But then the heat kicked on and your cat/dog/child/loved one snuggled up next to you and it was so warm and toasty that you had another thought: "Screw it."
I know...this time of year can be just awful, weatherwise. I'm pretty sure the sun hasn't shown its gorgeous face here in Chicagoland in eleventy billion days, which makes getting up and working out seem like something only a crazy person would do.
But you still have to do it and here's how.
- Remember your goals - Whether you want to lose weight for a tropical vacation or just avoid gaining weight over the holidays, remembering what you're trying to accomplish may help you get out of bed. If that doesn't work, try...
- Ask yourself these questions before you skip your workout - The first question is this: Will I regret skipping my workout? If the answer is yes, get your butt up. If that doesn't work, try...
- Think of other things to motivate you - Maybe you could give yourself a reward for finishing your workout....say a new book to read or some new music to listen to. If that doesn't work, try...
- Imagine what your favorite Olympic athlete is doing right now - They're probably going to do a 6-hour workout today to get ready for the winter Olympics. If they can do that, you can probably get up and shuffle around on a treadmill for a little while. If that doesn't work, try...
- Going back to sleep - You probably fell asleep halfway through this list anyway, right?
It's tough staying on track this time of year, but it can be done. Just keep things simple and do something...even if it's just a few minutes each day.
And now it's your turn to offer your motivational tips. How do you keep going when the weather makes you just want to go back to bed? Leave a comment and tell us what you do to keep exercising.
My fitness roundup this week includes a couple of new online training websites, which seem to be cropping up like weeds lately, and a new activity monitor that might make a great stocking stuffer. Be sure to leave a comment if you're familiar with them or if you have any recommendations for new products or websites. Enjoy!
- Fitbit Force - Just in time for the holidays, Fitbit has come out with yet another activity monitor, this one very similar to the braceleted Fitbit Flex. What makes this one different from the Flex is that it has a screen showing your progress, something that was missing from the Flex. Also? It's bigger and more expensive. But, like the other models, it will track your steps taken, distance, stairs climbed, active minutes, calories burned and your sleep patterns. I highly recommend getting the wristband version for your loved one, if they happen to be the type of person who flushes small electronics down the toilet (Not that I'm talking about anyone in particular, Mother).
- Wello - I haven't gotten a chance to try this website, but it looks very well-done and may be worth a try. While it does offer group exercise classes for about $49 a month (which is a little pricey, I must say), you can also get personal training memberships. That is, you can pay $99 for 4 sessions with a real personal trainer over live video, which is a pretty cool idea. They have a number of classes and trainers to choose from and they have a special right now where you can get a month free. If you check it out, let me know what you think.
- Fitness Account - Now, here's another new website offering online workouts. So, what makes this site different? They say it's because they have celebrity trainers available to help whip you into shape and they offer 400 personalized audio workouts that cover everything from yoga to cardio. What's also interesting is that they offer 'intervention' programs for things like diabetes, heart disease, back pain and other common problems. From what I can see, these are all audio workouts, not video. Right now, they have a 20% off special for $8.79 a month.
Got anything new to share? Leave a comment!
Of all the exercise I've done in my lifetime, there is nothing more exhausting, more draining, more downright killer than shopping. Marathons? Have nothing on an entire day spent at a mall on a Saturday in the weeks before Christmas. With the invention of the Internet, we can now sit on the comfort of our bums and shop to our heart's content...but, sometimes, you have no choice. You have to go out there to browse and ponder the best gifts for your friends and family.
If you're going out there this season, you're going to need strength. You're going to need stamina. You're going to need patience. And, just maybe, you're going to need several bottles of wine. Below I've put together a workout program that will help you get through just about any shopping experience...even ToysRUs.
- Core and Flexibility - First, you'll need some core strength and a good range of motion. This is necessary for driving around and around and around the mall parking lot, waiting for some poor schmoe to leave so you can have his parking spot. You'll really need that core strength when you're whipping your car into that spot ahead of the mean old lady who's trying to steal it from you.
- Interval Training for Intermediate Exercisers - Next you'll need some endurance, but not just any old endurance...you'll also need the ability to break into a sprint at any given moment...say to tackle that guy who's taking the last My Little Pony. Sorry...wrong decade. This cardio interval workout is perfect for the start and stop of holiday shopping.
