There’s definitely an extra spring in my step today. Along with riding a residual sugar rush from my annual Easter candy splurge, it also happens to be Motivation Monday and opening day at Yankee Stadium! Not wanting to ignore the “other” New York baseball fans, I should mention it’s also opening day for the Mets at CitiField. (Of course, whoever’s responsible for having both games start at 1:05 pm ET on the same day should not be in charge of scheduling next year.)
Even though many of my beloved Yankees are starting this year sidelined thanks to a range of injuries, I’m going to stay positive that they’re back in action in time to make this another championship season. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with an injury of your own in the “off-season” and just returning to your fitness routine. If that’s the case, remember to start slowly and listen to your body. (Make sure you’ve cleared any activity with your doctor before you get started.) Remember, it’s better to sit out a few first games of your softball league than risk a serious injury that could bench you for the season – or worse, secure a trip to the operating room.
My short and sweet message for this Motivation Monday is to use it as another reason to get active. If you’re sick of the treadmill, then think about pounding the pavement in your neighborhood for a morning or post-work run. Maybe this is the year you get the tennis racquet re-strung and find a friend for a few sets during the week. It may not be quite warm enough for the beach yet, but there’s no reason you can’t find an outdoor volleyball net in a park and get a group together for some post-work de-stressing or weekend fun.
If you can’t figure out a way to coordinate schedules with family and friends for a team sport, then take that jump rope outside and start skipping. Park benches are also perfect spots to brace yourself for push-ups or take box jumps to a different level. Tree branches (sturdy ones!) are also the perfect prop for pull ups. If you really want to have some fun while breaking a sweat, don’t underestimate the power of swinging on the monkey bars at the local playground. There’s also no rule that says you can’t bang out some Tabatas in the great outdoors.
As we get ready to tackle another work week, remember, now’s the perfect time to embrace each minute of extra sunlight and add some extra outdoor activity to our typical routines. It’s all part of the overall game plan to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Leave it to Albert Einstein to come up with yet another catchy idea: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I have no idea whether he was a fitness buff, but the scientific genius could have been talking about exercise. Whether you’re a fitness newbie or fanatic like me, sometimes we all need a little motivation and a good kick in the you-know-what to take things up a notch. There are three reasons why spring is the perfect time to change your routine:
- Avoid a Plateau: If you run at the same speed on the treadmill everyday for 20 minutes, your body will eventually hit a plateau. You’ll still burn calories, but you’ll need to increase your resistance levels or speed if you want to help boost your metabolism and maximize results. This is the same reason personal trainers push clients to increase reps with each workout. As your strength and endurance grows, so should your workout.
- Avoid Over-Training: Doing the same workout day after day doesn’t allow muscle groups time to rest and recover and ultimately grow. This not only diminishes returns on your hard work, but it also puts you at increased risk for injury. This is why I try to hit cardio and core hard on Mondays and Wednesdays and focus on strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I continue to mix things up over the weekend, and I’m always sure to take a minimum of one if not two days off each week.
- Avoid Burnout: If you get bored with your fitness routine, you’re likely to stop putting 100% into your work. If you stop seeing results, you may give up on your fitness goals altogether. Trying new group exercise classes and weight training circuits can keep things fresh.
The good news is there are simple ways to add a little variety, and perhaps some extra sweat, to your typical routine:
1) Start jumping rope: Not only does this fun activity make me feel like a kid again, but you can burn up to 20 calories per minute jumping rope. Also, you can do it just about anywhere. All you need is a jump rope! Even walkers can incorporate jumping rope into their routine and take things to the next leve. Try this combo: walk at your top speed for 5 minutes, then jump rope for 1 minute, keep switching between walking and jumping rope and work your way up to a total of 30 minutes. Ideally, try to work up to three walking/jumping sessions three times a week for two weeks.
2) Tweak the traditional push-up: Place your feet on a six- to eight-inch high step as you get in plank position and perform a push-up as you normally would. Be sure to draw in your navel and squeeze the glutes through all your reps. Adding the step creates more work for your shoulders along with the chest.
3) Get a new playlist: I can always count on heart-pounding beats to keep me moving! If you need some new tunes, I recently started following DJ Al Roccone on Twitter. He’s got great fitness mixes you can download for free. Check out his latest here:
4) Blow Your Mind: If you want to see what true strength and determination look like, check out this amazing video I found on the Fitness Girls Facebook page.
I may not be able to bang out half of exercises in that video, but I like seeing such challenging variations to body-weight exercises. It just goes to show sometimes all you need is your body and some floor space to get to work! Let me know how you take things up a notch this spring as part of the never-ending quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Yes, I know we’re smack in the middle of Hanukkah and only 13 days away from Christmas. I also realize we’re busy juggling everything from work or studying for final exams to taking care of the kids and managing the social calendar that’s probably chock full of holiday gatherings. Despite all this, it’s no time to skimp on getting your daily dose of physical activity.
If you’re saying, “but Laura, I can’t get to Zumba this week because my f avorite class is on the same night as my company’s holiday party” or “if I don’t go shopping after work tomorrow, I won’t have time the rest of the week,” listen up! That hour you normally dedicate to exercise might be filled this week, but if you have 10 minutes to spare a few times a day, you do have time to get moving! (Since 10 x 3 =30, getting in that half-hour of activity isn’t as tough as you think!)
Seriously, you owe it to yourself to find 10 minutes to move. It will help keep your mind healthy during the hustle and bustle of these frenetic December days, too! What can you do in 10 minutes?
- Climb stairs: If you have them at home, you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas in the morning to make this happen. Take the stairs at the train station instead of the escalator. If you work in an office building, take the stairs instead of the elevator as often as possible.
- Jump rope: This is a piece of workout gear everyone should have. You can pick one up anywhere from your local sports-gear shop to any Target or Walmart. Jumping rope on a soft surface like a carpet or low-cut grass will give your knees a bit of protection. If you’re brand new to jumping rope, try skipping over the rope alternating feet in 30-second increments and work up to more minutes as you go. Before you know it, you’ll want to keep skipping beyond those 10 minutes!
- Divvy up the DVD time: Have a favorite 30-minute workout DVD? Break it up into 10 minute segments.
- Transform your house into a gym: Any wall can be used for standing push-ups; stairs are great for calf raises and triceps dips and any floor is the perfect spot for planks and crunches!
- Walk, walk and walk some more: I always say one of my favorite things about living in New York City is I simply do my best to walk anywhere and everywhere I can. At this time of year, that includes leaving work and meeting up with friends for some holiday cheer. If you’re driving to work, the grocery store or the mall, park a little further from the entrance. At lunch time, spend less time checking email or social media sites and take a 10-minute walk outside the office. The fresh air will do your brain some good, too!
Despite the hustle and bustle of the season, if you’ve got 10 minutes, you’ve got all the time you need to do something that can help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!