I recently posted a question to some of my fellow About.com Guides about what can be a touchy subject: What's the best way to refer to people over 50? As someone who is closer to 50 than she used to be, I can see how words like 'senior' or 'mature adult' can sound like words that should describe somebody old...like your 95 year old aunt or the teacher who seemed ancient even when you were a kid.
Yet, for all of my 'older adult' content (which you can find here if you're interested), almost all of it is categorized for 'seniors.' I emailed one of my clients this Total Body Strength for Seniors and she had some choice words to say to me. She informed me, she was not a senior, even though she technically falls into the age group of 'seniors.' She suggested I come up with some other title that would not make her feel like she was 100 years old.
And this leads to my poll, which is specifically for those of you over the age of 50. We often do need to categorize workouts based on age group and those of us who are over 40 or 50 need to work on different things than, say, someone who's 20. That said - how do we categorize that? Over 50? Mature adult? Or do you have a better suggestion? Vote in this week's poll and tell us what you think.
Remember the first time you exercise outside the day the temperatures soar above 85 degrees and you feel like you're going to die of heatstroke, even though you've been working out forever and should easily be able to handle your planned workout?
Yeah. Me too.
Something we forget about summer is that it's hot and heat can do things to your body that you may not be ready for. Not only do we have to be concerned with proper hydration, we also have to think about our heart rates. We often don't realize that the heat is much harder on the body than cooler temperatures, so you may find that your heart rate is much higher than it normally is.
That isn't something to ignore, y'all. If your heart rate is high, that means your heart is working very hard to send oxygenated blood to your body. Give it a break by slowing down, cutting your workouts short and building up to your usual workouts as your body adapts to the heat. More tips for exercising in the heat.
That said, it helps to have the right gear - Sweat-wicking clothes, sunscreen, hats, hydration packs and the like. Lucky for you, I've updated my summer exercise essentials with my favorite summer stuff. Enjoy.
What about you? What do you consider essential for comfortable summer exercise? Leave a comment and tell us about your favorite exercise essentials.
As someone with the World's Tiniest Home Gym, I've managed to cram a lot of equipment in there, something I was discussing with a client who was toying with the idea of setting up her own home workout space. What she was completely unaware of was the fact that I have an addiction.
To exercise equipment. And it's not pretty.
Still, I thought the way she asked was interesting: "What do you use in your home gym?" You see, there's a difference between what I have and what I actually use. Anyway, I did send her my top picks for home gym equipment, of course, and then gave her the rundown of my home gym, categorized in the following manner:
Things I Use Regularly
- Dumbbells ranging from 3 lbs to 45 lbs (no, I don't really use anything heavier than 30 lbs, but it's there just in case)
- A step
- An exercise ball
- A BOSU
- Resistance bands
- Gliding Discs
- Exercise mat
- Foam roller
- Weightlifting gloves
- Medicine ball
Things I have and wished I used more
Things I never use and don't really care about
I confess, there are many more things I haven't listed and that my husband doesn't know about.
Okay, now it's your turn. Give us a quick summary of your home gym - what are the pieces of equipment you can't live without? On the other hand, what sits there, glaring at you and gathering dust? Leave a comment and tell us what's in your home gym.
When it comes to amazing core strength, nothing beats an exercise ball and this particular exercise is one of my absolute favorites.
This exercise gets just about everything: The arms and torso help stabilize your body as you crunch the knees in then, at the end of the movement, you get your abs involved by squeezing them as your knees come towards the chest. When you add a pike, things start to get a little crazy. The pike involves keeping your legs straight as you attempt to roll up onto the tops of your feet...not an easy exercise and one I wouldn't try unless you're very comfortable using an exercise ball. A great way to incorporate both is to alternate a knee tuck with a pike for a total of 10-16 reps.
Do it right: Get into a pushup position with the ball under the shins/ankles (easier) or the tops of the feet (harder). Bend the knees and roll the ball in towards the chest, contracting the abs. For the harder version, keep the legs straight, contract the abs and pull the ball in a pike position until toes are on the ball or alternate a knee tuck with a pike for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps. If you want to go totally crazy, try this: A knee tuck, a pike and a pushup, repeating all three for as many reps as you can.
