Tag Archive: fitness

T25

Prior to October I was doing the same exercise regime I had been for the past couple of years. That was running, cycling, and Jillian Michaels’ workout DVDs.  And it was working great, so I don’t have any impressive weight loss story to accompany this post.  But I was a little bored.  I wrote it off as being tired (because what parent working out at 6 am isn’t exhausted?!), but in hindsight, I think I just needed a change up.

Cardio is my favorite, so if I could just run and cycle every day, that would be my preference.  I do it 3-4 times a week, pending Kyle’s work schedule and the weather.  But to be healthier and have a more balanced approach to my fitness, I know strength training (with light and heavy weights) and core work are important.  So that’s why I did Jillian’s program.  I got Body Revolution for Christmas in 2014, and have been doing 2-3 workouts a week ever since.  The 3rd cd is HARD.  Kyle likes the workouts too.

Anyway, like I mentioned, I was feeling a little lackluster about working out and needed something new to inspire me.  Around then, Jenna posted on IG asking people to join her November fitness group and I emailed her about the various workouts. Full disclosure: Beachbody kinda made me roll my eyes before.  I think it was because of the whole 21 day fix thing that took over the internet last year.  I definitely have no interest in measuring types of food out in tupperware or anything with imposed portion control. It may be great for others, but it’s not my thing. So I had a pretty biased opinion of the Beachbody workouts going in. But I wanted to be open minded. After I learned about a few different programs I chose T25.  It was a birthday present to myself (I have to justify spending money because of #momguilt).

Pros: it was cardio based with minimal equipment needed (basically nothing is needed) and it was done in 25 minutes.  I am all about getting it done as quick as possible!

Concerns: there wouldn’t be enough weight work and since I would already be doing running or cycling for my cardio I wanted something that didn’t overlap too much.

As it turns out, I LOVE LOVE LOVE T25 and there is definitely plenty of strength work!  It is NOT easy and your heart rate gets through the roof.

More reasons I love it:

  • The countdown!  There’s a clock in the lower corner of the screen and it starts at 25:00 and counts down the entire time until you are done.  No guessing how much longer, you know the whole time where you are in the workout.  And since it’s only 25 minutes, there’ never a time that you look at it that’s super discouraging.
  • They give you the play by play.  Also in the corner (above the countdown) is a progress bar that restarts with each exercise move.  That way you know how long you had to do each move. I find this particularly helpful for moves that put you in a tough position to see the tv screen, so you can look once, see the progress bar and see how fast (or slow) it is moving and thus know how much longer to put your head down and work before it’s reasonable to look up again.  Of course there’s talking too, so you will know when he tells you, but if you mute it and listen to podcasts then this is a helpful feature.  it also tell you the name of the move you are doing and then just before the progress bar is complete and the exercise is done, it switches to say the next exercise.  That way you know what is coming up next. By the 2nd or 3rd time through I knew what the moves names were so that was nice to have a clue what was following.
  • You don’t need to be able to follow choreography. I would say this was another one of my main worries when I bought the DVD. I am not good at picking up choreography right away, so I didn’t know if that would matter.  Happy to share that it doesn’t.  This isn’t a dance based thing, so you don’t need to memorize moves or anything.
  • It is FAST.  You literally never stop. One of the “cons” to Jillian’s DVDs is there is a lot of time between moves that she jokes around with the extras and talks.  I don’t have time for that!  I just want to get in and get out, so I can go back to my kids and deal with getting them dressed and fed and yadda yadda. T25 has no down time. You go from one move to the next immediately so your heart rate is up from the second you start.

You can do plenty of research about the details on their website, but I am one very pleased customer. I can’t speak for any of the other workouts, but this one is definitely what I would choose over any other DVD at the moment.  And it’s a good thing too, since I will probably do it for another few years before I buy anything else!

