Fitness Humor – Cardio Motivation

I hate cardio.  Truly… Being on a treadmill, for one thing – for me – takes a bit of mental prep.

That said, I’d take it any day over this alternative (or a web, because that can be horrifying also, though maybe a step down from actual arachnids.)

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(C) John McPherson / Cartoonstock

Feline Fitness – Treadmills

I used to think my boys were such perfect angels that they’d never, EVER do this to me.

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But, as the Grinch once said, boldy wagging his furry green finger…

“WRONG-O!”

Maybe they were trying to get a workout in.  Yeah.  I’ll pretend that was it.

 

It Doesn’t Have To Be Your Best, Just START

I general dread traditional cardio – I DO it, because I know it’s important.  But…it’s a struggle most days!

I recently gave myself a lovely bout of plantar fasciitis from running too hard, too fast, too intensely – I woke up the next day and knew EXACTLY what happened.  

Frustrated I may have been, I knew it was a cue from the grand ol’ Universe telling me to slow down.  My feet have been hurting, I’ve been overly exhausted, and frankly. . .I’ve derided cardio even more than normal.  Did I take a break?  NOPE!

So…the Universe HANDED me one.

Instead of busting my buns of the treadmill, I’ve done a few days of moderate spin.  My session aren’t stellar – I haven’t drilled myself for a while, so my pace and power isn’t necessarily where it could be.  But, I put in the effort.  I get on knowing that it may not be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be – the point is, I’m doing SOMETHING.  I’m getting on and giving it a whirl – there’s no need to be breaking records every time you do an activity (maybe I’m writing that as an extra reminder to myself! 😉 

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So don’t worry about making one session or another your absolute best – just START.  A little CAN go a long way towards your goals of staying fit and healthy. ❤

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I’m Not A Cheerleader, But If I Were…

This would totally be my jam.

With black and red pompoms?  Hell yes.

INVADE DESTROY REPEAT

It’s a good tune for the gym, 1,000% – spin bike, lifting, sprints, whatever – and it totally has that “pep rally” sound.  You know, for when getting your ass on a treadmill is (and usually will be) the LAST thing you want to do?

Motivate with some metal!

(C) Powerman 5000 Official YouTube

(C) Powerman 5000 Official YouTube

Leg Day Changes

I LOVE leg day(s) – they are definitely the most exhausting workouts of the week, but…I love them.  

I know perfectly well that “no pain, no gain” doesn’t completely hold water but…I’m “one of those”! I like to feel the soreness because it indicates I’ve actually done something worthwhile.  (Zero soreness?  Sorry, I didn’t put the effort in!)

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I generally do HIIT sprints on the treadmill the same mornings I have leg workouts – it is a lot, but I balance it out with days of active rest, or Martial Arts training and less stressful lifting.

My routine can vary but I do have a few favorite “staples” like squats, deadlifts, and leg press – I mix it up so I have both “heavy hitter” exercises, with less heavy-duty supplemental ones.  I also generally add abs in there at the end…

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The other day, though, our Smith Machine broke… It’s funny because I know a lot of fitness gurus who might well have gone to pieces! Can’t do a staple you are used to doing, and suddenly the world ends!  (Do you know the type?!)

Well…it SHOULDN’T.  Changing things up, even if we are forced while the equipment is down, isn’t a bad thing…  (I don’t do free bar squats because I have one reconstructed knee, and one missing an ACL – the Smith offers a security my physiology does well with!)

So my regular squats were out, as were my single leg lunges on the Smith.  End all be all?  

NOPE!

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I supplemented the workout with Goblet Squats (using a kettlebell), extra dumbbell curtsey lunges, and weighted walking lunges (love these!)

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It was a nice change because sometimes by the time I’m done with cardio, I just want to plow through my “regulars.”  The forced change offered me the opportunity to jump to a few other exercises, equally as effective, that kept my body guessing.  

So if change indeed DOES occur, especially the unexpected kind…just embrace it and do something you haven’t done in a while.  Your body will actually appreciate the alteration and give you some lovely gains in return! 🙂 

 

 

The eSpin and Cardio Days

A few years ago I got a refurbished Star Trac eSpinner – I am not a Soul Cycler, a spin-class-attender, nor an outdoor cyclist by any stretch.  But I love spin bikes because they are one of those cardio options that are safer for bad knees (I’ve got two!), or when you are just not able to (or up to) the treadmill or outdoor running.  

There are, of course, tons of other cardio options beyond a spin bike or treadmill! For example:

  • Recumbent Bike
  • Stairmaster / Stepper
  • Stairmill
  • Elliptical
  • Adaptive Motion and Arc Trainers
  • Versa Climber
  • Rowing Machines…

It is totally a matter of preference.  For me, the bike is one of the more comfortable choices if I’m not doing treadmill sprints…and the reality of it is that if I was going to spend money on a machine, I wanted it to be the one I’d use most!  I happen to like this older eSpinner because it has a fan, which admittedly helps me push harder longer.  Don’t laugh! 

