Exercise For Dummies

So I was bouncing around a lot of ideas for a new post (there are many to be had) I draw from so many places for inspiration. I’m often left looking at an over arching question of “what do my readers need?”

As much as I love writing from the trenches of life, I know if you take your time to read you wanna walk off with something that has encouraged you, motivated you, inspired you or educated you in some way.

One of my most popular posts, Healthy Eating For Dummies   https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/09/05/healthy-eating-tips-for-dummies/      was the simple kind of education topic that people seemed to need. This was driven by talking to friends, and seeing posts from others that made me realize there’s so much in the health/fitness world that makes things seem hard and complex when in reality, they don’t need to be.

People often think if they are going to start exercising, it should be an all out, full speed, into what ever they are chosing to do without giving much thought to the fact they are in a body that isn’t used to that kinda work.

What happens then?

Usually, the day or two after, they are so sore they can’t move and the mere idea of going back to it makes the shudder.

grumpy

If you haven’t been exercising, an all out approach is simply not smart.

Go Big or Go Home

I was scrolling through Pinterest one day ( follow me there) I may or may not have been looking for delicious chocolate recipes….

My newsfeed is a weird combination of wicked desserts they show me, and fitness plans to make me look like a MMA fighter.

I wanna have both please  😉

Anyway, there was this one that literally was a series of moves that totaled over 500 reps of several exercises.

The subtitle said get ready to wipe the sweat from your face or something like that.

What just stopped me in my tracks was the sheer craziness of it. Even as fit as I think I am, that would’ve been crazy.

I want to walk the next day 😛

Yeah there’s probably one or two people who’d go in and tackle it. Honestly though for  the average person it’s aimed at, makes it dangerous, not smart.

It’s why I’m kinda not impressed with the current trendy “boot camps”

Why?

Because if you’re getting up one morning all fired up to start and “today is the day!” you decide the fitness journey begins, you will honestly hurt yourself attempting such a workout. Those environments although they modify, often are conducive with people working beyond what their current physical abilities really are because they will try and keep up with the guy ( or girl) next to them.

It’s so important to know where you are, what you’re starting point is, what (if any) physical limitations you have, and work from there. Literally that has to be the place you begin to build from.

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Haha this is why you build a fitness base

 

And don’t feel bad about it or worry about it.

We all have our starting points. Consider it your base to your fitness foundation.

Get ready!

First, if you have any health considerations or concerns, talk to your doctor before you begin.

From that point, determine what goals you have or what you want to accomplish. We are all different in what we want to do and where our interests are.

Do you want to train for a 5k? Have dedicated time at the gym several days a week? Be able to walk around the block without getting winded?

Whatever it is, set a goal that can keep you focused.

There are so many activities to choose from but walking is something anyone can start at any time.

All doctors can support the idea of walking and often encourage their patients to do so. All you need is some good shoes and discipline to take yourself out and do it.

Walking is really a good, safe, and easy way to ease into fitness activities. You can adjust your pace as you feel stronger and you can lengthen distance as you get comfortable with your current distance.

Make sure your goals are clear, realistic, and concise.

The biggest key to failure and not keeping at it is starting off to aggressively early on then not sticking with it in the long run.  Your main goal is to build new habits you can stick with and that is done by going slow and steady.  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/02/28/the-tortoise-and-hare-weight-loss-approach/

How much is enough?

It’s recommended you get in 30 minutes of brisk aerobic activity, 5 days a week for over all health.  This includes things like running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, rowing, dancing etc

To help with weight loss, more may be required.

Don’t under estimate that even small amounts in a day are beneficial to your health and wellness.

The more fit you become, the more you will most likely feel challenged to do. Don’t be afraid to extend your goals as you improve.

Aim for balanced fitness.

When I began my health and fitness journey, ( wow this is my anniversary month!) I started walking each day, about 2 miles. Eventually, I started running parts of it. At some point I turned into a runner ha.

But one thing I’m glad I learned early on is doing activities that work, train, and condition all of my body. Certain activities involve more muscle groups than others. Neglected, these can become weak areas in our body due to neglect of not using them as intensely as others.

It was on days I couldn’t run outside that I started doing strength training.

Let’s take a quick look at what these different activities are and how they can help us.

Cardio: It’s the activity people complain about the most because you have to work hard enough to get your heart and lungs really moving and well, that makes people uncomfortable. Mainly ’cause it makes them realize they are internally out of shape.

cardio

Start by doing an aerobic activity, like walking or running, for a sustained 20-30 minutes, four to five times a week. To ensure you’re working at an optimum level, try the “talk test”: Make sure you can carry on a basic level of conversation without being too winded. If you can sing a song, you’re going to easy.

Strength conditioning: I find this to be so important in supporting my other activities. Not only that, I can lift a sofa or heavy cabinet if I’m called upon 😉

Start by doing one set of exercises targeting each of the major muscle groups.  Start by using a weight at which you can comfortably perform the exercise eight to 12 times in a set. When you think you can handle more, gradually increase either the weight, the number of repetitions, or number of sets. To maximize the benefits, do strength training at least twice a week( ladies this is SO important for us! You want to keep your muscle mass as you age and weights are where it’s at. Not only that, muscles look cool 😉 )

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Never work the same body part two days in a row.

