Monday, February 15, 2010

FAL Fitness Challenge

Many of you have expressed to me that you are having trouble motivating to exercise. You are not alone. It seems everyone these days is busy and overcommitted and, sadly, the first thing to get eliminated from our endless to-do list seems to be exercise. We’ve come to view exercise and “me” time as something that is negotiable.

Somehow we’ve also forgotten this universal truth: our bodies want to move. As humans, we were designed to move. As such, we start to feel better when we give our bodies what they crave, want and need – exercise!

We are going to focus on moving our bodies because it makes us feel better and produces natural endorphins which make us happier, not because we think it will make us skinnier. When we focus on exercise as a means only to weight-loss we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. Exercise then becomes just one more thing we “have” to do which definitely sucks the joy out of it. And when we don’t find time to fit it in we feel badly about ourselves and start calling ourselves ugly names like 'fat' and 'lazy.'

It’s time to break that vicious cycle.

Until I read this Time Magazine article I was very much a proponent of exercise for weight-loss. I used to slug it out in the gym for countless hours each week in the name of fitness and weight-loss/maintenance. I also used to “reward” myself with various treats for all my hard work that, no doubt, negated any calorie burning exercises I had just completed. I also felt a certain amount of time in the gym bought me equal, if not more, time to be a couch potato. What I’m learning is that, for weight-loss and general health, just being active and moving more throughout the day is far more important than one 30-60 minute bout of exercise. The Time article supports that theory.

Please keep in mind that I’m not suggesting exercise is not important. Far from it. We need to exercise to keep our hearts healthy, bones strong and minds clear. Consistent, more intense exercise is necessary for actually increasing your fitness level or training for an event. However, for general health and weight-loss we just need to be more active each day. This is good news for most of us. It means we can start to squeeze in smaller bursts of activity throughout our day that will have a cumulative positive effect. It means if we don’t make it to the gym or go for a run on a particular day that we can still feel good about taking the dog for a slightly longer walk, parking farther away from the store or doing sit-ups and push-ups while watching our favorite TV show.

For those of you, like my dear friend Kelly, who somehow manage to attend pre-dawn boot camp most days and do pilates several times a week while simultaneously juggling a full-time job, family and unfathomable LA traffic, I applaud you. Please keep doing what you are doing because you help motive the rest of us.

For those of you, like me, who haven’t seen the inside of the gym in more weeks than you can count and have resorted to having your babies shovel the back deck,

and for everyone in between, I offer you the Full At Last Fitness Challenge.

The challenge is simple: for 30 days we will exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. And by exercise I mean anything you enjoy doing that gets you off the couch and elevates your heart rate. You can walk, dance, jump rope, hit the gym, practice yoga, play hide-and-seek, bike, skip, hop … whatever gets you moving. Enlist your family, partner, friend, FAL blog buddies, and/or children to help you. Everyone can benefit from a little extra movement.

And, you don’t necessarily have to exercise for 30 consecutive minutes. If you are really de-conditioned or particularly pressed for time, split your 30 minutes of exercise up into three 10-minute segments or two 15-minute workouts. Get up 15 minutes earlier than usual and do some jumping jacks, sit-ups and push-ups. Squeeze in a 10 or 15 minute power walk during your lunch break or after dinner. Pop in a fitness DVD instead of watching TV. Do five minutes of squats or lunges in your kitchen while you’re waiting for the water to boil. It all adds up and it all counts.

I’ve read that it takes 21 days to change a habit which is why I’m starting with a 30-day fitness challenge. The hope is that after 30 days we will all be in the habit of doing more and moving more, so our bodies will actually crave this movement, making it easier to continue. I thought about a 60 or 90 day challenge but sometimes a short-term goal is the best way to build confidence and gain a sense of accomplishment. We can certainly create new, loftier fitness goals moving forward but I thought this was a good place to start.

So let's get moving! Who’s with me because this tired twin mommy needs some help and some motivation too!?!


  1. OK, I'm going to try....I need to get moving again too, but this COLD weather is such a deterrent. I feel so much better & have more energy when I'm exercise regularly, so I don't quite understand why I have to "make" myself do it instead of doing it voluntarily. Maybe after 30 days I will break that feeling.

