Tone It Up Tuesday #16 – Gear for the Ladies

Welcome to March everyone! 
Is your month coming in like a lion or a lamb?
Cutest bento lunch for kids I’ve seen in awhile!

In Wilmington the weather is very confused as to what it wants to do. One day it’s very cold, the next I’m wearing shorts, then it’s raining, then it’s 75….who knows what to expect next! I have three big things to talk about this week:

  1. Goals for March Training
  2. Fitness Challenge #3
  3. The Big Give Away Prize

Let’s take it from the top!

Goals for March Training
You may remember last year when I was slightly drunk with enthusiasm….or maybe delusional when I made the goal to accomplish 1000 miles by the end of the year. Yeah, that fell through big time due to so many different factors that I have learned not to set my sights so high. This year I’ve been using SMART goal setting techniques and making each month build upon the last.

Currently I am doing my dedicated exercises every three days and that includes:

  • 20 modified push-ups
  • Warrior series 12 breaths each pose and each side
  • Pilates ring exercises for biceps and lats 3 sets of 20 each exercise and each side rotating
  • 20 physio ball hamstrings curls

I almost reached my goal last month of running no less than 2.08 miles on each of my runs, but fell short on a run while in Tulsa. I did make it up to over 3 miles by the end of the month, but have fallen short on the 4 or more days a week of aerobic training due to weather. And, unfortunately, I missed out on much of the exercise for fun (other than playing with my kiddos) at least once a week due to weather.

So, I’m hoping that March will bring me some better weather days (like yesterday) that will help me on my way. Some new goals for March include the following:

  • Run the stairs at least 15 times up and down on days I am not running or walking outdoors (that’s today)
  • Every Monday in March walk the 4.13 mile loop at Greenfield Lake with Brittany (yesterday=check)
  • Log a total of 50 miles or more (that’s the amount I did between January and February, but with the Monday walk each week it should get boosted easily)
  • To the above resistance training (because none of it has become too easy yet other than the noted exceptions with the Pilates ring) add Bird Dogs (20 each side with opposite arm and leg) and 20 Pilates scissors (that’s 10 each leg)


Bird Dog – Great for working the multifidus muscles of the back
Pilates Scissors – Great for working the abdominals and improving hip mobility, just keep the head neutral

Fitness Challenge #3
We’re into our third month and honestly, I’m feeling great about how strong I find myself to be on most days. However, I had a little bit of a moment this weekend while helping my husband with construction projects. I just don’t lift weights at this moment and while I can lift my own body weight, barn doors are a little bit of a challenge.

This month is when most of the people fall off of the bandwagon if they haven’t already. Something happens after Spring Break that sends people back into old routines, so your fitness challenge this month is to find a support system to keep you accountable. I did this by planning my Monday walks with a friend of mine. She and I used to live down the street from each other and we walked almost daily. A year ago I moved across town and, while she has moved closer since then, we still don’t walk daily as we did before. She also wants to get back into running more, so our plan is to use our 4 mile course to start with walking and then next month start running the first mile and walking the remaining three together. We will build from there, but even if we do other stuff throughout the week, we have one day that we are accountable to show up and do it with someone else. We depend on each other!

If you haven’t joined our challenge yet, go back and check out the other two….it’s not too late! All you have to do this month is make a pact with a friend to be accountable one day a week for your activity. It can be anything you want it to be! Then comment below and tell us how you are doing and who you’re doing it with. Remember that you have to also follow the blog (see that link to the right?) to be eligible for the end of the year give away. Full rules in these two links:

The Big Give Away Prize
So, that brings us to the final item on our agenda for today…the announcement of the prize! I’ve done a lot of thinking and one thing that would really help me in life is access to more gear. Gear being fitness clothes, shoes, quality sports bras, and other random equipment. One of my favorite places to shop for some of this stuff is Title 9 Sports. I mentioned about one of their bras here. So, to empower the rest of you to get something you might need or want to improve your performance next year, I will be giving away a $50 gift card to one random participant who completes all 12 challenges. Please see the link to Fitness Challenge #1 above for the complete rules of participation. I hope you’ll join us in having a happier and healthier 2015!
Who is your fitness support?
For what and how will you keep each other accountable?
*Special note that this blog is not officially sponsored by Title 9 Sports*

Tone It Up Tuesday # 15 – Guest Post….Pole Dancing

I have always intended for this blog to be a forum in which I could invite some of the amazing people in my life to share some of their stories of yoga, fitness, parenthood, and just life in general. Today is the first time a guest post has materialized from an idea into a real live post! Yay!