Flexibility training: This can be static stretching but I prefer some yoga to help keep me flexible and to help my overall mobility for life and my other activities. You not only want to stay flexible but mobile, meaning a complete full range of motion in your body.

Implementing all of these components will help keep you strong and fit no matter what activity you choose.

In summary…

Find what you love, know your starting fitness level, start slow and gradually build on where you are.

Set small, concise goals to aim for.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Make exercise a habit for life.

Don’t over do in the beginning.

Celebrate all your new victories!

If you have a developed exercise program, what tips or tricks helped you stay with it?

 

 

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8 Easy Ways To Stay Active

Hello beautiful people. It’s evening as I write this, unwinding with my preferred drug of choice, a big mug of coffee and patting myself on the back that I didn’t give in to any basic urges and punch someone today.

Working with, and dealing with the public has challenged that a lot lately.

I’m constantly amazed at the sense of entitlement so many have and it’s been an extraordinary and amazing to thing to not only keep my hands to myself, but my tongue too as my brain can conjure up sarcastic comments like crazy.

It’s work keeping that in!

Haha ok I jest…. well…. partially…

But let’s say I’m glad to now be relaxing and letting the ideas out of my head that have been bouncing around for awhile.

I thought we’d talk a bit about ways to make staying active easier. We are ending summer here in the states and moving towards fall and maybe a bit of winter here in the south. Typically a time of year when most begin to want to hibernate inside and the idea of exercise seems like an even bigger chore. Unless you are already a dedicated gym goer or have a disciplined exercise program you may not be thinking it’s a time of year you want to start getting active.

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Earlier this year… the sun looks deceiving… but it was in the high 20’s out riding. Coldest ride ever.  Just call me Ninja. This is what happens when exercise is just something you do 😛

 

So what are some steps to build a fitness plan?

No one, and I’m pretty sure no one, decides they are just gonna scamper into getting active. Let’s be honest, most dread the idea of having to do exercise even though they may talk about it and really want to do it.

You may admire those who are active, understand the benefits of doing it, and strive to do it yourself but somehow you can’t quite put it together. Of course you also understand that staying active take a lot of work and discipline.

Don’t get discouraged. Some planning and structure will go a long way to your success. Staying active does require more work than being sedentary but it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult to maintain.

Let’s take a look at some ideas to help.

Find the thing you want to do.

It’s important to choose something you think you will enjoy and can stick with. Don’t worry about being “good” at it or thinking you can’t do something. Just get out there and start taking baby steps. In time, you’ll gain confidence at it. If you like what you’re doing, you’ll look forward to your time working out.

Be consistent.

Like building any new habit, consistency is key. Find a time to workout in the day that is suitable for you and your schedule. Forget what your neighbor or sister is doing, you do your thing. Find a time that you can devote to yourself and put it in your day.

For me mornings have evolved over the past few years.  In the beginning it was what I did to get the job done before the rest of my day started. It was hard to get up earlier to get it done but I did.

Mornings are best for me because in the 24 hours of my day it’s when I have people needing and wanting me the least.

I’ve actually come to love being out on the road early. There’s something quite satisfying knocking out miles while the sun is coming up and the world is still getting coffee.

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Favorite view from my bike

Not only that, it just sets an energetic tone for the entire rest of my day.

Pick your time of day and stick to it.

Get your gear ready the night before.

Now days it doesn’t take much for me to reach for my exercise clothes. When I had to be up on Saturdays at 5a.m. for long runs, I had everything laid out for me to just step into. My mind immediately, although still sleepy, knew it was time to get serious. ( I do not wear athletic clothes as “leisure wear”, for me they represent work and my mind shifts to a different mode once I’m in them)

If your clothes, shoes, socks, accessories etc are there and waiting you won’t have to think about putting it all together. Even if you are an evening work out person, have it laid out and waiting.  It will be one less thing you have to think about doing.

Get your nutrition in order.

Knowing what you will have for breakfast and having it prepped will give you less reason to skip on fueling properly. If you are an early morning person, you may have food ready the night before.

Having healthy snacks prepped for pre and post workouts will keep your energy levels up and will be one less thing you have to attend to when you finish.

Have stretches or moves you use at the end of each workout.

I have several go-to yoga moves that feel good after I’ve been running and cycling. This helps my body recover after a workout and ease tight muscles.

Have some stretching and mobility exercises that you can use afterwards. Not only does it feel good, it helps your body to recover faster.

Leave your gear in the same place.

My running bag has everything from some spare change to extra cycling gloves, my running belt, ipod (although I rarely use it on the road anymore) my helmet, glasses, a clean top, and a whole host of other things. I always know where my stuff is at in a moment.

Find a bag or space that is dedicated to what you need for your workouts to keep you organized.

Focus on your workout.

ok I’m notorious for being in the midst of a workout thinking about what needs my attention when I’m done, what I want to write about next, or being distracted by other random thoughts.

This totally takes my mental focus off what my body is doing and keeps me working hard on the task in front of me.

Be in the moment with what you’re doing. Appreciate all your body can do for you, think about how movement feels. All the other stuff will still be waiting for you when you finish.

Plan your workouts.

Seriously.

I literally schedule appointments around knowing the time it takes me to get them in and clean up and look like a respectable human again.

