The Value of Small Victories

It’s nice to have a long-term goal and it’s even better to have short-term goals to make the journey that much more enjoyable. In between those short-term goals are small victories that are worth recognizing because they represent the changes taking place.

For instance, at some point in your exercise regimen, you will realize certain moves are easier. You will find that instead of just trying to make it to the end of your workout, you actually try to do one more push up than you did yesterday. You’ll realize that you can go deeper into a lunge and you actually want to squeeze out one more squat in perfect form.

If you stick with a routine long enough, this does happen and it is the very reason you should stick with a routine. Why? Because it’s magic. This feeling of accomplishment, even if it is improving your form, is proving that the process does work and it’s giving you a reason to workout tomorrow.

Your journey will be filled with non-scale-victories and you should celebrate them just as you celebrate any other success. Use them as motivation.

Do you have a small victory you’ve experienced recently?

Share it with pride! :-)

The Number One Reason Why You Should Work Out

If you’re working on losing fat, staying fit or giving yourself a tummy tuck the old fashioned way, you might struggle with motivation. Motivation can be hard to muster before work when you’re still groggy or after work when you’re tired and this might make you put off exercising for one more day.

Here’s why you should never do that:

Because the difficult thing to do is also the most rewarding.

Most days, working out is the most challenging thing I do. I get up early, I push myself through it and I tell myself it will be worth it. And you know what? It is. There is never a workout I regret – the only workout I regret is the one I didn’t do.

Don’t give yourself time to talk yourself out of doing it.

Reshape your thinking and know the reward is in the effort.

Progress

One of the most amazing things about the human body is its ability to adapt. The first few days of any new kind of exercise will leave yo feeling sore and defeated but, if you persist, you’ll find with every day, some progress.

The 30-day Shred is difficult for many reasons. It’s a lot of getting up and down and, if you’re not used to that, it can be really hard. If you have a belly, it might get in the way of getting on the floor and back up again. However, if you continue to pursue, you’ll find that after about the first week, things begin to change.

The first few days of any new regimen is simply surviving. You may feel like you’re getting your butt kicked and the best you can do is go through the motions. It is tough, no doubt. The following days might be filled with dread but you will notice small changes that bring encouragement.

For example, you may notice that you can lift your feet higher on butt-kicks or that you can do 30 seconds of jumping jacks without stopping to breathe. You might also notice that you can get down on the floor a little bit quicker and you can get up without as much effort. You might also notice you aren’t breathing as heavy as you were a week ago.

It’s all part of the process and, if you follow through, change will come – maybe even quicker than you think… the trick do staying committed during the early stages of any exercise routine is noticing how your body adapts in the smallest of ways. Give yourself kudos when you can do one more push up or a few more lunges – these small changes are significant because it’s your body telling you, “I can do this!”

Believe it.

Third Day In

I just completed day three of Jillian’s 30-Day Shred. I’m on Level One and I’m just glad I made it through. Here’s what I’m experiencing: soreness in my quads, glutes, calves and chest.

If you haven’t done any kind of workout for awhile, the most difficult thing is going down to the floor to do one exercise and getting back up to do another. Then going back down and getting back up. From push ups to squats to crunches to jumping jaacks…. the entire routine is like this. These kinds of exercises are fantastic for building a strong core and terrific abs. So, if youre used to being on a bike or doing aerobics without any kind of floor work, this will be a shock. But, as always, a good one.

We’ve got about six weeks until Thanksgiving. Do you want to join me in making some radical transformations by then?

Second-Day Scare

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Yes, the second day is the most difficult to get up and get moving because the soreness has begun to kick in. The best thing for this soreness, however, is to move the muscles a bit and that’s exactly what happens when you do this workout. :-)

It’s tough and that’s what makes the short 27 minutes tolerable. It goes by fairly quickly and if you just focus on getting through every move with proper form and pride, you can do it.

It’s been years since I’ve done this routine and it’s still one of the best out there. I think the planets were aligned when she threw this thing together; just like they were when Tony Horton created p90x.

The good news is you will love yourself when you get through each and every day and when you complete the workout, you’ll have so much to be proud for. A new appreciation for yourself and a new body.

Don’t fear the trainer.

Holiday Challenge?

