Can One Hour Change Your Life? I think so.

I hear time and time again that people don’t have time to exercise. And for a while, I even made myself too busy for my own workouts.

During the time that I couldn’t make time for myself I found the days to actually be longer.

The days were longer because I couldn’t escape the feeling of disappointment for not following the advice that I give out over and over; “You need to make time for yourself.”

And the days were longer because I didn’t have any relief from the pressures of life.

For me, exercise is therapy.

exercise keeps me sane

It’s an hour of my day that I don’t have to think but just do.

As a working mom of three children I feel like I spent more hours than not telling other people what to do. I’ve even incorporated the word “please” in my fitness classes just to relieve the feeling of being a drill sergeant. It can be exhausting being ‘bossy.’ So for me, it is a relief to have someone else tell me what to do.

 

It’s an hour when my stress is shed through every bead of sweat.

Sure, I can talk to you about the endorphins that are released when you workout, but I’m pretty sure no one is interested in a science lesson. So instead, let’s talk about how good it feels to punch a heavy bag when you are angry because of bad things happening to good people in your life. Or the feeling you get when you are breathing hard and you feel like with each breath you are taking in new life and releasing the things that are weighing you down. During my workouts I get to release every thing that is closing in on me and for that hour those stresses have no hold over me.

It’s an hour when I prove to myself how strong I am and what I am capable of.

I say time and time again in my classes, ‘Set your intention for this workout. One challenge I have for all of you is to not quit! Slow your pace or lower the weights you are using but don’t stop.’ I take that same philosophy into my own workouts. It’s all about going big and owning the moment. I enjoy proving to myself that I can push through the discomfort and fatigue to dig deep. We are all capable of so much more than we realize and nothing feels better than learning that about yourself.

So the next time you tell yourself you don’t have time for exercise consider the benefits. Not only are you improving your health, you have a chance to escape reality and the stresses of life and an opportunity to dig deep and learn more about yourself.

 

5 Ways to Make Sure You Include ‘Me’ Time in Your Back to School Schedule

As a mom of three it’s always a bit of a bummer to see summer come to a close. I’m reminded of the fun we had and of how quickly another year has passed.

And just when I start to feel a bit overwhelmed by the ‘routine’ of everything – making lunches, checking homework, organizing carpool schedules…I’m reminded of how much better our family functions when we are in a routine.

We eat better, we sleep better and we have less time for ‘excuses.’

For our family routine means that I plan for lunches and dinners more deliberately; bedtimes and waking times are consistent; and sticking to our schedules is crucial to keeping everyone on track with their commitments.

One major commitment of mine that gets off track during the summer is getting in my own workouts. Now I know what you might be thinking, “Why would you need an additional workout when teaching multiple classes a week?”

I need my own workouts because when I teach class I am doing just that – teaching. While I may be performing the same moves, I’m also monitoring my class participants. Are they using proper form? Do they look as though they are pushing too hard or maybe not hard enough? Should I lengthen or shorten the next cardio burst? You get the idea.

Over the summer it becomes a challenge for me to stay on my personal workout routine because most of my free time to attend classes or hit the gym on my own lands right in the middle of the day. Because my time is limited with the kiddos over the summer, I put those workouts aside to hit the beach or pool, take them mini golfing and go karting or to cuddle and watch a movie on a rainy day.

And though I use all of those excuses above to not hit the gym personally, I’m still fortunate enough that my job keeps me active and these ‘excuses’ don’t take me completely off track.

In conversations with others I know how difficult it is to find that ‘me’ time. The guilt can be a little overwhelming for some and ultimately prevents them from taking time for themselves.

Don't forget your 'me' time in your back to school schedule.

Don’t forget your ‘me’ time in your back to school schedule.

My encouragement for all of you as school gets ready to start is to consider where you can fit that ‘me’ time in your schedule. Just as it’s important to keep your children on their schedules, it’s important you make yourself a priority in the routine as well.

Here are some things you can do to make sure you get ‘me’ time of your own:

  1. Schedule it – just like a child’s sports practice, be intentional about scheduling your workouts.
  2. Don’t make excuses – you don’t let your child skip out on practice because they just don’t feel like it, don’t skip out on yourself.
  3. Plan – take the time to plan meals and carpools around your ‘me’ time. If it means a crockpot meal a couple nights a week, do it. If it means carpooling with a couple other families, do it.
  4. Find something you enjoy – whether it’s a class, personal training or working out on your own, find activities that you enjoy so you will be disappointed if you have to miss it. Check out our class schedule and sign up to try your first class FREE.
  5. Communicate with your family – express to your family how much ‘me’ time means to you, they love you and they will understand.