With my duathlon training I consider what days in my week I can devote to my longer sessions, my run/ bike days, and put them there. Shorter mornings may be one of my fast high intensity workouts that I can slam out in 30 minutes or less. Regardless, I know where to fit them in and how much time it will take.

And no, there’s nothing wrong with scheduling that anymore than scheduling a doctors appointment. It’s important, just do it.

With some planning, structure, and intentional purpose you can build a strong and healthy exercise program that will serve you well. When our minds know what to expect we can look forward to being active and truly benefit from each activity.

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Find an activity you can enjoy and look forward to doing 🙂

Tell me, do you have any tips or tricks that helped you get on a disciplined path for exercise?

 

 

Things No One Told Me About Exercise

Exercise. It’s one of those subjects that when the topic comes up, people delicately shudder and walk off as if you’ve mentioned the plaque or some other horrible ill.

There are jokes made about pain and sweat and how hard it is.

There are comments about how “they should start to do something” or their “doctor told them to” or “my friend is trying to get me to go with them” and many other similar thoughts.

We can be challenged, made to feel guilty, or completely ignore the idea.

For some, just the mere thought of having to move their bodies in purposeful exercise makes them sweat.

Honestly, I was in a similar boat a few years ago.

Then one day, like many people are, I was at a doctor appointment  for my yearly check up.  When he asked me what I did for exercise I told him I “used” to go for little walks but hadn’t done it in a long time. He encouraged me to do something, to at least get back into walking and to try and drop a few pounds.

I literally left his office that day, went home, took my first walk and pretty much never stopped after that.

fun and games

 

It wasn’t all fun and games.

I didn’t skip out and dive into my walks happy. No. I grumbled over it. I lamented being fat and “having” to exercise. ( gosh have I learned a lot since then) I hated being hot and I would’ve preferred staying in and doing something else.

I wanted to come up with reasons not to do it, but I’m kinda stubborn and when I get into something I get determined to make it work.

Yet somehow in all of the talk about the “how’s” and “why’s” for exercise, there’s a whole lotta things that never get mentioned.

Exercise IS hard.

In the beginning it feels like… death. You wonder why on earth you signed up for this fresh hell and how is it really gonna benefit you? Where are the results already?

Seriously, I’d dutifully go for my 2 mile walk and want, ya know, instant results, for my efforts.

Honestly though, I always did feel mentally better after I did it, so there’s that.

Exercise reminds you that you are really outta shape.

Admit it. Who hasn’t gone up a flight of stairs, tried to run for a short distance, or even gone for a brisk walk without breathing like a freight train and feeling like your heart is gonna come out of your chest.

Good times.

Yet I never got the memo that those were some of the awesome side effects I could encounter when I decided to pursue exercising.

I hated that feeling ’cause it did tell me I needed to work on what was inside of me as well as what was on the outside.

Let’s not forget  the other awesome side effects of looking like a red ripened tomato ’cause your blood is wildly rushing and you have sweaty hair plastered to your face.

You ache and feel muscles you never knew you had.

No wonder people run away from exercise.

Don’t do what you hate.

If I had a chocolate bar for the times I’ve had people come to me asking about exercise activities to do but they start with… “Ok, well like, I reallllyyy hate running. I mean, I know YOU like it and all but for me…well..no.”

I simply tell them, well then, don’t run.

Hey I never imagined I’d turn into a runner. That stuff is hard. But somehow, in some weird way, I started doing it and before I knew it… I was running.

I won’t lie. There’s a pleasure and pain pay off to it, but it’s always fiercely rewarding so I’m kinda loathe to give it up 😉

Find something you can enjoy and look forward to and then become the biggest expert at it you can. It’s that simple and it’s the best way to stick with it.

It eventually WILL pay off.

It will. Trust me. It won’t pay off after 9 days or maybe even a month, but it will. But long before you may see physical changes, you will mentally feel better. Going for purposeful exercise can clear your head, help you problem solve, and make you feel better overall. It’s a great day to unwind from your day or start it. I prefer and have turned into a morning workout girl for a variety of reasons.

Mornings are when people typically want/need almost nothing from me so I can take that time. I also feel like it starts my day in an energetic positive way… even if I may still be rubbing sleep out of my eyes why the sun comes up behind me. I am also smart enough to know it is easier to have excuses later in the evening than morning so I just make it my first priority.

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Shhhh is there something behind me? How I love starting my day

 

No matter what time you choose know you are making an investment in yourself and it will have pay offs.

You’ll actually start to look forward to it.

Really, you will. Once you’ve built it into a new habit it will become easier to incorporate it in your day and you’ll come to actually crave that time, even when you know it will be hard and it will be work.

You won’t mind that because you will come to understand that it makes you feel good and that’s a pretty nice side effect to hard work.

I honestly schedule appointments and other activities around making sure I have time for my training and some moments to get cleaned up and human looking  after I’m done . This is as important as anything else in my day and  I make no apologies for putting it on my agenda.

You shouldn’t either.

Some things won’t feel so hard.

Really. In the beginning when you are gasping for air like a fish out of water and your heart is pounding you may think you’ll never adapt.

You will.

Your body will begin to do all the miraculous things it can and make adaptations so the work “feels” easier but the reality is you are getting stronger. You’ll be able to walk or run longer, lift more and as you make progress you can ( and should) keep pushing on for more that feels hard again.

