Tag Archives: Physical exercise

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I’m just posting this for my own reference. I did this work out last week and it was SO good, as Zuzana Light’s workouts always are, and I didn’t want to lose it. So, if you have 20 minutes, knock this one out and you’ll be sweating like a dog in the end. In fact, I might just go do it again right now.

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Women and Weights

I have a sincere issue with the gender divide in health and exercise. When you step into a gym, you will usually see the cardio section occupied mostly by women, and mostly by women reading magazines or watching TV. When you look at the area with the mats, resistance bands, bouncy balls, and small dumbells, again, you’ll see mostly women, and sure, there will be a few women working hard, but more often than not, you’ll find women with their friends, chit-chatting and taking long breaks after 10 reps of bicep curls with 5 or 8 pound weights.

Scan your eyes over to the weight machines or large dumbells and you’ll see men. All men, only men, forever men. Men of all shapes and sizes, except not really… beefy men usually, sweating through their clothing, grunting, flexing, and moaning with each bicep curl. Often times with poor form. But one thing is clear: these men are cut and those women are not.

Let me just say… THIS IS BULLSHIT.

I used to be one of those women, who would spend 30 or 45 minutes on the elliptical at medium resistance, then maybe 15 minutes of weights (never more than 8 pounds), then I would go home and eat whatever the hell I wanted, thinking I had earned it. Early on in my college years when I started exercising more, this was mostly how I spent my time at the gym, and sure, I’d break a sweat, but I would leave with a false sense of success. I imagined I had burned 6,000 calories and that all those frozen lasagnas that I used to eat would be well-deserved. Honestly, if I burned 100 calories during my workouts, I’d be surprised. But I didn’t know any better, and most people don’t know any better either. Especially women.

There is a very terrifying lack of education in the female population about how to exercise and how to achieve the results that most of us want. Most women out there (even if they don’t admit it), in one way or another desire that “lean, toned” look, and most women think that spending their days fiddling around on the cardio machines is going to get them there. It pains me that this is our foolish reality. That women are so uneducated and so misinformed in fitness, and that they are so terrified of trying something truly challening, for fear of “bulking up”.

There are countless articles written about this subject, but in summary, women, listen up: YOU CANNOT AND WILL NOT GET BULKY UNLESS YOU TAKE STEROIDS AND/OR DEDICATE YOUR LIFE TO BECOMING A BODY BUILDER. You just cannot. We do not have the levels of testoserone that men have so no matter how hard we try, we just cannot bulk up! We can build muscle and lose body fat and achieve that “toned” look that everyone is after, but anything more extreme is supremely difficult for us to achieve. Women sadly live terrified of the real weights because they think they’ll look manly, and as a result, women exclude themselves from the one and only real way to getting the healthy, beautiful body that they desire.

Want to know what happens when women lift weights and drink lots of protein shakes?

Yeah, terrifying, right?

Women cannot be afraid of challenging themselves, because as they say, “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you,” and if its change you’re after, then its change that you need.

The other part of this issue is the fact that men are not used to seeing women in the weights section, and women often feel intimidated and unwelcome, or perhaps a little too welcome, feeling more like a piece of meat than a strong woman who just wants to get her work out in like everyone else. This is true anywhere in the world, but I have become more aware of it since coming to France, where the spaces between the genders are much more culturally engrained. I was invited by a friend to come to her gym for a day, so after my insane 15 minutes on the spin bike (literally sweat flying everywhere, grunting and breathing heavily, getting all sorts of stares from the poised and clean French women leafing through Elle on the pussy-bikes next to me), I put on my weight lifting gloves and marched proudly into the weight room, which was separate from the other parts of the gym. Before walking in, I felt tough, confident, and excited to lift some heavy weights. As soon as I turned the corner, all the meatwad men with enormous biceps essentially stopped what they were doing, turned, and looked at me as I walked in to “their” section. Rather than going to the middle of the room to a spot where I could see myself properly in the mirror, I instantly felt like I was being eye-raped by these gross men, so I resorted to a corner of the room where I had a sliver of mirror and my squats would be as minimally disruptive as possible. It was a horrible feeling, but I pushed through it anyway, finding myself opting for tougher-looking exercises (lots of boxing moves, with weights) to assert myself as a strong woman. I felt self conscious and alone, like I’m sure many women fear feeling when considering lifting heavy weights.

