18 Secrets of the Super Motivated – Everyday Champions

Great suggestions on how to keep yourself motivated and committed to your exercise routine, straight from a few names you may recognize – athletes, stars, trainers to the stars.

18 Secrets of the Super Motivated – Everyday Champions – life-inspired – MSN Living.

My motivation has always come from a few places: the way exercise makes me feel (both during and after), a reminder of how long it took me to fall in love with fitness, and a desire to keep growing stronger, healthier and more fit. Not to mention that it’s become my favorite part of my day … working out is as vital to my life as breathing, eating and sleeping.

What helps you stay motivated to keep going strong?

15 Awkward Fitness Photos

Your laugh for the day … of all the crazy things I see in the gym on a regular basis, luckily I haven’t come across most of these … YIKES!

Which actually makes me think … it’s been a while since I’ve seen the way too much make-up lady running around the gym in her Sketchers Shape-Ups. (Really, I’m pretty sure theater actors wear less makeup on stage. She scares me).

15 Awkward Fitness Photos // Awkward exercisers c Thinkstock

15 Awkward Fitness Photos | Fitbie.

Lots of Obstacles to Overcome Today, But …

Something good eventually did come of it.

I start thinking about my post-work workouts around lunch each day. I’m not shy about admitting that my gym time is the highlight of the day – so when the little things I take for granted started stacking up against me this evening, I was a little worried that it was going to take a toll on today’s scheduled run.

Traffic was a little heavier than usual this evening, but being as it has been raining for most of the last two days, that really should not come as a surprise (what is it with Virginia drivers and rain? I swear, growing up in Ohio, people were less cautious driving in a snowstorm than they are here in drizzle). I finally make it to the gym, and the parking garage entrance I chose to go to today is blocked  (luckily there are three entrances, but still, roadblock #2). So, several minutes later than expected later – no towels at the front desk. Then the only treadmill open is the slow one. I think, screw it, I’ll just hope that the 8 mph the treadmill claims to be running at – and definitely is not – is at least close to the pace I’d hoped to run today. But enough complaining.

About five minutes later, I got my break – one of the other “good” treadmills opens up. And that’s where my luck, at least temporarily, changes. Even towel-less (trust me, I would have killed for a towel by about mile 3), it ended up being a great run. Speed-wise, my best in quite a while. Maybe ever. The girl on my left kept me trucking, because I just happened to peek over and see that she was about 10 minutes ahead of me – and I wasn’t going to stop running until she was done (she did 5 miles. So I decided today would be a 5 miler … plus another 4 quarter miles with some speed work to finish). Then there was the girl on my right – she was doing some pretty bad-ass intervals – we’re talking 12 mph sprints – and we all know that I can’t be out-hardcored (pretty sure I just made up that word …)

So run I did, going with my typical can’t stay at the same speed for more than a minute at a time pace. I started getting a little curious once I was about 35 minutes in, because it like I was slightly ahead of my typical just shy of 9 minute mile pace. Verdict: 5 miles, 44:25. Yup, that’s an 8:55 mile. Which meant I’d managed to strip another 2 seconds off my most recent best pace. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that much – but those two seconds are points of pride for me. Made me forget about the traffic, and the nightmare that is the parking garage, and the slow start on the screwed up treadmill … and I would say the lack of towel, but my sweat-soaked limbs and knotted-mess ponytail (courtesy of not being able to wipe the sweat off of my neck and shoulders – I’m starting to wonder if the highlights, hair dryer and flat iron are totally to blame for my damaged ends … cause I’m thinking the sweat-soaked tangles that tend to form in the bottom two or three inches of my ponytail probably play a part, too. But no, I won’t cut my hair. But I digress).

Unfortunately, the excitement from a quality run wore off when I stepped off the treadmill, and promptly got stuck behind a “stander” on the escalator (they’ve surpassed cell phone talkers as my #1 gym pet peeve) – and some jerk standing behind me had the audacity to ask me if I “had to pee or something” because I was anxiously shifting my weight from foot to foot hoping the guy would get the hint and start walking. And still no towels.

