Posted in Get Moving, Keep Going

Ten Exercise Cues to Get You Moving

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

  1. 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.
  2. Wear a sports bra from the get-go.  Don’t give yourself the excuse that you don’t want to change into it!
  3.  If you wear a ring daily, it can be uncomfortable when you exercise.  For me, swinging my arms caused quite a bit of swelling and my wedding ring became so tight it was painful.  I found a  silicone ring and keep it on as a visual cue and to eliminate one more reason to say “I can’t right now”.
  4. 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!
  5. Set your favorite workout song as your alarm in the morning.exercise cues to motivate you
  6. Put hand weights next to the sofa.
  7. Use visual reminders: post-it notes, printed memes, posters – wherever it makes sense to do a quick ten (jumping jacks, etc.).
  8. Make sure notifications are turned “on” for groups, apps, etc. that cue you to exercise.
  9. Keep a step bench near the tv to casually keep stepping while you watch your favorite show.
  10. Identify a short distance you can walk when you have a spare minute.

What cues do you use or would you recommend? Share in the comments!


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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

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!

Be 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.

The Walking Company

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!

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

LET’S DO THIS! (Support to get you going!)


Posted in Get Moving, Keep Going

Solo Workouts You Can Stick With

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For those of us who like our “alone time” exercise can be a nice way to get away and have space.  Sometimes we like to exercise with a workout buddy but can’t seem to coordinate it.  Solo workouts can still be 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.

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 options.

We have a Roku, and there are paid channels like Daily Burn and Sportskool and also free channels, if you’re willing to put up with ads.  Youtube even has videos for free as well as some subscriber-only channels.  Netflix and Amazon have plenty of options included (We have Amazon Prime and wow!).

Apps to Keep You Moving

fitness apps
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on

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.  

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!

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.

fitness apps
Photo by Pixabay on

One of the most popular apps is My Fitness Pal, where you can not only keep track of your progress but to log food intake.  You can set goals based on caloric needs and share your progress with friends (who can keep you accountable!).  

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.  I have games from Nintendo and from EA Sports Active and can really get a good workout. There are set routines or  you can create  your own workout with the exercises you want.  The series of Just Dance games are also fun and you can even do it with the kids.

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!



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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

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.

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:

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.
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It’s Social (or not)

group fitness for maintaining exercise
Photo by bruce mars on

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 be Consistent with Exercise

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.

Where do you go from here?

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 address 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.”

exercise burnout
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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”.

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.  Something more needs to be driving it.

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: Having a clear and meaningful reason that motivates you down the road, and 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?  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.

I Can Do This, But It Will Take Discipline


be confident you can stay active
Photo by Moose Photos on

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.  Once you’ve got that down, go for the good stuff and feel better!


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Posted in Get Moving, Keep Going

“I’m Too Tired to Exercise” Exercises

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One of the most common reasons people cite for not exercising is fatigue.  When you’re already exhausted, it seems insurmountable to get up and exert yourself.  I’ve felt that way countless times and have skipped exercise because of it more often than I’d like to admit.  Unfortunately, in case you haven’t heard, a lack of activity makes fatigue worse.  Good grief, are we doomed?  Of course not.  I’m going to share with you some ideas that can help you get over that slump, and get the energy momentum going in the right direction!

High Intensity Isn’t Necessary

University of Georgia study found that among initially sedentary volunteers, engaging in regular, low-intensity exercises reduced fatigue by a whopping 65%, and moderate intensity exercises reduced it by 49%.  That means you don’t have to knock yourself out exercising, especially if you’re tired.


According to the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, aerobic exercises including regular fast walking, can significantly increase your energy.  The researchers reasoned that increasing oxygen flow to the brain and improving circulation are part of the improvement.  Also, low intensity exercise can leave you feeling more confident, in a better mood, and change your frame of mind – all of which can increase your energy.  Combine that with better sleep, and you are on the way to feeling a whole lot better.  exercises for when you're tired

When you’re tired:  If you’re starting from a sedentary lifestyle, identify a short distance to do initially, and add a bit each day.  If you’re already a walker, make an agreement with yourself to do an abbreviated route, a shorter time on the treadmill, or use an incline rather than run.  As you get moving you may find your energy is increasing and your motivation may rise with it.