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Even then, though, it’s not always easy.  When people ask about my cardio they seem to think I must enjoy it – I love activity, but trust me when I say…cardio that I am aware I am doing is not on my “love” list! It does take some self talk and encouragement most of the time, and definitely some good music!

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I also try to focus on the feeling of finishing – there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with getting through a workout, especially one you struggled to start!  It is worth pushing through just for that sense of “I did it!” 

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Even if someone else appears to be loving Life while they sweat profusely and gasp for breath on the treadmill next to you…don’t assume it is a piece of cake for them, and therefore that there is something wrong with you because it feels tough.  There ISN’T – you are doing great (they probably would love to be done themselves!)  

Getting ON the bike, or treadmill, or elliptical is a start.  Once you are THERE, you will push through it, proving you can do more than your brain wanted to trick the rest of you out of doing that day. Your pumping heart, and a body flooded with endorphins will remind the brain that its demotivating techniques just won’t work this time!  🙂

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New Year, New Goals

There are about a million reasons why I believe in setting intentions and making resolutions at the dawn of a New Year – I am sure I will write at length about some of them going forward.

What I want to express now is, simply, “YOU CAN.”  

The language we use when referring to ourselves, to our abilities, our accomplishments…and in our own minds about ourselves…is outrageously important.  I’m willing to say it is vital to a happy and fulfilled life that we speak in the positive to, and about, ourselves.

Our self dialogue has a profound impact on every aspect of our lives, from health to relationships, to the ability to carry out (or set!) our goals.  For myself, it is something I acknowledge and work on each day.  Literally. 

I love being fit and active, for example.  But some mornings are tougher to motivate.  Instead of dissuading myself, I remind myself of all the reasons I want to exercise – not that I “need” to, but that I WANT to.  And once I focus on those things, I feel proud…because I know that I am both willing and able to push myself – knowing I am in control of the outcome by saying “I CAN DO THIS!” is incredibly empowering!

When you get through a tough workout, you feel amazing – not just physically, but emotionally.  You realize that you had it in you the whole time, and that “I CAN do this!” was up to you the whole time – that might be the best benefit for me personally.

A New Year is a great time to set some new standards for yourself – add a challenge or two.  And don’t worry if you don’t make a huge leap – small steps are STILL steps!  On the morning of the 1st I was exhausted – I was, like most people, up late.  Just watching a documentary and a few fireworks…but it was still, let’s be honest, well past my bedtime!  But I woke up and said to myself, “I can do this.  And I can do it BETTER than every before. Forget being tired, forget about wanting to rest.  I know I have this in me, and I want to start the year by crushing a goal.”

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I didn’t get on the treadmill to do sprints feeling like I was going to go insanely above and beyond my normal record…but I DID have in mind to do better.  Instead of 8 to 10 sprints, I decided I’d do 13.  I love the number 13! 🙂  Once I got to 13 I thought “I could do that, I’m going to do 16 in honor of the year!”  

16 sprints, a few inclines, and some fast walking later…I had done my best sprints ever.  I’m not much of a runner, but I’ll get on to sprint a few times a week because I know it gives me the results I want – but I’ve never done that many, in that time, at that speed.  

Will I break that record tomorrow morning?  Probably not!  And that’s okay.  The goal was to start the year with a bang – go big, or go home!  I gave myself every reason to believe in myself and prove – TO ME – that I CAN.  And you know, it felt pretty darn amazing!

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Never underestimate your own ability to crush your goals – once you start on those little steps, you keep moving forward.  Eventually you become a steam train and your goals get dusted! 🙂 

As Nike says…Just DO IT.

 

The Reason I Sprint…?

Well, not EXACTLY…but I like knowing that I can outrun some zombies during an apocalyptic episode!!!

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I think I’ll carry on with my healthy nutritional choices and my HIIT, thankyouverymuch.  One never knows…

One never knows…

HIIT Sprints

I woke up not wanting to sprint, but it’s one of those things…  Once I START, I feel okay.  And once I’m done, I feel AWESOME.

It’s half autopilot – decades of training engrained the get-dressed-and-ready-to-go part!  But that doesn’t mean that every day is a breeze – there is a ton of “self-talk” and “motivational prep” that goes on, especially nowadays when we are all juggling multiple things at once. 

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Sprints are great for those with demanding schedules – they pack a huge punch, giving you a lot of results in a shorter duration (in comparison to steady state endurance (which is also great, just different.))  

What I love most about them, however, is that they are incredibly manageable…physically AND mentally.Getting on a treadmill is torturous for me.  But with sprints, it never feels as daunting.  Why?  It’s broken up, with room to play and vary!  