But it’s all good. I think I’ll take several obstacles for an awesome run. After all, a good run tends to heal all my woes … and a great run will always make it a good day!

Spinning Playlist – May 13, 2012

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommies out there! We had a great ride this morning – couple of old favorites we haven’t heard in a while. Good mix across positions 1, 2 and 3 today, too … just the way I like it!

 

Warm-up (Resistance 3-4; Flat Road)

Mr. Saxobeat – Alexandra Stone

 

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8.5)

Take Me On the Floor – The Veronicas

Part of Me – Katy Perry

Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia

Paralyzer – Finger Eleven

 

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9)

Touch Me – Smash Cast ft. Katherine McPhee

Love Drunk – Boys Like Girls

Wild Ones – Flo Rida ft. Sia

Telephone – Lady Gaga ft. Beyonce

Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz

 

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8, Back to 7 for Final Song)

Sex On Fire – Kings of Leon

Turn Me On – David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj

Airplanes – BoB ft. Hailey Williams

E.T. – Katy Perry ft. Kanye West

Desert Rose – Sting

 

Cooldown

Mad – Ne-yo

Eyes Open – Taylor Swift (The Hunger Games Soundtrack)

 

In case you’re interested, I also put together a post earlier this week on bike setup and comfort during an indoor ride. You can check it out here.

Surprise Yoga Class … I Have to Do This More Often.

I went through a yoga phase maybe four or five years ago. I was pretty consistent – at least twice a week. But then it seemed one thing or another always managed to stand in the way of it: I started teaching multiple classes a week. I started working with a trainer and became more focused on the strength training aspects. I just couldn’t find a good time to take a class, with an instructor that I actually liked.

So, this morning, I was wide awake at 6:30 (yup, let myself sleep in a whole 10 minutes past my weekday wake up time … wahoo). As I always start my Saturdays, I got out of bed, made a little breakfast, checked my email, and headed over to the gym. I had it in my head that today would be a running day, and I’d fit in some quick leg work while I was at it.

Now, having rolled out of bed an hour earlier than I typically do on Saturday mornings, I made it to the gym earlier than usual, too … by 9:30, I was hopping off of the treadmill, seven miles under my belt, and it hit me … I’ve been talking about getting back into yoga for what seems like forever (the last class I went to was January 22, the day after my 31st birthday, when I decided to stick around for the class scheduled after my Sunday morning cycling and Pilates classes … apparently I felt I had something to prove. Perhaps that I was still young?) And it just so happened that there was a class starting at 9:45. I decided to forgo the leg work that I really wasn’t in the mood for anyway, head down to the studio I myself teach in twice a week, and be a student for a change.

I have to admit, it was a little strange taking a class with some of my regular students – I almost felt like I HAD to perform, or that I had to live up to their expectations (what those expectations may have been, I have no idea. But it’s a mental thing). But there was something I’d forgotten, having not taken a yoga class in what feels like forever – just how great I feel by the end. I’m such a go-go-go type, that to take that one hour, to focus on myself, and to let out the tension that I build up each week – between my psychotic workouts, my full-time job, and the stress of being a 30-something who wants to have it all – it’s pretty awesome.

Now, all I need to do is see about making it a little more consistent again – because I definitely remembered this morning exactly what I love about yoga. And I’m sure I’ll be reminded again when I wake up tomorrow with the great shoulder soreness I know comes from all those vinyasas!

No Time is NOT an Excuse!

I hear the excuses all the time: “I don’t know how you find time to work out. I’m just so busy…” I’ll be honest. It’s a choice. No, I don’t have much of a life outside of my full time job, the group fitness classes I teach three days a week, and the workouts that I schedule for myself on three of the days I’m not teaching. But working out is like eating, sleeping or breathing to me – I pretty much need it to survive. (At least mentally!)

For those of you who don’t have two hours a day to commit strictly to working out (and maybe think that those of us who do need to find something better to do with our free time), I do have good news: that doesn’t mean you can’t still get some physical activity in each day. Throughout the course of your day, you can fit in 5, 10, 15 – maybe even 60 or more – minutes of exercise, without committing to lacing up your running shoes or hitting the gym.