Years ago when I started doing a little lifting I had these cute 5 lb weights.

Yes, for real. ( I’d never let anyone get away with that now 😉 )

Anyway, I decided I’d make a big move up to 8 lbs. at the time, I felt it a little more. When that started feeling like nothing after a million times, I made a huge move to 15 lbs. ( go big or go home right?? haha)

I won’t lie. That was work. I could barely do 6-8 reps without deciding it was enough. ( girl arms)

I worked those weights a lot. I did what I could do and when I felt like I could add “just one more rep” before my arm fell off, I did it.

Obviously, I camped there for awhile gradually building in sets of high reps that kept me feeling it.

A while back, I realized the 15lb weights felt like the previous ones, like easy, no effort.

I got the small barbell, tossed on about 25 lbs and oh yeah, I’m feeling it again.

Seriously, the first time I could barely squeak out  3-5 reps before it was fail  ( meaning I couldn’t curl it one more time)

I just worked that in each time… I’d push for one more rep…

Now, I’m kinda proud to say I can do 3 sets of 8 before my arms are yelling at me. Even though I use heavier weight for other moves, the 25 is for single arm work and my arms are definitely earning their muscles haha

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Strength training isn’t just about lifting stuff, it’s about being strong for the other activities I’ve come to love.

 

I’m serious… keep at what you do… no matter how small it seems… and build on it. You’ll get stronger and the work in some ways, can feel easier.

It can really build your confidence

So you’re thinking, “well, I am a confident person without working out”. Yeah, I was too.  But when you start exercising and putting your body through vigorous work, it changes and you get stronger and you’re doing things other people tease and make jokes about, it will build your confidence even more.

When you set goals, sometimes bigger than you foresee being able to do, go through training, sacrifice, sweat, tears, exhaustion and a whole list of fun things, you’ll get it.

Train for and run a marathon, it will give you the confidence you can do anything. Trust me.

You’ll meet amazing people doing what you do.

So, I’m a little bit.. social.

I’m mentally seeing my hubby reading this choking, reading that last line to which he would snort and say… “A little?!?”

Ok well maybe, quite a bit.

Turning into an athlete certainly has brought me into different circles, and in those circles, meeting some amazing and talented people.

A few years back when I was selected to be in Runners World, “Runners Body” edition, https://sassyfitnesschick.com/runners-world-body-edition-feature/   I was privileged to share the pages with some amazing athletes scattered all across the U.S.  These were people I would’ve never encountered otherwise. After the magazine hit the market (Dec 2012) thanks to the world of social media many of us connected.  Many of us to this day, are connected and cheering on each others accomplishments.

Locally, I love knowing people who perform in similar sports as I do and having that common ground to discuss our fields of interest ( this often saves the sanity of our loved ones who may or may not be weary of hearing of our times, our negative running splits, or what technique is best for releasing worked muscle groups 😛 )

Knowing these people remind me I can always strive for more, to get more from myself, and to keep setting bigger goals.

My Ironman friends… well… are you even human???

Maybe… someday… who knows.

All that to say, you can meet some interesting people when you get out there.  And if you’re semi- social like I am… well it goes together like peanut butter and jelly 😉

Energetic. You’ll get more energy.

I will admit. That was a hard sell in the beginning. How… how… could I get more energy when I could barely drag my carcass off the sofa to go do something ?

This didn’t happen over night. However, the more I did, the more energy I seemed to get. It’s like exercise became the breeding ground for more energy.

Weird, I know, but it happens.

Just start, it will come.

That whole healthy thing.

Ok, I knew intellectually, before I started working out, that it had some health benefits. However, I had no experience with it.  This takes a little time but when you start eating better and exercising, it has positive results on your body, inside and out.

My doctor tells me each year at my annual check up my labs are boring and normal, which I think is a good thing.

My good cholesterol level is off the charts past “normal” to which he tells me is generated from all the exercise I do.

There’s a win.

My resting heart rate is usually dancing around in the 40-50 bpm range, thanks cardio and a whole lot of endurance training.

The things I do in my daily life are easy and I have strength to do things on my own and not need “help”.

Let’s not forget how exercise also constantly is generating new cells and growth which many believe is the best anti-aging medicine.

Find some posts below I’ve written on this topic….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/05/24/exercise-and-aging/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/07/24/aging-and-the-fountain-of-youth/

Have I sold you yet?

I hope, I’ve presented some valid ideas for making you want to build your own exercise plan.

I’ve written this article in a somewhat playful way to share with you things I never really knew or understood about exercise.

It IS important. It’s not just for weight loss but is good for our bodies. We’ve been made for movement. Find a post on that idea below…..

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/06/28/no-exercise-required/   and it’s valuable for our total health and well being, inside and out.

Do yourself a favor and start. Start small, start somewhere but get going. You can thank me later 😉

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After workout… when you can cheer for yourself for getting it done… and yes, you can 😉

 

Your turn…. how do you view exercise? Or how have you viewed it? Do you appreciate the benefits of it ?

 

 

 

 

 

Fitness Goals, Do What You Can With What You Have

2-Do-what-you-can-with-what-you-have-where-you-are_-Theodore-Roosevelt

 

So it’s that time of night I should be doing stuff to get ready for bed, instead I have ideas bouncing around my head and I’m sitting down to write with a few pieces of Easter candy that somehow landed next to me and coffee to go with them.

