Doctor Strive to Thrive
Posted in Get Moving

Fitness Motivation for Exercise Strugglers

YOU’RE NOT INSANE

How many times has your New Year’s resolution been to exercise regularly?  If you’re like many of us, you lost count.  What about all the springtime promises to yourself that you would be swimsuit ready by summer?  These things don’t work but we keep trying them over and over, expecting a different result.  I don’t think that makes us insane (Einstein didn’t really say that, but it’s incredibly wise!), but we are extremely well-intended.  We look for fitness motivation in all the wrong places and can’t get traction.  This website is dedicated to everyone who has ever said “I need to start exercising!”. Then you started, then stopped, repeatedly, year after year.

Disclosure: This website uses affiliate links, meaning if you click on one and make a purchase, I may get a commission at no additional cost to you.

Maybe you’ve been inactive for a long time and haven’t even taken the first step.  You might be getting moving but think “I could never be one of those ‘fit’ people“.  Obstacles may keep popping up and it’s really hard to stay motivated.  I’ve been in all those places.

Who am I?

My name is Susan Masterson, and I’m here to help move you from “I’m gonna” to “I’m still doing it!”.  I’ve had a lifelong struggle with keeping myself moving regularly, so I get it.  I focused my doctoral dissertation  on how to get started, and stick with an exercise routine for the long-haul.  I will bring you research-based ideas and what I’ve learned from my own experience to motivate you, help you keep at it, and thrive!

How should you use this website?

I will publish pages full of  ideas, images, experiences, and my journey as I work to keep myself  moving.  I’ll share research I find about what works, and suggestions to build activity into your life so it becomes second nature.  You will choose from posts to help you “Get Moving”, “Keep Going”, or you can read my pages about research I have found to give you some of the “why” for what’s here.

I will include supportive posts exclusively for subscribers tailored to where you are in the journey. These will help keep you focused and help you develop plans for getting yourself going and keeping at it.  Subscribe to gain access to those exclusive posts!

What’s MY motivation?

I need to keep exercise at the forefront of my mind, and I love sharing what I’ve found.  I want to partner with you  while we keep our focus on how amazing it is to have activity keep us feeling our best and looking to the future with hope and confidence!

Here’s A Sampling of My Fitness Motivation Posts and Free Goodies:
  1. Prepare for the New Year: Roadmap to an Active Lifestyle
  2. How to Exercise Regularly
  3. Too Tired to Exercise? Try These Ideas
  4. Building Exercise Momentum
  5. “Move Your Body” Trigger Cards

READY TO START?

Subscribe here to receive exclusive access to supportive posts, free downloadable worksheets to track your progress, and more!  Join me!

Posted in Get Moving

Fitness Gear That Helped Me Lose 20 Pounds

lose 20 pounds

I’m really not big on posting pictures of myself, but to show you what worked for me, here is my before and after. *cringe*

Because I was so happy with my results, I want to share with you what fitness gear worked for me.  Keep in mind, this wasn’t a quick fix.

With a combination of Weight Watchers, a little bit of fitness gear, some technology, motivation (yes, I was really motivated), and persistence, the weight came off, my mood was outstanding, and I was able to go down two sizes in pants.  I’m here today to take you on a little shopping trip to show you what I use, so you can check it out and do a little comparison shopping to see what would work for you.

Disclosure: This website uses affiliate links, meaning if you click on one and make a purchase, I may get a commission at no additional cost to you.

SAFETY FIRST

First of all, don’t make mistakes I did.  I am rebuilding my routine now because I caused problems for myself by not doing it safely. You really need to start with a good pair of athletic shoes.  Check out the mess I made for myself here if you don’t believe me.  I really like ASICS, but it really is a matter of what’s best for your own feet.  Just get something good. When you read about my mistakes, not only do I recommend good shoes, but be sure to stretch.  It really does matter.  Here’s a mat similar to mine, but any mat will do, of course.

MY FAVORITE PART – THE MUSIC

I couldn’t have kept moving without great music energizing me.  I have Amazon Prime, so I spent tons of time on their live streaming music app.  Whether I was on the treadmill, “orbiting the bathroom“, or doing step aerobics in front of the tv to the beat, I had tons of playlists to choose from, but I made a few of my own.  I have a dance music list, 80’s list, classic rock list, and there’s so much to choose from to customize your own.

For listening to my playlists, I used this portable speaker.  Now, usually I say “whatever works for you” but for this thing, if you can swing it, this is the one to get.  It has amazing sound, and I’ve only had to charge it twice so far in the two years I’ve had it, and believe me, it gets used a ton!