  2. I can't do much cardio these days, but I am going to try to start doing yoga again.I think I need to start with three times a week? Is that okay?

  3. The cold weather does make it trickier but it's just an excuse (and one I've been using a LOT since I live in the mountains :) But we can pop in a workout video, get a few light dumbbells and a jump rope to work out at home, etc.

    In fact, I will post some little-to-no equipment exercises that can be done anywhere for folks that can't or don't want to venture outside. Will that help?

    G: you are lymie and lupey and mono-ey so, yes, 3 times a week is plenty. And, for you, I really would split it up into two 15-minute sessions. You will get the blood flowing but you won't overexert yourself.

  4. Baby + Stroller + walk = exercise for momma & fresh air for the lil guy. I'm glad he likes long strolls (and if you time them around naps...) I know some folks are totally snowed in, but when the white stuff melts I strongly suggest this. We can, and do walk, for hours! (and grab a mom friend and her stroller... social and active)

  5. Harm - I did a lot of stroller walking with the twins this summer and into the fall until the snow started dumping. I also did a lot of baby sit-ups and baby push-ups with the wee-ones. They are getting a bit heavy for that now though :)

  6. I'm in......I have a treadmill in my house so I have NO excuse!!!! Thanks for the motivation! :)

  7. Sorry if you've missed past comments/post that might make you wonder where this is coming from...

    I went on a jog this weekend with my husband and we did about 3-4 miles which was a great intro back into running after about 3 weeks off and 3 pretty weak weeks before that!

    My goal is to do 2 runs during the week and 1 long run on the weekends (aiming for 6 this weekend, followed by 8, and then hitting 10 miles 2 weeks before event) and then 2 other forms of exercise at Y or at home (yoga is to definitely be one of them).

    I'm locked back in on the 1/2 Marathon goal in 5 weeks! (I've been training for this for several months but had a physical & mental derailment.) Walking will definitely be in the mix but we've known that all along and are absolutely fine with it. Our long runs are 25 min run/5 min walk for 2-2.5 hours.

    Now for the other emotional ironwoman event which is FAR more difficult than running! I did it...after my long, hot, luxurious bath by myself this morning, thanks to a husband who has the morning off, I stood in front of the mirror and purposed to just smile and look deep into those eyes and keep on smiling. I took a step back and took in my whole body. This is a feat in itself after seeing the # on the scale this morning which is a whopping 10 pounds gained back from my 20 pound loss from Sept-Dec. Oh and I could only do this in my skinny you have 2 different mirrors that reflect differently? I use them for motivation...the skinny one makes me smile and encourages me, the fat mirror helps me to beat myself up...just being honest. :(

    Soooo...after standing in front of the mirror and NOT letting me beat myself up or be ugly or rude to me...I picked one thing to be thankful for...and oddly enough it was the beautiful, soft round area around my belly button, my baby pouch. I had never quite noticed it as that...I have other big areas, legs being the hardest to love, but my tummy is not huge or bulging out...but I just let myself see that little soft area as it is and found it beautiful...the beginning of life, a place of great nurturing, and still a place my babies love to be...laying in my lap with their head on my chest or my tummy.

  8. LWL: congrats on getting back on track with the running - I think you will feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.

    But, WOW, the real victory is what you accomplished looking in the mirror today and finding something beautiful about your physical self for which to be grateful. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That is amazing. Thank you for sharing that with us ... I'm going to try doing the same thing!!

  9. Ohhh and let me just add my little "disclaimer"...I am 50 pounds overweight...darn was 40...UGHHHH! So, don't think this is coming from someone who doesn't struggle with actually losing weight.

  10. I'm a confirmed gym-rat. Endorphins, baby. But last week we were snowed in so every chance I got I went out and shoveled someplace new. I also had a lot of fun with the Wii fit.

    Went back to the gym today and there were ZILLIONS of people there. It's nice to know that if I can't get to the gym anytime soon again (it's snowing again), there's still an entire deck out back with about 25 inches of heavy snow.

