When to Skip the Workout

hammock-1031363_1280I’m an advocate for pushing through a lot of stuff to get a workout done. We’re all busy. We’re all tired. We’re all stressed. We’re all unmotivated sometimes. Especially at this time of year. My usual response to that is “suck it up”, even if I don’t say it out loud. Exercise (even a little bit), healthy food and knowing you’re setting a good example for the people around you will make you feel better. I promise.

That being said, there are definite times when skipping the workout is better for you than forcing it.

1. Like if you’re sick. If you’re running a fever or fighting an infection then give your body the rest it needs. If you’re at the beginning or end of a simple head cold, you can do some light exercise but still take it easy. Being sick means your body is rundown and it needs rest. If you exercise for general health and fitness, there’s no reason to push it. If you’re training for a specific event, then use your own judgement but again, if you’re sick, your body needs rest. Not more stress. Even good stress.

2. If you’re injured. Generally speaking, injuries require you to stop or at least modify your usual routine. It depends on your injury, of course, but if you feel pain or if you have to alter your good form then you need to consider skipping your workout. If the injury is serious enough then please see a doctor and follow their advice.

3. If you just finished a big event. Maybe you ran a marathon. Or did a CrossFit event or obstacle course race. Take a few days off. You earned it. There’s nothing wrong with active rest like yoga or walking but its absolutely ok to veg out on the couch for a couple of days too. Stretching and foam rolling sore, tight muscles can also make you feel better without overtaxing your body.

4. If you’re chronically sore. If you’re sore or achy all the time with regard exercise then you may be overtraining. You need a few days rest. On the other hand, if you’re sore and achy for days because you only exercise once every two weeks…more exercise is the answer. Trust me!

5. If you are absolutely, completely exhausted. This is a tricky one. Many times we convince ourselves that we’re too tired to workout and lounging in the recliner with a bag of chips sounds like a better option. A light workout can perk you up when you’re tired. However, if you are truly worn down, then you need to skip the workout. Being that tired will lead to poor form which could lead to injury.

We all have rough days when we’re busy, tired or unmotivated. Sometimes all three at once! I get it and its easy to talk yourself out of a workout but more often than not, you really will feel better by doing something. If you’re contemplating a workout, pause and take an assessment of your situation. If any of the above apply then consider skipping a day or two.

Happy Exercising!

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30 Day Family Fitness Challenge

Keep your family fit and active during the holiday season. A little bit of physical activity can relieve holiday stress and refresh your spirit. This challenge starts on November 24th and goes all the way to Christmas Eve. Do all the activities with your family or just do what you can. Enjoy!

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Happy Exercising and Happy Holidays!

Fit Gift Ideas

Black Friday is Coming! Black Friday is Coming!

If you have a fit-minded person in your life (or want to give ideas to others for yourself!) here are a few gift ideas to make fitness a little more fun and effective.

(This post contains affiliate links. That means I make money if you click the links and buy the products.)
  1. For that friend who likes to run with music but you want them to be safe.


AfterShokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction Headphones! These headphones are ideal for runners who like to have motivating music on their run but still need to be aware of their surroundings. The Trekz Air use bone conduction technology that leave your ears open for situation awareness. The music is delivered through your cheekbones! How cool is that?? These headphones are made of durable titanium that provides a flexible, secure fit. You can get up to 6 hours of music on a single charge and they have multipoint pairing with Bluetooth connectivity. So you can connect to more than one device. And they come in multiple colors.

2. For the yogi in your life.

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BodyGood Cork Yoga Wheel Accessory Kit. This kit can help you enhance your mobility, flexibility and strength. The wheel and block are made of natural cork so they’re non-slip, water resistant and naturally anti-microbial. The cotton strap helps you ease deeper into your poses. This kit can help you achieve your zen-like flexibility goals in style.

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3. For the space saving home exerciser.

Kettlebell Kings 10-40 lb Adjustable Kettlebell. A versatile kettlebell that can be adjusted in 5 pound increments for a variety of exercises or fitness levels and it takes up minimal space. Easily adjustable with a locking mechanism that keeps the weights safely in place when in use. No worries about accidentally dropping it on your toe. And Kettlebell Kings offers free shipping which is a great deal because shipping 40 pounds worth of product could set you back a mortgage payment!

