Monthly Archives: April 2017

3 Ways to Exercise on a Time Budget

 

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It’s mostly obvious how getting in shape can be hard on your wallet. Trainers, gym memberships, classes, and equipment can add up monetarily, but what seems to be an even bigger struggle for most people is the toll it take on their time.
Round trip travel time: 30 minutes (if you’re lucky)
Cardio: 30 minutes (a quick jog)
Weights: 40 minutes (for maybe 3-4 exercises)
Summer body: priceless, but you’re already budgeting almost 2 hours to exercise alone, if you add in stretching, warming up, or getting caught in traffic. Add this up to 4-6 days/week and it can start to interfere with other items on your to-do list. While this may not be an issue for everyone (I actually have the luxury of dedicating many hours a week to exercise), it doesn’t necessarily work for those on more of a time crunch. The good news is, it is totally possible to get a highly effective, totally awesome work out in in 20-60 minutes, depending on your abilities.

Step 1: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This is a great way to work up a good sweat and possibly build some muscle if you add in some resistence intervals. The great thing about HIIT is it can be done in a minimal amount of time with no equipment at all ( great for busy moms, travelling, or other space/time restrictive situations). To throw something together, find a challenging work/rest interval, 4 or 5 exercises that get your heart rate up, and do a few rounds, performing each exercise as har as you can till the rest interval.
Sample workout:
30 seconds work/30 seconds rest, 5 rounds of burpees, jump squats, mountain climbers and high knees. 20 minutes total, great conditioning (if working in your target heart rate), and equipment-free.

Step 2: Combine weights and cardio
This is a great method for when you can get to a gym, but don’t have a lot of time. Spending tons of time doing cardio and weight individually can be helpful (when programmed correctly), but isn’t the most efficient way to spend your gym time. To structure a workout like this, similar to HIIT, find a challenging interval or time block (every minute on the minute, as many rounds as possible, X rounds for time) and a mix of exercises that incorporate resistance and cardio. It may be helpful (and is strongly recommended if you are inexperienced with exercise programming) to have a trainer help you in this department.
Sample workout:
3 rounds for time of 10 push press, 400 m sprint, 10 front squats, 20 burpees, 25 kettlebell swings

Step 3: Superset
A superset is a pair of exercises performed back to back that work opposing muscle groups. These are great for finishing up a workout after your main strength or conditioning segment because you perform two exercises in about the same amount of time as it would usually take you to perform one. To structure a few supersets, pick a pair of exercises that work opposing muscle groups (example: biceps and triceps, quads and hamstrings, abs and back) and perform one exercise immediately followed by the other. Rest for a minute or two, then repeat your set another time or two.
Sample workout:
10 dumbbell curls + 12 tricep extension
15 goblet squats + 12-15 hamstring curls
10 hanging leg raise + 15 back extension

Good luck and happy exercising!

Why the “Body Positivity” movement might not be for you

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I’ve got a little beef with the way the body positive idea has been moving lately. The premise of the movement is definitely one I can agree with; your body is a gift. It helps you do all the things you need to do to survive and it helps you live out your wildest dreams. It’s the console for your soul, the deepest thoughts, traits and emotions that make up your very essence. That is something that should be respected, regardless of how it looks or measures up to society’s ideals. However, this is not an excuse to become complacent in your poor health, bad habits, and less appealing personality/behavior flaws. You see, the body positive movement seems to portray a message of, a) being content with where you are (physically/aesthetically), b) all bodies are beautiful, c) health comes in all shapes and sizes. These are all true to an extent, but not quite to the extent they’re being taken to.

Before you grab a pitchfork and accuse me of fat shaming (don’t even get me started on the whole “shaming” thing), let me assert that I do not hate those who are overweight, think they are disgusting slobs, or feel that they are lazy. On the contrary, I think those who may have let themselves go a little have often done so due to much more important priorities. I can respect that. Things happen, and there’s plenty of excuses for letting your health slip to the wayside. But that doesn’t mean it needs to stay there. This brings me to point A of the BPM (body positive movement): Being content where you are. If you are truly happy being overweight, go for it. Live your life. But don’t proclaim it to be a healthy lifestyle. Acknowledge the health risks that come with the lifestyle and own up to it. Realize that although this floats your boat, you are still at a higher risk for heart disease, certain types of cancer, osteoporosis, etc. If you are not happy being overweight/obese or are not willing to accept the accompanying health risks, the worst thing you can be is content with where you are! Nothing changes from staying in your comfort zone. Love and appreciate your body for the vessel it is and treat it like you respect it. Rather than focusing on being confident with where you are, be confident with where you are going. It’s all about the direction you’re headed. This is not to say that you should hate yourself, talk down to yourself, or “beat” your body into submission. Don’t swing the pendulum that far, that’s not what I’m saying. Again, respect your body and treat it like you would a loved one.