How? Here are a few ideas:

  • Use commercial breaks as exercise breaks. A typical 60-minute program has approximately 12 minutes of commercials – use this time to do sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks … seriously, you know you don’t want to see that smartphone commercial for the 5,000th time.
  • Get fit while you brush your teeth … or dry your hair … or wash the dishes. Do some squats instead of just standing there. You’ll end up with clean teeth … or dry hair … or clean dishes … and a tighter backside and leaner legs in time for summer.
  • Walk while you talk. Pace the room as you chat on the phone. At work, turn a short discussion into a “walking meeting.” You may not feel like you’re exercising, but those steps still count!
  • Workout while you work. Keep a small set of weights, a foot cycle or a resistance band under your desk – and use them as a pick-me-up (a great replacement for a candy bar!) when the 3 p.m. lull hits.
  • Play with the kids. They’d rather be outside running around anyway – so why not join them? Play tag, toss around a ball, or just chase them around the backyard. Or, instead of watching soccer practice from the bleachers, take a walk around the track.

The fact is, we are all busy. Life does get in the way. But in order to live a fuller, longer life, we do need to make a commitment to living an active life. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity, and being open to the many exercise opportunities that are hidden, just waiting to be taken advantage of, in our daily lives!

Avoiding Pain From Indoor Cycling

As a Spinning instructor, one of the most common concerns I hear from new would-be cyclists is “I’m afraid it’ll make my butt hurt.” Of course, my first reaction is to tell them to come take a class with me – because my teaching style doesn’t involve sitting for more than two or three minutes … and that’s only when you include the warm-up and cooldown (and sometimes the lighter sections that start a new building block).

In reality, discomfort during a cycling class can be tied back to improper bike setup. The great thing about most indoor cycles, regardless of the brand, is that they are very customizable to your body. At the club where I teach indoor cycling (XSport Fitness-Alexandria), we were fortunate enough to be one of the first clubs in the U.S. to start riding the newest FreeMotion cycles last summer, and I can’t say enough good things about them. They allow the same adjustments as most indoor cycles, but the one I’ve found the most beneficial (a feature we didn’t have on the Spinners we originally had) is in the handlebars – they not only adjust up or down, but forward and back. I’ve found this helps a lot of riders maintain proper upper body positioning (shoulders down and back, backs relatively flat, slight bend in the elbows, heads up and chests open).

So, when you’re setting yourself up, what should you do? Start with the bike seat. Standing next to the bike, bring one leg up to about a 90 degree angle. This should help you determine the height that will work best for you. Once you’ve figured this out, you can set the seat distance from the handlebars – for most people, it should be about the length from your elbow to your fingers. Some people like to ride a little lower and farther away from the handlebars, and some people are more comfortable riding higher and closer to the handlebars – it’s more a matter of what is comfortable for your body. The most important part is that you can maintain proper  upper body alignment, you aren’t feeling pressure in your knees and that you don’t feel that you are reaching for the pedals. It may take a couple of times to get it right, but once you’ve found the settings that work best for you, you should be good to go.

I’ve heard complaints about aching feet or ankles at the end of a class, too, and this is one of the easiest fixes – invest in a good pair of cycling shoes. I was a skeptic at first, too (I said I wouldn’t wear them because they are ugly … well, they are ugly!), but the investment is ABSOLUTELY worth it. Any cycling store can get you fitted for a pair, and they often sell several inexpensive options (make sure you know what kind of pedal clips you’ll need before you head to the store – SPD clips are pretty universal, but there are others out there, so make sure you get the right ones – many shops will install the clips free of charge when you purchase your shoes). I think I paid about $70 for mine, and unlike running shoes, I’ve been wearing them for more than two years (and they still feel good). The hard sole and being clipped into the bike pedals really does make a difference.

Check out some thoughts on this topic from the Women’s Health blog: Pain From Cycling | Women’s Health Fitness Blog: Get killer workouts, learn about new fitness trends, and snag awesome gear#more-739#more-739.

