Spring Clean Your Workout Program

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Spring is in the air! At least it is here on the East Coast! This season always signifies renewal and growth. The days are getting longer and warmer. (Thank goodness!) Spring produce is ready to be picked to lighten up our meals. People are beginning to venture outside again.

This is the perfect time to change up your workout routine. It’s a good time to break out of the rut of being stuck inside for months and maybe try new things. A change can bring new energy to your fitness and help you bust through plateaus or ramp up your fitness level to reach new goals. Our bodies adapt to our workouts so after a while you need something new. Plus, I just get bored!

If you think your routine could use a facelift, here are a few ways to change things up.

  1. Go outside. I know, some of you hardcore people always workout outside. More power to you! For the rest of us, we live for the slightest signs of spring as a signal that we can now go do our run around the neighborhood and our squat jumps in the park. Spring is also prime time for road race events so signing up for a local 10k might be just what you need.
  2. Do you workouts in the morning (if you don’t already). With the days getting longer, it gets lighter earlier so it’s easier and safer to exercise outside in the morning. Even if you only have enough time for a quick workout, it’s better than nothing. And getting something done first thing in the morning sets your day up for success and helps you feel accomplished before the day has even started.
  3. Try something new this spring. Go to a new exercise class or join a new running club. Most gyms offer free passes or free trials to try out their facilities so take advantage of that. You might just find your new favorite place.
  4. Buy yourself some new gear. A new pair of shoes or leggings. Maybe a new set of headphones. I don’t know about you but needing to break in a new pair of running tights gets me moving. Also, I you plan to move your workouts outside, you might need some new layers to accommodate the spring weather. Or at least that’s what you can tell yourself when you’re spending money!
  5. Take up a new sport. Look into tennis or golf lessons. Getting your kids or friends involved too can elevate the fun.
  6. Speaking of your kids, try some fun stuff with them too. Go roller skating. Play some backyard soccer. Shoot hoops in the driveway. Anything that gets you and your kids active and having fun is a good thing and sets a great example.

Use this new season as an opportunity to try new things and don’t be afraid to move on if something just isn’t the right fit. Spring can be rebirth so use it!

Happy Exercising!

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Is the Fat Burning Zone a Mythical Creature?

My husband I were recently discussing a similar topic so I thought I would re-share this blog post from 2017.

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Is the Fat Burning Zone a mythical creature?

It must be! Otherwise, all those people plodding along on the treadmills at the gym would be in great shape. Like a beautiful, sparkly unicorn, we want to believe that it exists but the concept of the fat burning zone has been regularly misinterpreted and misunderstood.

The fat burning zone theory is that lower intensity exercise, at about 55% – 70% of maximum heart rate, burns more fat. Basically, your body burns more fat at a lower intensity of aerobic exercise than it does at a higher intensity. This sounds good in theory. After all why work harder if you don’t have to, right?

The misinterpretation of this theory happens because there is a difference between percentage of fat burned vs. actual fat burned. In reality, you burn a higher percentage of fat at lower intensities but generally more fat overall at higher intensities. Your body draws energy from two sources, fat and glycogen or stored carbohydrates. The percentages of these two fuel sources vary depending on the intensity of your exercise.

At a lower intensity, you may burn 60% of total calories from fat. And at a higher intensity only 45% of total calories from fat. On the surface, that seems like lower intensity would be better. But at a higher intensity you burn more calories OVERALL which bumps your actual fat calories up even though the percentage is lower.

For example:

 

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The numbers above are just for example purposes but hopefully, you get the point. Percentage vs. actual are very different. Lower intensity exercise has its place in a workout program but if you’re relying on it to help you burn fat, it’s not the best idea. Circuit or interval workouts are efficient and help you burn more calories in less time.

Click here to get a FREE PDF download of high intensity workouts you can do right in your living room!

Stop searching for the mythical creature! To truly burn maximum fat, focus on building muscle with a comprehensive strength training program and healthy eating habits. These will do far more to help you reach your goals then chasing the unicorn at the end of the treadmill!

Happy Exercising!

P.S. If you want help creating an effective exercise program, check out my monthly coaching services here.

Why Women Don’t Exercise

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A recent study determined 3 major reasons women don’t exercise…

  1. Concerns about appearance. Women don’t want to look foolish or look like they don’t know what they’re doing.
  2. Concerns about ability. Many women feel like they have to be “in shape” to work out in a gym. (“I join the gym AFTER I lose some weight.”)
  3. Concerns about being judged. This one encompasses the previous two concerns. Most women fear judgement of their appearance, their ability and worst of all…being judged for putting themselves first.

