How To Vary Your Workout

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Are you getting everything into your workout that you need? Did you know that to be healthy you need to do cardio, strength training and flexibility?  You have to mix it up. it keeps your heart, lungs and muscles strong and flexible.  You need it all.

I recently finished a round of PiYo.  It’s a program I really like, but I do need to change it up after 8 weeks.  Here’s a sample of my weekly schedule.  I try to cover, cardio, strength,  and flexibility.  I have incorporated one day where I can put any workout in that I would like.  Trying something new each week keeps me motivated to keep working out.

Monday:  PiYo workout (strength, flexibility, cardio)

Tuesday:  Strength workout, concentrating on back  (there are a lot of push-ups in PiYo) and legs.

Wednesday:  Elliptical and stationary bike (cardio)

Thursday: Strength workout (a different one from Tuesday focusing on the same muscles)

Friday:  PiYo workout (strength, flexibility, cardio)

Saturday:  This is the day reserved for any new or interesting workout I would like to try.  So far, I’ve tried Turbo Fire Low HIIT 20 and an ACE stability ball workout.  They were both fun and I looked forward to them once I picked them.

Sunday:  Rest day. If I have to skip a different day during the week, I use Sunday as a make-up day.

So within 30 to 45 minutes per day, I can keep my entire body healthy and have a different workout every time I step into my home gym.

How do you vary your workouts?

Exercise, Fitness, Home Gym, personal training ,

PiYo Review

 

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About 10 weeks ago, I started a new home workout program called PiYo. I told myself I would do a review here when I had completed the program so here it is!

The Pros

  1. It starts you out slowly- The first three weeks get you started with lower intensity workouts.  These workouts are the building blocks, strengthening your muscles for the higher intensity workouts that begin to be included in week four. By week five the workouts are more intense, but your body is ready for it.  This cuts down on the muscle soreness which causes you to walk strangely, especially up and down steps!
  2. There are built in modifications- I have been working out consistently for a long time.  If this was my very first workout experience, even the low intensity workouts could have been a challenge.  Chalene Johnson planned for this and has a class member demonstrate modifications for every exercise.  You can follow the modifications until you’re ready for a little more intensity.
  3. No equipment needed-None, zero, nada. Every exercise is done with your own body weight.  This is good news for your bank account.
  4. No/low impact-If you don’t want all the joint jarring jumping in your workout, but still want the intensity, PiYo is it.
  5. Keeps you flexible and well balanced-  If you are getting older (and who isn’t?) these yoga inspired workouts will keep Father Time from robbing you of these two important body qualities.
  6. Fun-I get bored with the same old, same old.  This is something different and challenging.

The Cons

  1. Lack of upper body pulling movements- The upper body exercises have to rely on pushing movements only, mainly because there is no equipment (see pro #3). This can leave you with tight pecs and rounded shoulders.  See my post next week to see how I compensated for this.
  2. A lot of sweating when you are upside down- (downward dog position).  Highly uncomfortable.  Keep a towel handy that you can grab quickly.
  3. Hard to see the instructor when you are upside down-  Make sure you WATCH the Allign video first and then try the exercises. Watching each of the videos before you actually try them would be helpful too.

The really good thing about PiYo is there are live classes all over the country.  If you are not sure you would like this program, go to a local fitness center that offers PiYo classes and try a few.  If you like the live classes, the PiYo basic workout is a great buy.  I got mine for under $50.  I get a discount because I’m a coach, but the regular price is beween $50 and $60.  Once you have it, you can use it forever…or at least until your DVD player breaks down!

Let me know what YOU think of PiYo after you try it.

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Fitness Challenge Idea: Charity Challenge

 

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With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, I was thinking about ways to keep my fitness group motivated during holiday parties and family get-togethers.  At this time of year, I also think about giving a little extra to those charities that are important to me.  This year, I think I have found a way to blend the two together.