So rather than letting the end of summer and the beginning of a school routine get you down, get EXCITED to embrace the ‘me’ time that awaits you if you just take the time to embrace it.

 

New Kind of Date Night in Lombard

I don’t know about you but when the weekend rolls around I am always looking for something fun to do. Eating out, bowling, drinks, etc. – it all kind of seems the same after a while. So that got me thinking…what can I do to start the weekend off in a fun way?

FitFridays!

FitFriday Flyer

Start your weekend out right!

Grab a friend or your significant other and join me at CustomFit on March 13th at 7:00pm for a fun partner workout. This is a great chance to burn some calories in preparation for the fun weekend ahead, all while having a good time.

The cost is just $10/person and rumor has it people are already planning to head out for a cocktail afterwards!

Space is limited so you can pre-register by emailing me or calling 574-387-1344.

Exercise as Therapy

For me, exercise is my primary stress reliever. Without it, I’m a bundle of nerves, easily aggravated and just short-tempered in general. Over the past few weeks I’ve been dealing with a pretty significant sprain in my foot. The injury has had a dramatic effect on my activity level and frankly my attitude as well. I had to learn to accept that while I might not be able to exercise to the same intensity or frequency, there were things that I could do despite the limitations from the injury.

This brought to mind a very dear friend of mine. She faithfully exercises a number of mornings a week without fail. In fact, when I first met Nancy, I was a recent college grad and had very sporadic workouts. Between my age and my metabolism I was able to maintain a reasonable weight. I remember admiring her dedication to getting up and exercising in the morning before work. I’m not much of a morning person so I couldn’t imagine (at that time) exercise being a great reason to get up early! Several years later and more miles than I would like to count that separates us, we are still great friends, and she’s still faithful to her morning workouts!

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My motivation is to get the endorphin rush and the calming feeling after a workout.

My Motivation for a Regular Workout Routine

by Nancy Neiman Flaharty

I like to do workout videos (some are still VHS!) in the privacy of my own home. Most of the videos are cardio mixed in with light weights or strengthen moves. My favorites are by Kathy Smith and Chalene Johnson. (It’s important to find an instructor you like. Some of them, who shall remain nameless, get on my last nerve.) I’ve never joined a gym and prefer it that way.

I work out pretty regularly. Mostly, I work out 4 to 5 times a week. My friends who have a hard time maintaining a regular workout routine often ask me how I am so disciplined. I don’t think of myself as that disciplined but I can see where they are coming from.

This is what I tell them: I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease when I was 23. Before that the only exercise I got was dancing all night in the clubs of Hollywood with a cocktail and cigarette in hand. But after treatment for Graves’ Disease I became hyper­anxious and suffered panic attacks. I had to take two separate doses of radioactive iodine which sent my hormones into a tizzy. One night, the anxiety was so bad I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. At the suggestion of a friend, I put in the VCR (yes! The VCR!) one of the Kathy Smith video workouts that I’d tried earlier in life and promptly stored, untouched in a cabinet for years.

I put everything I had into this 40 minute low impact workout trying to get rid of the tortuous panic and low and behold, at the end of that workout, I finally felt relaxed. It must have been the combination of the endorphins and the complete depletion of energy. Since then I have been hooked.

Unfortunately, I smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and my diet is known to contain McDonald’s, mac and cheese, and burritos on occasion, but I have been able to maintain my fitness level and weight doing these aerobic videos for the better part of 25 years.

My motivation is always to get that endorphin rush and that feeling after a workout that calms me. Plus, I always do my workouts in the morning. I have my 20 ounces of coffee and a couple cigarettes, then hit it. I know, not the best formula, but it is what I do. When I am done, I already feel like I accomplished a personal goal that day and it’s only 8 AM!


So while Nancy’s diet and smoking aren’t a prescription for clean living, she keeps her commitment to exercise. Through her regularly scheduled workout routine she is able to keep anxiety in check and her body strong.

I can’t stress the importance of finding a workout routine that works for YOU and establishing a regular workout schedule.

As Nancy said, not every workout instructor is going to mesh with your personality – and that’s okay! Find one that teaches with a style that inspires you to stay committed and work hard. Just like you wouldn’t give a friend a lame excuse to skip a coffee date, don’t let lame excuses get in the way of exercising. Put it on your calendar in ink and don’t cheat yourself by skipping it. The more exercise becomes a regular part of your daily routine the easier it will be to stick with it.

