Last month I posted part 1 of a series on a personal blog where I discussed my weight loss. The first feature was about diet and what I eat; you can read about it here. Today I want to talk about the next step in that process, and that is fitness/exercise. To loose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat and the best way to do that is through exercise. As I mentioned in the previous blog entry and will mention again; I am not a professional or an expert. I am no doctor, nutritionist, trainer, etc. This blog post is simply about what I do and tips that work for me. They may or may not work for you. I encourage anyone especially those with a medical condition to talk to an expert or doctor before beginning any sort of regiment.
With all that being said, I don't necessarily have a hard and fast routine; or at least it took me some time to find a regiment. I think the big thing is to listen to your body and find what works for you. I know people who like going to the gym, taking classes, or working with a personal trainer. Some find their physical enjoyment from running or cycling. Others find their zen in yoga. I think its important to find something that you can at least mildly enjoy but don't be afraid to challenger yourself. For me, I found I enjoy either cardio and High-Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT as its referred to commonly).
Years ago, I did have a gym membership. I did like some of the equipment, but found I prefer to work out in solitude. It has become my "me time," where I to zone out and de-stress. I also got to the point where I wanted to save some money, so I switched to working out at home. I started with work out video's. I was a big fan of the show The Biggest Loser, so most of my collection sprung from the trainers on that show such as Jillian Michaels. After doing some of these, I started looking for more program type DVD sets that are 60 or 90 day programs. I have found a few that I really like. My next one may be the Shaun T's Insanity. I've heard good things; so hit me up if you tried this and if you think its worth it.
Here are my top 4 favorite DVD's of what I own. I recommend doing them roughly in this order.
I think this is a great introduction video to trainer Jillian Michaels, and just a working out DVD's in general. It introduces you to the interval training experience. You spend 3 minutes on strength moves, 2 minutes doing cardio, and 1 minute doing abs (she calls it her 3-2-1 method and it comes up a lot in her routines). You repeat this 3 times and she has 3 different levels. Don't worry there are modifications for the more difficult moves! You start at level 1 and work your way up, though all works are pretty good to do any time. Level 2 is my favorite out of these. All the work outs also include a warm up and a cool; and are roughly 25 minutes in length.
This series is a 90 day program with Dr. Monique St. Pierre. It includes 10 total workouts with a chart that gives instructions on what day to do what work out. There is a nice variety of workouts that focus on upper body, lower body, abs, and even some yoga is incorporated. Similar to a lot of work videos; you work in circuits. You do roughly 4-5 moves for 30 seconds each, then repeat for one circuit. Most workouts contain 4 circuits and last 30-40 minutes with warm up and cool down. The nice thing about this series is that she also includes modifications of the moves from beginner to advance, and based on your equipment. Plus she gives mini 30 second breaks to catch your breath and grab water. Something I wish more of these video's would do! I would say this series is fun and active but may be too easy if you are super advanced or athletic. That is why I put this second. It is also a good for those in beginning up to medium phase.
The Biggest Lower: Power Train
This is my go to video when I want a nice workout but am not following any particular regiment. Its got Bob and Dolvett from The Biggest Loser. It compromise of 3 works outs, plus a warm up and a cool down. I usually do at least 2 of the works, but sometimes all 3. Its a great total body work out no matter what is your level of fitness.
This one is for when you are ready to step up your game and have a nice foundation. I would not recommend this for beginners. In fact the trainees on this video are all fitness instructors themselves. You don't need to be an athlete like them, but its not a place to start if you are in zero shape. It is similar to a lot of her other videos with the 3-2-1 circuit training, but makes the others look like child's play. It's a 60 day program with 12 programs, each around 30-35 minutes . 8 of them are the interval training where you target certain body functions. 2 of them are solely cardio (as there are cardio only days), and then 2 bonus disks. The one bonus program is called Opus and is meant for when you are done and want to go all out. The other is a meet the cast and breaks down how to do some of the moves in more detail. The schedule changes the workout pattern every 2 weeks. Don't worry she does give modifications for most of the moves. It isn't easy and you will sweat; but you will notice results and progress in your fitness level by sticking with the program.
These are just my favorite and recommendations for an all over type work out. I do own several other workout videos. Some are yoga inspired, and some target specific body areas such as the abs. I try to work them in when I feel I need to work certain muscle groups.