MOVING AROUND

When I first got the ball rolling, I had a basic Fitbit Flex (even older than this version).  All I needed was something to nudge me along and challenge me all day.  When you hit your daily goals, it’s like a buzzy party on your wrist, and if you’re looking at the app, on your screen too! fitness gear that motivates me I have since graduated to an upgraded model, and I like the Charge because it counts flights of stairs and gives me an hourly reminder to get off my butt.  It even made me get up while writing this, as a matter of fact – twice!

After all my foot woes really set in, walking and jogging became a real problem, but taking my daughter to the trampoline park this summer was a-ok for my foot.  After our summer pass ran out at Sky Zone, I needed something for home so I got this jogging trampoline (genius).  It’s actually a little different from regular ones, you don’t bounce as high and it really does soften the impact on your feet.  I like to jog, (sort of) dance, do side kicks, or whatever.  It even came with a DVD you can do with it that makes it fun. My favorite thing about this one is that it has a little counter on it so you can keep track of time, jumps, and calorie burn.fitness gear that motivates me

BE COMFORTABLE

Next, for you girls, my favorite support for “the girls” was this bra.  By far, it’s the best sports bra I’ve ever used.  The straps stay put, it gives a good shape, and yes, it works wonderfully when I jog (you know why).  I even wear it when I’m not working out, since it’s so good.

Once I got going, all that swinging of my arms to register those steps created a problem with my fingers swelling up, uncomfortably so.  My ring would be way too tight and I couldn’t get it off to relieve the pressure.  One day I stumbled on these silicone rings, and I got one in a half-size up from what I normally wear.  It’s comfortable when my fingers swell up and even when I’m not moving.  I also wear it on days when I want to be sure to exercise, so it looks me in the face every time I see my hand.  Reminders are great when you’re my age.

WHAT I ATE

When you’re trying to lose weight, smaller portions seem so, well, small. This guy developed all sorts of recipes that give you plenty to eat while keeping the WW points low.  My favorite one is his “Bigasswaffle” recipe.  Seriously, one of these will hold you over for hours.  And they taste really good, too.  If you make these, be sure to use plenty of cooking spray.  They do tend to stick more than your average waffle but they’re worth it!  For this recipe, I’ve been using Kodiak Power Cake mix with Quest Protein Powder.  It comes in different flavors and you can mix and match with the Power Cake mix to make your favorite combo! To make the waffles, I got a basic waffle-iron, but holy crap if I had seen one of these I would have this instead!

Another game changer for me was PB2.  If you’re a peanut butter lover, this stuff is amazing.  It’s basically powdered peanut butter with the oil pressed out, so you just add water and it’s really smooth and creamy peanut butter.  One of those things I thought was too good to be true, is actually true.  I love to mix it in with oatmeal and slice up some bananas on top.  It makes a complete breakfast and is yummy!

KEEP MOVING

Keep in mind, this only worked because I kept going!  It was slow, and I got frustrated sometimes, but never gave up.  Not only was it worth every single second, but it was a great time in my life!

HERE’S MY STUFF

Posted in Get Moving, Keep Going

Preparing for the New Year: Your Roadmap to an Active Lifestyle

The New Year is right ahead of us, but most of us aren’t looking past this week, with this year’s fitness resolution left in the dust months ago.  It’s so hard when your plate is full and many of us will say “I’ll get back on track in the New Year”, only to repeat the same thing.  This year can be different, though.  Getting fit doesn’t mean you have to go gung-ho with a new fitness routine, so you don’t have to put it off.  When you’re preparing for the new year, try something new.

Disclosure: This website uses affiliate links, meaning if you click on one and make a purchase, I may get a commission at no additional cost to you.

I’m going to share my thought process for my own goals, then I give you a specific, action-oriented example you can try.  Keep reading so you can also grab all my freebies to get you ready and keep you focused in the New Year!

Figure out the right goals

When you picture the “new you”  in the new year, what comes to mind?  All the images that are splashed around show people with practically zero body fat, pushing themselves to the limit?  Awesome for them.  I’m not going to look to those for my “inspiration” anymore.  I would love to be like that, but I would also like to have more  than exercise in my life.

We are all unique creations, and while most recommended goals are great for overall health and wellness, some of us may need more or less to improve our lives.  First, think about what “improve your life” would look like.  The examples are endless:

  • more energy
  • xx pounds lighter
  • less pain
  • lower cholesterol
  • better mood
  • able to do more physically
  • more time with friends
  • more “me” time
  • get outside more
  • need less medication
  • what else?

How can being more active move you in that direction?  Think of that goal as your final destination on a map.  Break down the route to get yourself there.  What’s important to me is reduce my pain, build my physical endurance and be able to keep up with my little girl.  Where do I start?  I’ll tell you.

