5 Signs your Fitness Mindset is Holding you Back

Do you ever find yourself wondering why other women seem to be more successful than you at reaching their health and fitness goals?


Why your best friend can enjoy wine and dessert without ever gaining a pound, while you diligently stick to your lunchtime salad and can’t lose one? Why the woman on the spin bike next to you hardly breaks a sweat during a steep climb, while you’re barely keeping up and there’s a lake under your bike at the end of class? How the woman who’s always in the squat rack at the gym never seems to miss a day of training, while you struggle week after week with consistency?

Chances are your mindset is holding you back. Those unspoken beliefs about yourself, your abilities and your capacity for change.

Wondering if your head is hampering your progress?

Here are 5 signs your fitness mindset is holding you back:
  1. You’re resistant to trying a new approach, even when the old approach isn’t working (what’s that quote about the definition of insanity?)
  2. You use limitations as excuses (time, energy, equipment, injury…)
  3. You have unrealistic expectations and are quick to judge yourself
  4. You’re threatened by other women’s successes
  5. You’ve been convinced by the media that weight loss and muscle gain are easy (lose 10 pounds in a week!)

In my experience, women who make consistent progress towards their health and fitness goals share a few key attitudes;

  • They focus on change and growth, rather than restriction and limitation. Exercise isn’t viewed as simply a way of cutting calories. Food isn’t ‘good’ or ‘bad‘, just a way to fuel your body to perform well and feel good. If the old approach to eating and exercise stops working (as it often does for women in their 40’s), they’re open to exploring new solutions. They see change as potential, not something that threatens and scares them.
  • They concentrate on what they can do, rather than what they can’t. Limitations can either stop you cold or force you to work around them. Whether you’re working through a knee injury, don’t have much time for exercise or are travelling and don’t have access to your regular workout equipment and foods, focusing on the things you have control over and letting go of those you don’t is key to feeling good about the process.
  • They aren’t threatened by the success of other women. Success isn’t a zero-sum game. Just because your girlfriend can squat 100 pounds doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to some day as well. Her victory doesn’t come at the expense of yours. Celebrate the successes of other women and use them as motivation and inspiration rather than letting them trigger thoughts of inadequacy and failure.
  • They don’t expect it to be easy and aren’t afraid of hard work. The biggest myth perpetuated by the fitness and weight loss industry is that results are yours for the taking. ’21 days to a bikini body’, ‘drop 2 dress sizes in a month’, ‘lose 10 pounds in a week’ headlines trick us into thinking that our goals can be met quickly and without very much effort. Expect the work to be challenging, but rewarding. Both during the process and ideally, for the rest of your life.

Remember, you already know everything you need to do to successfully reach your health and fitness goals. Don’t let your fitness mindset hold you back!

Enjoy this post? Make sure you don’t miss the workouts, motivation and inspiration I dish up weekly. Add your name to my blog updates list and you’ll also be the first to hear about upcoming programs and course offerings!

How to become more consistent with exercise

Last spring, I started asking new newsletter subscribers to share their biggest fitness and nutrition challenges with me.

consistent with exercise

Want to see the entire email? Sign up for blog updates and advance notification of new online courses by clicking this image.

(Thanks to all of you who’ve responded; it’s been wonderful to get your emails and to have actual conversations with so many like-minded women; the life of a blogger can sometimes be a bit isolating. Not a new newsletter subscriber? Feel free to share your ‘pain points’ in the comments section at the bottom of the page. And you can always, you know, subscribe 😉 ).

One of the most common responses I’ve had to date has been about the challenge of becoming more consistent with exercise. Here’s a sample;

Consistency. Some weeks I am great with exercise…and then I fall off the wagon and don’t work out…!!!

Number one thing I struggle with; consistency.  I work out for four days, quit for two weeks, and back again.  I know I need to develop a real routine…

Biggest struggle is getting my head back in the game…once I fall off the wagon.

You’ve probably experienced the same challenge at some point in your fitness career; post-holiday, post-injury, post-baby… I certainly have.


As a fitness coach, I often share my strategies for improving exercise consistency with my clients; after all, without consistency and progression to your program, you’re unlikely to ever reach your fitness goals.

How to become more consistent with exercise
  • Create a schedule. Take a look at your calendar. Identify two or three chunks of free time in your week. Write the word ‘Exercise’ in pen. Treat this appointment with yourself the same way you treat your appointments with your doctor, dentist and manicurist. You may think I’m trying to be funny. I’m not. Scheduling works. Commit to it for an entire month.