    Yes, it feels good to feel better in clothes and to like the reflection in the mirror, but better is the endorphin high and being able to sleep much better. I also find that when I've had a good workout, I'm not nearly as hungry afterwards. BUT knowing that I'm burning calories at an accelerated rate right after a work-out, I do eat something that's a little bit indulgent (a bagel) rather than the cheese stick!

    So, since I do at least 30 every day anyway, I'm not sure it qualifies as a new goal...but I'm with you on this.

    By the way, I slipped some tofu into a vegetable dish last night and the child who hates asparagus ate it AND the tofu because the tofu made the asparagus taste good. No one else liked it though. Sigh.

  11. first, thanks Erin for the shoutout in today's blog! I do try to be consistent with my workouts - I almost never miss my 6:00 a.m pilates on Tuesday, and then Sat mornings. I used to do bootcamp MWF at 6:30 a.m., but am now being a good wife and splitting workout mornings w/my husband. Daddy needs to be in shape too!

    so, have been having a hard time getting my cardio in. I try to run on Thurs mornings, and then on the weekend, but it's tough. I think I will go out today and buy some wort of workout DVD, that way when Rob goes for his morning workouts at the gym, I can come downstairs and do mine while Lexi sleeps. it might wake her up, but it's worth a try so that I can join in the fitness challenge!

    and LWL - amazing, both the running and the mirror exercise. I may be forced into doing the mirror thing and thinking positive thoughts this afternoon - I have to go buy a bathing suit for my upcoming vacation......IamfabulousIamfabulousIamfabulous....right?

    (in LA, land of the way too skinny people!)

  12. Oh Kelly-girl, you are indeed fabulous and I don't even know YOU but I know many sisters just like you and they are all, indeed, fabulous! Why does this come so much easier to speak to others and even really believe it...

    My husband and I have to split up our times of working out too and it is so hard to juggle but it can be done with a little extra work! you always get the endorphin rush? I only get it sometimes, wish it was all the time!

    I want to learn to exercise just to be heart healthy and clear my mind and to be full of life when I'm 80 instead of crippled from diabetes & being overweight! That's a healthy mind shift! Ok...shifting...

  13. ok, just got back from shopping with my 2.5 year old for a bathing suit. I got one - I kept saying, "Lexi what do you think of this one? does this look pretty?" and the 2.5 year old kept saying, "yeah! pretty mommy!!" so I got it, even though it's a size......gulp, 12. Ok, whatever. as soon as Rob gets back, I'm off for a run. It's 75 degrees and gorgeous here in LA, so I better take advantage of it!

    oh, and southlakes - yes, agree. I sleep better when I am getting in consistent workouts. and overall I end up with more energy. It's just hard for me to get out of bed unless I pay someone to make sure I show up. terrible, right? but with our fitness challenge (thanks Erin!), I am hoping that will be more motivation to get up on my non-Pilates days....


  14. that lexi is one smart kiddo. OF COURSE you looked pretty kel :-)

    and, for the record, when i put the twins down for their nap, i crawled into bed for a nap myself but after about 5 minutes i dragged my tired, lazy butt out of said bed and put my bike on the indoor trainer and actually biked for 30 whole minutes. woohooo! perhaps next time i will add some push-ups and sit-ups. baby steps for me after the past two weeks of sick babies, hospitals and sleepless nights!

  15. My favorite and hardest (not for beginners) workout is Three Day Melt with Mitch Gaylord. It's really challenging and has a cardio day and a strength day to alternate, or for whichever you need that week. It's heavy on lunges and shoulders, so not great if you have bad knees or shoulders. Some great ab work also! Thanks Erin for all of your posts! I love them all and made cupcakes with applesauce for Valentines Day, everyone loved th just the same! Also compared labels while shopping with my kids(weight watchers yogurt to reeses cups) to show why one snack fills you up more and why we chose the yogurt!! It's a start!

  16. I have to say, ladies, that when I had little ones, I took a lot more 'opt out' times than 'opt in' don't beat yourselves up. Ironically, about the time they are old enough to be away from you so you CAN work out, your metabolism slows down and you MUST work out...God has an interesting sense of humor.