Make them make sense

I’m going to choose a goal based on my most recent experience.  Before my health problems began to interfere with exercise (mostly my foot), I was racking up 10-15 thousand steps per day on average.  I had lost 20 pounds, my mood was outstanding, and joint and muscle pain was manageable, despite my chronic fatigue.  While I was walking or jogging, it was a huge decompressor during a stressful time in my life.  That stress relief carried over between my walks too.  preparing for the new year

Fast forward a year, and the struggle to get back into my routine is here again.  My pain is back, my fatigue is worse, and the weight is creeping back. Not cool. Since jogging, fitness classes, and even long, brisk walks are off the table for me, I have to find another way.  I think it makes sense to find ways to move my body that I can tolerate.  Just find what I can do and “show up”.

How Preparing for the New Year will Save Your Sanity

Doing something is better than nothing, right?  That’s my motto between now and the new year.  My first goal to round out 2018 will be very, very small. Just move. One thing I will do is get at least 250 steps per hour, with my Fitbit nudging me along. I don’t have to walk fast, just get those steps in.  My foot can handle that.

Advent Challenge for BeginnersGoal #2 is do my Advent Challenge starting December 2.  It calls for things like stretching/yoga, light cardio, bodyweight strength moves, or a few reps of light weights.  Just a little bit of something each day.  All of it is low impact (unless you want higher impact cardio), which my body can handle right now.  I’ve posted “Move Your Body Trigger Cards” around the house to remind myself to do the challenge moves or get some steps in.

How will this save my sanity?  I will already have it worked into my life and New Year’s Day won’t be a sudden change.  That’s where people get tripped up. I can gradually build back up as my body can tolerate it.  Integration of movement into my life, I can stick with. “Working out” x times per week for xx hours, not so much. Now I won’t beat myself up for missing a workout and eventually give up.

What Can You Do?

What’s important to you in life? How would getting in shape help you achieve those things?  Let’s go with the basic one, lose weight (so your blood sugar will stabilize, your clothes will fit better, etc.). Don’t forget to combine this with eating sensibly, btw – but you knew that already.

Here is an example of a roadmap for this one:

Steps per day: Long-Term Goal – 10,000 per day.

Day 1: Count the steps around the house, get a baseline of how much activity you’re getting now. Even without an activity tracker, you can get a rough estimate. For this example, you might be getting in 3,000 per day. Identify your first goal, say 4000 per day.  Each week bump it up enough to make you feel like you did more, but don’t go crazy. Remember, we’re building this into our lifestyle, not making a drastic change.

Week 1: Get in an extra 250 steps each hour for your most active four hours of the day. (That takes me about two minutes, really).

Week 2: Get in an extra 250 steps each hour for five hours.  This way there’s an hour you’re moving a little more when you would typically be sedentary.

Week 3: Get in an extra 250 for six hours.  You get the idea…

Week 4: Up it to seven hours

Week 5: Get it to eight hours. Excellent!  This gets you up to 5,000 steps per day.

Let your body and your schedule guide how you want to proceed from here.  I recommend subscribing for my exclusive worksheets to help you move along in the process.  You can totally do this!

I Would Love to Have You Along with Me!

Are you ready to build yourself up and feel better? Here’s a list of things you can do to partner with me while you prepare for the New Year (all of it’s free, I just want some company!):

2019 calendar focus on goalsDownload my new 2019 calendar to keep you focused on your goals (hey, every little bit of motivation helps!).

Check out my Advent Challenge Group on Facebook, or follow me on Facebook in general.

Interested in counting steps this year? Grab my free “Count the Steps Around the House” to help you gauge quick distances so you can get some extra steps in really quick (and know how many you’ll get).

move your body trigger cardsDownload my “Move Your Body Trigger Cards” and “On the Go Motivation Cards” to beat the distractions and keep your goals on your mind.

motivation on the go

Become a subscriber, so you can keep track of your weekly goals and progress while we take the journey together (subscribers get exclusive access to supportive posts).

Follow me on Pinterest, where I’m always gathering ideas for motivation, exercises, mental health information, healthy foods and more.  I’d love to follow you too!

Let’s arrive in 2019 with the wheels already turning and we want to keep moving!

What are your goals going to be while you prepare for the New Year? Share in the comments!

 

Posted in Get Moving

2018 Advent Challenge

During this crazy time of year, it’s so easy to forget to take care of ourselves.  Join the Advent Challenge for Beginners to keep yourself moving and pay (a little) attention to your own wellness!

Download the free infographic here and join the Facebook support group here!

Thinking about your New Year’s Resolution?  Download your 2019 calendar here – it’s free!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Susan

Posted in Get Moving, Keep Going

Workout Mistakes I Won’t Make Again (Don’t Be Like Me)

First of all I will tell you when I’m active, it’s makes for some of the best times of my life.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  If I’m dumb about it, though, I will have some regrets.  Let me tell you all about my workout mistakes so you don’t do the same things.  Really, you should listen to these.  Now that I am thinking about all of this, please be kind in your judgement of me.  I’m not stupid all the time.