I still do Jillian’s Body Revolution a couple times a month, but they are so slowwwww now by comparison. They do make me sore though, so there’s something to be said for diversifying your routine!  Now if only this gross winter weather would go away so I could get back on the bike. There’s nothing fun about dark 30 degree rides, that’s for sure.  Another perk to it warming up is bringing the kids with me on runs or rides.  Then Kyle’s work schedule doesn’t even matter!  Man am I eager for Spring to arrive…until then Kyle and I will continue to coordinate our workouts in the wee early hours and let the kids stay nice and warm and dry inside, while we train in the brrr.

For the “gym at home” readers out there – what are your favorites at the moment?  Our garage set up is pretty minimalist, and includes 5, 10, and 15 lb weights, resistance cables, and an exercise ball.  We have a TV and DVD player from the ’90s (seriously) and but it gets the job done….along with these mats with a rug gripper under it to provide some cushion.  Luckily we have a big garage, so it works out nicely, otherwise I suspect our guest room would be the backup option. I haven’t belonged to a gym since living in New York and while I miss some things (spin class!), it doesn’t make sense financially.  Especially if all I want to do is run or cycle and 9-10 months out of the year that’s free!

Body Revolution

Ever since I mentioned that I received Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution for Christmas, I have gotten a few questions about how I’m liking it and if I’d recommend it.

In a word, YES!

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I love it.  I love what she has done to take my fitness to the next level (which wasn’t a major step since I was still barely making my way back into the scene after having P).  In all honesty, I’m surprised at how much better this workout program is than her other DVDs, because I looooove her other ones so much and felt like I’d reached the end as far as her difficulty level goes.  Sure, I have been known to "phone it in" a number of times, but I also do the more advanced tweaks and rarely got sore afterwards.  I didn’t realize how much I missed that day after burn!

Regular readers know I adore Jillian and own almost all her workout DVDs.  They are the perfect tool for those winter months when you’re trapped indoors with a little one. 

As much as I like long runs, I can definitely appreciate the time crunch when it comes to life (with or without kids – we all have crap to get done), so squeezing in a REAL workout session in 30 minutes is a huge deal.

These workouts are the real deal.  They make me sweat.  They make me sore.  They make me strong.  I won’t post a photo of my abs because that’s obnoxious (I’ve done it before and since regretted it), so you’ll have to trust me when I tell you they are legit.  My arms and core are super strong too.  Stronger than they’ve ever been I think (and for sure stronger than I thought possible for such limited exercise time).

For those interested in knowing more about the DVDs, there are 3 levels – and each level has 4 strength workouts and 1 cardio workout.

Each strength workout is ~30 minutes while the cardio ones are somewhat shorter (~25 minutes).  You need weights, a resistance cable, and a mat for the strength training sessions (and enough room to put a mat on the floor).

There’s a program telling you when to do what but I don’t follow it (there’s also an eating plan which I don’t follow).  I basically do 4 strength training workouts each week + 1 cardio workout + 1 run outside (weather permitting).  Sometimes I mix it up and throw in a yoga session or if the weather is especially nice I’ll do more outside walks/runs, but for the most part I’ve been doing her Body Revolution exclusively since December and I haven’t even gotten to the 3rd level yet.  Truthfully, I’m scared about what’s coming.

There are descriptions of the workouts, including the focus muscle groups, so you can target different areas and not burn out one part of the body by doing the same muscles in back to back workouts.  I especially like this because then when my biceps are super sore I can do a workout that focuses on the back of the legs.  And then the next day when I can’t squat because I’m in agony, I can go back to pushing my arms to the limit.  I’ve never been one to pay attention to this kind of thing, but it’s cool to get a full body workout without doing the planning yourself.  Basically Jillian is your personal (bad ass) trainer and she’s letting you decide how much you want to kill yourself.

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And I’m a glutton for punishment.  🙂

Readers request: Finding fitness

How to find an exercise/fitness routine that’s right for you?

Trial & error is the long (and unfortunately time consuming) answer.