I’m calling it the Charity Challenge.  This would be something easy for you to do with any group you might be working with.  Here’s how it works.  We’ll be using the Fitness Challenge Point Tracker we have used in the past to assign points to the workouts we do.  For every 100 points each of us earn, we have pledged to donate one dollar to the charity of our choice.  I am playing for World Vision.  Some of the other Charities that members have chosen are The American Cancer Society, Cradle for Christianity, and Donna’s Good Things.  Some of us have also set point goals to keep us motivated.  We are going to compete in teams, even though we are donating individually.  That will give us some bragging rights at the end of the challenge!

It’s been fun to post our charities on our private Facebook Fitness group.  I’m sure it will be fun to watch the dollars accumulate too.

You could use this idea to do lots of different things.  How about donating a can of food for every 100 points? You could donate mittens or hats to decorate a giving tree.  The possibilities could be endless.  What are your ideas on how to create a Charity Fitness Challenge?

 

 

 

Fitness Challenges ,

Why do YOU Exercise?

When most people start an exercise program, the reason they give is “to lose weight”.  It’s no wonder. Our culture is obsessed with thinness and equates being thin with being happy.

If you ask someone who has made exercise and fitness a part of their lifestyle, you will get a very different answer.  Did you know that money, looks and status contribute to only 10% of our happiness?  (Idea Fitness Journal, “The Skinny on Happiness”)

A long-term exerciser will have other reasons as to why they continue to work out. They feel healthier, more relaxed or less stressed.  They have more energy, more focus, are more productive at work. They can keep up with their kids or grandchildren.  They experience a reduction in chronic pain. They are training for a future fitness event. They have made a new set of friends they enjoy.  And the list can go on.

Here’s just one example of the  reasons I exercise almost every day.  On October 18th, my oldest daughter got married.  We have been planning and preparing for this day for almost a year.  The weekend involved a trip to Pittsburgh for my side of the family.  On Saturday morning, I woke up with an overabundance of energy.  I’m not one to show my excitement on the outside.  It all builds up on the inside.  By 7 a.m. I felt like I was about to jump out of my skin.

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Thank goodness the hotel had a nice size gym.  A half hour on the elliptical and the stationary bike and I was much calmer.  Good thing..as later in the day we were stuck in a traffic jam getting back from hair and make-up and it was touch and go on the decision about an outdoor service.  Thanks to my workout, I was able to stay much calmer and really enjoy such an important day.

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So what are YOUR reasons for working out regularly?  If you  haven’t started yet, why do you want to get started? #notjustweightloss

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6 Ways to Relax

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Sometimes I’m so intent on staying healthy by working out and eating right that I end up stressing myself out.  Late evening at school running a club?  Still have to get that workout in.  Running from work to one or two activities after work?  9 p.m workout session right before bed.  Missed a workout through the week?  Schedule a workout for Saturday AND Sunday.

While it’s noble to keep a consistent workout schedule, it can also cause fatigue and injuries.  That’s not a good thing.  Lately I’ve focused on making sure I am getting some relaxation in as well as my workouts.  Here’s some ideas for you to add some relax to your life.

  1. Get some sofa time:  You don’t have to be doing something every single minute of your day.  Five or ten minutes on the sofa won’t kill you.
  2. Escape into a good book: Find one that takes you out of everyday life and into another world.  One of my favorites- The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud.
  3. Breathe: Practice deep breathing.  Inhale so your belly rises and falls rather than your chest.  Inhale slowly, hold it for just a second, then exhale slowly.  You can do this anywhere.  Instant relaxation
  4. Watch a good movie/show: With DVR you don’t even have to carve out a huge block of time, you can watch it in small bits and bites.  Combine it with #1. Make it a treat in place of a junk food snack.
  5. Meditate: Find a quiet place, use your deep breathing from #3.  Try to slow your thoughts. Even 10 minutes a day has been shown to improve your mood and decrease anxiety.
  6. Soak in a hot tub: I saved the best for last! This is my new favorite thing to do after a workout.  Get yourself a $5 carton of epsom salts (my massage therapist says it loosens up those sore muscles). Run a hot bath, light some candles, put some yoga music on your smart phone.  I use Songza.  Set a timer and enjoy. Twenty minutes is perfect.