I’ve decided to try to make a concentrated effort to lose some fat before the holidays. I know this is the worst time of year to try and do something like this but here’s my logic: The time is going to pass. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all going to come and go. Soon, it will be winter and I don’t want to be the same size I m now. I don’t want to be this size during the holidays. It sucks. I’m making my own tummy tuck beginning now.

So, I statred Jillian’s 30 Day Shred today. There’s no reason why I’m doing it now – other than there’s no better time to start anything than now. I had tremendous success with Jillian before so I’m doing it again. I will update here as often as I can and I’m going to challenge you!

Do you want to look better – even if it is just a little bit better – for the holidays? If you start right now, you can lose about 10 pounds by Thanksgiving and close to 20 by Christmas. That is if you work it hard and try. Two pounds a week doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. These challenges include saying no to all the delicious food and saying yes to daily exercise.

Jillian’s DVD is only about 27 minutes long. It’s grueling but it’s worth it.

I’m in. Are you?

The Power of the Plank

Many people think crunches and sit ups are the only way to tone your abs. This is isn’t true.

Plank exercises are far more beneficial than you might think because they work an incredible amount of muscles. Planks are isometric movements, which means they maintain stability in core muscles. Simply holding a plank for 30 seconds will demonstrate just how powerful these exercises are. Believe me, if you hold a plank this long, you will feel it. Everywhere.

Planks engage your back and transverse ab muscles, along with your shoulder muscles to hold up your body weight. These exercises are no joke and while it’s not funny to do them, it is awesome to feel the strength you get from them.

But that’s not all. Planks also help improve balance, especially if you advance enough to do arm rows and leg lifts while doing planks. Planks also are less likely to cause back pain, unlike traditional crunches and sit ups. Planks strengthen your core and while this terminology is bandied about often, it is good to have a strong core. Why? Because you get stronger. Stronger is better.  When you keep at it, planks will give you a solid core and that will make you love your abs.

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When doing a plank, remember to keep your pelvis neutral; don’t raise your butt too high or let it fall too low. Don’t let your chest fall; your shoulders should feel tight when in a plank position. As with any exercise, improper form can lead to pain and that’s not never good.

Challenge yourself. If you’re ready to work on that diy tummy tuck (which we all know, you are), try plank variations. Plank jacks are jumping jacks in the plank position and mountain climbers are the result of bringing one knee in at a time and alternationg a s quickly as possible. Side planks are exactly what they sound like – a plank on your side. They’re tough but they’re worth every second because they target obliques, which will give you a solid core.

Don’t wuss out; do the planks. Go do one now and tell me how it felt.

 

 

Photos: courtesy of Jaykayfit https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plank.jpg

Inspiration, Motivation and Willpower

Track finish line from above Athletics 2000 Sydney PG

Inspiration, motivation and willpower are funny things. You need all of them to succeed. Many people may focus on just one of these when they are working toward a particular goal, but I think they work better as a team. This is especially true with weight loss and fitness because these goals take time to reach and sometimes you need something to hang on to while we’re waiting for success. Let’s break it down and I’ll show you what I mean.

Inspiration is that spark of arousal; that hint of hope that initiates change or, at least, thinking of change. It can be something as simple as a picture of Jillian Michaels, Tony Horton or even an old photograph of you. Inspiration can also be also be how you feel when you do something positive. For example, I love that soreness after a workout. That soreness can last a day or two so even when I’m not exercising, I am constantly reminded of my progress and potential success. I can’t express just how empowering that feeling is; it’s wonderful. You might be inspired by the numbers of calories burned after an exercise or the feeling you get from turning down a doughnut at the office. Inspiration comes in many forms and it’s okay to accept any and all of them if they help you achieve your healthiest best.

Motivation is that thing that gives you a reason to move. It’s actually very similar to inspiration in that both make you want to do something. However, in terms of diet and achieving a flat tummy, or whatever you want, motivation is closely related to incentive. For example, if I exercise, I will burn fat or if I strength train, I will build muscle. A motive is something that causes you to act; it is a goal that causes motion. In short, it leads to action. You can sit and look at a picture all day long but what makes you want to move? This is where the goal comes in… You need that goal, that motivation, to get up and make the move.

