Monday Motivation: a circuit training workout to kick start your week

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While I love four-day weekends, I hate how difficult it is to get back into routine again come Tuesday morning. It’s like that extra two days off flips on the ‘vacation mode’ in my brain. (And I actually had two days off in a row; for the first time ever my gym was closed on Easter Sunday and I didn’t have to teach!). The only solution is to make a plan to get to the gym on Monday and kick start my fitness week with a short, but intense circuit training workout. Why don’t you join me?

Today’s Monday Motivation is a 10-minute circuit. You’ll need a set of weights, a mat, a bench (or chair), a ball, an interval timer and a TRX suspension trainer or Lebert Equalizer. Missing a piece of equipment? No worries, I’ve given substitutions below.

Set your timer for 10 rounds of 45 s work and 15 s rest. If you don’t have an interval timer you can watch a clock with a second hand.

Perform each exercise, in order, for 45 s (or stop sooner, if you’ve pushed yourself to fatigue before the work interval ends), followed by a 15 s rest. Make sure you use your rest to transition to the next exercise; no wasting time!

Have a bit more time? Take a 60 s rest at the end of the circuit and do it all again! Like it? Feel free to share and tweet and ‘pin’ it!

Fitknitchick’s Monday Motivation Circuit

(I had to cheat on the last one; do you know how hard it is to find an exercise that starts with the letter ‘N’? Negative chin-ups, but I didn’t want to do that to you all!)

Need a substitution?

  • Regular pushups (on toes or knees) for the T-push ups
  • Bent over dumbbell rows for the Inverted rows
  • Plank (on toes or knees) for the kNeeling Swiss ball roll-out
  • Bent over rear deltoid flys if you don’t have an incline bench

I love short, intense circuit training workouts to kick start my week. How about you?

Now tell me something great you did this weekend!

Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

Monday Motivation: 3 Fabulous Celebs Who Stay Fit and Have Fun Doing It

Need some fitness inspiration, but tired of combing through pages of fitness models that look like they jumped straight out of a photoshop session? When it comes to staying fit and looking great, it could be argued that the true secret to success is not working out harder, it is loving your body exactly the way it is and enjoying getting some exercise. You don’t need to have a typical model physique in order to feel perfectly wonderful inside your own skin. Hard to believe? Take a look at some of the most powerful females out there today, and it’s clear to see that true health and beauty stems from self-acceptance, inside and out, and taking care of the skin you’re in.

1. Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama has recently become the poster child for American fitness and nutrition with her “Let’s Move” health initiative, but the First Lady has always made an effort to stay fit and eat healthy. One of the first things she did upon moving into the White House was to start a garden in the back yard, so her own family could have fresh fruits and veggies. Gardening has always been something Michelle has loved to do, and she is encouraging families across the nation to take nutrition into their own hands by starting gardens in their neighborhoods. Since Michelle’s nutrition initiative, federal regulations have been passed to ban unhealthy foods from school cafeterias and require higher amounts of fruits and vegetables in school lunches. She has also started a dance craze among kids and parents, alike, with the song and dance routine Let’s Move, performed by another lovely lady who made this list: Beyoncé Knowles.

2. Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres is in her fifties. But can you tell? Didn’t think so. This funny lady knows what it takes to stay fit: all you have to do is have fun! She is known to dance at the drop of a hat and always starts her Emmy award-winning talk show off with a host and audience dance party. Ellen also runs and lifts weights to keep her heart healthy and bones strong, and makes sure to drink water infused with vitamins and minerals throughout the day. Let’s all hope we can look this great during our fifties, and beyond!

3. Beyoncé

Beyoncé has a gorgeous body, naturally, but she has not always felt that way. Like most of she, she felt as a young girl that she may not measure up to stick-thin images of models sashaying down catwalks and splayed across billboards. Lucky for us, Beyoncé embraced her natural curves and now rocks one of the hottest physiques in the world, even after giving birth to her first child. She focuses on eating fresh, exercising through movement that she enjoys, like dance, and lifting weights to tone. Thank you Beyoncé, for showing us that our bodies are always most beautiful exactly the way they were made.


This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99

(Almost) Monday Motivation: happy birthday wishes to Kelly Olexa, queen of the motivators!