- Cardio and Strength Circuit - In addition to all of that, you're going to need some strength - Strength to carry your bags, strength to push through the throngs of people, strength to stand in line forever to buy stuff your kids probably don't even want. Try this cardio and strength circuit to get a short, simple total body workout with some weights and some cardio.
- Total Body Ball Stretch - Finally, you'll need something to calm you down after a long day of shopping. This total body ball stretch will help you work the kinks out of all of those shopping muscles and, if that doesn't work, then you should probably break out the wine.
There you have it. All the workouts you need to make it through the shopping season. As a bonus? You'll probably lose some weight too.
Stay safe out there, y'all, and be sure to leave a comment about how you're keeping your body in shape this time of year. Do your workouts actually help with the holiday madness? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
Welcome to Cyber Monday or, as I like to call it, an awesome reason to ditch work to get all your holiday shopping done.
As a fitness enthusiast, I tend to buy myself the gift of fitness on a regular basis throughout the year, leaving my husband no choice but to buy me other things like, say, expensive jewelry. However, there's almost always something I've had my eye on and one can never have enough fitness gear, right?
Now, just to prove to my husband that I'm not the only freak who would enjoy getting something fitnessy this year, vote in this week's poll and tell us what kind of fitness gift you'd like to get this year. Be sure to leave a comment giving us the dirty details.
Last, in honor of Cyber Monday and the beginning of holiday shopping season, I've updated a few of my gift guides for those of you looking for ideas. Happy shopping, y'all.
I normally try to avoid all caps but, today is an exception because I must shout just how thankful I am for all of my smart, fit, loyal readers out there who make my job so incredible. So: THANK YOU FOR BEING AWESOME, DEAR READERS.
Let's move on to the nitty gritty. Every year, I post my ideas for Thanksgiving Day Workouts and my husband laughs and laughs, I suppose because it amuses him to think that anyone is really going to workout on this particular holiday. However, my husband doesn't know that my readers, like me, are often more likely to workout on Thanksgiving for one reason: 1. We are crazy.
Either way, I always like to put together a list of workouts ideas and this year, I'm picking some of my favorite 10-minute workouts. What I like is that you can do one of them or you could do all of them, depending on how much time/energy you have and your equipment situation. Happy Exercising:
10-Minute Thanksgiving Day Workout Ideas
- 10 Minute Met Con Workout
- 10-Minute Body Weight Circuit
- 10-Minute Express Workout
- 10-Minute Home Circuit Workout
- 10-Minute Strength & Power Circuit
- 10-Minute Body Weight Circuit
This time of year makes everyone crazy, including my clients. In fact, during November and December, we pretty much spend most of our sessions picking over the details of each and every holiday get together - The food that must be prepared, the family that must be dealt with, the drunken uncles who must be wrestled into submission. And, of course the Big One: Avoiding weight gain.
I usually can't offer much help with the food prep or the crazy family or the drunken uncles (although I'm pretty strong and could, possibly, hire myself out as a bouncer...), but I can help with ideas to avoid weight gain:
- Healthy recipes - This strategy involves bringing healthy dishes to Thanksgiving feasts, an idea that, in some families, might get one banned from Thanksgiving dinner forever. However, there are healthy recipes out there that don't taste too healthy...like these low fat mashed sweet potatoes. Yum.
- Early exercise - Another client, who already has to be up early on Thanksgiving to help his wife prepare, decided an early morning workout was the best strategy for him. His plan: To combine this 10-Minute Body Weight Circuit with this 10-Minute Home Circuit for a short, but intense 20 minute workout. This strategy works for him because he doesn't mind early morning exercise. If you can't fathom doing such a thing, try the next strategy.
- Before and After - One client knew there was no way she was exercising on the Big Day, nor did she have any plans to curtail her calories. Her strategy? Workout a little longer the day before, take a few extra walks on the day after and let the chips fall where they may.
