Tag Archives: Cardio

8 Bad Health Habits I’ve Had to Shake

No one’s perfect and health professionals are no different – I’m certainly not perfect! Far from it. But through the years I’ve awakened to my bad health habits and have refined them through trial and error. In the spirit of keeping things real, here are the habits I’ve had to shake. Maybe they’ll make you feel less guilty for having a few of your own. 

 

 

To Do Lists

Alas, I’m ashamed to admit that my obsession with daily “To Do Lists” wasn’t given a firm kick in the pants until I became a mom. I’m not saying it’s bad to have daily goals and lists but what I would do is obsess over every last detail, staying up way too late to ensure every single little thing was checked off my list. I would run errands even though I was dizzy with fatigue. I would wake up in the middle of the night running through the things I needed to get done the next day. I’m telling ya: CRAY CRAY. Yet I’m astonished at how common this behavior is. 

When my son was born, I was due for a startling realization: I can’t do it all. There were lots of tears. I slowly relinquished control and loosened my grip on life’s minute details. As a result, I can now complete a mere fraction of my lofty “To Do” lists without freaking out. I can officially handle living “imperfectly.” I put my sanity over my task lists. (It feels good.) 

 

Overeating

I never thought that I overate until it hit me like a brick wall one day. I was fresh out of college and working to earn a commission-based living at the height of the recession. I was sitting in a side chair in my dining room stuffing my face with handfuls from a bag of Chex Mix even though I wasn’t hungry. I realized in that moment that I was emotionally eating and that it wasn’t all that different from overeating at dinnertime and finding it soothing.

I was able to “get away” with eating a lot while growing up (probably thanks to having a teenager’s metabolism and playing lots of sports). Even as a kid I didn’t feel like dinner was over until I was overstuffed. I ignorantly equated that overstuffed feeling to being full, even though it was overeating. Fast-forward to my 20s, when I got stressed about the responsibilities of the real world, and I craved to have that familiar feeling of fullness from my childhood. As though it made me feel more centered in life’s whirlwind. But I was wrong. I soon discovered that when I stopped overeating and started eating more intuitively that I had loads more energy and far less inflammation in my body.

 

 

Veggies, What Veggies?

I always ate veggies growing up (thanks mom!) but in college it was all too easy to forget about them. And then life as a recent graduate was a lot of buying veggies with the intention of cooking them before ultimately tossing them in the trash after they spoiled. It took me a solid few years to slowly integrate veggies into every lunch and dinner, but I soon found that it was worth the effort (and pretty darn yummy). Filling up my plate most lunches and dinners with a solid heap of veggies keeps me full for longer, doesn’t over-stuff me, and packs in nutrients that energize me and keep my immune system trucking along. I strongly encourage everyone out there to get creative with veggies and find options they can stay motivated to eat and enjoy on a regular basis.

 

No Time to Snooze

I’ve always valued sleep. Even my former college roommates can attest to this. And so can my husband. I’m pretty grumpy and blah without it. Even armed with this knowledge, I tried to convince myself that I could get by on 7 hours of sleep a night; 7-9 hours is the healthy range so I should be good on 7, right? One would think…but my body disagreed.

I spent a few years getting between 6-7.5 hours of sleep most nights and it just about killed me. I’ve never had a more bleary-eyed, exhausted, mentally unstable period of my life. When I finally respected my body’s screams for more rest, everything fell into order. I felt WAY better and acted like a human again. I’m officially an 8-hour girl. And 9 feels like a slice of heaven.

 

 

‘Twas a Nail Biter 

After my Junior year in college I traveled to Sedona, AZ for the summer to work as a fitness instructor and personal trainer at Mii Amo Spa. (Sedona is known for its positive energy and healing qualities.) When I ended the summer there, I noticed with surprise that I hadn’t bitten my nails all summer, something I had done my entire life! It made me realize that I would bite my nails out of nervous anxiety over nothing in particular, and that the habit never made me feel better – only served to kind of reinforce the stress. So, I don’t bite them anymore. Yay! Small victories are everything. 

