Tag Archives: regular exercise

Need Some New Year’s Inspiration?

I’ve long-held the belief that just because your friend/spouse/parent loves to run/swim/play basketball/go hiking/lift weights, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your thing.

I’ve also long-held the belief that there is some form of exercise for everyone.

And here’s the beautiful part: your figuring out what you love to do and how your body wants to move is a wonderful journey.

Some people know instinctively that they love to play team sports.  Others might try a pick-up game of soccer and find out that they really enjoy the quiet of the golf course.  You may also try spinning for a year or a two, and then decide that a pilates class will challenge you in a new and different way.  There is no one path.

The only rule is that you do something that feels good and makes you feel confident in your body.  If you get to the point that you feel ‘off’ when you miss a workout, you’re on the right track!

When you find your fitness groove, it’s like magic.  For some people, it creates a lifetime habit of movement, flexibility, balance, and grace.  And sometimes it comes together most unexpectedly.

Here’s to finding your fitness groove in 2016.  May it be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Good health and great happiness to you!


Summer Workout Options

It’s June.  When did that happen?

If you’re in a bit of a panic state (NOT THAT I AM, PROMISE!) about summer coming, having the kids around more, and still trying to keep fit, read on.

What are your stumbling blocks to exercising during the summer?

  • Kids at home
  • Kids going to multiple camps/activities so you’re in the car all day?
  • Too hot
  • Interrupted by vacations

If you have kids at home, why not include them in your exercise plans?  Play soccer in the backyard, invent a game that will keep you all moving, or take them to a playground where you can use the equipment to exercise.

If you’re driving the mom taxi all summer, see where you can find just 10 minutes of time a few times a day.  You can go for a walk, step up and down a curb in a parking lot, or even do a 10-minute cardio blast (that’s from my Balance Virtual Bootcamp)…all without any special equipment.

Too hot where you are? I know the feeling!  Check out my rundown of Five Ways to Beat the Heat and keep exercising through the summer.

Are your workouts interrupted by going on vacation?  I know how that goes, too.  But with a little planning ahead, you can get some workouts on your calendar before you leave.  Giving yourself this accountability tool may be the motivation you need to keep at it while you’re away.  Also, make a list of rules before you leave so you know you have room to relax and enjoy while you’re on vacation, too.  Even if your summer vacation is a staycation, setting guidelines can keep you on your path to wellness.

And if you do happen to be one of those people who is in a bit of a panic about summer coming, why don’t you round up a friend or two and go on a walk.  You can talk through some survival strategies and even set up a time to walk again.  Having a friend along always makes life better.


Good health and great happiness to you!

Balance Virtual Bootcamp Returns Soon!


Are you ready?

After taking off the last few weeks, Balance Virtual Bootcamp is kicking off again Monday March 31st.  I’ve been putting together some great new workouts, picking some of the most challenging workouts from the first FIVE rounds of Balance Virutal Bootcamp, and coming up with a program that is accessible, supportive, efficient, and effective.

How does it work?

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for eight weeks, a workout is emailed to you.  There is a description of each exercise, or you can watch a video of each exercise.  Helping you learn good form and stay injury-free is one of the top objectives of Balance Virtual Bootcamp.

How long do the workouts take?

Workouts can be done in 30 minutes, start-to-finish.

Do I need lots of equipment?

No.  Two sets of dumbbells (5lbs and 10lbs for beginners, 8lbs and 12lbs or 15lbs for more advanced exercisers), a resistance band, an interval timer, and a yoga mat are all you really need.  A stability ball is useful but not totally necessary.

Is that all there is?

There is a private Facebook group for each round of Balance Virtual Bootcamp.  We use this forum to support each other, ask and answer questions, and share ideas for healthy living.

How much does it cost?

$50.  All inclusive.

How do I sign up?

Just click on this link, and you’ll go to the health screening page that is the first step in registering for Balance Virtual Bootcamp.  See you there!

Good health and great happiness to you!

Are you a blogger or fitness trainer?  Interested in promoting Balance Virtual Bootcamp in exchange for a free registration—either for you or to give away on your blog?  Shoot me an email or leave a comment, and we’ll see how we can work together.

