Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Be Imperfect

Pep Talk

On of the biggest obstructions to sticking to our goals is "chasing perfection."  We set up the perfect plan in our heads -- the perfect workout schedule, the perfect meal plan, everything going 100% the way we want it.

And what notoriously happens?  Some hiccup comes up and sabotages all of our "perfect" plans.  So what do we do?  Get entirely derailed because this week was blown apart, go off plan entirely, and then start again tomorrow/next week/next month (or who knows when else).

Let's face it.  Life is not perfect.  There will always be times when things cannot and will not go the way we'd like.  Therefore, setting yourself up for "perfection" is essentially setting yourself up for failure.  The most successful plans include flexibility.

Here are some tips for redirecting your plan when you can't be "perfect":
  • Develop a Plan B -- we talked about this in a previous post, but it's important to remember that doing SOMETHING is always better than doing NOTHING.  Your Plan B might not be an ideal workout or meal, but it's still better than letting everything fall apart.
  • Accept that perfection will never happen -- this is the biggest obstacle, but an important one.  If you know going in that things will get into your way, you will not freak out and go unhinged when your plan goes awry.
  • Build imperfection into your plan -- this goes back to the 80/20 philosophy.  If you know you are going to party, plan to eat what you want and have fun, but also plan how you will get back on track.  Will you do a workout first thing the next day?  Start the day off with a bowl of oatmeal and blueberries?  Even though we often can't control the craziness of life, we CAN control how we react and adapt accordingly.

Challenge Workout

Complete 5 rounds of the following exercises, taking breaks as needed:
  • 30 seconds Jump Squats
  • 30 seconds Crunches
  • 30 seconds Plank

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Get Your...SELF Together

Pep Talk

Confession time -- this post is just as much for me as it is for you.  Another confession -- yes, I AM a fitness trainer, but I am also human.  Fitness and health decisions don't come easily for me just because it's my job.  I have been where you are.  I would rather eat ice cream than broccoli.  I struggle with workouts sometimes -- there are days when I just don't want to do them!  For those of you who don't believe me, here's what I used to look like before I discovered fitness.

I find myself now, post-Ironman, struggling to resume a normal fitness schedule.  Partially because, well, I'm just friggin' tired and still, believe it or not, recovering.  And partially because when you take a break from your normal routine, it's very, very hard to restart.

Since it's summertime and vacations, back-to-school prep, and family events seem to be interfering with normal routines, I thought it'd be helpful to talk about getting back into a normal routine.  I'll even discuss what's been tripping me up and what I'm doing to fix it.

The golden rule:  DO NOT GIVE UP!  If something is not working, it's not because YOU can't make it work.  It's because you need to make a change to make IT work for YOU.  If you slip, dust yourself off, modify, and try again.

I've had a few false starts back into the swing of things because my fitness plan was too ambitious to ease into.  I was trying to pick up where I left off, so to speak.  But my body isn't ready yet.  So I've gotten back on track this week by cutting down my workouts into small, manageable sessions that I can easily fit into my schedule.

Here are some tips for jump-starting back into your routine:
  1. Keep it simple -- even starting with things like walking, pushups, squats, or brief at-home workouts can get you on track.
  2. Keep it short -- limit the sessions to 30-40 minutes until you can get back into the habit.
  3. Be realistic -- what can you honestly fit into your schedule?  Even shooting for two workouts per week can be a great start, as long as you do it consistently.
  4. Use willpower -- your vacation brain is going to rebel.  Use willpower and stick to your guns -- force yourself out of bed and do your workout!
  5. Plan your workouts ahead -- book them just like appointments in your calendar and follow through with them.
  6. Bounce right back if you slip -- if you have a hiccup, get right back on track with the next workout or meal.  No slipping backwards into your vacation routine!
Just remember that fitness is a long-term process.  Stay focused on your goals and you will get there through consistency and hard work!

Challenge Workout

Core Bonus!  Complete 3 rounds of the following exercises, taking breaks as needed:
  • 15 Mountain Climbers (each leg = 1/2 rep; both legs = 1 rep)
  • 15 Russian Twists (seated with legs down or up, twist your hands from one hip to the other -- each side = 1/2 rep; both sides = 1 rep)
  • 30 Crunches

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Everything in Balance

Pep Talk

The key to any successful, long-term health and fitness plan is consistency.  But how do we achieve consistency?  Through BALANCE.