I know lots of lifestyle factors and personal preferences come into play here, but more than anything else variety is definitely key in keeping yourself stimulated mentally and physically.  At least that’s my personal work-out philosophy.  Bodies plateau when a fitness routine becomes…well…routine.  So it’s critical to keep your muscles guessing.

Another thing to bear in mind, is that our bodies change over the course of our lives.  So what interested and worked for me in my teenage years may not do it for me now.  However, what’s not to say years down the road I pick that hobby back up again?  In other words, what you enjoy at one point in your life may be different later on, so don’t give up on an activity.  Just keep it on the sidelines until you’re ready for a change.

Things to consider:

  • Are you motivated by group exercise?  Team sports?  Or do you prefer to sweat solo?
  • How much time in the day/week do you have to devote to exercise?
  • When is your energy level at it’s peak?  AM?  PM?
  • How much are you willing to spend on workout equipment, gym memberships, etc?

Workout classes

Most gyms have a wide variety of classes for people who like group exercise.  Sure, gym memberships cost $$ but if you’re the kind of person who wants options this is a worthwhile investment.  And once you’ve joined, you don’t have to spend money on much else.  The equipment is all there for you, all you need to do it show up.

Pick a gym after a trial period…try classes, machines, personal trainers, anything and everything you’d like to take advantage of once you’ve joined.  Test various hours and make sure you have access to what you want, when you want…and then do it!

Make your membership fees worth it.  Body pump, spinning, zumba…whatever.  You can go to as many classes as you want, which means you have unlimited choices in finding a good fit.

I’m a total klutz so I steer clear of group classes, especially ones that involve choreography.  But if that’s your scene, I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun and a great workout.  The only part of not having a gym membership that I miss is spinning classes.  Fortunately, the West Coast weather allows for the real deal…which brings me to the next form of exercise.

Cycling

Before I moved to NYC I did a ton of biking…to school, to work…the streets of West LA are bike-friendly if you know which ones to take.

After moving to the East Coast I was without my wheels, which was fine since the weather was rarely between 40 and 90 degree anyway.  Snow and bike don’t mix.  Neither do swampy summer days with humidity that gives you an afro.  But none of that mattered since it wasn’t deemed safe enough of a commute by Kyle.  Or my mom.  I’m getting off subject.  My point was, moving back to CA meant I got to ride my bike again.

This is one of my very favorite forms of exercise.  I ride 1-2 times a week (more if I’m commuting to work) and it always leaves me on cloud nine.

Group exercise with bikes is more difficult as it relies on your friends to own bikes too.  But if they do, it’s a great weekend activity if you’re friends are into it – combining fun hang-out time with fitness.  Two birds!

Obviously price is an issue in cycling because bikes aren’t free…and you need a helmet, a lock, and (probably) a velcro-pack to carry small items in.  So yeah, this is definitely a more pricey form of exercise.  Upkeep on a bike can cost quite a bit too.

There’s also the matter of storage space.  If you’re in a house..lucky you.  If you’re in an apartment building, make sure any public bike rack is safe and secure.  If not, you’re looking at a new balcony accessory.

Another factor in determining if biking is a good fit for you is where you live.  Like I mentioned above, some cities and some seasons aren’t ideal (even winters in LA aren’t great for biking).  But if you already have the gear and the weather on your side, pedaling into the sunset is one of the most enjoyable ways to exercise.

Running

Ah running…my life long love.  I’ll never truly be anything but a runner because it’s something I’ve always done.  When I try to think back I can’t recall a time I didn’t run.  Then I got into racing and those became a hobby too.  My phases of competitively training and running fluctuate depending on my mood.  Currently I’m in a relaxed and leisurely relationship with the sport, and I’m ok with it.

In any event, don’t think that a lack of experience/background means you’re not cut out to be a runner.  The best thing about it is anyone CAN do it.  Speed doesn’t matter because it’s an individual activity.  The only person you’re up “against” is yourself.  Go fast, go slow, go far, go around the block.  It’s impossible to fail.