How to get more consistent with exercise via fitknitchick.com

  • Set yourself up for success. Many people undermine their attempts to make regular exercise a priority. They choose activities that they don’t really like. They plan to work out alone even though they require accountability and support. They schedule early morning workouts despite their night owl tendencies. They have unrealistic expectations about how quickly they’re likely to see results. Spend a little time reflecting on what you truly need to successfully stick with your plan. Make sure all the components are in place before you step into the gym (or pool or the spinning studio etc.). Need a little more help with this? Check out the free download below; “5 Steps to Exercise Success”.
  • Anticipate obstacles. The road to consistency is never smooth. Obstacles and road blocks will always be present. The key is to anticipate them and have a back-up plan ready to implement. For example, kids get sick and somebody has to stay home with them. If that somebody is you, how will you make up your missed workout? Can you do something else at home? An exercise DVD? A short, body-weight workout? Is there a ‘flex’ day in your schedule for playing ‘catch up’ later in the week?

How to get more consistent with exercise via fitknitchick.com

  • Celebrate small victories. Most humans respond well to rewards :-) . Keep your motivation up by regularly reflecting on what you’ve done well and treating yourself to something small and enjoyable. A new  headband to keep your hair off your face during workouts. A box of your favourite specialty tea bags. That Kindle title you’ve been dying to read. Or even a simple gold star on your workout calendar. Celebrating small victories takes your mind off the bigger victories that are still off in the distance (and reminds you that you’re making progress, no matter how small).
  • Remind yourself of how hard it is to start all over again. Most of us also try to avoid punishment. Tap into your psyche and remind yourself how difficult it is to get back to exercise after a hiatus. Not just physically, but also psychologically. Our bodies struggle with things they once did with ease. We have to lower the weights, take longer breaks between sets and huff and puff through our step class or run. Maintaining a positive mindset about exercise becomes more difficult with every repetition of the ‘start and stop’ cycle.

Remember that consistency doesn’t happen overnight or without real effort. But once you get there, exercise becomes infinitely easier (at least until you up your weights or your trainer adds burpees to your program 😉 ).

Do you struggle with exercise consistency?

What strategies have you implemented to become more consistent with exercise?

Work smarter not harder | Tips for prioritizing your workouts

In an ideal world, we’d all have time for daily exercise.

prioritizing your workouts

Fitting in all of the recommended elements of fitness (cardio, strength, power, endurance, flexibility, speed and agility and energy system work) wouldn’t be a problem. Seven days times seven hours is lots of time to get it all done.

In reality, most people struggle to find the time to exercise. Work, family, volunteering and life commitments make it a challenge for many.

If I were to tell new clients that they needed to exercise six or seven days each week in order to see results, they’d either abandon our coaching relationship immediately or a few weeks down the road (after attempting to follow my advice and failing miserably).

Instead, I ask them the following questions and set them up for success by designing a plan that fits with their responses:

  • how much time do you have available for exercise (both the total number of days AND the number of minutes per day)
  • how much time do you want to spend exercising (this is typically much less than the total time available 😉 )
  • what is your primary exercise goal (losing weight, gaining muscle and completing your first half-marathon all have very different training requirements)

The less time they have for exercise, the SMARTER we need to be with their workout plans (and of course, the more diligent we have to be about nutrition…).

Given that most of my 40+ female clients are primarily interested in body composition change (i.e., simultaneously reducing body fat and gaining muscle), I make strength training their top priority.

Below you’ll find the starting point for my recommendations, based solely on the number of days each week the client will be working out.

If your goals are more performance-based (for example, training for a full or half-marathon), simply swap the ‘strength training’ workouts for the training mode that’s most relevant to what you hope to achieve.

Tips for prioritizing your workouts

If you’ll be working out 6 or 7 days per week… (make sure you’re not over-doing it and at least one of those workouts is lower in intensity)

  • 3-4 days of strength training (body part splits work well with this time commitment)
  • 1-2 days of long, slow distance cardio (30-60 minutes at 65-75% of max HR)
  • 1 day of HIIT-style cardio
  • 1 day of rest or stretching or restorative-type yoga

If you’ll be working out 5 days per week… (this is my own, personal sweet spot)

If you’ll be working out 4 days per week… (the frequency that most of my online clients adhere to)

  • 3 days of strength training (as above, choose between body part splits and whole-body training) with the addition of a Tabata or HIIT or Metabolic Conditioning-style finisher at the end of at least one of those workouts
  • 1 day of long, slow distance cardio