Have mercy, I may never sleep tonight 😛

But when ideas come, it’s hard not to let them out. They tend to swirl around like the dog under your feet when you’re cooking chicken.

Obnoxious. In the way. Won’t leave you alone till you acknowledge them.

Welcome to the brain of a writer.

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Often the truth of the matter….

 

I’ve come to accept this, the ideas that come at any given moment. They can wake me up, leaving me scurrying for a note pad to hastily scratch out the idea with beady eyes seeing it later wondering who the hell wrote something so illegibly, or as mentioned  it can keep me up till I get it out of my head.

I’m feeling a bit victorious today. I finished off another one of my furniture project pieces and it is the sweetest thing ever. I mean, I’ve got a few others under me but I’m pretty sure this is currently my favorite.

No… no photos right now. You’ll have to check back and see those soon 😉

I will just say I love having a vision in my head and then having it all play in life is so satisfying. And when I look back at photos from day 1 when I dragged something home I’m always a bit shocked to see how much it really has changed.

Ok.. on with the show….

As things go with me, my ideas for writing come from all directions at any given time. Ideas come in subtle and not so subtle ways. Sometimes, it’s conversations with people that trigger it. When a similar thought comes from several people within the week, if I’m paying attention, I see it as a possible idea for a post.

Really, if it’s the same idea from a few people, there are most likely others out there who have thought or dealt with similar things.

For example; I’ve been encouraged to talk to some of my friends who are getting started in a fitness program. As I listened to what they were doing and heard the excitement in their voices there was the usual….

“Well, I’m not doing what you do.” “or  “I’m not where you are” or ” I can’t do what other people in class are doing”

No, they probably aren’t doing what I do.  And no, they can’t keep up with me or someone else who’s been at it awhile.

Here’s the deal….

First, you should never, ever compare yourself to someone else. On any level. And especially on a physical level.

I would never start someone off working out where I am now. I wouldn’t have started in the place I am years ago.

Where I did start was at my level of physical abilities at the time.

I did what I could with where I was at.

Truthfully, I was a middle aged, sedentary, slightly overweight woman at the time who had no previous physical training or athletic abilities to fall back on. My best course of action was having a smart plan that allowed my body to adapt and change with my activities.

Of course at the time, I didn’t really see myself as a future athlete.

Nope… never even saw that coming, but I’m really glad it did. The athletic lifestyle is my niche and it comfortably suits me now.

However what did I learn that I believe is important to anyone getting started on a fitness program is this…..

Do what you can with where you are.

I know that sounds cliché but the reality of it is true. You can’t show up at the gym and think you’re going to just start lifting heavy things or grinding out miles on the treadmill if your only activity has previously been sprinting to the ‘fridge.

Trying to keep up with others in a class or at the gym or even your neighbor isn’t only not fair to you, but not healthy for you either.

Doing more than your body is used to is a recipe for injury that will quickly derail your budding fitness plans.

Even now, I know I’m stronger and more fit than I’ve ever been and I don’t back down from much. I do however, know when I hit my limit of what I can handle. There’s a fine line between pushing out of my comfort zone where continued growth occurs, and not overstepping into the arena where my body hasn’t gone yet and needs time to grow into.

For instance I shared recently that I had “upgraded” to being able to use 25lbs to do curls with.  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/03/16/strength-training-and-every-day-life/

Now for some of you, that’s baby weight. For a lot of you, you’ll never see it happen.

For me it represented another step to getting stronger. Could I have done that several years ago when I was starting out?

No. Way.

It’s taken time and practice and work. Lots of work. And my body has done what yours will do as well. It responds and it grows, changes and gets stronger and you can keep a forward moving process of improved strength and endurance.

Don’t apologize

Seriously. Don’t apologize for not being where someone else is.  We are all on our own journeys. Some of us are going to be a bit more focused and intense about getting better and improving.

**** cough, cough who me??***

Some will be happy with slow progress being content to rock along in a comfortable place. Some will form specific intentional goals while others will just take each day as it comes.

The important thing is that you are starting. Making a choice to get physically fit will have lots of rewards for a healthier life.

Better mental clarity, less body fat, an elevated mood, bright skin, a healthier more energetic body, improved lab results, or even learning a new activity all have big payoffs.

Learn from others

When I start into a new adventure, I am notorious for keying in on people who know more about it than I do. I then shamelessly pick their brains to gather useful information to add to my collection of growing education.

Thank goodness I’m not shy or socially awkward haha

Don’t be afraid to do that with people around you who have been on the journey longer. I love being able to offer advice and help to those seeking information on nutrition or who want to get physically active.

In both cases, I never suggest they start off with extremes.  A modest tweaking of the daily diet for awhile or encouraging them to get off the sofa for an evening walk is always a good place for anyone to start.

A few tips and tricks

Small steps are better than doing nothing. All of us have to start small.

Find something you want to do and will look forward to. This will help you stay committed.

Applaud your own efforts, really, it’s ok. You’re doing it!

Share your efforts or goals on social media. Really. You’ll find there will be a group who rises to the top who will cheer and encourage you. And you don’t know who you’ll be encouraging as well when you do.