It’s almost Monday. Nothing terribly exciting about that (unless your kids have been cooped up in the house all weekend and you’re thrilled to be sending them off to school for the day…).

Today’s Monday Motivation post is a special one. Today is the birthday of a funny, strong, powerful and MOTIVATING woman. Her company, FitFluential, has turned the fitness community on it’s head, providing a virtual meeting place for bloggers, YouTubers, foodies and health and fitness lovers alike.

Whether blogging, v-logging, Tweeting or Facebooking, her positive energy is felt (and caught!) by all. In the short time I’ve been associated with FitFluential, she’s motivated me to reach higher and farther than I would have on my own.

My YouTube videos? Her fault. More frequent blog posts? Guilty again. Partnering up with GNC and VegaSport. All thanks to her. The opportunity to attend FHBC this June? Muchus gracias my friend.

What else has she taught me?

  • FTW does not mean ‘free the whales’
  • if you’re engaging enough, YouTube viewers will not click away while you drink 16 oz of water
  • it’s okay to adjust ‘your girls’ on camera
  • Nickelback rocks (although I kind of knew that already)
  • when women post near-naked bodies of men on their websites, it’s not pornography, it’s art
  • a workout’s not a workout unless you CRUSH IT

Please join me in wishing Kelly Olexa, queen of the motivators, a heart felt Happy Birthday!

Kelly, have a wonderful, joyous, fitness-filled day (and it’s your birthday, so go ahead an indulge in that soda!).

Monday Motivation: exercise makes you happy!

Last week, while navigating children and luggage towards our departure gate at LAX, I realized that I nothing to read on the plane ride home. Although I had yarn and needles for sock knitting (scroll down to see the yarn…), I was in a reading mood. I dashed into Borders and quickly scanned the bestseller rack for something suitable.

My gaze was immediately drawn to this book;

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. I particularly liked the sub-title, Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.

The book is autobiographical, and describes the steps taken by the author to become happier in her work, home and relationships. She identifies 12 aspects of her life that she feels would benefit from improvement, tackling one each month and beginning the year with ‘Vitality’. Her reasoning? Having more energy makes it easier to engage in activities that increase happiness. 

But how to become more energetic? Rubin chose to focus on getting more sleep and exercising regularly (along with cleaning out her closets and faking it on days she didn’t feel very energetic!).

“There’s a staggering amount of evidence to show that exercise is good for you. Among other benefits, people who exercise are healthier, think more clearly, sleep better, and have delayed onset of dementia. Regular exercise boosts energy levels; although some people assume that working out is tiring, in fact, it boosts energy, especially in sedentary people…”

You know she’s right! When I’m feeling crabby and grouching at my kids (yes, I do this too) a trip to the gym is the only thing that turns my mood around. My family recognizes this and gladly sends me on my merry way, knowing that I’ll return calmer, happier and more likely to let them stay up past bedtime!

Tell me about your favourite happiness-inducing exercise!

P.S. I liked this book so much, I’ll certainly be writing about it again soon.

P.P.S. I’m extra happy today because children have gone back to school after nearly three weeks off! I know a lot of other moms who are happy about this too!

Monday Motivation guest post: Jog with your dog!

This week’s Monday Motivation comes via Talia Tugman, owner of Bite Size Wellness.

Getting gymspiration from friends, seeking encouragement on Twitter and watching a few episodes of the Biggest Loser are usually enough to get me off the couch, but the biggest form of fitness social support comes from an unlikely source: my furry, four-legged companion Faith.

Having Faith has definitely positively influenced my exercise routine (especially when the weather is full of sun-shining days). The fitness benefits of having a dog start with the fact that I will always rack up some extra mileage in my day because the pup needs to get out of my cramped NYC apartment, rain or shine. This means I am bound to get some extra steps in no matter what. Oh, and did I mention, I live on a 5th floor walk-up? Feel the burn baby…even if it is just for a potty break. And don’t even get me started on carrying large bags of dog food up the 5 flights!

Dogs are excellent workout partners because their enthusiastic wagging tail and excited energy will never dwindle. I mean, if I got as pumped up about just looking at my running shoes as Faith did from seeing a leash I would NEVER skip a day at the gym. The effortless enthusiasm that she always brings to the table when it comes to getting out the door is inspiring to say the least. Dogs have energy to burn and instinctively seem to know the importance of physical activity as a part of their lifestyle. Talk about learning a lesson from man’s best friend. Surely we should all get such joy out of daily fitness and a little game of fetch.