The worst moment for me (a raging feminist and heavy-weight lifter) was when I was scoping out gyms in my neighborhood, and on the tour of one particularly gross-looking gym, the guy said to me something along the lines of, “…And downstairs we have the weight room. Its for men, but I’ll show it to you anyway.” And when we got down stairs, again he said, “So here you can see the weight room. It’s probably not of any interest to you because its mostly for men, but here is one machine that you could use if you wanted.” And he pointed to some dinky little cardio thing. I felt offended. I wanted to say so many things, but my limited French only allowed me to smile and say “Merci.” What a dick.

Ladies out there, my message is this: Do not be afraid of lifting weights. Real weights. Heavy weights. Weights that are heavy enough for you to feel muscle exhaustion after 8-12 good reps, without losing proper form. Weights that leave you utterly sore the next day. Weights that challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone. This is the only way to build muscle, aka “tone up” your body and get “lean”. Add cardio, yes, but good cardio (not 30 minutes on the elliptical while reading a magazine. Instead, choose a short, intense HIIT routine) a few days a week, and you will see the results you have always wanted (as long as you’re eating clean). And you will see them fast!

Again, I will use myself as an example. I had a personal trainer in college for about 6 months, and she entirely revolutionized my way of looking at exercise. She had me doing bicep curls with 15 pound weights, when I thought I could only handle 8lb, or maybe 10 if I was feeling tough. But she showed me that I could do better than that, and in just a few months, I remember looking in the mirror and actually seeing my arms look different. (At one point during one of our sessions, I remember her saying, “Damn girl, look at those guns!”… It was a proud moment.) The 15lb weights had been killer, but within a short amount of time, my body had actually changed in all the ways that all women want it to change. I wasn’t bulkier, I was leaner. I wasn’t manly, I looked feminine and strong. My arms looked amazing, my thighs were thinner, my waist was leaner, and I know it was entirely because my trainer forced me to lift heavier than what I thought I could. I’ve never looked back, and I can’t wait to get back to lifting weights again. It is the only thing that has ever made a significant difference in my appearance in all my years of being an athlete and fitness monster.

Also to note: There is no such thing as “weight lifting for women” or “exercising for women”. Anything that markets itself as women-specific is bound to sell you short and make reaching your goals that much harder and slower. We are all bodies, and we should all train the same way. To get the toned womanly body you want, you need to train “like a man.” That is to say, train like a human. (There’s a reason those men in the gym are cut, and yes, part of it is testosterone  but the other part is training. If you want to be firm and toned, you need to work for it like they do.)

So ladies, let’s break the stereotypes and the fears and the miseducation. The weight room is not just for men. I challenge you to go in there during your next session at the gym, and lift heavier than you normally would (even if its just a few pounds heavier. Strength and muscle take time to build. Also, please make sure you have proper form and consult your doctor before taking on a new exercise regimen. Thats my PSA for the day) and I promise, PROMISE, PROMISE that you will see results. You will have the “lean, toned” look in no time, as long as your diet is clean. You will wake up every day loving your sexy body, and you’ll be saying, “Thank you, C from Strong Fits Well. Thank you.”

You’re welcome.

Oh, I forgot to mention: Muscle burns a ton of calories, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn when you’re not doing anything at all. So the more muscle you build, the more fat you’ll burn off, making it easier and quicker to see those pretty, shapely muscles under the layer of fat that currently hides them. Just a fun fact.

Watch this video. Very funny, very relevant.

 

A few links for those of you who have had their curiosity piqued:

The Best Strength Training For Women, Women’s Health Magazine

8 Reasons You Should Lift Heavier Weights, Shape Magazine

Why Ladies Should Lift Weights, Fitocracy

Why Women Should Lift Weights!, BodyBuilding.Com

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Loving Myself and Conquering The Brain

No external change can happen without a true internal change, and as most of us know, that is the biggest challenge. It’s not really a matter of whether or not you can run a mile (trust me, you can) or 10 miles (you will, if you train) or if you can lift 5 pounds or 50, or if you can finish a 5k or a marathon or an Iron Man. It’s not even if your body is capable of losing 5 pounds or having abs or having a firm butt. All of that is possible. All of our bodies, more or less are built quite the same. If all those people filling up your Pinterest “Fitness” board have achieved those incredible bodies, honestly there isn’t any reason why our bodies aren’t capable of our own versions of the same. After all, we all do have a six pack somewhere in there and glutes and biceps and thighs and all the same muscles as all of those people. So, really, why not me? Why not you?