What about you? Do you have any favorite ball exercises? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
For more, check out this Dynamic Abs Workout.
Last week, I asked my readers a burning question: What annoys you about exercise? As always, my readers have the best answers, ranging from "Doing exercise alone is boring," to "I am tremendously annoyed by the fact that I do it regularly and see so little weight loss."
This week, we're taking a more positive turn, having vented our negative exercise thoughts. Today, we're going to talk about what thrills us about exercise. Yes. I just used the words 'thrill' and 'exercise' in the same sentence. Some might call that a firing offense.
Still, there are so many incredible things about exercise, like the fact that it makes your heart healthier and it can help you lower your cholesterol and it can help you sleep better and look better. But what thrills me are usually the small things:
- The satisfaction of washing a huge pile of sweaty clothes at the end of the week - or watching your wife wash them, which is even more satisfying #notthatI'mtalkingaboutmyhusband
- Finishing a really tough workout, when you thought you weren't going to make it
- Seeing your doctor and being able to say, "Yes, I exercise every day," when he/she asks you (which I hope he/she does)
- Indulging in guilt-free dessert after doing an extra long workout that morning
- That moment in the workout, maybe 10 or 15 minutes in, when your body transitions from oh-my-god-my-body-feels-like-it's-been-dipped-in-concrete to oh-there's-that-good-feeling-I-was-looking-for.
So, now it's your turn. What thrills you about exercise? Even if you don't like exercise, can you find one good thing about it? Vote in this week's poll and tell us what thrills you about exercise.
Way back in 2012, I blogged about calorie counts being posted on menus and the fact that restaurants, like McDonald's, are now putting calorie information on their menus, per new regulations.
There's some controversy about this, with one study showing that not all of us modify our diets just because we know how many calories we're eating (which I blogged about here, if you're interested).
Now there's some new research on this with experts searching to figure out if menu labeling is having any kind of effect on our diets. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine set out to examine how this whole thing is working by evaluating various chain restaurants, including burger joints, sandwich shops and coffee shops. Their findings?
- More people said they were now aware of the calories on the menus
- Customers of specific restaurants - taco restaurants and coffee shops - consumed fewer calories which, one expert said, could be due to the fact that you can more easily customize your meals or drinks...getting no sour cream or cheese, for example, or getting a non-fat latte instead of the full fat version.
- People at burger joints and sandwich shops didn't show much change in their calories
- Woman overall bought items with fewer calories than men
Looking at these findings, we can see that there are some small changes happening and the experts in this study suggest that, the more we see these calorie counts, the more we'll understand them and the more we'll use them to our advantage. Kind of funny, though, that these labeling regulations didn't seem to have much of an affect on people eating at burger/sandwich shops.
So, what do you think about all of this? If you're already a healthy eater/exerciser, you probably keep a check on your calories anyway, but what about people who don't. As these calorie counts become more prominent, will this urge people to make better choices? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.
One day, I was working with a client for her third or fourth workout session. I was taking her through some of the exercises she'd already done, but making them just a bit harder...adding weights during her squats, for example, and having her do one-legged deadlifts. She looked at me with big, blue eyes and exclaimed, "How do you know all of this?"
Naturally, it's because I'm brilliant.
Which she totally didn't buy. What she did believe was that it's really just a matter of progressing or taking an exercise and, once you master it, changing it and making it more challenging. This is good for your body, because your body gets stronger and fitter and, of course, it changes...hopefully becoming slimmer, more muscular, or whatever it is you're trying to accomplish. This is also good for your mind because you're constantly changing what you're doing, which helps get rid of boredom.
A personal trainer can help you progress, of course, but there are also simple ways you can do it yourself. Sometimes just having a different option - Changing position, for example, or using a different piece of equipment - can help you progress. Other times, you need to see how an exercise can be morphed into something more advanced.