This month we’ve been talking about exercise for fun and on one Sunday afternoon earlier this month I get this text:

Wowsers, pole dancing is hard work!
This came in from my friend Jeri and immediately prompted me to pick up the phone and call her. Thanks to our discussion and some persuasion on my part, here is her story of a fun form of exercise…..
Jeri on the right.
I had never done a pole dancing class before and I was excited! My friend, Jennifer, was turning 30 and she’d had this planned for a fun way to celebrate. As the day was approaching, I felt super excited because I had never done it and had always wanted to. There were going to be 3 of us there. The place looked like a small gym from the outside and the inside was very cold and dark. We started off by learning how to walk around the pole and this was pretty easy. The class lasted an hour and included some tricks and spins. During the class I kept thinking I am going to hit someone with my long legs and the music was not very good pole dancing music, in my opinion. And afterward I had spaghetti arms. The night ended with the drive home. I am sure I would try this again because it was really fun aside from putting together moves, I’m not that kind of coordinated. My recommendation for others would be to go with others you know and can laugh with. And don’t forget about the bruising/soreness/etc. Your arms will be sore mostly and the inside of your legs from spinning around the pole and my right hip was bruised but I am not sure what move that came from. I found out that I am a pretty good pole spinner. Who knew?

We went to Club BFit in West Des Moines, Iowa. There are other classes there and it was even featured on the local news.  For the Valentine’s holiday they offered a beginner lap dance class.

Have you tried or considered trying pole dancing before?
If you are in the Wilmington area, check out Flow Fitness for pole classes. 

Tone It Up Tuesday #14 – Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Rain, rain, go away…..I wanted to roller blade today!

I am auditioning for a new yoga teaching position today and I wanted to go roller blading today so that I could use my gentle yoga sequence that I will be teaching to stretch out from the experience. And while it was beautiful and sunny yesterday (and should be for the rest of the week) it decided to be cold, rainy, and windy all day today. My kids are bummed too!

So, what do you do when the weather throws a glitch in your plans? You have a back-up plan! That’s another part of goal setting that we haven’t discussed yet: Planning for Barriers.

Common barriers to exercise people will often give are things like Time and Cost. My answer to both of those are that you’re just making a choice. You choose how to spend your time and if you choose to sit and watch tv or read or blog or Facebook/Tweet or play video games or whatever it is instead of exercise….then you had the time and you just chose to do something else. You also choose how to spend your money in regards to luxuries like cable, internet, cell phones, clothes, dining out, etc etc etc. I seriously just bought 89cent conditioner because I’d rather spend my money on something else than the $25 bottle that I love from my hairdresser. And, I workout at home, so that’s free-ish.

I’m talking about the barriers that are harder to change. Things like an injury, illness, or the weather. For these things you need a back-up plan. The back-up plan is/are thing(s) that you know IN ADVANCE that you can do if a situation arises that prevents your regular workout from happening. For me today I will be running the stairs in my house and trying to get more than 10 times (down and then up) before the heavy breathing kicks in. I will then shift my roller blading to Thursday as tomorrow is my regular run day. This also works out well for me because my son loves to ride his bike at a park nearby on Thursdays before we go to the library, so he can ride and I can roll next to him. Win, win.

Now it’s off to the stairs for me and I’ll report back about the rollerblading soon. Stay warm and dry wherever you are!

What is your back-up plan?

Tone It Up Tuesday #13 – Exercise for fun! (End of Year Giveaway/Fitness Challenge #2)

UGH! I went for a run this morning and I pushed my kids for the first time in months! It was awful! But, not really because I was glad to get back to running after having most of last week off due to illnesses in the family. It was slow (9:51/mile), but I did it….even when I wanted to stop and walk.

This was one of the days that exercise was exercise for me. Most of the time I’m blessed to experience fun when I exercise; just flat out enjoyment and amazement at what my body can do. I have been lucky my whole life to enjoy genetically gifted endurance and quick recovery times. So, the rare days when exercise is not fun, or hard, are the ones that make me yearn for something all together different.