 

Sit Up Straight

Mom – this one’s for you! Remember how you always told me to sit up straight as girl? “Don’t slouch!” was the exact wording, I believe. Well, you were right. Sitting and standing with better posture helps my whole body feel better. And I’ve noticed that slouching doesn’t just happen during the daytime – it happens at night, too! I notice that I feel better when I sleep straight instead of tucked into a ball. Give it a try!

 

 

Color Me Cardio

Once upon a time I was the cardio exercise queen. It was my mojo. I did cardio all the time. And I loved it. But to be honest, only doing cardio was kiiiinda a bad habit. It might not sound like it initially but constant endurance exercise can deplete your muscle mass and make certain parts of your body weaker. When I first became a personal trainer I had to adjust my mentality. I couldn’t only do cardio and coach other people to lift weights, could I? I had to start cross-training and weight training more regularly and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy at first. I can still remember the day when foam rolling felt difficult because I lacked upper body strength. I can still remember feeling like planks must be the devil’s favorite form of torture. And I can still remember the time when doing anything other than cardio felt forced. But that all slowly changed in an epic way. I’m pretty darn strong now and I love doing a huge variety of exercises. So, it’s okay if getting started with cross-training or weights feels like a chore. You may feel differently one day. Stick to it.

 

Sunday Fun Day 

This phrase is so common that it’s even a little sticker for Instagram stories! There’s something to be said about taking one day a week to truly relax – and I mean no chores, no work emails, no obligations, and for me, no exercise. I used to push myself hard all seven days a week and wondered why I never felt rejuvenated. Isn’t that just so ridiculous? I’ve really come to embrace the concept of “the sabbath” being a day of rest and encourage you to do the same, even if you’re not religious. We aren’t meant to go-go-go, ever pressing life’s accelerator down harder. What’s the point? Why are you doing it? Ask yourself these questions and the consequences of them. And then ask yourself the consequences of NOT resting. If you value your health, you’ll find that the consequences of not resting far outweigh anything else. We’ve all got one body to get through this life in. Let’s learn to honor it.

 

Life’s not about perfection. It’s about progress.

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

 

 

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10 Unspoken Rules of the Gym

This blog post may just be my personal vendetta to correct the many things I’ve seen go wrong at gyms over the years, or it may be an opportunity for you to kindly reference this article to the next person who gets on your last nerve at the gym. Maybe print it out and smack it in the center of their bench press? If nothing else, know that you’re in the right and can chuckle lightly to yourself about those who will soon see the error of their ways. There are some real life anecdotes in here that may make you giggle (or cringe) too…you’re welcome.

 

10 unspoken rules of the gym

 

1) Learn How to Share (it’s a basic life lesson)

Just like the little boy from the well-known Campbell’s Soup commercial said to his hungry older brothers: “Don’t hog it all!” Yes, it’s true that people at the gym can get overly possessive about the equipment they’re using. Take the following scenario that happened to me just a week ago…

I’m alternating sets between a leg extension machine and a reverse fly machine. They’re right beside one another and I was five sets done out of six. A man comes up to the reverse fly machine just as I’m finishing my last set for lower body and heading that way. I understand that he has zero notion of what my routine is so I ask him politely if I can finish my last set after his first one, while he takes a break.

This man gives me the nastiest look a human can possibly conjure up. After a pause he says in a snarky tone “But I’m just starting…” I reassure him that I’m happy to wait while he does a set and can finish my routine quickly while he takes his first break. The man gives me silence…yes, silence (oh yea, and another unusually offensive glare) and continues to adjust the machine’s seat to his preference. At this point I walk away. I could have responded to his comment “You’re just starting? Oh yea? Well, I’m just finishing! I was here first! Nah-Nah-Nah! It’s MINE!!!” But that would have been immature….we’re not children learning the rules of the playground for the first time.

So, don’t hog it all. It’s normal for people to ask to takes turns with you and it’s your right to ask the same. Some people might not follow the rules, but don’t you kind of feel sorry for them and their “I will be miserable to all of humanity” attitude? Apparently, they never learned that being ruler of the swing-set is something only preschoolers should get away with when their teachers aren’t watching.