Disclosure: This website uses affiliate links, meaning if you click on one and make a purchase, I may get a commission at no additional cost to you.

Not wearing adequate footwear.

One of the biggest (albeit stupid) barriers to working out for me over the years has been that I’m not wearing my sneakers.  Dumb, I know.  Just put them on, already.  Well, one day I had the brilliant idea to just start doing stuff in place in front of the tv, or doing little laps around the downstairs, without my shoes.  If I wasn’t going out of the house I didn’t see a reason to put them on.  Yeah, it wasn’t comfortable, but I was able to get moving spontaneously.


workout mistakesFirst was my brilliant thought that doing the Wii Fit without shoes was perfectly ok to do.  It got me moving, so how bad could it be?  I got really good at some of those games, but crap. 
Plantar Fasciitis set in and I remained in denial for a while that the cause was my stupid idea of going without shoes. I reasoned that since it didn’t hurt WHILE I was doing the exercise, it couldn’t be from that. So, I kept at it for too long (I’m embarrassed to say how long, so we’ll just leave it at that). That was a definite plus, I was moving more!  The minus was that my feet paid for it.

See how badly I wanted to be active?  At least give me that, ok?    Each morning my ankles were stiff and the soles of my feet hurt like crazy.  It kicked in as soon as I stepped out of bed. Once I finally got real with myself about the need for shoes on the wii fit, I stopped doing it, and wouldn’t you know, my feet felt better!

Not stretching

Ever hear of the “IT Band”?  I didn’t until mine hurt.  It’s the tendon that runs down the length of your outer leg from the pelvis down to just below the knee.  It can be really painful when you’re inactive.  It can also become a problem when you are active but your alignment is out of whack, or you’re overstretching/overtensing the your buttock muscles (probably from my Wii fit bike exercise addiction).

workout mistakes - not stretching
Photo by Max Nikhil Thimmayya on Pexels.com

Had I just made a little time to stretch or do certain yoga postures, I could have made myself a little happier.  Live and learn.

There’s also the metatarsalgia (translation: pain in the ball of the foot) you can get when you don’t stretch your hamstrings, calf muscles, and achilles tendon.  I really really wish I’d known about my risk for this sooner, it was just waiting to happen to me (see also “not wearing adequate footwear” – I’m such an idiot).

Not listening to my body (pain really does mean something’s wrong!)

Oh, I could go on here.  I’ll narrow it down to the worst two instances when this happened.

First, remember that metatarsalgia I mentioned?  Well, it didn’t need to be so bad.  I had been seriously killin’ it with my Fitbit back in 2017.  I was hitting 10-15 thousand steps pretty much every day.  Don’t get me wrong, it was fantastic and I wish I could relive it!

Problem was, I was out there jogging and my whole body felt great, except my foot.  Here’s my thinking on that one:  “Well, it hurts when I’m jogging, but what harm can it really do?  If it was harming me I wouldn’t be able to run, would I?”.  YES, dummy it’s harming you if it keeps hurting.  Stop doing it and tell your doctor.

Here’s what happens when you ignore that stuff:  bursitis, metatarsalgia, and damage to the nerve endings in your foot.  Don’t be like me, please.

workout mistakesThe other time in my life when I ignored what my body was saying (really, screaming) was when I was shoveling dirt (heavy lifting, not just a little gardening shovel).  I was feeling like Wonder Woman, scooping dirt from a truck and bringing it out to our yard, when “Aaack”.  Something in my shoulder felt like it tore.  It hurt, but I could still move it.  Sheesh, this keeps getting more embarrassing as I write. 

Torn rotator cuffs are what you get when you shovel heavy loads of dirt and aren’t strong enough for it.  Who doesn’t stop when they tear their rotator cuff?  This fool, that’s who. Newly married, I didn’t want my new hubbie to think I was going to expect him to do all the work around the yard, so I kept at it and didn’t say anything. 

Don’t Be Like Me

Are you new to working out?  Definitely use what I’m telling you so you don’t do the same things.  I’ve learned so much from my many mistakes, I guess that makes me sort of wise (that’s what I like to tell myself).

If you want to start running, run.  Want to do yard work? Absolutely go for it.  Like doing exercise games like the the Wii Fit?  Then do it, by all means.  If you’re looking for ideas to pick up and move, you certainly can get it done. Be smart about it, though.  Just be sure to remember to wear proper shoes and stretch.  And, goodness gracious, for the love of all things holy, listen to your body!

JOIN ME

SUBSCRIBE HERE to gain access to free exclusive posts and downloadable worksheets to keep track of your progress!

