Category Archives: tough
So remember when I said I was going to try to shake up my workout routine? Well I switched it up this week!
Monday and today, I went to a boot camp at Chicago Fitness Coach, and it kicked my butt! Monday I thought I was going to die, but today was a tiny bit easier. The instructor and founder, Tony, is super motivating and really pushes you — but does it all with a laugh and a smile on his face! On the agenda today? Treadmill sprints mixed with pushups, tons of squats, lunges, mountain climbers, Spiderman pushups, sumo squats, and LOTS of core work. I was sweating like crazy (and wiping pink toner onto the towel since I had my hair dyed RED!). It’s all very basic stuff, but honestly, it didn’t matter. We were moving nonstop and everyone was dying by the end! Plus, I’m getting my workouts in early since the class is held at 9am! (Ah, the perks of not having a regular 9to5.)
And remember how I said it was pretty easy to sweat on the cheap? I got this month-long, 5x/week boot camp on Tippr for $20! Getting my butt handed to me weekly is even sweeter knowing I’m only paying $1 per class! Can’t beat that!
What have you done to switch up your workouts lately? Ever tried a boot camp or another super tough class like it? Scored any awesome deals on fitness stuff lately? Spill!
No excuses. When it comes to exercise, that’s what I’m supposed to tell you, right?
Well, I would, but I know that we’re human and we’ve all got excuses when it comes to fitting in our workouts. However, the trick to getting past those excuses is to hear them and then beat them by using a little bit of strategy and planning. Here are a few of the most commonly heard excuses for not exercising (some of which I may have used myself) and how to get around them.
1) Not enough time. You work 10-hour days, you volunteer, you have a packed social life with a boyfriend, a great family, and tons of friends demanding your attention. Oh, and we can’t forget your standing appointment with your DVR that’s recorded all of your favorite shows. Sounds like you have a pretty full, pretty great life. But you know what’s missing? EXERCISE. You manage to fit all of these other things in, but you aren’t able to squeeze in a few sweat sessions? Grab your calendar and pencil in at least 30 to 45-minute workouts per week. Honestly, to improve your health, that’s all it takes. A little more if you’re trying to lose a few pounds, but if you’re already where you want to be, for less time that it takes to primp for work or happy hour, you can get your heart pumping. And please, please, PLEASE don’t let TV be your excuse. First of all, go ahead and say that one out loud. It just sounds silly. And second, if you must watch that show, why don’t you tune in while working out? Do an at-home strength program while watching or ask the gym if they’ll turn on your show when it’s on. You can’t be the only one obsessed with “Glee.”
2) Not enough sleep. Uhh, why not? I understand that the above crazy busy life may limit your time spent snoozing, but getting enough sleep is so important! I didn’t realize how much better I felt with more sleep until I switched jobs and stopped working 13-hour days (which is ridic, btw). I started getting 8 or 9 hours of sleep almost every night, and my mood and my health both improved! It takes a whole lot more to get me stressed or upset now, and I even lost a few pounds just because my body was rested enough to repair itself and do its thing. Rachel had been telling me I needed to sleep more for the longest time, but it wasn’t until I experienced it myself that I became a true believer! But let’s just say that you’re still struggling in the sleep department, moderate exercise will actually do nothing but wake you up! That’s the great thing about it. And if you you’re missing out on Zzz’s because you just can’t fall asleep then exercise will help with that too! Regular activity = regular sleep schedule. Just make sure you get your sweat on at least 3 hours before bed so you can sleep soundly. Either way, get moving!
3) Not feeling like you can do enough in the time that you have. You think that that 20 minutes you have every weekday won’t do a thing, right? Not so! Bump up the intensity on most days, and you can really elevate your heart rate. Try intervals in your cardio, and limit or eliminate your rest between strength sets altogether. My favorite is treadmill intervals of 90 seconds at a steady pace with 30 second all-out sprints. For my resistance training, I like to do supersets between my back and chest or quads and hamstrings (biggest muscle groups burn the most calories!). You can still do a LOT in a little time. Trust me.
