20 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life!

20 Minutes

I’ve said this many times before.  I’ve said it over and over again and I will continue to say it over and over again.  Why?  Because I believe it.  In fact, before I began my fitness journey, someone in my life kept saying that to me.  I thought he was just being an asshole and telling me I was fat (let’s face it, y’all, I was fat!), but eventually I listened to those words and I went from there.

As I mentioned in my last post, when I first started exercising, I couldn’t make it 20 minutes.  I could barely make it 3 minutes without wanting to kill myself (or feel like I was already dying).  My goal was to make it to 20 minutes.

When I finally did make it to the 20 minute mark I was ecstatic.  And for a long time that’s where I remained.  Just at the 20 minute mark.  Eventually, I did move up and sometimes I would (and still do) work out for hours on end.  But, there are times when time is limited and 20 (or 30) minutes is all you have.  You can sit around watching TV or creeping Facebook, OR you can get up and take advantage of that little bit of time and do something that will improve your mood, your energy level, your health, and your life.

Change Your Life

This past Saturday I was pressed for time and wasn’t able to get to the gym or a class but I desperately wanted to work out.  Technically, it was supposed to be my day off, but it was rainy and gross out and I was feeling lethargic and lazy and like I needed to do something. Initially, I was supposed to do the warm up for the Relay for Life but because of the raining weather, the warm up got cancelled.  Yet, I was craving a workout.  I didn’t want to overdo it because rest days are extremely important and, I admit, I don’t always take advantage of them, but I really wanted to get in a little cardio and a little strength.  And I did.

I got my game plan ready and I had myself a sweat-inducing, heart-racing 21 minute workout right there in my boyfriend’s living room.  And it felt great.  I felt great.  I accomplished a lot in a little bit of time and carried on with the rest of my day.

So, if that’s all it takes (at the very least, to start), why not set aside 20 minutes of your day and get moving in the direction to change your life.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

Begin (Confessions)

I saw this post in my Facebook feed this today and knew I had to write something about it.

Beginner

…Because this is truth.

We all have to start somewhere.  We are all beginners.  We will not know our full abilities until we try.

When I first began my fitness journey I could not do a full three minutes on my elliptical.  In fact, I found it so hard that I gave up.  I was winded and sweaty (I still sweat like I’m burning in Hell) and, frankly, I was embarrassed that a mere three minutes of cardio nearly killed me and I gave up!

I had bought that elliptical on a whim of trying wanting to be healthy (read: skinny) and I failed.  And, apparently, at that time I was okay with failure.  But then one day, that one particular day, I made a decision and my life changed – forever and for the best.  I swear to God, that elliptical saved my life.  I saw this with all seriousness and certainty.  I was on a path that was destroying me.  My self-esteem was shot, my mental health was in the toilet, and I was overweight to a degree that I should never have let happen.

And I jumped on my elliptical and had my first real workout.

And, although I swore I would never publicly show this photo – I realized, “well shoot!  This was me!  This is what I looked like!”  So, here goes:

Side by side

Left: Before / Right: After 

Yep!  The pic on the left with the scratched out face and the really, really badly blonde hair is me.

And you know what’s sad?  I I don’t even recognize that person on the left and I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to treat my body that way. After A Lot of hard work, dedication, and discipline, the pic on the right reflects closer to where I am today. But each day I grow in my fitness. I’m so much stronger and adventurous in my exercising. And I look forward to challenging myself daily.

Once I started exercising regularly and eating healthier, I started feeling better on the inside too.  I know not everyone gets this or agrees. But this is 100% true for me. Exercise helped bring me out of a 10 year depression. It helped with my self-esteem and confidence.  There are days when I still struggle with these but overall, I’ve become a different person.  (Give it a chance….you might be shocked to find that exercise can help you too.)

