Tag Archives: no excuses

NO EXCUSES!

11 Oct

WARNING: TOUGH LOVE AHEAD…

“I had to work late”

“I forgot my sneakers at home”

“I’ve had the worst day”

“My gym buddy isn’t going, so I’m not going either”

“I’m tired”

“I don’t have time”

We’ve all uttered at least one of the above comments at some point.  I’ve heard each of these phrases as well as countless other variations as “reasons” not to work out, be active or eat healthy foods.  I use the word “Reason” in quotes on purpose.  These are not reasons, they are EXCUSES.  They are excuses that people give me and themselves so that they don’t feel guilty for not working out or hitting their daily goal.  I know this sounds very harsh but we all need to hear it from time to time.  A great majority of us need to be reminded that excuses don’t produce results; they don’t burn fat, they don’t increase lean muscle mass, they don’t make you stronger, faster, healthier or better in ANY way.  They do one thing and one thing only: excuses attempt to assuage guilt.  If we felt that there was no good reason to skip a workout or not achieve our daily goal, we would likely be racked with guilt.  However, if we can pin the blame on something (or someone) else, we no longer carry the guilt.  We can sit at home watching tv, or at the bar with our friends without feeling bad at all.

My challenge for you this week is simple.  Do NOT give in to excuses.  If you find yourself talking your way out of commitment to a goal or healthy habit, stop and refocus.  Remind yourself that excuses do not produce results.  Hard work and consistency are the keys to success.  Hold yourself accountable this week- make sure you push past the urge to create excuses- and see to it that you reach the Finish.  Nike was on to something when they created the slogan “Just Do It”.  Don’t let anything get in the way, don’t let anyone or anything else prevent you from reaching the goals you’ve set.  Plow through roadblocks and obstacles with tenacity and don’t stop until you’ve tasted success. NO EXCUSES.

Half Marathon Training: week 2 recap

15 Aug

As I stated in my previous posts,  I am running the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon on October 2nd, and am blogging about my training progress.  I am doing this both for my own benefit (its my first half marathon and I’m excited to hear ideas/tips/suggestions/advice from veteran half marathon runners) and also to share my experience with others!

Week two brought its own little lesson for me: footwear is IMPORTANT!!!  I ran my first week (of 9 total training weeks) with my existing running shoes – Nike Free Run 2–  which I love.  I had run up to a 10k in them previously, but wanted new shoes for my Half training which will log many long miles.  I went to Marathon Sports in Wellesley and was there for about an hour and a half.  A very knowledgeable sales associate tested my gait, took the time to hear my concerns/injury history and chose several pairs of shoes she thought would be a good fit for me.  I tried on a pair of Newtons, a pair of Saucony Kinvara 2, and a pair of New Balance.  The sales associate told me to take a run outside in each pair, to get a feel for them.  I did about 5-7 trial runs in total.  Some of them I did with 2 different shoes on.  In the end, I decided on the Newtons because they gave me extra support where I needed it (n my injured left ankle) while staying on the “minimal” side.  They were pretty expensive, and as I made my way to the register I started second guessing my decision.  The sales associate said that I could take them home for my next run (4 miles) and if I wanted to swap them out for another pair, I could come back the next day and do so.  This was pretty impressive to me.  It was that fact, combined with the 20% personal trainer discount, that sealed the deal.

The new sneakers have taken a LOT of getting used to.  They are a “minimal” shoe but they are unlike any other pair I’ve worn in the past.  The first 1-1.5 miles of each run in them has been difficult; my body is not yet comfortable in them and I feel totally off.  I ran 4 miles and the next day ran 6 miles in them.  At the end of each run, I felt fine and my ankle tendonitis has not given me any extra noticeable problems.  There was one point at which I thought I would have to turn around on my 6 mile run and go home to change back into my old sneakers.  As I continued on in my loop (to head back home), I was able to adjust my stride and foot fall so that I felt comfortable.  The shoe definitely helps to absorb the heelstrike that happens as a result of my tendonitis in my left ankle.  I have decided to hang onto the shoes, despite their $140 price tag.  If there’s anything worth putting a little extra money into, its the shoes that will be on my feet for miles and miles (and miles) to come. 

