Prepare to succeed | Tips for overcoming your inner saboteur

When it comes to starting and sticking with a new exercise program, nobody undermines our efforts better than we, ourselves, do.

The most common stumbling block to developing new fitness habits isn’t time or money or access to a gym or clean workout clothes (don’t laugh, I’ve heard this one more than a few times).

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It’s that little voice in our head that tells us “it’s okay to miss a workout” because we’re “tired” or “don’t have time to fuel properly” or “already exercised enough this week” or “can’t find any other time to have coffee with Sally”.

No matter how excited you are to get started with a new program, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually tire of it and start to look for excuses not to exercise. It’s human nature. We love things when they’re shiny and novel. Not so much once the bloom is off the rose.

The difference between people who successfully push through the excuses and under-mining self-talk and those who don’t?

They expect the excuses to happen and plan for how they’ll deal with it when their inner saboteur inevitably shows up.

Tips for overcoming your inner saboteur:
  • bullet-proof your excuses. Know yourself well enough to draw up a list of the excuses you’ll be most likely to use. Draft a response for each excuse. Remind yourself of your ‘why'; the reason you started down this path in the first place. (Not sure what your ‘why’ is? Scroll down to the bottom of this post and grab a copy of my free e-book “5 Steps to Exercise Happiness”. The first step is finding your ‘why’.)
  • adopt a ‘just 10-minutes’ attitude. Tell yourself that when it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing. Commit to 10 minutes. If, at the end of that time, you really are too tired to continue (or Sally texts you wondering why you’re late for coffee…), finish up and commend yourself for what you did, rather than berating yourself for what you didn’t. Oh, and if that 10 minutes was exactly what you needed to get  jazzed about working out, continue on. Sometimes all you need is a little movement to overcome that activation threshold.
  • create rules around exercise. Decide what your ‘bare minimum’ exercise week looks like. Create rules to maintain this routine. My two exercise rules? “Always work out on Monday” (for me, missing a Monday paves the way for a less-than-stellar workout week) and “Never take more than 2 days in a row off” (I find it incredibly difficult to come back to the gym after 3 days off).
  • enlist an accountability partner. Have a friend or family member who’d be happy to give you a swift kick in the pants from time to time? I know I do ;-). Enlist their help by giving them your workout schedule for the week and asking them to send you a quick text or email when you’re supposed to be heading out the door. Even better? Get them to commit to exercising with you. Promise to support and encourage each other to follow through with the plan, even on days when one of you isn’t feeling it.
  • hire a personal trainer. In addition to teaching you proper exercise form, creating a program that’s individualized for you and progressing that program at appropriate intervals, your trainer won’t allow you to succumb to your inner saboteur. Just knowing that she’s waiting for you at the gym is often enough to overcome the excuses in your head. (And if they’re still hanging around when you arrive for your workout, she’ll be happy to assign a few burpees to help banish them…)

tips to overcome your Inner Saboteur

What excuses does your inner saboteur tempt you with?

Tell me your favourite way to give that negative voice ‘what for’!

Creating new exercise habits| 21-Day ‘Re’-Bootcamp

Starting a new exercise program is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.

I get it. We all start new exercise programs with the highest of hopes. Hopes that this time we’ll actually enjoy working out. Hopes that nothing will ‘come up’ and get in the way of our workouts. Hopes that that old college injury won’t flare up again. Hopes that finally, this time around, exercise will ‘stick’.

The thing is, hope is not enough.

Sticking with an exercise and nutrition plan requires that you create new habits and develop new mindsets. Healthy new habits to replace the old habits that are no longer serving you. Positive new mindsets that acknowledge the non-scale related benefits of exercise and clean eating.

Habit creation takes time. Experts disagree on exactly how much time, but it seems that at least three weeks of conscientious work are required to turn new behaviours into ‘just another part’ of our regular routine.

Most people who start a new exercise program fail to make it to the third week. Often times, they start off with a bang. Ambitious exercise schedules are created and complete diet overhauls planned. After missing a workout or three and succumbing to an evening of beer and chips they give up, convincing themselves that this wasn’t the right time to start a new program and that next month will be different.

In order to succeed, people needed assistance with consistency, motivation and forming new habits around exercise and nutrition.