Point B. All bodies are beautiful. One, it annoys me that the aesthetic condition of one’s body is even part of accepting who you are as a person. A beautiful soul should be the priority, not the body. Two, this is touchy, I know, but let’s not pretend that all bodies are beautiful all the time. Example of my thinking: I am pregnant. I am pale, dis-proportioned, and chunky. It’s not cute, pretty, or beautiful…but it’s ok! I’m not unwilling to acknowledge that this is not an attractive phase of my life. Our bodies may not be beautiful all the time, but they all have the potential to be. Additionally, and most importantly, I believe a lot of beauty comes from the inside out. Often times, unfortunate as it is, those who feel insecure, hate themselves, are negative or cruel to others, or are otherwise not taking adequate care of themselves reflect this inner ugliness on the outside. However, confidence, health and positivity carries with it a glow that can enhance beauty, regardless of what you might weigh. Though the cellulite, rolls, pale skin, and extra jiggle may not be aesthetically appealing, a beautiful and truly healthy (physically and emotionally) inside will make you a wholesome, attractive influence. Again, focus on the inside. A body may not be beautiful, and it doesn’t have to be.

Point C (if you’re not so offended beyond belief yet): health comes in all shapes and sizes. False. Health may not display itself in one specific shape or size, but that doesn’t mean your shape or size is necessarily healthy. Be honest with yourself. If your body fat percentage, BMI, body circumference measurements, or weight are too high or low for your age and height, then you are not healthy. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, trouble getting up and down stairs, constant low energy levels, and lack of balance in your life, you are not healthy. The point is, don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because you’re thin you’re in good shape and don’t write off being overweight because you’ve got a clean diet. Recognize where you need to improve. Commit yourself to regular challenging exercise, a balanced, calorically appropriate diet rooted in nutrient-dense whole foods and a lifetime of consistency and honesty in these things. Your body will shape itself as time goes by and will display health in your unique form.

If you are in an unhealthy state, the BPM may tell you what you want to hear, but it may not be the mindset you currently need to adopt. Rather, love your body for the machine it is (not the way it looks) and develop and shape it with love and respect. This probably means making some major changes to your lifestyle; don’t just accept where you are, aim to improve your shortcomings! Be confident in the direction you’re going. Recognize that your soul is beautiful, even if your body might not be at the moment. Side note: Maybe your soul isn’t so pretty right now either. If this is the case, seek the help you need, make improvements, and don’t settle for an ugly inside. Work honestly and consistently until your body does reflect the beauty you have on the inside by shaping into it’s unique and healthy form. Be proud of your progress and every improvement you make, no matter how insignificant it may seem! If you are in a physically healthy state and find yourself becoming perfectionistic, unsatisfied no matter what you do or achieve, or failing to see yourself in a positive light even though your body reflects a healthy lifestyle, then yes. This movement is for you! You might not have the exact shape you want, but you are healthy. You are beautiful (in the physical sense, and hopefully the existential one). ***Above all else, to everyone out there, you have intrinsic worth and you are enough.***

Navigating the “No-Man’s Land” Between Motivation and Habit

After a Friday night food bender, you decide Monday will begin you health and fitness journey. You find a few workouts you’re going to do, join a gym, get some new clothes and compile a fantastic list of superfood ingredients for your new clean eating diet. You’re optimistic, excited and maybe a little nervous for this next step. Your dream body is in mind and you are 100% committed…for about 2 weeks (or maybe only till next Friday). Your diet is probably the first thing to slacken, followed by a drop in exercise intensity, and then perhaps exercise altogether.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, you’re one of the millions of us caught in what I call the “motivation cycle.” You’re committed, dedicated and inspired for a short while. Your intentions are good, and your excitement is genuine, but after the fitness honeymoon phase, your motivations wanes, which reflects in your actions. Motivation is a great tool; it gets you started on the path to self-improvement. It gets you excited about the possibilities for your future. That’s great! You need that, but you can’t rely on it to get you all the way to habit development.