My typical routine is something like this (keeping in mind that times (in minutes) and miles per hour are averaged here – it depends on the day, and how I’m feeling):

  • STRETCH!  
    • This is just a few moments, but it is vital to warm up the gastrocnemius, soleus, achillies, ankles and feet for me – as a long-time dancer and skater, with knee injuries and supination, this step cannot be skipped.  
  • 0 – 2 – Jog (6 mph – 7 mph)
  • 2 – 3 – Run / Sprint 1 (9 mph)
  • 3 – 4 – Fast walk (4.3 mph)
  • 4 – 4:40Sprint 2 (9.5 mph)
  • 4:40 – 5:30 – Fast walk (4.3 mph)
  • 5:30 – 6:00 – Jog (7 pm)
  • 6:10 – 7:00Sprint 3 (10 mph)
  • 7:00 – 7:40 Fast walk (4.3 mph)
  • 7:40 – 8:00 – Jog (7 pm)
  • 800 – 8:40Sprint 4 (10.5 mph)
  • 8:40 – 9:40 – Fast walk (4.3 mph)
  • 9:40 10:30 – Walk on high incline (4.3 mph)
  • 10:30 – 11:00 – Jog (7 pm)
  • 11:00 – 11:30 – Sprint 5 (10.8 mph)
  • 11:30 – 12:30 – Fast Walk (4.3 mph)
  • 12:30 – 13:30 – Jog (7 mph)
  • 13:30 – 14:00Sprint 6 (10.5 mph)
  • 14:00 – 15:00 Fast Walk (4.3 mph)
  • 15:00 – 15:30 – Jog (7 mph)
  • 15:30 – 16:10Sprint 7 (10.2 mph)
  • 16:10 – 17:10 – Fast Walk (4.3 mph)
  • 17:10 – 18:00 Jog (7 mph)
  • 18:00 – 19:00 Fast Walk (4.3 mph)
  • 19:00 – 35:00 or 40:00 – This part is the less structured.  Based on how I feel I will maybe add:
    • Two more jogs (one to two minutes each around 7 mph)
    • One or two sprints (around 9 mph)
    • One walk on high incline (4.3 mph)
    • Side shuffles (30 to 50 a side, at 4.3 mph)
    • Fast walks
    • Slow walk to cool down

I usually keep the treadmill at a 2:0 incline when not doing the high incline walking.  If you have knee or shin problems, increasing the incline can add stress, so be mindful of that!  Also, I find that the jog before the sprints helps me to keep the calves and shins from getting injured as easily.

Music is a huge motivator for me, in addition to the “you can do it”s!!! that I holler in my mind – it keeps me in my zone and focused without getting bored.  

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So if you are having a tough time, not seeing results from longer cardio sessions…or just feel like you don’t WANT to do a longer session, try some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training.)  In 22 minutes you can warm up, sprint 8 times, goosing your metabolism, AND cool down.  Pretty awesome, if you ask me!

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Be Proud Of ALL Your Efforts

A lot of us have this not-so-little habit of needing to top every workout… We have this drive to excel, not just coast along mediocre.  And along with it, we have the habit of being overboard with self-criticism.

But if we take a moment to breathe…to just BE…and recognize the efforts we ARE putting in, we may well find that we aren’t even doing okay…we are doing GREAT.

Those “voices” we hear – the “self talk” as it’s better known – is vital to our well-being, and to manifesting in our Lives.  keep in mind, that’s the good, the bad, and the ugly – our reality is largely a product of our thoughts.  

Sometimes we just don’t feel up to a workout.  You know that feeling, right?

The other morning I was INCREDIBLY stressed, having just gotten back from a trip (during which I managed to destroy my iPhone!), and knowing I had a million things to do because I am moving in two weeks.  I was heading out-of-state just two days later to see my hunnie (which is where I am moving! 😀 ) and I hadn’t gotten in much exercise in the week prior.  For me, that’s even more stressful – I just don’t feel like myself!

So I threw my running shoes in my bag and said to myself, “I am going to run tomorrow morning, no ‘if’s, ‘but’s, or bs!”

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Sunday morning I hopped on the treadmill.  I realized I forgot my inhaler so I felt more out of breath than usual (I actually think it was a total slacker mind trick, and that I WAS, in reality, JUST FINE!)  As I started my sprints, I just didn’t FEEL great.  I felt a little queasy, and as if I couldn’t get to the intensity I wanted.

But I trudged through, determined to stay on for 30 minutes, no matter how good – or terrible! – my sprints were.  

Was it my fastest sprinting?  Hell no.

My most intense workout?  Not by a long shot.

Had I run my farthest, or done my best inclines??  Not even close.

Was I proud of myself?

YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT!

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It wasn’t my “best” at all.  But it was a good, solid effort.  I pushed myself (healthily) enough to get something out of it.  I knew when I was done that I would feel SO much better, and I did.

We DON’T have to crush our personal records and goals every single time we workout.  We don’t HAVE to be GREAT every time we get to the gym.  We deserve to feel proud of ourselves for ALL of our efforts because it takes a lot just to GET there.