I consider myself to be a fairly gregarious fellow. I especially enjoy chatting with people who share my love of exercise — just not in the gym. Or, if I do, it's after I've finished my workout.
To my mind, you need to treat your workout as you would a job. You have work to do and a limited amount of time in which to do it. The more focused and efficient you are at your work, the faster you will progress, both in your career and in your training.
So, if you want to get the most out of your workouts, feel free to socialize before and after, just not during them.
Q: I'm a 37-year-old woman who is getting back in shape after two years of not exercises due to family matters. Before I stopped training, I was very active, competing in bicycle races, surfing and playing volleyball. I'm thinking about aiming to compete in a marathon within the next year but have just joined a gym and will be lifting weights. My question is: Will doing leg work in the gym conflict with my long distance running aspirations?
Joe: Wow! I have to say that I'm extremely impressed with your athletic resume. You seem like an incredibly vibrant young woman, and I applaud you on your desire to regain your old form.
I think it's terrific that you want to start training with weights. As I'm sure you could have guessed, that is my preferred form of exercise. Start fof slowly, of course, allowing your body to adjust to the new stresses you are placing upon it.
As far a running a marathon goes, I can't help you too much with the training for that, as I've not spent much time considering the activity. What I can tell you, though, is that while weight training and long-distance running aren't entirely incompatible, they aren't exactly comfy bedfellows, either.
I think your best strategy will be to keep the weights low and the reps high in the gym. By keeping your reps at around 20, rather than typical 8-12 that I generally recommend, you will help build endurance into your muscles — endurance that will serve you well when you're pounding the pavement.
Q: It seems that bread has gotten a bad rap in the last few years. I understand that white bread isn't very good for you, but should I avoid whole wheat bread, too? I'm not really overweight, but I do enjoy having a sandwich for lunch every now and then, and toast with my eggs. Do I need to get off the bread entirely?
Joe: You're right that white bread isn't an ideal food source. It's basically wheat flour that has been stripped of its nutrients, and then had some added back in the mix. White bread is very high on the Glycemic Index (GI) scale, which measures how much a food impacts your blood sugar levels. The higher a food is on the GI scale, the more it throws your system off kilter, causing you to gain weight.
You would think that if a bread is labeled "whole wheat" it would be a good source of carbs. Unfortunately, though, a lot of the larger bread manufacturers will use enriched or unbleached wheat, which is the primary wheat in white bread.
This isn't to say that all breads labeled "wheat" or "grain" are deceptive in their claims. The best thing you can do is to read the list of ingredients and the nutritional breakdown. A number of breads — the Ezekial line, for example — are made with whole or sprouted grains and contain lots of fiber and even a good amount of protein. They may cost a bit more than your white sandwich loaf, but the nutritional advantage is well worth it.
So, no, you needn't stop eating bread, just be discerning in your purchases to make sure that your bread is a benefit to your health rather than a detriment.
Joe Weider is acclaimed as "the father of modern bodybuilding" and the founder of the world's leading fitness magazines, including Shape, Muscle and Fitness, Men's Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Hers, Golf for Seniors and others published worldwide in over 20 languages.