If you’ll be working out 3 days per week… (I consider this the bare minimum for a regular exercise program)

  • 3 days of whole body strength training, with the addition of a Tabata or HIIT or Metabolic Conditioning-style finisher at the end of one workout AND a short, steady state cardio finisher at the end of another


  • 2 days of whole body strength training, with the addition of a Tabata or HIIT or Metabolic Conditioning-style finisher at the end of one workout
  • 1 day of long, slow distance cardio

If you’ll be working out 2 days per week… (this workout frequency will only yield results for beginners to exercise and help regular exercisers stay consistent while on holiday)

  • You’ll need to fit both strength and cardio into each session; whole body strength plus one HIIT-style finisher and one steady state cardio finisher
  • Plan on increasing this to 3 days per week as soon as possible!
If body composition change is your top priority this fall, you’ll be excited to hear that I’ve launched a brand new program dedicated to helping midlife women build lean muscle while shedding a little body fat.




“Fight the Fluff” is an 8-week online strength and nutrition program, based on the exact same workouts and meal plans that I used myself, when prepping for my first ever fitness photo shoot.

It’s designed for women who are already familiar with basic strength training moves and have access to a full-service gym.

You’ll find all the program details, including the form to register, here >> What’s “Fight the Fluff” about?

Note that registration closes this Thursday, September 9th at 6 pm PST OR when the remaining 9 spaces in the program are filled.

Questions about whether this program is right for you? Feel free to email me at tgrand@telus.net.




Three mindset shifts for midlife fitness success

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right ~ Henry Ford

When starting a new exercise or nutrition program, most people focus solely on the external behavioural changes they need to make in order to see results.

The number of days they need to work out. How many reps and sets of each exercise they’re expected to perform. Keeping daily calorie intake within a certain range. Drinking enough water. Making sure they’ve packed their gym bag and left it by the front door.

While each of these contributes to success, in my experience, mindset trumps them all.

According to the dictionary:

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 1.15.06 PM

This is precisely why, in addition to providing exercise and nutrition recommendations to my clients, I also work with them to create mindsets that set them up for success.


3 Mindset shifts for midlife fitness success

Mindset shift #1 : Become the driver of your own health

With all of the conflicting information about exercise and nutrition available to us (not to mention the hundreds of programs out there promising ‘guaranteed’ or ‘money back results’…), it’s not surprising that many people feel overwhelmed and confused about what the ‘best’ fitness and nutrition approach for them might be.

Rather than passively following the ‘program of the week’, choose an activity that you enjoy and a way of eating that you can actually stick with for the long term. When it comes to fitness and health, what matters most is consistency. Do anything consistently and for long enough and you’re bound to see results.

Pay attention to how your body feels and adjust accordingly. Get out of the back seat and become the driver of your own health.

Mindset shift #2: Stop looking in your rear view mirror


Regardless of what we’d like to believe, age changes us all. In many cases for the better; just think how much more confident, resilient and comfortable in your own skin you are now, as compared to the 20-year old version of yourself!

The things we don’t like? Greying hair, wrinkles, memory lapses, muscle loss and fat gain. They’re all part of the natural process of aging.

While we can do things to slow them down (hello exercise and whole foods…), we’re never going to look like our 20- (or even 30-) year old selves again. Expecting to wear the same size jeans  you wore before those three pregnancies is unrealistic (for many of us). As is expecting your 50-year old body to once again weigh what you did in your 20’s.

Instead of comparing your ‘now’ you to a younger version of yourself, look ahead and picture how you’d like the ‘future’ you to look (and feel and perform). Find a same-aged or older role model for inspiration. If she can do it, so can you.

Mindset shift #3: Stop confusing acceptance with giving up

I’ve had potential clients say to me, “What’s the point in exercising regularly and eating better if I’m just going to get old and wrinkled anyways?”

In addition to being a completely defeatist mindset, this attitude ignores all the non-aesthetic benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle; increased energy, better range of motion, more pain-free days, being able to continue doing all the activities that you love, sleeping better, reducing your risk of cancer and other life-limiting diseases, etc., etc., etc.

Acceptance isn’t the same as giving up. Giving up means that you’ve stopped trying. That you no longer believe there’s room for improvement and that your actions have consequences. In contrast, acceptance allows for the possibility of change. It requires self-compassion, self-awareness and self-love.

The key is to set realistic and relevant goals, goals that will help you reach that ‘future’ version of yourself; strong, healthy and happy!

