This month we are focusing on our balance. While we will get added benefits to our balance (such as stretching our quad below), all of the movements this month will challenge and improve your balance.
Getting Started – Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
Additions vs Resolutions
I want to use this very appropriate time in the year to talk about resolutions. I have noticed that the media surrounding this subject has changed over the last few years. As a society, we have consistently failed at keeping our New Year’s Resolutions, so the popular message has turned to “stop making them”. While I agree that resolutions put a lot of pressure on ourselves and I also agree that most people don’t follow thru, I believe this problem to be user error rather than the act of making a resolution.
What I mean is, we make resolutions quickly, without much thought or reflection, and usually as a reaction to something in our life that we are currently doing or not doing that is making us feel bad about ourselves. Instead of making “changes”, what if we thought about “adding” to our lives. Using the New Year as a chance to reflect on what we want in life, what are some things on our bucket list, and what we feel are our top priorities. Before making any promise of a resolution, make sure you have a clear plan of what it is you want to do with this life.
For example, I make a sort of “resolution” every year. There are certain things I have always wanted to add to my life, and using the New Year to set up a plan on how to get it into a busy schedule feels motivating and keeps me consistent year-over-year. Last year I added 3 things in, and in order of priority they were: 1) Learn Spanish, 2) Add Meditation in my routine, 3) Journal. I didn’t just make these resolutions and hope all would fall into place, I made a plan. Any addition we want to add to our lives will take a sacrifice of time and a solid commitment. It is important to know where that time will come from and the cost of the commitment.
For my top priority, I started to look at my options, between classes, tutors, and online courses. Knowing I would needs consistency and accountability in order to commit to learning Spanish, I opted for in-person classes. After a few months, the times were too hard to make, so I committed to one-on-one tutoring so that I could more easily work it into my schedule. I am still getting tutored once a week.
For my second 2 priorities, I had to play with what worked. Was morning or evening better? Should I do them together or separate? Should it be daily? I started with daily and then worked my way to a place where I felt I could have consistency (which turns out is 3x/week). All 3 of my resolutions are now just part of my life, they do not feel like a sacrifice of time or resources, it is just part of me.
I like resolutions and I like the New Year as a time to reflect and remind ourselves about what we want in this life. You can do it whenever you want – 4th of July, Summer Solstice, your Birthday – it doesn’t matter, just make sure you take the time to reassess. Without this time, we tend to get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives and never move onto the things we really want.
Here are a few suggestions on how to make productive additions to your life instead of resolutions that will never manifest.
- What is on your bucket list? Is there something on there you could start working towards or even complete this year? What will it cost you in time and money? Do you have those resources available to you or do you need to find them?
- When you think of what you want your life to look like, what do you see? Is there something you should add to your life to move closer to this vision? Do you need help and guidance, or focus and time, or all of the above? Where can you find what you need?
- Is there something you love to do, but have not had the opportunity to do it lately? How could you add this back into your life?
- Do you need support? What does that support look like and how could you move closer to finding it?
From these answers, start to make your roadmap. What is the most important? What can be accomplished easily with just a little effort? What are your first steps?
Now give yourself “loose” deadlines. You don’t want to leave everything open-ended or a whole year may go by with little progress. Take a look at your roadmap and give yourself achievable deadlines. Sometimes it is easier to give yourself mini-deadlines for all the first steps instead of one massive, end-goal deadline.
Now you have a plan for your additions. Focus on these additions rather than changes. Make sure you have a clear reason “why” these additions are important to you. The first thing my Spanish tutor asked me was “Why do you want to learn Spanish?”. It is important for everyone involved to know the motives.
At the close of 2019, I am no where near fluent in my Spanish, but I practice every week and could easily travel with my “Spanglish”. I will continue to learn and progress, not just with my Spanish, but with everything is this beautiful life. And this year, I am focusing on making things (already handmade a few Christmas presents) and mapping out the future of my business (already met with and hired a business coach).
What will you do with you 2020?
Is Your Squat Helping or Hurting You?
The Squat – it is the epitome of a gym exercise, the king move amongst gym rats, the foundational move for all athletes. Anyone can do a squat. It should be a no-brainer, right? Sorry, not so fast.
