I know this might not sound like my usual advice, but if you’re really feeling burnt out or apathetic about your workouts, then take a break. Sometimes you just need some time away from your routine to get excited about it again. If you keep trying to get back in the swing of things without switching it up, you’re going to start pushing less in those workouts, which means fewer results.
With that said, I don’t mean take a break from working out entirely. Please, do you know me?
What I’m saying is that when you start to absolutely dread that workout you’ve been doing over and over again for months, it might be time to make a change. And by change, I mean a challenging alternative that will get you excited to work out again. For example, I’ve been doing almost the exact same strength workout for about 3 months. While I love it (I really do…lifting heavy is the newest object of my affection), a few weeks ago I was feeling like I was dragging through every workout. I even started skipping a few exercises at the end of my routines because I was so BORED. (OK, really it was just dumbbell flyes because I hate them and they were starting to hurt my shoulders. But still.) On top of that, I wasn’t seeing the results I was hoping to, so I was slacking on other habits as well. Things just weren’t going well, and I knew I needed to make a change before I totally threw in the towel.
Enter Crossfit. After taking a few days to just loosen my limbs with some cardio (for all of you heavy lifters out there, you won’t lose strength in a week — I promise!), I decided to use a YouSwoop I bought at the end of last year for Crossfit, partially because it expires in a few weeks, but mostly because I knew it would still be killer resistance training. I went for the first time on Friday, and I have to say that it kind of kicked my butt. I haven’t been mixing cardio in with my strength, so this was a wakeup call! However, it did make me realize how strong I’ve gotten in the last few months, since I powered through it with all of the folks who had been doing it for a while. And because the guys running it decided to sneakily add more weight to my barbell when I was doing sprints because they thought I was too strong and wanted to slow me down a little. Not nice.
Anyway, the point is that after taking a short two-week break, I’m super excited to get back to my regular training on Sunday (oh leg day, I’ve missed you!). When I was at the gym the other day, I could see the weight room, and I found myself surprisingly jealous that I wasn’t in there tossing around (OK, fine, struggling with) dumbbells, too. I’m excited about and looking forward to my regular workouts again! And I have to say I’m relieved! It’s like when you eat the same food over and over again because you love it so much, and then one day, you just don’t and you’re kind of sad because it used to be your favorite. So you find something new and unfamiliar to replace it with, only to find yourself craving your former fave a month later.
So go out and try something new! If you’re a runner, give swimming a shot. If you’re a yoga devotee, try a PiYo class. If you normally use just weight machines, try free weights or adding in some plyometrics. If you work out solo, test out some classes. The possibilities are endless!
And just for fun, here’s a Jim Carrey classic, and what I’m assuming my mom thinks will happen to me if I keep lifting heavy:
Have you ever been in a workout rut? Did you take a break or push on through? What have you done to switch up your workouts? Spill!
Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about this figure competition. Like… A LOT. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about it, and I’ve had a lot of people who keep asking me about it, but I think I could tone it down and not be all about it for a bit, you know? I’m going to keep some of it to myself for a little while — or at least try not to go overboard and make it the focus of my entire life, even if it does require a higher level of commitment. (As far as the blog goes, I’m going to work on a separate page so that anyone interested can check that out instead of having to read it all the time here! I may still brag about my squats, though.)
So what got me thinking about this a little more? I had a conversation with one of my bosses about chatting with our members about body image and changing the way we talk about it. She knows about my blog, so I brought up a post I wrote about a year ago asking if eating disorders were contagious. At the time, I was working with a bunch of guys who all had athletic goals, but whose training and diet plans bordered on crazy. And if they would have been females, they would have had big scarlet ‘ED’s on their foreheads. Because they were male, however, they were ‘dedicated.’