 

 2) Respect Paid-For Sessions

I know this next point is going to step on some sensitive toes…but here I go anyway. Individuals who are working with a personal trainer have paid for a privilege at the gym. In other words, their needs are just a teeny tiny bit higher for the duration of their paid-for session. From the outside looking in, you may have no clue why that person is paying for a training session. From the inside out, I can tell you that those individuals, who make the intense commitment to pay for training, have something specific that they really need help with. It may be accountability or it may be something much more worrisome such as vascular disease or osteopenia. Either way, these people are contributing to what keeps the gym doors open for all; the bottom line (…and no, not all of them are more financially capable than you so dismiss that judgement right away).

Trainers who are with their clients should not ignore the standard rules of sharing and demonstrating respect for others, but they might be a little more assertive about asking permission to use a machine that you were just on. They’re not trying to be rude or reduce the importance of your workout, they’re just trying to do their job and make sure that their client’s significant investment proves worthwhile.

 

gym classes

 

3) Don’t Come Into a Group Class Super Late

At most gyms, group exercise instructors actually have the right to deny you permission to participate in class, if you’re over 10-15 minutes late. Yup, you heard me right. They are allowed to dismiss you because it’s not going to be very safe for you to jump in after the warm-up. You become a liability to the instructor AND yourself.

I have had plenty of people join one of my Spinning® classes over halfway through. Out of respect for them, I don’t yell through my mic “HEY YOU! GET OUT OF HERE! YOU’RE TOO LATE!” But, I do have to hop off my bike and go speak to them personally. Frankly, it’s annoying.

Even the people who meet my refusal and warnings with a “Don’t worry, I will get warmed up before I start following along,” don’t properly warm up. This takes me beyond my former level of annoyance to feeling genuinely infuriated. Warming up is essential.

Have you ever had a moment as a parent/guardian/friend/significant other when you see a loved one doing something that’s so blatantly harmful that it makes your skin itch? That’s how it feels to be an instructor watching an unruly participant just follow their own whim. If they’re not going to listen to professional guidance, why are they even in class?! It’s like watching a child who is about to dart across the street without looking both ways. The natural urge is to yell “Stop!!! You’re going to get hurt!”

 

4) Waste not. For real.

I recently wrote an Earth Day article for Mad Dogg Athletics’ Spinning.com site. The article, Conserving Water by Skimping on Laundry, explains how the average top-loading washer can use up to 45 gallons of water! Industrial size washers, like most gyms use, require even more water to operate. So, next time you’re at the gym, try not to be so nonchalant about grabbing a stack of white towels for your sweat, the leg press seat, the exercise mat, your neck support, your second round of sweat, and everything else you can possibly use a towel for. I have a feeling you can make do with just one (maybe two).

Big box gyms are EXPENSIVE to operate. So the little things, like extra loads of laundry, do add up over time. As boutique fitness studios chip away at big box gyms, they struggle more and more. If you love your gym (or even your studio!) then try to help them reduce costs by not being wasteful. More importantly, you’re helping Mother Nature too.

 

show-off

 

5) The Gym is NOT the Place to Show off Your Goods

Believe it or not, the gym is not the place to flaunt everything that you’ve got. There are certain exercise classes and environments where sports bras, booty-huggers and mid-riff shirts are commonplace, and okay, it’s not exactly against the rules to wear these on the gym floor either. But, no one needs or wants to see your one-woman parade purposefully making a spectacle of herself.

Have you ever seen a beefed-up guy lift his muscle tank, flex his abs for the mirror and grin? Um…hello Mr. Obvious! While he may physically look like a cool drink on a hot day, vanity isn’t very attractive. Plus, distracted exercisers might drop a dumbbell on their heads!

Even more extreme is when people show off their…err…actual private parts. I kid you not. Once upon a time, there was a middle-aged man who would pull a recumbent bike into the middle of a heavy-traffic hallway at the gym. It was always after work when the gym was at its most crowded. Women would pass through the hallway, heading his way, and come out the other side with their faces grimaced in disgust. Mr. Perverted would pedal away on his bike with his male anatomy hanging out of his loose shorts. Eventually, gym management cracked down on him. Apparently, he thought the gym is a place for exhibitionism. Gross.

