A Week of Reminders

So after a summer of sporadic workouts and more unhealthy meals than healthy ones, I spent the past week getting back to the ‘old me.’ The me who chooses to run or walk to the gym rather than driving, the me who looks past the diet coke and refills her water bottle, the me who would rather sweat from a workout than sitting in the sun, the me who chose a salad over pizza for lunch.

Was it easy? I’m not going to lie…at times it was pretty difficult. But was it worth it? Without a doubt!

Let me share with you some of the things I was reminded of this week…

Monday

I was reminded of:

  • How nice it was to have the kiddos back in school and the time to get to the gym.
  • How silly I think I look when I kickbox.
  • How exhausted my legs can get from a series of squats against a wall with an exercise ball.
  • How important it is to fuel after a tough workout.

Tuesday

I was reminded of:

  • How difficult it is to run in the sweltering heat.
  • How much I missed Pilates, and how much my core strength has depleted since I stopped. 
  • How effective exercise can be in reducing stress.
  • How it is possible to resist over-eating even when attending a shrimp boil with friends.

Wednesday

I was reminded of:

  • How much progress I had lost in both endurance and strength.
  • How much I hate spin class but how it is a great cardio workout.
  • How sore muscles can get and how good soaking in an Epsom salt bath can feel.
  • How important it is to accompany your spouse to the gym (even if it’s only to walk while they workout).
  • How much better I sleep when I exercise.

Thursday

I was reminded of:

  • How important it is to take a day of rest.
  • How hard it is to choose a salad over pizza for lunch.
  • How important it is to walk to a destination if possible.

Friday

I was reminded of:

  • How important it is to still workout even when you are on vacation.
  • How hard it is to stick to speed work on the dreadmill, oh, I mean treadmill but how good it feels to stick to my workout plan.
  • How much of an appetite can be worked up after doing said speed work on the treadmill.

Saturday

I was reminded of:

  • How good it feels to kick the weekend off with a morning workout.
  • How much I appreciated making and extra large salad the night before so I could easily fill my bowl for lunch.
  • How important it is to set weekly goals and stick to them.
  • How good it feels to follow through and accomplish goals.
  • How good it feels to see the numbers go down on the scale.

I was reminded of a lot of great things this week. But most of all I was reminded of how good it feels to be getting back to the ‘old me,’ the healthier me, the stronger me, the happier me.

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Caffeine-Driven Workouts

For some caffeinated beverages are the only way to get going and stay moving throughout the day. Believe me, there are times that a caffeine jolt is the only thing that gets me going for my early morning training sessions (which also tells me I need examine my bedtime and get more sleep!).

Some studies have even suggested that the use of caffeine prior to a workout may have positive effects on your body during exercise. These studies claim that when it comes to exercise, caffeine:

  • Delays fatigue
  • Slows the breakdown of muscle glycogen, which means your body has more fuel to keep going
  • Enhances endurance
  • Keeps you more alert
  • Can reduce muscle pain during exercise
  • May lower perceived exertion, making exercise feel more comfortable

While those results may be true, caffeine is a stimulant so it has the potential to have adverse effects on a workout and as a trainer I can tell you that I see the negative far more often than I see positive results from a caffeinated-driven workout including:

  • Stomach upset
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Increased anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

Any of the effects listed above results in a less than par workout. If I have a client who is nauseous, trembling or complaining of a headache it’s my responsibility to immediately put the breaks on our workout and determine if they are well enough to continue. In more cases than not, I often need to modify the intensity of the workout and we end up taking it easy for the reminder of the session. So rather than experiencing enhanced performance from the caffeine it results in the client getting less from their workout.

In my opinion if you are looking to get the most out of your workouts hydrate with water or a sports drink prior to exercise and reserve that caffeinated drink for an early morning kick-start if you need it.

Something is Better Than Nothing

When I was strictly a stay-at-home mom I was able to carve out plenty of time for my workouts. I took full advantage of the time the kiddos were napping or at school. When the weather got warmer I moved my workouts outdoors while they played in the backyard.

It wasn’t until everyone went to school and I went back to work that I had a true understanding for the challenges of fitting in a workout along with everything else. Between my training sessions, office responsibilities and mom and wife duties I found myself missing workouts more and more often.

I came to the realization that I had to shift my approach to working out. I no longer had the freedom for extended sessions, but what I did have was smaller chunks of time throughout the day.

I began maximizing the smaller chunks of time by increasing the intensity of my exercises. For strength training I increased the weight and dropped my repetitions and sets. When possible I combined legs and arms to get the most from the amount of time I had to spend. When it comes to cardio I’ve started running intervals, meaning I increase and decrease my pace throughout my run.

By taking advantage of smaller chunks of time I was able to get my workouts back on track. The lesson I take from this experience that I want to share with you is this:

Something truly is better than nothing. Adapt your exercise program to make the most of the time you DO have.

On the days I’m fortunate enough to have the time for a longer workout I take full advantage of that time and put in a long run or a full body strength-training workout.