As we knitters say, aim to be a “work in progress” (WIP), rather than a “finished object” (FO).

Have you experienced a shift in mindset that’s helped you to reach your health and fitness goals?



4 Stretches for Tight Hamstrings

Quick. Take 15 seconds and read the questions below. I’ll wait 😉

stretches for tight hamstrings

If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of them, chances are you suffer from tight hamstrings.

I say ‘suffer’, because chronically tight hamstrings can lead to a variety of conditions and injuries, including poor posture, lower back pain, knee instability and an increased risk of injury during sports and exercise. There’s even some recent evidence linking longevity to the ability to touch your toes (although I’m sure that there’s more than flexibility affecting this relationship; too much weight around the middle also makes it hard to touch your toes 😉 ).

Hamstrings 101

The three muscles that make up the hamstring complex (the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus are collectively referred to simply as the ‘hamstrings) are located on the back of the upper leg.

They cross both the hip and the knee and as such function to both tilt the pelvis backward (also referred to as ‘hip extension’) and bend (or ‘flex’) the knee.

stretches for tight hamstrings

In weight-bearing exercises (for example, squats and lunges), they also work together with the quadriceps (the large muscles on the front of your thighs) to move the torso up and down.

Common causes of tight hamstrings
  • genetics; general flexibility is determine, in part, by body structure. If you’ve always had poor, all-over flexibility you can blame your parents. That’s not to say you can’t improve on what nature’s given you though. You’ll just need to stretch regularly and consistently (and may never be able to match the performance of your favourite yoga instructor).
  • weak core muscles; like the hamstrings, the muscles of the lower abdomen and back attach to the pelvis. Their job is to tilt the pelvis forward. If either the lower-abdominal muscles or the low-back muscles are weak, they can’t counterbalance the pull of the hamstrings, which will shorten and tighten as they tilt the pelvis backward. In addition to stretching the hamstrings (see my 4 favourite stretches for tight hamstrings, below), you’d also be wise to add some core strengthening exercises to your weekly routine.
  • too much sitting; when you sit for long stretches of time you limit the range of motion through which both the hamstrings and the hip flexors work. As a consequence, the lower back becomes tight, as do the hamstrings and calves. Limiting sitting time, as well as performing full range of motion stretches (see below) will help to combat lifestyle-induced hamstring tightness.
  • previous lower back or knee injury; often, when we injure one muscle, other muscle groups compensate. Sometimes they overcompensate, leading to stiffness, injury or inefficient motor patterns, even after the initial injury has fully healed.
Stretching Tips

When stretching the hamstrings (or any other muscle group), keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • stretching is more effective when muscles are warm (at the end of your workout, after a gentle warmup or after soaking in a hot bath)
  • stretches should be static rather than ballistic to prevent injury
  • stretch only to the point of resistance, never to the point of pain
  • aim to straighten the limb without locking the joint
  • hold stretches for 15 to 30 s, relax and repeat
  • use props (e.g., yoga blocks, straps, towels, door jambs) to support stretches than are challenging for you
  • build stretching into your regular exercise routine (10-15 minutes, 3 or more times per week)
4 Stretches for Tight Hamstrings


Need ideas for stretching the rest of your body? One of the following posts may be exactly what you’re looking for:

If you found this post educational, helpful or entertaining, please consider sharing it with your friends. All you need to do is click one of the social sharing buttons below. 


Tips for becoming an independent exerciser

Before we get to today’s post, I’d like to take a minute and share some exciting news with you all.

As of September 1st, I’m stepping away from my personal training job at the gym. Doing so will allow me to spend more time focusing on my Online Fitness Coaching clients and my monthly 40+ Women’s Training group. Time is truly my most precious commodity and I just haven’t felt like I’ve had as much of it as I’d like to have to give to these strong, focused and committed women.

While I’ll miss my in-person clients, I’m looking forward to having increased control over my schedule and connecting with more women who are truly ready to make change and commit to the exercise, nutrition and mindset habits required to reach their health and fitness goals. 

When I start working with a new personal training client, I’m already thinking about how the relationship will end.