In an effort to help, I created the 21-Day ‘Re’-Bootcamp program.

Beginning December 1st and running through to December 21st, it’s the perfect time to get a jump start on your 2015 resolutions.

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The program’s mission? To help both newcomers to exercise and those returning to it after injury, illness or plain old ‘time off’, develop new fitness and nutrition habits. Habits that will in turn, help them in their desire to become long-term, independent exercisers.

The program is 3 weeks in length and includes:

  • weekly workouts; 2 strength and 1 cardio (each with two different levels of difficulty/intensity; one for beginners and one for intermediate exercisers), illustrated descriptions of all exercises and a blank, downloadable template to record workout details on
  • daily emails; for accountability, motivation and inspiration (it’ll be just like I’m perched on your shoulder encouraging you to re-commit daily)
  • nutritional information; information about healthier food choices, macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats), portion sizes and meal planning
  • recipes; some of my favourites as well as links to Pinterest boards I’ve created to support the nutritional needs of regular exercisers
  • a support group; participants can meet and share their experiences with the program in an ‘invite-only’ Facebook group
Frequently Asked Questions:
  • How do I sign up? Click through to the registration page and add your name and email to the sign up form. Easy-peasy. You’ll receive a confirmation email shortly, including a complimentary copy of my e-book, “5 Steps to Exercise Happiness”. Reading it will give you a better understanding of my exercise philosophy and the rationale behind the ‘Re’-Bootcamp program’s design.
  • How much does it cost? Absolutely nothing. It’s FREE. Consider it an early holiday gift, from me to you. You’re welcome!
  • Do I need to belong to a gym to participate? The workouts require minimal equipment. Just a few pairs of dumbbells, a yoga mat, a resistance band and a stability ball. They can be performed at home or at the gym.
  • How much time will the workouts take? Both the strength and cardio workouts can be completed in under 20 minutes. The workouts are purposefully designed to underwhelm you. They are not fancy, but meant to help you create a firm, fitness foundation. A foundation that can be built on once you’ve got consistency nailed down. My goal is to help you create a schedule that you can easily accommodate, leaving you feeling successful and your body wanting more.
  • Will there be other homework? Yes! I’ve sprinkled several tasks and challenges throughout the 21-day program. Most require very little time and of course, the more you put into making change, the more you’ll get out of the program. Expect to spend 5 to 10 minutes each day reading the emails and exploring the resources I’ll be sharing in them.
  • I have an injury. Can I still participate? It all depends on the injury. While I can’t individualize a program for each participant, I can suggest modifications for common limitations. You can ask for help in the Facebook group and I’ll do my best to accommodate. At the very least, you can participate in the nutrition and mindset portions of the course.
  • Why now? Christmas is right around the corner. The program runs from December 1st through December 21st. Smack dab between American Thanksgiving and Christmas. What better time to start creating new habits than the season when we’re all looking for ways to avoid overindulging? Even better? When everybody else is making their New Year’s resolutions, you’ll already have an entire month of new routines under your belt.

Registration is open today through Friday, November 28th at 6:00 pm PST (I need a couple of days to make sure you’re all on the list, receiving my emails and a part of the Facebook group).

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below or via Twitter or email.

 

The ‘10000 steps per day movement’ | keeping track with LifeTrakCore

Disclaimer: LifeTrak noticed me conversing with friends on Facebook about my interest in pedometers and the ‘10000 steps per day movement’ and sent me a LifeTrakCore C200 to track my daily activity (non-knitting activity, that is) and share the experience with my readers. Thanks LifeTrak!

We all know that we need to move more.

Not just vigorous exercise, but frequent bursts of low to moderate intensity movement throughout the day. Taking the stairs, walking to the grocery store, getting off the computer and stretching our limbs more than once every couple of hours.

Studies have shown that people who move continuously throughout the day have better health markers than those who exercise intensely for an hour then remain sedentary for the remainder of their day.

As a person who spends lots of her non-gym hours sitting and writing OR sitting and driving OR sitting and knitting, I was curious to know whether I was falling into the ‘sedentary gym rat’ pattern.