Example: we've all been through those diet or workout programs that guarantee success in 30, 60, or 90 days.  But usually, they are so aggressive that we are climbing at the walls, waiting for them to end so that we can go back to the way things were before.  Does this sound like an effective long-term strategy?  Of course not.  In fact, this is the definition of yo-yo dieting!

Balance is achieved through setting realistic expectations.  That way, you are setting yourself up for long-term success, not failure.  Is it realistic to work out seven days a week if you are working 60 hours a week and have three kids?  Probably not.  Find out what you CAN do, even if it is only two workouts per week.  Things that you can maintain long-term are always better than short-term bursts of intensity.

Find things you enjoy, like walking, hiking, kayaking, or other non-traditional forms of exercise.  These are great ways to stay active when you can't get to the gym, or if you absolutely hate formal exercise.

Also, build in some "you" time, which is very important.  Time with a book or watching a favorite show.  It's all about balance!

That goes for your food too.  If you KNOW you will never be able to give up chocolate chip cookies, then any meal plan that restricts them entirely is setting you up for failure.  Budget them into your daily or weekly calories just like you would balance your checkbook.  I've preached about 80/20 before, and it's so true -- eat healthy 80% of the time, and you can afford to splurge the other 20% on your favorite things.  It's healthier than yo-yo'ing, and you'll be much happier!

It is so easy to focus on the short term (i.e. that pizza we just ate) and lose our focus on the big picture.  While little decisions do add up, what you do MOST of the time is more important than what you do RARELY.  Keep everything in balance and you will find your health and fitness journey much more effective and enjoyable.

Challenge Workout

Complete 5 rounds of the following, taking breaks as needed:
  • 5 Triceps Pushups
  • 10 In and Outs (seated on floor, tuck the knees to your chest, and then extend them)
  • 20 Sumo Squats

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Getting Back on Track

Pep Talk

It's summer, and that means it's time for vacations, fun, food, drinks, and blowing off workouts.  And this is perfectly normal and part of taking a break and recharging the batteries.

But it always seems like, once you take a small break from the fitness bandwagon, it's SO HARD to start back up again!  Here are some tips for getting back on track after some time off.
  • Understand and accept that your first week back on track will suck.  Yes, it will be a challenge.  After a week of indulging, oatmeal and 6 am workouts do not seem very attractive.  Keep in mind that it is a transition and you have to get used to your routine again.  You may even slip a couple of times this week.  That's okay, just get right back on track.
  • Eat with willpower, not emotion.  Sugar and fatty foods are addictive, and when reintroduced in large quantities on a vacation or break, it can be hard to go back to your healthy meal choices.  Stick to your guns and use your head when meal planning.
  • Schedule your workouts!  If you can, sign up online for classes well ahead of time.  Or pre-pay for them so that you will be out money if you don't show up.  Call a friend and tell them to meet you so that you are accountable.  And also tell them NOT to let you bail at the last minute, no matter the excuse.
  • Realize that the first workout will be rough.  I like to call the first workout back the "junk" workout.  It will be unbelievable difficult, everything on you will jiggle, and you will feel ridiculously out of shape compared to how you felt before vacation.  Just accept it for what it is and move on.  It will get better with consistency.
  • Try something new.  If you're having trouble getting motivated, use this as an opportunity to try something different from your normal routine.  Start bicycling, kayaking, paddle boarding, or indoor rock climbing for a change of pace!
  • Consistency is the most important element.  It doesn't matter how intensely you work out.  If you can only stick with it for two weeks and then drop your program because it is too demanding, you won't get anywhere.  Even working out twice a week can work for you, as long as you can maintain that for the long term.

Challenge Workout

Complete 3 rounds of the following exercises as quickly as possible, taking breaks as needed:
  • 8 Burpees
  • 8 Hollow Rocks (or 16 Reverse Crunches)
  • 8 Mountain Climbers (each leg = 1/2 rep; both legs = 1 rep)