Do Yoga:

The act of connecting with your body not only is good for your health, but you might feel yourself perk up a little and want to do more.  In a study at the University of Waterloo, subjects participating in 25 minutes of yoga had a greater increase in energy levels and brain function, when compared to meditation alone and quiet reading.

When you’re tiredYoga experts have identified certain postures that are believed to increase energy.  By focusing on the breath, quieting the other “mental chatter” and connecting with our body, you can feel more grounded, and feel a bump in energy levels.  If you’re concerned you can’t do it because you’re not flexible, there are beginner poses you can try – adapting as necessary to your own tolerance/comfort level.

March in place:

You don’t have to go far to get a little exercise.  Just by marching in place you can burn calories, get more oxygen circulating, tone your muscles, improve your mood, and yes, increase your energy!

When you’re tired: Since you don’t have to go anywhere, you can wear whatever you have on, and don’t need any equipment beyond a good pair of athletic shoes.  By telling yourself how simple it is, it’s harder to find excuses not to do it.  Pick a time frame and go (there’s no time like the present!)  If you feel better after you get going, you can bump it up a level by raising your knees higher or jog in place.

Declutter an area:

Ouch.  This one really doesn’t sound fun, does it?  Wait, hear me out!  If you stop and think about how you feel when you’re surrounded by clutter, then compare it to how you feel in a clear and organized space, don’t you notice a difference?  Decluttering an area that’s been bugging you has multiple benefits – you will be moving, and getting rid of stuff that’s probably dragging your energy down at the same time.  decluttering and energy

When you’re tired: Pick one category of items like junk mail, old magazines, expired food, or anything you can grab to make quick progress.  Get yourself going by committing to that one category.  As with all the other exercises I’ve mentioned, you just might feel a little more pep and end up doing more than you thought you would!

It Can Be Done

Exercising when you’re tired is not only possible, but totally doable.  The most important thing that can make or break us in these moments is what we tell ourselves.  A quote commonly attributed to Henry Ford is “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right“.  By telling yourself “It’s doable, I don’t have to knock myself out”, you’re taking the first step in counteracting the fatigue that is such a problem for so many of us!

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Posted in Keep Going

Staying Motivated: This is what happens when I slack off

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It’s Not Pretty

Staying motivated to be active is a hard thing, I admit it.  Completely.  There are things I need to do regularly to keep my head in the game.  One is remind myself of all the reasons I like being active.  When I get going and am tempted to give in to excuses, I have to flip it.  I also need to remind myself of what happens when I stop.

Fatigue slams me

Who isn’t tired these days? Seriously. We cram our lives with activity and stress.  Adding fatigue when not exercisingexercise seems like ONE MORE THING to do.  No wonder so many of us aren’t doing it.  I will admit, for some of us, fatigue will always be there, but we can lift it a little.  The first thing that happens when I stop moving every day, is that brain fog sets in, heavier than usual.  The vicious cycle begins – too tired to exercise – more fatigue, and so on. This doesn’t have to happen.  Research shows that exercise does lift it some, but you have to make yourself move for that to happen.

My Mood Isn’t so Light

I don’t consider myself to be overly depressed, but I definitely notice the difference when I’m exercising.  I feel significantly better.  Turns out, research backs that up too.  When I stop, I am seriously grumpy – add fatigue and, well, my poor family.

Oh the Aches and Pains

I spend way too much time at the computer, and wow, that causes some funky neck and shoulder pain.   Inactivity also lets other aches and pains kick in more too.  When I’m active, it’s not too bad, if I have it at all.