Don’t.. don’t… over do. If walking 2 miles feels good, don’t think you’ll just do a few more. You don’t want to risk injury to a body that isn’t used to certain activities. Worse, when you are sore and can barely move the next day you’ll not want to do anything.

Small, slow, gradual increases will keep you moving and keep you from injury.

Focus just on you. Not the other girl or guy at the gym who appears to have it all together. Not the person who can do more reps in a class than you or the one who runs like lightening.

Focus on you.

Do what you can with where you are . Don’t be afraid to modify workouts if they are to hard. Don’t be afraid to walk if you can’t run. Don’t try and lift weight that could hurt you if lifting less can help you get stronger.

Be persistent and before you know it, you’ll be in a stronger, healthier, more fit place in your life.

Tell me… have you ever played the comparison game when it comes to exercise or fitness programs? What tips or tricks have worked to keep you on a fitness path?

Booty Building 101

So today finds me holed up at my favorite coffee cave enjoying the place being relatively quiet and attempting to get a post written for you guys. I left the house ’cause I was to distracted by my new obsession…er… “hobby” …. of my various furniture projects I’m working on.

If you missed out on what I’m up to on that topic, find it here in my Monday Musings post. https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/02/12/monday-musings-3/

It’s hard not to be excited at the vision I have for some of these things and per my “go get ’em and take charge nature” I could just spend all afternoon looking like a bum in ratty clothes covered in dust from sanding and a paint brush in the other hand.

Ah… but then there’s the other things I must do… like write… and deliver other productivity.

Ok, on with the show!

Today boys and girls we’re gonna talk about the back of you, your glutes, your butt, the “what keeps your jeans looking good” part of your anatomy. In todays lingo, your booty.

Yeah.  Booty day.

My readership has just expanded.

Have you ever seen the movie Shrek? Donkey, one of the characters breaks into this song… “I like big butts and I cannot lie”….

shrek

 

ok the song itself is a little…you know.. not what I’d recommend to my mom to listen to, but the song became a catchy tune with that movie. As you can imagine donkey was expressing his er…appreciation… of a round, strong backside.

donkey butt

 

It’s no secret the booty has come into the spotlight.

Recently, I’ve had convos with young women asking what they needed to do to build/enhance/grow that part of their physique.

Fitness and health magazines, online articles etc all offer a plethora of tips to build that body part. And it’s not just limited to the female gender, guys don’t want to be left out either.

First, let’s understand something

Your butt isn’t just one muscle that you need to shape up. It’s actually made of three different muscles and they all need to be worked for that ultimate round shape and lift.

shaping_glutes_scr6

 

Yeah I’m gettin’ all science(y) on you here. If you wanna build your butt, know what you’re dealing with.

What I see and hear the most from people is the “oh, I just need to start doing squats!” and with that assumption they think that will magically deliver new found curves and tighter jeans.

Oh if it were only so easy.

Squats ARE great, and you should do all kinds of varieties of them but you need to know squats are also very quad dominant too, so without balance and a variety of exercises you’ll work on your butt but can potentially really build your quads too ( those muscles in the front of your thighs) and give you some developed legs.

Many exercises for the butt also tend to bulk up the thighs. Now I don’t really mind having strong powerful legs like that but if you are wanting to accomplish a goal of building your butt, you will want a variety of exercises to reach that goal.

It’s gonna take work

I hate to break this to you but it’s gonna take work. Dedicated work. And eating enough good quality food to build muscles. And doing specific exercises to get it done.

Doing 25 squats two or three days a week, sorry, that just won’t cut it.

And it will take time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day 😉

Well come on, tell me what to do!

First, decide if you’re gonna commit and be disciplined to focus on it. Then decide that you are willing to work for it.

There are a few activities you can engage in that might help you with your goals.

Cycling, running, and hills sprints are not only cardio, but can do a heck of a lot for the lower portion of your body.

20170929_092933
Cycling, running, and hill sprints have built strong lower body muscles. Hills, no matter on foot or bike, deliver a lot of booty working benefits.

 

I almost feel like I’ve cheated sometimes since the muscle I’ve built is a by product of sorts from the activities I do. 😛

Some handy do it yourself at home ideas…

Squats ( all variations) lunges, jump squats, deadlifts, bridges, single leg bridges, donkey kicks, but I think my all time favorite that is really a lot of bang for my work out, is the single leg dead lift.

I love it because 1) it is great for your balance 2) it totally isolates one hip and you have to keep your core tight and engaged so all the work is being done on that one side.

If you want to up the game, hold a dumb bell while you do it. I use a 35lb kettle bell and do 4 sets of 10.

Start with no weight to get used to the movement and keep your form correct. You should really feel that whole hip tight and isolated as you go through the hinging motion.

Below are (what I believe) are lots of good moves to target all three muscle groups.

 

Ok

 

Alrighty, there you go. Some of my favorite moves you can do at home to build your muscles in those lower regions. Just remember, it will take time and consistency.

Well wait, consistency is important in anything to have success, isn’t it ?

Just remember to go slow, don’t over do to allow your body to get used to new movements, and gradually add on more reps. Make sure to always keep your tummy pulled in tight ( think sucking your belly button to your spine) if something hurts stop. Nothing should hurt in a painful way but if your form is off it, you will feel it.

