The Best Workout Ever!

One of the top questions I get as a personal trainer is “What’s the best workout for ______?”  My answer is always the same. The best workout is the one you will do consistently.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t specific exercises and training routines for certain goals.  For a flatter stomach I make sure I do my abdominal routine every day.

However, no matter how fantastic the program, if you’re not consistent, the odds of success are pretty slim.

There are legitimate reasons people give up on exercise routines!

1)  Boring!  Let’s face it, walking like a hamster on a wheel after a long day at the office does not sound that appealing. Most of us want to do something a bit more stimulating.

2)  Painful!  We’ve all found ourselves up late watching the guy with the chiseled stomach on the infomercial promising that if you bought the whole series you would look just like him. Eagerly you purchased the product! Now your knees and back hurt. Many of these intense workouts require foundational training that takes months or even years to establish. Heck, there is a very popular series out now that I have to modify to keep my knees safe! Signing up for exercise you are not ready for is a recipe for injury, guilt, and possibly depression!

3)  Takes too much time! Now more than ever, people are struggling to find time to exercise. The days of driving to the gym and doing an hour and a half workout seem like a fantasy to most people (except maybe retired empty-nesters).

The reality of being busy with legitimate priorities such as your spouse, children, work, home, and any other personal commitments — have eaten away at the 24 hours in the average person’s day. This leaves very little time to commit to exercise.

4)  Don’t like the surroundings! Surroundings matter! If you are someone that likes a lot of light, working out in a dark basement gym is not going to entice you. Many women feel uncomfortable in a gym setting. Or, if you are like me you prefer exercising outdoors. If you don’t like the environment that you have scheduled your workouts in, you will probably quit or it will be spotty participation at best.

5)  Lack of consistency! Whenever you start something new, you need consistency to create a strong habit. Major problem? Some of the reasons listed above can interfere with your ability to remain consistent long enough. This is a dead end — no new habit or skill needed for a long term commitment.

Oh my gosh Jennifer!  That’s Me! – How can I ever overcome these obstacles?

If you identify with any of these reasons but still have the desire to exercise, lose weight, and lead a healthy lifestyle  — I have solutions for you!

1)  Combat Boredom! You may find this hard to believe but after years of teaching aerobics classes and working in a gym, that’s the last place you will find me exercising! It is so boring for me! To combat this, I walk outside every day with my dogs.

Try attaching a task to your exercise. Walking is a great way to do this. Having a destination gives you a purpose and makes the exercise less boring. Being outdoors is always more stimulating for your brain as well.

Save the indoor exercise for days when the weather is less inviting. When exercising indoors, you can make “cardio”  machines more interesting with interval workouts. If the gym is your thing, try a class or a workout video for variety.

2)  Painful! Go see your doctor and get checked out before starting an exercise routine. She may suggest physical therapy or some strong foundational work before you start your new workout. Consider massage therapy for tight muscles. Exercise at your level — and run from any routine if the trainer says that feeling like throwing up “is normal at first”.

3)  Time!  Be realistic in setting your goals when time is an issue. If all you have is 20 minutes a day to exercise, then you don’t need a gym membership. You’ll take 20 minutes driving there!  Besides my daily walk, I do10 minutes of core work daily and a 20 minute strength training routine 2-3 times per week. This is all done in my home. You can accomplish quite a bit of effective strength training in 20 minutes!

For more detailed instructions on the time issue read  I Agree You Have No Time to Workout!

4)  Take a look around! Ask yourself if you like where you exercise — and be honest!  Most of my clients prefer exercising outdoors and in their home because they prefer that environment over the gym. Quite frankly, most people have nicer rooms in their homes for exercise.

Get creative. On nice days I take my mat, weights, and exercise ball out on the deck and do my workout. If it’s later into the evening I might even have a glass of wine while I do the exercise. That would ruffle some trainers’ feathers! For me, healthy living is all about balance.  It should make you feel better, not stressed out!

5)  Get Consistent! Ever wonder why exercise for some people is as natural as brushing their teeth? They have built “muscle” in that one particular area! Consistency is key when we are developing a new habit or skill. The more you do it the better you get. The problem is we often “bite off more than we can chew” — and that makes it hard to stay consistent.  I recommend picking one thing at a time. Walking 5-10 minutes per day is a great way to start. You may even start by taking the stairs at work every day. Once that is a habit, add a short walk at lunch 2-3 times per week.

The answer to “what’s the best workout?” is simple. The best exercise for you personally is whatever you can do consistently. Whether it’s your daily walk, a 20 minute strength routine, 15 minutes on the stationary bike, or gardening every day. You will benefit much more from consistent physical activity than sporadic sophisticated workouts.

Have a question for me or want to share your best workout! Please leave a comment below.  I want to hear your thoughts!





The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

You’re going to say “no way!”

Years ago I switched from being a “gym rat” to an outdoor exerciser. I remember it well.  I looked around at the flourescent lighting and the hamster wheels (“cardio” equipment) and said to myself “I’m done!”.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re a personal trainer. That’s not possible!

Please don’t get me wrong. Gyms are a great place to exercise and I am a huge fan of indoor cardio equipment — especially when it is raining! I just realized that I live in California. The weather is great most of the time. And, what the heck was I doing inside exercising?