[Anecdote/afterthought: You may know I like running. I recently ran a 10k, and I’ve run several before. I’m hoping to run a half marathon this year, and maybe a marathon next year. Running has become a huge part of my life. But, fun fact: I used to hate, hate, HATE running. I couldn’t run a mile 3 years ago. Couldn’t and wouldn’t. I’d rather die. But I had a personal trainer for a while in college and she forced me to run a mile with her once or twice a week, and slowly but surely, running became a part of my life. IT IS POSSIBLE. The end. Back to regularly scheduled programming.]

Thats the easy part. Getting your body to look like that is easy when you look at it factually: Eat lean, clean, natural foods, lower your calorie intake, and exercise. Its a simple equation. To lose one pound of fat in one week, you must lower your calorie intake by 3,500 calories in that week. That means that you need to lessen your calorie intake by 500 calories a day through a combination of exercise and healthy eating (perhaps you burn 200 calories in exercise and you cut out 100 calories from breakfast, 100 from lunch, and 100 from dinner). Honestly, that doesn’t sound too bad, right? All of us are capable of achieving the body and the health that we desire. It is in our genetic makeup to be able to achieve that.

So… why in the hell is it so goddamn hard??!

If I really try hard, I can do enough bicep curls to have killer lady guns. No biggie, right? My body is capable of doing exactly what I want it to do. But my brain is the hardest muscle to reshape. The struggle for self control and stronger willpower seems to be so much more challenging than the 80 burpees I did on Monday (more on that later). And even doing the burpees isn’t even the real issue… I know my body will do them. My legs can jump and my arms can do push ups and my lungs can breathe and my heart can pump blood. I’ll be exhausted, but I can do it, eventually. But why is it that after doing 5 of those burpees, my brain says, “No, don’t do it, don’t do it! Noooo!” It requires turning off those thoughts (so hard to do) and forcing your body to do things that your brain doesn’t want to adjust to. Whether its burpees, 10 miles of running, weight lifting, or not eating the tempting food or choosing to eat salad instead of whatever you normally eat, it’s entirely a mental choice and our brains are so, so resistant to change.

Not only that, but I feel my brain being swarmed daily with conflicting ideas and advice about how to achieve the change I really want, and I’m constantly torn between different ways in which to get started. Should I focus on building healthy habits outside of health and exercise, and maybe I’ll get fit along the way? Should I focus on becoming vegan and then it’ll just be so much easier to lose weight? Should I focus on just exercising more, that way I’ll be happier and have more energy and be more motivated to make changes? Should I focus on writing more about how I feel about my current state so I can start to analyze my thoughts and behaviors from a basic, psychological level? Should I focus on doing more yoga and meditation to be centered and strong at my core? Should I focus on self love before changing anything about my lifestyle so that my heart is in the right place? Should I maybe just start with one thing and not overwhelm myself, and let everything else in my life stay the same for a bit so the change isn’t so striking?… AM I OVER THINKING THIS?

These are the things that go through my head constantly. And I haven’t quite found a balance between any of these thoughts, but the best answer to myself is… maybe its just a little bit of everything? I’m too distracted and ADD to be able to just do one thing. I need variety. Or at least variety is what has sustained me up until now, and I think it would be foolish of me to try to change that part of my personality. I need to learn to work within my own personal “constraints” in order to find the answers that are right for me. So taking a little from each of those thoughts and I suppose just patching it all together and “making it work” is the best, maybe the only way for me.

BUT ANYWAYS… what I was getting at was this: The body is easy. The mind is the real struggle. And even if I don’t always believe or truly internalize all the things I want to believe, as a friend (who happens to be a therapist) has said to me many times, “In order to achieve those deep-rooted cognitive changes and mental reframing, the trick really is just to fake it until you make it. Ultimately the subconscious doesn’t know the difference.” So, I suppose thats a great place to start. Similarly, a friend recently sent me this intriguing article explaining the effects of positive self affirmation, and how phrases like “I’m awesome” don’t really do much but something like “I am a great runner” are much more effective because they are direct, tangible, and easy to believe and internalize.

So, I want to focus on reminding myself of things that I know I’m good at and things I already like about myself, and I encourage you (whether you prefer privately or better yet, share it in the comments!) to do the same.

A few things I love about me:

I am an excellent dancer. It’s my greatest love, my greatest talent, and my greatest source of joy.