Mix and match the exercises above to make a plan that you enjoy.

Do you do specific glute exercises? If so, what’s your favorite ?

8 Fitness Habits To Live By

healthy fitness

 

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to (effortlessly) maintain a healthy lifestyle and you are struggling over the idea of buying lettuce? Why your neighbor is out for a run before the sun comes up and you are challenging yourself to get up with the alarm?

What are they doing and what’s their secret?

They’ve built healthy habits of course. They have over time, built them into their lives to where they have now become second nature. It’s something they don’t think about, it just becomes an automatic thing they do.

With more than two thirds of U.S.  adults obese and over half not meeting physical activity guidelines as outlined in the centers for  Disease Control and Prevention, developing some healthy fitness habits definitely is in our best interest.

What are some of these habits and behaviors that highly fit people exhibit ?

Let’s consider these successful habits.

. They make healthy living a lifestyle. They aren’t focused on a quick fix plan or something short term. They know it’s a way of life and live it. Exercise and eating well are just what they do. This isn’t to say they are perfect but they don’t let slip up’s become an excuse to revert to poor eating and ditching their exercise regime. A healthy lifestyle is a focus on living day to day through good nutrition and purposeful movement.

. They’ve made physical activity fun. I preach this all the time. Don’t do something you won’t be able to enjoy because you “think” you should or your neighbor is doing it. Find the thing you can enjoy whether it’s running, or being at the gym. Learn to experiment and do new things. For me, I love having several activities because it not only works all of my body, but gives me variety too. Variety will prevent boredom.

. They follow an 85/15 rule. Meaning they’ve learned to eat healthy and nutritious meals 85% of the time while allowing some treats or fun extras into their day. I find this a sustainable way to live that allows me to be successful in my efforts without feeling deprived. Having an occasional treat won’t sabotage your efforts. It could prevent you from binging because you’ve deprived yourself.

. They’ve learned to be a bit competitive. No, I don’t mean against others although healthy competition in a race is always a good way to see what you’re made of. Competing against yourself can often be the biggest challenge and biggest motivator. When I train for something it changes my whole mentality about what I’m doing. Training keeps me in an athletes state of mind. Training is very concrete and intentional with a specific goal in mind. Simply “working out” has no definitive plan. Learn to let your inner athlete be your biggest competitor. I am fiercely competitive with myself but I don’t see that as a bad thing. It pushed me to work harder, in turn, I learn I’m always capable of a little more.

. They’ve learned to recover quickly from a setback.  Hey. Things happen, I get that. I’ve been de-railed by injuries and things beyond my control. I’ve had a day where I’ve had more “treats” than I really needed. This isn’t an opportunity to toss in the towel and quit. Those who have setbacks don’t allow them to get in the way of what they know to do. When they’ve maintained a high level of fitness, skipping workouts or going on a food binge is simply not something they do. They adapt, adjust, and get back to doing what they know to do. There is no “all or nothing” mentality with food and exercise.

. They are willing to learn. They don’t buy into the latest hype and have learned to educate themselves to make informed decisions. If they don’t know something they seek wise counsel and stay away from the latest guru or trending health book.

.They keep it simple. They aren’t going from one program to another looking for the next big thing or the fastest working thing. They have found what works and stick to it. This works well for all of us. In a busy world, keeping our health and fitness plans simplified ensures we will stick with them.

. They don’t use exercise as a primary way to lose weight. They learn to see other important improvements like strength or faster speed. They also understand good nutrition is HUGE to weight loss success and not just exercise. They have come to understand that sometimes the scale might not change a lot and learn to see improvements in other areas of their lives as well.

Do you exhibit and practice habits of fit people? What areas can you improve or do you feel you excel in?

 

 

Tips For A Fit 2018

small changes

It’s hard to believe we are now only less than 1 week out from Christmas and  start of a brand new year. As mentioned in my last post, I love Christmas. ( find it here if you missed it) https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/12/08/the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year/

I try my best to slow the month down so I can just savor everything.

Of course, preparing for a new year means for me, getting my hands on a new planner to start plugging in appts and key things that are already scheduled.

I’m old school. I love getting a new planner with clean unmarked pages and putting pen to new plans, goals, and ideas.

One of the things that top the list for many people in a new year is to lose weight or start an exercise program.

I like not having to plan in “weight loss” for a new year. I spent enough years planning that and I don’t miss it…at all.

I’d much rather be scheduling new athletic adventures or learning new things for myself that I can share with others.

But what if  you need to drop some weight and you’ve decided that this really is gonna be your year? This year will be the year to achieve those goals you’ve had in your mind for a long time.

Maybe you’re tired of feeling sluggish and run down. Perhaps you don’t like looking in the mirror and wish there was less of you to look at. It could be the doctor has told you for your best health you need to start being proactive with your health.  It could be you just want to enjoy shopping for clothes again… nothing wrong with that either.

At the root of it all, the starting point, you have to want it bad enough to make it happen.  No one can force you and no one can make it happen but you. The desire has to be strong to start making changes that will lead to you being successful in your endeavors.

I am ready.  Where do I start?

It’s no big secret gyms see the biggest increase in attendance the first few weeks of January than any other time of year. People sign up with lofty goals and determination that quickly wanes once the novelty starts to wear off. Or they get there and are intimidated and don’t know what to do and their attempt is short lived.