My dogs led the way!

At the time, I had overworked and over-trained myself and was dealing with low energy as well as depression.  I wasn’t up for super intense workouts so I left the gym and started walking my dogs every night.

The transformation was amazing! I got my energy back — and my enthusiasm. I also realized that you do not have to beat your body to a pulp in a gym to be fit.

I realize that not everyone is where I was at. However, sooner or later everyone deals with stress in their life.

Research Confirms it!

A recent review of studies published in Environmental Science & Technology that focused on “outdoor exercise” discovered that physical activity in natural areas decreases the risk of mental illness and improves one’s sense of well-being.

Here’s what the researchers found:

  • Two out of three participants said they had improved self-esteem.
  • Two out of three people had improved mood.
  • Three out of four people felt less depressed, tense and angry.

It gets better! The study found that just five minutes a day does the trick!

Here’s what else they said:

Exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, as well as decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression.

Participants also reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and stated that they were more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.

This may explain why walking is still the number one exercise of choice for Americans. We like to be active and outdoors. Even more important, we tend to exercise more consistently when it is outdoors!

Here’s how to get started:

So what does this mean for you? If you already exercise outdoors, you are benefiting in multiple ways. If you are just getting started, start with five minutes of outdoor exercise to improve psychological well-being. Work up to twenty minutes and you have now started an exercise routine!

You will get more value from consistent shorter bouts than inconsistent hour-long workouts.

Here’s some ways to get started:

  • Walk at lunch
  • Walk after dinner
  • Play in the park
  • Take a hike
  • Walk on the beach
  • Try light jogging
  • Play a sport
  • Swim
  • Walk your dog

If you really like the gym, do not stop! Consider cross training with some outdoor activities. It doesn’t have to be formal exercise. Just being outdoors is what matters!

With summer here and so much positive research behind outdoor activity, I encourage you to get creative this summer. Try new activities. Visit new beaches and parks. Turn off the screens and get outside!

Let me know what you come up with. I love to hear from you!





Lose Weight Living Your Life!

Family Running on beach

Welcome to Part 2 Of No Time to Work Out!

Sneak in Exercise!

What did you think of the most recent article? I Agree You Have No Time to Work Out!  I offered some really valuable tips on how my clients are overcoming this obstacle! If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you do! This week’s tips will nicely complement last article’s suggested strategies.

Today I show you ways to maximize every day activities you are already performing; and I show you how to use them toward your weight loss/management goals.

1)   You may be more active than you realize! List the physical lifestyle activities you are already doing. These are either recreational or task oriented. Examples of lifestyle activities are gardening, walking the kids to school, raking leaves, housecleaning, taking the stairs at work, etc.

  • To get a “real life” picture, keep a 1-2 week journal. How much time does each take? Be sure to include that for each entry.

2)   Give yourself a high five for what you are already doing!  Total up the number of minutes from your list.  The standard recommendation for improving fitness levels is 210 minutes per week.  However, depending on type of exercise and the individual, closer to 300 minutes may be needed for weight loss (per The Mayo Clinic). [minor edit only]

For example, if you are walking your kids to school for a total of twenty minutes daily (20 x 5 = 100), subtract 100 minutes from 210.  This leaves us with only 110 minutes of activity to fit in during the busy work week! Divide that by six days and you are looking at a goal of one 20 minute exercise session six days per week.  If 300 minutes is your goal then you are looking at 33 minutes per day.

What do you think? Doesn’t that sound do-able? Did your “overwhelm” just disappear? You can start small and build up. Start with two sessions per week and work your way up.  Even if you have to start with 10 minutes, you will be surprised at how quickly your momentum will build and how much better you will feel.

3)  Wow! An hour of grocery shopping burns 156 calories! Did you know that?  You may as well burn those calories while reaching for healthy foods. Choose items you can assemble quickly to avoid eating out on busy days. That way you’ll avoid the hidden calories in restaurant food. Try buying roasted chickens, pre-washed lettuce, pre-cooked rice and frozen organic vegetables. Not only will you be cutting calories, but you’ll also save tons of cooking or traveling time! (More time for exercise!)

4)  Track your progress and create a caloric deficit!  Wear a pedometer or calorie counter that tracks daily activity for feedback and encouragement.  You can also track calories consumed versus calories burned to see if you are creating a deficit.  Data is empowering!

This will help you determine how much additional activity and or minutes you will need to add to start losing weight and/or maintain your current weight.

One of my clients gave a pedometer to her sedentary mother.  Her mother was motivated by the goal of visiting her grandchildren. She determined the number of steps she wanted to take per day and lost 50 lbs!  It can be done!

I hope these creative ideas help you tie your “every day” lifestyle into your weight loss or weight management program. It takes time and effort when we are fitting a proper weight loss regimen into a busy schedule. That’s why I will not make irresponsible claims like so many fitness ads you see in the media. However, I will tell you that when you begin to apply these principles you can and you will lose weight.

I’d love to hear from you. Did your activity inventory surprise you? How many active minutes did you discover in your day? As always, please feel free to let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

Blessings to you and yours!