Posted in Get Moving, Keep Going

Exercise Reminders to Get You Moving

Disclosure: This website uses affiliate links, meaning if you click on one and make a qualified purchase, I may get a commission at no additional cost to you.

One of the best strategies regular exercisers use is keeping exercise reminders around all the time.  Research shows this is part of the process of developing a habit.  Here are ten easy tricks to try:

Put Exercise Reminders On Your Body

  • If your schedule allows it, put your athletic shoes on when you get dressed.  If you have to wear something more formal, bring them with you so you can pop them on when you have a break.exercise reminders
  • Wear a sports bra from the get-go.  Don’t give yourself the excuse that you don’t want to change into it!  Keep it on till it REALLY is time for bed.
  • How many times a day do you look at your hands? Put a reminder right there.   I found a  silicone ring and keep it on as a visual cue reminding me I’m going to get some exercise today.  The bonus is that it was more comfortable when my arms were swinging and my fingers swelled.
  • My Fitbit was a Godsend when I was getting into the habit.  A fitness tracker is both a reminder and can motivate you to hit each next goalpost through the day! It gave me a little push whenever I had a moment, and at the end of the day it prompted me to move to top off my steps to reach my goal.

Put Them In Your Space

exercise reminders to motivate you

  • Set your favorite workout song as your alarm in the morning.  Don’t put off reminding yourself.  Start your day with it in your head.
  • Put hand weights next to the sofa.  If they’re right there, why not pick them up and pump a few?
  • Make sure notifications are turned “on” for groups, apps, etc. that cue you to exercise.  Use reminders apps, support groups in social media, anything you can, to prompt you with a little “ding”.
  • Keep a step bench  or jogging trampoline near the tv to casually keep stepping or bouncing while you watch your favorite show.  Why not burn a few calories while you have to look at all those commercials for food?
  • Identify a short distance you can walk when you have a spare minute.  Or find a reason to go up or downstairs.
  • Use visual reminders (<–click here and here for my free downloads): post-it notes, printed memes, posters – wherever it makes sense to do a quick ten (jumping jacks, etc.).  There are like, thousands of memes floating around out there.

movement cue cards for people who sit too much

What exercise reminders do you use or would you recommend? Share in the comments!motivation on the go

JOIN ME

SUBSCRIBE HERE to gain access to free exclusive posts and a downloadable worksheet to keep track of your progress!

Posted in Keep Going

Get a Workout Partner To Reach Your Fitness Goals

Disclosure: This website uses affiliate links, meaning if you click on one and make a purchase, I may get a commission at no additional cost to you.

We all need a bit of support (or a lot) now and then. Many people know from experience, but research also shows that having a workout partner helps you maintain exercise and reach your goals.

Find the Right Workout Partner

workout partner
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Choose your workout partner wisely.  Find someone who shares your goal to be active, first and foremost!  Someone who is reliable and isn’t afraid to get on your case a little to stick with it.  You don’t have to be in the same physical condition, but need someone who will match, or be higher in motivation.  Your friend that will give you a pass every day because she doesn’t want to move either isn’t going to get the job done.  Include that friend as a third, if you want, but don’t rely on her.  In fact, a group is best – when one person can’t make it, there’s always someone doing it!

workout partnerBe a Good Partner

If you want to reach your goals, being a partner is a two-way street, you know. Be reliable – your partner carved out time in her schedule for you, after all!  Be gracious if she tries to nudge you into exercising, even when you don’t want to do it.  Remind yourself often why you wanted a partner in the first place.  Don’t give her a pass without question if she tries to wiggle out of it, either.

Your Performance will Improve

Having a partner can help you be consistent, which will help you get in better shape.  Sounds logical, right?  Did you know, there’s another way having a partner or group improves your performance?  An effect called “social facilitation” can make you push yourself just a bit harder than if you were alone.  A clear example of this is when I’ve participated in 5K races.  My performance is always better than when I’m just walking/jogging alone.  I often surprise myself! There are a few possible reasons I do better:

  • there’s an “audience” (I know they aren’t focusing on me, but that’s what research says works)
  • I think “I can do this” when I see so many “regular” people like me doing it too
  • It keeps my interest
  • I enjoy the excitement

Where to Find Workout Partners

Not sure who to ask?  There are resources all over the place these days to help find someone to pair up with, or a group.  You can ask around locally, for example a local gym may know people looking for a buddy.  There is always the internet too for finding someone to exercise with!

https://www.meetup.com/find/sports-fitness/

http://www.fitlink.com/workout-partners

Get added support online (You can never have too much support!):

https://www.verywellfit.com/facebook-groups-for-fitness-and-motivation-4150657

https://stridekick.com/

Let’s Do This! An Exercise Support Plan for You

 

Posted in Get Moving, Keep Going

Home Workout Plan – Resources to Make it Work for You

Disclosure: This website uses affiliate links, meaning if you click on one and make a purchase, I may get a commission at no additional cost to you.

