By Stephenie Karony

Wednesday, May 19, 1999

Active rest can
revitalize workouts

Question: I'm physically burned out but don't want to completely stop exercising. What should I do? Becoming a couch potato isn't an option.

Answer: Since you are "burned out" I recommend taking just two days (48 hours) off from all exercise. This short amount of total rest will not have any negative effect on your fitness level; on the contrary, time off from a heavy training schedule actually improves fitness. After two days of inactivity, start a program of "active rest."

I know that active rest sounds like a contradiction in terms. The term is used to describe a change in a training program that allows the body a chance to recover before beginning another rigorous training cycle.

Active rest takes the place of total rest or inactivity. It can involve lowering the training frequency (work out fewer times per week), reducing the intensity of the training regimen (make the workouts easier), or shortening the duration of an activity (train for a shorter period of time).

Active rest also can include cross-training, where you continue to exercise but do different activities.

Whatever you choose to do, the idea is to cut back on the daily demands of intense exercise to prevent overtraining. The burn out you spoke of is a characteristic symptom of overtraining. Give yourself some active rest, and the result will be an increase in both your fitness and your enjoyment of your exercise program.

Q. Please describe what a serving size is for the foods shown on the food pyramid.

A: Good question. First, for those who don't know, the federal government's Food Pyramid (dietary guidelines), recommends 6-11 servings of grain daily, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 servings from the fruit group, 2-3 servings from the dairy group, and 2-3 servings from the group that includes meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.

Whether you should consume the higher or lower number in each category (6 servings of grain or 11 servings, for example), depends on your total daily calorie intake.

As far as serving sizes, let's start with grains. A serving of bread is defined as one slice, a serving of bagel is half a bagel, cereals are half cup, and all other grains, including pasta and rice, are also half cup.

Moving to the vegetable group, a serving of raw leafy greens is 1 cup. Serving sizes for all other vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and squash, are half cup.

The fruit group is next. A serving of fruit such as bananas, oranges and apples is one medium piece. A serving of fruit juice is 6 ounces.

The dairy group consists of milk, yogurt and cheese. Eight ounces of milk is considered a serving. One cup of yogurt and half-ounce of cheese all equal a serving. Nonfat, part-skim and 1 percent products are the healthiest.

The meat, fish and poultry group is next. Believe it or not, just 3 ounces of any of these is considered a serving. Be sure to buy lean meats, trim all visible fat, eat poultry minus the skin, and broil, grill or roast all cuts.

Servings of nuts, seeds and legumes: legumes (beans, peas, lentils) half cup cooked is a serving; 1 ounces is a serving of nuts; and 2 teaspoons of seeds equals a serving.

As for sugar, oils, and junk foods, there is no recommended serving size. Just be sure to eat these foods sparingly.

Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

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