Want to get started in finding an exercise routine that works for you? Give me a call (574-387-1344) or drop me an email. Let’s talk about your likes and your dislikes and identify some possibilities.

Creating a Balanced Routine

I think it’s important for everyone to find balance in their workout routines. Incorporating a balance of strength training, cardio and stretching will give you the best results for fat burning and muscle toning.

Developing a strong cardio program can be relatively easy. While you may not care for cardio workouts, it’s not difficult to hop on a treadmill or take a spin class. These activities are sure to raise your heart rate and get you sweating. They key to a successful cardio workout is to find something you enjoy. If you hate running, don’t expect 45 minutes on a treadmill to go well.

Strength training can be a bit more challenging. If you’re not familiar with proper form there is a danger of injury so sticking to the machines is often a good starting point. Gyms often offer an orientation to the gym which includes walking you through the proper way to use the strength training equipment. If this isn’t available, or you need a refresher, many machines have instructions and pictures to educate you on how to use the machine and which muscles the exercises target.

If you are interested in adopting free weights into your workouts, I highly recommend initially working with a personal trainer. A trainer can show you the proper form and help you identify the correct weight to use for the various exercises. Make sure you are facing a mirror whenever working with free weights. This will help to ensure you hold proper form and can see what adjustments need to be made.

I often like to combine cardio bursts with my strength training which how I structure the majority of my BootCamp and Cardio Sculpt classes. I select 3 – 5 strength training moves and after completing 10 – 15 reps of each exercise I ramp up my heart rate with 3 – 5 minutes of cardio intervals. To give you an example:

Repeat the following for three sets

  • Deadlift with upward row (15 reps)
  • Alternate back lunge with hammer curl (10 reps each side)
  • Squat with a shoulder press (15 reps)
  • Tricep push-ups (10)
  • Bicycle crunches (15 reps)
  • Butt kicks, high knees, squat jack, alternate front kicks and fast feet (each exercise for 30 seconds and repeat)

Many people skip stretching as the final stage of their workout and that’s a big mistake. Stretching should be at least five minutes and all stretches should be held for 20 – 30 seconds. Increased flexibility and range of motion are just a couple of the many benefits of stretching.

How do you create balance with your workouts?

I’m NOT a Morning Person

As a trainer I would talk to my clients about being realistic with setting goals. I encouraged them to examine truths about themselves that may prevent them from achieving goals. One of my favorite examples to use was the fact I am not a morning person so I purposely avoid setting exercise goals for early morning workouts to avoid failure and disappointment.

Now that I’m working my hatred for mornings is going to have to take a back seat. I feel rushed every night to try and spend time with the kiddos, run errands, make dinner, do laundry, teach classes and still get to the gym for my personal workouts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fortunate enough to have a supportive family who all pitches in around the house, but as many of us know, there can be more to do than the hours in the day will allow.

So this morning I set 3 alarms: two on my phone and one on my FitBit. My phone and FitBit both went off as scheduled at 5:00am. I silenced both alarms and pulled the covers up a little higher, all while battling with myself about the good reasons to get up and the ‘good’ excuses to stay in bed. Five minutes later my second alarm went off on my phone and the good reasons won over the ‘good’ excuses. 

Half awake, brushing my teeth, I decided my pajama sweats were good enough for the gym. I then tiptoed past our bed and looked on my sleeping husband thinking, ‘He said he was going to the gym this morning too. If he’s not getting up, maybe I should just lay back down too.’ Despite the temptation to reset my alarm and get back in bed, I swapped out my top, threw in a ponytail and searched for my gym shoes.

I couldn’t help but notice I was about the only car on the road as I headed to the gym. My thoughts returned to my husband and I wondered if he had since rose and headed to the gym as well. While still thinking fondly of my warm bed, I pulled into the lot at Patriot Boxing and I realized I wasn’t the only crazy one – there were at least 4 cars there and more following behind me.

Groggigly I explained that I had forgot my card and entered the gym. A number of the women clearly already knew each other and were chatting and laughing. Who in the world is this happy to work out at 530am?! Instead of joining in the chatter looked to my phone to check in for my Gym Pact. Now it’s not my intention to be unfriendly, but let me remind you how much I despise mornings. I thought I’d be better off saving my conversations for the cool down.