For those of us who like our “alone time” exercise can be our only time to get away and have space.  Some of us hate to go to gyms.  Sometimes we like to exercise with someone but can’t seem to coordinate it.  A home workout plan for solo exercising can be really satisfying with planning, and a little help from technology.  Some kind of audio, video, or reminder can provide structure to what we do and when we do it, which can help keep us on track.

Here’s a collection of resources I’ve compiled for you, some free and some paid.  Some I have used and others I still want to try.

Streaming Video    streaming video fitness

In researching for this post, I couldn’t believe how many options are out there now! The variety is amazing and it includes things like: yoga, core strength, interval training, and you can focus on different body parts individually. If you are a cable subscriber, with the right plan you have workout videos right there on demand for no additional cost.

Without cable, you still have TONS of options.

Channels Just for Fitness

We have a Roku, and with most any streaming device, there are paid channels like Daily Burn, Booya Fitness and Sportskool, plus free channels, if you’re willing to put up with ads. Youtube also has a mind boggling selection of videos for free as well as some subscriber-only channels.

On Youtube, Popsugar Fitness offers free subscription where you get access to a huge collection of kick-butt workouts.  They have beginner workouts30-minute workouts, ab workouts, butt workouts, full-body workouts, and no-equipment cardio workouts. Someone could get all their workout needs met right there for free.  Pretty awesome.

Streaming Services

If you have Amazon and haven’t checked out the workout videos included, get over there RIGHT NOW. You’re already paying for it, so use it!  There is a huge variety there, from 21-Day Transformation, to HIIT at Home, Zumba, Pilates, and Beginner Fitness  to lower-impact activities like yoga.  There are lots of options for people with limited mobility too.

If you don’t have Amazon Prime, there’s a deal going on now to try the Prime Discounted Monthly Offering for 5.99/month to give it a try, it’s worth it just for the video access, but of course there’s more that comes with it!

Apps to Keep You Moving

fitness apps
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

Keeping track of progress, either on paper or with a form of technology is part of staying on track.  It can make you get real with yourself, and you can see even the smallest amounts of

progress, which can be motivating!

Both the Apple and Android App stores have a huge variety of apps to keep you going.  When I was actively watching the “Walking Dead”, I got into “Zombies! Run!“.  You can do free scenarios or unlock all the workouts for a one-time fee.  It’s an entertaining way to keep you moving while hearing a story at the same time.  If you’re not into zombies, there are tons of other Couch to 5K programs that guide you through the gradual buildup with your own music in the background. 

My Fitness Pal has Map My Run, with GPS that keeps track of your run or bike ride, your distance, time, intensity and calorie burn.   Not only can keep track of your progress but log your food intake and set goals based on caloric needs, then share your progress with friends (who can keep you accountable!).  

A new app I just discovered and am in love with is Runkeeper.  You can use GPS or map out your regular route, and it calculates the distance for you.  It will keep you moving with verbal updates and you can tailor the plan to meet your own goals.  It has a community where you can add your friends, or just cheer on new friends.

These are a few examples of digital products that don’t necessarily guide you through a workout, but allow you to build up and monitor your progress for a daily small victory each time.  That right there is hugely motivating!   

Activity Trackers

Of course, if you have an activity tracker like Fitbit, there are the apps that pair with your device and give let you visually monitor your progress – that’s what did it for me last year.  I had a daily goal and “orbited” our powder room or went for a quick walk to top off my steps and reached my goal almost every day!

fitness apps
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The other Gold Standard of fitness trackers is of course, the Apple Watch.  I haven’t used one, but it looks like fitness tracker and wellness guru wrapped up in one with its meditation feature on top of the movement and heart rate tracking.

Of course there are LOTS of less expensive options  if you’re not looking for a Cadillac, but just want motivation to move.

Fitness Video Games

If you have a gaming system, you don’t have to use it just to sit on the couch and exercise your fingers.  You can really work up a sweat with some of the games that are out there.  I have a dirty little secret, I still use my Wii Fit. The plus to using a game system that’s a bit older is that you can get used copies of the games for great, great prices.  I have games from Nintendo and from EA Sports Active and can really get a great workout. There are set routines or  you can create  your own workout with the exercises you want.  Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is an option that focuses on using your own body weight for cardio and strength training, and man, do I work up a sweat with that one!  If you’re looking for an upper-body cardio workout, Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout is for you.  The series of Just Dance games are also fun and you can even do it with the kids.

I don’t have an XBox but there are tons of fitness games for that system too!  Getting active by yourself can be a real challenge, but we are lucky to live in this day and age with so many options out there to keep us going!