Mood changer

When I look back to those years ago and hopping on my elliptical and failing miserably at my first attempt of working out, I almost feel glad,  Because I was doing it for the wrong reason.  As I said above, I wanted to start exercising to get thin, not to have a better life.  And it wasn’t until I decided to change my life that my life changed.  That’s when I really began.

So, don’t be afraid to begin.  Even if it means you’re starting over or beginning again.  It’s when you’re really ready that you will make the effort.  As you know, my mantra for years has been “If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight.” (Thank you Shaun T!)  Again, #Truth!

So, don’t be afraid.  Go ahead and begin.  And if you have to, begin again.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burnout

burnout0A while back I wrote a piece on my over-training syndrome and addiction to exercise and how it attributed to weight gain and other health issues (including adrenal fatigue).  Once I realized had confirmation that my glutenous exercising was taking a toll on my health, I pulled back the reigns somewhat and began to let go of my addiction.  Although still maintaining a fairly strict exercise regime, I let go of the idea that I absolutely needed to work out every single day and became more lax.  And I think cardio was killing me.

This past year, as you may have read, I have changed up my fitness goals and have been concentrating on strength training and lifting, spending most of my gym time in the weight room and venturing into territory that, though I have always maintained some strength training, has been on the up-and-up with me.  Power lifting and such has become somewhat of a (new) passion and I’m really excited about it and look forward to the days I can get to the gym.  Which, of late, seems to be more and more frequently.  With classes at least three times per week, I have been making efforts to hit the gym the other 3 to 4 days each week.  The other day someone referred to me as a “gym Nazi”.

On top of classes and gym time, the last few months I’ve gotten more and more into hiking – mostly on weekends or sometimes on the off-days from working out.  And I have been walking every day on my lunch break for the full hour, and several days before work for anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes.

This week, I had some pretty insane workouts – including lifting the highest amount of weight I’d ever lifted (impressing even myself), and Thursday I totally overdid it.  Like, completely.  I did two major walks – 40 minutes before work and an hour at lunch and in the evening I did my regular Thursday night gym routine, spending nearly two and a half hours in the gym, and ending the evening with a Zumba class.  (Thursday is my favorite night of the week!)

Lift Exhaustion

Although during my exercised-fueled endorphin rush I felt awesome and energetic and like I could take on the world, by late Thursday evening I was zonked and actually nodded off on my couch.  I never fall asleep on my couch.

Friday morning I awoke with not a lick of energy.  I was literally physically exhausted and drained.  The entire day I felt like I got hit by a truck.  A big-ass truck!  I was barely functioning at work and felt like no amount of caffeine would be able to help me.  I was relieved when the work day ended.

Out of Order

This is how I felt Friday…keep knocking…there’s no one home.

However, I am a moron determined and decided that I still wanted to ensure I got another workout in, since it was cold and raining on Friday and I barely got a walk in (short one in the morning and shorter one in the afternoon – resulting in very wet pant-legs) and I headed to the gym once again.  It’s really all I could think about Friday and I really was happy to get there.  I spent way too long there Friday night working out (about an hour and 40 minutes), lifting and finishing with a little cardio.  I felt like I could conquer the world and could keep going but, sometimes I have to say “enough’s enough”.

Although I ventured back to the gym yesterday for what turned out to be a great workout with a buddy, I felt like I didn’t or couldn’t put all I had into my workout.  And although I slept wayyyy too long Friday night into Saturday, I was still very tired and needed to push myself.

I made the decision to definitely take today off.  Even though I was invited to participate in a fun-run for Apple Blossom festivities, I was happy when the invitee texted to say that she was declining as well.  Thank goodness.

I have spent most of today and last night recovering from last week and I am determined  to not let myself get to that point again.  The point of physical exhaustion and burnout.  I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced exercise burnout before.  It’s definitely different than the over-training syndrome and adrenal fatigue I experienced a few years ago.  I’ve also decided this week to opt out of any FitBit challenges that I’ve been invited to as I feel like I’ve been too competitive lately and that has been fueling me a little more than it should.  I am not Monica Geller.

