Trimming the Fat - One Day at a Time
Winter fitness can be a challenge when it comes to getting to your favorite gym to exercise. Weather can be a great excuse to not get where you need to be, but it doesn't have to inhibit overall fitness. The truth is that while I love being in the environment of Lifetime Fitness for accountability when I am not taking care of myself as I should, sometimes my tendency to cheat shames me into not going. The great staff helped me get my life back during a two year recovery from an accident and back injury, and made the experience fresh every time I was there. If I could revisit the joy I had while my body responded to the hard work, I would choose it every single time. It takes discipline over my mental state to go forward.
During my days at Lifetime Fitness, I discovered Pilates, which is an essential staple in my exercise menu. As I progressed, my core strength increased and I progressed to marathon Stairmaster sessions (I like to do 250 floors in an hour). Now both are part of my maintenance plan, whenever I am in the area. High altitude here requires perseverance in cardio, just to breathe. I don't want to end up on oxygen...ever, so taking the stairs is a necessity, even in a workplace. It actually saves time waiting for elevators, and energizes me on the way.
Having professional personal training staff around you as you are doing your workout is exceptionally encouraging, so I decided to pay it forward. My response was to become a personal goodwill ambassador to the mission of fitness for others, since I never dreamed that I could get in shape again myself.
I learned about the importance of weight training in the exercise routine, and how to use each machine, safely and effectively to receive maximum results. I didn't like them all, but I learned to love them for the results they produce. I learned to vary the machines, the elliptical, the Stairmaster, the rowing machines, the treadmill and even challenged myself to spinning once or twice a week. I tried and loved water aerobics, especially the more difficult classes, the morning classes were somewhat lighter and over-attended, but they do serve their purpose for those who need them.
I tried yoga, but with my back issues, was unable to do many of the moves, so I settled into Pilates 3 times a week, and found that it helped my back heal tremendously, so I continue that schedule at home. When my cable station took them out of the programming and replaced the time slot with yoga, I just quit watching and bought several good videos. It costs nothing after the initial investment, and the instructor gives thorough instructions. These alternatives save drive time, stress, and allow you to shower quickly and get on your way.
I kept myself open to all of the classes, but learned that kick-boxng for me was impossible. I enjoyed Zumba, and even tried that in the water! I took all of the dance classes available and did my best although I clearly am not the queen of rhythm. Oh well, I can always watch Dancing with the Stars and dream.
In the summer, I joined three personal trainers for a hike up the Flatirons in Boulder. It wasn't easy, but I let them coach me to a finish.. In the winter I tried rollerskating indoors. I found out I don't like to fall down, so I went back to core classes, and now I do those at home. Now I while my granddaughter does that I walk out lunges alternating with running and pushups. I live with my limitations, but that doesn't stop me from trying new adventures.
Just Do Something
When living over 28 miles each away makes the drive impossible during fierce weather, I figured out that I was going to have to make an at home plan that I could stick to and enjoy at home. Additionally, after New Years until the end of February, most gyms are packed to the hilt, making it difficult to work a steady program. No I don't like crowds, dirty locker rooms, waiting to take a shower, and all the viruses floating around in the winter, not to mention the drive time and finding parking.
Membership gifting combined with New Year's resolutions make parking spaces and machines less available in the evenings. I normally go during quiet hours because there are fewer obstacles. Lifetime rarely ever runs out of equipment to work out on! When weather doesn't cooperate, I begin my winter training at home program.
The Fast Track
Here are 3 DVD programs that I know produce results if you do them regularly:
1. The Firm - Firm Parts: wwwFIRMdirect.com I suggest alternating this set of 2 DVD's (contains 4 workouts) 5 Day Ab workout: Each ab workout is less than 10 minutes. I usually do 2 ab workouts a day. Then choose either the Upper Body (35 minutes) or Standing Legs workout (42 minutes). I do these Monday Wednesday and Friday. The Tough Tape 2 I do twice a week, whenever I feel super-motivated, it replaces both the ab and Upper Body or Standing Legs tape.
2. 10 Minute Solutions: Pilates for Abs, Pilates for Buns & Thighs, Sculpting Pilates, Pilates Burn, and Pilates for Flexibility. I do two of these per day on Tuesday Thursday and Saturday.
3. Core Secrets by Guthy-Renker: Fundamentals, Give me 20, Full Body Workout (25 minutes) or Accelerated Core Training. All these can be done in less than 30 minutes. If you get bored doing any of these others, rotate them with the others to keep it moving.
One last tip: If I find out I am going on a surprise vacation I sometimes resort to doing the 5 Day Abs complete program of 5 workouts every day (45 min), because they guarantee results in 10 workouts, and they aren't exaggerating at all. So I see progressive results every 3rd day, and the exercises are easier! When I am not doing them for awhile because I am doing core classes, I am only sore for the first two days, then I add weights on the 3rd to maximize the results.
What Will it Take?
Begin your routine a daily walk at a fast pace or alternation of running and walking when the weather is tolerable. I walk for at least 30 minutes a day wherever I find myself. I think about my spiritual life during that walk, as I reflect on my day. If I have to walk in a mall, I imagine myself leaving a care or worry at every store and walk on. By the time I get home, in the morning, I am energized and find myself accomplishing far more than I would in a day. If I walk at night (at least 2 hours before bed, I get a great night's sleep because my load has been lightened, at the same time as my body!
In 6 months using these techniques, I lost 40 lbs, and my body is toned. Of course, I don't sit and eat chocolate all day, but I don't do crash diets either, because they don't keep the weight off. It's all about choices, and when I make the right ones, I get the rewards and so can you! Don't be afraid to mix it up and find out what works best for you. If you fail momentarily, get back up, don't beat yourself up and quit.
I am no more disciplined than the average person, but once I get started, I tend to keep my commitment to myself for the sake of staying motivated to change. Once I begin to see results, I am compelled, and I am able to stay consistent.
For those who don't have quick access to a gym because of distance or pricing, a time-efficient workout routine is essential. It takes a minimum of equipment, a core ball, some 8-15 lb weights, a mat, some ankle weights if you want them.
If I don't make a scheduled time to exercise daily, it doesn't happen. A regular calendar is the best place to write down a plan and a time you know you will work into your schedule. I also include what training I will do, break it off into small segments, and check it off when I am finished.
If you begin now, you can keep it going during the bad weather. Having a moderate plan kept me from piling on weight during the Holidays, so I didn't become a New Year's resolution casualty! Combined with a low carb diet, it was manageable and rewarding as the inches decreased and my fit body emerged, so give it your best shot and stick to it the best you can!
There are several other great advantages to this winter home workout program:
1) You save wear and tear on your car, gas costs, stress from driving, and reduce the possibilty of being involved in a weather-related accident or being stranded.
2) You don't have to pack a gym bag, be exposed to a steady stream of germs during cold and flu season, or deal with the princesses who won't share the facility or mirrors. You shower at home, where your sanitary standards are comfortable and predictable. You don't forget the important things you need or stress over what you have forgotten, and you have towels that actually dry your wet body.
3) You can have the right post-workout foods available and won't be tempted to resort to fast-food refueling for convenience. You control the portions and the quality of the food you are eating, and there is always enough water!
4) When you are done, don't have to pack and repack everything, haul it to the car and make the trek home. You are able to begin resting immediately which is essential for your recovery. Sweet!