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?

 

 

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Building Your Own Workout Plan

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Let’s talk a little about building your own fitness plan. It should be easy, right? Just decide you wanna lose some weight or gain some muscle or train for a race and do it.

Ah if it were only so cut and dried!

The best way to success is to have a plan, something that you develop, that will work for you, your life, your schedule and your goals.

Let me outline a few things that may help you

  1. Goal setting. I know this sounds cliché but if you don’t know what you want or how to go after it, how will you achieve it?  Whether you want to start walking, running, training for an event, lose some weight, or get into a schedule for the gym… whatever it is… your choice… It’s old school now days but I just love having a basic calendar to outline what I need to do. When I’m marathon training I sit down and mark out the mileage for each day, as well as days I strength train and have active rest days.  There’s something satisfying about blocking off each day when I get it done…and it gives me a visual tool moving me closer to my goal.
  2. Be real. No one knows your life better than you do. Don’t plan to train for a big event if you work full time, have a family and other obligations that won’t let you do what’s necessary to prepare. Or don’t set a to lofty goal to lose a big amount of weight in a short time. Better to be realistic and maybe overshoot what you have planned than be frustrated you can’t get it done.
  3. Know where you are. If your intentions are to lose weight, you’ll want to gather some measurements so you have a baseline from where you start from. I know it can be rather…sobering… but if you want more than the fickle scale to give you feedback you’ll also want some starting measurements. Be honest and be real with yourself.   Also, you might consider taking a “fit test”. This again, will give you a baseline for your strength and cardio abilities.   A.  Record time it takes to walk a mile. B. How many push ups can you do in a minute? ( knees on floor if needed) C. How far can you reach to your toes, seated on floor and leaning forward?  D. Pulse rate before and after test. You won’t need to reassess but every 4-6 weeks.
  4. Commit to exercise, most days of week. No matter what your goals are, exercise should be a part of them. Start small, but start. Get  a partner if you need accountability. Again, you use your planner to track your activities.
  5. Finding balance. Rest days are just as crucial to your success as time in the gym, or out on the road.  I’ll freely admit to chafing at rest days. I feel..lazy… or like I should be doing something. Until I got that rest days aren’t about being lazy but should be active…as in… feeding my body good food, and doing things like stretching, or yoga to keep my muscles in working order.  Having a rest day also gives you some time to be more mentally focused for when you’re out again.
  6. Speaking of stretching. This is something I’ve really learned the value of and have tried to be much better at doing it before and after a work out. I use a variety of things from the standard foam roller, to a pvc pipe to roll out on. A lacrosse ball is also awesome for feet or really getting into a tight knotted muscle.
  7. Mix things up. I learned early on that having several activities would keep me from getting bored with always doing the same thing. Later, as I learned more, it just made sense to incorporate a variety of things because it worked my body differently to make me strong all over and not just good for one sport.  Not only that, doing things like strength training if you love running or cycling will hopefully keep your body from injuries.  Find things you love doing and then make a rotation in your week with them. For instance my week might look like: run, cycle, strength train, run,cycle, rest day. Sometimes I put my rest day midweek.  Other times I might have an extra strength training day if the weather is really awful and I cant get outside.  Sometimes I have two rest days if my training has been more physically demanding. Making your own plan is flexible!
  8. Listen to your body! I’m not talking about that part that is encouraging you to skip your workout… tell that part to shut up and get after it. I mean if you feel “off” or not well, are running a temperature or something is really hurting you take a rest day. That is far more beneficial than doing it to just “get it done”. Chances are, a day off, you’ll come back stronger the next day.
  9. Make a commitment to consistency. I won’t lie. It is crazy hard in the beginning to commit to anything new, especially exercise! I would encourage you to make a daily commitment to it, not make any excuses for not getting it done, and challenge yourself to systematically take one day, one week at a time doing it.  Habits take a few weeks for form. Give yourself time to develop exercise as a habit… once it is… you will not be able to imagine NOT doing it!
  10. Finally, have fun! Yes, I said have fun….exercising… have fun. Find things you love and commit to becoming the best student you can of it. Enjoy how you feel and the things you will learn and accomplish. Enjoy new strength and energy and being fit.

 

Now… get busy… grab a planner… your ideas…. and get started on your own personal fitness plan!

The Commitment To Exercise

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“Uggghhh. Cathie, I don’t know about this whole exercise thing. I just don’t see any results”

The frustrated comments I’ve heard from many of you.

You jump in with good intentions and start doing “something” and at the end of the week you want to look like a ripped fitness model. Ok, well maybe not that extreme, but you do expect some pretty serious results in a short amount of time and the reality is, it’s not gonna happen fast.

There are often unrealistic expectations when someone begins an exercise program. I’d say everyone has (some) goal in mind. And if you’re like me, you’ll get going and those goals will be a constantly shifting process based on your abilities, strength and love for what you’re doing.