Also, it’s the cheapest activity you’ll ever try.  All you need are shoes.  And you can do it anywhere.  If you’re a solo type of person, here’s your me-time.
Getting started with running is as simple as jogging around the neighborhood.  It sounds stupid, but seriously, go as far as you can go…and then try and go further the next day.  If you tire easily, don’t be discouraged.  Endurance takes time and running will always be waiting for you.

If you need help staying motivated, create a reward system for yourself, set goals, and recruit others to hold you accountable.

Examples:

  • Buy yourself a new sports bra if you run x times this week/month
  • Make gym dates with a trainer
  • Make a chart and cross off mileage as you do it
  • Log times/distances/activities on the computer or journal to see your progress
  • Arrange to meet a friend at group classes
  • Schedule classes into your day ahead of time
  • Enter races in the future
  • Meet friends for lunch at a place you can bike to
  • Set out your shoes/clothes/gear in the PM so it’s ready when you wake up

Yoga

I’m less of an expert in this category so I’d like to invite all you yogis to leave comments chiming in with your knowledge on ways to get into yoga and stay inspired.

I’m still in the beginner stages of practicing yoga, but what I have come to realize is how much it spills over into all aspects of your life.  Having good posture and holding your core together are just the physical effects (and they’re no small feat either).  The calm and inner peace that I feel each time I leave the studio are some of the other invaluable benefits.

The kinds of yoga vary greatly, from Ashtanga and Power yoga, to Iyengar, to Vinyasa, to Bikram, and everything in between.  I still have so many to try myself!

To the other beginners out there, let me reassure you…people have always been so inviting and supportive.  Nobody is perfect.  Everyone has some part of their practice to work on – great or small – so you’re never alone in your quest to get better.  Similar to running, you just focus on you.  Nobody else cares because each person is too busy focusing on him/herself.

Like strength training, yoga gets you strong.  Your muscles may not feel worked in the moment, but you’ll notice them eventually.  Hell, it may even add peace to your life due to the introspective nature of it.  Physical, mental, and spiritual exercise all in one.  Now that’s a good workout!

Strength Training

I’ve posted about my love for Jillian Michaels before.  I never believed in anything but cardio before I discovered her DVDs.  Now I think twice before knocking a 20 minute workout.  You can see my thoughts on those workouts here.

As far as strength training goes, I pretty much stick to Jillian’s videos (1-2 times a week).  Occasionally I’ll do Jackie Warner’s arm and abs routines if they are available on demand.  But I still haven’t found anything else that comes close in comparison to Jillian’s workouts.  I sweat and feel sore the next day, which makes me know it’s working.

As for equipment, my home set-up is as follows: 5 lb weights x2, 10 lb weights x2 (mostly for Kyle), yoga mat, balance board, resistance bands x2, large inflatable ball, wii (kidding).

I don’t always use everything listed, but I only mentioned what I personally like.

Miscellaneous

Don’t forget about checking your area for community sports leagues…like soccer, kickball, and/or dodgeball.  I know Santa Monica even has lawn bowling!  Are there places to go on hikes in your area?  Is there a swimming pool nearby?  Go for it!  Or for the cooler climate crowds, maybe look into ice skating or skiiing?

You won’t know if an exercise is a good fit for you until you try it.  And be sure to give each activity a few tries before you dismiss it.  Like a toddler trying new foods, sometimes it doesn’t connect until the 10th time!

Have an exercise to add?  Leave a comment below sharing how to get started and stay motivated.

I tried Krav Maga and if I had the $ to go regularly I would do it in a heartbeat.  It’s one of the most grueling and intense exercise sessions I’ve ever had to date.

Hope this helps!

52 - Elise LMYA Soccer Fall 1989

[The start of a lifetime of sports and fitness]