In truth, my past of training for a half marathon would not have been the same without the pup. On days when I just wasn’t feeling the idea of running my mind was instantly changed when I came into my apartment and looked into those eyes. The thought of letting myself down AND my dog was too much to handle! By the end, I think my sprinter dog may have rolled her eyes when the leash came out and I told her that today was a 10-miler, but no matter what she hit the road with me…complaint free! Another perk of having a dog as a fitness buddy is while your BFF or significant other can get busy and spew out excuses, rover would do no such thing. In fact, a recent study from the New York Times went as far as to say that a having a canine in the house beats out the latest home exercise equipment. And, according to Reuters, having a companion animal makes you 66% more likely to get you walking (and at a faster pace). When you are committed to your hound, you are also committing to your own physical activity.

If you want your pet to go from sofa sniffer to trail dog, consider these tips to get your pup started off on the right paw:

• Don’t let your dog run you. Running with rover will be a much better experience if he or she is not yanking your arm off to smell the flowers or become overly fascinated by a squirrel. Start off walking and invest time in heel training before sprinting full speed ahead.
• Dogs need preparation too, so don’t expect that because you conquered running 4 miles in 30 minutes that your pro-lounger can automatically keep up with you. Take it slow and work up to higher mileage and speed.
• Just like you, your pooch will appreciate an established exercise routine. If you are a morning runner and feel like sleeping in your pup will practically beg you to get out of bed based on the habits you set. No need to self-motivate!
• When running with rover, be sure to carry water. Dogs can overheat easily and do not sweat so bring some water along to help them cool down.
• Praise your furry friend for making it through an exhausting run so that she will know that she did a great job. Okay…go ahead and shower yourself with compliments too while you are at it.

The biggest reward you can receive is feeling good after your sweat session and seeing your dog crash on the living room rug. One thing is for sure, giving Faith her daily exercise makes me a proud (fit) owner. So the next time you are in need of fitness motivation just think about dogs and their effortless gusto for fitness. It’s sure to get you lacing up your shoes in no time!

For the cat lovers, aside from leashing up your meow-er, just think about how excited your feline friend gets to rub up on your sweaty work out pants…or not? Maybe we need to work at the whole cat as a fitness partner thing at another time☺

Does your pet motivate you to work out?

Talia Tugman lives in New York City with her nearly new husband. In an effort to be in touch with living a healthy lifestyle in a new city, Talia is sharing enlightened wellness living information with others served in bite size portions on her blog

Things you might have missed while I’ve been away

I know. It’s been quiet around here for the past week or so. I’ve been on holiday with my family and chose to honor that time with a vacation from my computer. No e-mails or texts or phone calls. No Twitter or Facebook or blogging. (It was harder than I’m making it sound!)

I did, however, prepare a few posts in advance, just so you wouldn’t miss me while I was gone! Did you see them, even without my social media prompts?

If not, here’s what you missed;

Progressing your plank and packing for a plane ride

Exercising to look good

Hotel room workouts via Tuesday Trainer

Understanding your real reason for exercising

Making fitness a family affair via Coquitlam Center

I’ll be back to my regular blogging schedule tomorrow; Monday Motivation with a guest post from Talia Tugman of Bite Size Wellness fame!

Did you do anything exciting on your spring break?

Monday Motivation: my favorite healthy living blogs

Welcome to Monday Motivation! Every Monday, I take a few minutes to talk about what motivates me to eat healthy and exercise daily.

Like many bloggers, I read a lot of blogs! These are just a few of the many competing for space on my Safari bookmarks menu.

Just a sampling of my Safari bookmarks bar...

Hearing what other bloggers are doing to stay fit and strong and seeing (most food bloggers have the strange habit of photographing much of what they eat!) the scrumptious looking meals they’re dining on, inspires me to work harder in the gym and the kitchen. I regularly pin‘ their workouts and recipes to try out myself when I need a new challenge.

Here’s a sampling of just a few of the healthy lifestyle bloggers I regularly look to for inspiration and motivation. Click on through and get to know them for yourself; I promise you won’t be disappointed! They’re all members of the FitFluential family and they rock my world!