Plus, they’re bright orange…my favorite color! 😉

Exercise burnout: what is it, and how can it be avoided?

15 Aug

Exercise burnout is a term I hear all the time amongst colleagues and clients.  I hear stories of folks who have been going to the gym; doing their routine day in and day out, over and over, and are getting quite sick and tired of it.  The workout that once brought them relief from the stress of a long day now is a looming monster.  It serves as another obstacle and another stress bomb to face before unwinding for the evening.  The pleasure and satisfaction once gleaned from pumping iron, hitting the cardio machines, and getting a good sweat has long been replaced with boredom, annoyance, resentment, and anger.  For some, the burnout goes beyond the mental exhaustion and carries over to physical exhaustion as well.  People overuse, overwork, and over train their bodies to the point of intense exhaustion, bodily fatigue, and injury.  Without time off the body has no time to rest and repair itself, leaving it always playing catch-up and never operating at 100%.  [and if you want to BE your best, you gotta BRING your best!]

Why does this happen to so many people and so often?  What causes people to reach the point of such profound burnout?  I believe it stems from the lack of understanding the importance of two concepts: diversity and rest.  The first of the two, diversity in exercise,  is crucial to practice in order to avoid burnout, boredom, and injury.  Most people get into a routine at the gym: they come in, use certain machines [because they know and feel comfortable with them] and then leave.  They do this day in and day out.  While ANY exercise/activity will initially produce change and results, eventually the body gets used to the same repetitive motion/action [our bodies are so much smarter than we give them credit for!!] and the benefits begin to diminish.  What once produced significant calorie burn and muscle hypertrophy will, over time, no longer be challenging.  Exercise is meant to be progressive, that is changing and becoming more challenging as a person’s fitness level increases.  Without progression a person’s fitness level becomes “stuck”.  The elliptical machine might still say you’re burning X number of calories every time you get on it, but the calorie counters on cardio machines are rarely accurate and do not take into account enough information to make a precise assessment of what’s going on during the workout. 

In order to maximize the benefits of exercise, you MUST change it up!!! Don’t get comfortable using that one specific machine [3rd elliptical from the left, right by the TV that always plays BRAVO], instead discover something new! Give your body and your mind a new challenge.  Hop on a machine that you’ve never used before.  Its okay, it won’t bite!  And if you don’t know how to use it, just start pedaling and something will happen!  All else fails, ask a staff member at your gym to show you how to properly use it!   If that doesn’t sound appealing, find an activity outdoors that piques your interest: rollerblading, biking, swimming, hiking, walking, running.  If you’ve never done it before, try it!! The key is to always change it up.  Instead of spinning 5 days a week, try using the stair master, treadmill or ARC trainer.   If you’re a hard-core runner, try spin on one of your cardio days!  Something else to consider is group fitness classes; many gyms offer a wide variety of classes that are different from what goes on out on the cardio/weight room floor.   This also applies to strength training; if you are simply lifting barbells and dumbbells, try a body weight circuit or a Bootcamp class.  Increase sets, reps, and try doing unilateral exercises instead of bilateral.  Throwing a change into the mix will confuse your body and produce greater results.  And not only will this keep you from getting bored, but it will prevent you from getting injured.  Because exercise diversity forces you to work different muscles in different ways, it strengthens the body from different angles and gives all body parts a chance to work.   No single muscle (or muscle group) will be overused or over trained, and no muscle will be left under trained or ignored.