10000 steps per day

Enter the LifeTrakCore C200. A pedometer/heart rate monitor/calorie counter that straps on your wrist and keeps track of your daily movement.

10000 steps per day

For the past week, I’ve kept track of my daily steps, aiming to reach 10 000 steps per day. (Why 10 000?)  I decided not to do anything drastic to make sure I reached my goal; just go about my daily business and let the steps ‘fall where they may’. Since I’m a ‘numbers geek‘, I made you a table to look at. Can you see the pattern?

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What did I learn?

  • most days, my usual combination of working out and training clients gets me pretty close to 10 000 steps per day (one of the perks of working in the fitness industry, I guess!)
  • my step counts are highest on days when I teach group fitness (did you know that you can amass approximately 4000 steps in just an hour long Step aerobics class? Come join us!)
  • spending an hour in the gym, mainly lifting weights, added very little to my daily step count (maybe a good reasons to swap out stationary lunges for walking lunges?)
  • no workout, no walking, lots of writing leads to an appallingly low step count (although technically, Saturday IS my rest day. Should we be striving for 10 000 steps on rest days too???)
  • it’s pretty easy to add an extra 2000 or so steps to my day by just going for a 20 minute walk (although now that the bears are out, I’m not sure how often I’ll be doing this solo…)

I like being able to see my daily activity quantified; not just at the end of the day, but part-way through, when there’s still time to get back on track. Plus, going for a walk mid-day always clears my head and improves my productivity for the rest of the afternoon.

Have you every tracked your daily steps?

What surprised you the most about the experience?

And should we still be aiming for 10 000 steps per day on our ‘rest’ days? ;)

A CrossFit style workout you can do at home

Yesterday, I was excited to see a free 90-minute window on my calendar. So excited, that I immediately Tweeted about it, asking my followers what type of workout they would fill it with. Running? Strength? A CrossFit style workout?

Crossfit style workout

Crossfit style workout

I had just psyched myself up for an upper body pyramid session at the gym when my 10-year old daughter got up and told me she wasn’t feeling well. She looked flushed and was running a bit of a temperature. I decided to keep her home from school (the parents of her friends can thank me later…). I cancelled my clients, drove the boys to school and made a backup plan.

Crossfit style workout

Although I own lots of workout equipment, I don’t have a bench or an Olympic bar or heavy enough dumbbells or a place to do chin ups. None of the equipment that I needed to do the workout I’d planned. It would have been easy to let myself have a ‘rest day’. But I was still feeling the residual energy of the workouts I’d recently done at FitBloggin. In particular, the CrossFit style workout led by Reebok.

Why not create my own CrossFit style workout? And just because I know that many of you will also be faced with aborted workout plans due to sick children, pets or spouses, I decided to shoot a video and share it with you!

The entire workout is 12 minutes long. I did it in it’s entirety, but edited because not everyone has 12 minutes to watch someone else workout! Grab some weights, a skipping rope, a mat and a kettle bell (or use a dumbbell if you don’t happen to have a kettle bell lying around) and get moving!

P.S. If you like this workout, please SHARE it with your friends, LIKE it on YouTube and SUBSCRIBE to my channel!

 

 

The hardest workout ever OR how Crossfit almost made me vomit

FitBloggin Recap Part I

There’s nothing I love more than a kick butt workout.

  • Sixty minutes on a spinning bike? Bring it on!
  • Pumping iron in the weight room? Hear me roar!
  • Boot camp, sir? I’ll happily drop and give you 20!

Crossfit? Never tried it before, but how hard can it be? (I swear that I can hear the chuckles of veteran Cross fitters as I type these words…)

Famous. Last. Words.

This morning, I was treated to my first Crossfit workout ever, courtesy of Reebok (one of the many proud sponsors of FitBloggin). After way too little sleep and a lukewarm cup of ineffectual hotel room coffee, I joined a hundred of my closest fitness blogger friends in a WOD (that’s Crossfit-speak for Workout of the Day).

Led by a team of Crossfit trainers, bloggers of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels lined up in the hotel conference room to learn how to properly execute air squats, pushups, sit ups and burpees.

Apparently I squat all wrong (!). My coach, Brad had to repeatedly correct my form, encouraging me to keep my chest up and “please, open those knees up just a little more to make room for your butt to descend just a bit closer to the floor”.