4) Not exactly loving the whole ’working out’ thing. You’ve tried running because it’s supposed to burn the most calories, but you ended up getting bored or a case of shin splints. You’ve tried swimming because it’s supposed to be a great full-body workout, but you ended up doing two laps and coming up gasping for air, making you feel like an athletic failure. You tried a cardio kick class, but the instructor was just a little too peppy for your liking, you couldn’t follow the moves fast enough, and the guy behind you really could have used some deodorant. Whatever you tried, you hated it, and you stopped working out altogether. But why? Why did you only try that one thing and give up on exercise entirely? There are so many options out there! Try a yoga-cardio fusion class if you need something a little more zen. Get a mountain bike or a pair of hiking boots and find a trail if being in the gym is just not your idea of a good time (you can even do a little resistance training outside! Squats and pushups, anyone?). Hire a personal trainer that fits your workout style and personality if you like being in the gym and need a push, but don’t like sharing with other people. Whatever gets you moving, do it! And don’t limit yourself to what you see your friends or family doing. Find what’s right for you and start sweating!
Alright, so those are the most common excuses I’ve come across, but what others have you heard (or used yourself!)? How do you combat those excuses or the ones I’ve mentioned? Spill!
So recently my friend Kira tweeted this at me: Hey, have you ever written about tips for getting back into exercise (or start) when you haven’t been doing any? And I realized that, nope! I haven’t! So let’s discuss!
Now, a little background here: Kira and I have been friends since freshman year at the University of Michigan where we were thrown together in a tiny little dorm room in Bursley Hall. Subsequently, we also ended up in the same a cappella group and the same sorority, so we realized we were going to be in this friendship for the long haul. Anyway, while I was very much a gym devotee, Kira was not. Don’t get me wrong, she liked to move and be active, but I don’t think she ever felt that compulsion to go sweat for 2 hours in the campus rec center every single day (plus, having a normal relationship with food along with good genes, she probably felt she didn’t need to), which isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. But now she does want to hit the gym a little more, and I think this is a great thing.
I think as a lot of us are getting older (read: we’re actual adults with lives that don’t involve weekends full of beer and just a few classes to deal with), we’re realizing the importance of a regular workout routine. And when we haven’t had one in a while – or never had one — it’s important to have a plan for getting into it. So, here are a few guidelines for starting or getting back into regular exercise.
1) Pick something you like, or even LOVE. You all know that there are certain fitness philosophies I subscribe to, and one is that you need to sweat, and the other is that you need to do strength AND cardio. But with all of the options out there now, there are plenty of enjoyable and creative ways to do all of these things. Hate running? Don’t do it! If something is more painful than enjoyable for you, then you’re going to do it approximately twice and give up on exercise altogether. So try out a lot of things, and figure out which one gets you huffing and puffing with a smile on your face! If you detest pounding the pavement, then try a dance class or hit the pool. Can’t stand the weight machines at the gym? Then hire a trainer who will make it fun (or at least distract you by chatting with you while they make you squat) or take a class in which you will tell the instructor you are a newbie or just restarting a program, and plunk yourself down in the front row so that he or she can keep an eye on your form. Whatever gets you moving and fits the three requirements (sweating, cardio, and strength) is an awesome place to start!
2) Ease your way into it. As much as you want to dive right into a 5-day-a week routine, DON’T. I’m not saying don’t try to be active as much as you can, but think about your current level of fitness. How long has it been since you exercised last? What were you doing before, if anything? How does your body respond to change? What are your goals? Is your body ready for intense workouts? If it’s been years since you’ve exercised, and you were never really that athletic before, your body probably isn’t ready for 5-mile runs Monday through Friday. Be realistic. If you aren’t, you’ll either hate what you’re doing or you’ll be incredibly sore for days or you’ll actually injure yourself and end up sidelined for a while (read: you’ll be taking another break from exercise before you even get into your routine). Honestly, when you’re first starting out, don’t even exercise every day! (What? Is she crazy!?) Here’s an example: I recently started running again after a little summer love affair with my bike. I know that in the past I was able to run 6 miles no problem, but now? Not so much. So I devised a little plan for myself to get back into running. I only run 3 days per week (some days only 2 miles, others about 4), and do other cardio or strength on the rest of the days. I’ll build up from this schedule. Whenever I’ve tried to jump right back into it previously, I’ve had ankle and stress fracture issues flare up again, and I had to stop running. As much as I might be mentally ready to do 6 milers, I know that I’m not there physically. And that’s OK. I will be soon, but not if I keep pushing myself on the miles and days I run and get injured again. **NOTE: You will probably be sore after starting up again, but don’t mistake this for a pulled muscle or another injury and just stop exercising. Learn to know the difference.