Willpower is the another link in the chain. Some will tell you it’s the most important aspect of any goal because it requires control. For that reason, it is probably the most complete aspect because control can be hard at times. However, it’s not impossible. It’s hard to pass up cheese dip at family functions. It’s hard to turn down pizza in social situations when everyone else tells you to eat up and enjoy. Chocolate goodies at the office are the devil but everyone wants you to eat one. Yeah, it’s hard and that’s why willpower is so important. You cannot live without it and inspiration and motivation make it easier. When you are aware of how strong your mind actually is, willpower might even become a powerful weapon.

When you put the three together, it becomes easier. For example, if you’re in the office and someone wants you to eat a doughnut and your arms are sore from yesterday’s workout, you might be more inclined to pass. If your butt is burning and hurts you every time you get up, those cookies look like the devil because they represent all the reasons why you have to workout in the first place. If you can change the way you look at cookies, pizza and beer, you can see them as motivation and even inspiration. How many minutes will you have to workout to burn off that pizza? Or how about thinking of sacrificing your last workout for a candy bar. Really?

If it takes a lot for you to get up and exercise, you should look at your temptations as an opportunity to say no. Why? Because you know it isn’t worth it. If you’re feeling the burn in your triceps from yesterday’s workout, you’ll easily pass on the cookies because cause you don’t need them. Does the taste of food trump your hard work? No.

It’s all connected and the thing you can never lose sight of is your goal. Inspiration, motivation and willpower are some pretty important tools to help you get there. Don’t ignore the tiny voices in your head urging you to greatness – those burning muscles and tight abs did not happen for nothing and the question you need to ask yourself is if the pizza is worth negating all that work.

The answer is no. Use your inspiration and motivation, whatever they are, as your source of willpower and allow them to motivate you to say no – an act that moves you closer to the finish line.

Photo: Australian Paralympic Committee/Australian Sports Commission

Good Habits Lead to Results

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Ah, the lovely song of the alarm clock gently waking you… Okay, maybe not. Maybe it’s more like, the alarm is going off already? It’s a jolt and most often for me, an unwelcome one. But there it is, every morning. I always set my alarm early enough to work out regardless of when I need to wake up. Crazy? Maybe, maybe not. If it goes off fairly regularly, it turns into a routine and routines can be good things.

I’m a sucker for routine. I have a high tolerance for repetition and I love getting into a grove.

Exercise in the morning sets the tone for the rest of my day. When I get that early workout in, I feel as though I have a reason to make healthy choices for the rest of the day. Before the day gets started, I’ve already done something good for my body and that will help me stay on track (sometimes!). I’m far more likely to make healthy eating choices because I don’t want to blow those calories I burned earlier. The two actions go together. I cannot stress how important this is to me. Like I said, I’ve done it this way for years. It’s a good habit that helps me stay where I want to be.

I should add I’m not one that loves to exercise. That is, I don’t wake up just dying to do it. I make myself do it because I know I won’t regret working out and always regret not working out. I’ve done it long enough and I know myself well enough to know that getting up to work out before anything else works for me.

You may be thinking you’re not a morning person. To be honest, sometimes I don’t feel like a morning person because it takes me a long time to get around and finally get moving. For me, however, exercise far more likely to happen in the morning than it is in the afternoon. That’s my groove.

The key to success is finding your groove. You hear people say this all the time but you really have to make an effort. You may have to exercise before work for a few weeks and begin seeing results before you decide that it can work for you. That’s exactly how it happened for me. Once my body got used to the routine, it wasn’t such a mental battle to get up and get moving. But if the morning is out of the question, find that time of day where you can make that time for yourself and do it long enough to create a good habit. That means stick with it long enough to see results because once you see that trim tummy, you’re going to realize the power is yours. It always has been. That’s an awesome feeling!

What are some of your good habits?

 

 

Alarm Clock photo credit: Derek Jensen

The Surprise of Success

Success looks different to everyone. Our goals, in many ways, define us and they are as unique as we are. Success comes in many shapes and sizes because goals differ and this is an awesome thing. You should celebrate your successes, however small, because they provide inspiration. Short-term goals are magic. Set them, reach them and be inspired to do more. You have to believe in yourself enough to keep going because those around you won’t always get it. Your success is an intensely personal thing (especially if it’s related to changing your body) and it’s up to you to reach for it. No one will be as disappointed as you are if you don’t achieve success, so get with it. You can do it and two keys that make the journey easier are effort and concentration.

Success comes from above-average attempts.