Before I knew it we were running laps for a warm-up and the groggy feeling started to lift. My steps got a bit lighter, my pace got a bit faster and before I knew it the warm-up was over and the true workout began. I’ll admit, there were a couple times throughout the workout I checked the clock and wondered what in the world was a non-morning person doing at the gym so early. But as I worked to catch my breath and the sweat rolled off me, I couldn’t help but think this was a pretty good way to start my day. 

My early morning boot camp helped me to:

  • Complete a solid hour of cardio and resistance training
  • Achieve over 4,500 steps before 7 am
  • Work the grumpy out
  • Regain an hour and a half of my evening (the time normally spent working out and driving to and from the gym)

But most importantly, early morning boot camp made me realize that not being a morning person isn’t a truth anymore, it’s now an excuse. It’s an excuse that is no longer going to stand in the way of me achieving my health and fitness goals. Early morning workouts are going to become the norm, and rather than being the grumpy lady looking at my phone, I’m going to engage in the pre-workout conversation and laughter. 

Do you have any ‘truths’ that may simply be excuses holding you back from achieving your goals?

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No Such Thing as a ‘Good’ Excuse

Ever skipped out on your workout because you had a ‘good’ excuse?

I’ve learned that for me there’s no such thing as a ‘good’ excuse. I need routine and momentum to keep me on track for my goals. Missing just one planned workout day can completely derail me and my focus. Every day I make an excuse it gets easier and easier to tell myself, “Tomorrow.”

I’ve had a ton of ‘good’ excuses over the years:

  • It’s an extremely busy time at work
  • The kids have been sick and I don’t want to wear myself down
  • We have guests coming this weekend that I need to prepare for
  • I’m too sore from my previous workout
  • I’ll get back to a routine once we move

On any given day every single one of us can think of a ‘good’ excuse for not exercising. But it’s those good excuses that ultimately result in lost strength and endurance and often weight gain.

Skipping just one day, even if it is a ‘good excuse,’ can totally derail my progress. Not only do I lose progress in strength and endurance, I lose motivation to make the right food choices. When I’m physically active I desire to fuel with good nutritious foods, when I’m lazy and inactive, nothing sounds better than pizza or a cheeseburger.

When I’m committed to my routine, ‘Tomorrow’ means no excuses, trying harder and accomplishing more. When I let ‘good’ excuses’ take over ‘Tomorrow’ means facing the reality of how ‘bad’ those ‘good’ excuses were for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I get there are days where schedules are packed. Whether it be work or duties at home there are going to be days where it is downright hard to find the time and to fight against the ‘good excuse.’ For those days I would challenge you to change up your routine. Maybe you don’t have time for an hour class at the gym, but you do have time for a 30 minute walk at lunch. Maybe you don’t have time to hit the gym to lift weights, so you take 20 minutes to do push-ups, sit ups, planks, jumping jacks, high knees, and squats in your basement.

What I hope you take away from my blog today

  • Don’t let ‘good excuses’ get in your way of reaching your goals
  • There’s no such thing as a ‘good excuse’
  • Something is always better than nothing when it comes to exercise

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Tough Days Are Good Reminders

The holidays are a great time to enjoy rich foods, tasty cocktails and late nights with family and friends. I did all of those things and enjoyed every moment of it…until the alarm went off this morning.

Could it be time already to get back to reality? Was I really ready to start my day with a green smoothie?

Now don’t get me wrong, I actually stayed on track with my workouts – I ran in a Turkey Trot and still attended my Boot Camp classes. And I didn’t overindulge ALL day long; I at least tried to keep myself in check for the majority of the day to hold on to the most calories possible for the festivities. 

But today was a great reality check for me.

Lack of Preparation

Even though I knew today was the day to start clean eating I hadn’t taken the time to go to the store to buy the things I needed. So after Boot Camp I was hungry and ready for a green smoothie but only had about half of what I needed so off to the store I went. By the time I got home I had no patience do deal with the washing and the measuring so I opted for turkey on a slice of Ezekiel bread. Was it still a good choice, sure, but not how I wanted to start the day.

Lack of Sleep

During the week I do my best to stick to a pretty normal sleep schedule. I’m definitely not a morning person so anything I can do to get going in the morning is a huge help. Over the past week I had stayed up late, gotten up early some days, slept in late on others and completely ruined my established schedule. The result: this morning was complete struggle. Between trying to encourage 3 kiddos to get their things together for school and trying to motivate myself for the shock of the cold weather and Boot Camp, the 8 hours of sleep I got the night before didn’t seem like nearly enough.