Before I get to my mini goals for the month in my quest to feel stronger and see myself as stronger in the dimension of physical fitness, let’s talk about this month’s Fitness Challenge. We’re only at Number 2 of 12, so you still have plenty of time to join in. Just click the link at the bottom of the page to find out all of the rules and catch up. So, your Fitness Challenge this month is to make exercise fun like it used to be when you were a kid.

I will be purchasing a jump rope for myself the next time that I get paid, because it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing and I’m not sure why I don’t own one. Plus, my kids have never even tried one, so I think it will be something fun for my 4 year old and I to work on together. I’m also going to dig out my old roller blades that are sitting in their box in the garage and have been untouched for a few (maybe as many as 10) years. It might not yet be spring, but I’m looking for all sorts of ways to get back outside and get active on the nice days that we get here in the southeast.

Not going to crazy jump like this……

Ike and I played hopscotch the other day in our garage. Did you know that hopping on one foot is a 4 year old skill? Thank goodness he’s had practice and I could check that off of his developmental list at his physical. We’re also going to try some four square (which isn’t really aerobic, but still active) and we’ve been working on the monkey bars. He’s really quite good at them, but I stink, so more upper body work for Mama! The book I read awhile ago about homeschooling for preschoolers (you can read my post about it here) suggested building obstacle courses for your kids as a gross motor skill developmental activity. We’ll be doing some of that both in and out of the house, but it also makes me want to do some of the outdoor fitness workouts at the local parks.

My mini fitness goals for this month are as follows:

  • Keep trying to do aerobic training 4 or more days/week (see my post this coming Friday about what kind of training is best for you!)
  • Keep each run at a minimum of 2.08 miles and work toward 3 miles
  • Continue my push-up/Warrior series every 3 days (yesterday, the 2nd, was my first one of February)
  • Do exercise for fun activity at least 1x/week for the month
  • Add in two new exercises: Pilates ring for biceps and lats/serratus anterior (3 sets of 20 reps alternating) and Physio ball hamstring curls (20 total)

So, in your fitness goals this month, I hope you will join our challenge and post below about an experience with exercise for fun. You can read the complete rules about the giveaway and challenge here:


Which activity from your childhood can you commit to trying once a week for a month to make exercise more fun?
What other activities do you think I should try out?

Tone It Up Tuesday #12 – Cardio on the Fit Ball

Way back when I was young and in college I did my internship to complete my degree at Green Mountain at Fox Run. There I met a very interesting and vivacious woman named LynnAnn Covell who taught me far more about the physio ball than I had ever learned in almost 5 years of undergraduate work and a year of pre-internship/personal training work combined. My favorite class I learned how to teach while I was there was Cardio on the Fit Ball and it’s something I’ve taken with me and used for both myself and clients again and again over the last 11 years.

Me, 9 months pregnant, trying to get my second son to come out, while cooking dinner.

I share it with you here today because most of us, at one time or another, have purchased one of these physio balls with the good intentions of using them regularly. And then they find their way into a chair or a corner, or get deflated and packed away never to be heard from again. Mine, my current one at least, was purchased right at the end of my first pregnancy with the intent of bouncing my child out of me….he was past his “due date” and I was willing to try most anything. Prior to that time I used the physio balls in a variety of fitness classes, at gyms, and even in…yes, you got it….physical therapy. This lovely blue ball has now been with me for 4 years and we’ve had our times where it too has sat idle, but no longer.

Now my fit ball lives at my desk. It sits there waiting for me to come to it each day to write to you or to read other blogs; to answer emails or do my work from home. It’s like a good friend because it keeps me happily bouncing and rolling around while I work. On days that I can’t seem to fit in a run or bike ride (maybe due to scheduling or weather), by fit ball waits for me to come upstairs to it and gives me a great workout!

Here’s how it goes. Remember that aerobics class you attended once? Maybe it was traditional, maybe a step class, maybe even kickboxing….well, we’re going to do that, but we’re going to sit and bounce on the fit ball!

Step 1: Choose your music. A good step mix that’s about 128bpm would work wonderfully for this activity, but any music with a beat that speaks to you will do. Remember that the faster the music the faster you have to bounce.

Step 2: Start bouncing with the beat. The idea is to warm-up a little by just sitting and bouncing. We need to make sure we’re comfortable on the ball before we really start doing anything crazy. Start with small bounces and the progress toward bigger ones where your body might actually leave the ball or your feet off of the floor. I like to recommend that you start with your feet hip width apart as measured by the ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) aka the bony points on the front of your hips. When you sit on your ball (before you begin bouncing) it should be inflated enough that you have a slight downward angle from your hip to your knee (knee slightly below the hip), but not much. Think about a 95-100 degree angle in the hips.