Not because I don’t enjoy the process of helping women learn how to move and feed their bodies, but because my goal is to teach them to do it for themselves. Personal training is expensive and should be viewed as a temporary investment, not a life-long relationship :-)

Just as I expect my children to some day leave ‘the nest’, I expect each client to eventually take charge of their own health and fitness and ‘fledge’; to become an independent exerciser, in their own right.

becoming an independent exerciser

Okay. I’m not quite ready for this one to leave the nest yet…

Tips for becoming an independent exerciser
  • Create a schedule. You might start by scheduling your workouts for the same time as your regular once or twice-weekly personal training sessions. Those days and times are already part of your routine and heading to the gym then will be second nature. If you’ve been doing an extra workout or two as part of your personal training homework, you’re already comfortable with exercising on your own; keep it up. My favourite way to schedule my workouts? An old-school desk calendar.
  • Follow a written program. If your trainer has provided you with written programs during the period of your training relationship, dust them off and re-cycle them. Just because you’ve followed a program in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t continue to benefit you now. Besides, you’ll already be familiar with the exercises and your trainer’s notes will include form cues and the number of reps and sets to be performed. Don’t have an individualized program? Grab the latest copy of your favourite fitness and exercise magazine (print or on-line). The most popular titles all include a workout program of the month. Take it with you to the gym and follow it to the letter.
  • Document your workouts. If you lift it, log it. Keep track of your progress, just the way your personal trainer did. For each exercise, write down the number of reps and sets you performed, as well as the weight lifted. Attempt to progress your workouts every week or two. Add an extra set. Perform a few more reps. Increase your weights. Then, when you stop making progress (or find that you’re tired of the program), grab a new program and begin all over again.
  • Make friends in the gym. Introduce yourself to the woman who always seems to be doing core work at the same time you are. Not only will becoming friendly with your fellow gym-goers help with accountability (you know they’ll ask you where you’ve been if you a miss a workout or two…), they can also be a great source of knowledge and information. Ask them about a new exercise you see them performing. Maybe it’s one you’d benefit from as well. Get them to show you how to use a machine you’re unfamiliar with. Most people are happy to share their knowledge, especially if you ask nicely 😉
  • Set some time-bound goals. Create some goals with a due date. Things you can work towards over the course of a few weeks to a few months. Write them down and include the date on which you’ll re-visit them. Then, re-visit them to celebrate your successes or to give yourself a compassionate, but no-nonsense talking to about how you’ll need to change your approach to reaching the goal for it to manifest.
  • Find a half-way solution. No longer need someone to correct your squat, count your reps and tell you when your Tabata interval is over, but not quite ready to go it alone? Ask your trainer if they’re willing to see you every 4-6 for a program change. That one-hour session may be exactly what you need to keep you moving forward towards full-on independent exercise. Another option? Find an online training community that includes monthly workouts, nutrition support and advice about how to customize the workouts to make them your own. My monthly Online Group Training program for women over 40 is about to start a new 3-month session. Make sure you’re on my email list to be the first to get access to the registration materials.
  • Re-commit to your ‘why’ daily. Remind yourself of why you value exercise. List the benefits that it brings to your life. Think of how you feel when you miss a workout or two. Use your best ‘trainer voice’ to encourage, motivate and support yourself. Focus on developing a positive mindset around exercise; do it because you love your body, not because you dislike it. Above all, mindset is key to becoming an independent exerciser. Think you can do it? You’re right! Think you can’t? You’re probably right too…

Grab a copy of my free 3-book, ‘5 Steps to Exercise Happiness’ if you’re still struggling to find your ‘why’.

Have you made the leap from personal trainer to becoming an independent exerciser?

What’s your best advice for my readers?








How much exercise is enough?

Today’s post, How Much Exercise Is Enough, is in response to a question posed by one of the members of my Facebook community. (I’m always happy to answer your burning questions about midlife fitness and nutrition too; either here on the blog or over on Periscope, a new live-broadcasting app that I’m testing out Thursday mornings at 8:00 am PT. You can watch it live or in ‘re-runs’ for 24 hours post-broadcast. You can find me at @TamaraGrand).

I frequently share short short (20-30 minute) workouts with my social media followers.

They’re my own preferred way of working out and are the foundation of the types of workouts I create for my clients and online women’s fitness group.

Kathryn asked me about how these types of workouts fit within the government’s recommendation that healthy adults and older adults get 30 (and more recently 60) minutes of physical activity per day; essentially asking how much exercise is enough.

“So just curious – these 20 minute and under exercise work outs – how do they figure in with the 30 minute a day – or now they are saying an hour would be ideal – recommendation? I feel like one minute we’re told that a longer, more moderate work out (like walking) is better and then told that shorter bursts of intense activity are preferred. And just to clarify…the 150 minutes does NOT include strength training or yoga? Thanks, Tamara!”