 

6) Staking Claim to Cardio Equipment is NOT Cool

We’ve all been in gyms during the hustle and bustle of the new year, when people are practically fighting one another for their favorite treadmill or elliptical. During these busy times, and even during non-peak seasons, it’s just ridiculously rude to stake claim to a piece of cardio equipment (i.e. placing your personal belongings on it) if you’re going to peace out to another part of the gym or do a substantial warm-up or workout elsewhere first. I’ve seen so many unnecessary disagreements arise between people because of this behavior. Remember the old “#1 Learn How to Share?” Yea….

 

7) Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Time and time again, people put themselves in harm’s way, and disrespect other people’s workouts, by not being appropriately aware of their surroundings. I have seen a pretty young woman vigorously swinging a kettlebell near an older man’s head. I have seen clients with their trainers doing traveling lunges only to have someone obliviously walk directly into their path, sometimes causing awkward and hazardous collisions. I have seen people so immersed in their personal world, (typically lost in blaring music through their Beats headphones), that they trip over another clumsy gym-goer’s heap of dumbbells.

Recently, I had an experience when I was working out in a plank position. A man came in front of me and started doing triceps kickbacks INTO MY FACE. Really?! You don’t realize that you’re about to smash my head in?

I get it, the workout zone can feel like a real, other-worldly state, but for your safety and the wellbeing of others, try to stay just a little bit aware of your surroundings.

 

gym clutter

 

8) Clean up After Yourself

Cleaning up your gym equipment helps other exercisers avoid tripping hazards. Duh.

Cleaning up is also about reducing the spread of germs. In short, don’t hack up a lung on a machine and leave your germs to fester. I saw a man literally blow snot into his palm, wipe it nonchalantly on his gym shorts, and then resume his workout. I didn’t want to go near that elliptical ever again…even after it was cleaned.

 

9) Play Nice

Help reduce gym intimidation and try to lighten up! Stalking around the gym like you’re on a mission to kill doesn’t help get you into the right mindset for your workout, and it doesn’t help the people around you either. This seems so obvious, but it’s amazing to me how many people find ways to gripe and complain incessantly while at the gym.

The music coming in through the sound system may not be your jam. You may have set a record for the worst day at work ever. You may be experiencing hormonal shifts during your workout and the mass of sweaty bodies moving around might not let you feel as invigorated as your body is implying you should be. Nonetheless, no one, I repeat NO ONE, should turn into a crazy person who is so sensitive that she takes out her frustration on those around her. Remember that insane gym rat years ago who threw another guy off his bike during a group class? Yea…no one should leave the gym with a concussion and spinal injuries. Isn’t that exactly what we’re at the gym to avoid?!

 

10) It’s OKAY to Ask for Help

Many people are reluctant to ask for help. They worry that they will look foolish for not knowing how to adjust the treadmill’s speed or for not knowing the proper direction to face on the lat pull-down machine (facing in, always facing in). But, it’s so much better to ask for professional help and to stay safe. I promise, there are professionals at your gym who are available and willing to help. If they’re not, find a new gym. Plus, if you don’t ask for help, chances are you look exponentially more clueless because you’re doing an exercise wrong. Swallow your pride! Everyone has to start somewhere. You will be given respect for wanting to learn.

 

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

 

References:

http://gothamist.com/2007/08/25/gym_rat_gets_wo.php

http://www.spinning.com/community/earth-day-conserving-water-by-skimping-on-laundry/

 

30 Day Exercise Plan: Surge into Spring

Bloom and thriveFeel free to call it a 30 day workout plan, a 30 day bust it to bikini season, a revamp of your fitness, whatever. Call it what you like! I only ask that you take this 30 day plan, and ANY exercise plan, with a grain of salt. There is no one-size-fits-all routine. But, this particular exercise plan will help satisfy a ton of your body’s needs. It is suitable for beginners and advanced exercisers alike, and can be completed in or out of a gym! There are lots of extra suggestions too, for how you can make the routine your own and boost your results. So, get ready to surge into spring. Get ready to thrive!