Jody at Truth2BeingFit

Carla at MizFitOnline

Jess at BlondePonytail

Alexandra and Kymberly at Fun and Fit

Courtney at Sweet Tooth Sweet Life

and Lindsay at In Sweetness and In Health

What are some of your favorite healthy lifestyle blogs?

Does reading blogs about exercise and healthy eating motivate you to make better lifestyle choices?

Monday Motivation: use music to energize and invigorate your workouts

Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.

~~~ Hunter S. Thompson

If I’m feeling draggy and leaning towards missing a workout, nothing gets me to the gym faster than the promise of a new playlist. It always amazes me how the right combination of songs can turn an otherwise uninspiring workout into something fantastic.

Music motivates! Use it to energize and invigorate your workouts!

Sunday evenings, I can usually be found on the computer, trolling iTunes for some musical motivation. Although my tastes are broad (everything from John Prine to Nickelback), when it comes to workout music I lean toward Top-40, hip hop and rap. To be considered for inclusion in my workout playlist, a song has to have (1) a good tempo and (2) a strong, driving beat.

(Ever notice how mid-tempo the music is at the mall? Your pace slows to match the music and you end up spending more time shopping than you planned?)

Yesterday, I created a new playlist for today’s spin class. We ride hard for 40 minutes and need some great tunes to push us up those hills and keep our legs moving quickly through the sprints. I combined some new downloads with some old favorites; songs that we can sing along with, if so moved (I always invite my class participants to sing along with me; it’s a great way to make sure that they’re not working too hard!).

You don’t need to be in spin class to enjoy this workout. Take it with you to the gym, hop on your favorite cardio machine (treadmill, bike, elliptical, Cybex ARC Trainer) and use the music to tell you when to vary the resistance and speed of your workout.

I’d love some ideas for great workout songs; what are your favorites?

Monday Motivation: healthy choices slow down aging

Happy Monday! Time for your weekly motivation.

We are all aging, every minute of every day. There’s nothing we can do to stop the clock, but making simple lifestyle choices, including exercising daily and eating well can slow down the aging process. Did you know that,

  • exercising vigorously for 3 hours each week reduces your biological age by as much as 9 years (as measured by telomere length; the protective ends of your chromosomes that shorten as you age)
  • adding just 2 servings of fruits and vegetables daily can improve the odds that you’ll maintain functional health (i.e., be able to get out of bed in the morning and bend down to reach the newspaper) as you age

The possibility of aging slowly and well motivates me to prepare healthy meals and get to the gym regularly.

My parents are a perfect example of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle on aging.

My dad recently turned 70, yet spends time walking and cycling most days of the year. He’s an active gardener (volunteering at local gardens in both his summer and winter home towns) and enjoys a leisurely swim when the weather is warm enough. He is trim, in part, due to his love of movement, but also because he follows a strict diabetic diet (he’s been insulin-dependent for nearly 50 years).

Years before it became the healthy thing to do, my father served up home-made meatloaf and ‘ham’burgers made from ground turkey. Fat-free milk was a staple when I was growing up. (Although I was often embarrassed to bring my friends home for dinner on hamburger night, I now appreciate the healthy eating habits he modeled for my sisters and me; thanks Dad!)

My mom is 68. She retired early because work interfered with golf. She typically spends 5 days a week on the golf course, most of the time walking the entire 18 holes. In addition to the physical activity itself, the friendships she’s made on the course are key to her youthful approach to life.

My interests in cooking and baking stem directly from her; she refused to purchase packaged treats for us as children, preferring to bake her own cookies, breads (believe it or not, there’s an entire series of homemade bread photos in our family photo album; foreshadowing her blogging daughter’s future, perhaps?) and ‘health food brownies’ (I can visualize the recipe card with instructions for adding wheat germ and wheat bran to the chocolate treats; wonder where it went?). I do the exact same thing when baking for my family!

Although she has struggled with her weight for much of her adult life, the Weight Watchers point system has helped her shed over 20 pounds in the last two years. Way to go Mom!

I can only hope that the lifestyle choices my husband and I are making now will translate into continued health and activity as we age. Come back in 20 years and find out!

Does slowing down the aging process affect the choices you make today?

Tenll me about someone you know who’s aging well and happily!