Whatever goals you have, whether it’s just a basic level of activity to keep your step tracker happy and move some during the day or if you want to train for a triathlon there is a process of evolving that gets you there.

I think, in my humble opinion for what it’s worth, when someone begins some type of program they overlook things that aren’t as obvious as visible abs or their pants getting looser.

Follow me here….

the minute you step out the door to do something, you’re empowered. The sheer act of getting yourself together and taking steps out the door is huge. Once you’re moving that way, you’re gonna do it.

Then, once you finish, I can say with certainty, you’re going to feel proud of yourself that you did do it. You’ll feel that sense of accomplishment and can celebrate a personal victory. And it’s really ok to pat yourself on the back… no one will be there cheering you on when you come cruising in… but that’s irrelevant… you…did it.

Which moves me to how you’ll mentally feel… which is amazing. Will you maybe be sweaty or a little tired or whatever? That’s possible ( don’t overdo it !) but nothing compares to the mental feeling you have of getting it done.

And the more you build on what you do, the better it feels.

Do you see that none of this…. has anything immediate thing to do with instant weight loss or smaller pants? Oh, it will lead there with consistency, but it’s not present when you wrap up whatever physical activity you’ve chosen for that day.

What about how you start feeling when you can bolt up a flight of stairs and not be winded? When you willfully park further out because you appreciate you can walk and enjoy it and that you don’t feel desperate to be as close as possible to front of store?

How about doing activities around your home and not feeling exhausted from doing it?

With time and persistence, intentionally pursuing your choice of physical activity, your body stats changing and responding to what you’re doing.

And guess what? You’ll anticipate it, look forward to it, have a desire to do it.

Who knows what you might learn about yourself in the process? What you’re capable of or what you might be challenged to do ?

I jokingly say I started off as a reluctant walker. 2 miles a day and I was done and off to other things. That was enough, thank you.

Yet, if you know my story, it continued to eventually grow and expand leading me into an eventual runner and taking on everything from 5K’s to a 50K and everything in between.

To now, a cyclist with my sights set on a lot of bigger goals. I don’t limit myself in what I think I can take on.

All because one day, I just committed to walking out the door.

No focus on anything other than “getting it done”. No ab muscles in sight. My pants at that time a bit larger. Out of shape and no where being a fitness junkie. The idea of being a runner or cyclist so far from my mind I’ll tell you it was.. laughable.

Yet, because of my consistency things did eventually change, and continue to, almost as a “by product” of the activities I currently enjoy and pursue.

Guess what? it will happen for you too.

The changes will happen….but first…..

You’ve gotta get out the door.

Tell me have you taken the steps to get more active? Do you expect quick results ?  Have you been at it for awhile ? What has been your “by product” of physical activity?

 

Time Management And Exercise

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Life. There are lots of things we all have in common, and some we never will share with one another. There is one thing though that we all have each and every day.

Time. The gift of time.

24 hours in a day,  1440 minutes in that day, 7 days a week.

Sometimes, our time is already plotted out for us…work, sleep, travel, kids, cooking, eating etc.

However, I’d be willing to say that for all of us, we do have a measure of time in our days for random things we choose to do. You know, things that helps us relax or unwind…our leisure time.

Yet, do you know what the biggest thing is I hear from people when talking with them about their health and fitness goals?

I don’t have time for exercise.

I mean.. I’m not gonna argue with them on that…but… let’s think through things that are time guzzlers…

Hanging out on Facebook or any other computer activity

Video games

TV or movie watching

Going out for drinks or to the club

Hobbies or other personal activities

Shopping

Now hear me… there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these activities. I’m just saying… you really do have time in your day… for what matters to you.

We will always make time for things we want to do, enjoy, or have fun with.

I speak from a place of experience and a place of having once not prioritized exercise in my life.

There was always something else to do or more important than exercise.

I learned I had to be as disciplined about scheduling it as I do my dental and doctor appointments and coffee meetings with friends. Truthfully, when making appointments now, I mentally balance the timing to see if I can get my workout in, clean up, and arrive on time.

Seem crazy? No more so than trying to balance another appointment or activities in the workings of my day.

What I had to learn in my (personal allotted 24 hours) was where could I best place my workout time in that day so I could get it done?

For me,  during early mornings, people are less likely to be making demands on me and my time. During marathon training, getting up in the early dark morning hours ensured I got my very long runs in. I also learned that even though my intentions of doing it “later” or “after supper” were good, the probability of it happening was small.

There were to many demands later in my day. People were awake and needing things. I didn’t feel as energetic ( yeah I know, weird. I can be on the road at 6 a.m. and have a decent energy level, but not so much so at 6 pm. haha)

After taking a look at how my days rolled, what my obligations were, it was easy to start placing my workouts into my allotted time.