3) Take your schedule into account. I know, I know. I should be telling you that you should always make time for exercise. And you really should. But I realize that when starting a new workout regimen, it can all be a little overwhelming. Just like I don’t want you to throw your body into a new, super rigorous routine without any preparation, I don’t want you to jump into it without considering your LIFE. Maybe 90-minute boot camps every day aren’t really going to work with your 12-hour work days. But maybe a quick half hour on the spin bike every other day and one or two days of 20-minute strength routines on your lunch hour is something you can make time for. (Also, see #2. Don’t throw yourself into something intense like a 90-min bootcamp that quickly!) Get used to your beginner routine and how it works with the time you have first, and then ramp it up from there. Baby steps are the way to go here, and I bet that once you make a little time, you find ways to make even more to keep progressing.
4) Hire a trainer. Yes, I’m a little biased because I am one, but I’ve also been a client, and I know how much this helped me. I also know that trainers are expensive, but if you have the means, hire one for just a session or two (or longer if you really have the means!). What you’ll learn will help you so much in creating and sticking to a plan. They can make sure you know proper form for strength moves and they can give you tips on how to commit to a workout routine. Plus, making an appointment with someone almost guarantees that you’ll get your exercise in for the day!
I’m sure I could go on and on about how to start or get back into working out, but I want to hear from you! How did you get yourself (back) into a routine? Any tips for those who have no idea where to start? Spill!
So this post was inspired by a combination of things. 1) I’m being a total copycat here, but I really liked Eat, Live, Run’s “Confessions of a Food Blogger.” I’m totally not a food blogger, but I am a personal trainer, and I think a lot of people have preconceived notions about what we do/think/say/eat. 2) I’ve been taking it kind of easy lately and went back into the gym this morning for a less-than-intense workout after a week of avoiding it even though I live across the street.
Anyway, without any further ado, here are my confessions. Forgive me, gym rats, for sometimes I sin:
I love working out, but I go through phases where I would much rather read in my bed than hop on the treadmill or do a set of squats.
This summer has been HOT and humid in Chicago, even in the supposedly air-conditioned gym. So, for the past week and a half, I have been calling my bike rides to and from work cardio. And I don’t really feel guilty about it.
I think there is a point of pushing yourself too hard and being too obsessed. Contrary to what many trainers I know have said, puking at the end of your workout isn’t healthy and ignoring injuries to get in 3 workouts per day is more insane than it is tough. Call me weak if you want, but I’ve never gotten more from a workout because I saw my lunch afterwards.
Sometimes I use being a PT as an excuse to wear leggings, sports bras, and t-shirts as my daily uniform — even if I’m not training that day. And on the extra lazy days, I chalk up not wearing makeup and donning a wide stretchy headband with a pony tail to working in a place where people are sweating anyways.
If I demonstrate ab exercises enough during the hours I’m on the job, I might call it core work.
Lately, I’ve been paying attention, but not really freaking out over what I’m eating, and people are telling me I look smaller. I’m chalking that one up to chilling the eff out for once.
Sometimes sleep takes precedence over my workout. In the last two weeks since leaving my old job and starting to work at these smaller studios, I’ve slept a LOT. To be fair though, working 13-hour days didn’t really do me any favors in the rest department. But now I’m catching up, and feeling sooo much better since rest is pretty essential to recovery. And to me not being cranky.
I know that body fat percentage is the best indicator of health, and that how your clothes fit is more important than weight, but sometimes when I’m working hard, I (sadly) get the most motivation out of seeing a little drop in the numbers on the scale.
Even though core strength is totally important, I HATE working my lower back. Abs follow pretty closely.
I am not a rippling mass of lean muscle, and although I’ve been that way before – and liked it and would actually love to get back there — for the time being, I’m actually kind of liking having a booty.
So there you go. I’m sure I have more, but I think that’s plenty for now. I need to save some transgressions for the next time I come to confess, right? Any other PTs out there? Do you have similar confessions? Anyone else feel that sometimes they’re totally human and aren’t the epitome of everything their profession says they should be?
So I know we usually hear those words around January 1st, but this is a different kind of ‘new year’ for me.
I’m turning 25.
Yeah, I know.
I can no longer claim to be in my early 20s, and I’ve officially hit my mid-20s. I can’t blame my age as much when I do ridiculous things, and I’m expected to be a little more responsible. On Sunday I will have officially been on Earth for a quarter of a century.