Naturally, I want to hear from you as well. What's your best advice for keeping the calories in check this weekend? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
It's hard to believe, but it's already time for our annual Turkey Butt intervention. Turkey Butt, if you're new to this blog, is a phenomenon in which our rear ends spread in direct proportion to the amount of turkey, dressing (stuffing, if you're a Yankee), green bean casserole and pecan pie we ingest on Thanksgiving. Turkey Butt is often compounded by Christmas Butt and then the lesser known New Year's Butt, which of course combines the excesses of all the holidays into one big TBCNY Butt.
Avoiding 'Turkey Butt' is more about watching your calories and exercising than anything else, but there are some great exercises that target the butt and help you build muscle and burn calories. Below are some of my favorite exercises for the rear and, if you have a favorite way to combat 'Turkey Butt,' leave a comment and tell us about it.
Do it right: Stand with feet about hip or shoulder-width apart and, if desired, hold dumbbells just above the shoulders or at your sides. Bend the knees and lower into a squat, stopping when your knees are at 90-degree angles OR before you lose the natural arch of your back. Sit back as though you're about to sit in a chair. Contract the glutes and push through the heels to stand back up, repeating for 1-3 sets of 10-16 repetitions.
Do it right: Stand with right foot forward, left foot back about 3 feet apart. Hold weights if desired and bend the knees to lower the body towards the floor. Keep the front knee behind the toes and push through the front heel and back to starting position, repeating for 8-16 reps before switching sides.
Do it right: Get down on your elbows (or hands) and knees, abs tight and back flat. Place a light weight behind right knee and bend leg to hold it in place, foot flexed. Squeeze the butt to lift right leg until it's level with hips and lower. Repeat for 12-16 reps before switching sides.
Ah, the week of Thanksgiving. The turkey, the dressing (or 'stuffing' if you're a Yankee), the green bean casserole, the pie...the shopping, the cooking, the extended family visits, the travel. It's such an interesting mix of yumminess and stress that it's hard to say whether we look forward to it or can't wait until it's over. I suppose that depends on whether you're doing the cooking and the hosting or whether you're going out for Chinese food.
So, thinking of how this week will play out, what are your workout plans? I know for my clients, I'm giving them short workouts just to keep them honest, but without taking too much time away from Thanksgiving prep. What about you? Vote in this week's poll and tell us about your exercise plans (or non-exercise plans) for the week.
In Monday's poll, I talked about how exercise has evolved over the years and asked my readers what workouts they're doing these days. Reading through the comments made me think about the hundreds of workouts I've created over the years - Workouts for myself, my clients and, of course, my readers. Lately, I've even ventured into the mysterious world of creating exercise videos, which I'm kind of enjoying.
While some of you may know exactly what you want in a workout, there are others who know what they want to achieve, but don't know how to get there, which leads me to today's question: What kind of workout are you looking for? Is there a specific type of workout you'd like to see? Or do you have a specific goal in mind but aren't sure which workouts will work best? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
I also wanted to highlight some of the different workouts I have here (you can find all of my workouts in my workout center). Some people don't realize I have a variety of workouts for just about every fitness level. Here's just a taste:
- Basic Beginner Strength
- Beginner Ball Workout for Balance, Stability & Strength
- Beginner Upper Body Strength
- Beginner Lower Body Strength
- Cardio for Beginners
- Elliptical Workout for Beginners
- Interval Training for Beginners
- Resistance Band Workout for Beginners
- Total Body Home Dumbbell Workout
- Total Body Home Dumbbell Workout 2
- Seated Total Body Strength - All Seated Exercises
- Walking Workout for Beginners
- Cardio on the BOSU (Int/Adv)
- Cardio for Beginners (Beg)
- Basic Endurance Workout (Beg/Int)
- Low Impact Cardio Blast (Int/Adv)
- Low Impact Cardio Challenge (Int/Adv)
- Outdoor Circuit Workout (Int/Adv)
- Outdoor Circuit Workout - 2 (Int/Adv)
Circuit Training Workouts
- 10-Minute Body Weight Circuit
- 10-Minute Express Workout (Int/Adv)
- 10-Minute Home Circuit Workout
- 10-Minute MetCon Workout (Adv)
- Advanced Cardio & Strength Circuit (Adv)
- Basic Cardio and Strength Circuit (Beg/Int)
- Boot Camp (Adv)
- Bootcamp 2 (Int/Adv)
- Cardio and Strength Calorie-Burning Circuit (Int/Adv)
- Cardio and Strength Circuit Workout
- Circuit Training (Beg/Int/Adv)
- Fat and Calorie Burning Circuit (Int/Adv)
- 30-Minute Total Body Strength Circuit (Int/Adv)
Exercise for Older Adults
- Knee Pain Exercises (Beg)
- Lower Body Strength, Stability and Flexibility (Beg/Int)
- Step by Step - How to Safely Get Up and Down From the Floor (Beg/Int/Adv)
- Total Body Strength for Older Adults
- Total Body Strength for Older Adults- Level 1
- Total Body Strength for Older Adults - Level 2
- Total Body Stretch for Older Adults
With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, you probably don't have much time to worry about your weight. Yet, it's always in the back of your mind as you face the parties, the goodies, all those cookies and sweets those people give out at Costco at the precise moment your blood sugar has taken a dive and you become certain you cannot survive the store without trying that double fudge peanut butter brownie thing that comes already prepared and is being handed to you by that nice, smiling lady in the hairnet.