The second factor I believe contributes to exercise burnout is lack of rest.  When people get serious about working out and get into a groove, they rarely give themselves time to rest and repair.   They are so caught up with and focused on their goal [losing weight, gaining muscle, training for an event, transforming their bodies and minds, etc] that they may start to believe a day of rest will put them behind schedule and a day further away from reaching their goal.  Let me say: REST IS A MUST!!!  Exercise puts the body through the wringer: muscle fibers rip and tear apart during strength training, and we take a beating moving around during cardio exercise.  The work does not happen when we are in the gym, on the court, track or street.  The work- the lean muscle repair and growth, and fat loss- happen when we are asleep and otherwise at rest.  One day of FULL rest from exercise per week is recommended for people working out at a moderate intensity on a regular basis.  I personally believe that of the 7 days in a week, one day should be full rest and another should be an “Active Recovery” day.  Active Recovery can be anything that is LOW impact, does not raise the heart rate to its maximal levels, and is considered fun!  For my active rest, I enjoy going for a walk, taking a yoga class, or doing the elliptical for 15-20 minutes on a low setting.  Other folks enjoy doing Zumba or other dance classes for active recovery.  The remaining 5 days can be devoted to training well and training hard. 

Exercise burnout can cause people to abandon their workout routine all together.   This can lead to further deviation from a healthy lifestyle- becoming inactive, abandoning healthy eating habits, and allowing the mental muscle to weaken considerably.  In extreme cases, focus and determination become lost to apathy and self-loathing.  Don’t let yourself get to that point!!  If you feel yourself getting there, stop and check the nature of your routine.  Are you bored? Do you need to diversify your workout? Go ahead, try something new TODAY!  Are you letting yourself rest? Or have you been exercising hard every day for the past 2+ weeks?? Take a day of rest; it will do you a world of good! 

Have you ever experienced exercise burnout? What caused it? And how did you combat it?

Half Marathon Training: week 1 recap

9 Aug

As I stated in a recent blog, I am in the process of training for a half marathon.  This is something I have always wanted to do, so I guess you could say I’m crossing it off my “bucket list”.  For those of you who don’t know, I am running the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon on October 2nd (just shy of my 30th birthday!!).  I decided to go with a 9 week training program because I am already able to log several miles without a problem, and 9 weeks will be the ideal amount of time for me to work on building endurance, shaving time off my mile, and getting myself mentally prepared to run 13.1 miles. 

The training program I am using is the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training program.  I am using it as a skeleton and adjusting it a bit to fit my schedule and add speed/hill workouts.  So far, so good.  The thing I realized in Week 1 was that training (of any sort) takes a LOT of planning.  I work out 6 days a week with no problem, but always have the flexibility of switching things up, or doing what I want when I want.  Having to keep track of runs and log X amount of miles per week is a bit more challenging.  I have had to block off specific time during each day for my workouts to make sure I have enough time to stretch, warm up, run, and cool down.  I find that if I don’t do so, its VERY easy to get sidetracked by other things.  I was in Maine this past weekend and had to be very disciplined to run my long run (5 miles) while I was there.  But I did it on Friday instead of Sunday, when I knew I had a bit of extra time.  So I think being flexible a bit with the program will be key. 

I also realized that it will be nice to have a buddy to run with when the mileage starts getting up there! I signed up for this race with a good friend, so its nice to have someone to talk with about the training, and also to help out with mental motivation.  Thank you Heather 🙂

Week 2 is under way and going well! Will give a report next week! 🙂

just cuz it hurts doesn’t mean it works!

9 Aug

On an average day of work at Beacon Hill Athletic Clubs I see a handful of people doing exercises with improper form.  Sometimes they just need a small tweak or two in the way they execute the exercise and sometime their form is so grossly off that I wonder what they are trying to accomplish.  I absolutely understand that not everyone knows the proper mechanics and it is this very fact that often deters people [especially women] from doing any strength/resistance training.  It is only normal to start out as a novice and then, with the tutelage of a certified professional, become more knowledgeable.  Eventually you can make your way around the weight room with an understanding of which exercises work which muscles, and the proper form for lifting.  I commend and respect those folks who take the time and make the effort to learn to train properly.  It makes a world of difference: results come quicker and last longer, injury is avoided, and with it all comes the satisfaction of knowing things are being done properly! 