Do Shortcuts Work?

Everyone is looking for a shortcut.  We’re a people about efficiency, mental speed, and moving on from one thing to another in the name of productivity.  If we can find shortcuts to get us from A to B sooner, that’s a good thing, right?!

Maybe and maybe not.

In exercise: 

Here’s some great news for those of you who struggle to get in even 30 minutes of exercise daily….new research supports the conclusions that High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)– done only three days a week– is even more effective than longer bouts of moderate-intensity exercise.

Balance Virtual Bootcamp is designed using HIIT philosophy, and most workouts can be done start-to-finish (with warm up and stretching) in less than 30 minutes.  With its three-times-per-week frequency, it supports the encouraging findings outlined in this New York Times article.

Of course, you should choose an exercise program that is specific to your goals.  While HIIT is fantastic for people who are in moderately-good shape to start with, working out only a few minutes a day (or even a few days a week) likely isn’t going to yield results for those people who are looking to shed significant weight.  But knowing that you don’t have to devote your life to exercise in order to get results is incredibly motivating, regardless of what your fitness goals are.

In cooking:

The grocery industry has exploded in the last few years by marketing to convenience cooking.   Has your grocery store expanded its prepared foods section in the last few years?  My bet is ‘yes.’  A quick trip through any produce section will show increasing cooler space devoted to pre-chopped vegetables, soup or sauce-mix packed ingredients, and other partially-prepped foods.  While this type of convenience food can help you along your healthy eating journey, there are plenty of pitfalls in the convenience cooking mindset.  Taking a look at the value of these foods (nutrition vs. cost vs. time), you may not find that they are as good of a ‘deal’ as what you hope.  This article from The Atlantic outlines ways that pre-prepared cooking doesn’t always save time.

So, shortcuts, like most things in life, need your fine focus and thought before deciding whether they are worth it to you or not.  Your time and energy are valuable—spend them wisely!

A Calendar to Keep You** Honest


Do you keep a training log?

I used to.  For more than ten years, I logged every mile I ran, noting the temperature, course, total mileage, splits, and how I felt before-during-and-after the run.   Sometimes these notes were sketchy, jotted down on a calendar on the day of the run.  Sometimes these logs were more like journals, recording way more details than anyone (including me) would ever need to know about my training.  In either case, though, they served as a record of hard work done.  After a big race, I could go back and review how my training contributed to the results of the day.  I could use that feedback to tweak my training plan before the next event.  This type of feedback loop was instrumental in my continual improvement as a road racer.

Then something happened.  I had children, and I quit racing.  When I quit racing, I quit keeping a training log.  It’s taken me a lot of years to piece together the conclusion that without my training logs, it is much easier for me to slack off—if I’m not to record the workout, it’s easier to skip it entirely.

I’ve written in the blog before about the importance of planning workouts ahead of time as a way to stay accountable.  I’m now going back to my old tried and true ways of keeping a workout log as yet another way to keep myself accountable.  It’s one thing to plot out my workouts on the Google calendar, but the digital world makes it so easy to delete, rearrange, or otherwise edit my life to have a tidier (if less honest) appearance.

Moreover, as an academically-trained historian, the workout log is such a rich trove of information that sheds light on the various phases of life.   I look back at my logs from when I was part of a tight-knit running club, and I fondly remember the runs that we shared on cold, snowy, Boston-winter days.  The notes I wrote really bring these memories to life, and I’m transported back to the vibrant, my-whole-life-in-front-of-me, optimistic self.  That’s pretty darn impressive for one little square on a calendar.

I’d love to hear from you if you keep a training log—what do you write down?  Do you go back and look at your logs?  Do you use them strictly for objective feedback, or are they emotional fodder for you as well?

Good health and great happiness to you.