Now here’s the hardest part.  Give yourself permission to relax.  My flawed thought process tells me I’m not worth much it I am not being productive.  In reality, you need to recharge from time to time to improve your productivity.

Want more tips on how to relax?  Read this.

Fitness

The Shorter More Intense Workout Trend

In the last year or so , there has been a switch in the fitness world to shorter, more intense workouts.  Many of the people who joined the P90X and other extreme fitness movements got great results.  They also found that they couldn’t fit hour long workouts into their schedule six days a week for the long term. People still wanted the good results, but they wanted them in a shorter period of time.

 

Enter High Intensity Interval Training and Tabatas type workouts. After all, who doesn’t want good results in a fraction of the time, right?  The at home fitness industry has answered with workouts like T25, Turbofire and P90X3. These are great, but what if you are just starting out? You have to be careful that a more intense workout doesn’t leave you injured.

The key is starting at a lower intensity level and working your way up. If the workout calls for a burpee, for example, there are several different levels you can start at and work your way up.  Most DVD type workouts have one person demonstrating the modified version.  Stick with that until you are fit enough.  Want to put your own workout together or modify a more intense one you already have? Here are several videos I made that demonstrate body weight exercises at several different levels.  Use them to pick the intensity that’s right for you.  Then get more intense as you get more fit!

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Weight Loss; Slow is the Way to Go

 

Who hasn’t settled in to watch at least one episode of “The Biggest Loser”? We are impressed at weigh-in by the huge weight loss numbers earned by the leading contestants. We feel sorry for the poor guy or girl who only lost a pound or two and stands crying on the scales.

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As much as the networks would like us to believe it, this is far from reality.  In real life, slow and steady weight loss will bring you health and success in the end.  Here’s why.

  1. Extreme weight loss actually lowers your metabolism.  Severely restricting your calories makes your body think it is starving and it slows all your metabolic processes down.  When you increase your calories (and you have to eventually), you gain the weight back.  Sometimes you even gain MORE than what you lost originally.
  2. Extreme weight loss tends to burn muscle instead of fat.  Muscle is what burns calories, so refer to number one for what will happen.
  3. Severely restricting your calories can leave you dehydrated, and fatigued. It’s hard to get all the nutrients you need when you cut calories to the bone so you may be left malnourished as well.
  4. EWL can be detrimental to a host of your organs.  It puts stress on your heart, can cause gallstones and affect your brain processes.  The lack of nutrients can mess with your neurotransmitters, which can lead to depression.
  5. If you are not giving your body the nutrients it needs (like calcium) it will take them where it can get them (like from your bones) leaving you at risk for things like bone density problems.

So what is healthy weight loss? The American Council on Exercise recommends one to two pounds per week. No one should restrict their calories to less than 1200 per day. In order to lose those one or two pounds per week, you need to combine calorie reduction and burning extra calories through exercise to make a 500 to 1000 calorie deficit per day.  3500 calories equals one pound.  If you lose weight slowly, you will be doing it by changing your lifestyle (doing something you can sustain over time). You will be much more likely to be able to keep it off.  Here’s a calorie calculator to help you figure out how  many calories you should eat to lose weight the healthy way. Here’s a link  to some videos to give you ideas to easily eliminate a few hundred calories per day.

Have you ever lost a lot of weight only to gain it back?  Have you lost weight and been able to keep it off?  Leave a comment and tell your story!

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Weight Loss Without the Weirdness

Counting calories annoys me.  It’s time consuming. It’s a lot of guesswork. It’s tedious. If  I stop for any length of time the weight starts creeping, creeping up. Who’s with me? I’m not into deprivation diets. I’m not going to eat cabbage soup for a month. South Beach, Atkins, Weight Watchers…. they are all hard to stick to for any length of time.  So what’ s the answer?

The more I research and read, the more I am convinced that portion control is the way to go. You can eat the healthiest food on the planet, but if you eat too much of it, you are STILL going to gain weight, slowly but surely. We eat about 100 to 300 calories more or less than we need everyday. If on most days we are going over, we can gain 10 to 30 pounds each year. That’s a lot. Our obesity rate in the US tells us we are usually overeating. We do this without realizing it.

