It’s January – what new fitness routine are you going to try? PiYo? Ariel Yoga? TRX? Barre? Kettlebells????? And what am I supposed to eat? Vegan? Paleo? Whole30? With all of those choices it seems easier to sit on the couch with a glass of wine and just relax! But really – what is a girl to do?
Take a deep breath. Smile. Relax. I think the best thing it to listen to your body and understand that there are no short cuts. You have to put in the work to reap the results. There are lots of approaches you can take – but you need to know how to decipher what really is best for you both. When you understand more about the different components needed to see changes in your fitness level and your body, you’ll find it easier to find the perfect fitness program for you. And when you find the balance between effective and enjoyable plans, you’ll be more likely to stick with it long term. And that is what you really want – right?
5 Key ingredients
There are five key factors in safe and effective fitness programs.
And, yes, there are official American College of Sports Education exercise guidelines; the latest were published back in 2011. These guidelines call for 150 minutes of cardio exercise, 2-3 days of strength training and 2-3 days of flexibility training alongside other movement to offset our sedentary lifestyles, every week. But please don’t let this scare you!
While moving toward the suggested frequency and duration the guidelines suggest is the ultimate goal, the perfect workout program is something that is realistic for you, right now! Quality and consistency is of utmost importance. The official guidelines are set to be updated in March of 2017 to reflect this thinking and reduce some of the intimidation factor that can be connected to these specifics.
So – how do you easily incorporate all 5 factors into your week? Let me tell you!
Be prepared to sweat! You have to get moving and exercise your heart and lungs regularly. “What should I be doing”, you ask? Well – what do you like? There is not one perfect option – but there may be one (or three or five) awesome options for you. I do recommend variety – if you enjoy it – both in the type of activity, the intensity and the time. So – whether you like running, biking, swimming, salsa dancing, stair climbing, the elliptical – it doesn’t matter. Just move your body and smile!
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Yes. You need to strength train! And not just “tone”. You need to overload your muscles and lift some heavy weights! But your strength enjoyouts don’t have to be long, multi-set grunt fests. Exercises that target more than one muscle at a time are golden, as is working your entire body whenever you can. Get at least one day of rest in between your full-body enjoyouts and be sure you mix up the type of equipment you use to keep your muscles guessing. Body weight exercises, tubing, dumbbells, and TRX are all great choices, to name a few. Be sure to include exercises that target your core as well. Again – move your body and keep smiling!
Flexibility training does not have to be a stand-alone enjoyout each week. But, it certainly can be. You can sneak flexibility in between strength sets or at the end of an enjoyout. Of course, adding a few sessions of yoga in during the week is amazing for mind, body and spirit! Be sure to stretch all major muscle groups after cardio or strength enjoyouts when you can. (And the key is after! You don’t want to stretch cold muscles.) This will help offset soreness and stiffness. And your body will certainly thank you for any mobility work you can sneak in daily (e.g. arm circles, hip swings, torso rotations). Foam rolling also is something you should try to work into your routines either before or after exercise. Remember move your body and keep on smiling!
Yea! Nap time is my favorite!!!! And 8 hours of sleep a night is a MUST for me! But think about rest in two different ways: Getting enough sleep and taking days off from traditional exercise (not from activity, but from enjoyouts) so your muscles can recover are both very important. More and more research is popping up about how getting enough sleep is essential to everything from weight loss to mental function and performance. So make it a priority as best as you can. As you begin structuring your enjoyout programs, be sure to also include days off where you focus on activity versus exercise.
Finally, the saying goes: “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” And this is the truest statement of all. You can do everything right in the weight room, log hundreds of miles on your bike, get plenty of rest, and still not see the results you’re after unless you pay attention to how you’re fueling your body. Put good stuff in! And if you need some ideas – check out Fit Food Fridays!
This whole thing is a journey – and it should be a fun journey – not overwhelming. I am not saying that some of the new stuff isn’t fun. I LOVE trying out new exercises – someday I will tell you my story about my first Barre class last year. Search for ways to find the joy in movement, the joy in eating healthfully, the joy in resting and relaxing. The more often you find the joy and immediate gratification from your new program, the more likely you will be to continue—and see lots of positive progress as the days add up!
Move your body. Put good things. And ENJOY!