Below, you will see a 10 day program that incorporates all three energy zones of training. To put this simply, the exercises in this program tap into strength, speed, and endurance training. Why all three?

Strength (or building towards strength) – assists in muscle balance, spinal health, osteoporosis prevention, weight loss, toning, lean mass acquisition, and more.

Speed – short runs, or cardio workouts, with speed intervals, and/or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will help boost caloric expenditure in a short period of time and may aid in stimulating growth hormone.

Endurance – allows you to workout for a longer period of time while enjoying the benefits of fat burning and reaching an endorphin high.

There are many more benefits to each training zone. These highlights are just the start.

Go ahead, take a look at the example routine below that shows 10 exercise days that will balance your body, burn energy, and make you feel ready for warm weather. This routine should be repeated 3x, from start to finish, during the 30 day period.

Surge into Spring

For more details about how the exercise suggestions above can be turned into actual workouts, see the Beginner (B), Intermediate/Fit (F), and Advanced/Athlete (A) level suggestions below:

DAY 1:

B – brisk walk/slow jog for 45 min

F – 45 min jog/run

A – 45 min fast run with 30 seconds sprinting every 3-4 minutes (one way to do this is to do it once every new song on your playlist)

DAY 2:

B – 30 min lifting upper/lower combos

F –  45 min lifting upper/lower combos

A – 60 min lifting upper/lower combos

DAY 3:

B – brisk walk/slow jog for 45 min

F – 60 min jog/run

A – 75 slow to moderate pace run

DAY 4: REST DAY!

DAY 5:

B – 30 min upper and core workout

F – 45 min upper and core workout

A – 45 min upper and core workout heavy (aim for weights that fatigue you or cause failure within 8-10 reps)

DAY 6:

B – brisk walk/slow jog for 45 min

F – 45 min jog/run

A – 45 min fast run with 30 seconds sprinting every 3-4 minutes (one way to do this is to do it once every new song on your playlist)

DAY 7:

B – 20 min HIIT

F – 30 min HIIT

A – 40 min HIIT

*For more information about HIIT workouts, check this out: How to HIIT

DAY 8: REST DAY!

Day 9:

B – 30 min upper, lower and core workout

F – 45 min upper, lower and core workout

A – 45 min upper, lower and core workout heavy (aim for weights that fatigue you or cause failure within 8-10 reps)

DAY 10:

B – 20 min jog + 5 sun salutations + 3 burpee rounds of 8 reps

F – 30 min run + 8 sun salutations + 5 burpee rounds of 8-10 reps

A – 45 min running – every 6-8 min stop to do a 2 sun salutations and 2 burpee rounds of 8-10 reps *if you become dizzy then save the salutations and burpees for the end of the run

Notes to make this work for you:

  • Repeat days 1-10, 3x
  • As you cycle through the routine the second and third time, note that days 9, 10, 1, 2 and 3 are without a day off, so be sure to manage your energy and plan for a purposeful rest day
  • If you feel overly exhausted towards the end of the five consecutive days of exercise then eat a slightly heavier carb meal or two, to boost energy
  • If, at any time, you feel prone to injury or pain, cease exercise for a few days before resuming and/or contact a medical or fitness professional who can help you
  • Any of the running days can be substituted for low-impact cardio on machine equipment. I have included running suggestions simply because it’s a great form of exercise that can be done both in and out of the gym. Do what is best for you, though
  • Rain day contingency plan (for those exercising outdoors) – swap a run day with a strength day, or email me! I will whip up a routine for you in no time (it’s what I do)
  • Confused about which exercises to select for lower vs upper body? Want to know how to make this work for you? Leave a comment or contact me directly – I won’t leave you hanging if you’ve got questions

Over 30 days, this routine can help you lose anywhere from 2.5 – 6 lbs. Not bad considering that the vast majority of these workouts are under an hour, right?! The general weight loss recommendation for women is typically .5 – 1 lbs/week. We’re right on pace with those recommendations, if not pushing them a little bit because I know that women get extra invigorated once the weather turns warm. That said, we’re not going overboard and trying to lose “21 lbs in 21 days.” Yikes, was an organ removed?! We’re aiming for progress that is manageable for the long term. It’s not fun to feel fabulous in June and “junky” again by July, is it?

