if you have easy access to it.
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Re: Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

Postby davef » Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:04 pm UTC

I'm not sure that drinking a lot of water before you run is a good idea. All that liquid sloshing about in your belly could be causing the problems with cramps. I'm not saying don't drink before you run, and I'm not a trainer/doctor/etc., but maybe a little bit before you begin and take a bottle with you to sip from along the way is better?
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Re: Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

Postby microwaved » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:14 pm UTC

The cramps could be caused by your running posture. A good running posture is kind of hard to describe, but you could look it up online I'm sure. Just make sure you stay upright I guess.

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Re: Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

Postby apricity » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:40 pm UTC

Token wrote:Hey, if you aren't going to be running outside, then why run at all? There's better ways of getting exercise - cycling, for example, or cross-training - if you're in a gym. Long term, running is actually not hugely beneficial for the joints, so it may be a sensible idea to pick something else, if you have easy access to it.

Well, to answer why, running is one of the kinds of exercise I like most. Although if cycling really is better, I could switch to that. I always thought it was a lateral move, maybe even less beneficial, because you don't have to support your own weight.
davef wrote:I'm not sure that drinking a lot of water before you run is a good idea. All that liquid sloshing about in your belly could be causing the problems with cramps. I'm not saying don't drink before you run, and I'm not a trainer/doctor/etc., but maybe a little bit before you begin and take a bottle with you to sip from along the way is better?

I don't drink a ton before I run, it's more that I try to drink enough throughout the day before I go to the gym (I tend to go lateish, around 3 or 4), then after I leave I'd drink another bottle to rehydrate. I've found that if I drink while I'm running, the cramps get worse, so I cut that out.
microwaved wrote:The cramps could be caused by your running posture. A good running posture is kind of hard to describe, but you could look it up online I'm sure. Just make sure you stay upright I guess.

I just Googled that, and I didn't see anything about cramps being caused by bad posture. However, through that search I did see that side stitches, which I think are exactly what I get, are caused by uneven breathing. That seems more like the right explanation for me! I'll try to even out my breathing next time and see if it helps.

Thanks for all your help, guys!
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Re: Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

Postby notallama » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:49 pm UTC

lanicita wrote:I still get cramps in my right side.

apparently that's from your liver tugging at your diaphragm. it's most forceful when your right foot hits the ground.
when you start to exhale, your diaphragm accelerates up.
if both of these things happen at the same time, you can end up with a cramp. especially if you're not used to it.

so exhale when your the acceleration of your liver is <= g.

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Re: Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

Postby apricity » Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:09 pm UTC

Update! I bought running shoes this weekend (40 euros, not all that terrible) and today I went to the gym at school. It's TINY, with two bikes, two treadmills, one rowing machine, one elliptical, and some weight machines. Today I stuck with what I knew, and did 15 minutes on the bike, 10 on the elliptical, 10 on the rowing machine, and 100 crunches. Later on I'm going to try and learn how to use some of the weight machines, which I've never done before, but I've heard that people should intersperse weights with cardio. I am incredibly out of shape, but it felt good to be active again and I'm going to keep it up. Today I added workouts to the schedule I made out for myself at the beginning of the semester, so I have scheduled workouts on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I always walk a lot on weekends, when the school gym is closed, so it's not really a problem. I have class all day Wednesdays so that's my day off.

Does anyone have advice for starting on weights? I know nothing about them, which is why I always avoided them. But they have plain 2 lb. dumbbells, which I wouldn't mind hanging out with.
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Re: Getting fit in Italy! (Fitaly?)

Postby ZeroSum » Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:26 am UTC

Re: Weights: Reps are more important than max weight. Move slowly in both directions. Maintain proper posture and form.

Generally, when it comes to working out of any sort: Consistency and form above all else.


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