When we were kids, squatting was a part of life (think of the kid in the diaper who you know is doing his business because of the squat position he is holding). As we get older and we spend more time sitting and working and trying to squeeze in a workout here or there, the tighter our hips become, the more our squat goes awry. Once our hips have become off-kilter, the squat work we were hoping would sculpt our hammy’s and glutes is actually putting pressure into our low back, knees, and other vulnerable joints.
Focusing on the position of your pelvis and hips during a squat, can not only help you get stronger in the areas your are trying to target, but it can also help you retrain your hips into a balanced position. Watch this short video and learn how to squat to help you balance your pelvis, remain injury-free, and get the most out of your squat.
Resolution Reboot – A Plan for Success
So how are those New Year’s Resolutions going? If your answer is “not so great”, you are not alone. 80% of people have given up on their resolutions by February. But don’t worry, this is not failure, just a temporary set-back. It is also not an excuse for YOU to give up. With a little organization, re-motivation, and of course, a PLAN you can continue to work towards your goals. Let’s get you back on track.
Grab a pen and paper and play along with me.
The first thing we need to do is establish your priorities in life. What things are most important? Where do you want to put your focus? A lot of people come up with resolutions that do not coincide. Establishing a connection between your goals and resolutions with your priorities in life will give you a much better success rate.
Answer these questions:
Who are the most important people in your life?
What are the biggest things you want to accomplish in this lifetime (you can be vague)?
How much time do you want to spend on yourself versus on/with others?
Looking at 2018, what do you want to accomplish over the next 10 months?
Identify your “Why”
Now that you have your priorities established, it is time dig into why you made your New Year’s Resolutions. Knowing the root of your motivation to change will help carry you through the tougher points of your transition. It will also help you identify if your goals truly represent what you want. Establishing your “why” can help you modify your goals so they reflect what YOU want for YOURSELF rather than what you think the world wants of you.
Answer these questions:
How will your life be different when you accomplish your goal?
Who will benefit from you accomplishing your goal? Yourself, family, work?
What will you lose out on or miss if you fail or give up?
What areas of your life will improve when you reach your goal?
Is your goal a final destination or a step in a larger process?
How will you feel once you accomplish your goal?
Why did you choose to change this year?
Make REAL Goals
With your “Why” established, you can now make real goals that fit with your life. At this time, it is also important to recognize if you need to adjust your goals to match your life and priorities.
Answer these questions:
What is your goal for 2018?
What are 2 or 3 smaller goals that would help you move towards your 2018 goal?
Can you imagine yourself accomplishing this goal?
Is there anything you need to do to prepare or before you start working towards your goal?
Make a Plan
Now you have real goals, that fit within your lifestyle, and your “why” to keep you motivated. All that is left, is a solid plan. Success is not solely based on discipline and hard-work. Trying to make major change without a plan is like running a race without knowing the route. You can go as fast as you can, hour upon hour, and never reach the finish line.
Answer these questions:
What can you do TODAY to work towards your goal?
What obstacles are there to accomplishing your goal?
What are 2-3 solutions you can think of to help you overcome your obstacles?
What can you do on a daily basis to help you reach your goal?
What can you get done in the next 2 weeks to work towards that goal?
What can you plan now, to help you work towards your goal in the next 3-6 months?
What are good indicators that you have accomplished half of your overall goal?
Change is hard, but it is much easier when you know why you are changing and have a clear road map. Do some work up front so you don’t find yourself struggling later down the line. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry stated, “A goal without a plan, is just a wish”.
Getting Started – High Intensity Interval Training
If you work out, know people who work out, or ever read anything on the internet about working out, you have probably heard of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. I know, it sounds “Intense” for lack of a better word. Sounds like something crazy bootcamp people would do, or a high school football team, or celebrities. But I am here to tell you ANYONE can do HIIT and EVERYONE can benefit from it.
The basic application of HIIT is to push yourself into an uncomfortable range during your cardio exercises and then fully recover, and then repeat for a certain amount of time. That’s it. That’s the magic equation.
Of course if you really start to dive into it, there is research on heart zones and RPE’s, and on time on vs. time off, and which intervals are better for weight loss and which ones are better to build endurance. There is so much info on HIIT, that it can be overwhelming and keep you from just trying it and reaping the benefits. Read below for the great benefits of HIIT and some “starter” workouts to get you going and on your way.
- You’ll Burn More Calories – Not only do you burn calories while you are performing your HIIT workout, but that burn will stay with you for up to 2 hours after your finish your workout. That means you can do your workout, shower, and head to work and still be getting a high calorie burn.