All’s Fair in Loving Fitness … a.k.a. Why I Want to Change the World

I’m not sure that many people truly understand my dedication to fitness, and the importance of exercise in my life. Truthfully, I almost feel as if it has been the love of my life for a number of years – and since the only serious relationship that I’ve had in my life throughout the last 6ish years has been with my gym (well, the three that I’ve belonged to in the last nine years), it has truly meant the world to me. Definitely no commitment issues here.

Here’s the thing … I’m a bit of a fitness nerd. I’m always thinking about my next workout, or planning my next workout, or researching something one of my “regulars” had a question about, or looking into a new certification. I love talking about fitness. I don’t know that I would consider myself an expert, but I would say that I am pretty well-read. I genuinely care about the people who take my classes (yes, I recently emailed one of my guys an article I’d come across on hip exercises, because he had questioned how he could increase the strength in his hips). And I try to keep up with the trends (that’s how I became the first Piloxing instructor in the state of Virginia).

Although I can be extremely shy or insecure in a lot of conversations, you get me talking about fitness, I hope you have some time to spare. Because quite honestly … once I get going, good luck shutting me up. I guess you could say that one of my favorite quotes – courtesy of the founder of my previous company – absolutely rings true in this sense: “All I want to do is change the world; make it a better place for this and future generations.” So, yeah, to have someone thank me for “reinvigorating” their love of fitness – well, let’s just say that I’m not sure he realized exactly how much that one small comment really meant to me. Because that’s the type of person I am, and that is the type impact that I want to have in others’ lives – I want to make a difference. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small; just that because of something I said, or a story I shared, or a little bit of time I took to show them proper form, or an advanced exercise, or even just a little extra motivating word, they are changed for the better.

Nothing scares me more than a statistic that I came across yesterday, about the exponential increase in obesity in America that is anticipated by 2030. It makes me want to do something about it – but I have to understand that those people who will become those statistics have to make the conscious decisions themselves. I can only wish that the number of people willing to accept help were on par with the number of people willing to offer it. On more than one occasion, I’ve trained a friend, without expecting anything in return (for the record: most gyms will charge clients a minimum of $50 an hour to work with a trainer). I always end my classes saying that I would be happy to answer any questions. And a large part of why I do these things is because I feel compelled to, as the previously mentioned quote suggests, change the world. To make it a better place. And I think of the many times exercise has acted as a sort of therapy for me, and know that it could do the same for anyone willing to let it be a part of his or her life.

So, I’ll end with a final quote, straight from the mouth of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: “Exercise creates endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands!” Go ahead and crack your jokes, but it’s true … I’m pretty sure those endorphins have brought me back from a nervous breakdown a time or two or twenty. And if I can encourage someone else to run (or lift, or cycle, or swim … or whatever) until they’re happy, too, I’ll feel like when my time comes, I’ll leave the world a better place.

Get Fit, Support the Troops … Pushups for Charity

Earlier today, I came across an interesting intersection between my “real” job as a marketing analyst for a government contractor and my “fun” job as a group fitness instructor: Pushups for Charity. A fundraiser for the Boot Campaign, which supports veterans, military and severely injured service men and women, Pushups for Charity encourages people to get in shape and give back, all at the same time.

I found myself clicking around the website, hoping I could find out a little more about this initiative. As a fitness junkie and the sister of an Army reservist (not to mention the many veterans I work with each and every day at my full-time job), I think it’s a great cause. Living in Northern Virginia, I figured there had to be an event scheduled in my area (most of them are scheduled for next weekend – Armed Forces Day, May 19), but unfortunately, I was surprised to discover that there is not.

I’d definitely recommend checking it out – even if you, like me, are unable to participate in an event (age and athletic ability doesn’t matter – their website says ages 8-88 participate). They have some great fitness resources on the site as well, including videos with pushup progressions for both men and women.

Paralyzed mom completes London Marathon in bionic suit

Another amazing, inspiring story about an athlete overcoming the odds – just further proof that you really can do anything you put your mind to!

Paralyzed mom completes London Marathon in bionic suit.