Anyway, with all my talk about body love, self esteem, and the like, I didn’t want to give anyone the wrong impression that I’m changing my tune and telling everyone that they need to look or train a certain way just because I am. We all have different standards and goals, and I hope we can all learn to love what we’ve got (and keep getting healthier!), no matter what. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to do this show is because I needed something competitive in my life. I was raised an athlete, and I truly miss it — the training for this seems to fill a void and drive me forward. But another reason I chose to compete (October! Finally picked an exact date!), is because I know that I can’t slip back into old bad habits if I want to succeed in this. Are figure competitors pretty rigid in how they eat and train? Yep, but at the same time, I know that I can’t eat too little or go too cardio crazy because I’ll actually hurt my progress and lose muscle. I’ve got to plan and count, but in a sense, I’m making sure I’m not causing myself any harm.
So with conversations I’ve had lately, my own training, and an ED certification I just finished up, I’ve started thinking again about whether EDs are ‘contagious,’ or at least whether or not we health nuts are going to be a little more predisposed since we live and breathe this stuff. I want to open this topic back up to people who may not have read the post last year…what do you think? Are EDs and disordered eating catching? Have your health habits ever been influenced by those around you? Go check out the post, and whether it’s here or there…Spill! I know you’ll have some interesting things to say about this one!
This week has felt all over the place, and it’s only Wednesday! Either way, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. So this week I…
Have felt like I worked a lot, even though I’m not working any more than normal.
Put off finishing my maid of honor speech for my sister’s wedding about 20 times. And it’s this weekend.
Delayed two workouts earlier this week and am now trying to frantically cram them in before I head to Michigan for the wedding. Probably not ideal.
Have not posted anything, and have been fairly MIA from Twitter and Facebook.
Ordered Tosca Reno’s Eat-Clean Diet — Recharged! from Amazon since this past week a few not-so-hot foods have snuck into my diet, and I need to really get focused after the wedding this weekend for the competition!
Drank way too much coffee.
Started the 30 for 30 fitness challenge with my readers!
Jammed out to this Auburn song about 80 times since I downloaded it Sunday.
How’s your week going so far? What have you accomplished? And what are you working on?
I have a new favorite toy at the gym! It’s not a weight, or the TRX, or a cardio machine, or a new kind of BOSU, but rather…
the Precor Stretch Trainer!
I seriously LOVE this thing. I first tried it when I went to the chiropractor, and when I saw it sitting by the stretching area at my gym, I knew it was meant to be! We didn’t have one of these bad boys at the gym where I used to work, so I was thrilled to see it at my gym. I always have lower back tightness and less-than-loose hamstrings (hence the help from the chiro), and this is the next best thing to having a physical therapist or trainer stretch you out. Plus, I love that it gives you instructions on how to stretch every single area, including your back, glutes, hips, shoulders, and hamstrings. I usually say ‘pfffft’ to detailed how-tos for stretching, but in this case, I love it, since I had no idea what this piece of equipment did before! I promise I’m not being paid for this when I say: I would keep one of these at home and stretch in front of the TV (after a little warmup of course –NEVER stretch cold muscles!) or while chatting with my roommates if it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Anyway, just wanted to give you all a little insight into what’s been going on with me and how I got involved in my latest love affair. (Kidding!) (Kind of.) (Not really.) But I’m wondering… am I way behind on this? Have you all been using it forever? Do you like it? What’s YOUR new favorite thing at the gym?
On Wednesday of last week, I was about to head to Michigan for Thanksgiving, and I was running all over the place, trying to figure out when I was going to get a workout in. I was in a rush to get home to finish packing so that I wouldn’t miss my train (uh, almost did, and it would have been the third time I’ve done something like that so I’m glad I got lucky!), but I knew that fewer workouts would happen when I got to Michigan and just wanted to hang out with my family, so I HAD to sweat that day. I had started work at 5am that morning, and I didn’t feel like I was moving at my normal pace, so I had no idea how a good workout was going to happen in the short amount of time I had.