Sometimes just changing one small thing can make a huge difference.
What about you? How do you progress with your workouts? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
I have tons of indoor circuit workouts to spice up just about any gym routine, but I also like to play around with my outdoor workouts to make them a little more interesting. The latest workout I've been playing around with is one using the track down at a local high school. If you've never thought of using a track, you may be surprised at just how many things you can do, particularly if you have stairs or bleachers handy.
In this Track Circuit Workout, I take you through a variety of cardio, strength and endurance exercises that are fun, fast and challenging. You may even impress the high school or college kids, if they're around. It does include using nearby bleachers for a variety of exercises, including things like step ups and pushups. If you don't have bleachers, you can always use any kind of step or platform available or you can skip those sections and just repeat the track circuits.
Check it out and let me know what you think.
And be sure to share your outdoor workouts. Do you use a track in your neighborhood? If so, how do you spice things up with different types of workouts? Leave a comment and tell us about your workouts.
Despite my sometimes pollyannish approach to exercise (that's my husband's description of what I like to call my 'enthusiasm'), I do understand that, as great as exercise is, it can also be really annoying. There's the sweating which only gets worse this time of year and the stinky laundry, of course. And there's the fact that it's hard to figure out how to fit it all in when your life is crazy busy.
It was a huge mistake to ask my clients what they find most annoying about exercise. Here's a very brief snapshot of their responses (which, FYI, went on and on and on...):
- "Those stupid plank exercises you make me do with those vile purple discs"
- "Squeezing into my sports bra...and then trying to wrestle it off when I'm all sweaty"
- "When I think I've been on the treadmill forever and it's only been 5 minutes"
- "Chafing thighs when I walk or run"
- "Side stitches"
Next time? I'll ask what they love about exercise. For today, we'll vent our annoyances because what better day to do that than a Monday? Besides, venting can be a cleansing experience, allowing you to get all the negative out so you can focus on the lighter side of life. Take advantage and use this as your opportunity to vote in this week's poll and tell us what annoys you about exercise.
Sometimes, we give up because of something out of our control - an illness or some unexpected disaster. Sometimes? We don't know why we give up. We just wake up one day and realize it's been way too long since our last workout.
However, at the bottom of it all, all we're really trying to do is be better. We want to look better, we want to feel better and we just want to feel good about ourselves. The problem is, there are key moments that happen in anyone's exercise life that may cause you to doubt yourself or doubt what you're doing. The other problem? It's exactly those moments that you have to keep going and it's so hard to do that in the face of doubt.
In my latest article, Why We Give Up On Exercise, I offer some suggestions for how to keep going, even when you face tough obstacles like not losing weight or, horror of horrors, actually gaining weight after starting an exercise program.
And, of course, I know my readers have much more to add to this topic, so please do. Is there a specific reason you keep giving up on exercise? Do you ever feel so frustrated you just wonder...what's the point? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
15 years ago, when I started in the personal training business, personal training was considered a luxury. In fact, I worked at a gym and one of my jobs, besides doing new member orientations, was telling people about personal training. Many of them didn't even know what personal training was.
These days, personal training isn't just a luxury. Okay, so it's not technically essential that you have a personal trainer, but it can be a good idea if you're trying to get fit and lose weight.
But, here's the thing: 15 years ago, most of my clients were either just trying to look better, perform better or lose a little weight. Now? I'm seeing people who are trying to manage things like diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart problems, injuries, stress, fatigue and just generally not feeling healthy. I'm seeing people who really want to exercise, but they just can't seem to stick to anything.
These days? Personal training may be a luxury some of us can't afford, but exercise isn't and if you're struggling, a personal trainer may be just what you need to get you going.