Lack of ‘Good Food’

As I said, I didn’t completely blow my diet but I did indulge in things I don’t normally eat. I can tell while I didn’t lack in the quantity of calories, I definitely lacked in the quality of calories. It’s a little difficult to accurately describe but in short, my mind doesn’t seem as sharp, and my energy level (and motivation) is clearly lacking. 

So was today rough? Yes. Could it have been avoided? Yes. Would I have changed my past week? Yes, well some things.

I think we all need a break from a strict routine but we need to be mindful of how all of those decisions will work against us when we are ready to get back on track.

I’m thankful for the lessons of my tough day and in the future I’ll:

  • Take a little bit of extra time to get my shopping done the day before
  • Enjoy a night or two of staying up a little late but stick to my sleep schedule as much as possible
  • Carefully consider what is worth indulging in rather than having a little bit of everything 

So I would encourage you to not be discouraged by choices of the past holiday but learn from them. I know I have.

As a side note: check out the veggie turkey I made.

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Focusing on the Gains not the Losses

Prior to our move I spent on average 6 hours a day, Monday through Friday teaching and training. I was at my peak condition and never felt better. It was probably the first time I can remember in my adult life where I stopped critiquing myself in the mirror. 

But it wasn’t just all about my physical appearance. It was also one of the first times that I felt like I had a good handle on dealing with stress. There is so much truth to the release of endorphins when working out. That’s not to say I never got upset, but I was much more likely to let things roll than to react to something I had no control over anyway.

I slept better, I consistently ate better, I was generally a happier and more positive person.

Now don’t get me wrong, we couldn’t be more thankful for our move and my husband’s new career. It’s been a true blessing to our entire family. But as with all changes, there is a transition period. While I was focused on getting everyone settled here I kind of lost sight of who I was and what I needed to be whole.

I joined a gym near our house but struggled to get into a consistent routine. I’d have a good week, then a bad week, a good week, then two bad weeks. I just couldn’t find a rhythm. 

I was able to keep us eating generally healthy until summer hit and then fattening BBQs and eating out were so much easier after a long day of lounging at the pool. Notice I wasn’t swimming at the pool – just lounging.

The more inactive I became the worse my sleep patterns were and while I can’t say I was stressed out, I certainly didn’t have the calm I had come to know.

All of these things contributed to my clothes fitting tighter and tighter and longer periods of examination in the mirror. I reverted back to that girl who tried on 5 different things before deciding on an outfit that I hoped would hide the imperfections I couldn’t stop staring at.

I had not only lost all of the progress I had gained physically, I had lost the confidence and the happiness that had previously defined me.

My husband had a long week of travel which left me to do some deep soul searching. It was during that week I realized it was time to find myself again.

With the kiddos back in school and our family operating on a more normal schedule it’s been much easier for me to consistently hit the gym and make healthy meals. 

I’ve discovered that while the gym I have belonged to is close and cheap, I don’t feel challenged by their classes and I’m likely to make excuses for not going. On the other hand I’ve discovered both a Boot Camp and a Boxing gym that I can’t get enough of!

The past two weeks have been a great reminder of who I was and why I loved being in the fitness industry. It feels good to have sore muscles, I like pushing myself so hard that I have to catch my breath and being drenched in sweat is the best remedy for stress or a bad mood.

The numbers on my scale haven’t really changed, and my clothes aren’t yet fitting that much different but I’m not going to focus on that – all of that will come with time. What I am choosing to focus on is that I am getting stronger and healthier with each workout and healthy meal. I will not let my return to health be defined by watching the numbers on my scale go down, I will define myself and my success by shutting down the negativity and self-criticism and replacing it with confidence and courage to keep going.

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A New Perspective on Yoga

I’ve always said the key to a successful workout plan is doing something you love. If you hate it, or simply don’t enjoy the activity you are likely to find every excuse in the book to skip the gym.

That’s how I felt about yoga. I’ve taken classes from some excellent instructors but I just never thought it was for me…until the yoga sculpt class I took yesterday. 

The class incorporated yoga poses with the use of free weights and more chaturangas than I could count! At the end of class I was a hot, sweaty, exhausted mess – and I LOVED IT!

So I think it’s important for me to share my lesson learned with you…even though you may have not liked something in the past, be daring enough to give it another try. You may find a new instructor or format can changes your whole perspective on the workout.

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