What do you use to stay motivated working out solo?

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Posted in Get Moving, Keep Going

Walk With Your Father

This Father’s Day is likely the last one with mine.  My dad has terminal cancer and Alzheimer’s, and he is very weak.  Why am I posting something like this on a website about exercise?  You only have a certain window of time to be active.  It may be a long window, but you can’t count on being able to get up and go forever.

When He’s Strong

Take advantage of his strength and vigor and be active with your father when you can.  Some of my fondest memories are with my dad when I was a young adult.  On days when we had  nothing in particular planned, we’d say “Let’s go for a walk”.  We’d walk in the neighborhood, or go to a state park.  We’d walk for 15 minutes, or an hour.  It never seemed long, though, since we had some of our best talks on those walks.

I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but I know he was always being my cheerleader, sharing his views without being condescending, and sometimes, he shared exciting things he was doing as a volunteer in our town.  At the time, I never gave much thought to how precious those walks were.

Don’t Take it for Granted

Fast forward about ten years, and he began to slow down, a lot.  We soon learned he had bladder cancer, and he needed surgery on average 2-3 times per year.  That took such a toll on him physically and mentally. Jump ahead a few more years, and he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – we suspected something was wrong for a long time, but by the time it was confirmed, he was so weakened from cancer that our walks were long gone.  I have no idea when we last went for a walk.  Our talks now, are very, very different.  He’s still my cheerleader and a huge supporter, but well, if you’ve ever known someone with Alzheimer’s, you probably know how our conversations sound.

When You’re Strong

I know this is about Dads, but sooner or later, you’ll be in his shoes.  When I have talked about my reasons for exercising, disease prevention is way up there, as is general quality of life.  I am an older mom, and I want to have those walks (or trampoline jumps, or whatever) with my daughter as long as I damn well can, and want to keep my mind in the best shape possible so I’m still the same mom mentally until my dying day.

Some days I figure “why am I bothering to take care of myself?”, but then I remember the stats.  Lifestyle is the BIGGEST contributing factor to these diseases.  I may have my own health issues to worry about now, but I have to imagine how I would be feeling if I weren’t taking care of myself.  I.CAN’T.STOP.

Do a favor for yourself and all your loved ones.  Get moving and don’t stop.  Don’t complain when your loved ones tell you to get moving.  They love  you and want you around.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Posted in Get Moving, Keep Going

Group Fitness – Making it Stick

Group fitness classes are a great way to establish an exercise routine that’s fun.  It can also improve your fitness with regular attendance.  Here are some more benefits:

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It’s Scheduled

Many of us have the best of intentions, but when it comes down to it, if we have to initiate exercise, we’ll say “later”.  The great thing about group fitness classes is that they’re scheduled.  Since you have to go when it’s on, it helps get you going when you otherwise might put it off.

It’s Social (or not)

group fitness for maintaining exercise
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You can grab a friend and commit to going together, or you can meet new people.  It’s always nice to have someone to chuckle with when you’re learning how to do something new, or to just say hi to when you get there.  Often the same faces will show up regularly, so you can build a sense of camaraderie with other exercisers.  If you’re regular enough, people notice when you miss, which is nice.

You can also take comfort in knowing that you don’t have to do it with anyone and can just focus on the music, your form, or any other goals you’re working on.

Variety Abounds

Back in the day, it was “aerobics” classes, and not much else.  Now, there are so many options it’s hard to keep up with the new offerings that keep popping up.  You can go hard core with CrossFit, or keep a nice flow with yoga on the lawn.  Like dancing? Try Zumba.  How about focusing on strengthening your core?  Pilates is great for that.  Want to train with weights but want a group to do it with?  Lots of facilities offer group weight training.

 

Goals to Work Toward

Research shows making progress in some way increases self-efficacy (your sense that you can successfully accomplish something), which increases your likelihood of sticking with a routine.  With things like running, goals are usually pretty straightforward – distance and speed.  With group fitness, what do you work toward?

  • Attendance – Setting attendance goals without holding yourself to a performance standard is a great start.  Just.Show.Up.  It’s a real accomplishment when you are just starting out or are working around a busy schedule!
  • Heart Rate – How much effort does it take to reach your target heart rate for
    heart rate goals for fitness
    Heart Health Pulse Care Blood

    cardiac conditioning, fat burning, or athletic performance?  As you progress, you will notice it takes a little more oomph to get you there.  From there, shoot for keeping it in that range longer and longer.

  • Strength Measures – Many group classes incorporate hand weights or resistance bands in the routine.  Watching your progress by increasing the difficulty you can handle is very satisfying!  Also, what functional improvements are you noticing? Can you stand up from sitting on the floor more easily?  Is carrying groceries easier?