What if we could change some of our habits so that we could usually eat 100 to 300 calories less than we need on most days? By year’s end we would have lost 10 to 30 pounds! The really good news is..you can do this and not really notice that you are eating less.  It just takes some practice. Click here to get four free videos I made that will teach you how to “trick yourself thin” using some pretty common sense behavior changes. Don’t worry, they’re short, easy to understand and easy to put into practice.

mindless eating

To really dive into the subject, the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, PH.D. is a great resource. I found it on amazon.com.

 

 

Nutrition, personal training , ,

Spartan Up! Extreme Racing

If you read anything about fitness trends, you have probably heard of extreme racing.  You cover distances and overcome obstacles.  These obstacles can include large objects to push, pull, climb over or duck under.  There is also usually, mud, water and occasionally even fire involved.  If this sounds like a challenge you would like to accept, take a look at the Spartan Race

Spartan Races are held all over the country. The unique feature of a Spartan Race is the different levels of Spartanism you can achieve. Complete beginner? Join a Spartan workout in your area to prepare.  Then try a Spartan Sprint, a 3+ mile race with 15+ obstacles. Hitting your stride? Try a Spartan Super, which is 8+ miles and 20+ obstacles. A true extreme junkie? Go for the Spartan Beast a 13+ mile race with 25+ obstacles. If you do all three in one calendar year, you can earn your spot in the Trifecta Tribe.

A great Spartan Race opportunity is coming up on October 4, 2014 in Ohio.  A Sprint, Super and Beast event will all be held over one weekend. To help kick the racing season off, the folks at Spartan Race have given me one code, good for FREE entry into any open heat Spartan Race in the continental US. If you would like to enter for a chance to win the code, comment on this post and let me know why you would like to Spartan Up! A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, August 13 (one month from today).

Oh and just in case you aren’t the lucky winner, here’s a code to get a 10% discount when you register for a Spartan Race:  SPARTANBLOGGER

Good Luck and AROO!!

PS A special shout out to my friend Lenny who just finished 7th in his age group at the Pocono, PA Spartan Race.

 

 

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How do I Keep Fitness Fun? Try “1000 Steps”

This past weekend, hubby Bob and I decided to try something we’ve never done before and climb the “1000 steps” on Jack’s Mountain.  This lies between the towns of Huntingdon and Lewistown, PA.  Our motivation was a cooler summer day and the fact that it was on my Summer Bucket List for Mifflin County School District’s Wellness Project.

Hubby Bob starting out.

Hubby Bob starting out.

1000 Steps was quite the workout!  This is not something you want to try if you are a complete couch potato. The steps were originally constructed in 1936 as a “shortcut” commute for sand miners who worked near the top of the mountain. The sand was mined to make silica bricks.  The miners would climb the steps to go to work in the morning and climb down at day’s end.  In between they worked a very physically demanding job.  After completing these steps I have a whole new appreciation for what good shape these workers must have been in. This is approximately an 800+ foot climb up Jack’s Mountain.  The steps are uneven and cut back and forth. This was a nice day.  Imagine commuting in the rain, sleet or snow. Yikessteps2It took about 45 minutes to get to the top.  It was a good cardio workout and the glutes and hip flexers worked hard on the way up. On the way down, it was the quads and hamstrings. It was worth it when we reached the top and saw the great views.   view3   view6   After our climb, we treated ourselves to lunch at Boxer’s Cafe.  This is a local eatery in the town of Huntingdon.  The cafe specializes in homemade food with local organic ingredients. We had sandwiches (a Reuben for Bob and a grilled veggie sandwich for me) and garden salads.  Mine had homemade ginger balsamic dressing.  Everything was delicious.  Boxsers

So to wrap up, we a had a really good workout that was a lot more fun on a Saturday than the usual circuit workout.  We learned some local history, took in some beautiful views and had a delicious locally grown lunch. That’s how to keep fitness fun. How do you inject a little fun into your fitness routine? Let me know below.

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