Crossfit at Fitbloggin

I’m only smiling at Brad because the WOD’s all finished!

After working on our technique, we were asked to pair up. Today’s WOD was to be a partner drill. Partner would alternate resting and working, one minute of each. Doesn’t sound that bad, does it?

The WOD?

  • Air squats, 1 minute, maximum reps
  • Sit ups (chest to thighs, please), 1 minute, maximum reps
  • Burpees (chest to the floor, please), 1 minute, maximum reps
  • Repeat again for a total of 6 minutes of work and 6 minutes of rest

My partner? None other than the sweet (and buff!) Brendon from Sequel Life Fitness. We rock-paper-scissored to decide who was going first (in effect, who would be setting the performance standard; a little competitive maybe…)

Crossfit at FitBloggin

We started out strong; 35 air squats, 25 sit-ups and 20+ burpees each during the first round. Second round was tougher; a lot tougher. Legs a-shaking, lungs a-burning tougher. I stopped counting reps because breathing seemed more important. This clip of Brendon rocking his sit ups is shaky because I was a bit shaky.

I can totally understand why CrossFitters love their workouts! There’s nothing like the feeling that you’ve physically exhausted yourself to put you in the mood for breakfast.

After you stop feeling like you’re going to vomit, that is.

Crossfit at FitBloggin

Crossfit at FitblogginThanks so much to my fabulous sponsor Gaiam for supporting my trip to FitBloggin and my quest to learn new things about fitness and healthy living.

 

 

Have you ever tried CrossFit? Tell me about your WOD?

Have you ever eaten quinoa ‘oatmeal’? (I have a great recipe that I’ll share with you all next week)

 

The diversity of physiques among Olympic athletes: what does a fit body look like?

I love the Summer Olympics! Runners, cyclists, swimmers, divers, gymnasts and rowers, oh my!

Unlike their Winter Olympics counterparts, summer Olympians wear very little clothing, allowing viewers to see and appreciate fit bodies in all their various forms. (I particularly like Ryan Lochte’s…)

The long, lean physiques of the triathletes. The short, muscular statures of the gymnasts. The broad shoulders and narrow waists of the swimmers. The tight and toned glutes of the sprinters.

Makes you realize that the question ‘what does a fit body look like’ can have many different answers.

Check out my Day 10 VEDA (Video Every Day in August) video below for more musings about diversity in athletic physiques.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s VEDA video; subscribe to my YouTube channel now!

What does a fit body look like to you?

What’s your favourite summer Olympics event?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lack of Motivation Monday: three questions to ask yourself

It happens to the best of us. Even those who exercise for a living. (But don’t we all exercise for living?)

We wake up and find ourselves lacking in motivation. “I don’t feel like it today”, “I’m too tired to get to the gym”, “It won’t hurt to skip my spin class today”, “I have a lot of other things to get done”.

When my motivation to work out needs a boost, I ask myself three questions:

  1. Did I exercise on two of the last three days?
  2. Can I fit a workout in tomorrow?
  3. Can I find 30 minutes in my day to move, without going to the gym?

If I answered ‘yes’ to the first question, I just might deserve a day off. I aim to exercise 5 days out of 7, leaving me 2 days a week for rest and recovery. Maybe my lack of motivation is just my body’s way of saying ‘rest today’.

Whether or not today is an official rest day, however, depends on my answer to question number two. If there’s time in my schedule for a workout tomorrow, I’m off the hook. Rest day it is. If not, and particularly if the rest of the week is jam packed and there’s even the slightest possibility that I might have to miss a workout later in the week, off to the gym I go.

I might not feel like exercising, but I know that I’ll regret skipping out on my workout later in the week. Usually once I’ve laced up my running shoes, uploaded an energizing playlist and warmed up a bit on the treadmill I get into the groove and end up happy with my decision.

Even when I’ve answered ‘yes’ to questions 1 and 2 and feel like I’ve officially earned a day off, I ask myself how I might fit 30 minutes of movement into my day away from the gym. A walk, mid-day, to clear my head. Some pushups and a plank, just because. Some shots on goal in the back alley with my youngest child.