Step 3: Add some movement in those feet. Try something simple like marching in place or stepping out and in with the beat while still bouncing. You may try something as crazy as grapevines or jumping jacks, but start moving the feet first.

Step 4: If you’re feeling quite coordinated, add some arms. This is a great place to put a resistance band under the ball and do lateral raises while you bounce or do some curls with small hand weights. Really just arm movements in general can increase your heart rate. Try arm circles like in the video I shared with you here.

Step 5: Try to maintain your intensity for 20-60 minutes (however long you’d normally do your cardio routine). You will be surprised at how warm and sweaty you can get from bouncing. And have fun, move all around. Jump around the ball if you’d like!

Step 6: Cool Down! You’d do it on a treadmill; do it on the ball. Bring yourself down to some small bounces and allow your heart rate to come back down. Stretch out if you like or just roll around on the ball a little. If you want to do some other work like push-ups or abdominal/back exercises, now is the time to do it. Just don’t jump right off of the ball and expect to be running around as usual. You wouldn’t do that with any other cardio workout, so, don’t do it here.

No matter what, just have fun with it!

Have you ever tried cardio on the fit ball?
What is your favorite type of music to listen to for aerobic training? 


Tone It Up Tuesday #11 – Exercise is the Answer!

It is raining here. 😦 The kind of rain that makes you feel like you live in Seattle. So, we stayed home today and are baking the bread recipe from Sunday’s post. Yesterday was the 12th, which was supposed to have a Meditation Monday post, but my sister came to visit and visitors always throw my whole life off schedule. I was not able to go for my run yesterday, but did do my push-ups an Warrior series. Today, though, my sister was kind enough to stick around a little extra and watch the boys so I could run. I don’t feel like I’m off of my goals because I did spend a lot of time on the fit ball yesterday bouncing. Come back next Tuesday for cardio on the fit ball and other exercise routines with it.

But today is Tone it Up Tuesday and I’ve got a good and funny one planned for you this week! Hopefully you’ve all seen You’ve Got Mail by now (or at least my other reference to this great movie….seriously, if you’ve never watched it, stop everything and get on it!) and perhaps you remember this scene where Tom Hanks says that all questions in life can be answered by The Godfather?

Well, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) has done you one better! Every one of your New Year’s Resolutions can be reached by EXERCISING!
Exercise is Key to Achieving Top New Year’s Resolutions
Here are some of the top New Year’s resolutions, from losing weight to falling in love, and how exercise helps Exercise is Key to Achieving Top New Year’s Resolutions

And in light of this AMAZING news, here’s one new move to try this week; got 60 seconds?

Go Jenna!

Tone It Up Tuesday #10 – I AM THE WARRIOR! (and info on end of the year giveaway/fitness challenge 1)

Welcome back to 2015 and our first Tone It Up Tuesday of the year! Each first Tuesday of the month will host a new fitness challenge for the year, but we’ll get to that a little further down. First I want to talk to you about more of the changes to my fitness program and the Warrior Series that I added on January 3rd.

First, if you remember all the way back to the middle of December, we started talking about the four pillars of resistance training and I gave you a small assignment to pick one pillar where your training program was lacking and start working on it every other day. Then, a week later, we started talking about the rest that we need between training sessions and I talked about the Super Compensation Cycle and how to make your body stronger by giving it days off. Finally, last week on the 1st day of the year I previewed things to come for this year and especially that I was choosing to do my resistance training every third day instead of every other day. The other thing I previewed was that we would be having a fitness challenge each month and a giveaway at the end of the year….we’re getting there.

My 2015 goal was to see myself in a different light and I’ve stopped measuring my success by how much I weigh, what size clothes I’m wearing, how I look, etc. I am now looking at myself as a strong woman. I like that adjective for myself and my life. If you know me personally you may see that as fitting me quite naturally in the way that I handle most of what’s come my way. However, I have spent a lot of time questioning myself and my life choices. This year it’s going to be different and starting with my training program.
The workout plan is as follows:

  • Do aerobic training via running, walking briskly, or bicycling most days of the week (4 or more)
  • Do resistance training every 3rd day (this may get confusing come next month, but we’ll work it out)
  • Do flexibility training (mostly my yoga) whenever I feel I could use it, or daily
  • Make time for rest and meditation
  • Slowly build the program

I started with the push-ups (modified) 4 weeks ago and they are still kicking my butt! On the 3rd I added a Warrior Series which I share with you here.