In my opinion, these are all terrible but this last one really breaks my heart. Women are seriously judged unfavorably for TAKING CARE of themselves!! Shaming of any kind, fit or fat is unacceptable. I’m not totally sure how to change things and I know I can’t do it alone but something needs to change.

In my experience, people who judge others or make negative comments about others lifestyle choices are really trying to make themselves feel better about their own choices. For example, if I’m “selfish” for taking personal time for exercise then their lack of exercise makes them seem “normal”.

THIS MAKES NO SENSE TO ME AT ALL.

I’m not going to spout a bunch of motivational sayings or “girl power” crap because that’s not my style. These are real, valid fears and one thing I CAN do is help find ways to overcome them and help you reach your health goals.

  1. Select a workout location that makes you comfortable. If you want to join a gym, check out several before making a decision. Gyms have a unique atmosphere and subculture that can be motivating or intimidating, depending on what you’re in to. Check out the Body Positive Fitness Alliance to find facilities and trainers that promote an inclusive atmosphere. If you don’t want to join a gym or it’s not an option that’s ok. But don’t let that keep you from exercising. Your living room or back yard is an excellent place to start your fitness journey.
  2. If you’re not sure what to do or don’t want to look clueless at the gym, consider hiring a personal trainer or fitness coach. I know this is an additional expense but its well worth it if it makes you more comfortable and more likely to exercise. Some trainers are available for individual sessions (rather than buying a pack of sessions) to help get you started. Fitness trainers are not exclusive to elite athletes or the very rich. We work with everyone! A good trainer will help you learn and work at your pace to make sure you’re comfortable and confident. Just like with gyms, shop around until you find a trainer you feel good with.
  3. I know this may be easier said than done, but try to remember that most people are not fit their entire lives. Anybody in your gym who is very fit didn’t start out that way and if they pay you any attention at all, they’re most likely thinking “I’ve been there. Good for you!”. Try to focus on the task at hand and complete YOUR workout to the best of your ability. If you focus on how exercise makes you feel and the progress you’re making, everything else just becomes background noise.
  4. If you’re family or friends are not on board with supporting your choices, have a frank conversation with them. Explain WHY you’re making these choices and explain how their comments or actions affect you. They may not realize that their off-hand comments have a negative impact. The more people in your circle that you can educate about why your choices are important to you, the better you’ll feel.
  5. Remind yourself that your healthy habits make you healthier so you are better able to care for your kids, spouse, parents, or whoever. Taking one hour for yourself so you can have the energy and confidence to juggle the other 23 hours of the day seems like a pretty good trade-off to me.
  6. Lastly, we live in a social media world but that doesn’t mean that everything you do has to be public. If you’re concerned about other moms judging you for taking time for yourself, well, why do they need to know? You can keep your habits private if you choose. I don’t mean you should keep it a secret but random people on Facebook don’t need to know everything!

I’ll continue to promote the importance of health and wellness and the impact it has on every aspect your life. And I’ll continue to combat the feelings of fear with my clients any way I can. Please comment or message me if you have additional ideas for combating this trend.

Happy Exercising!

I bailed on a race…

20 years ago I ran a race while I was recovering from bronchitis (not the smartest thing I’ve ever done!) I’ve run races after very little or no training. I’ve run races with various injuries. I’ve run races in horrendous weather and on terrible courses. (My sister likes to remind me repeatedly of a 5K I “forced” her to run with me that was seemingly uphill the entire way despite it being a loop course!!)

Once I pay a registration fee I find it very hard to NOT participate in a race. I know in the big picture, it really doesn’t matter whether I run or not. The organization already has the money and in most cases I already have my T-shirt or whatever other giveaway is involved. Although, I do have issues with wearing a T-shirt for a race that I did not actually complete but that’s a blog for another day!!

My point is, that despite having a number of legitimate reasons for not running a scheduled race, I very rarely bail out. Even when, sometimes, I really should.

However, I bailed on the five miler I’ve been training for that was supposed to happen two weeks ago. The Celtic Solstice 5 Miler takes place in Druid Hill Park in Baltimore about an hour from where I live and is a great race. The course is hilly and it’s usually very cold but overall, the race is just a great atmosphere during and after the run. There’s a heated tent at the end with cookies and hot spiced wine! What could be better than that! And this race offers beautifully designed, high-quality jackets with registration. Not a thin, cheesy looking t-shirt but a running jacket.