When something is a habit, it’s part of your routine. You don’t think about it, you just do it. It’s assumed that it’ll be part of your day like brushing your teeth, or checking your Facebook. Granted, working out isn’t a habit like biting your nails. It’s a lifestyle, really. It takes time and planning, but it can become something you work into your day without having to go to great lengths to do so. You may not always want to, in fact, you’ll have days where you’d rather be forced to binge watch Teletubbies while buried up to your neck in an active anthill. However, you’ll make time to do it because that’s just how you live. But how do you get to this point from the initial motivation phase?

The short answer is time, consistency, and grit. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. I say it takes way longer. This is more than a habit. This is lifestyle overhaul. It takes months to get started, years to find your rhythm, and a lifetime to maintain and perfect. You need to have a firm understanding of this before you can work through the motivation phase and break into the habit phase. A “21 day fix” or “6 week challenge” may not be enough to get you there. It can get you started, but where do you go after that? Have you chosen to commit to this kind of regimen for the rest of your life? Do you truly believe that? Everyone will be different, but here are my personal tips for making the jump from fitness honeymoon to fitness for life:

  1. Find something you love to do. Most people I’m aware of think they hate exercise. Most of the time, that’s not true. They hate what they’re doing to get exercise. Try new things. Be willing to learn new things and step outside your comfort zone. It may end up changing your life. This can be anything that gets you active: a sport, cardio, weight training, zumba, yoga, hiking, active hobbies…seriously anything! Doing something you enjoy will keep you interested longer and most likely provide you with a supportive network. It’ll be something that doesn’t always feel like a chore, but rather a way to let loose, clear your head and provide needed “me time.”
  2. Be accountable. This is more loaded than it sounds, and probably the best way to get over the motivation hump. Option 1: be accountable to others. Hire a trainer, find a workout buddy, start an instagram where those you know and love can follow your journey, join a team or workout class. Somehow find a way to work people into your circle who will rely on you to fulfill a responsibility of some sort. Option 2: be accountable to yourself. This goes beyond asking youself “Did I work out today?” This should also be done regardless of whether or not you choose option 1. Set goals (S.M.A.R.T. goals!), track your workouts and meals, take progress photos and body measurements, and reward yourself appropriately as you reach certain milestones. Accountability is crucial, so develop this skill early on to keep you working through difficult times.
  3. Do something every day. You don’t have to leave yourself dead on the ground after every single workout; this is actually a good way to burn out fast and potentially injure yourself. You won’t want to work out every day. You’ll have situations where you lack time, energy, equipment, or direction. Unless you are sick or injured, these are probably the days you will need to do something most. This trains your will to be stronger than your weakness. This also trains your mindset to look at cans instead of can’t, to focus on abilities and not excuses. Your workout may be lackluster, short, or deviate from your plan, but you will have achieved one of those small, consistent efforts that lead to lasting change.
  4. Focus on health, let everything else fall into place. You should have clearly defined goals, for sure. However, focusing too much on these as you do your day-to-day work can lead to feeling overwhelmed or stagnant. This in turn can lead to a lull in motivation and unwillingness to persue a lifestyle change. A watched pot never boils. A watched body fat percentage never drops. A watched 1 rep max never increases. Watched abdominals never turn into a six pack. Focus on your health, habits, accountability, and workout quality and all your specific goals will fall into place. Trust the process and give it time.
  5. Be strict in your goals and flexible in your methods. Be fearless and relentless in pursuit of what you want, but don’t let the minutiae crowd out your ability to live your life. Things are hardly ever constant. You’ll face obstacles in a variety of forms and flexibility allows you to work around them. Accept that there may be some deviance from your plan, but have Plans B, C, and D to fall back on. If things don’t go the way you planned during a workout, accept where you are and do all you can in that moment. If other weaknesses arise, find ways to strengthen them as you go. Have your goal, but realize in advance that there are multiple roads to get there.

Again, ultimately the change comes through time and consistency. I often get told, “I don’t know how you do it.” I’m several years into my journey. It’s been a learning process and had its ups and downs. Give yourself the chance to get there. Push through the times of struggle. Be gentle with yourself, but not lazy in your expectations. It can be done! Go you!

Oh, and let me know how I can help! This is my job. I’m pretty good at it. 😉