Thinking about skipping your workout today? Ask yourself three little questions. If you can’t honestly answer ‘yes’ to at least two out of three, you might need a little more motivation!

Check out some of my previous Monday Motivation posts and get moving.

You’ll never regret the workouts you do, just the ones you miss! (A cliche, but true!)

What’s your secret to staying motivated to exercise even when you don’t want to?

 

Working out is hard: show me your #PROOF

If you follow my Twitter stream (you do, don’t you? If not, just click on the little blue ‘t’ button over on the right), you’ve probably noticed me Tweeting about my workouts and including the hashtag #PROOF.

It’s all part of a FitFluential ‘motivation and accountability’ campaign. The premise being, that because our friends and colleagues are anticipating our daily #PROOF, we’ll be less likely to skip a workout and more likely to ‘crush it’.

It’s great to see what everybody else is up to (although some people are clearly over-achievers, setting the bar stratospherically high for the rest of us…) and it feels wonderful to have somebody see your #PROOF post and Tweet back words of encouragement and support. Because, frankly, working out is hard and a little bit of positive reinforcement goes a very long way.

What constitutes #PROOF?

People have been extremely creative, posting pictures of themselves during and after workouts (exhibiting the compulsory sweat), snapshots of the scrap of paper they wrote their workout plan down on, link ups to their Daily Mile runs, photos of heart rate monitors showing calories burned, minutes in their ‘target heart rate zone’ and, my personal favourite, the maximum heart rate they attained during their workout (that’s my competitive streak coming out again!).

Anyone can join in. You needn’t be a member of FitFluential (but of course, you should be! The only requirement is an interest in healthy living!).

Some examples of my recent #PROOF? Why of course!

and

and

I’d love to see YOUR #PROOF!

All you need to do is Tweet the details and include the hashtags #FitFluential and #PROOF!

And please feel free to let me know in the comments box below.

 

Tips for making indoor cycling more enjoyable (really!)

Today, I wrote a guest post for Trainer Kim about spinning. More specifically, about why I think spinning is a great workout for just about everybody!

I thought I’d follow up with some specific tips for making indoor cycling more enjoyable.

  1. Prepare yourself for fun. That’s right. Arrive on your bike, expecting to have a great time. Nothing puts a damper on an enjoyable workout faster than a negative attitude.
  2. Don’t ride the horn. You know, the front part of your seat? Horn riding not only takes the fun out of your workout, it also makes for sore ‘lady parts’ the next day. Enough said.
  3. Dress the part. Long, flared pants are not only too warm for spinning, they also run the risk of getting caught in pedals and wheels. I’ve seen this happen and it’s not pretty.
  4. On the other hand, full coverage of your upper torso (especially if you’re large chested), will make you (and your instructor!) feel less self-conscious when you lean forward over the handle bars in ‘aggressive’ stance.
  5. Bring your singing voice. I love to sing in spin class. It not only makes the time go by more quickly, it makes me feel happy!
  6. Pedal with a flat foot. Pointing your toe will reduce the power of your stroke as well as lead to sore calves the next morning.
  7. Pull on your pedals as much as you push. Pushing from the top of the stroke down targets your quads. Pulling up from the bottom of the stroke targets your hamstrings and glutes; you know, the part of your body people look at when you walk away from them.
  8. Drink lots. You can expect to sweat more than usual while spinning. Make sure you’ve got at least 750 ml of water to replenish as you go. If there’s not a puddle under my bike at the end of class, I know I’ll be dehydrated later that day.
  9. Go at your own pace. Ignore your neighbour. Unlike a road bike race, indoor cycling has no destination so it doesn’t matter who gets ‘there’ first.
  10. Adjust your tension accordingly. While you needn’t add as much tension as your instructor requests (particularly if you’re new to spinning or just tired from a late night out), it’s really boring to spin at the same tension for the entire class. Variety will make the workout infinitely more enjoyable.

And finally,

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t love it the first few times on the bike. When I started spinning, my instructor told me that many participants hate it for the first 5 or 6 classes. It’s a challenging workout and even those who exercise regularly find it very different from running and group aerobics. I considered myself lucky, in only hating the first 3 classes I took :)

How do you make exercise more enjoyable?