And, let’s face it, I know better.  I wasn’t trying to get to this point on purpose.  Exhaustion is NOT a status symbol.  I know the effects of over-training and risks exhaustion can pose. Up until the end of this past week I wasn’t feeling the effects of my workouts.  And perhaps this is a one time occurrence, but I will be more careful as I go into a new week.  I will not attempt more than I can handle.  My body is my temple and as such, I shall treat it like one and show it more respect.

~FB

30 Day Ab Challenge – Redux

I’ve been getting some requests to re-post the 30 Day Ab Challenge from a few years back. That particular post was and has been one of the most-searched posts.  It seems to be pretty popular – especially around this time of year (aka upcoming beach season).

This is a fun little exercise that you commit to participating in over 30 days.  You can do the challenge on its own, or as a complement to your current workout routine.  If you’re already accustomed to working your abdominal muscles, then double (or triple) each day’s challenge.  Push yourself – you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.

Here’s the Challenge (you can view the original post here):

ab-challenge

Have fun!

~FB

Fitness Favorites

I was recently asked what my absolute must-haves are when it comes to working out – what items I can absolutely not live without when it comes to exercising.

WATER

Water

This girl needs to stay hydrated.  I usually go through a couple of bottles of water when I’m at the gym.  I’m constantly guzzling because I’m sweating so much (it’s super hot at my gym) and I’m always trying to quench my thirst and dry mouth.  I try not to drink too much at once to avoid stomach aches, but when I’m at the gym I’m usually there for a while and going all out and water is definitely a game changer.

COOL AIR

Fan

via Daily Mail

I cannot stand being hot when I am exercising.  I find that if I am overheating I am not crushing my workouts and just feel gross.  I tend to run hot when I exercise, so I like to ensure that I am being cooled down efficiently.  So, in addition to replenishing my water intake, I also like to ensure that I can keep cool – either with multiple fans, open windows, or air conditioning.  If I’m at the gym then I usually hog the oscillating fan(s) and also make sure the overhead fans are so (I’m nagging for air conditioning).  If I’m working out at home I usually have the windows open or the AC on (if it’s summertime).  And if I’m teaching a class I take advantage of what’s available (inside = fans or AC / outside = shade and hopefully a slight breeze).

MUSIC

iPod

I 100% need my iPod when I’m working out, especially if I’m running.  The right song can keep me going.  (My song of choice for my run lately has been Anyway You Want It by Journey.)  When I ran my first 10k a few years ago I ran along to Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen on repeat.  It kept my perfect pace.  If I’m strength training I will put on a random play list and let the iPod work its magic.

HAIR GEAR

hair ties

This includes hair ties, headbands, hats, and bobby pins.  I have naturally curly hair and a whole heckuva lot of it and it is constantly in my face.  It is my second biggest peeve when I’m working out – right behind being hot.  I can’t stand little fly-away hairs in my face so I try to make sure I have what’s necessary to keeping my Wookie-do out of my eyes.

FITBIT

FitBit

I totally had buyer’s remorse when I first purchased my FitBit, but now I am addicted to it.  I love being able to track my steps, my distances, and my heart rate when I’m working out.  I picked up the HR Charge specifically to keep track of my heart rate. Since I have a heart condition, I figured it would be interesting to track the pattern and BPM and anything else that would correlate.  I also love the step challenges – within a group or simply on my own.  I am very aware of how active I am throughout each day and honestly make more of an effort to get up and move – especially if I have been sedentary for too long.

APPs

Aaptiv

I’m really not an app-y person when it comes to my exercise routine.  I’m fairly rogue that way.  I’ve downloaded apps in the past and rarely utilized them.  But one great new app I’ve reviewed is Aaptiv.  Aaptiv is an on-demand audio fitness app that combines the guidance of a trainer with the perfect playlist.  If you are considering a fitness app as part of your routine, you should definitely check out Aaptiv.