Because this is a great, multi-part question, I’m going to break it down into three parts; how much, how intense and what types of activities count.

How much exercise is enough?

According to the American Council on Exercise, healthy adults and older adults should aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week. This recommendation is based on studies showing that adults who don’t meet this level of activity are more likely to be overweight and at greater risk of heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes.

Ideally, those 150 weekly minutes will be broken down into five, 30-minute periods of exercise. Although 10-minute bouts of more intense effort (see below for a discussion of ‘intensity’), spread throughout the day may provide the same effects.

Recent studies suggest that exceeding 150 minutes per week has additional health benefits and that the new target should be closer to 300 minutes of physical activity per week (that’s where Kathryn’s comment about 300 minutes comes from; I love how informed my readers are!)

How intensely do I need to be working?

Kathryn’s question really revolves around the issue of intensity. How intense does an activity need to be to ‘count’?

ACE’s recommendations stipulate that those 150 minutes of physical activity need to ‘moderately intense’ to ‘vigorous’. But was do ‘moderately intense’ and ‘vigorous’ really mean?

The best yardstick for measuring intensity is heart rate. The higher your exercise heart rate, the harder you’re working and the higher the intensity of the workout. Not only do higher intensity workouts challenge your cardiovascular system more than lower intensity workouts (building a stronger heart and lungs is a key component of fitness), they also result in more calories burned, a key consideration if weight loss or weight loss maintenance are your primary goals.

A ‘moderately intense to vigorous’ workout will elevate your heart rate up to somewhere between 60 and 90% of maximum heart rate

MaxHR is most easily estimated by subtracting your age from 220; I’m 48, so my maxHR equals 220 – 48 or 172 beats per minute, resulting in a target exercise heart rate of  somewhere between 103 and 155 beats per minute. You can also use the Karvonen formula if you know your resting heart rate; it’s a bit more accurate, especially for people who are already fairly fit.

What types of activities can I include?

Historically, the above recommendations were made specifically with regards to cardiovascular training, with additional weekly recommendations for strength training and flexibility training.

Hence any traditional cardiovascular-based activity will count towards the 150-minute weekly goal; running, cycling, swimming, rowing, cardio machines in the gym, skipping and calisthenics to name a few.

My favourite cardio/strength machine

Walking may meet the criteria, especially if you walk quickly (like you’re trying to catch the bus at the corner) and your route has hills and other variable terrain.

However, many types of workouts incorporate multiple training elements. For example, while Bootcamp and CrossFit-style workouts typically focus primarily on strength training, because of the way they’re structured they also elicit a cardiovascular response. Heart rates remain elevated throughout the workout, simultaneously strengthening both muscles and the cardiovascular system.

Metabolic strength training, circuit-style weight lifting and power yoga may also ‘fill the bill’. As do those 20-30 minute workouts I share on YouTube, Facebook and here, on the blog.

Focus more on how intense the workout is than whether it’s a ‘cardio’, ‘strength’ or ‘flexibility’ workout when you decide whether to count it towards your weekly physical activity goals.

exercise, how much is enough

Kayaking? When you’re racing your brother, it definitely counts!

A few caveats
  • Exercise intensity is individual. The amount of effort a sedentary, non-exerciser would have to expend to generate the appropriate heart rate effect will be different than that of a long-time, consistent exerciser. If you’re new to exercise, I strongly recommend that you get familiar with your heart rate!
  • Recommendations are only guidelines. Newcomers to exercise shouldn’t feel compelled to immediately reach the 150-minute per week guideline. Start with a frequency, intensity and duration that challenges you, but that allows you to be successful. Build on to it as your strength and endurance increases. I might start a brand-new-to-exercise client with only three 15-minute bouts of exercise per week; woefully short of the government recommendations, but a do-able first step for that client.
  • Just because you exercise intensely for 30 (or even 60) minutes a day, doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from more movement. If you spend the rest of your day sitting at your desk or behind the wheel of your car, that 30 minutes of exercise may not be enough to keep weight gain, heart disease and diabetes at bay. Interspersing frequent bouts of low intensity, non-exercise activity throughout your day will elevate the effects of your workouts.
  • Walking has many health benefits. For beginners to exercise, it’s often a workout on it’s own. For the rest of us, in particular, midlife, hormonally challenged women, it’s a great way to reduce stress (and the concomitant production of stress hormone which contributes to midlife weight gain). Think of it as a ‘bonus’. Meet your 30 minute heart-rate accelerating goal, then cool down and relax with a leisurely walk. Combine that with the company of a friend or loved one and you’ve done more than you can imagine for your health!