I am a great swimmer. 12 years of competitive swimming has made me a strong little fish, for life.

Thanks to swimming and waterpolo, I have strong shoulders and killer legs. My legs might be my favorite body part.

Hourglass figure! I’ve learned to love it as my love for fashion grew and I realized I could wear so many sexy, feminine pieces, like high-waisted skirts and belted dresses. I have a womanly body, and I like that.

I’ve always loved my hair. Though I have been caught complaining about the frizz (probably because every girl needs to find some aspect of their hair that they hate because its taboo to like your hair), it has always been a lie. I love my hair. Always have. Always will.

I like my eye color. Hazel.

I’m assertive and a natural leader. I love dealing with people, helping people, and teaching people and I love that about my personality.

I’m optimistic.

I speak 3 languages and I’m proud of my ability to learn languages with relative ease.

So there… a few things that I love about myself. I may make another one of these lists later, along with another list of accomplishments from the day. I found that to be a nice reminder to myself that things really are going well, even if I’m inclined to find the reasons for why they are not. Ultimately, things are GOOD. Things are great. I am healthy and strong, even when I have moments of weakness. Must learn to remind myself of this daily. Things really are just fine.

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Killer Workout

Todays workout was killerrrrrrrr and now I’m a killer so watch out.
I ran to the park, about 10-15 minutes away, and found myself a nice spot on the big grassy area and spent probably an hour doing all sorts of body weight exercises. I had (following what my friend and I did in Brussels) previously written down all all the exercises in this Zuzana Light video (featured below), and after finishing all 3 rounds (barely!), I went wild and made up my own exercises. I did lots of kickboxing, earning me plenty of stares from the others in the park (apparently kickboxing alone in public is “weird” here? Anywhere?) and more push-ups, burpees, lunges, and as many ab exercises as I could handle. I hate doing abs. Absolutely hate it. Whenever I’m doing them, my brain is saying, “Stop! Keep the belly! Do not continue. It’s not worth it.” And, more often than not, I listen   :-/ . Any tips for enjoying ab exercises, or at least not wanting to kills self after 5 crunches?? I need to learn to like those.
Anyway, after about an hour of working out with a good level of intensity, I ran back home, this time challenging myself to do short sprint intervals. Not only were my legs feeling like lead after my workout, but the way back is slightly uphill and my legs hate it. But finishing felt SO good and when I finally got home, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride over my hard work. It was not easy, but so worth it. There’s nothing like feeling the sweat from your forehead drip into your eyes and your mouth, making you burn and cringe at the same time. Now THAT is hard work! I should make that a goal every time I exercise: “Sweat so hard your eyes burn and you go momentarily blind”.
This is the written version of Zuzana’s killer workout:

10 Dive Bombers (like downward dog pushups)

5 full burpees

20 (each side) squat leg lifts – squat, down, come up, lift one leg out, repeat on other side

5 burpees

10 side plank lifts (each side)

5 burpees

10 pistol squats (each side) – one legged squat

5 burpees
Repeat 3 times total

 

Sweat your heart out!

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Preparing to Fail

I may have quoted this before, but I keep thinking this in my head when I have days like today where I waste a bunch of time, and thus don’t accomplish all the things I wanted to accomplish, i.e. a decent workout. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

This is kind of how things end up happening for me…

I live abroad, so I stay up late (1, 2, sometimes 3 am) talking to friends and family back home and winding down from a long night of work (I end work at around 9pm). I don’t get much done on the internet late at night, but I can’t seem to convince myself to just turn my computer off and go to bed at a decent hour, because I feel like I need that time to disconnect from work before sleeping, and eventually the night gets past me. As a result, I wake up late the next day, usually feeling a bit of remorse for staying up late, but rarely enough to get me to bed earlier. I generally plan my eating and exercise around each other, such that I’ve eaten the right types of foods before and after exercise, giving myself enough time to digest properly before working out, but I somehow manage to get lost in whatever it is I’m doing, and my exercise tends to get pushed back, further and further, until I’m down to very little time before I have to shower and pick up the girls from school and thus start my work day. On days like today, since I woke up late, ate late (and too much, thus forcing me to wait even longer before I felt ready to exercise) and didn’t plan my time properly, I missed my workout entirely and felt shitty all afternoon because of it. My exercise was walking up and down the stairs a few times throughout the day and walking to the school to get the girls, and that was it. My body feels stale and tense and my brain isn’t functioning as I wish it would, and emotionally I’m not feeling as lively as I know I can… and what kind of way to live is that??