It's important to choose a trainer that fits you - Your goals, your personality and your lifestyle because the wrong trainer can turn you off of exercise forever. Below, I've put together some of my best content for finding and choosing a personal trainer:
- Choosing a Personal Trainer
- 10 Reasons to Hire a Personal Trainer
- 10 Reasons to Fire Your Personal Trainer
- 10 Reasons You're Afraid to Hire a Personal Trainer
And now I want to hear from you? I know I've blogged about this topic in the past and I got some great reader responses. Have you ever worked with a trainer? Do you want to work with one but haven't pulled the trigger for some reason? Leave a comment and tell us what you think about working with a personal trainer.
The obliques are some of my favorite abdominal muscles, and not just because they help me bend and flex and rotate. I also like them because they work very hard to stabilize the body during any number of movements, exercises and activities. Many of my clients don't like the obliques because this is the area also known as the "muffin top."
Don't you hate that term?
As we know, ab exercises do not get rid of fat over the abs, but they do strengthen and firm your muscles, which makes you strong and helps you burn more calories, which is always a good thing if you're trying to lose weight.
Below are three of my favorite challenging oblique exercises and, of course, I want to know about yours. Do you have a favorite way of working your obliques? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
Oblique Lift on the Ball
In sidelying position on the ball, rest the bottom knee on floor to stabilize the body or, for more challenge, keep both legs straight. Place fists on the temples or cross them over the chest, tighten obliques (muscles around the waist) and lift torso off the ball, pulling the ribcage toward the hip. Repeat for 12-16 reps before switching sides.
Side Plank with Oblique Sweep
In a side plank position, resting on the hand and feet (or the knee for a modification), take the arm straight up to the ceiling. Sweep the arm down and under the body as you rotate slightly from the torso. Sweep the arm back up and repeat for all reps before switching sides. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
Med Ball Side Bends
Hold a medicine ball or weight overhead and, keeping the lower body stable and the hips straight, bend to the right as far as you comfortably can until you feel the abs brace. Come back to center and repeat on the other side. Continue for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps (1 rep is to the right and left).
Regaining weight after losing it is something we may not want to think about. Yet, a lot of people have that niggling doubt in the back of their minds as they lose weight. A doubt that wonders, "Didn't you try this before? And look how well that turned out. Maybe you should expect the best, but plan for the worst."
Trusting yourself isn't always easy, especially if you've struggled with exercise and weight loss in the past. We find it hard to forgive ourselves, to accept that failure is just part of the learning process.
I can always tell where my clients are with this by their closets. Some buy clothes in the size they want to be, hoping that seeing them every day will motivate them to keep going. Some keep their 'fat' clothes handy, either as a reminder to stay on track or as a 'just in case' net if they fall off the wagon. I'm always curious as to whether it's a good idea to do this or not. On the one hand, it seems like torture to look at clothes you can't fit into or clothes that remind you of a former you. On the other hand, maybe those reminders offer a strength of some kind...a resolve to stay on the exercise path.
I think it all depends on the person and what motivates them. So, what about you? Have you ever kept your 'fat' or 'skinny' clothes to motivate yourself? Or perhaps you keep them just in case you fall off the wagon? Vote in this week's poll and leave a comment telling us what you think about keeping clothes that don't fit.
When you think about overtraining, you may think it's something that comes on all of a sudden with distinct and obvious symptoms. While that can be true, overtraining can also be more subtle and many of its symptoms can mimic other mental and physical illnesses - Depression, for example, or dehydration. And, it doesn't always happen just because you're exercising too much. In my experience, overtraining or, put a different way, feeling too exhausted, tired and sore to exercise, can happen from a number of things such as:
- Lack of sleep. Even if you're following your usual daily routine, losing sleep on a regular basis can leave you with some of the symptoms of overtraining, the most obvious one being exhaustion.
- Weekend Warrior Syndrome. Have you ever done your regular workouts all week and then spent an entire weekend hauling mulch or raking leaves? Or perhaps taking an extended bike ride on a hot day? All of that extra activity can really zap your energy, so try to ease into warm weather activities to avoid overtraining.
- Minor illnesses. Sinus infections and allergies are other common problems this time of year and may be draining you of energy without you even being aware of it.