But the morning of the race, my friend and I would have had to leave at 6 AM and at that time my driveway was a sheet of ice and there was a “wintery mix” coming down. We decided to skip the race for our own safety. We knew the weather was probably better in Baltimore but our current location posed some problems. And let’s be honest, it’s not like this was an emergency. I’m not a doctor, police officer or other emergency worker that needed to be out. There was absolutely no reason for me to be on the road. And yet, I felt this ridiculous need to run because I put my name on the list and paid money. I run this race every year. How could I not go this year?

I know, logically, we made the right choice but it drives me crazy that I had to miss that race. It’s still bugging me almost two weeks later. I ran 5 miles on my treadmill to make up for it and have decided in my own mind that justifies me wearing the jacket even though its not really the same!!

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Celtic Solstice 5 Miler Premium Jacket

My point in all this is that one of my goals for 2017 will be to lighten up a little bit when it comes to racing. Or any other fitness endeavor really. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody but myself and my personal health (and safety!) are my priority. That being said, I already have several races lined up for 2017 so stay tuned!

Let me know in the comments what you have planned for the new year.

Happy Exercising!

Just Start Now

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I recently wrote about New Years resolutions (click here if you missed it) so to go along with setting goals at any time…don’t wait for the perfect time to start a new fitness plan.
Start now. Don’t wait for Monday or next month or the perfect plan or New Years or whatever…

I know it’s a cliche but the perfect time is now. If you’ve decided to make a new fitness plan (or any other healthy habit for that matter) a priority, why wait? What’s going to happen between now and your “start date” that you need to wait for?

I know the holidays are crazy and stressful and you have other priorities so putting off your new fitness goals until after the holiday season seems like a smart idea. But…exercise can improve your mood and lower your stress levels (helpful when dealing with visiting family!) When you exercise your body’s level of stress hormones drops which helps you relax. Exercise can also give you more energy. I know that sounds contradictory but trust me. And who couldn’t use an energy boost during the holidays? And last but not least, going out for a 30 minute run or a quick weight session gives you a break from all the merriment!

So just start now.

If, for whatever reason, you’re not ready to start your formal fitness plan and are sticking with your pre-determined “start date” at least get out and do SOMETHING! Go take a walk or do some crunches or push-ups.

Here’s a fun holiday workout to help you out!
My family loves the movie “Christmas Vacation”. We watch it A LOT! So I decided to make it into a workout game. It’s simple.

Every time someone gets hurt (usually Clark) do 10 push-ups.
Every time something breaks do 10 squats.
Yep, it’s like a drinking game! Enjoy!

Happy Exercising and Happy Holidays!

Annual Goals

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New Years resolutions…

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions because I think goals can and should be set and adjusted at ANY time. But, I can also appreciate the idea of the new year being a great opportunity for a new beginning. The holiday season is busy and chaotic. January is usually the time where everything settles down and gets back to a normal schedule so it presents itself as a good time to start something new. I get it! It is a good time to re-evaluate current goals or plan new ones for the coming year.

It was about this time last year I set goals for 2016. I had a main goal and two secondary goals and I even used a goal planning sheet to post them in my home office. I was quite proud of my organized self!

And, literally, three weeks into 2016 they promptly went to hell with a cancer diagnosis.

Obviously, my goals changed and I had to make a new plan. The end of 2016 looks very different than I thought it would but I still accomplished goals and in some ways even made unexpected progress.

My point is, flexibility is key. So many people make New Year’s resolutions in January only to find they have “failed” by February or March. Don’t look at resolutions as success or failure. Sometimes, they have to be adjusted out of necessity and sometimes just because you feel like it. If you find yourself “failing”, take the time to figure out why and re-adjust. Don’t just give up. Maybe the resolution you made wasn’t right for you or maybe you need a different plan to accomplish it.

Goals should be written down but they’re not chiseled into the sidewalk out front – they can be erased and rewritten. Trust me, it’s OK! I did not accomplish my original goals for 2016 so for me, 2017 is just another opportunity to begin again.

Take some time today to think about what you want to accomplish in your new beginning.

Happy Exercising!

P.S. Here’s a printable Goals pdf to help you get started.