As far as food choices go, I think its all entirely related. Woke up late, felt anxious about it, ate a little too much for breakfast and with the first poor choice I made in the morning, I set the tone for the rest of the day. The moment I reached for a small handful of granola, I knew today would be difficult. Was it my knowledge of my upcoming “failures” that led me to “fail” (I don’t really like using the word “fail”, but I can’t think of another word to use…), or was it just an honest acknowledgment of my weaknesses in the hopes that I would overcome them? I don’t really know. But I knew I was setting myself up for trouble by making poor choices in the morning, and thus continuing that behavior all day long. It was a small handful of granola in the morning, and by 5pm, I had, over the course of the day, managed to eat several cookies, bread, granola, and all sorts of terrible nonsense, without even realizing it. Without my necessary exercise to raise my motivation and self awareness, I didn’t feel compelled to stop myself from my poor choices, and I spent all day with the mentality that I had already failed, so may as well continue to do so. Because I didn’t plan my meals, snacks, workout, and work schedule properly, I didn’t succeed in any of them and allowed the failures of one to hugely influence the behaviors in another. I know I didn’t eat enough protein today, which may have encouraged the constant snacking (because I didn’t feel adequately full or nourished by my food) and I know I ate too many carbs, which similarly did not keep me full long enough to feel satisfied. I allowed allowed myself to “fail” today by not being wise about my preparations for my day, by not setting intentions for the day, by not visualizing my goals, and by not weighing the consequences of my actions. I’m beginning to see the relationship between seemingly unrelated behaviors and how they are all actually very much interconnected in the definition of my life and of my self.

On a more positive note, I’d like to share some inspiration from a friend that recently sent me a picture to show me how they are preparing for success this week. Many people will praise the habit of preparing all/most of your meals for the week on Sundays (or whenever works best for you) so that you don’t have the excuse of not having enough time or not having the right ingredients to make good choices when all the stress of daily life comes at you during the week. Even if it doesn’t involve cooking entire meals, at least having vegetables chopped and meat pre-portioned can help save so much time when you are in a rush or getting home late and feeling lazy. I have always wanted to get into this habit, but living in my current au pair situation doesn’t allow me that flexibility. I was so pleased when I received these pictures from a friend who really made an effort to avoid failure this week.

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A grocery basket full of clean, raw food. Nice!

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They made 2 different dishes, full entirely of vegetables and lean protein. Looks delicious.

 I have to forgive myself for my mistakes today and use it as an opportunity to learn. I want to set my intentions for tomorrow and I hope you will all hold me accountable for them! I will wake up earlier than I did today and I will run 4 miles (my usual short run) first thing in the morning so that I don’t have an excuse later on in the day not to exercise. I know myself and I should have known this today, but I chose to ignore it: I need exercise in the morning, because I know I will get lazy later on in the day. By working out first thing each day, not only have I started the day on the right foot, but I’ve also gotten my workout out of the way and I don’t have to worry about it later. This routine works for me when I find the motivation to wake up early enough, but I have to remind myself “If its important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” I’m so tired of making excuses for myself! Tomorrow is a new day, and tomorrow, I’m grabbing that shit by the balls and doing what is best for me.

Fuck yeah.

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Awareness

I have started to learn lately that in the search for personal change and improvement, whether it is for health, for greater levels of fitness, for work, for school, personal life… whatever it may be, one of the most important steps to achieving lasting change is to have a true and honest sense of personal awareness. Change does not happen over night, and even if it does, it cannot last without a deep internalization of where you’ve been, and where you strive to go. Being aware means coming to terms with every part of yourself, not just the apparent ones that you hope to improve. If it’s a lifestyle change you are after, then it’s an entire life that you need to come to terms with.

This is something I am realizing lately, as I write this blog and examine my methods and motives for improvement. I have fluctuated with my weight, my dedication to my health, and my body image for years, never quite reaching a stable and lasting change, and I’m starting to see why. Each time I become incredibly motivated to change, I jump on it immediately and within a week, or even a day, all my habits are different. I am strict with myself, I follow all the rules, I am excited, and admittedly overzealous, and it started to dawn on me this week that perhaps this was the reason for my continued “failure”. I just simply changed things too quickly and I didn’t properly examine what I wanted and what it would take within me to really make that happen. I certainly achieved some results in a short-ish period of time, like losing 10 pounds in a few months, but the weight always comes back with a vengance and I could never understand why. Not to say that I suddenly do understand, but I think I’m starting to look at things differently and to be more honest with myself, and perhaps that is a better place to start. Losing 10 pounds isn’t really hard as it is… losing the insecurities, negative self talk, anxiety, stress, and confusion about your relationship to food and exercise, that really represent the true challenge. That’s the part that requires introspection, awareness, honesty, bravery, and quite a bit of humility. Without that, change won’t stick and old habits will sneak back eventually, because what is at the core of those habits hasn’t undergone the necessary therapy in order to truly change.