But I’m actually kind of excited about it. I know there aren’t many new perks to turning 25 (I can now rent a car. That’s something, right?) like there were when I hit 18 and 21, but I feel that up until this point I’ve sort of been teetering on the edge of adulthood, waiting for that certain something to tip me over. And although it’s just a date, I feel that June 20th is going to shove me out of feeling like such a kid. And that’s a very good thing.
That’s not to say that I won’t still be a complete goofball — afterall, that’s part of who I am. But I think that, to me, 25 will leave me feeling a little more sure of myself. A little less hesitant to take life by the horns. A little better prepared to run with whatever life throws at me. I’m no sage just yet, but I do feel that I’ve learned a lot –about myself and life in general — in the past year.
I quit my nice secure office job to try my hand at a completely new career path that I knew I would be much more passionate about. From this I learned that doing what you love can be hard, but if it makes you happy, it’s more than worth it. I started actually dating again, and I remembered what it was to open myself up, leaving myself vulnerable to heartbreak. I discovered I’m a lot more fragile than I ever knew, but also more resilient than I had imagined I could be. I made a lot of decisions on my own this year, and instead of asking people if I should do something, I told them. This meant dealing with the consequences alone as well, but I slept better knowing my choices were solely mine. Overall, with the many changes I’ve gone through in the past year, I found out I still have enough glue to patch myself back up when I start to crack. And that I have so much to be thankful for and happy about, no matter that I’m not exactly where I want to be in life just yet.
So what about this ‘new year, new me’ business? Well, I’ve changed so much in the past year, that I think it’s worth trying to continue with the education and evolution of Heather. I’ve got a lot I want to do this year, so there are things I’m going work on with me:
Be gentler with myself.
Sometimes I berate myself and tell myself that I haven’t done enough. But the thing is, I usually do try my hardest. And when I don’t I need to go a little easier on myself. If I wouldn’t speak to a good friend a certain way, then I shouldn’t speak to or treat myself that way.
Be more realistic with myself.
This means being honest with myself at all times. And if I haven’t done enough and I know it, then I need to admit that too. I know this sounds like the opposite of the previous statement, but I can apply the friend philosophy to this one as well. If my friend is being ridiculous and making excuses for herself, it’s my job to tactfully snap her out of it. So it’s all about finding balance. Being nice, but also not letting myself get away with silly things.
This actually goes with both of the above statements. I need to remind myself that I am capable of a whole lot. So I need to give myself pep talks here and there, being kinder to myself and building up my own confidence. I also need to be realistic when I think I can’t do something. When I’m being honest, I realize I’ve been through things a lot more difficult than things I’m doubting myself on. The scary talks, the job risks, the potential of falling on my face. I’ve already done them all and survived. I can do whatever I put my mind to because I’ve probably done it before.
Love myself for who I am right now.
Not for what I was in college or who I want to be by next year. But for every quirk, flaw, strength, and bit of potential I have this very second. I have to love me. For me. Right. Now.
Have any of you reached milestone ages recently? Are you approaching one? How did it or does it make you feel? Anyone else turning the big 2-5 soon?!
Happy Birthday to me!
Get more sleep: OK, repeat goal. While this one wasn’t a complete and utter fail last month, I did not get my seven hours at least five nights per week. I got close with six many nights, but still. I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to. So this month, I’m going to make sleep even more of a priority. But I’m going to lower the bar a teeny bit. I’m going to aim for seven hours at least four nights a week this month. (Give me your tips for getting to bed earlier! I’ll take all the help I can get!)
Incorporate new types of cardio into my routine: Since I started thinking about doing the Chicago Triathlon, I’ve been considering how I can take my workouts up a notch. The other day I made a fun cardio circuit for myself that involved a lot of spinning with some stair and lap running mixed in there . And I have to say, I kind of loved it! So I want to take at least two spinning classes this month, since I’ve tried it before but never really given it a chance. If I want to prep for the Tri (goal for March is to actually SIGN UP), I need to start now – but indoors because there is no way in HELL I’m biking along the lake with a -10 windchill.
Focus on the positive: I’ve always considered myself a pretty upbeat person, but I have also always had a problem with getting into my own head too much and overanalyzing everything (no, really, everything), and then dwelling on the negatives of a given experience. So this month, at least a three times a week, I want to write down the positive things that happen to me during the day. I was going through old texts today, and I came across some I had saved because they were from the really uplifting people in my life. My parents telling me how proud they are of me, an inspiring friend reminding me that I’m capable of anything, my boss encouraging me and letting me know I’m doing “one hell of a job.” I saved those for a reason – because I wanted to remind myself to focus on the positive – so I need to do that everyday!