Set a goal and then try to do a little bit more every day toward that goal. I don’t care what your goal is. Let’s face it, average is average. Whether it’s doing 50 sit ups, 60 minutes of cardio or writing 300 words a day, you should push yourself to do a little more than you did the day before. If you managed three sets of 10 sit ups one day, aim for three sets of 11 the next. One day, you’ll realize you’re doing more than average and you’ll be closer to your goal, which puts you that much closer to your trim tummy.

Success comes with focus.

I once read that you don’t get what you want, you get what you focus on. No matter what your goal, you’re going to need to make sacrifices. Period. If your goal is worth sacrifices, make them. Make that goal top priority. Don’t get distracted or you’ll fall into the average and mediocre camp because you’ve lost your focus. Do what it takes to be successful and stay on track. If it means staying away from the Internet for a few hours, do it. If that means waking up an hour earlier than usual to workout, do it. It won’t be difficult all the time and it will get easier the more you do it. However, to reach this point you must commit and follow through and that comes with a never-ending focus.

Your attempts and your focus propel you to the next step.

You’re on a journey. To reach success, you have to stick with it (whatever it is) long enough to see results. Sometimes, this isn’t easy. If you’re on a fat loss journey, sticking with it is one of the most difficult things in the world. However, time gives you the opportunity to improve and, with improvement, you can do more and become more focused. Nothing inspires like success and every attempt is a step in the right direction.

Savor every successful moment, regardless of how small it may seem. Your attempts may seem modest in the beginning, but every effort builds your muscle, strength and endurance. You’ll find with more focus, you’ll become more in tune with your body and mind and each effort will be its own reward. The small victories will fuel your desire to succeed and do more.

My Favorite Ab Exercises

This site is all about giving yourself your own tummy tuck and one might guess that ab exercises fall into the mix somewhere. Ab exercises do work, after you’ve burned the fat off your middle.

I really like plank exercises. I’d never done a plank until I did Jillian’s 30-Day-Shred and it was then that I began to feel solid in my core. I liked that feeling, so planks quickly became one of my favorites. There are dozens of variations of planks and you should try a few to find out which ones you might actually look forward to doing. Up-down planks, planks with alternating arm and leg lifts, walking planks, plank twists and side planks are some of the best exercises to build a stronger core and a solid foundation for killer abs.

As far as basic ab exercises go, I feel my abs get tighter with standard sit ups and bicycle crunches.

Do you have any favorites? Feel free to share them!

On Motivation

Here’s a fun fact: You’re not always going to feel like exercising. Motivation is hard to muster sometimes. Case in point: this morning I didn’t want to do my cardio at all. Let me clarify there was nothing wrong with me. I had no injuries, felt no pain and was not sick. I simply didn’t feel like exercising. Let me also clarify that I never wake up and immediately jump into exercising. Never. I need to wake up first. And even when I feel awake, I don’t usually jump into exercise.

Most days, I have to make myself exercise. Some days I feel more energetic than others but today wasn’t one of those days and I felt tired 25 minutes into my routine. That’s not good when you’re doing something like plyometrics. It seemed like I’d never find the energy to make it to the end but I pushed myself through it. It wasn’t the best workout but I showed up and that’s the key. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Feeling sluggish is not a reason to skip out on exercise. It might be the reason why you don’t jump as high as you normally would but the point is you’re still jumping. Realize you’re not as energetic as usual and ask yourself, “So what?” but don’t throw in the towel.

Exercise is like a positive addiction. It brings strength, pleasure and confidence to people. It’s a good addiction because it has value. I know this is true because I always feel better after exercising. Always. I also feel better about myself when I know I pushed myself to do something I didn’t especially want to do. I can almost guarantee that you will never regret working out (unless you injure yourself so, please, don’t injure yourself!).

Try thinking about this when you don’t feel like working out: your do-it-yourself tummy tuck! You’re on a journey that will take some time and if you miss this opportunity to exercise, you’re skipping out on an opportunity that will bring you one step closer to your goal. You’re also passing on an opportunity to feel great about something positive you’ve done for your body.

Remember, you’re in control. Make the effort, show up and you’ll be glad you did.

Got any tips on staying motivated? I’d love to hear them!

My Plan of Action

I’ve been asked before what I did to get the results I did and, in a nutshell, it was mainly a combination of exercising and eating right. That’s right, nothing new here, folks.