But when I got to the gym, I got inspired (ok, maybe there was some coffee involved, too) and I went to work. This workout took me 25 minutes altogether (OK, so not exaaactly a quickie), MAYBE 30 since I didn’t necessarily hustle to the treadmill to do sprints. To get the most bang for my buck, I warmed up for 3 minutes on the bike and jumped right into the strength routine. As soon as I finished my last triceps pulldown, I jumped right on the treadmill and was breathing hard in no time. [Sidenote: I’m learning that although I’m not running distance right now because my body HATES it, it seems to have no problem with me doing sprints. Plus when I’m cranking out a fast mile, I feel kind of badass.]
This workout is perfect for when you wake up late for work (if you’re one of those morning people) or get a last minute invite to dinner when you haven’t had a chance to hit the gym yet. Seriously, you don’t need a ton of time, but you DO need to work hard. Keep your body moving and your heart rate up, and an effective workout can be had in 30 minutes.
Quickest Workout Ever
15 Dumbbell Squats ( I used 25s since there was no bar in the area in which I was exercising), but go as heavy or as light as you need to)
20 double punch sit-ups
(do all x2)
15 lat pulldowns
20 hamstring curls on the ball
20 plank jacks
15 dumbbell chest press on ball (20s)
15 triceps pushdowns
10 minutes of alternating run/sprint, 1 min each
Another reason this workout is perfect if you’re super crunched for time is because it fits all of the important stuff in. You get your warmup, your cardio intervals, and strength training for all of the major muscle groups with cardio bursts in between. Because you’re training unrelated muscle groups you can move from one exercise to the next with no rest, ensuring you keep your heart rate up. This also helps increase endurance since you don’t stop moving, even though it is for different moves.
I was SORE after this workout, so I’m going to remind you: Don’t forget to stretch! I find that if you’re really running late, you can stretch those hamstrings in the shower as you rinse your conditioner out.
What are your favorite quick workouts? What are your favorite killer strength moves? What do you do when you only have 30 minutes?
Who else is glad that it’s FRIDAY?!
This week hasn’t exactly been stressful, but I guess it’s just been one of those weeks for me. This weekend, I plan on getting some good workouts in — boot camp tonight, training session tomorrow — and catching up on my writing and blog reading. And in general, I’m just going to try to pull it together! I want to make some more of my mom’s fab turkey chili too, and if I do, I’ll be sure to post a recipe! Or maybe just a picture because I’m still amazed that I haven’t minded being in the kitchen lately.
What about everyone else? What are you up to this fine fall weekend? Give me the details! I hope for your sake it’s something more exciting than what I’ve got going on!
And last item on the agenda… I need your help! I did some deadlift-y move the other day, and ever since, my hamstrings have been crying/screaming/preventing me from walking appropriately. I know I can foam roll and do the usual exercises, but anyone else have a creative or just really GOOD stretch that will restore my normal range of motion? Help!
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!
So… I’m going to honest here. I have nothing to write about today. Nothing.
I’m in a fab, it’s-almost-the-weekend mood, but my brain is just fuzzy from general contentment. Plus I’ve been super busy from work, making sure we still would have a place to live on October 1st (we found a roommate, so HOORAY, we don’t have to to move), helping other people move, ramping up my workouts, being sore from said workouts, and just running around trying to get a few other things in order. Also, I think maybe got my ranting all out on Wednesday. Whatever the case may be, I have nothing of importance to contribute today.
But these folks do!
Bess brought back her weekly Ferosh Female Fridays (which I LOVE, btw, because, well, how cool does that just SOUND?), and gave shoutouts to some lovely lady bloggers (including me!) for being fearless this week, and just kind of made me proud to be a woman who knows other women who support women. My lengthy sentences confusing you yet? Just check her out!