These weight loss estimates are only based on these workouts, not on the level of intensity you may bring to the table while doing them. The estimates also don’t take into consideration the calories you continue to burn after your workout. Additionally, these estimates assume that you’re eating for weight maintenance. If you eat a little less than your maintenance caloric level, then you can lose a little more. Even 150 calories less a day can be helpful for weight loss and will ensure that you’re not feeling deprived or swinging between binge eating days and starvation.

Here are a few general suggestions to help improve your diet during your program:

  • Eat veggies at lunch and dinner – this is so crucial for satiety, nutrition, and training your taste buds to appreciate truly yummy, natural, and healthy foods
  • Don’t skip breakfast – c’mon we’ve heard this one since we were 5!
  • Remember to drink water
  • Limit processed sugars/sweets – if you like sweet treats, I’m not one to tell you never to have them – simply try to plan a time of day in advance for when you will enjoy them. This will help prevent you from going overboard and will allow you to focus on the taste and anticipate the enjoyment
  • Try to limit processed foods by planning meals ahead of time and shopping the perimeter of the grocery store (where the fresh stuff is!)
  • Have a back-up plan – carry nuts, an apple, a protein bar, or any healthy snack to help avoid low blood sugar swings and keep up energy (my friends know that I can be quite the soccer mom – snacks are always on hand!)

As you can see, this isn’t reinventing the wheel. We don’t have to struggle to find the perfect routine or the next fitness fad. We just have to put simple actions into motion so that we can have healthy lifestyles that fill us with joy.

Good luck! I’m here if you need me!

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Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz logo 2

The Spice of Life

YALA! Lets go-Blog jpeg

What do I have in common with Oprah? We’re both champions of Laurent Amzallag, DC’s favorite fitness motivator. Oprah chose Laurent as a fitness expert for her “Live Your Best Life” tour. ELLE Magazine, FOX, NBC and CBS have also featured Laurent and his unique, invigorating cardio workout class YaLa, which means “Let’s Go.”

Tons of women enjoy Laurent’s workout program on a regular basis and allow it to recharge them physically and emotionally. Through his leadership and encouragement, many women, including myself, have discovered that they are worthy of feeling sexy.

I’m honored to have known Laurent for six years. I met Laurent during a “dark time” in my life when we were both working at the same health club. I was suffering major back pain due to a car accident. I was losing sleep and gaining weight. My confidence was dwindling. I realized that as a young woman, I had been using my physical strength and appearance as a crutch for self-worth.

I remember asking Laurent “How are you doing?” on a particularly glum day. His response caught my attention, “Great, Maggie! I say any day above ground is a good day.

It’s this kind of attitude that makes Laurent a ray of sunshine to all those around him. He can make anyone realize that “sweat is the spice of life” (a regular quote of his) and I have seen women, young and old, leave an hour of working out with Laurent with smiles stretching from ear to ear. He’s hard to ignore and impossible to forget. Ladies, enjoy this one-of-a-kind man and his message for YOU!

Check out the video below. What are you waiting for?! YaLa! Let’s Go!

Ready for more YaLa inspiration? Feel free to connect with Laurent:

Youtube Channel:
YALA! Fitness
Vimeo (free and On Demand videos)
Twitter: @yala_fitness
Enjoy the journey-Blog jpeg
Yours in health and wellness,
Maggie
wellnesswinz logo 2

 

 

Before You Hit the Gym in 2015

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Avid gym members resent crowded environments come the New Year. They get frustrated that their favorite spot in Spinning class is taken by a newbie and that the free weight section is impossible to navigate without fear of tripping or getting a black eye from flying dumbbells as people enthusiastically show off their moves. Polite gym members hide their impatience because they know that this rapid influx of people will die down within about 4-6 weeks. Does this scene sound familiar?