Maybe you should try two, just to be sure you don't like it.
You'll need to get creative to fit in exercise and my survival guide may offer some ideas you hadn't thought of. Check out some of the other resources below for more ideas and then tell us how you stay on track during the holidays. Do you stick with your normal routine or do you wing it?
More Holiday Exercise Resources
With Thanksgiving on the way, my clients are busier than ever and they just don't have time for workouts. At least, that's what they tell me and I say: "Can you find 10 minutes?" And that's when they pull a giant frozen turkey from their gym bag and clobber me over the head.
The point is, short workouts can work, especially if we do lots of compound exercises to save time without compromising on intensity.
Below are a few examples of exercises that often work well together and can save you some time. Be sure to leave a comment to tell us about your favorite combination moves.
Walking Lunge with Overhead Press
Hold weights over the shoulders and step forward with the right foot into a lunge. Push up, stepping the left foot forward while simultaneously pressing the weights overhead. Switch legs and step forward with the left foot, repeating the overhead press. Continue alternating walking lunges with presses for 10-16 reps.
Deadlifts with Row
Stand with feet hip-width apart holding weights in front of thighs. Keeping the abs in and back straight, tip from the hips and lower the weights down (skimming the legs) as low as your flexibility allows. Squeeze glutes and hamstrings to come up and then lower back down until the torso is parallel to the floor, turn the hands so that they're parallel and pull the weights up in a row contracting the lats. Repeat, alternating deadlifts and rows for 10-16 reps.
One-Legged Deadlift with Overhead Press
Stand on the left leg and tip from the hips and lower the weights towards the floor (back straight) while lifting the right leg straight out behind you to hip level, foot flexed. Lift back up and bring the right leg forward in a knee bend as you do a hammer curl. Extend the right leg as straight as you can while pressing the weights overhead. Lower and repeat, continuing with the deadlift, leg extension and press for 8-10 reps on the left leg before repeating on the right.
Every year right around this time, the American College of Sports Medicine announces the fitness trends for the coming year. Last year's predictions (which you can see here if you care) were a little off, I think because the list didn't include the number one type of exercise that everyone seems to be doing this year: High Intensity Interval Training.
Whether you call it HIIT, interval training, circuit training, high intensity circuit training, 10-20-30 training, Tabata training or metabolic conditioning, we've been doing it all year and, according to ACSM, we'll be doing it next year, too, along with bodyweight training, working with personal trainers, strength training and exercise and weight loss, just to name a few.
So, thinking of the current trends and what they say we're doing, where do your workouts fall? Are you doing more high intensity training, as the surveys suggest, or are you exercising in other ways? Vote in this week's poll and leave a comment, telling us about your workouts. For the record, you can vote for more than one thing, since I know many of us do different types of workouts every week.
In 10 days it will be Thanksgiving and, looking at the blog posts I'm putting together in the coming days, this is all I'm going to be talking about. I'm not sure why...I like Thanksgiving and all but I normally don't give it this much attention. I think what's driving me is the fact that this is often the tipping point for people.
This time - the time just before and after Thanksgiving - is when my clients often go off the rails and they don't come back until January. So, I'm hoping I can stop the train early so we can...oh, let's just end this train metaphor, shall we?