Besides my video's, I try to find other things to do, usually cardio inspired. This is due to the calorie burn with cardio, and I was shocked to find I enjoy running. However, I prefer a treadmill to the outdoors. I seem to struggle outdoors. I think its the uneven terrain and its hard for me to keep a consistent speed. My awesome husband found a great deal on Craigslist a couple of year's ago on a treadmill. One of those nice, would see in gym, type treadmills. I enjoy plugging into my ipad and watching a show on Netflix while enjoying a nice jog. Some days I will jut do the treadmill, some days just the video, and some days I will do both. Most of the workout videos I do are only around 30 minutes and some days I am feeling up for more. Some of those videos don't have that much cardio, and cardio is what I enjoy (Note: If you are looking for a strictly cardio work out Bob Harper's Body Rev Cardio is an intense hour). Also if I am trying to loose a few pounds or have over-indulged that day, doing both a DVD and a run helps burn off those calories faster. I typically work out 5-6 days a week, and try to make sure that for at least 3 of those days I am doing close to an hour work out.
Other Things I do
If you are trying to loose weight its no secret on how you do it. you have to burn more calories than you eat. There are some little things I try to help burn a few more calories.
First, I try to walk 10,000 steps a day. I bought a Fitbit over a year ago and wear it almost every day. I love that it not only keeps track of steps but my heart rate, calories burned, and sleep pattern. I don't think its a 100% accurate from rumors, but I find the information helpful. I also like the reminders to move. To help aid in getting 10,000 steps daily, I try to take a short walk over my lunch breaks. Sitting at a desk all day, isn't very helpful when trying to loose weight or stay in shape. I found taking a brief 15-20 minute walk during my lunch break helps.
Next, I like to stand at my desk while working. My awesome boss got those of us who wanted one in our office one of those VARIDESKS. At first it took some time to get used to standing, but was surprised how easily I adapted after a few weeks. I stand a couple of hours in the morning and a couple in the afternoon. The goal is at least half or more of my day is spent standing. It may not burn a ton of calories but it is more than sitting. Plus sometimes I may do an exercise move or two while standing (think calf pumps, leg raises or extension, chair pose type moves).
Finally, I try to find a mini workout to add to my routine. I may do these if I am up for a 2 work out day but not feeling the treadmill and video combination; or sometimes I just have extra energy. The extra energy isn't always common so I try to capitalize on it when it occurs. I usually look for something that takes only an additional 10-15 minutes. The best place for those is on Pinterest. There are a lot of fitness pins out there that give instructions for a quick workout. Some are just cardio, some all over, and some target just specific parts of the body. I have also found some 30 day challenges. I still have yet to complete a 30 day Ab one (as I honestly get forgetful), but working on that now!
If you are looking for a list of what I may own for all these workout programs here is a list of what I have:
-Dumbbells. Pretty much this is a standard must have for any workout program you do. I own 3, 5, 8, and 10 lb weights. When I first started working out I only used 3 lbs, and gradually worked my way up. I still use all of them, it just depends on the move. Some moves I can use heavier weights, and some I cannot.
-Resistance Band. I have one medium strength one; and one that sort of looks like a jump rope and not a solid circle. I got it for the Circuit Burnout 90 series (optional for that series), but have found I do like using it, There are some alternative strength training movements other than just using a dumbbell.
-Exercise Ball. Also an option for the Circuit Burnout 90 that I got, but was a fun investment. Lots of exercises you can do with this, especially if you want to work your core.
-Yoga or Exercise Mat. This is a must as well if you are like me and have hardwood floors at your house.
That is basically what I do for trying to stay in shape. There is no super exciting regiment that I stick to; other than when I am following one of the 60 or 90 programs. There are tons of things on the internet such as workout regiments, videos, etc. It can really feel overwhelming. Don't feel that you have to do it all at once. Their are times when I feel like all I do is cardio and slack any sort of strength; sometimes the opposite. It is never easy and if it gets easy, you need to change it up. There are some moves I will always hate. I cringe a little bit every time a trainer in a video says to start doing mountain climbers; and part of me wants to vomit at the word lunge. Yet I do them EVERY SINGLE TIME. However, there are some moves I find I enjoy. If I were in a class I would want a gold start for plank jacks and Russian Twists.
I'm also not doing it to be some sort of pro athlete or fitness model (though I wouldn't mind abs of steal someday). I'm doing it for my health and have an added bonus when I travel and can hike that mountain. There are days when I really don't want to work out. I have zero motivation and really have to force myself. There are days where I am really into the workout and giving it my all, and some days I struggle. I've learned that is OK; but I have never once regretted doing the work out once I was done. The point is to keep going. I found this quote online from Gwyneth Paltrow that I find inspirational. I know she has some views on diet not everyone agrees with but this quote was about exercise. I love it and completely agree; its not fairy dust. It's what you put into it.