4. For the protein drink lover.

BlenderBottle Insulated Steel Shaker Bottle. Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 5.47.42 PM.pngThis insulated bottle keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours. It includes a BlenderBall whisk for mixing smooth shakes on the go and a twist-on cap that is guaranteed leak-proof so you can toss the bottle in your gym bag with no worries. It comes in multiple colors and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. This is the perfect addition for your fit friend that is always adding something to their drink.

5. For the friend in need of motivation.

51gnZjSdI-L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNo Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar. Most of us know fitness is good for us but we all lack motivation at times. This book can help you change your mindset about fitness and exercise. Michelle Segar is a behavior expert that specializes in motivation and has developed a 4 point program to help you find your motivation for health.

 

Happy Exercising! And shopping!

1-Year Anniversary and 3D Pictures

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This is a post I wrote almost 2 years ago and since its Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I would share it again…

 

The 1-year anniversary of my breast cancer surgery is coming up in a couple days and I’ve been reflecting on the last year and how it all started. With a 3-D mammogram.

Regular mammograms are so important and when I was offered the option to have a 3-D mammogram done, I took it even though I would need to pay an additional out-of-pocket fee for it. My insurance only covered part of the screening. I didn’t really know the difference between a regular mammogram and a 3D one but my very quick and limited research indicated a 3D mammogram created better pictures.

Traditional mammography takes a single picture versus 3D mammography which takes multiple pictures or slices. The multiple pictures are used to make a 3D image that is clearer and easier to read. These images help detect more cancers and detect them early and help doctors see the size of the cancer easier. It also reduces false positives.

A lot of the research on the effectiveness of a 3D versus traditional mammogram is published by companies that manufacture the screening machines and doesn’t necessarily show a huge difference between them. There is some debate that the more accurate, clearer picture may show abnormalities that require further testing thus producing unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Here’s some more information about the greatness of 3D mammograms from breastcancer.org

A study looking at 3 years of data on breast cancer screening with 3-D mammograms has found that the benefits of 3-D mammograms last over time.

The study was published online on Feb. 18, 2016 by JAMA Oncology. Read the abstract of “Effectiveness of Digital Breast Tomosynthesis Compared With Digital Mammography: Outcomes Analysis From 3 Years of Breast Cancer Screening.”

Benefits of 3D Mammograms Last Over Time

“These findings reaffirm that 3-D mammography is a better mammogram for breast cancer screening,” said Emily Conant, M.D., chief of breast imaging at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who was the senior author of the study. Dr. Conant also is a member of the Breastcancer.org Professional Advisory Board. “These results are an important step toward informing policies so that all women can receive 3-D mammography for screening.”

Based on my personal experience, I highly recommend a 3D mammogram. I was fortunate that my cancer was very small and caught very early. My amazing surgeon indicated that a 3D mammogram was the reason my cancer was caught early. A traditional mammogram may not have caught it and I would have gone a whole year before another screening. In hindsight, the best $50 I EVER spent.

But, sadly, many insurance companies don’t cover the full cost or even part of the cost of a 3-D mammogram. Many women, including me, can afford to pay out-of-pocket fees on top of our insurance coverage to have this more advanced screening but far too many women don’t have that option.

If you have the means, please consider donating to help someone and if you need assistance, here’s a search tool  to help. Please help me spread the word.

*steps off soapbox…

Happy Exercising!

How Do I Start Exercising At Home?

IMG_1192Some people need the accountability of meeting a workout partner or attending a scheduled class or training appointment. Some people aren’t motivated to exercise once they’re home and their couch and pjs are calling to them!

However, many people love the flexibility and privacy of home workouts. And no locker room cooties! That’s reason enough for me!

If you want to workout at home, either full time or as a supplement to your gym routine, it’s not hard to get started.

  1. Make sure you have a dedicated space to exercise. I’m not saying you have to have your own in-house gym room complete with a rubber floor and mirrors but, designating the spare bedroom or the family room or even the backyard if the weather cooperates will help you stay focused. And having a designated place to keep any equipment you have is also a good idea. If you plan on streaming workouts online, make sure you can easily see the screen.
  2. Figure out what you already have available. A set of stairs you can run up and down? A sturdy bench you can jump on? A device to stream workout videos on? Once you know what you have, you can decide what to do with it.
  3. Pick your exercises. A mix of cardio type exercises and strength exercises will make for a well-rounded program. To get you started, pick a variety of exercises from each column below and mix up the order for a great workout. Do each exercise for 1 minute moving through your list. When you’re done, stretch a little or rest 1 minute and go through it again for a longer workout. Do this 3-4 times per week.  