So, what's the answer? Below are a few tips that may help you find a little balance this year:
- Focus on being healthy rather than dieting or restricting foods. Keep your mind on the core elements of healthy living - being active as much as you can, eating healthy options most of the time and enjoying life with rare and favorite indulgences. Relaxing that control can sometimes free you to enjoy yourself without overdoing it.
- Be picky. Don't waste calories on things you can get any old time (chips, dip, etc.). Instead, save your indulgences for things you truly love - a small slice of homemade apple pie or grandma's famous cornbread dressing.
- Eat before you go. Eat small, healthy meals throughout the day before the party. That way, you don't show up starving, which is only asking for overindulgence.
- Know your weak spots. Family gatherings can be stressful and many of us mitigate that stress by mindless munching or drinking a little too much. If you know that tends to happen, plan ahead for how you'll deal with your stress. You may need to fill a plate with carrot sticks or simply relocate to a room without food in it. Knowing what you'll do ahead of time makes it easier to follow through.
What about you? Are you worried about gaining weight over the holidays? If so, how do you plan on dealing with it? Leave a comment and tell us what you think about dieting over the holidays.
I have to confess...when I hear the term 'anti-aging' I cringe. Maybe it's because every time I hear that word, it's being used to describe some kind of skin cream I can't afford. In fact, I make it a point to stay away from that kind of terminology because I think it's kind of stupid.
I'm making an exception now, mostly because I stole this concept from a really great article in my ACE ProSource Newsletter written by Pete McCall and that's the terminology he used.
Today, I'm highlighting workouts similar to the ones Pete offered in his article, although I've tweaked them a little...cuz that's what I do. Note: I only have one version of each of these workouts, so don't get too worried if these don't fit. I am working on other versions so that there will be a beginner version and an intermediate/advanced version for both.
First, I have an Anti-Aging Circuit Workout for Women and it's for beginner level exercisers. Pete recommends the workout for women in their 40s, but I don't see any reason to put an age limit or restriction on this workout. It includes a mix of body weight circuit exercises and some strength training. As I mentioned, I'm working on a more advanced version of the workout and, if that's what you want, be sure to leave a comment and let me know.
Second, I have an Anti-aging Circuit Workout for Men and it's a pretty tough workout that includes a mix of body weight and whole body strength moves. With this workout, I'm actually offering the more advanced version first and am working on a more beginner version. If you'd like that version, please leave a comment and let me know.
No workout is one-sized fits all, so do your best and let me know what you think. Happy exercising!
McCall, Pete. "Turn Back the Clock: How to Maximize the Anti-aging Benefits of Exercise." ACE ProSource. Retrieved Nov 5, 2013. https://www.acefitness.org/prosourcearticle/3547/turn-back-the-clock-how-to-maximize-the-anti
Lunges are never far from any personal trainer's mind and never are we more excited than when we learn a new one. Today's version is kind of like a curtsy lunge, which involves stepping back and across into the lunge. In this version, you're actually crossing over in the front, which makes it more challenging. Rotating the upper body with straight arms is like the cherry on top.
There's a lot going on with this exercise and the one thing you want to avoid is tweaking the knee. The idea is to try and keep the knee over the toes, although you'll find that adding the rotation will naturally pull your knee to the side a little. Watch out for that and skip this exercise if you feel anything bad happening in your knee.
Do it right: With the arms straight out in front of you, step the right foot across your body to the left into a lunge, pausing to make sure the shin is straight and the knee is over the toes. For added intensity, rotate the torso to the left, taking the arms to the side as far as you can. Step back to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
Last week, I participated in a panel at Huffington Post Live along with some incredible people (CeCe at Plus Size Princess, Eric Edberg and Josh Brooks) about plus size exercise and gym intimidation - Namely that it can be very hard to walk into a gym for the first time for anyone, but particularly for people who are overweight and may have no idea how to get started.
The interesting part of the discussion came down to this: In this day and age, there are so many ways to exercise, you don't have to join a gym. In fact, plenty of people are perfectly happy working out at home, outside, using fitness apps, or exercise videos. Some people use my workouts or programs or they make up their own. So, while technology sometimes contributes to our weight problems, it can also offer a solution.