Aside from proper footwear and a good sports bra, that about does it for my list of workout must-haves.  What are some of your favorites?

~FB

My Saturday Morning Workout

Lately, I have been killing it at the gym and in my classes.  I have been expanding my horizons and trying all sorts of different exercises and techniques and really working on improving my form and overall fitness level.  I have totally upped the ante.

I’m a huge fan and supporter of body-weight exercises.  In fact, it’s what my boot camp classes are based on.  No equipment.  100% body weight.  My family fitness classes are similar, but often we will bring out some equipment to keep the younger participants keen (although, let me just say that the kids are LOVING this program, and if you don’t think your kids would be interested in fitness and exercises, try working out with them!).  In my family fitness classes I have used jump ropes, hula hoops, and a few balls.  And aside from gliders (which are TOTALLY body-weight exercises) that’s the only equipment I’ve ever used in any of my classes.

My gym workouts and my at-home workouts, however, are an entirely different story. I try and utilize as much equipment as I can at the gym – things I can’t use at home, like the rowing machine, the Smith machine (be still my beating heart), heavier weights, even a Bosu ball (for burpees – again, a body-weight exercise).

Until recently, a lot of my home workouts were body-weight based: doing some of my boot camp classes, or videos like any of the Insanity series, P90-X, Jillian Michaels, etc.  But since I got my dream boxing bag for Christmas, I’ve been using that a lot as part of my home exercise, and often incorporating weight-lifting, and running the stairs into the routine.

Today was a gorgeous day in Nova Scotia; it has been sunny and warm and it truly feels like the start of an early spring (we’re gearing up for some snow tomorrow though.  Bummer.), so I took advantage of the sunshine this morning and moved part of my workout outside – coming back inside for other parts of the workout that I wasn’t able to access in the fresh air.

A few years ago I found a bombdiggity weighted jump rope at a local store.  I loved it so much that I went back and bought the remaining ropes.  Seriously.  I have a small stock, just in case.  I also bought one for my boyfriend so that we can both take advantage of the awesomeness.

weighted-jump-rope

For my warm up I brought the rope outside and skipped away.  It was so wonderful to be able to warm up outside.

Oustide jump rope

This was basically me this morning. (via Yahoo)

Once warmed up I moved back inside so that I could do a boxing workout.  I boxed my butt off to some upbeat music, while doing burpees and squats in between.

boxingbag

Just call me Rocky Balboa

I also took advantage of my resistance bands and my newest obsession, my suspension training system.

Squat Row

Resistance bands are really just as good as weights – and certainly more mobile. (via Google)

I did a bunch of variations using the resistance bands – from squat rows to bicep curls to overhead extensions.  I did it all.

I took my suspension training system outside and channeled my inner Candace and inner Norman and performed different variations of exercises, such as: mountain climbers, chest press and fly, to the full body row (below), planks with a leg extension.

Suspension Candace

Candace Cameron Bure (and Kira Stokes) via Instragram

Norman Reedus Suspension

Norman Reedus via Men’s Fitness

I did circuits of all of these exercises, moving from inside to outside and enjoying every bit of it.

You don’t need a lot of money or a gym membership or even a lot of equipment to get in shape.  If you’re not into body-weight training – or want to move outside that realm for some of your workouts, invest in a few small pieces of fitness gear: resistance bands usually run between $10 and $30, smaller weights can be purchased fairly cheap at places like Canadian Tire and Walmart, weighted jump ropes can be picked up pretty much anywhere, including some discount and dollar stores.  Suspension Training Systems can be pricey.  Mine was an investment that I decided to go ahead with since I can use it personally and for my clients and, well, because #obsessed.  My boxing bag was a Christmas gift and something I’ve been wanting for many years.  It too was an investment (gifted to me), but you don’t necessarily need a boxing bag to enjoy a boxing workout.  There’s nothing wrong with shadow boxing or cardio boxing <- those will definitely get your heart pumping.