- Stress. If you're chronically stressed, you may not realize how much energy you're expending or how exhausting that battle can be. Exercise is often suggested for dealing with stress but, if you're out of energy, rest may be a better option.
When you overdo it, you may feel like you have no energy at all. Too many of us try to drag ourselves out of bed anyway, just to keep getting in our normal workouts, but that's only going to make things worse. The best option? Take a break. Even a week won't undo any of your strength and endurance gains and it may be just what you need to come back to your workouts energized and refreshed.
What about you? Have you ever experienced overtraining? Do you exhaust yourself even when you know you need to rest? Do you find it hard to take a break from exercise? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience with overtraining.
The question of the day today is this: What kind of exerciser are you? Are you the type who does the same thing all the time, following the same program from week to week? Or are you the type who faints from boredom at just the thought of doing anything repetitive? Your answer probably has a lot to do with your personality and your goals.
Some of us like routine. We've found workouts we like and a program that works, so why mess with a good thing? The problem with that is that we not only work the body in the same way all the time, which could lead to overuse injuries, we can also get bored without even realizing it. Some of us may find it hard to change what we're doing, afraid to shift a boat that seems to be floating quite nicely. However, spicing up your workouts from time to time is a great way to keep things fresh and, if not new, at least different from the same old same old. If you're into your routine and don't want to rock the boat, there are some simple ways to change what you're already doing: :
- Change the rep tempo. If you usually do traditional reps, try something new - emphasize the negative (or eccentric) portion of the movement with a slower count. For example, in a biceps curl, do 2 counts up and 4 counts down. You'll really feel the intensity climb with this tempo.
- Change the range of motion. Instead of going all the way up and down, try going halfway up and down or vice versa. You don't need to replace all your reps like this, but changing your range of motion will also change how the muscles fire and how you feel the exercise. For example, do 8 full squats followed by 8 small, pulsing squats that only come halfway up.
- Change your resistance. Do a dumbbell curl with a resistance band or try a pushup with a medicine ball. A different type of resistance can make a huge difference in how an exercise feels.
- Add a balance challenge. Try squats or upper body exercises while standing on a BOSU Balance Trainer, or do some of your exercises while standing on one leg (like this one-legged deadlift). You'll change the focus of the exercise and make it more interesting.
How do you change your workouts when you get in a rut? Leave a comment and give us some more great ideas.
More About Changing Your Workouts
Anyone who lifts weights for any length of time will eventually ask themselves a critical question: Is there something more out there for my lats than the usual dumbbell rows and lat pulldowns? The answer to this existential exercise question lies in today's exercise, the seated alternating row using a resistance band.
Now this exercise is another type of row, but it's a great compound exercise for a variety of reasons. First, because there's a rotational aspect, you'll get a surprising boost from the core, while you're working the lats. And, believe it or not, your quads and hip flexors get a bit of a workout as they work to stabilize your body in that seated straight leg position, which isn't the easiest position to maintain.
The key to this exercise is tension. You can add tension by using a heavier band, of course, but the other way to do that is in how you position the band around your feet. With this exercise, you don't loop the band under the feet, but over the tops of your feet. Each side of the band loops around each foot and you pull the handles through so that they're coming from the inside of your feet. That's about the best way I can figure to describe this so, if you can decipher those instructions, you're much smarter than I am.
Do it right: Sit with the legs straight out and wrap the band around the tops of your feet, looping it around each foot and pulling the handles through the inside of the feet. Sit tall and rotate to the right, pulling the right elbow towards the torso in a rowing motion (try to keep the lower body from moving). Release and rotate to the other side, concentrating on moving from the torso each time and squeezing the lats. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps. You may need to loop the band around your hands or grab the band closer to the feet for more tension if needed.
It may be a strange question to consider, since there are so many people out there who want to lose weight, but here goes: Does losing weight really motivate us to stay on track with diet and exercise? In other words, does weight loss motivate you to keep losing weight?