Laura and I must be on the same wavelength lately, because she’s talking body image and dismissing the silliness that is the BMI chart. My favorite line? “I could weigh 105-119 pounds, as the charts suggest in “optimal weight” terms (ha!), but I’d look like a stick with a big fat wad of gum stuck to its lower half. Or a kebob skewer stuck into a melon. You know what I mean.” Girl, I feel you on having a booty and thinking BMI truly is ‘a pile of poo’
Despite my raging sweet tooth, I rarely crave baked goods. Until today, that is. Rachel’s got me wanting to throw on my not-yet-purchased apron and whip up some of these white chocolate cupcakes while only speaking in double entendres. And Jenna at EatLiveRun has got me craving something hot off the griddle with her whole wheat butternut squash pancakes, which I usually only do when staring at a diner menu on a Sunday morning after a rather late Saturday night.
Over at Hollaback Health, we’ve had a whole slew of awesome posts lately! Read all of those, but start with AJ’s second installment in her set of guest posts, ‘I Call It Visibility,’ about her experience as a blogger with the intersecting identities of queer, vegan, and runner. Which, appropriately enough, the name of her blog as well!
I’ve been thinking a lot about running lately and how I need to try some other exercises for a few months because I keep getting injured (well, hello, new possible case of plantar fasciitis, please meet old cases of tendonitis and a stress fracture) and because I keep SAYING I’m going to take a break, and I never do. (Now it looks like I have to take a break, right during the BEST running weather in the midwest because I have really screwed up my feet). Well, apparently, Ashley from Fashionably Fit has been thinking the same thing, because she rejoined a gym and has been having a love affair with the classes and their efficiency and they fact that they play nice with her joints.
Kristen’s post pretty much summed up my experience with weight loss in the past, and I felt like she was practically writing my story on her blog! Kudos to her for learning how to eat intuitively! Still working on that one….
Last, but not least, Nicole’s post on Special K was so informative that I wish college me would have read because I was SOLD on the low-cal Special K crap, not realizing that while I got skinny, I was putting some scary stuff in my body. Also, I really think all of you will crack up at her title and the picture she posted to go along with it!
I like the idea of giving out a little link love to finish out the week, so happy reading! And for the sake of discussion, since we all know I loooove talking, tell me what you’re doing this weekend– healthy or not! What fun stuff do you have planned?!
On Monday, as I was getting ready to leave work, I stopped to chat with our office manager (Hi, Ali!). As I somehow always do with other women, I got onto the topic of body image and weight. I find this happens so easily because most women I know have had some bad blood with their bodies in the past. But it’s so easy to talk about it now because so many smart women are getting wise to the fact that no, this isn’t normal, and it isn’t healthy, and we want to talk about it. Because we want to resolve it, and just be OK with our bodies and use the time we spend worrying about our butt and abs to, I don’t know, fix the economy or reverse global warming. But I digress.
Anyway, we started talking about how, while we’d like to improve upon our figures now, it’s not the most important thing in our lives. Yes, we might want to lose a little weight or tighten up our rear ends, but these things aren’t our focus as they once were. We both have our stories of the times in our lives when focus turned to obsession, and examples of when our quests for health became the antithesis of health itself. But we’re realizing now that creating a good life doesn’t swirl around that one goal of ‘getting skinny.’ We’re understanding that this singular objective won’t make the other ones fall into place. Getting healthy, losing weight, toning up… all nice things, but not the key to happiness.
“I realized recently,” Ali told me, “that losing weight or getting the body I want is one little part of that circle that is my life. Whereas before, those things were the circle itself.” When she said this, I knew she had summed up how I had been feeling lately. In college, everything centered around sticking to my plan and staying small, meaning I let social events or enjoyable company with delicious food pass me by because it wasn’t what I had laid out for the day. ‘Oh sorry, I didn’t go running yet, I can’t.’ Damn, I bet I’m going to hear all about how fun that was tomorrow. ‘Oh, no thanks, I’m not hungry.‘ Plus that doesn’t fit into my calorie count for the day.