Here’s a sample of the short, but intense, whole-body, metabolic strength workouts that form the bread and butter of my own, personal fitness regime.

If you like it, please take a minute to share it with your friends (it’s super easy; just click on one of the social sharing buttons at the bottom of the post and presto, you’ve made a difference in somebody else’s life :-) ).



3 whole body, minimal equipment, do at home workouts

Even though I’ve long-since graduated from university, my life still seems to ebb and flow with the academic calendar (I guess that’s what having three school-age children does for you…).

Summer is my time to kick back, take a break from the hectic driving and training and teaching schedule, spend more time engaging in outdoor activities with my kids (when I can persuade them to shut off their computers 😉 ) and focus on some big changes I’ll be making in my work life come September (details coming soon…).


While cutting back on the time I spend training clients and teaching classes is great for my brain, it does make it a bit more challenging to maintain my usual exercise routine.

You see, my work gym is also my workout gym.

Setting up for a barbell dead lift

Recognize this place?

I typically piggy-back my own workouts on those of my clients. Without clients to see, it’s sometimes hard to work up the motivation to gather my gear, drive to the gym, check-in, walk the gauntlet of friends and clients and people I know and focus on not getting drawn into lengthy conversations or having to re-think my workout because the equipment I planned on using is already in use. All of the things that turn a 30-minute workout into a 75-minute endeavour.

I know you get this; one of the most comment obstacles to exercising isn’t the time it takes to get the workout done, but the extra travel time (and cost) required to train at a gym.

The obvious answer is to exercise at home.

I know that many of you have been successful with this. Personally? I don’t have a great track record with home workouts. I have the equipment (lots of equipment!), but don’t have a dedicated workout space (small house, no basement and not even an empty storage closet to keep equipment organized and together in).

Last week, while filming exercise videos in the carport for my 40+ online women’s fitness group, I had an ‘aha’ moment. (I’ve only been doing this for two years now; not sure why it took me so long to figure out…).


Don’t you love it when fireworks go off in your head? ;-)

Why not use this exact space for my own personal workouts this summer? All I need to do is have hubby install the TRX mount I purchased ages ago, pump up the stability ball and Bosu and purchase a large storage tub to keep it all in (I’m thinking that with 11-year old boys around, the kettlebells will be better off out of sight and out of mind…).

Care to join me?

I’ve created 3 whole body, minimal equipment, do at home workouts.

None of them require a lot of equipment and I’ve designed them around the types of equipment you’re most likely to have (from least expensive to most expensive (and most fun, IMHO)). All three are full body workouts, designed to be done in as little as 20 minutes. Or, if you have more time, string them together, in whichever order pleases you.

Oh and make sure you start with a warmup and finish with a stretch. Here are a couple of my favourites for you to choose from:


Workout # 1: When all you have is a resistance band. Perform 15 repetitions of each exercise (on each side of the body, where relevant), rest and repeat once or twice more.


Workout #2: Have a stability ball and a set or two of hand weights? Perform 12 repetitions of each exercise (on each side of the body, where relevant), rest and repeat once or twice more.


Workout #3: You’ll need a Kettlebell or two for this one (more expensive, but more fun too 😉 ). Perform 8 repetitions of each exercise (on each side of the body, where relevant), rest and repeat once or twice more.

If you enjoyed these do at home workouts, please take a moment to
  • ‘Like’ them and subscribe to my YouTube channel
  • Share them with your friends (see those social sharing buttons below?)
  • Leave a comment (either on YouTube or in the comments section below)
  • Subscribe to blog updates and details about upcoming online course offerings
P.S. Although I am a Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer (although I could be; check out the online services I offer here). Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Avoiding exercise-induced injuries | ‘Pre’-hab is better than re-hab

Recently, I started asking new newsletter subscribers to share their biggest fitness and nutrition challenges.

exercise-induced injuries

Want to see the entire email? Sign up for blog updates and advance notification of new online courses by clicking this image.


(Thanks to all of you who’ve responded; it’s been wonderful to get your emails and to have actual conversations with so many like-minded women; the life of a blogger can sometimes be a bit isolating. Not a new newsletter subscriber? Feel free to share your ‘pain points’ in the comments section at the bottom of the page. And you can always, you know, subscribe 😉 ).

One of the most common responses I’ve had to date has been about injury prevention. For example,

I’m 47 and just started taking jui jitsu classes. What can I do to minimize my risk of injury?