Morning was it for me.  I rolled out of bed and into my exercise clothes.  For years it was getting kids off to school, then getting after it. Many mornings, I was up earlier to get it done while people were still sleeping. Now everyone is bigger and gets off to work and school without my help, I can adjust my time back a little more.

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Not only do I get it done, I feel so energetic and SO accomplished getting a good workout in. It sets the tone for my day. When I don’t get to do it, honestly, now it makes me feel “off” and out of sorts.

I guess that’s a good place for me to be now haha

Has it taken discipline to do this? You bet it has. Has it taken time and consistency to train myself into this new “habit”? That goes without saying. But that discipline has also carried over into other areas of my life so I view that as a win/win thing.

So, my challenge to you dear reader, is this.

If you find yourself in this place I’d encourage you to sit down and really look at your week, your activities, appointments etc.

Then consider your daily strengths. Are you a morning person or do you hit your stride more midday or does the evening bring you to life?

Based on your strengths and your daily activities, where do you need to put your “you time”?

Some days might require a little more creative planning. That’s ok. That’s life.

There are occasional days in my life that feel like a runaway train and it just doesn’t happen. I will tell you though, those days are very rare. Again, it all comes back to the fact this has become a disciplined habit for me now.

You have the same 24 hours every day. You really do have time for purposeful exercise to support your busy daily life. It’s up to you to creatively plan and make it happen.

You can do it… and will feel so accomplished when you do =)

Tell me, have you done time management to get your workouts in?

 

Row, Row Your Rowing Machine

So evidently running, cycling, some boxing, and strength training aren’t enough athletic activities to keep me entertained so I’ve added something else to the mix.
I mentioned over the weekend I got a new “toy’ and finally was going to use it this morning… hello rowing machine 😛
As I’ve shared, I’ve totally pulled myself out of running until it no longer stirs up my injury. This includes power walking as well ’cause my mile pace is usually between 12-13 mins and has the same effects on my body as running. This has been sooo hard but ultimately, my goal is to run forever so if I can’t for a season, I’ve accepted that.
However, I’m not gonna sit back and do nothing. As you know from my athletic antics, I spend a lot of time on my bike to get those miles I love and (got addicted to running). I’ve wanted to do rowing for awhile because I know the overall, total body benefits it offers… and the killer cardio it offers as well.
Rowing and cycling will keep me strong for when I can get back on the road. Swimming season will soon be upon us, so there’s that too =) I intend to keep my body physically strong during this time so when I do get back on the road I can focus on just building up my mileage again.
Ok..rowing. I had a (brief) encounter a few years ago with a machine and loved it. I’m not a big “machine” person when it comes to working out. I like activities that make me really use just my body. However, rowing definitely serves a very good purpose.
The past few weeks I’ve been doing my homework looking at all the vast models out there and trying to get the best one for what I was planning to spend..oh..and making sure the rail had enough length for my long legs to fully extend 😉
I finally found one that had consistent good reviews AND had been used by people taller than me who gave it thumbs up in the tall people department ha
A quick youtube video clip last night to review technique ( ’cause I want my form to be right) and I was ready this morning.
My goal? “Oh, let’s do 15- 30 minutes and see how you do”
An hour later… haha… I’m finishing…dripping sweat and feeling great.
I loved the workout it gave me! 10 minutes in I was starting to sweat like when I’m running. I love how this is an activity I can really throw myself into. I have a decent level of physical fitness so I just let myself go to see how much I could push and get out of it.  Rowing is a strong activity…..I think that’s what I liked about it…. what’s going to keep me coming back to it…
 The harder and faster you row with this machine, the harder the workout. Slow down, and the machine adjusts to a slower pace. No worrying about having to adjust the tension for a tougher workout.
Mentally, I tried to keep the idea in my head of actually rowing a boat across the lake, it allowed me to really focus on keeping my movements smooth and fluid.
So what ARE the benefits of rowing ? Why should you do it ?
Using a rowing machine can help to build and tone your muscles, strengthen your cardiovascular function and increase your stamina, Rowing burns calories rapidly, making it a suitable addition to your workout regimen if weight loss is your chief priority. Using a rowing machine is an endurance exercise that increases heart function making it a great non-impact cardio activity. Rowing uses virtually every major muscle group in your body. With little pressure on the joints, due to the activity’s low-impact nature, rowers work their legs, hips and buttocks with each stroke. They also use upper-body muscles, strengthening the back, shoulders and arms. The trunk and core are engaged in the exercise as the rower performs each stroke.
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All the muscles listed in blue are used during rowing. You can see why it’s such a beneficial exercise.
So if you’re looking for something new to add to your regimen or maybe you need something that’s a hard workout but easier on your joints, perhaps you should consider rowing. I’m pretty excited about having a new activity to add in to what I do.
And hmmm…. maybe I could start training for the Olympic rowing team ?  😉
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Tell me… have you done this activity before ? Do you like it ?