My Healthy Eating Starts Going Out the Window

You would think I’d be more concerned with how I’m eating when I’m NOT burning extra calories.  But no, my resolve to eat well also slips (it takes a little longer for this one to start, but it happens).  Not good.  You know what they say, eat like crap and you feel like crap.  Add another vicious cycle to the mix now.


exercise feel like a champWhat’s the point of telling you all this?  I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, I want to share the obvious relationship between how I feel and how much I’m moving.  I can’t deny it.  Ideally, I’d keep all these things in mind before I relapse into couch potato mode.  The good news is, each time I get back into the groove it gets just a little easier.  I can tell I’m a little less winded early on than I would have been years ago, since my relapse is usually limited to months, not years.  I can also go a little farther than I expected, and that’s awesome!  Each day, adding a bit more activity will knock these symptoms down and I can feel like a champ again.


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Posted in Keep Going

Exercise Alphabet Soup – Making sense of all those names

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Fitness Trends Have Some Weird Names

Lately you can’t scroll through Pinterest without seeing pins about fitness trends like “TRX” and “PiYo” and HIIT.  Do you find yourself thinking “I don’t even know what that means” – then figure it’s not for you?  When your friends who workout say how awesome “Tabata” was this morning, do you just nod along smiling, as if you know what on God’s green earth they’re talking about?  I confess, I have had those reactions.  I come to you today to translate and explain a little bit about them.  This way you can decide if you want to try any of them – and  actually mean it when you nod along with your friends.

If you’ve been inactive, before you try any of these, definitely check with your physician.  The American College of Sports Medicine has also developed a questionnaire to help you determine your readiness for physical activity that you can share with your doctor.

Here are some of the fitness trends I’ve seen the most over the last several years.  It’s by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a good sense of what’s out there.

It’s not just a bunch of letters

HIIT – Stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  It consists of short bursts of really intense training (sprinting, fast cycling) followed by less intense periods (jogging, less intense cycling).  The intensity is based on your target maximum heart rate.  It’s usually done in groups, and depending on the protocol, intervals can range from about 20-30 seconds intense training alternating with 15-20 seconds recovery training.  Workouts typically last no more than 30 minutes, about three times a week.  Research has shown that people who start out as inactive improve heart health and mood after ten weeks of training.  Since it’s based on your heart rate, you start out working as hard as you need to reach your target.  No two people will do the exact same intensity, so it really is for any fitness level.

fitness trend trx
Airmen from the 18th Force Support Squadron perform a Total Body Resistance Exercise (TRX) chest during their physical training workout at Kadena Air Base, June 14. TRX Suspension Training is an innovative fitness training regimen that consists of body-weight based equipment and specified exercise programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jarvie Wallace)

TRX – Stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise.  This uses body weight for resistance and a suspension trainer (TRX is the name of the brand of these) for stabilizing your body so you can focus on the muscles you want.  For an idea of what it looks like in action, this video  is helpful.  Studies have shown it can improve body composition and reduce cardiovascular risk, but the American Council on Exercise cautions against it if you don’t have sufficient core strength to start with.

PiYo – Stands for Pilates and Yoga Squished into one.  Some people call it “cardio yoga”.  It’s not a workout you can just go and do, it’s actually part of the Beachbody brand and consists of videos you purchase through them.  The workout has you moving continuously for cardio endurance, plus has you doing strengthening exercises using your own body weight.  They combine it with yoga moves to increase flexibility.  It’s marketed as great for beginners, but this review says it’s a little advanced if you’re just getting moving.

P90X – Stands for Power 90 Extreme.  It’s not a workout per se, it’s actually a 90-day plan  including really intense workouts and diet.  It’s marketed as a program that will whip you into shape and targets people who want to be a workout beast.  It claims to use something called muscle confusion, changing the muscles you use often, but this reviewer says that’s hogwash.  If you’re reading my blog, you may be looking for something  less intense for now.  You can always strive for something this hard-core, though!

Come back later for my explanation of the ones you can pronounce but don’t know what they mean!


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