A friend recently told me (that day that I was dealing with intense anxiety) that things will get worse before they get better. I see that as a process in which you come face-to-face with your personal “demons”… insecurities, fears, anxieties, traumas, histories, etc, and accept them into your life not as enemies, but as very real, honest parts of the person that you are. Coming to terms with one’s weaknesses is the first of a long set of steps that need to occur before change can take place. Before jumping ahead of ourselves (like what I have always done), we need to take time to simply become aware.

What this translates to for me in my quest to find my own personal strength in food, exercise, and health is that before I can expect to see any improvements, even before I start making huge changes in my lifestyle, I need to simply reflect and become aware of my habits and of the emotions associated with them. What am I feeling before, during, and after an intense battle with food? What motivated me to get up and exercise today, and how did I feel immediately after? 12 hours later? What is going through my head at dinner time with my host family?

And in a deeper way, what was my relationship with food and exercise like as a child? As a teen? What is my parents’ relationship like with food and exercise and how has that shaped me? Have I had any traumatic or memorable experiences relating to food or exercise?

And moving beyond just food and exercise, because I know these are ultimately just superficial expressions of a deeper state of being, I need to ask myself things like: What is at the root of my anxiety? How does my ADD affect my ability to finish a task? How have my parents positively and negatively affected my sense of self? Which of my parents’ insecurities or personal struggles has been passed on to me? Which insecurities are entirely my own? What am I afraid of? What do I hope to achieve as a person in my life?

These are my own questions to ponder, though I encourage anyone (even if you’ve already achieved your goals and you’ve got alllllll the answers) to take a moment to reflect on similar, but personalized, questions about your own state of being. It doesn’t matter what change you are hoping to achieve… I am starting to realize that it all starts here. Awareness.

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Great Run

Great run great run great run!

It’s really amazing how exercise can make you feel so much better, instantly. Endorphins!!! It’s like crack, only cheaper.

I’m following through with my intentions from earlier and I’m allowing today to be a good day. I had a great run just now, slow and steady, mixed in with a few impromptu exercises like running up and down stairs (workout below, for those of you that want to replicate) and using whatever I could find for push ups, crunches, etc. Followed by my daily bowl of oatmeal (I was feeling wild and decided to try it with bananas instead of apples today. What can I say, I’m a thrill seeker…), and now the rest of the afternoon will be spent adventuring around Paris with a friend. Like I said earlier… Life is good!

What will you do today to be stronger than yesterday? How will you remind yourself of your own power?

*** Stair workout ***

It’s easy. Find some stairs. Run up. Run down. Repeat.

Run up every step at 70%, keeping your arms strong as leverage. Run down.

Sprint up every other step (90-100% exertion), starting with your right leg. Run down.

Sprint up every other step (90-100% exertion), starting with your left leg. Run down.

Run up every step at 70%, keeping your arms strong as leverage. Run down.

10 push-ups

Repeat that whole set 3-5 times through.

If you happen to have a play structure near by, or a park bench, or a fence or whatever you can get your hands on, try to add some push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches to your run. Your upper body will feel tight and strong as you continue running the rest of the way.

* Remember peeps, I ain’t a personal trainer or qualified professional of any sort, so consult your doctor or whoever before listening to anything I say. For all you know, I could be full of shit!! Ha.

But really though…

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Free Exercising

I wrote in an earlier post about using the internet as my “gym”, since I don’t have money to spend on a gym and I’m not going to be living here long enough to want to spend money on lots of equipment. So, I have my convenient resistance bands that are light and compact (great for traveling) and versatile enough to provide some intense strength training, and I have YouTube, for a plethora of amazing exercise videos to give me inspiration.