I’ll let you in on a secret. You don’t have to join a gym to lose weight or to exercise. Now if you want to and think this is where you will excel, then by all means, take advantage of many of the programs available to members. If you choose to do so then be proactive and educate yourself so you know what’s available and how to best use your time when you are there. There are often health coaches that can give you direction in the beginning while you are learning.

However, I’ve found personally that there is a lot you can do at home and I personally think I work harder alone than being distracted if eyes are on me in a public place.

I have gathered up enough equipment  over time to have my own little home gym. It’s nothing fancy and I have to share space with lawn equipment but it’s my space and it works just fine.. other than it has no air conditioning or heat it works out pretty well haha

You too can gather some basic items to use at home. Whether it’s a garage space, an empty room, or in the living room you can carve out your own space to get a workout in.

Of course if you decide to make outdoors your gym ( this is my most preferred workout space)  by walking, running, cycling or any other activity you choose, the beauty of that becomes just getting dressed and walking out your door.

No driving, no waiting in traffic or being distracted at the gym. No extra time away from home if time is tight for you.

Make a plan.

What’s that old saying? Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Your improved body won’t happen in a day so it’s good to settle into a plan that will work for you day after day and be sustainable in the long run.

As mentioned above, you need to determine first, what will work best for you to get you active and moving. Would a gym environment be what you need? this could be perfect for someone who initially lacks a bit of motivation and needs that from others around them. A home environment is great but you really have to be motivated and determined in the beginning to get yourself out there and not opt to lounge around drinking more coffee.

Once you have that down you need to look at your new planner and schedule your workout times. Yes. Put it down right there with dr. appts, dinner dates, and meetings with the teacher at school.

Schedule time for you. After awhile, once you’ve built it as a new habit, you won’t necessarily have to pen it out but for now, do. it.

Take small steps.

Where people get off track and discouraged is trying to do to much, to fast. They think if they’ve made the decision to start it should all just happen and happen quickly.

It won’t. Accept that and know it will take slow, steady and determined steps. Maybe your first week will only involve getting some good shoes or some clothes to use. Maybe it will be gathering some tools if you’ve determined being at home will work best for you or if it’s the gym maybe you’ve spent some time investigating your options before you commit.

These are important steps. Then in the second week you are ready to begin what you’ve decided to do. Not only that, you’ve had the time to mentally prepare and plan for it which I believe is super important in taking on anything.

Starting small also means taking it easy with whatever physical endeavor you choose. Doing to much, to fast, can leave you with injuries or burn out.  Pace yourself slowly and allow your body time to make the adaptations to what you are doing. You might feel great after jogging around the block but if you haven’t done that in 15 years, I’m telling you, you will feel it and you certainly don’t want to feel bad before you get started.

Find ways to track your progress.

It’s helpful to take before you start pics or measurements etc. Noting these things does give you a marker of where you started from, especially when some times goes by. I’m used to myself now, but when I look back at photos from a few years ago I’m always surprised at how I’ve changed.

Leave your weighing in to only once a week. Keep it on an app on your phone or in a health journal, whichever you prefer. Do yourself a favor though and stick to a once a week weigh in and do new measurements once a month.

Maybe you have a pair of jeans or a dress you want to work your way back into. I often used that as a marker of my progress. Imagine my delight when one day the jeans I’d been wanting to get back into, were actually to big 😛

Share your activities.

Seriously. Share what you are doing on social media. I am pretty motivated but when I started sharing what I was doing a few years ago (whether it was running, my daily activities, or a new goal I was training for) it made me more aware of the fact I was doing it and I knew others knew I was doing it. From that came so much encouragement from people who lived vicariously through my craziness or better yet, got motivated to start doing something themselves.

When you have a support system that is all over the place, it’s a pretty cool thing. Not only that, if you miss posting or sharing, it’s always interesting to see who wants to know if you’re still being active.

Get a partner.

I’m used to flying solo in all my training sessions but I know some people do better with a partner. If that’s you, find someone to get on board with. You will both benefit from encouraging and challenging each other.

Set reasonable goals.

Once you’ve determined what you want to do, where you are going to do it, and scheduled the time to do it make sure you set  out some reasonable and doable goals to remind you of what you want to achieve.

Whether it’s getting into smaller jeans or working towards running your first 5k, set goals that will motivate you during your workout times. Goals are so important to have. They don’t have to be huge ( they can be) but really, setting small, reasonable ones will give you success and encouragement to keep on with what you are doing.

Be patient.

Yes. Be patient with yourself. Allow for days that don’t go as planned or a weak moment when you cancel on yourself ( you’ll be annoyed by that later, that you did it) allow for unexpected life things that might throw you off but just get right back at it. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses to not meet for your scheduled time.

Don’t allow negative, self defeating talk that will discourage you. Speak in positive ways to yourself and see yourself accomplishing what you’ve set before yourself.

Give yourself time to adjust and change. Remember your mind is a powerful tool and how you use if for yourself and for self improvement is a huge thing.

With a little practice, patience, and determination you will be moving into 2018 getting stronger and healthier as you turn your activities into your new lifestyle.

Are you wanting to make changes in 2018? Do you have goals or plans for yourself to get there? What motivates you to do it?

 

goals