Warrior I
Warrior II
Reverse Warrior
Warrior III

If you have never practiced yoga before you would not know that these four poses take an extreme amount of leg strength to perform. Reverse Warrior is very taxing on the spine and Warrior III requires great balance. All poses can aggravate shoulder problems by lifting the arms up and I chose these four poses because they make me feel stronger when I perform them. I suggest clicking over to Yoga Journal and Yoga Basics for actual descriptions of how to do the poses, their benefits and who should avoid doing each one to save time and space in this post: WI, WII, RW, WIII; and always check with a health care provider before starting a new exercise program. I held each of the poses for 12 controlled breaths (not necessarily slow, but I was paying attention to breathing; you can start with as little as 3 controlled breaths) on each side of the body and I was shaking and my heart was pumping after I finished. It was exactly what I needed to go with my 20 modified push-ups. I also ran this morning (1.4 miles, not my best pace, check me out at MapMyRun) and this all made me feel complete and STRONG.

I keep repeating that word because that is my word for the year….I want to see myself as STRONG! So, this brings me to our first fitness challenge of the year and the rules for the giveaway at the end of the year.

Fitness Challenge

I’m sure you’ve seen those Special K commercials where the women go into a department store and can’t find their “size” because all of the jeans have been relabeled with descriptors that empower instead of insult. Well, your first fitness challenge is to decide one word that will help you to see yourself in a different light this year. I would love for you to keep going with your pillar of resistance that you have chosen and to keep using the Tone It Up Tuesday features to add new exercises to your routine, but first I want you to have a goal in mind. This does go against a lot of my goal setting rules in that seeing myself as STRONG is not a measurable goal by SMART goal setting standards (read more on Friday). Okay, understand the challenge? Great! Now the rules….

Giveaway Rules

I feel bad not announcing what you are entering to win just yet, but the final details have not been fully ironed out. However, this is how it goes thus far. To enter to win you must do the following:

  1. Follow OneGirlBreathing by clicking on the link on the right hand side of the page….yeah, where it says “Follow Me”
  2. Post a comment on all 12 of the fitness challenges this year. This week you need to pick your word and post it in the comments below, but make sure you’re following the blog too. Each new challenge will be posted on Tone It Up Tuesday on the first Tuesday of each month. You can go back and enter previous challenges if you get to us late in the game. They will all be linked at the bottom of the current challenge. Participating in all 12 challenges will get you 1 entry into the giveaway.
  3. Extra entries can be earned for each friend that you get to join us on our journey. If your friend posts your name in their comment and is also following and going along with us, you will earn 1 extra entry for each friend who completes all 12 challenges.
  4. The last day to enter the 2015 Fitness Challenge will be December 29, 2015. A winner will be chosen at random and announced on New Year’s Day 2016. The prize will be a piece of fitness gear, but the exact item has yet to be determined. As soon as it is an announcement will be made.

I hope that you all participate and enjoy the journey I have set up for us this year. Here’s to you and seeing yourself in a new light this new year!

What is your word of 2015?

Tone It Up Tuesday #9 – DOMS and Why We Rest

A late post for you on this Tuesday before Christmas. There are only 8 days left in this year and I will only have two more posts after this one before the new year hits. This is my 98th post this year and I want to finish on 100…plus, it’s the holidays people! Expect my last post of the year next Wednesday and who knows when the other will fall. After that we’ll be back to the predictable schedule.

I just finished my push-ups for today and I can tell that I’ve been doing them A LOT lately. My body is telling me that I need a rest….and not just from the push-ups.

Many of us find that this week is the start of the end in many ways. The end of the holidays, the end of our year, the end of our sanity. But, let’s stay committed to what we’ve started here. Let’s stick with those January resolutions that are now almost a year old. More from me about that next Wednesday, but for today, let’s stick with what we started just last week. If you’ve been sticking to your new pillar of strength you should be half way through our first challenge and you’re probably feeling what I do….some tightness the next day and a resistance to do it again the day after that. Welcome to DOMS! If you’ve never been here before, we welcome you. And if you’ve been through DOMS many a time, I literally feel your pain.