That's obviously the idea behind most diets and many of the exercise programs out there. Follow just about any of them and you'll reduce your calories. If the program is strict enough and cuts your calories low enough, you may see significant weight loss right away - although some of that loss will be water and, possibly, muscle...which is one thing we don't want to lose. It stands to reason that the faster you lose weight, the more motivated you'll be to keep going, but is that really true?
The fact is, many of us spend a lot of our time trying to lose weight, only to gain it right back, which brings me to today's question: Does losing weight really motivate us to keep going for the long term? I've seen plenty of clients lose weight, some more than 50 pounds, only to slowly gain it back at some point. Has that happened to you and, if so, why doesn't that weight loss keep you going? Vote in this week's poll and leave a comment, telling us about your experiences.
If you rent or own any kind of property, there's a very good chance you have a yard to take care of. I've learned, both from a childhood of incessant yard work to an adulthood of...well, what feels like the same thing, that taking care of a yard is a lot of work. The weeds, the grass, the mulch, the trimming and cutting and raking and whatnot. It can, quite literally, be back breaking.
It's tough to really prepare your body for gardening without actually gardening, but what you can do is take some precautions to save your body, your back and your very soul:
- Ease into it by doing a little at a time and giving yourself plenty of breaks. This is something almost none of my gardening clients do and something they often regret, although a day spent digging holes is a great excuse for a massage. Or, do what my neighbors do and make your kids do all the work.
- Protect your back - The single most important thing you can do for yourself is to treat your back like it's the only thing holding you up...which it sort of is. That means, every time you want to pick something up from the ground, you must squat. This is hard to do but, if you practice, and you have a trainer who constantly nags you about it on a weekly basis, it can be done.
- Treat your yard work like a workout - When you exercise, you warm up, you hydrate, you stretch. If you're doing a long workout, you take breaks. Do the same thing when you're working in the yard, setting an alarm for breaks if necessary.
- Get and stay strong - Your body will be able to do so much more if you lift weights and exercise on a regular basis. Some good options:
And now it's your turn. Is yard work a big part of your warm weather activity each year? How do you protect your body and still get things done? Leave a comment and tell us about how you get through gardening season.
The weather is still a little iffy around the country, but I know one thing is coming. One thing that makes the parking lot at my gym so full, I can't find a parking space. One thing that makes shopping at the local mall a contact sport. One thing that, depending on the state of your body, can make you laugh or cry. Or craugh, which is a combination of laughing and crying and, if you've ever done that, you know it isn't pretty.
That one thing? Summer. As many of us frantically try to squeeze in all those workouts we've skipped in the past few weeks, the question arises: Is there still time to make a difference? With official summer just 37 days away, there's still plenty of time to get ourselves in shape. Can we work miracles in 37 days? Not unless we go the unhealthy route and do things like skip meals, starve ourselves or do a crazy amount of exercise.
So, where do you start? One place is with our Summer Shape-Up Guide, which we debuted last year. This is a great place to start for just about any goal you can think of: Boosting Your Metabolism, Eating Low Carb, or Losing Weight.
Another option is to think about what you'll be doing in the coming weeks and focus on workouts that strengthen your body for those activities. For example, if you're a golfer, you'll want to practice Golf Warm Up Exercises and strengthen your golfy muscles with a Golf Strength Training Workout.
If you're into gardening or yardwork, you'll want to strengthen your entire body with a focus on core, flexibility and endurance. Try these workouts: Core Strengthen and Stretch, Outdoor Circuit Workout and Basic Total Body Strength.
Whatever you do, go easy on yourself until your body gets used to all this extra activity. And be sure to leave a comment telling us your plans. How are you getting ready for summer? Are there any workouts you're doing in particular? Tell us about it!
The exercise ball is probably one of my favorite pieces of fitness equipment and not just because it makes fart-like noises if you sit on it and do hip circles (which makes all my clients laugh, even the ones who don't have a juvenile sense of humor like me). I love it's versatility, more than anything. It's amazing how many exercises you can do and how many muscle groups you can target with something that costs less than $50.