This year, you won’t be one of those individuals who burns out or who asks for an abrupt time out from exercise come February or March.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie feigning familiarity with mysterious looking exercise equipment or a “seasoned pro” who freely offers fitness tips to friends because this year, you can each establish a successful gym routine. In this article, you will learn a few fundamentals that will help you plan your exercise schedule and see results! Not a bad deal, I must say! 

The two concepts we are going to discuss are traditionally applied to running. These concepts are easy to grasp and can apply to any exercise setting or schedule. The first is called the “10% Rule.” This rule states that one should only increase their exercise intensity by 10% week-to-week. For example, if a woman is running 10 miles total on Week One then she should only run 11 miles the next week. Simple math. Non-runners, I haven’t forgotten you!

There are plenty of ways to apply the 10% Rule to your workout routine. For example: Sarah enjoys working out on the elliptical 3x/week for 30 minutes and lifts weights 2x/week for 20 minutes. Her total exercise time is therefore 170 minutes. Sarah can apply the 10% Rule to see more results week-to-week. She may choose to increase one of several factors for Week Two: 1) the intensity of a cardio workout, 2) the amount of resistance during her weight training,  3) the time spent doing cardio, or 4) the time spent weight training. In scenario three and four, Sarah will either add 15-20 minutes to one of her current workouts or she may add an extra, short exercise session on another day of the week.

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This gradual progression gives the body proper time for recovery, allowing it to become stronger and more resilient. It also ensures that you avoid burning out. A tough exercise routine can backfire. Big time. (Remember I mentioned the January gym mob? It lessens by February because many people hit the gym too hard. Their intensity wasn’t sustainable.) Exercising too hard and too quick can lead to injury or overtraining. A few symptoms of overtraining include increased resting heart rate, sleep disturbances, irritability, depression, change in appetite, decreased sex drive, and more. No fun. Lastly, the 10% Rule helps you PLAN. A haphazard exercise routine is better than none but most people will find they’re on their way to feeling great if they have a road map.

Quick Tip: Map out your exercise plan and put a copy of the schedule on your fridge. Keep a highlighter handy and color over the days you have completed. This will help you stay on track and will offer a visual for your progress. It’s a good idea to include rest days on the chart – give yourself credit for those too!

For those of you who are not currently in an exercise routine, no worries, I’ve got you covered. A general suggestion I like to give new clients is to try to commit to 2-3x/week for working out. I suggest allowing for at least one recovery day in between each exercise day. This is a great start and will ensure that your body can safely adapt. You will also feel GREAT once you’ve completed your workouts, proving to yourself that you can manage exercise after all. After a month of completing this routine then you can start to follow the 10% Rule.

For those of you who are already crazy about fitness, I will give you permission to err slightly from the 10% Rule; however, be wary. Sometimes being mentally stubborn and pushing your body to an unhealthy extreme can give you “negative results” – and that’s not what you want, is it?! I don’t want that for you either.

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The second concept that many runners abide by is the “negative split” to improve their race times. This means that a runner intentionally runs the first half of a road race or training run at a slightly slower pace so that they have energy to shift gears and run fast for the second half. Think about it: the runner actually improves their time by running a little slower in the beginning. In a road race this is because of lactic acid and other limiting factors of the body’s energy systems. Applying this concept to a regular weekly exercise routine can also provide many benefits.

Not every workout in the beginning of a routine has to be slow or easy but in general, your body wants to build up to the hardest moves and the most intense stresses rather than start with them. For example, on Day One would you attempt to max out on shoulder press, do cardio for 3 hours, or take multiple new exercise classes back-to-back? I should think not! Although some unfortunate souls try anyways. In other words, take a deep breath and think wisely about how you approach your goals this new year. You need not hit a road bump. You need not doubt yourself.

Plan your routine. Prepare your body. Pace the journey.

(And ask me questions!)

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overtraining

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/workout-burnout