Group exercise can be found in just about every community, and can range from those in private fitness clubs to free of charge through local groups.  If you are someone that likes to have a schedule, people to chat with, and prefers regularity in your plan, give group fitness a try!

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Posted in Get Moving, Keep Going

How to Keep Working Out

You’ve started exercising – that’s awesome!  Do you know how to keep working out?

WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE?

This will take some trial and error – identify what you like to do, how you can easily measure progress, and discover what trips you up.

When you’re early in establishing physical activity in your life, it’s either:

Exhilarating, and you want to go full-force, so you set goals for yourself that are really intense, leading to quick burnout, or

A drag, and you keep thinking “I can’t” and give up quickly, or

No big deal, you are just squeezing more movement into your life and not much else has changed, and you eventually forget about it, or

Making you feel optimistic that you can do this, but you still have all your other priorities competing for your time and energy.

I’m sure there are many others, but you get the idea, the direction your thoughts go will dictate what happens next.  Let’s look at each scenario:

This Rocks! Wait… What Happened?

I’ve done this one so many times.  Something triggers me to get going, and I’m all in!  I’m thinking “My life is going to be this way from now on! I’m going to get in the best shape of my life before (insert event or milestone)“.  I workout hard for maybe five days in a week, get sweaty and sore, and think “I just have to figure out how to keep this up and I’ll be good.”

how to keep working out
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Next thing I know, reality sets in (again).  This seems to happen sooner each time, too.  One of the biggest problems with my approach has been that “I just have to figure it out” part. On what planet does an intentional, dramatic lifestyle change happen without a plan?  None that I’ve ever been to.  Does this mean I should plan the all-out pattern I started with?  Well, my family and other responsibilities would say “um, no”. Needless to say, this is not the recipe for how to keep working out.

Ugh, What Was I Thinking?

Starting to exercise when you really weren’t motivated, or with the wrong mindset usually leads to this thought, pretty fast.  This can happen when you started doing something that wasn’t enjoyable for you, you placed unreasonable expectations on yourself, or your mind and heart weren’t in it for the right reasons.

I have memories of joining a gym when I first moved to a new city, and probably went two or three times during my whole membership.  It turned out the drive to get there was a major hassle, and honestly, the facility’s offerings weren’t enough of what I needed to overcome that hassle. I  assumed I would use it regularly and maybe make some friends, but learned pretty quickly that isn’t very easy for introverts like myself.

In a previous life, I had gone to step aerobics classes and had a blast, so I kept going back.  I needed to remember that lesson.  So, I made two rules for myself after this experience in the new city:  If I’m going to join a gym, the drive there needs to be reasonable.  Also, I need to enjoy the facility.  If the equipment isn’t what I like to use, and if there are no group exercise classes, I simply won’t like going – so I shouldn’t waste my money and create frustration for myself.

I also need to keep my reason for exercising clear.  The times it’s been simply “I need to lose weight and look good” and expecting it to start working right away have never worked.  This is not the best recipe either, it’s missing quite a few ingredients.  But I bet you already knew that, didn’t you?

I’ll Just Move a Little Bit Every Now and Then

You’re probably thinking “Isn’t that what you say we should do?”.  Well, yes and no.  Without being deliberate about moving more and aiming to build yourself up, you will very quickly forget about it and it will fall apart.  The key to the strategy of integrating movement into your life needs two important parts: 1. Having a clear and meaningful reason that motivates you down the road, and 2. effort.

Integrating movement into your life doesn’t mean no effort, you also need to put a little energy behind it, going at least a bit above your regular activity level.  Now, we all know the story of  the tortoise and the hare – the tortoise won, right?  He sure did! But, remember the key here is persistence and determination (to reach a goal), not being slow.  So pick up the pace and be more like a sea turtle if you want to build and grow.  Definitely smell some flowers along the way, but don’t let them cause your routine to flop.  Keep your eye on the prize, whatever that is!

I Can Do This, But It Will Take Discipline

 

how to keep working out
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Shoot for this one!  People who have the most confidence in staying active have several things in common:  They plan ahead, prepare in advance for obstacles, find something they like to do, and stick to the activity that’s most rewarding. This will take some trial and error – identify what you like to do, how you can easily measure progress, and discover what trips you up.  Have patience in the beginning!  Consider figuring out your process as the first goal if you have to.

Becoming an active person takes will, hope, good planning, and a decision to make your health and happiness a priority.  There are no quick fixes, but don’t let that discourage you!  With anything else worth doing, the greater the effort, the greater the reward.  Remember that.  Once you’ve got that down, go for the good stuff and start to feel better!

Don’t want to do it alone?  Find a support system, buddy, class, whatever will help keep you on track.  You really are worth it, you know?

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