    I almost always get the e-rush because I love my gym and the people I see there. The 'rats' have been working out at the same time for several years. It's kind of like parallel play with toddlers...we notice each other, and occasionally steal each others' toys (i.e. machines) but overall each one of us is in our own zone. I hear you about paying someone though. It kills me that I paid for a week at the gym last week and it was either closed or I was snowed in!

    LWL - You're going to look and feel fabulous in that bathing suit because you are God's creation...and a Monkee! Have a great vacation and send back some warm to the East Coast, please.

  17. I'm in, Erin and all! Thanks for the motivation. I tend to think that going to gym or bootcamp a couple times a week is sufficient, but somedays I am a lump in front of the computer or TV whenever the kids are sleeping. This is a good reminder that doing some jumping jacks or whatever will boost my hearrate is not a hard thing to do!

  18. I already do 30+ minutes of cardio 5-6 times during the week and am signing up to do the MCM marathon. My problem is I am ONLY cardio and I KNOW I should lift weights and or do some kind of weight/stretching program. I have some dumb bell weights at home and belong to a gym so I do have options. The only thing is MORE time away from my kids and I really dont take them to the gym during the week because I am already away from then and dont feel like it is right to dump them off in the kid center. Erin I guess I am saying I can stick to my cardio routine because it works but can you give me some suggestions on weights/stretching ideas to do after I put my boys to bed?


  19. luv2run ... you NEED to lift weights and i will email you some exercises. perhaps you should replace one of your run days with a longer weight training session or a yoga class at your gym? then on two of your shorter run days you can add in some walking lunges, sit-ups and push-ups (you can even cut your run short by 10 minutes and do 10 minutes of lunges/abs/pushups if you don't have the extra 10 min to add to your workout). 4-5 days or running is plenty, even with the marathon. your running will benefit greatly from strength training and flexibility work.

    I will get another post up later this week with some different suggestions for exercises that people can squeeze in anywhere, anytime and/or do with their kiddos!

  20. 21 days, eh? I have got to break the sluggish routine!

    I have started up pilates again and love the way I feel after the work out, even just 30 minutes.

    I'll check in on helpful hints and would love to hear everyone's suggestions on adding a little variety to the workout regimen!

    When the weather gets nice, I love a long walk or a hike every now and then. If you are in the DC Metro area, I'll bug you to join me! I love exercise buddies!

  21. luv2run -- when I was training for the marathon I ran, it took all I had to just do the cardio/running training. I didn't have much left over for my family physically, much less more gym time for upper don't beat yourself up. Understand that the marathon is a stage in your life, train for it, accomplish it, and then look at what you want to do next, including incorporating upper body and weight training.

    Marathons can really take a toll on your immune system as well, so be sure to eat really healthy and get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water to keep germs sliding on out if they do get in.

    On the other hand, you may find you are one of those people whose immune system THRIVES on the marathon challenge, and the stretching and resistance training will just help you boost your overall fitness.

    I found through my experience that I am a 5k person, and I'm okay with that -- but if I had never tried the 26.2 journey, I wouldn't have known where my peak efficiency is.

    Good luck and good training!

  22. Erin, I KNOW you have little ones and recently very sick ones at that so I have MUCH grace for you but I do admit that I've been checking back here all day to see if there's a new post! :) Consider that a big encouragement that this blog is wonderful, not that I'm just sitting around waiting for more! :)

    I am getting back into a sober & clean place with food. I want to cut out sugar, I have lived very low-sugar (mostly fruit based & honey) in the past and when my sugar is minimal, everything else comes into alignment.

  23. LWL: thank you, but, alas, there will be no new blog post today. Tomorrow my friends ... tomorrow.

    I think I will be moving to a MWF posting schedule until cold and flu season is over and I can put my wee-ones back in day care at least 1x/week. Until then Tu/Th will have to be for commenting and supporting one another.

    Otherwise I won't be able to stick to my own fitness challenge b/c all nap times would be devoted to writing and that would make me the worst of all things ... a hypocrite!

    Speaking of nap times ... better get my butt moving RIGHT NOW!