Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Drop and Give Me 20

I don’t remember much about the plot of the G.I. Jane movie but I do remember Demi Moore’s abs. And arms, legs, shoulders and back. She must have been in the best shape of her life for that movie. I even found the daily workouts she followed while she was getting ready for filming. Check them out –they’re brutal. http://www.popworkouts.com/demi-moore-workout-gi-jane/

Needless to say, I was a little nervous when I signed up for the G.I. Jane class at my health club and the Jazzercise Hard Core and More personal touch class. Was I going to have to hold a lifeboat over my head while I ran laps? Would I have to do upside down crunches while hanging by my legs from a bunk bed? Do one-armed pushups? Shave my head? What was I getting myself into?

And why?

The “why” is easy. It’s fun to switch it up a little and try something different. New routines kick-start my metabolism AND my motivation. And face it, it's the end of January and the new resolutions are starting to lose their mojo.   

The Jazzercise Hard Core and More class combines a variety of exercises that focus on your body’s trunk, including abs, back and hips. Core strength is one of those buzzwords I hear a lot and with good reason. It’s not just about looking cut in a bikini. Having a strong core means you can rake leaves, carry your groceries and reach the can on the top shelf. Sports like golf and swimming are powered by a strong core. It helps with posture, eases back pain and improves balance so you don’t fall on the ice and break something.

Homework Videos on FB
In Fara’s HardCore class, we did 45 minutes of core exercise, including lunges off the step and twisting planks. While the class focuses on strength, my heart rate was elevated so I also got a cardio workout. We have daily exercise and nutrition assignments and a Facebook page so that we can share our ideas and experiences. (And whine a little.)

In my G.I. Jane class at Prairie Life Center, a small group of women and 
one brave man follow the
Push that plate!
lead of our drill sergeant, Rachel. Actually, Rachel is a sweetheart and very supportive. But there’s nothing sweet about her workout. The first class, we went through an exercise circuit using weight-lifting plates.

Both classes add an edge to my workout routine.
What do you do to change things up?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Intensity and Pitbull

Pitbull Dance Party

   We like to have fun at Jazzercise. Take, for example, the dance party we had at a 5:30 class last week, complete with special guests on stage and prizes. (Yes, I won the Juice Stop gift card. Boom!)
   Combine music by Pitbull with routines by Jazzercise and you have one intense workout. How do I know? I wear one of those watches that monitors heart rate. That class was a pumper. Even without the monitor, I could tell I was working hard. My mother likes to say, "Ladies don't sweat, they glow." I was definitely a-glow.
   Intensity in a workout is important, whether you’re trying to lose weight or train for a marathon. If you’re not working hard enough, you won’t get results. If you work out too hard, you risk injury.
   Finding the right intensity to meet your goals is the tricky part and is affected by things like age, weight, fitness level and genetics. A general rule of thumb is to shoot for 50-85% of your maximum heart rate. I don’t do math but there are great target heart rate calculators online to help you figure out your numbers.
   As you become more fit, your workout might start to feel easy. That’s when it’s time to change it up: lift your knees higher, add weight, try an interval class that that combines lower intensity activity with short bursts of hard training, mix in a bike ride or a brisk walk.
   The point is, your workout should be as individual as you are and always a work in progress.
   For me, working out also has to be fun or I won’t stick with it.
   And what’s more fun than a mid-week Jazzercise dance party?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Snack Attack

Yogurt, raspberries, granola
    Snacking? Yes. I'm a fan.
   My mother used to call it “piecing”, as in: “Don’t worry about a big dinner. We’re just going to piece all day.” (I guess that means, a piece of this and a piece of that.) I’ve also heard it called “grazing” but that makes me think of cows, which isn’t the image I’m going for.
   Whatever you want to call it, I’m pro-snack and I work them into my diet throughout the day.
Some people believe eating small amounts of food more often speeds up the metabolism, which helps the body burn calories more efficiently. Others say the science doesn’t really back up that claim.
    But one thing for sure: snacking/piecing/grazing keeps me from getting so hungry that I dive head first into a bowl of m’n’ms. I just make sure portion sizes are small to prevent overloading on calories.
   My favorite snack is low-fat Greek yogurt with berries and a handful of granola. It’s high in protein and it satisfies my sweet tooth. I use fresh berries when possible and frozen in the winter.
No-Bake Protein Bar
   Last week, I made a batch of no-bake protein bars using natural peanut butter, honey, chocolate protein powder, cranberries and granola. These are great for slipping in my bag so I have something to curb the hunger pangs after a workout. You can find the recipe at skinnyms.com
   Here are a few other ideas for healthy snacks:
  •      Peanut butter on a celery stick or apple slice.
  •     A handful of raisins. 
  •      Humus and whole wheat crackers.
  •      Banana
  •     Cheese stick
  •     A 100 calorie bag of popcorn. (I know I could probably pop my own and measure out the right amount but the snack bags are convenient and keep me from overeating.)
   A small square of dark chocolate is another good choice but I’m such a chocoholic I’d be tempted to eat the whole bar!
   What are your favorite snacks?