I remember reaching a plateau and wanting to try something different. My routine for months had been riding a stationary bicycle for about an hour a day. My exercise was always some form of cardio and I always felt satisfied when I did between 55 and 60 minutes. I used a heart rate monitor and always tried to keep my heart rate around 80 to 85 percent.

To break the plateau, I decided to give Jillian’s 30-Day-Shred a try. I remember not having a lot of confidence in that video simply because the workout was only 27 minutes long. However, after the first day, I knew it was going to be tough. The big change with that workout was the floor work. I was accustomed to exercising on my feet or on my butt. The getting up and down for push ups, crunches and planks was something I wasn’t used to so it was tough.

I also did the workout for more than 30 days. I did not move to level two until I felt like I was good at level one and didn’t move on to level three until I felt like I sort of conquered level two. Overall, I did the workout for about four months.

I kept my daily caloric intake around 1200. This was also over quite a few months and I did allow myself days where I would eat more. Maybe once a month I would eat pizza or drink wine.

It was tough in the beginning but after I began to see results, it became easier. I suddenly wanted to see more and that desire for success was the fuel to keep going.

I think the hardest part of anything kind of journey like this is the waiting for results. It’s tough when you feel like you’re working so hard and aren’t seeing any change. But I can tell you with confidence that if you stick with it, you will see results.

I remember Jillian saying you’ve got to trust the process and it’s true. You do. And when you do, you will see results and that leads to success.

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New Reality

It’s been while since I’ve posted but I’ve been hard at work on this fat loss. I’m at a healthy BMI and only have about 5 to 7 pounds to lose… but here’s the deal. I need to change my focus. This is not a time to get comfy and start relaxing on the diet and eating Hershey kisses. No, now that I’ve achieved the weight loss, I’m at a place where I can target the last little bit of fat and begin a campaign to build muscle. This is very exciting to me! I have a new reality and, let me tell you, when you finally make it to a milestone, you’ll love it. Why? Because when you do it you know you can do it. Sounds funny but you know what I mean. My tummy tuck is no longer a dream or a goal. My stomach and abs are almost flat. Flatter than they’ve been in years. Decades. When I think of that, I can’t believe it. I can still pinch about an inch when I’m sitting down but when I’m standing up, there is very little hangover there. I’m stoked and I’m ready to take it to the next level. No way I’m stopping now.

I love my new reality and you’ll love yours, too. Give it a try.

A Fight Worth Winning

Good news: if you hang with exercise long enough, you’ll see results. I said good news, not necessarily new. Old or new, that’s nice, isn’t it? Nothing is quite as rewarding as seeing your body or your strength change and improve after hours of hard work. Unless you’re talking about watching your favorite band perform live from the first row. Seriously, seeing how your body changes is a gorgeous thing. Over time, motivation keeps you moving.

That’s where I’m at this week with p90x. After six weeks, I’m feeling stronger. I still have to use the chair with the pull-up bar but I squeezed out one more rep with each segment – except Friday when I felt too tired to do the last set.

Something is happening with my core, too. My waist feels thicker, which is kind of disturbing, but as long as I’m not gaining or growing in inches, I’m not freaking out too much. My hips look smaller and I’m seeing contour there. So, ab-ripper x is working despite my hatred for it. I keep doing it because I know it’s going to tighten my tummy and give me the abs I want.

Most of my morning cardio this week was plyometrics. I’m just in love with that routine and I want to master it. I’m able to touch the floor on all the touch-the-floor moves and I can almost make it the whole 30 seconds… Almost, I get pooped sometimes, though. I tried Insanity one morning and as much as I want to like that routine, I don’t. Yet. Maybe after my performance improves, I might like it. Maybe not. Right now, I’m going to do what I like.

Six weeks into p90x. Not exactly instant gratification (but it is gratifying!). That’s the hurdle to jump with any goal. You’ve got to see each action or small step you make as part of a bigger picture. You’ve got to believe in the process and not throw in the towel. I had to get halfway through p90x to feel stronger and better. And I know for the results I want, I’m going to need to do it again. Because I know something better waits on the other side, I want to move forward.

Sometimes you need to feel like you’re fighting for it because you are. Remember it’s worth the fight. You deserve to feel the reward and reap the benefits of your hard work. Hang with it long enough and you’ll be glad. It’s like knowing spring will arrive after a long winter.

In honor of all things springy…from morning sweat to a sweet morning…

Spring-loaded rock star jumps.

A morning loaded with spring.