Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fitness Challenge Continued

It would seem we have two camps of readers: those who are already exercising regularly but need some variety in their routines and those who are having trouble motivating to start a new, or resume a previous, exercise program.

So here’s what we’re going to do. Starting this Sunday, Feb 21, for the rest of February and all of March, we are going to challenge ourselves to vary our workout programs and try new things, or we are going to commit to at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. Either way we are all going to see results and create some new, positive habits. I realize this is a smidge longer than the original 30 day plan but, well, math is hard. I feel like it’s easier to commit to an entire month but I don’t want to wait until March 1 so let’s just consider the extra week a “bonus” week.

My plan is to post fitness and nutrition information and new recipes on the blog each week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Five days a week seems like overkill when it comes to health and nutrition information, don’t you think? When I worked as a personal trainer I never saw clients more than 2-3x/week, the rest of the time they were on their own, so we will adopt a similar schedule here on the blog. Of course, if you ever have a pressing question or concern you can always email me and we can use Tuesdays and Thursdays for comments and supporting one another.

For those of you who are just trying to establish some consistency with your exercise program, all you need to do is print the fitness challenge calendar at the end of this post and put an “x” on each day that you do at least 30 minutes of exercise. Like I said, it can be anything you enjoy doing that gets you moving, raises your heart rate and burns some calories. I suggest placing the calendar on your refrigerator as a reminder that you should be going for a walk or exercising instead of mindless snacking.

For those of you that are cardio-queens and never stretch or lift weights, you should pick two days on the calendar each week that you will focus on flexibility (maybe attend a yoga class or do a Pilates/yoga DVD) and/or strength training and mark those days with an “x.”

When it comes to losing weight, people always put the emphasis on cardio. But if you really want to fire your metabolism and blast calories, you need to add some strength training to your workout.

If you need some additional motivation to vary your current cardio routine or to start strength training, I give you my Top 10 Reasons to Lift Weights:

1. Weight training tones your muscles which looks great and raises your basal metabolism...which causes you to burn more calories 24 hours a day. You'll even burn more calories while you're sleeping.

2. Weight training can reverse the natural decline in your metabolism which begins around age 30.

3. Weight training energizes you.

4. Weight training has a positive effect on almost all of your 650-plus muscles.

5. Weight training strengthens your bones reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis.

6. Weight training improves your muscular endurance.

7. Weight training will NOT develop big muscles on women...just toned muscles!

8. Weight training makes you strong. Strength gives you confidence and makes daily activities easier.

9. Weight training makes you less prone to low-back injuries.

10. Weight training decreases your resting blood pressure.

Keep in mind that you don't need a fancy gym membership or expensive equipment in your home in order to start weight training. You can use your own body weight for resistance (think squats, lunges, push-ups and sit-ups) or make a small investment in some dumbbells and an exercise ball. I still do a lot of squats while holding a fussy baby and "baby push-ups," where I press a baby overhead while lying on my back, are still a favorite. The babies love it and, now that they are over the 20lb mark, it's getting challenging!

I do have a TRX suspension system at home which is light-weight, portable and can anchor to a wall or door for a killer full-body workout. It also comes with an exercise DVD that leads you through a fast, effective workout in just 25 minutes, which is all I have some days. But, as I said, you don't need any equipment to get started and I will be posting exercises on the blog that can be done anywhere with little or no equipment.

So, print your fitness challenge calendar and get excited to make some positive changes over the next five weeks!


  1. Sounds great, Erin, thanks for the chart!

    Here's a testimony to weight lifting. I've always been in the cardio=weight loss camp. I did about 1 month of cardio for 30 min 4 times a week and really watched what I ate meaning good portion control, low sugar, lots of fresh fruits & veggies, lots of fiber, drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day, etc. AFTER ONE MONTH of doing this, I lost 3 pounds. Then I started a program at our YMCA called Lose to Win and incorporated 3 days of strength training a week. I lost 9 pounds the next month and 8 pounds the following month! My motto has become "weights are working even when I'm not".