DOMS is the fitness world’s fancy acronym for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness that happens somewhere around 24-48 hours after a workout. This is not the same as the fatigue you should feel at the end of a workout. A few real quick notes on that:

So, if you’re doing resistance training correctly, for whatever your goal is, you should fatigue at the end of your last set. Then, about 24-48 hours later you’re going to feel sore and stiff and like you really don’t want to do that again. Hello DOMS! But DOMS should go away. If the pain doesn’t go away after that 48 hour mark, you may want to consult a medical professional to make sure that you’ve not injured yourself. Remember, the goal is not to over-do it in one session and then not do anything again for a week. DOMS is an important part of the Super Compensation Cycle that we’ll talk about in a moment and it is your signal to REST the muscle or muscle groups that you have recently worked.

This is a big question I get asked a lot of the time and is something that is driving a change to my training plan come January 1 (more about that next Wednesday).  There is such a thing as a crucial rest interval between training sessions and I couldn’t decide which of these two graphics I liked better for explaining it, so you can review them both as I interpret.

This first chart shows us a few differences that are important in its different colored lines. Note that if your workout is too easy your gains are less than in an optimum workout. If your workout is too hard (No pain; No gain mentality or More is Better) you don’t see any gains at all. This is important for two reasons. The first is what we talked about some above in that you should be feeling fatigue at the end of your last set to see gains in your workout. If you’re working out too light you will stay at a plateau for a very long time and exercise may become frustrating to you. It’s hard to reach your goals if you don’t put in the effort to do so. Secondly, if you’re pushing too hard you’re going to go backwards. The body can only take so much and you may be doing real damage to it. This is the problem many people have when they first start an exercise program and go all out. EASE into it people! You didn’t get “out of shape” in one week, so what makes you think you can get “back in shape” that quickly?

So, what you may be losing in looking at the first image is what is more clearly displayed here. Each time you start a training session you are at what is called the “Initial level of performance ability” or your baseline for that day. As you workout you are basically tearing down the muscle, using up it’s energy, and forcing it to need to REST and RECOVER…a little R&R if you will. As it does so, the muscle adapts to the stress it was put under during your training session and becomes stronger and more able to handle challenges you throw at it. This happens over the course of 2-3 days and the body has created a new baseline or has “Supercompensated” based on the challenge it was met with at your last training session. If you plan your next training session within 48-72 hours of your previous session you will again tax that muscle accordingly and repeat the cycle, thus forcing the muscle to supercompensate AGAIN and get EVEN STRONGER! However, if you wait more than 3 days between training sessions, then the muscle gets used to the idea of sitting around and starts to return to its initial levels.

That end part there is the training principle of Reversibility; or more plainly stated: Use it or Lose it. Thus, rest is important, but too much rest means that we lose the gains we made. This is why I have suggested the alternate day method for our current fitness challenge. 


What is your experience with DOMS?
How often do you do resistance training?
Do you truly go to fatigue each session?
Have you ever had a “Lost it” moment?


Tone It Up Tuesday #8 – Push, Pull, Squat, Core

Welcome back from a long weekend spent with relatives galore! I hope you, like myself, have been trying to stick with your training plans over the holiday season. Many times people make a list of rules for themselves for this time of year and more often than not they fail to follow the rules. Let’s try just one: Don’t change a thing if it’s working. Or, if you like Beauty and the Beast references…

Well, today we are going to talk about the Four Pillars of Resistance Training. Hopefully you all have some kind of resistance training program going on in your life at this moment. And if not, here’s a great place to start. The Four Pillars of Resistance Training is a way to measure if you’ve got a complete training program that’s hitting all of your major muscle groups. Ideally your program should include 8-10 total exercises that fall under these four categories. Not 8-10 under each category!

Exercise that require your upper body to make a pushing motion.

  • Bench press
  • Push-ups
  • Shoulder press
  • Triceps push down

Exercises that require your upper body to make a pulling motion.

  • Pull-ups
  • Lat pull-down
  • Biceps curl
  • Rows

Exercises that require your body to bend at the knees.

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Leg press

Exercises that work muscles in the middle of the body and not an appendage (see here).

