"Why" fitness, and my favorite workouts & resources

I have a confession. I don't like working out. I like the results of working out, and I don't like feeling like a lazy excuse-maker (or being perceived as a lazy excuse-maker). I think 'traditional' gym workouts (lifting and cardio) are a big ol' bore-snore. They're hard, they make me sweat, and I have mild asthma, which makes it extra uncomfortable to do 'typical' circuits. But, being out of shape is the easy way out. It's pleasant to go home after work and sit with my husband, watch tv and eat deliciously unhealthy comfort foods…but that's not good for your body. With even a moderate exercise regimen, your life span is extended. I know people - particularly people that are out of shape - will joke and say that they're "fat and happy" - but it just takes a little work to find what physical activity you like to do, and it won't be such a chore for you any more. It's about putting in that little bit of effort at the start, insisting on better for yourself and holding yourself to a higher standard than you have in the past - and you'll be doing both yourself and your family a great service.

When I was in my second semester of grad school, I started going to the gym a few days a week. It wasn't that I was gaining a significant amount of weight, but I had gained 'comfort weight' in areas that I thought were really unattractive. Until that time, I had never, ever done "actual" physical activity (with the exception of marching band in high school. Really). I was going to school full time (grad school is a huge time commitment outside of the classroom), and I was working full time most of the time, as well. I didn't really "have" time to go to the gym and work out, but I made time. I either got up early or stayed up late and got in my hour, four or five times a week. Once I started to see results, I was hooked. I feel like so many people give up on working out because it's work, and it's not fun - at least not right away. But, if everything were easy, it wouldn't be worth achieving, and it wouldn't be rewarding - would it?

My one major piece of advice when it comes to working out is to find a way to get active and fit that you actually enjoy. If running and lifting aren't enjoyable to you, try classes - Zumba and yoga were my absolute favorite thing before I found climbing (in fact, I briefly considered becoming a yoga instructor). Lots of people are also really into hiking, biking, doing instructional videos like Insanity, or swimming. I may still actually become a yoga instructor, we'll see. Since I found climbing, I get a huge upper-body strength workout just from doing that. To supplement, I lift legs occasionally, do yoga once a week, do core workouts (great for climbers!) once a week and do cardio….well, occasionally. I  still hate cardio. I'm not trying to "cut" or lose weight, so I really only do it because it's good for my health.


Here are some of my favorite workouts and resources for anyone that would like them!

Jamie Eason's LiveFit Trainer

Jamie Eason is a fitness model and coach, and she developed this twelve-week graduated workout plan for folks who are trying to get into shape and build muscle. This is what I used when I first started. I googled things in the Trainer that I didn't know how to do or machines I didn't know how to work, and I went around the gym and did the workouts, figuring out how machines worked as I went. This was an incredibly useful tool for me when I first started on my fitness journey because it gave me a structured program and allowed me to learn how to use the gym equipment. I'm the type of person that, if I don't have a structured training regimen, I'll just wander around the gym doing random things. So this is perfect for me.

Yoga

I love yoga. It is incredibly good for your body. Even without another form of exercise, I see a difference in my body's tone and function with doing yoga a few times a week. It is great for recovery, strength and flexibility, particularly if you're doing a Power or Rocket Yoga-type class (and I highly recommend classes over videos, much more motivating and super helpful to have an instructor and fellow yogis doing asanas with you). As with almost anything, you have to give it at least a few classes before you decide whether or not you like it. Many people give up on yoga because it is uncomfortable at first, but that's because you're really inflexible and out of shape - that's the whole point of trying yoga in the first place, so don't give up!

These are some of my favorite poses:

Core:
Boat
Half boat

Hamstrings:
Seated forward fold
Hand to toe, extended
Triangle

Hips:
Butterfly
Fire log
Frog
Yogic squat
Bound side angle
Pigeon

Arms:
Crow
Side Crow

Legs:
Crescent lunge
Warrior 1
Warrior 2

And I'm working on these poses:
Flying Crow (I can hold it for a split second before I smack my face into the ground, but I have to hop into it, which is a no-no.)
Bird of paradise (I can do this pose but I am working to get my leg straight)

HIIT cardio

If you look at the Trainer above, you'll see she does 30-second sprints. If I'm going to do cardio, I either do these or the stair climber. I know that there is a way to set a treadmill to cycle up and down from 8 mph to 3 mph, but I'm not smart enough to figure that out. So, I just set my treadmill to 8 mph and run for 30 seconds, hop onto the edges for 30 seconds, run for 30 seconds, hop off for 30 seconds, etc. I don't really recommend this unless you're really coordinated, though. Ha!

Core

There are a multitude of core workouts floating around on the internet. The LiveFit Trainer above is a great place to get started with some basic floor-based core workouts, but some of my go-to favorites are these:

V-Ups
Split V-Ups
Ball passes
Hanging leg raises
Hanging leg raises with rotation
A Tabata-style core workout like this one

Just don't give up. If you can't hold yourself accountable, get a buddy or a personal trainer (I highly recommend a personal trainer, they are the best!) They say it takes 4 weeks of regular workouts for you to notice a difference, 8 weeks for those closest to you - like a spouse - to notice a difference - and 12 weeks for others to notice. So, keep at it.

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