The thing is, sometimes it's hard to figure out where to start, which is where you come in. Vote in this week's poll and tell us the main way you exercise and how you get your workouts. What resources do you use and what advice do you have for self-conscious exercisers who are afraid to go to the gym or even afraid to exercise? Leave a comment and tell us about your experiences.
It's getting cold, y'all and I have just one thing to say: Let the complaining commence.
I'm a big cold weather weenie and a complainer, a mix that makes me a real joy to be around this time of year. One reason I don't like cold weather is because it makes exercise harder. In fact, the big question many of us have right around now is: How am I going to stay fit when the weather gets cold?
The key to staying fit in the winter is to live somewhere warm. That means one of two things: Moving or creating your own personal exercise-friendly environment with what you have available.
If you can manage the first option, Aloha! If you fall into the second category, you have a little work ahead of you.
Creating an exercise-friendly winter means planning ahead and dealing with the biggest winter exercise obstacles or, what I call The Big Three:
- Cold weather - How will you make it easier to exercise when it gets cold? Some ideas: Putting your workout clothes in the dryer before workouts, a winter wardrobe to keep you warm and dry so you can get outside sometimes or setting up a home gym for days when it's just too cold to go out.
- Lack of motivation - It's easy to lose sight of your long-term goals as you're snuggling into your warm bed on a frigid, dark morning. How could you stay motivated through the winter? Some ideas: Sign up for a spring 5K, enlist a workout buddy to meet you for regular workouts or set up a plan for monitoring yourself throughout the season to keep yourself on track.
- The crazy holidays - Look at your calendar and mark all the parties, holidays, travel days, etc. Now, think of how you can stay fit through all the craziness. For example, could you put together a series of body weight workouts to do on the road? Could you research some healthy holiday recipes to avoid too many calories?
What do you think? Are you already planning ahead for winter or do you prefer the head-in-sand approach? How do you keep exercising when it gets cold? Leave a comment and tell us about your winter exercise plans.
So, one of my favorite fitness resources, ACE's ProSource Newsletter, came out with an article in their most recent issue called: "Turn Back the Clock: How to Maximize the Anti-aging Benefits of Exercise," by Pete McCall.
In the article, Pete compares the human body to a car - namely, suggesting that a well-maintained car will run for a long time and the same is true of our bodies. If we exercise, eat good food, avoid smoking, etc., we give ourselves a better chance of a long, vibrant life. Yeah. No big news there.
But what Pete goes into are the side effects of aging - If you want to get really depressed, visit Pete's article and read the full list of those side effects. Just to summarize, aging can cause things like loss of muscle mass, limited range of motion, osteoporosis, arthritis, diminished aerobic capacity, menopause, and on and on and on.
The point of depressing you with this information is to then give you hope, because exercise can actually combat the effects of aging and Pete has some specific ideas of just the type of workouts that may work best: High intensity workouts.
I can already hear many of my older clients groaning, but here's the deal: High intensity exercise puts stress on the body. Stress stimulates the kind of hormonal response needed for muscle growth. As Pete puts it in his article, "Older adults who participate in high-intensity resistance training and cardiorespiratory exercise can increase their strength and lean muscle mass, helping them to maintain youthful levels of energy."
I was mentioning all of this to an older client of mine, *Barbie, and she said, "See? This is exactly what I'm talking about. They come out with these studies about anti-aging and it turns out to be some kind of exercise I can't even do!" For the record, she said this while doing a one-arm kettlebell swing which is, in fact, a high intensity exercise.
The thing is, Barbie couldn't do high intensity exercise when she started. We started off very slowly with simple movements and basic strength training and it was all very safe and sedate. But three months later? I'm kicking her butt, simply because we gave her body time to condition and get used to harder exercise. And because I enjoy kicking butt.
I have more on this coming up, including the full anti-aging workouts Pete recommends for older adults, but I'll need a little more time to finish those. For now, I want to stop here and ask my older readers - What do you think of all of this? Are you currently doing high intensity exercise or does this kind of information frustrate you because you're unable or unwilling to do high intensity exercise? What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.