That said, if you've been using an exercise ball for awhile, you may be ready for new and more challenging moves. I've just updated one of my favorite workouts, this Advanced Ball Workout. As the name suggests, these are advanced moves that challenge everything - The abs, back, arms and lower body. These moves also target muscular endurance, core strength and will test your balance in a whole new way.
If you're new to the ball, I also have a Beginner Ball Workout that includes simple moves to get you used to the ball and, for intermediate exercisers, check out the Core Workout for those of you who are familiar with the ball but aren't quite ready for the advanced exercises.
And now it's your turn. What's your favorite exercise on the ball? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
And now it's time for my favorite blog post of the year: What song title best describes your exercise attitude these days?
Music is always an important part of our lives, especially for those of us who exercise. So, thinking about where you are in your exercise life right now, how are you feeling about things? Is the new season giving you a boost? Have you turned a corner with your workouts and feel more confident about your ability to stick with it? Or are you struggling a bit as the school year winds down? Tell us what's going on with you lately.
Vote in this week's poll telling us what song title describes your current exercise attitude.
Whenever my clients complain about the exercises I encourage them to do (...that's encourage, not force, no matter what they tell you), I blame my mother. It's my mother's fault that my active childhood paved the way to a fitness career that now allows me to torture others to my heart's content. So, if you're ever doing one of my workouts or trying one of my crazy exercises, don't waste your whispered curses on me, blame my mother. She can take it...trust me.
Love you, mom.
With Mother's Day coming up, we're all thinking of how we can thank our moms for all their awesomeness. Flowers, candy, breakfast in bed...those are all good ideas, but you might want to think about something fitness or health related, if she's into that. Maybe she'd like a new MP3 player, workout music, a heart rate monitor, new workout duds or, my personal favorite, a nice, long post-workout massage. Not every woman would be thrilled with this type of gift, so always tread carefully.
I've posted some ideas below, if you're looking for gift ideas, and I'd love to hear about your mom. What's she like and how did she help you stay healthy and fit? What did she teach you that you still use today? Would you ever give your mother a fitness-related gift? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
If I had to put together the ingredients we need to find success, whether that success is losing weight, creating an exercise habit we can actually live with or just learning how to accept our bodies, I would probably include a few mental ingredients like honesty and trust, forgiveness and discipline.
However, those are things we have to generate internally and there are times we need to shore up that internal strength to keep going. One way to do that is to find that encouragement, that inspiration outside of ourselves and I've found that there's no better place for that than right here with my readers. Over the years, my readers have written some amazing things in their comments...things that have stayed with me and inspired me. Things I've blatantly stolen for article ideas, client encouragement and self-encouragement. Today, I'd like to highlight some of my favorite reader comments and thank those readers for sharing their wisdom and insight.
lazermario's simple, yet powerful mantra: "My body is okay enough for today. Today I can do (insert good lifestyle choice) to make my body even better tomorrow." (Exercise Lesson of the Week: Give Yourself Time to Turn the Corner)
Deeds sharing a hard truth about losing weight: "I'm approaching 50 and I now weigh around 145 - 148...It took work to lose weight a few years ago - daily exercise, watching what I eat and I am a FOODIE for sure. Barring a true medical issue, losing weight and maintaining the loss, especially later in life, takes a LOT of discipline. If you want it bad enough, you DO IT. It is calories in vs. calories out (exercise/activity)." (Fit Question: Are We Fooling Ourselves About Our Weight?)