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's So Cold....

   Yes, it's colder than Antarctica right now. It's so cold, you have to use an ice scraper on your glasses when you walk to your office. It's so cold, there's no hot air left in Washington, D.C. It's so cold, you just want to cuddle up in a blanket and stay on the couch all day, watching old movies and drinking hot chocolate.
   That's how I started my weekend and I might have stayed on the couch, had it not been for those pesky New Year's Resolutions made less than a week ago. Ya know...that thing about working out consistently?
   These are the times when a little voice starts yapping: "Go ahead and relax. It's too cold to go out. Just for today. You can make it up later. Start tomorrow."
   I give credit to my friend Kim, for blasting me off the couch by telling me via Facebook that if I work out, I would feel "righteous" and then blog about it.
   Hence, today's blog. What motivates you to work out when it's dark, cold, snowy and generally inhospitable to humans?
  • Talk to yourself. Not in an off-her-meds way but in a positive self-talk voice that counteracts the couch potato voice. "C'mon, you're tougher than the temperature. You can do this."
  • If that doesn't work, bargain with yourself. Tell yourself, if you just put give it a try and go to class, you have permission to go back into couch mode later.
  • Start a motivation board on Pinterest or a file of cold weather warm-ups. Include pictures of a beach vacation you're planning and a bikini you'd love to fit into.
  • Post your intention to work out on social media. Then check in on FourSquare or Facebook so everyone knows you followed through.
  • Make a date to meet a friend in class and put it on the calendar. You'll be less likely to bail if you have a workout buddy.
   Most of the time, if you can make it to class or the gym, you'll be glad you did.
   And I was.
   The class was packed with other former couch potatoes who laugh in the face of windchill. Fara, the instructor, got the music going and I got moving. Soon I ditched the sweatshirt and before long we were all groaning and moaning and sweating together.
   What are your tricks to get moving?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Never Give Up...Never Surrender!

2013 Selfie
Name an exercise program and I've probably tried it.

I started running (or rather jogging and plodding) when I was in college. I would run from my sorority house to the state capitol, and fly up the stairs, where I would celebrate Rocky-style. I even ran a few races, although I have to admit, it was never my thing. The first 10K I entered, I was  the last runner to cross the finish line, with a police cruiser on my heels. Really.

Nowadays, I only run if someone is chasing me. But I've never quit exercising and I never will. I'll be one of those ladies doing chair aerobics in the nursing home when I'm 100.

Yes, I've tried it all. Boot camps, spinning, step. Zumba, KBX, kettlebells. Exercise class before the crack of dawn. Noon workouts. Yoga. Wii Fit. You name it, I've probably given it a whirl.

Lately, I've had great success with a personal trainer at Prairie Life Center. Small but mighty, Rachel doesn't give up on me, even when I'm ready to give up on myself. She even gets me to do burpees. (But I will never like them. Ever.)

The workout I've followed consistently throughout the years is Jazzercise. I lose myself in the music and turn into Paula Abdul, Gwen Verdon and Ginger Rogers. Instructors are encouraging, inspiring and fun. Inventive, effective and safe choreography. Friends who keep me coming back. It just doesn't feel like exercise...until I glimpse my Polar watch and see how hard my heart is working.

I've set myself three fitness challenges for the new year. The first is to do a pull-up. Without using the assisted pull-up machine.
Secondly, I'm determined to get 150 classes at Jazzercise this year. I want that free shirt.
And finally, I'm going to start blogging about my fitness journey. Hopefully, it'll keep me honest.

Follow me, if you'd like to.
And I'd love to hear what works for you.