Read more than just the back three pages of the Red Eye newspaper: Because scanning the celebrity gossip and doing the crossword puzzle isn’t really helping me become a more well-rounded person.
1) Get more sleep: Hmmm… so the goal was to get seven hours at least five nights per week. That hasn’t exactly been happening. However, I’ve been getting better about it! Weekends I’m obviously still getting plenty, and six hours during the week has been a lot more common than the five I was looking at before. I could still improve here, but I must say that I’ve been a lot less tired, my skin has looked better, and I’m pushing a lot harder in workouts. I’m going to start getting myself on a more consistent sleep cycle (especially since I’m getting a LOT more morning clients, so these seven hours are going to be key!)
Overall, I’d say two (and a half…ish) out of four ain’t bad! Did you make goals for this month or for the year as a whole? How are they going? If not, are you thinking about making some? Let me know!
This is a question I have to ask a lot of potential clients. Every new member at our gym gets a free personal training session, and when setting up these appointments, I often ask, “Do you prefer a male or female trainer?” Now, a lot of people will say they don’t care either because they really don’t or because they’re afraid of offending me with their answer. But I often wonder, who do people really want training them? And what’s the reasoning?
Personally, I have only had male trainers. You would think feminist me would be all about having a female trainer, but I just wasn’t. Mostly because guys were the ones who approached me, but also because that’s what I asked for when it came time to actually buy training. It’s not that I don’t think a female trainer could kick my ass, because I know from my own training that this simply isn’t true. In fact, I’ve nearly made guys puke during my workouts before (so there!). But honestly, I think my choice stemmed from my own insecurities. The female trainers at the gym by my apartment all seemed so girly and just teeny. Thanks to being a sorostitute for three years, I was worried that they would all be sizing me up while we trained, as women often do with one another (catty bitches, right?). So I went with guy trainers because I didn’t care about being sweaty and gross in front of them. They can judge me all they want, but they can’t really compare my body to their own, so I don’t really care.
Other women feel the total opposite. My friend Kate said that she wanted a female trainer at first because of her insecurities. When she started with a male trainer, she said she always tried to “get dressed” to go to the gym, but then she learned it was more about the sweat and the hard work, and stopped caring what she looked like while she was working toward her goal. And I’ve talked to a lot of women who feel this way. They don’t mind dripping and panting in front of other women, but working out with a male trainer makes them nervous. I’ve also heard that women like working out with other women because they can relate. Duh, I didn’t even think of this one, even though most of my female clients talk to me about their lives every single day. I get it that stress does a number on you and your goals. I get it that we can’t drop five pounds as easily as the guys. I get it that sometimes you need a little chocolate and that there are certain days when you will be crankier than others. I get it.
With guys, the situation can be a little different. Boys are gross to begin with (if there are any male readers, feel free to defend yourselves in the comments section), so I doubt they worry too much about sweating a lot during their workouts. However, some men are a little iffy about sweating that much in front of cute girls who are telling them what to do. I’ve even heard from one or two male gym members that they’re worried that if a woman trainer is touching them (for instructional purposes, obvi) and ordering them around like a drill sergeant that they’ll “get turned on.” (I had no idea how to react to that comment.) Anyway, some guys choose male trainers because those are simply things they don’t want to fret over.
The issue of competence is something else entirely. I think, at times, both men and women think that female trainers won’t be as tough or can’t possibly know what they’re doing. I’m going to be biased for a second and tell you that, we do, in fact, know our stuff. We had to get certified just like the guy trainers, and we do just as much strength training as they do. Just because we can’t lift as much as some guys, this does not mean that we can’t put you through the workout of your life. [Girl Power rant over.] Some guys will say they want a guy because they don’t think a girl will be able to help them bulk up. Other male clients will say they wouldn’t mind a female trainer because they don’t mind if someone a little prettier watches them sweat, and they feel like they might even work a little hard to impress their trainers.
In the end, there’s no general answer across the board. I guess it all depends on personal preferences, and it might not even be gender-based, but actually just whether or not your personalities mesh.
What do YOU think? Would you rather hire a female or male trainer? Why? Does it matter to you, or you just need to make sure you have a trainer with whom you get along and who motivates you the right way? Spill!