Sharon coming to terms with an injury and learning how to keep going: "I've had 2 major surgeries in 14 months, a knee replacement and a tendon re-attachment. I am very frustrated. I haven't walked in four weeks. But I have started physical therapy. I'm 55 years old and I love working out and I need to work out to keep in shape. Reality says that I have to go slow and that's not what I want to do. But I do not want to be back here again! So slow & steady. I do want to be the best 55 year old Sharon that I can be." (Lesson of the Week: Meet Your Body Where It Is)
Scout offering advice and words of encouragement for people having trouble losing weight: "If you are having trouble losing weight, you might want to have your thyroid checked. When I was having difficulty losing weight, I kept a food journal for a while. I realized that my portions were just too large for my current weight (I was on a plateau). I reduced portion sizes and increased the intensity of my workouts a couple days a week. The weight loss was still slow, but it worked. Don't give up. You can do it, I swear!" (Fit Question: Are We Fooling Ourselves About Our Weight? )
Loring with advice about getting back on track with exercise: "I've found that I have to change my expectations...I can't just jump right into the exercises I used to do, and I've also gotten out of the routine. Sometimes my best strategy is to just do ANY exercise to get me back into the exercise routine..." (Getting Back to Exercise)
Lydia discussing her experience with depression and offering insight into how she's gotten through depressive episodes: "When I was in my last 'black hole' about 9 years ago, my doctor insisted I walk on a regular basis to help alleviate the symptoms. In addition to going thru the questions you mentioned, I set extremely small goals, such as 'I'll just walk down this one sidewalk and back'. When I did it, it was such a sense of accomplishment, not measured by distance, but measured by 'the black hole didn't win.' In the 9 years since, exercise has become an integral part in staving off another episode." (Exercise and Depression)
lazermario's advice about dealing with depression: "For me, when experiencing intense depression, with exercise (and pretty much all other activities that seem to require motivation), I find that P.A.R.T. is a nice acronym to remember....Put more basically, allowing yourself (Permission) to feel as you do (Admission) can help to let go of (Release) unpleasant conflicting feelings (Tension)....When you feel like you're not whole, give yourself PART." (Exercise and Depression)
It's funny how the right word at the right time can really make a difference in someone's life. By leaving your comments and sharing your experiences, you're doing just that and I thank you for it.
Now, let's get more inspiration shall we? How about sharing any words of wisdom you've heard, read, seen, etc. that have made a difference in your exercise life. Leave a comment and tell us what, or who, inspires you.
I've never actually seen someone fall asleep while working out on a cardio machine, but I have seen the signs of an impending comatose state: Glassy eyes, robotic movements and the thousand-yard-stare of a battle weary exerciser. One can only pedal, walk, run or climb to nowhwere so many times before one's mind implodes.
This time of year, machine workouts can be even harder to stomach since many of us are eager to go outside to exercise. The weather? Doesn't always cooperate with that intention and that's where these boredom buster workouts come in. These workouts don't necessarily change the fact that you're on a treadmill, but they can make treadmill workouts a little less dreadful:
- Boredom Buster Treadmill Interval Workout - 30 Minutes
- Boredom Buster Treadmill Interval Workout - 45 Minutes
- Boredom Buster Treadmill Interval Workout - 50 Minutes
- Boredom Buster Cardio Medley Workout
What about you? How do you make cardio machine workouts less boring? Leave a comment and tell us about all your tricks.
We can always find reasons to skip our workouts and, sometimes, there are very good reasons. I'm thinking of a client who mentioned having to miss her workout because she had to help her cat deliver her babies all night long. I'm aware that, most of the time, cats don't really need our help to have babies...I just think kittens are so awesome, they probably should take priority over exercise.
There are other times it's better not to exercise but, when it comes right down to it, most of our reasons are really more like excuses. Now I'm thinking of another client who, in answer my usual question ("Did you do your workouts this week?") said, "There are so many other things to do...I just never got around to it."
Now, she had a lot of important things to do - Taking her mom to the doctor, for example - But when she mentioned the amount of time she spent watching a Dancing With the Stars marathon, I had to remind her that watching TV, no matter how awesome the show is, is not a good excuse to miss exercise (like, say, waiting for kittens to be born).
In her case, it was more that she wasn't setting a specific time to exercise and then committing to that time. For some of us, it's the feeling that we're just too busy to exercise, but is that really true? Do people who exercise have more time than others or do they just work harder at making time to workout?
What about you? Are you an exercise procrastinator? What do you do instead of your workouts? Vote in this week's poll and leave a comment telling us what you do when you don't exercise.