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

 

18 Again

Recently I was encouraged to write a post about what advice I could give to my college-aged self from where I am today.  It took me a long time to finally get here but here I am and here’s what I would tell myself.

First of all, at 18, 19, 20 I had no idea who I really was or what exactly it was that I wanted out of life.  I was a student and I was out to have fun and, to be honest, to just get through each day.

I spent a lot time laying awake at night thinking “My God, what am I going to do when I graduate?”…and then I’d panic.  I had no direction for my life.  So, if I could time-travel back to my 18th year, one thing I would definitely myself is take care of yourself now!  Embrace fitness! Love your body and embrace it.  Treat it like the temple it is because when you’re older, it’s not as easy as it once was to fit in exercise, work those muscles, and lose (or gain!) weight.  Try not to struggle with the things you can’t change about yourself and work on the things you can.  Stay active.  And be sure to have fun!  What’s the point of living if there’s no fun?  Keep your heart healthy and young.

And know that it’s never too late – or too early – to start doing something you love (or you loathe) if it will make you feel better and keep you healthy.  I wish I had embraced fitness at a younger age.  I wish I could turn back the clocks and jump on the bandwagon as a kid.  Especially knowing now that it’s attainable and not necessary to fork over a ton of money in order to stay fit and active.  All you need is  a good attitude and some motivation.  And a good pair of sneakers!

And eating clean doesn’t have to be expensive – although, direction for eating clean is likely a lot simpler when you’re not a young, partying college kid.  Just stay away form the junk!!

Most importantly, have fun.  Take advantage of all the world has to offer.  Get out an literally smell the roses and get a breath of fresh air.  Don’t stress yourself out over the unknown of your future, like how you’re going to pay back your student loans. (P.S. there are people out there who want to help you, like the Happiness Team from Earnest.  They can help you pay back your loans quicker with their refinancing options.)  Get out and literally smell the roses and get a breath of fresh air

~FB

Instant Results

I saw this meme the other day on my Facebook feed and I thought how true it is and has been for many of us.

instant-results

We’re just entering our second week of 2017 and, as most people do, many of us have also made New Year’s Resolutions.  (Have you?  Tell me about them.)

I almost never make resolutions for the new year because I know I’m more than likely setting myself up for failure.  (Stop swearing.  Yeah right!)

Instead, this time I have have made the decision and commitment to work harder on my strength training this year.  For Christmas I had received a free-standing boxing bag, something I have wanted for a long time.  I was ecstatic Christmas morning.  And I have been utilizing it this past week like crazy.

In addition to the boxing, I am going to continue to my strength training in the gym (and at home) with lifting weights and, hopefully, continuously increasing the weight.  Of course, this part will depend on how my back fares.  I wretched it again just this morning while shoveling snow.  Sometimes I feel like it’s never going to heal.  But, that being said, I will work on my strength while doing my best not to injure myself any further.

work-for-it

My Whole 30 60 (I am aiming big this time) also starts tomorrow morning and I have been so excited to get going.  Don’t get me wrong, I am going to miss chocolate and those dreamy peppermint mochas, but I know how wonderful I feel when doing a Whole and committing myself to completely clean eating for 60 days has me on edge in all the good ways.

But see – this is the point of this post.  Instant results would be fabulous!  But it’s just not realistic.  Oprah said years ago on her show that if there were a pill out there to make her lose weight she would be on it!  But, unfortunately, there is no magic pill. You have to work for it.  You have to.  The only instant result you get is making the choice to change your life.

That’s right, in one instant you can change your life.  You can commit yourself to a better lifestyle – to eating cleaner, to sleeping more, to getting enough water to drink, and to exercising.

30-minutes

Even 20 minutes a day can change your life!

Many years ago, when I was overweight and at my heaviest, I made that commitment. And, as you know, I haven’t looked back.  I have changed my life.

At first, I had a hard time getting through my workouts.  I was panting and huffing and puffing.  I could barely get through three minutes.  But I kept at it and I worked my way up to 10, 20, 30, 60, 120 minutes.  I have often said that 20 minutes a day can change your life  and I stick by that.  You do not need to spend hours upon hours in the gym.  But you do have to do something.  Start off with a goal of even 5 minutes a day.  Work your way up to 10 or 20 minutes over the weeks.  See how different you feel, how easier it is to breathe, how harder you can go.  Feel the difference in your body and how your clothes fit.  Commit yourself to one month.  Give yourself 30 days of eating better and working out even 3 times a week.  I challenge you* to do that. Thirty days is not a long time.  But those thirty days can change your life.

You have to work for it.

~Fit Bitch

*Anyone accepting my challenge, please feel free to comment or email me and let me know you’ve accepted the challenge, or if you want fitness tips, instructions, workout ideas, or nutritional advice/healthy eating coaching.

Results May Vary

Happy New Year Fitness Peeps!

The other night, while rockin’ it at the gym, I had an epiphany.  And I decided that 2017 is going to be another spectacular year.

I’ve been working really hard this past year on my strength training and in this upcoming year, I am going to make defining my muscle tone an attainable goal.  In fact, in helping me do so, my brother and sister-in-law got me a freestanding boxing bag…. just like this one:

boxingbag

Fitness wishes do come true!

So, now I can box my sweet heart out without having to leave the house (although, I still do love to attend a class), in addition to teaching my classes, hitting the gym, running, and attending my ritual Thursday night Zumba class.

Now, all that being said, I know that I do need to set attainable goals.  I’m getting older and my body and metabolism and hormones change.  It’s not as easy to lose weight as it once was.  So, my goals really need to be realistic.  But there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to hit them….or to strive for them.

And you can too.  You can make 2017 your best year ever.

Set yourself some goals.  Make notes on how you will change your lifestyle so that you can, indeed, change your life.  Will your “resolutions” include working out more, eating less, strength training, finding your spirituality or mental clarity, becoming more social?

Just remember that no matter what you decide and what you aim for – your results will not be the same as your best friend’s or your running buddy’s or your partner’s.

results-may-vary

You will likely not end up with the same fit bod as your favorite celebrity (although, you never know – maybe it will be better!).  Whatever you do, make sure you’re making changes for you.  For better health and for longevity.

And as always, remember:  You’re Worth It!

~FB