  • Planks
  • Bridges
  • Crunches
  • Wood choppers
  • Bird-Dogs

If you don’t have exercises from each of these categories, let’s start small and start today. Pick one exercise that’s not in your tool box and do 10 today. Today is the 16th (an even day) and Christmas falls on the 25th (an odd day). If we do 10 each even day from now until the end of the year we’ve added one new exercise and performed it 80 times! That’s not a whole lot of time spent on a new exercise, but it can round out our training and change things up for us.

It had been a long time since I did push-ups, but yesterday I did 20 modified push-ups (from my knees). I stopped at 20 because despite my strength at holding a plank and my ability to do a million down-planks in yoga, I wasn’t training functionally to PUSH in a push-up. So, I started small and went until I was done doing them correctly. Then, I stopped and I’m waiting until tomorrow to do 20 more. I started on an odd day and so I will end up doing 180 (at 20 each time) before the end of the year. But we’ll talk soon about how and when to change up the number of repetitions you’re doing. I’m curious as to how easy those 20 modified push-ups will be in two weeks from now…..

Which category is your training program lacking in?
What’s your favorite pillar?
How are you doing on sticking to your training regime this holiday season?

Tone It Up Tuesday #7 – Is your Fitness Routine too Rigid?

Gates’ Day 41 reading asks the question: “Am I practicing yoga as a means to show up for my life, or to hide from it?” (p.54) He then goes on to talk about how routine or rigidity is usually driven by fear. So I ask you:

Is your fitness routine rigid and inflexible?
What drives you to do the exercise that you do?
I started thinking about my own answers to these questions in preparation for this post. In regards to the yoga question I think a lot of my yoga practice is dedicated to becoming a better teacher. I wish that it were a means to hide from my life, but I find things about myself in my practice which I must always confront. I have not yet met the moment of blissful zen in yoga at which all of life just exists and I am at full peace. This time of year it would be particularly helpful if that were the case. My yoga practice often revolves around need and is squeezed in where it fits. I hate that I don’t have designated times for expansive practice outside of teaching. I feel that that makes me not as great of a teacher as I once was and also, many times, disconnected from my practice. I can honestly go through the motions of the pose and feel only what my body is telling me, but not connect it to my brain as an enjoyable experience. This disappoints me.
My fitness routine is rigid in the sense that it is limited. Earlier this year I was offered an opportunity to start teaching classes at a fitness center here in town. I jumped at the opportunity. Since that time my relationship with that company has dissolved and I no longer get contacted to teach. I’d like to say that it’s through no fault of my own, but I have prioritized feeding my children and paying off debt over owning a smart phone or other digital music player which I can program for teaching purposes. I am old school and use cds and this has limited my options for teaching. I was so excited to teach there for the opportunity to get a free membership (something I cannot readily afford to any place in town at the moment). It would have offered me the option to work out more freely on cooler and rainier days as the kids could have gone to the children’s area. I would have been able to sit in on other instructor’s classes and learn different styles of teaching. (This is a good thing for instructors to do from time to time.) And it would have allowed me to break free of the few things I can do at home with my limited fitness equipment. Mostly I walk, run, or now bike (with the kids). I also do Pilates, yoga, other body weight exercises, and some things with the physio ball. I have no weights to lift and no pool to swim in. I get bored with my options sometimes and also get frustrated at the lack of freedom to workout by myself. In the spring I will not be teaching at the college for the semester and can reallocate “work hours” to workout for mom hours. This may create some more consistency again for me and perk me up some, but it will still be limited and thus feel very rigid.
And the honest answer to number three is that a long time ago I decided that I didn’t like the fate I saw in front of me. Many of my family members struggle with weight and health problems associated with excess weight. I got into this industry to prevent that from happening to me and to help anyone else who wanted the help. So, my workouts are driven by a desire to stay healthy and not just lean.

Why is all of this important on a Tone It Up Tuesday? Because of one of the training principles I was just teaching about this weekend and do on many weekends….Variability. The variability principle basically states that occasionally we need to tax our bodies in ways that we don’t normally tax them in order to see adaptations. So, if all you ever do are body weight squats, you will eventually plateau and never get any stronger in your glutes and quads. But remember when I showed you all of those different ways to do squats and planks? That’s variability. Try to think of your favorite exercise and please list it below. Then, think of 3 different ways you can do that exercise to change it up and please list your ideas for that too. Then, give it a try and see what happens. Break free from the mold now. Don’t wait for a new year’s resolution to try out something new, let’s do it today!