- Great for your Heart – Due to its high demand on your blood vessels, HIIT can increase the flexibility and the elasticity of your arteries and veins.
- Adaptable – You can do an HIIT workout on the treadmill, during a hike, in the middle of a bike ride, in a pool, everywhere and any movement can be turned into an HIIT session.
- Reduces Blood Sugar Levels – After just 2 weeks of HIIT, one study found that there was an increase of glucose metabolism in the muscles, bringing sugar levels back to normal.
- Saves You Time – Because you are working harder, you don’t have to work for very long. You can get most of the same benefits in 15 minutes of HIIT session that you can get in 1 hour of jogging according to a 2013 study.
- More Weight Loss – According to one study of persons with Type 2 diabetes, HIIT training has a bigger affect on weight loss than steady cardio.
- Increased VO2 max – This means your body can utilize oxygen better during intense exercise. You will be able to work harder and harder, but it will start to feel easier.
- Increased Endurance and Stamina – Just 1 minute of high intensity work can improve your endurance. The benefits of your quick HIIT workout will carry over to your next big hike, bike ride, run.
- Reduces Liver Fat – According to a 2015 study, HIIT can help reduce the fat surrounding your liver by up to 16% in just 12 weeks of training.
The bottom line is…If you are not doing HIIT…START.
Here are a 3 HIIT workouts for the beginner/intermediate athlete (and by athlete, I mean you, not Tom Brady).
Walker’s Delight Routine
- 0-5 Minutes – Walk at Regular Pace.
- 30 seconds High Intensity – Uphill walking, quicker pace, skipping, big arm swings, anything that gets you heart pumping really nice.
- 1.5 minutes Low Intensity – Regular walking pace or slower, dynamic stretching, backwards walking. Just don’t stop moving.
- Repeat Step 2 and 3 for a minimum of 10 minutes or a maximum of 20 minutes.
- Last 5 minutes – Walk slow or stop and stretch to cool down.
Rainy Day Treadmill Routine
- 0-5 minutes – Warm up with brisk walking or slow jog.
- 45 seconds High Intensity – Increase the incline or speed to get your heart pumping.
- 2 minutes Low Intensity – Back to your brisk walking or slower jog.
- Repeat Step 2 and 3 for 6 circuits.
- Walk slow for the last 3-5 minutes.
New Runner Neighborhood Blitz
- 0-5 minutes – Warm up by walking a 2×1 block circle around a neighborhood (2 block straightaway to a right turn to a 1 block straightaway to a right turn to another 2 blocks, followed by a right turn to 1 block to bring you back to the beginning of your circle.)
- 5-10 minutes – Walk the 2 block straightaway, run the 1 block straightaway.
- 10-15 minutes – Run the 2 block straightaway, walk the 1 block straightaway.
- 15-16 minutes – walk
- 16-18 minutes – run
- 18 – 20 minutes – walk
- End at 20 minutes or repeat steps 2 and 3 to make it a full 30-minute workout.
Home Exercise Program for Knee Stability and Strength
Try this quick and easy at-home exercises to strengthen your hips, knees, and ankles. Help support the knee joint and prevent injury by bringing more mobility and stability to your hips. Start with these 3 foam roller releases to get the legs moving correctly and then move into the 5 strength moves below to help bring stability to the knee joint and the lower kinetic chain.
IT Band Rolling
TFL/Hip Flexor Release
Bridge with Leg Raise
Long Lunge to Balance
Getting Started – Foundational Movement Exercises
Congratulations! You have decided to start exercising and getting in shape. Before you decide to go from zero to hero, make sure your body is ready. If you haven’t seen the inside of the gym in a while or have to ask the person next to you how to operate the cardio equipment, please go over the moves below to keep yourself injury-free and set yourself up to accomplish your long-term goals.
The exercises below build a foundation of movement. They “prep” your body by activating important stabilizing muscles that help protect you against back pain, shoulder injury, knee pain, and more. They also help improve range of motion in your body so your are able to move through your squat, pull, or lunge with fluidity and grace. Do this routine as a warm-up to get your body in a good space to work hard or as a full workout at home.
Remember, consistency beats intensity. Exercise at a level you know you can maintain through the whole year, not a pace that makes you so sore you have a hard time sitting on the toilet the next day.