And all of the above (minus an actual boxing bag) are mobile items.  So you can move your workouts outside, or pack your gear when you’re vacationing, or even take with you to a friend’s house so that you can exercise together.

The ultimate goal would be to take advantage of both body-weight training and inexpensive workout gear.

~FB

Don’t Give Up

Tried Everything

Let’s be realistic for a minute.  Results take time.  You aren’t going to do one workout or one class or one day of a change in diet and expect to drop down a bunch of sizes.  Life doesn’t work that way.  And like I’ve always said, the weight didn’t come on in a day, it shouldn’t come off in a day.

You have to work for it.

And, something else I’ve said over the years:  If you’re not willing to work for it then you’re not ready to lose the weight.

Life is not easy and losing weight is not easy.  But get in there, dig deeper, work hard, sweat, LOVE YOURSELF, and your hard work will pay off.

Tomorrow is the first day of a new week.

It’s the first day of a new you.

Hang in there.  Don’t give up.  It will seem easier.  You will get stronger.

Don’t give up.

You Got This!

~FB

 

Be Happy


be-happy

It’s Sunday and I’m feeling really…overworked in fitness.  Maybe?

I’ve been going so hardcore lately – “upping” it in my classes, and going all out in my own personal workouts, in addition to picking up a few additional clients.  And this weekend I am paying the price.

I haven’t had a tarsal tunnel flare up in a few months but I totally overdid it this week (my own fault) and screwed myself and now my ankles have been buzzing since Thursday.  I can’t quite explain the pain to you – but it feels like ongoing electrical shocks in my ankles and at the bottom of my legs.  On top of that, my back is still going out every other day, and my hamstrings have been super tight the last few days (again, self inflicted and I should know better).

I could sit here and write about how horrible my life is and whine about “why is this happening to me?”.  But I won’t because I absolutely do not feel that way.  In fact, I feel the opposite.  I am blessed to have the ability to get up and work out each day.  I am thankful that I have a full belly each night – and that I even have the option of creating healthy meals.

Quite recently I saw a rerun of an old Judge Judy episode where one team mother was suing another team mother of their sons’ football jerseys.  The plaintiff really looked like a smug lunatic and she and her husband kept stating how “upset” they were that the uniforms weren’t what they expected.  Judge Judy then asked “Do you have healthy children?”  To which the plaintiffs responded “yes”.  Judge Judy then said if they were “upset over a uniform they were sickos” and that if they had to “deal with parents who were upset that the lettering was coming off the children’s uniforms when the children are able to run around a football field and healthy enough to do that then you’re all sickos.”

See the point?

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to better my fitness goals.  I am thankful that I have the ability to get up and lift weights and run and jump and teach classes.  I am blessed to live my life the way I do and have the option of making the choices I do.

I think positively.  I work hard.  I eat healthy.  I dance more.  I exercise daily.  I love often.  And I AM HAPPY.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Good Enough!

I had a conversation with another fitness professional recently and we were discussing how “haters gonna hate” (although we were more eloquent than that).

When you make the decision to change your life and to become a healthier person, there will always be someone – that one person – who will do whatever he or she can to keep you down.

I can attest to this.

After I’d made some changes and began eating better and exercising, I lost weight very quickly and my overall health changed.  Everyone was really supportive of me, my decisions, and my lifestyle.  Except one person.

This person, for whatever reason, wanted to make me feel bad for feeling good.  In fact, this individual even made a public comment that I looked sick and had “gone too far”.

Really?  I gave my life a makeover and worked my butt off to get healthy. Before that  was overweight, sedentary, and basically ate garbage.  But suddenly, now I’d gone too far?

good-enough

While you will always have tons of support while on your road to good health, you will also encounter a few people who jerks and will work to bring you down.  Either they’ll throw out a hurtful comment or a snide remark, or will just talk shit about you behind your back.  The truth is – and again, I’m calling a spade a spade – these few people are dissatisfied with their lives.  They’re jealous that you look and feel so damn good, and that you have accomplished (read: earned!) so much, and they, for whatever reason, don’t want to put in the effort to do the same for themselves.  So, in turn, they want to discourage you in hopes that they can bring you back down to their level.  DON’T LET THEM.