Resources for Older Adults
These moving lunge rows are a new favorite of mine, combining a low lunge with a double arm row. Now, this one isn't for everyone for a couple of reasons - First, the low lunge, by definition, is low which means that your back is bent over your front thigh and the weights are pulling you down. That means you must be able to keep your back straight and your abs in to protect your lower back. In other words, you don't want to be rounded over that front thigh. Second, as you stand up and pull the arms into a row, try to avoid using the shoulders in a shrugging motion. Instead, focus on generating the movement from the lats (the muscles on either side of the back).
And, of course, if any part of this exercise bothers you, call me a dirty name and skip it.
Do it right: Take one foot back in a staggered stance and bend the knees into a lunge, tipping from the hips with the back straight and abs in, weights going towards the floor. Stand up, keeping the torso parallel to the floor and pull the weights up into a row, focusing on the back. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about how our bodies change as we age. Being 26 is just so hard.
Wait, what I meant to say is that pretending to be 26 is hard.
Anyway, we all know we're going to get older no matter how many wrinkle creams they create and, working with the variety of clients I do gives me unique insight into the aging process. Sometimes? It kind of sucks. However, nothing really takes the place of actually experiencing these changes - Less energy, less time, more fatigue, more aches and pains and slower recovery times. During my conversation with my friend, there were a lot of, "I used to's" and "I never had to worry about's" sprinkled throughout.
Change is always going to happen and, many times, it's a good thing, a process where we learn more about what our minds and bodies need. Thinking about your own history, how have your workouts changed over the years? Do those changes have to do with how your body has changed or from changes in your lifestyle or circumstances?
Vote in this week's poll and leave a comment telling us how your workouts have changed.
Every year, my husband and I agree that we won't buy any candy that we actually like. That means we can't have Butterfingers or Snickers. Or Whoppers. Or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Or...well, I could go on.
Every year, guess what we buy? "Oh, just one bag of Butterfingers/Snickers/Whoppers/Reese's Peanut Butter Cups won't matter, right? It's the fun size! That's like, no calories, right?"
This year, I'm going to be a good girl by following these tips:
- If you're handing out candy, only buy candy you would never eat
- If there is no such thing, choose one or two favorites and set aside a reasonable amount to enjoy. (Note to husband: No, a 'reasonable' amount is not the whole bag)
- If you know you're going to have candy tonight, tack on an extra few minutes to your regular workout or eat a little less during lunch or dinner to help balance out your calories
- Keep the candy next to the front door or out of sight in between trick-or-treaters to lessen the temptation
- Keep a big bowl of popcorn, carrot sticks or fruit in front of you to munch on - or at least remind you of healthier fare
- Trade candy duty with friends or family so you don't have to look at yummy bags of candy as often
- Each time you're tempted to eat more than you planned, visit Wendy's Halloween Calorie Calculator to see how much walking you'd need to do to burn off those extra calories
- If you have candy leftover, throw it away as soon as possible or at least put it way out of sight or reach
- If you simply must save some, keep a handful and toss the rest
- If you do indulge, enjoy yourself and realize it's only one day of the year. That is, providing you do get rid of the candy, of course. You are getting rid of it, aren't you?
Scariest Halloween Exercises
- Bear Crawls
- Squat, Curl and Press
- Squats with a Rotating Press
- 360 Plank
- Pushup, Plank and Row
- Walking Lunge with and Overhead Press
- Pushups with Side Planks
- Pull Ups
- Plyo Lunges
If you want a truly scary workout, and one guaranteed to burn off that Halloween candy, try these exercises in a workout: Warm up for at least 5 minutes, then do each exercise for 30-60 seconds with no rest in between. Repeat, if you dare.
Despite all of that, there's no doubt that working out usually feels like "work." And the definition of work, according to dictionary.com, is "exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil." See those last two words? Labor. Toil.
Now, you all know that, while exercise does require some exertion and discomfort, you shouldn't hate every second of what you're doing and, if you do, something needs to change. But, beyond that, even when you find activities you can tolerate, how can you make exercise less of a chore and something you can actually look forward to?
The answer to that question will be different from person to person. For one person, it might mean going outside instead of the gym. For another, it might mean playing a game of tennis instead of slogging on a treadmill. The bottom line is, we all have to figure out what is un-fun about our workouts and try to mitigate that in any way we can.