At 54, my days of doing air squats and burpees and jumping onto benches are over. My knees just can’t handle the impact and the last thing I want to do is get hurt. Any tips for exercising without getting injured?

As a (newly) 48-year-old woman, thoughts about injury prevention are never far from my mind. Especially when trying a new activity for the very first time.

I’ve had enough of my own exercise-induced injuries (knees and achilles tendon and intercostal muscles, oh my!) to know that ‘pre-hab’ is highly preferable to ‘rehab’.

In general, injuries tend to occur when we do ‘too much, too soon’. Joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments need to be eased into new activities, giving them time to strengthen, learn new motor patterns and increase their range of motion.

Strategies for avoiding exercise-induced injuries

  • Start slow; Even if you exercise regularly, when the activity is brand new to you, pretend you’re a beginner. Follow the FIT (Frequency-Intensity-Time) guidelines of 2-3 times per week, at low to moderate intensity (on a scale of 1-10, 1 being easy, 10 being full-out exhausting, aim for somewhere between 3 and 5), and for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Leave yourself wanting more (or as my hubby used to say when our kids were little, “quit while you’re still having fun”).
  • Linger with your warmup; A proper warmup goes a long way when it comes to avoiding exercise-induced injuries. Plan on spending a good 10 minutes on whole body movements, paying particular attention to the muscles and body parts you’ll be using during the workout proper. Use your warmup to mimic the activity you’re about to partake in. For example, a tennis warmup might include arm circles, side shuffles and forward and back hops. A warmup for kayaking might include torso twists, ‘air’ paddling and calf raises (if your kayak has a foot-controlled rudder). Warming up for ju jitsu or another of the martial arts? Arm and leg swings and circles, slow controlled punches and kicks and whole-body walk out to planks would be great additions to your warmup. Gradually increase the range of motion that you’re moving through as muscles, joints and ligaments become more fluid. Here are some warmup moves that I like to practice before I hit the weights >>  Pre-strength training warmup ideas
  • Safety first; All exercises and activities have risks associated with them. Building up a solid foundation before you attempt the riskiest version of a new activity is the best way to ensure that you’ll continue to enjoy the activity for a long time to come. That might mean choosing lighter weights, performing the activity on a stable surface, using a limited range of motion until you’re familiar with the movements or making use of supports and props, when appropriate. As you get stronger and your balance and confidence improve, you can relinquish the ‘training wheels’ and take your activity out ‘on the road’.

avoiding exercise-induced injuries

  • Savour stretching; Post-activity stretching can aid flexibility (one of the most rapidly lost components of fitness for us 40- and 50-somethings…), which in turn can help you perform your favourite activities better and with less pain. Focus on the stretching the muscle groups you used most during the activity. Aim to hold each stretch for 15 to 30 s, taking deeper and deeper breaths as you lengthen the muscle and increase the intensity of the pose. Not only can stretching help prevent exercise-induced injuries, it’s a great time to turn your thoughts inward, calm your mind and enjoy a few moments of quiet in your otherwise busy day. Not sure which stretches you should be doing? Check out these two posts for ideas and tips on form >> Essential Stretches for Mid-Life Exercisers and Reasons to Stretch more Frequently (with a Video Guided Stretch)
  • Do different things; Exercise-induced injuries are often caused by doing too much of the same thing. I know that in our excitement and enthusiasm for a new activity, there’s a tendency to want to repeat the activity day after day after day. While repetition helps us get better at things, it can also lead to over-use injuries. Try interspersing your new favourite activity with other sports and types of exercise. You may be surprised to find that gains and improvements in one activity translate into gains and improvements in another. Ideally, your alternate activity will target different muscles groups (for example, running and cycling are both quad-dominant activities; a better alternative for the cyclist would be to hit the pool or the boxing gym). Oh and strength training complements pretty much any activity you can think of. Just saying 😉 .

Of course, getting proper instruction when starting a new activity will ensure that you’re performing the movements properly and with efficiency, both necessary if you want to avoid injury. Sign up for a lesson or two or book a session with a personal trainer to identify your strengths and weaknesses and get a program designed to support you in your new ‘favourite thing’!

Found this post helpful? Learned a thing or two that a fellow newbie to exercise might benefit from?
Why not share with your friends on Facebook or Twitter? (Just click on the social sharing links below). Who knows, one of them might be tempted to join you in your latest recreational pursuit!


What new fitness activity are you currently excited about?

Do you worry about exercise-induced injuries?