This morning I was able to squeeze in a 30-minute HIIT run, and I found myself with an extra 15-20 minutes later in the day, so I took advantage and did another quick workout. I wanted to work my upper body today since 2 days ago I killed my lower body and I know its best to give each muscle group a decent rest after an intense exercise, so I went searching through the internet for good upper body resistance band exercises. I came across this great video below by Stuft Mama which gave me some new tips on how to use my resistance bands in a similar way to using weights or machines.

I then followed this brief work out with another DailyHiit workout:

I only went through this video once because I was running short on time, but even once felt great, considering I had already worked out quite a bit earlier.

Another successful and FREE workout day, with some great meals (so far… lets see how dinner time goes with the family) which were all easy, quick, and super healthy.

Feeling pumped on life! Woo, bring it on, bitches.

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HIIT Running

Today I wanted to go for a run, a steady, easy long run, but my morning got past me and I found myself with only 30 minutes left for running before I had to be back home, so I decided to make the most out of my run by making it a HIIT run, which means High Intensity Interval Training. I adapted my intervals based on a running workout I found a long time ago online somewhere (I wish I could find the link to it!) which looked essentially like this:

5-minute warm up

Repeat the following interval 8 times:

1-minute normal pace (slow to medium jog)

30-second sprint (all out, 90-100%)

After the 8 intervals have been completed and you’re exhausted:

5-minute cool down

 

Simple enough!

Since my sports watch died (battery is dead and I haven’t been able to find a new one here in France), I don’t really have a good way of keeping time while running, so I adapted this general interval running routine to fit with my music. I ran at a normal pace with the timing of the verses of each song and I sprinted through the chorus, or, if the song didn’t lend itself to this pattern, I would use visual markers ahead of me that looked around 50-100 meters away (roughly) and I would sprint all the way to those. By the end, I had finished my 30 minute HIIT training and I had run a distance of around 3.25 miles, so not too shabby for a short workout!

Exercise doesn’t have to take up your whole day if you know how to exercise a little smarter. 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym (while mindlessly reading a magazine or watching tv) and 15 minutes with pussy weights (5 pounds? Come on, I know you can do more than that) won’t do much if you’re looking for visible results, but half of that time spent doing a short HIIT routine and heavy weight training will go much, much farther. If you don’t know where to start, just search Youtube for HIIT videos and you will find plenty to get you started. There’s no excuse to not exercise!

Get off your ass and move, every day. If you have time to be reading this blog, then you have time to work out. Go.

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Mix-and-Match Workout

Yesterday I didn’t run because I don’t run 2 days in a row (and I ran on Monday), so instead I did a mix of a few exercises in the family room, in front of my computer. Since I don’t have a gym (I’m broke as shit, yo!), my exercising has consisted mostly of running and free videos online. I want to become proof that exercising and getting in killer shape can be free and can be done at home, so stay tuned to see how my progress goes between now and summer, aka bikini season, aka every girls worst nightmare (except the rare few that can’t wait to show the world their abs. #hatethem, #wanttobeoneofthemoneday).

I was introduced to BodyRock.Tv and the sister site, DailyHiit by a friend a few months ago, and I just recently started incorporating these workouts into my routine, and I fucking love them. They push me (as long as I push myself, of course) pretty damn hard and they are efficient and quick, which I like a lot since my schedule doesn’t really allow for a lot of time to spend working out. You go through each circuit a few times (they will tell you how many), so you press play, do a short but intense HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) routine, and when its over, you just hit replay and continue until you’ve finished. You’ll come out dripping sweat and loving yourself for accomplishing such a great work out.

Yesterday, I did this video twice:


And then I did a variation on this Ham & Glutes workout by one of my favorite fitness bloggers, Muffin Topless. Since I don’t have a gym or any weights, I used my adjustable resistance bands that I bought at Target (before moving to France) and used a both medium and heavy bands at the same time to add enough resistance for those large lower-body muscles to really work hard. For the parts of her workout that required a machine, I did whatever variant I could come up with using my bands, and I ended up skipping some exercises altogether because I got lazy and wanted to be done (yes, I admit it). In between each set, I alternated between different cardio or strength exercises, like jumping jacks, high knees, push ups, speed punches, roundhouse kicks, fast feet, burpees, etc and in total, my workout lasted about 50 minutes.

I finished dripping in sweat and I felt amazing. I followed my exercise with my tuna lunch (which I posted about earlier), and a really long, guilty-pleasure shower. Felt great the rest of the day (minus after eating those 3 cookies)! Amazing what exercise can do for your spirit.

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