Some basic ideas for making workouts more fun:
- Listen to good music
- Watch your favorite show while you're exercising
- Try fitness classes every now and then, even if you normally don't do them.
- Try exergames
- Make it fun - Dance around the house or go outside and run around with the kids. Think of being active rather than having to do something structured all the time
- Try a completely different workout
- Workout with a friend
- Slide in an extra rest day now and then
- Give yourself a reward after every workout (a hot bath, relaxing with a book, watching a movie, etc.)
Those are all pretty standard fare, so I really want to pick your brains. What do you do to make your workouts more fun? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
I don't want to scare you, but Thanksgiving is less than a month away and, at that time, I will posting my annual blog about "Turkey Butt." I say this, because Turkey Butt actually begins right around the end of October or, as we call it here in America, Halloween - The holiday we made up as an excuse to eat tons of candy. Or something like that.
This made me think about "Halloween Butt" which, like Turkey Butt, involves one's behind widening because of all the candy one might ingest on the coming holiday. Even my clients are a little worried - One actually showed up for her session this morning and actually requested that I kick her butt.
I could barely contain my happiness at such a request.
If you're worried about Halloween Butt, below are three hair-raising exercises, all in the family of burpees, which should help you burn a few extra calories before the big day. Enjoy and be sure to let me know your favorite hair-raising Halloween exercises.
Mwa ha ha ha...
Tip: This isn't for everyone, so use your best judgment and skip it if it hurts.
Med Ball Burpees
Tip: A soft med ball is perfect for this exercise. Be careful if you have a harder medicine ball and watch your wrists.
Tip: You can put your hands on the bell, which is easier, or you can put them on the handle - Just make sure your wrists are very straight and that you're comfortable with that version.
Add a set or three of these to your usual workout routine and you'll definitely be ready for a little chocolate come Halloween.
When I meet my clients for the first time, the first thing that comes up has to do with goals. As in, "Tell me your main goal for being here?" The answer is different from person to person and it usually includes more than one thing. The most common: I want to feel better physically. Following that is, of course: I want to lose weight.
The nice thing about that is that exercise can help you feel better in a lot of ways - It can reduce stress and give you energy, help you manage different conditions like back pain or diabetes or even depression and anxiety.
All that aside, the problem with having these hard and fast goals is that sometimes they don't match what's going on in our lives. For example, say you having a vacation coming up. If you're like most normal humans, you want to enjoy yourself without worrying about every little calorie or every little tropical drink you ingest. With that in mind, is a vacation really a good time to focus on losing weight?
Think about what's going to happen in the next few months: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. Also known as endless candy, endless pie, endless eggnog and endless alcoholic beverages. Do you usually lose weight this time of year? Probably not.
So, think about it: How do you want to feel over the holiday season? Do you want to feel guilty because your not losing weight? Or maybe it would be better to set a different goal this year. A simple goal that does require some moderation, of course, but still allows you to enjoy yourself. Your goal? Avoiding weight gain. I've even had clients who have weight gain goals - as in, "I'm going to try not to gain more than 3 pounds this year."
Hey, whatever works, right?
So, what about you? Can you put your weight loss goals on hold and set a different goal for the coming season? One that's easier to reach? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.
Depending on how you look at it, it's either really easy to lose weight or it's really hard to lose weight. On the easy side, you could weigh yourself with your shoes on, then take them off and weigh yourself again and voila! You've lost weight.
Of course, most of us don't want this to be about shoes. We want this to be about fat...as in, fat coming off of our bodies on a regular basis. The problem is, we have to consistently follow the weight loss rules to make this happen. We all know the rules, don't we? Cardio, strength training, a healthy low-calorie diet, stress management, good sleep and a healthy lifestyle.
And when we break those rules down, we come up with specific behaviors like getting on the treadmill every day and eating at home more than we eat out and eating only until we're full and never eating when we feel stressed or tired.
The problem is, these rules are hard to follow all the time, aren't they? Once you make these rules into habits, it gets easier, but it's that part that can be so frustrating.
I'd like to hear from those of you who are struggling to follow all the weight loss rules and those of you who have figured out a way to make it easier to follow those rules. What have you learned and what are you still trying to figure out? What do you struggle with the most? Leave a comment and tell us about following the rules of weight loss.