Monday, March 17, 2014

Climbing the Wall...Literally

Is winter getting you down? Are you longing to get a pedicure and show it off in sandals? Do you wish you could sit outside in the evening, sip a cocktail and not get frostbite? If winter has you climbing the walls, why not give in and climb? Literally. 

The Mother/Son Climbing Team
That’s what I did over the weekend. I took the climbing wall class at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Campus Recreation Center. When I signed up for the class with my son Bryan, I figured it would be a fun bonding experience for the two of us and a nice goal for me. 

When we arrived at class, I looked up at the wall and questioned my sanity. First of all, you have to wear a safety harness that, quite frankly, does absolutely nothing for your posterior region. (It sort of grips your rear end and squeezes. Not a good look.) And secondly, that is one tall wall. Yikes.

I pushed gamely ahead with the class, learning the knots needed to tie onto the rope and the technique of belaying that involves the person on the ground maneuvering with the rope so the climber doesn’t go crashing to the ground. 
I even learned the correct climbing terms.

Me: On belay?

Bryan: Belay on.

Me: Climbing.

Bryan: Climb on.

(Me: OMG. What was I thinking?!)

What was I thinking?

Well, when it comes to exercise, change is good.

If you’re a creature of habit, you might do the same thing every day. Run on the treadmill. Go to the same class. Lift the same weights over and over. Not only is it boring, it doesn’t do much for your fitness level.

Research suggests if you add variety to your routine, you’re more likely to stick with it. Varying your workout can also help you avoid a fitness plateau, where you stop seeing improvements. When you do the same thing day after day, your body tends to adapt to the demands. By mixing it up a little, you keep your body guessing and you start to see results again.

That’s why I’m so excited about new formats introduced at Jazzercise. In addition to the regular class, I’m going to work in a Fusion class and a Strength 60 class. Fusion combines intervals of cardio and strength training and Strength60 is a full hour dedicated to building muscle. During the summer, I’ll be able to get outside more for a run or a bike ride. And I may even climb the wall again.

It was a little scary but I had fun and I was proud of myself for climbing way outside my comfort zone. Did I make it to the top? Yes, I did.

But I didn’t look down!

What do you do to change things up with your exercise routine?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Maximize Your Life

I don’t watch The Biggest Loser and I didn’t really know much about Jillian Michaels, who is one of the coaches on the popular weight loss TV show. Wasn’t she that skinny b@#*x who yells at people?
Me and Lindsay waiting to hear Jillian.
 After hearing her speak last night at the Holland Center in Omaha, I’m a Jillian Michaels fan. I might even start listening to her podcast.

In a stop on her “Maximize Your Life Tour," Michaels spoke for 90 minutes and then took questions from the audience. A lot of what she talked about I had heard before. But she presented simple, easy-to-understand concepts in an entertaining way. She’s very funny, articulate and quick on her feet.

Michaels won me over right away with her very, very important secret to health. It’s the key to being fit, the wizardry behind weight loss. The secret formula. And the magic words?

(Drum roll…..)

Eat Less. Move More.

Simple, right? Simple, but not easy.

In her speech, Michaels laid out a combination of practical advice and
Oprah-like wisdom.

Jillian Michaels
Here are a few of the messages she shared with her audience.
  • Eat. Real. Food. Don’t spend one more dollar on fad diets. Don’t eat stuff with ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  •  Count calories. Figure out your basal metabolic rate, the number of calories you body needs even if all you do is stay in bed all day. Figure out the calories you can take in, based on your daily activity level and the number of calories it takes to lose a pound or two a month. (There are loads of calculators on line in you’re like me and don’t do math.)
  • Exercise helps move the needle faster. But it has to be intense exercise: kinetic, energetic exercise that uses body weight and free weights. Figure out your maximum heart rate and aim for 85%. I blogged about using a monitor so I can reach my target but there are other ways to measure heart rate.
  • A permanent source of motivation has to from inside. Figure out exactly why you want to be fit and that will help you tolerate the tough workouts and clean diet you need to meet your goals. (Rachel, a personal trainer, also tries to help clients “figure out their why” so they can set goals and be successful.)
  •  Don’t live life entirely as a “responsibility sandwich” made up of fear, judgment, responsibility and obligation. You need to fit yourself into that equation and put yourself first. Fear is paralyzing but there’s a cost associated with doing nothing. Doing nothing about your health leads to decay, high cholesterol, heart disease.
  • Wherever you are in life, it’s your choice. The way you respond to stress and other challenges determines how your life plays out.
  • Transformation is a present activity. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “I screwed up already so what’s the point?” or “After I’ve lost ten pounds, then I’ll be happy.”
  • The goal is not perfection. The goal is progress.
  • Don’t give up. Failure is an entry point for success. When you fail, evaluate what you did wrong, make changes and try again.
  • And finally, let yourself be awesome!

I know a lot of this stuff may sound like sayings that should be stitched on a pillow. But it’s also truth that is good to hear and think about.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Be Strong

You had the power all along, my dear. – Glinda the Good Witch
Pitbull! Demi Lovato! Lady Gaga! Matchbox 20!
New routines are coming to Jazzercise and that means new music, new moves and new motivation.

Music is a huge motivator for me. Lately, I’ve had Pharrell’s “Happy” song on a loop in my head and it makes me want to bust a move while I’m standing in line at the grocery store or walking from the car to my office. (I’m afraid someone might call the police so I usually restrain myself and save my dancing for Jazzercise.)

Motivation certainly can be hard to find. I’m the only one who can get myself to the gym or come up with excuses not to go. It’s too cold. I’m too tired. I’m depressed. I’m celebrating. I’m busy. It’s Tuesday. I already blew it at lunch so why bother?

But I also have a list of reasons why I should work out. I’ll feel better later. I need an hour all to myself. I’ll sleep better. I won’t be so crabby. I blew it at lunch so this is my chance to make it right.

I can also turn to some of my favorite fitness gurus for help.
  •  Fara, a jazzercise instructor, always find ways to challenge her class. Lift your knees higher! Try a heavier weight!  She encourages clients to look for progress in the way they feel, not in a number on a scale. And she reminds us that we have the power over our own fitness. “No one can give you fitness, but the cool thing is, no one can take it away either,” she says.
  • Lindsay, another instructor, agrees that the focus should be on lifestyle, not weight loss. “Sleep better. Make new friends. Smile. Drink water. Dance. Have fun. Build muscle,” she says. “The actual workout is a small component of what Jazzercise strives to do to improve a lifestyle.” I try to remind myself every day it's a lifestyle choice that leads to real results.
  •  Rachel is a personal trainer at Prairie Life Fitness. (AKA G.I. Jane.) Her motivation comes from the desire to have the energy to enjoy life. She encourages clients to identify why they want to be lose weight, feel better, be healthier. Then set realistic goals to get there. “Goal setting is a great way to help you focus on what you want and when you want it,” said Rachel.
  •  And here’s a practical tip from Mary, another instructor at Jazzercise. Her advice? “Never wear stretch pants around the house. They make you feel skinny until you put on your favorite blue jeans.” (That’s one of the reasons I love Mary’s classes. She makes me laugh.) And I'd add to that...never buy slacks with elastic waists!