Ellipticals

elliptical

If you’ve been a follower of this blog for some time, you might recall that my fitness routine initially started with an elliptical I had purchased (from Sears) at least a year prior.  I had every intention of utilizing this machine in order to lose weight.  But, the first time I tried it I found it “too hard” and didn’t bother to use it again.

When I hopped on it more than a year later, I was at a place in my life  where I was fat, (not just overweight, but fat), sad, depressed, and overall unhealthy.  I was now determined that it was time for a change.  I lugged that darned elliptical machine into my living room, turned the TV on to Oprah, and I powered (read “struggled”) through that workout.  I was hot and sweaty and out of breath.  My heart was beating and I felt like I was going to die.  But I continued.  I made a point to get on that elliptical every day.  I would make a point to set my goal each day and, as soon as I was close to achieving it, I would set a new one.  Eventually, the three minute workout that initially “nearly killed me” the year before, turned into a 20, 30, 60, and eventually 120 minutes routine.  It became part of my daily habit.  And I swear, that elliptical saved my life.

When I came across Reviews.com, a great site that offers comparisons and reviews on tons of products, I had to check it out.  The people are Reviews.com do the work for you by researching and reviewing anything you might be looking for – including the Best Elliptical Machines.

The Elliptical Reviews pinpoints what exactly you should be looking for in the machine, who they consulted, which ones were tested, and how they chose their overall best.  They compared prices, as well as the “luxuries” of each model reviewed.  It really is a useful site and I would encourage anyone wanting to invest in an elliptical (or anything, really) to check out the site and invest the time, too.  Buying any piece of exercise equipment is a big deal and can often run you a lot of money.  Your health is definitely worth it, of course, but I would suggest examining the research at Reviews.com and see if all of your questions are answered.  Perhaps they even answered questions you didn’t know to ask.

One of the greatest things I love about my elliptical is that the strides are short.  I’m 5’6 but I have fairly short legs (my torso goes on for days) and the strides are perfect for my little stumps.  What’s interesting to note about this is that every single elliptical machine I’ve been on in my lifetime, aside from the one I purchased, has incredibly long strides and I feel very awkward on them.  Is that something I would have researched back then?  No, I really just lucked out with that one.  But, now that I know there are different lengths of the strides, it is certainly something I will look for should I plan to purchase another one in the future.

So, if you are in the market for something (anything) new, pop over to Reviews.com and do a little comparison shopping.  You never know what you might be looking for.

~FB

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I finished my CanFitPro certification course this past weekend.  Whoo hoo!  It was an overwhelming couple of weeks with tons and tons of information to take in (bioenergetics, biomechanics, etc.) and I have tons and tons of studying and prepping to do before I complete my exams.  Thankfully I have about 5 weeks before the written exam and then from there I have to schedule the practical.  Fortunately, I had a friend who’s taken the course and is already training (she’s the person responsible for me going for this!) so I’m able to shadow with her and ask questions.  And my gym and class buddy has “volunteered” to be my guinea pig so I’m able to work with her the way I would work with a true life client.  And it’s helping.

This past weekend, during the course, we spent a good amount of time in the gym and getting to know new equipment.   I’ve always been intimidated by some of the equipment in my gym but since I got back from the course I’ve been broadening my horizons and it’s empowering.

One of the big attractions in the course gym, that all the guys and gals were going gaga for, was the Smith Machine.  And guess what?  We have one of those at my gym!  I was so excited to brag about this piece of equipment and get back to my gym to really work with it (I’d tried it once or twice before; it’s still very new to my gym) and I love it.  I’ve been increasing my weights over the last year but this machine I think will really help me build my upper body strength – especially since I’m still dealing with this stupid back injury, this machine should be great in keeping me from preventing more injury (let’s all knock on wood just in case).

If you’re not familiar with the Smith Machine you can check out the Wikipedia page here and the photo below.

Smith Machine

Smith Machine

The really great thing about the Smith Machine is that it has these little jagged teeth where you can sit or rest the weights on AND where you can lock the safety on each side so if you’re doing lifts and lose your balance the weights will only fall to the safety.  Or, if you drop the bar completely, it falls right into the next set of teeth.  I am really looking forward to getting more use out of this piece of equipment.

I’ve also started using other pieces more and plan to continue with them.  If you are like me and don’t feel great outside out of your comfort zone, try taking tiny steps and take full advantage of new equipment (or equipment new to you).  It’ll be worth it in the end.

Cheers.