I used to be embarrassed to work out. I used to think exercise was for squares and I felt like a fool at the gym. To this day, I slightly want to punch the uber fit who run around D.C. in tight neon, lululemon, or VIDA fitness gear (sorry I’m not sorry)
BUT exercise doesn’t have to be this way. I promise. It can make you feel amazing. I’ve also discovered that tight neon can actually be fun to wear when you workout.. blasphemy I know.
Things that keep me motivated to move:
- Doing workouts I enjoy
- Switching things up and trying new things.
- Seeing my body change and noticing how my strength and endurance improve
- Putting workouts in my Google calendar as appointments with myself (exercising really has become a way for me to release a lot of tension and stress).
- Knowing I don’t need the gym to workout- in fact, I didn’t join a gym until September 2012. Before that, I did all my workouts on my own- doing body weight exercises and utilizing weights I purchased at Target. So even now if I don’t feel like trekking to the gym- I know I can workout at home or in my apartment- no excuses.
My goal is to workout for 45-60 minutes, 5 times a week. That being said- that is my goal. This changes based on my schedule and how I’m feeling. If I’m really stressed out, severely overtired, or pressed for time- forcing myself to workout is going to be counterproductive because it will only stress me out more and take out the positive/fun elements I benefit from when I workout.
So- how do I workout you ask:
- Running and HITT (high intensity interval training)
- Strength Training (either through Body Pump classes at my gym or strength sets I make up on my own)
- Cardio + Strength combined (aka my favorite way to workout! this includes bootcamp classes at my gym and circuit workouts I do on my own)
- Spin classes
- Other random fitness opportunities that come my way (new classes at my gym, classes throughout the city, invites from friends)
Other things I do to be more active
- Ride my bike
- Walking everywhere. I avoid metro/bus as much as possible. I’ll choose walking 45 minutes somewhere and 45 minutes back over the metro if I can
- Taking the stairs and walking up escaltors (we have a lot in DC)
- Getting up every hour at work and walking around the building, stretching
- Standing instead of sitting when possible
More commentary on my workouts:
Running– I’ve slowly discovered that I enjoy running. This is something I literally NEVER thought I would say. I was that kid who dreaded the Presidential Fitness Test mile run like no other in middle school and high school.
I used to only run on the treadmill and it was primarily for weight loss purposes and to burn calories. I didn’t really enjoy it as I was doing it, but I did enjoy noticing the improvement in my cardio endurance and the empowering feeling it brought me when I ran further than I thought I could. After running my first ever 5k, I realized how much I enjoyed running without a screen in front of me telling me how far I ran and how fast my pace was. Now I more so run for enjoyment outdoors at a comfortable pace for me.
HIIT or high intensity interval training basically just involves doing cardio, but for 1-2 minutes giving all out effort/sprinting and then for 1-2 minutes running at a moderate/fast pace (and then repeating). I tend to get bored on the treadmill or elliptical so this is what I do on the machines. I warm up at a jogging pace for five minutes and then do some combination of intense sprinting and moderate/fast pace running for thirty minutes.
When strength training on my own, I always warm up with either a run, a cardio routine, or a short cardio burst of some sort. (ex. I warmup by jogging in place, doing jumping jacks, and mountain climbers or high knees or simulated jump rope.) Then, I essentially pick a handful of exercises, choose how many reps and sets of each I want to do, and then do it! I usually do somewhere in the range of 12-20 reps for either 3-4 sets. You can go to the crossfit website and watch how to properly do core exercises.
Sometimes I do more circuit like workouts that involve strength training but include cardio (think: a round of burpees, squats, pushups, etc. done in a certain amount of time).
I always cool down with some yoga action- child’s pose, cobra to downward dog (google that shit). I roll my shoulders out, stretch my legs and my arms, maybe do a couple of planks. And I do try and go to yoga once a week.
VARIATION IS SO IMPORTANT. Plan your workouts and what exercises you’re going to do for the week- try and do different strength/body exercises each workout. Keep your muscles guessing.
Some of the exercises I pull from for workouts:
- Push ups
- Lunges (and variations on lunges- i.e. jump lunges and lateral lunges)
- Turkish get-ups
- Bird dogs
- Crab toe touches
- Jumping jacks
- Situps (including variations- i.e. wide leg situps and butterfly situps)
- In and outs
- Bicycle crunches
- Bicycles/reverse bicycles
- Reverse crunches/situps
- Row to overhead press
- Squat to overhead press
- Lunge kickbacks
- Dead lifts
- Bicep Curls
- Tricep Extensions
- Lateral Lifts
- Calf raises
- Butt kickers
- Russian twists
- Leg lifts
- Arm lifts
- Standing ab exercises
- Box Jumps
- Plank jacks
- Wall sits
- Shoulder taps
*Find new exercises online, in magazines, on tv, etc. and add them to your list of things to pull from! I’m always looking for new ways to move my body.
*I couldn’t provide an image or explanation for each one, but I swear you can google search and learn how to do them all! Email me for an explanation if you can’t find something/are curious.
I am not a fitness expert. This is just what I’ve found works for me. I’m not an advocate of being miserable. I get excited about challenging myself. These workouts do that. You’ll never workout if you absolutely hate what you’re doing.
Also- listen to your body. Don’t hurt yourself. It takes time to build up endurance and strength. Push yourself- but not so hard that you end up injured. I used to be able to run for 30 seconds- it took months to build up to running 30 minutes. Be patient. Seriously- LISTEN to your body… it knows best.
Getting up, moving, and being active for 30 minutes every day can make such a difference.