And if you need to, shake ’em off.

Remember, as always, You’re Worth It!

~FB

#youreworthit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Inspiration

I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s.  And back then, we didn’t have cable at home.  And certainly, we didn’t have overwhelming channels that today’s folks have to choose from.  But, we had a few staple television shows that were watched – The Cosby Show, Who’s the Boss? (my favorite), Growing Pains, etc.  And I was obsessed with teeny-bopper magazines that showcased all my crushes (Kirk Cameron and Michael J. Fox), and potential best-friends (Alyssa Milano).  The famous were beautiful.

When Full House made its way to my television. I instantly was in awe of Candace Cameron.  Aside from the fact that she was Kirk Cameron’s little sister AND had had a small guest appearance on Who’s the Boss?, she was the first girl I’d seen on TV that looked like me: cute curls, a little chubby, and with the “Charlie Brown cheeks” that she referred to in a later episode*.  It was wonderful that I could finally identify with someone on TV and in magazines.  I was elated.

young-cc

How cute was she?

Although Candace said she never had an issue with her weight while filming early in the seasons, season 4 of Full House aired an episode called *”Shape Up”, in which DJ goes on a crash diet to slim down for a pool party.  This was an emotional episode for me for me to watch.  Although my eating disorders didn’t begin until a year or two later, I could completely relate to how DJ was feeling and could already see my own disordered eating and outlook.  (Note: While preparing this post, I re-watched the episode for the first time in likely 20 years and had the same emotional response I had the first time it aired.  To this day, it breaks my heart because I know the struggle and I know that most little girls have and will continue to have this struggle at some point in life.)

Later on, Ms. Cameron Bure declared she developed eating disorders a few years after the show had finished filming.  (Although, she states that it had less to do with her weight and more to do with where she was in her life, emotionally and physically.)

Since her days of self-destruction, Candace Cameron Bure has completely changed her body and her health.  She has an incredible workout regime, and one of the best (celebrity) trainers, Kira Stokes, as her own.  And I have found inspiration in them both.

These two have some of the best workouts I have seen.  As a trainer – and a trainee – I am often looking for ways to keep workouts fresh, innovative, and fun.  And these two ladies sometimes help me get there.

candace-and-kira

Candace Cameron Bure and trainer Kira Stokes (photo via Cameron Bure’s Instagram)

 Aside from gaining inspiration for my workouts, I have found inspiration in Candace  herself, from how she approaches fitness and clean eating and even spiritual health.  Three topics I already have in common with her.  Her approach to how she keeps her body lean and how she looks at her muscle and her strength is refreshing and it’s nice to actually see and hear a celebrity talk about it all and show how much dedication it takes her to keep her body in tip-top shape.  Especially when so many celebrities make the claim “I eat whatever I want and don’t work out.”  Pffftt!!

candace-cameron-3-times

Via US

Although Candace Cameron Bure is a celebrity and she has personal trainers and has appeared on Dancing with the Stars where she spent endless hours each day for endless months dancing non-stop, she is also a woman who has worked incredibly hard to get to get and keep a strong, toned, lean body.  Believe me – that takes work!  And, again, I find it inspiring that she has been so inclined to share her journeys with us, the public.  Through her books and her social media accounts and her television appearances, she has been delightful in showing us that if you set a  goal – and work for it – it can be reached.

And what’s even more delightful, and something I have found truly inspiring since I was a pre-teen, is that when she was a young actress and already a very public figure, she never had issue with her body – even, as it has been stated, when other people had. She was a great role model in childhood and continues to be a role model in adulthood.

I will continue to find inspiration from her.  Where do you find yours?

~FB