That circle had me spinning around and around, but I never got anywhere in life outside of my body. I stayed the same, and my goal never changed. I never progressed beyond, ‘Stay small and fit into that dress.’ It was like my life was a wheel of calories and miles and pounds and jeans sizes, and occasionally, the other stuff –my life – would happen because it accidentally got trapped in the spokes, and I would roll with it until I would snap out of it and get back to the plan. Lately, though, the circle of my life has involved so much more. Instead of those life experiences getting stuck to my tires, they ARE the tires. And I’ve decided that I can go ahead and let losing weight be a part of those rolling circles, but I won’t let it steer.
“In the same sense, I used to think that losing weight was the key, was the piece of the puzzle I needed to find before all of the others would fall into place, ” Ali said. ”But now, I’m finding that I’ve got this beautiful puzzle, and there’s only one piece missing, but I’m working on it.” And again, it was as if she had read my mind, because this is truly the way I’m feeling about my life. Am I entirely happy with my body? No, but I’m working on accepting where it is and improving on it as best I can daily. But the puzzle pieces I thought would fall into place when I was skinny or toned enough? I have so many of them now that I never had when I was thinner.
Career? When I first moved to Chicago, I thought life would just be easier and I would like my 9to5 if only I could get skinny again. But then I decided that I needed to be happy before I could get healthy, and the desk job wasn’t going to do it for me. So I quit, became a personal trainer, and I’ve been calmer and more content with my life (not to mention healthier!) ever since, no matter that my size 4 jeans are a long way from fitting.
Love life? I had boyfriend and a few little crushes and flings in college, but you know what? Even at my smallest, I never felt like myself around them. I had been working so much on my ass that I let the work I had to do on my head pile up to the point where I didn’t even know who I was. Now I’m dating someone who makes me feel more comfortable and happier in my own skin than I have in a long time, with or without makeup, “bikini-ready” or not.
Friends? I seemed to have some friends in college who liked to hang out with me because I looked a certain way and because I was the ’how can I make this healthier aka lower-calorie’ guru. I was told that I was ‘inspiring’ more than once, and while this might sound flattering, it was also a lot of pressure, and it meant that they didn’t see the personality part of me. They liked hanging out with me because I made them want to go running or make a salad, not because I was quirky or a good writer or because I lived for awkward stories and always had one to tell. But my friends now are the friends I’ve chosen, because I’m confident in who I am as a whole, and I know that I can afford to be picky. I can choose the friends whom I love for their never-ending optimism or no-nonsense logic, and who love me for the things I always wanted people to notice when all they paid attention to was what I was putting on my plate at dinner in the sorority house.
So you know what? Between my job and my friends and my dating life and my family and everything I have to be thankful for, I’ve got so many puzzle pieces in place, that while I would love to be perfectly fit and trim again, I’m not obsessing over that tricky middle piece that finishes the puzzle but doesn’t necessarily hold it together. That one piece didn’t make the others fall into place — it actually did quite the opposite. I was missing so many wonderful pieces when I did have a death grip on that elusive piece, because I let all of the others fall away.
Funny how that works, isn’t it?
But, as always, dear readers, I want to hear from you! Does body image or weight play (or has it in the past) a huge role in your happiness? Is it the puzzle or the circle itself, or is that something you’re working for, but not feeling incomplete without? Have you learned that, while it can be important, it didn’t make or break your life? Spill!
It’s Wednesday, and I’m feeling a bit uninspired. I wasn’t going to post at all, but then I remembered how smart, interesting, and opinionated my readers are (I mean that affectionately!), so I figured you all might have something to say! Since I’m about to head to the gym, I figured I’d ask you guys what your favorite muscle groups to strength train are. And what better way to do this than to conduct a poll about it? I personally like legs because it reminds me how strong I am, but I also like triceps for no good reason other than they make my arms look good! But maybe you’re an abs girl, or you looove working those glutes. Either way, vote and let me know why your favorite is your favorite in the comments section! C’mon guys, spill!