But what drives me nuts more than anything else is when people exercise with improper form and then say “wow I’m so sore today, that was a GREAT workout yesterday!” At the risk of sounding crass and a little harsh, here’s a little newsflash: just because it hurts doesn’t mean it works!!!! Yes it is absolutely true that the day(or two) following resistance/strength training, the muscles worked will feel sore [and should have at least a day of rest before they are used in this capacity again].  This is due to muscle hypertrophy, or the growth and increase in size of the muscle cells.  This is a good, healthy thing and is indicative of gains in strength.  However, there are PLENTY of other reasons why muscles may be sore the day after a workout.  Lifting weights in a way that makes your muscles hurt/ache/feel sore during the exercise itself or after does NOT necessarily mean you’re doing things the right way.  Bones, ligaments, tendons,  nerves, and other important parts of the body can be severely injured doing exercises improperly. 

Don’t put yourself at risk for injury, don’t be an inefficient exerciser, and don’t be your body’s own greatest risk.  Take the time and make the effort to work with a trainer and learn how to do things properly.  Your body will thank you!

Ready to do it to it?!?! Email me and lets WORK IT OUTTT!!!!!  lucky13fitness@gmail.com

double standard

4 Aug

I spent last weekend on the Jersey Shore for a bachelorette party…yes THE Jersey Shore- Seaside Heights.  Home to Snooki, the Situation and the rest of the gang.  We actually saw them filming a few times during our stay there.  The Shore was quite a place; an experience like none other I’ve had.  While I had lots of fun fist pumping and dancing to the DJ’s great music, a few things did not sit well with me and I have not been able to put them out of my head.

Walking down the boardwalk is like being in an overgrown carnival.  Booth after booth, vendor after vendor, big lit-up sign after big lit-up sign all advertising food.  Each featured artery clogging, cholesterol raising, life span shortening, yet seemingly irresistible fare.  Pizza, hot dogs, cheesy fries, sausages, fried chicken, fried Snickers, fried Twinkies, milkshakes, cotton candy, corn dogs, burgers, ice cream; you name it, they had it.  I practically had to get out a fine tooth comb to search for suitable lunch food.  When I finally spotted a place that sold VitaCoco  Coconut Water and a sub-par fruit cup, I gladly forked over $8 in exchange for something that didn’t have “Partially Hydrogenated” or “High Fructose Corn Syrup” in the ingredient list. 

After grabbing my lunch and continuing my stroll down the boardwalk, the girls and I decided we wanted to splurge for new outfits to wear that night at Karma.  I felt like I was in a fashion photo shoot while in there.  All of the sales associates were petite, tan, blonde and well endowed in the chest.  I tried on the few items in the store that wouldn’t be found in a call girl’s wardrobe and settled on a ribbed corset top which was pretty snug, to say the least.  I made a joke that I’d have to get a size bigger so that I’d have room for dinner and not have to “suck it in” all night.  Every single item in that store (and all other stores) was made to be form-fitting, revealing, sexy.  but SO tight and uncomfortable.  Every item modeled was on a size 0 or 2, and of course fit like a glove.  Well what happens when REAL women with curves try on the same stuff?  They don’t feel so good.  I found myself immediately feeling less than thrilled about the way I looked.  Even me- a fit person who eats very well, works out regularly- I still felt self conscious about the way I looked.  I bought the shirt and walked back out of the store.

Back out into fried food land.  And that’s when it hit me.  HOW on Earth can we have so much junk and crap flashed in our faces as the cheapest, most appetizing, and sometimes only food around and then be expected to fit into and feel comfortable in such restrictive clothing?!  The more I thought about it, the more furious I became.  I started looking at the types of people walking down the boardwalk.  The majority were overweight, and some were obese.  Yes there were also those who seemed to be in the “normal” weight range, and some who even looked a bit underweight.  But no matter what, they were all eating that junk.  They were putting food into their mouths that will directly raise their chances of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even premature death.  I wondered how many people were eating this fare just because it was nearly the ONLY option, and how many didn’t think twice about eating this way.  How many women would walk into that shop and try to find a “hot outfit” for the club?  How many would feel just as uncomfortable as I had?