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Alternatively, you can stream an exercise video. Anything from yoga to high intensity interval training. This is a great way to mix it up. FitnessBlender.com has a full library of videos for all kinds of workouts. You can also do a straight cardio workout by going for a run or hike or running up and down your flight of stairs.

4. Finally, if you are interested in getting some equipment, start simple. You can get a very effective workout with just a jump rope and a kettlebell. A resistance band set is portable and takes up very little space and a medicine ball isn’t much bigger than a soccer ball.

That’s all there is to it! Home workouts don’t have to be complicated but they can be powerfully effective…and fun.

Happy Exercising!

What Fitness Equipment Should I Buy?

As a fitness professional, I get questions about lots of different topics.

One of which is….

“What fitness equipment should I buy to use at home?”

There are so many ways I could answer this question. I don’t suggest that anyone HAS to buy fitness equipment in order to get a good workout. Bodyweight workouts are great and you can use stairs, park benches or the curb out front to workout and never spend a cent. 

Or you could spend thousands setting up a home gym.

If you’re looking to expand your home workout routine without taking out a second mortgage, here are some items that pack a big exercise punch without pounding your budget.

A yoga mat is a good general piece of equipment even if you’re not into morning vinyasa. You can use it for stretching or foam rolling (Which I highly recommend, by the way!). You can also use it as a base for doing other activities to protect your hardwood floors or keep from slipping on tile. Yoga mats are very portable too so if you decide to workout outside you can keep your butt out of the dirt.

Resistance bands are a great addition to bodyweight workouts or a great alternative to dumbbells. They take up very little space and like a yoga mat, are very portable. And if you think bands won’t provide heavy enough resistance to give you a good workout, think again! You can get a killer full body workout with a couple of bands, attached handles and a door jam attachment.

A jumprope. Yep, a simple jumprope. If you haven’t jumped rope since elementary school I want you to go immediately to the nearest toy store or dollar store and grab a jumprope for a few bucks. You don’t need a high-speed, fancy sports rope. Just a simple rope with a decent set of handles and you can get a workout that will kick your ass!

Kettlebells are a little bit more of an investment than the other items on this list but you can get a wide range of exercises with two or three bells in varying weights. They can be used in similar ways as dumbbells but take up less space. Some of my favorite exercises with a kettlebell are squats (I like any kind of squat, really!), overhead presses and swings.

My personal home gym happens to have a lot of equipment in it. I know, I know…I advocate no equipment, bodyweight workouts all time, how can this be? Most of my equipment was given to me or bought second hand or at deep discounts – thank you Sports Authority going-out-of-business sale. And it has taken me many years to acquire all the equipment I have. If you’re just starting out working out at home then you can definitely do it with nothing or just a few pieces and add to your home gym over time when the opportunity arises.

Happy Exercising!

Note: This post contains affiliate links

Workout…RECOVER…Repeat

(affiliate links included in this post)

The older I get, the important recovery time has become for me. In my mid 40’s, my workouts can still be intense but my recovery takes sooooo much longer. Like, A LOT longer! Some days I get out of bed and feel like I’m 100 years old!

20 years ago I could go for a run, grab a bagel and a shower and go about my day. And do it all over again the next day and the next and so on. Not anymore!

As we age it takes our muscles longer to repair themselves from the damage we do during hard training. I hate to admit this but it’s reality.

Besides an extra rest day here and there (and a nap) I use several tools that help me recover a little faster and get me ready to move again.

My hip and hamstring flexibility is abysmal. It always has been, my high school track coach can confirm this. I’ve never been able to reach my toes.

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Just. Can’t. Reach!

So I use a Stretch Out Strap. It helps me stretch, and hold the stretch, with good form without bouncing around and I can use the loops to slowly stretch deeper as I loosen up. I’m never going to be Olympic gymnast-flexible but the Stretch Out Strap helps me be a slightly looser version of the Tin Man.

I have very high arches that get tight and sore sometimes so this Sportline Recovery Massage Stick works great for that. It also works well on tight muscles to work out the kinks.

My Fitness Gear foam roller is my new favorite piece of equipment. I think I love it more than my treadmill! I use it for self massage on my calves, hamstrings, quads and hips after a hard run and for a few minutes at night when I’m winding down. It’s done a lot of good for my tight hip flexors.

These tools along with rest, lots of water and good food help me feel less like I’m 100 and more like I’m 45!

Happy Exercising!