Take a look at your schedule for the next week and set appointments with yourself for workouts. Even if you only have time for 20-minute sessions make exercise a priority and you will feel the difference.

Got the Winter Blues?

Much of our country has been blasted this winter with storms and for many that brings about cabin fever and a longing for warmer temps.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was plagued with the winter blues. The thought of winter and snow put me in a serious funk.

I’m thankful to say that last year I successfully traded my winter blues for rosy wind and sun kissed cheeks. Between learning to snowboard and ice skating and sledding with my kids I find myself watching the weather reports and hoping that the big snow hits us.

Snowboarding has come with its bumps and many bruises but for me there is nothing like breathing in crisp winter air and challenging my mind and body in completely new ways. It can be challenging to exercise outdoors in the winter and snowboarding has been the perfect answer for me.

It’s definitely taken time but you have to start somewhere. Last year I started the day out with about 3 extremely hard falls which left me fearful of taking another one so I spent the entire day “toeside” facing the top of the hill (compared to what Colorado has – believe me, it was just a hill!). I can’t imagine how ridiculous I looked to others but I was determined to stay out there.

With each time we went snowboarding things got a little easier, the falls were fewer and the soreness and bruising was definitely less. I’m happy to say a year later I have tackled turns and my fear of speed is slowly diminishing as well.

I share my snowboarding experience with you because I want you to be encouraged to get out and try something new. But if you’re hesitant to take on an outdoor challenge I encourage you to revisit an activity from your youth.

Our kiddos are finally old enough that an afternoon of sledding or ice skating are great family activities.

The girls and I all got ice skates for Christmas and have had some great times learning how to navigate on the ice. While I can’t say ice skating is a vigorous activity for the pace we move at, it’s a way to get active and build memories with my daughters.

While ice skating isn’t appealing to the boys they are masters at cutting paths for sledding and finding the fastest way to the bottom. Inevitably we end up with a few ramps on some of the paths to make it a little more exciting. The ride to the bottom of the hill is always full of smiles and laughter and the trek back to the top is a great workout in itself. If I’m looking for an extra challenge I take a run up the hill instead of just walking.

So if you’re feeling trapped and sluggish this winter I encourage you to get out and do something fun. It may not serve as a substitute for your workout but I can assure you that just getting active will help you to begin to shed the winter blues. It’s worked for me!

Not Enough Time

How many times have you used “not enough time” as an excuse for not working out?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m guilty of using that excuse myself. But the thing we all need to remember is that even if you just have 10 minutes, that’s better than skipping it all together.

For some reason most people have it in their head that a workout has to be 30 – 60 minutes to make any difference. The fact is ANY amount of time you can dedicate to improving your strength, cardio health and flexibility is not wasted.

Now that I am working more hours there are days I find it hard to carve out the amount of time I used to be able to dedicate to working out.

Instead of giving up on my program all together I am learning how to adapt it. Two of my busiest days during the week I go to Pilates at lunch and then eat at my desk afterwards. It makes sure I get in my workout and I’d be taking that hour off anyway.

Last night I didn’t have much time or energy but instead of totally blowing off my workout I did 20 minutes on the treadmill. Tonight I have a lot more energy and a little more time so my workout will include some circuit training.

I want you to be encouraged to use any amount of time you have to give back to yourself in exercise. If it takes moving a tv in front of a treadmill or stationary bike so that you can still watch your favorite show and get in a workout, then do it!

Don’t let time be your excuse for not working out. It could be the time you spend working out that will actually be what keeps you healthy and mobile as time goes on.

Take the Time to Stretch

Do you take the time to stretch as part of your regular workout? Most people don’t take the time to properly stretch following their workout and as a result may have a higher probability of delayed onset muscle soreness.

The main purpose of stretching is to improve the range of motion through gently stretching the muscles and controlling the movement of your joints. Acute muscle injuries are more likely to occur if the muscle fibers surrounding tissues are inflexible. Therefore stretching may help to reduce the effect of delayed onset muscle soreness.

The most beneficial type of stretching is static stretching. This involves holding a static, or nonmoving position, where the joint is immobilized in a position that puts the desired muscles at their greatest possible length.

The key to static stretching is to hold the positions for 15 to 30 seconds to achieve optimum results. If these low-force, long-duration stretches are consistently used they can have a positive effect on reducing muscle soreness.

Personal Training with Jackie Warner

I tried a new DVD workout today: Circuit training with Jackie Warner. Overall it’s a good workout.

http://bit.ly/di0bPR

She takes you through a series of three exercises for each region of the body. All you need is a set of dumbbells and a mat.

You can pick and choose what regions you want to work or run through the entire 40-minute routine.

If you are a beginner I would recommend that you not worry about keeping up with the pace of the exercises but rather concentrate on your form. As you get stronger and used to the exercises you will be able to increase your pace.

My one criticism is that the stretching portion of the video following the workout is far too short. The stretches aren’t held nearly long enough for the maximum benefit. I would recommend doing additional stretching on your own after completing the DVD.