    I did something new today and went to the gym at 6:30am which I haven't done in probably 3 years. But now, at 8:15am, I am feeling incredibly more motivated & energized than 2 cups of coffee has EVER done for me! WOW, I love it.

  2. Erin thanks for the motivation! I try to do weights regularly and am amazed at what they do for my body in terms of energy, shaping, etc. My weight watchers instructor did a great class on using items around the house to get used to weights. The most popular suggestion was using canned food during commercial breaks. For someone who hadn't used any of those muscles in a really long time, they proved a great (and inexpensive) starting point. Thanks for the chart!

  3. OK, so I just realized that yesterday was FAT TUESDAY and today marks the start of Lent. For those of you that typically try and give up something for Lent or try to include a positive habit during the Lent season this little challenge couldn't have been timed better.

    So, maybe in addition to exercising more you are inclined to give up something in the food category that is an achilles heel for you ... maybe chocolate, or cheese, or packaged "convenience" foods or sugar or whatever you think you could benenfit from eating less. Just an idea. Thoughts anyone??

  4. I'm giving up diet coke for Lent. I've cut back a lot since the beginning of the year, but I'm going cold turkey for Lent.

    Interestingly, the topic of strength training came up during the spin class I attended yesterday. The instructor starts every class with some sort of health/nutrition/exercise tip, and yesterday's was about the benefits (or really, the necessity) of strength training. So, in addition to giving up the diet coke, I'm going to try to do more strength training each week.

  5. Allison, now I'll see you at some of the machines instead of just on cardio! :)

    YAY for you giving up diet coke. I love carbonation & fizz in my cold drinks...there's nothing quite as refreshing. This is an area I struggle taking my own advice in but for those who can, yay for you! It is better to drink the sugar in a regular soda than to ingest the toxins/chemicals that are in diet drinks. If you follow the moderation theory, a coke here & there won't hurt you and I guess for that matter, a coke zero here & there won't either.

  6. Allison you're giving up DIET COKE for Lent?!?! You are my hero. The only time since graduating law school that I gave up Diet Coke was when I was pregnant....and it was a loooooong 9 months.

    thanks for the chart Erin, will print it and post it at home. Since I have my Pilates, I really am good on the strength training - my running joke w/my trainer is that underneath my flab I have a serious six pack!!! ;-) so, I need to up my cardio. Right now, since I stopped boot camp so Rob could work out too, I am realistically and truthfully only getting in 1x per week of cardio, and sometimes nothing. So I need to focus on that for our challenge.

    Also, I did start on Sunday with my plan of having 2 meals per week be fish/meat free. Actually, ROB started us. The man actually said to me on Sunday afternoon - "So, are we going to do that thing where you said we have a veggie meal 2x per week? Why don't we put a bunch of veggies on the BBQ for dinner tonight?" Honestly, my first though was, WTF are you talking about - do we have to do that tonight?!?! but I didn't say that, I just said, ok. And for dinner we had roasted/BBQ asparagus, eggplant and corn on the cob, and I made some brown rice and threw half a bag of frozen mixed veggies in there. AND, I ate the leftovers for lunch yesterday!!!!

    tonight I am going to try to tackle the brown rice w/butternut squash....

    anyway, sorry for the long post. Thanks Erin for the chart, and I am ready to get started!!


  7. Thanks for the tips on weight training. Like I mentioned before I am ALL cardio...EXCEPT yesterday when I implemented my new weight training plan. This post was perfect timing because as I was lifting and hating every flippen (I really wanted to use a MUCH more unlady like word but you dont know me yet to drop the F bomb) second of it. BUT I did it and you know what I am going to do it again tomorrow because after reading this post I want to now. Thanks EE!!
    By the way, you know I am NOT religious but a friend wanted me to help her give up chocolate for lent so I jumped on board with her. We should have given up diet coke but that would mean 3-4 days of headache, body dysfunction and pain. So we chose chocolate because we consume way too much of that also. This will be really hard for me but I am on board with her to support her and to really see if I can actually do it. I will keep you posted.
    So please please please dont post anything brown on this site because it might just fuck(oh no I did it) me up!!