The greater picture boils down to this: junk food has become the most affordable, most accessible, and most flashy food out there.  Calories, trans and saturated fats, sodium, and chemicals are being pumped into people’s bodies at an alarming rate.  Simultaneously, the fashion industry and the media at large make it painfully obvious that skinny is in and tight, revealing clothing is what’s “hot”.  Just open up any magazine, you’ll see what I mean.  There will be an anorexic looking model on one page and an ad for a 99 cent Big Mac on the next.

This double standard makes me sick and needs to change.  Where to start?  The truth is- I don’t know.  There’s so many things that can be done- make healthy foods more affordable and accessible, shift the trends so that fashion isn’t impossible to wear unless you’re a size 0 or 2.  Something, anything, needs to be done.  As the famous quote says “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Run like the wind!!!!

26 Jul

I have been talking with people recently about running; more specifically about running races.  It seems that everywhere I go I find someone who is training for a race of some sort, from 5k all the way up to a full marathon.   This week I joined those in training and signed myself up for the  Smuttynose Half Marathonon October 2nd.  (This will be my last race in my 20’s, yikes!!!)  People have been asking me the same questions and I thought I’d respond via blog for everyone to view… I also would love other people’s input, and hear other training strategies/regimens.

The #1 question I have heard is “How can I make my pace faster and my mile time better?”  My answer to this is INTERVALS.  I have found interval training to be beneficial in many ways and has helped me shave time off my mile, improve my endurance, and made me a better runner in general.  Often times when training for races, people fail to incorporate speed and/or hill workouts.  This is, to use a buzzword, an epic fail.  Sure, standard training programs that gradually increase mileage are effective, but they do not best prepare you for race day.  Incorporating speed and hill intervals into your training will boost your overall performance and ability to perform at your BEST on race day.

Speed intervals can be done on a track or a treadmill.  There are several different ways to approach speed intervals, but start off basic.  Start out by doing a 5 minute warmup… Then jog at a steady state pace (5 out of 10) for a minute, and then crank it out to a full out sprint for 30 seconds.  After 30 seconds, bring it back down to the steady state pace for another minute, and then- yep you guessed it- sprint again for 30 seconds.   Do this 2:1 ratio for a total of 20 minutes. 

Once you’ve mastered the basic interval, you can change it up by doing 1:1 intervals, or speed workouts of varying lengths.  I found a GREAT article that gives several examples of speed workouts for runners of all levels.

Hill intervals can be done on a treadmill or on your neighborhood hill of choice (pick a tough one!)  Start out by doing a 5 minute warmup, and then attack the hill.  My favorite hill workout is the following “pyramid” which has 8 sprints of varying length.  Remember- always sprint 100% up the hill, and slowly jog back down for recovery:

1) sprint up 1/4 hill (3.0 incline on treadmill)

2) sprint up 1/2 hill (6.0 incline on treadmill)

3) sprint up 3/4 hill (9.0 incline on treadmill)

4) sprint to the top of the hill (12.o incline on treadmill)

5) sprint to the top of the hill (12.0 incline on treadmill)

6) sprint 3/4 hill (9.0 incline on treadmill)

7) sprint 1/2 hill (6.0 incline on treadmill)

8) sprint 1/4 hill (3.0 incline on treadmill)

Do a 5 min jog cooldown and call it a day!

Other questions I’ve been asked have to do with shoe type and pre/post run eating.  To answer the first question, I suggest that the first step in race training should be a trip to Marathon Sports, City Sports, or a similar store.  Find a sales associate who KNOWS footwear and who can help you analyze your foot pronation type (if you don’t know it already) and fit you with the appropriate shoe.  It is also helpful to inform the sales associate that you are training for a race so that they may take into account how many miles you’ll be logging/week. 

In regards to pre/post run eating, check out my blog that outlines just that!!

Training for an event of any type is a GREAT way to keep on track with exercising regularly, and sticking to a program in order to achieve a goal.  Get a friend to commit with you and sign up for a race/event and then use each other as motivation to train regularly.  Races of all types and distances can be found at Runners World

Lace up those sneakers and hit the pavement!!!