The Search for Something New


I wrote last week about some challenges I’ve faced this winter keeping my training on track.  I’ve really been missing my regular runs.  Because I’ve been limited to working out indoors (which is NOT my preference!), I’ve been doing the Balance Virtual Bootcamp workouts.  They have reminded me that having more structured strength-training in my overall workout plan is a good thing.  But even though I design the workouts myself and know that they are both efficient and effective, I can also admit that this isn’t my favorite format for exercise for me.  Sure, it gets the job done, but it doesn’t give me the same mental boost that I get from running or working out with a group.

A few years ago, I went to some pilates classes at a local gym, and I really liked them.  This is unusual for me, as I normally find myself staring at the clock every two minutes or so.  Remembering that I thought the instructors were quite good (also unusual, in my experience), I decided to go back.  I’ve been going to pilates two times a week for the last few weeks, and I’m really enjoying it.  I think it dovetails nicely with the more regular yoga practice I’ve cultivated since starting the Prenatal Kriya Yoga teacher training course last fall—I’m really feeling a shift in my focus that allows me to tune in to my alignment, breath, and whole body.

I’ve been through enough phases of my life and worked with enough people who struggle to find exercise they enjoy to know two things:

1)      There IS something out there for you.  Keep looking for it!  If you hate to run, DON’T RUN!  If you don’t want to spend much time exercising, BE READY TO SWEAT AND WORK HARD.  If you think you’ve tried everything and still don’t love anything, ask your friends (or crowdsource your Facebook friends) what their favorite type of exercise is.  Certainly you’ll learn something new.

2)      Don’t feel like you have to do the same thing forever.  It’s perfectly okay to have exercise ADD.  Want to train and run a 5K in a few months and then not run at all during the summer?  Fine!  Want to take an 8-week intensive flying trapeze course, but that’s all you can afford?  No problem!  So long as you do something consistently, it doesn’t really matter what it is.  Just keep moving!

And always keep in mind that this whole process is more about the journey than the destination.  Enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it, and when you’re ready to make a change, embrace the opportunity to try something new.  It’s such a gift.

Good health and great happiness to you!

PS- What’s the weirdest type of exercise you’ve tried and loved?  It just may be what someone else is looking for!

It’s been a long, hard winter

I used to live in Boston.  I trained for four Boston Marathons through those cold, harsh New England winters.  I can’t say I ever really liked winter, but I can say for certain I don’t like this year’s version of winter.  I live in Austin now, for Pete’s sake!  The trade off for our surface-of-the-sun summers are supposed to be mild winters.  But not this year.

In the last five weeks, my kids have had three late-start school days and three ‘snow’ days.  (In fact, my boys are at school today doing a make-up day.) I’d show you photos of how we’ve been out building snowmen, sledding, and frolicking in the snow, but this is the ‘snowiest’ shot I could compose:


Yup.  That’s it.  And that was the “big” snow day.

Can you tell I’m not really excited about all of this?

Here’s the thing: I’m not a person who needs a strict routine in order to survive; rather, I relish the flexibility in my schedule, the way it changes each week, how my life and work takes me out and about in my community.  But it takes a lot of logistics to manage this kind of life with three kids.  And to have these carefully-planned logistics upended every week is getting tiring.

Throw another challenge into this: my husband went on a nine-day business trip in the middle of this winter madness.  While I’m so fortunate to have a partner who understands and compliments my desire to live life on our own terms, losing his hands-on help on a daily basis is hard.  I am grateful for what he adds to the regular rhythm of our family, and I– and the kids– miss him when he is gone.

The other really challenging issue I’ve faced this winter is not being able to run in the cold.  My body has turned Texan on me, and I’ve had several episodes of hives after running in the cold weather this winter.  The hives themselves wouldn’t be so concerning, except for each episode has lasted for 5-7 days.  I certainly don’t want this reaction to progress to a more severe condition, so I’ve been running only on the weekends, which are somewhat miraculously the warm weather days we’ve had in the last month.

And, yet, there’s so much to be grateful for:  My family has all stayed healthy throughout the whiplash weather we’ve had in Austin.  I have worked with a new client every week so far this year.  Two Balance-client babies have been born in the last month.  I’ve started going to pilates regularly again.  And, most importantly to me right now, the forecast is warm and sunny skies ahead.