Merry Christmas!

I wanted to take a quick moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! This is truly the season of giving, and though I don’t know many of you personally, I’m so grateful for the support and suggestions I receive from so many of you. It’s been amazing to see this little blog that could grow into something so rewarding!

Hopefully you are spending your holiday among friends and family. I’m back home in Illinois for the first time since last Christmas, and though I’m reminded why I left (10 degrees is NOT habitable for my always cold body), it has served to prove once again that family truly is the most important thing. So, go sing some carols, open some presents, maybe even eat a couple cookies (you can work them off tomorrow). I’m going to head down for my dad’s not likely healthy breakfast, open some gifts, and watch “Christmas Vacation.” And no, I’m not planning on changing out of my pajamas.

Merry Christmas!

The Upside of Running on a Treadmill

I’m home for Christmas, and with the treadmill in my parents’ living room at my disposal, I’m doing my best to get a few good runs in to try to balance out all the cookies I’m sure I’ll be consuming (despite my best efforts to avoid them). I tend to be a mostly treadmill runner anyway (simply because my body is very sensitive to heat and cold), and thought I’d bring back this post from a year ago. Reading it got me a little excited – I mentioned being excited to have gotten myself down to an 8:45 mile … and now, on a good day, I can bust out 8:30. Progress!

Strong-Fit-Beautiful

I’ll admit it: I’m one of those weird people who kind of prefers running on a treadmill. Which is why when I stumbled upon an article (The Upside of Running on a Treadmill | Runner’s World & Running Times) dealing with this very subject, I had to read it.

It wasn’t always this way (much like the author of this article).  When I first started running, I ran almost exclusively outside. But after a hot summer, a cold winter and a gym membership came into play I grew to not only be okay with running on a treadmill – but discovered that I could actually accomplish things I never knew I could by running outside.

As a mostly treadmill runner, I’ve cut my mile time back significantly. I remember the days that I thought I would never be able to make it to a 10 minute mile. After several years of…

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Work Hard, then Relax and Recover Well!

One of the most important things to remember when planning your workout schedule is to take time to relax and recover. What better way to take care of you (especially during the hectic holiday season) than to head to the spa? Here’s a primer for you, courtesy of Marriott:

Use These Spa Tips to Prepare for a Relaxing Retreat An infographic by the team at Marriott Spa Tips

This Infographic was Powered by Marriott

GUEST POST: Overcome Exercise Shyness with Eight Tips

Getting into exercise can be intimidating … but it doesn’t have to be! Check out this guest post from Sharon Freeman on how to overcome exercise shyness, and get started on building a better you!

 

Women are shrinking violets when it comes to exercising outdoors.

According to British non-profit Mind, nine out of 10 women refrain from outdoor physical activity due to low self-esteem coupled with high self-consciousness. They tend to exercise late at night, if not pass up entirely.

Mind’s findings back up a report by Deadline News contending that more and more Scottish women are patronizing 24-hour gyms to exercise at ungodly hours when crowds are sparse.

Psychologists have long compared the effects of outdoor exercise to those of antidepressants, which are used in treatment of anxiety and mild or moderate depression. But it can be hard to drive this fact to women, especially those who are stubborn.

Surveying 1,450 women aged over 30, Mind estimates that two out of three women feel conscious about their body shape when exercising in public. Sixty-percent of respondents feel nervous about their bodily reactions to exercise e.g. blushing, sweating and farting, as well as how their movements look like to others.

To cope with such insecurities, more than half of respondents admitted to exercising late at night or in the early morning hours.  Nearly two-thirds prefer locations where they are least likely to meet people they know.

Hugh Mullan, who runs an all-day and all-night gym in Glasgow, was initially surprised by the late-night turnout in his facility. But he eventually figured this phenomenon.

“What we find is that a lot of women in particular are self-conscious and the idea of a 24-hour gym where they can come either early morning or late at night when it is quieter is definitely something that appeals to them,” he said.

The question is – are you one of these women? Do you feel shy exercising around other people? Conquer your fears with these tips:

1.    Try changing your mindset. Resolve to improve your health and practice ignoring your negative thoughts. Motivate yourself to exercise by thinking of family and friends, many of whom would want to see you live a long, happy, and disease-free life.
2.    Get some company. Exercise with a friend. He or she can give you moral support and help you commit to your goals. There is strength in the proverbial numbers.
3.    Enroll in a beginner’s program. To minimize feelings of embarrassment, take a class tailored to your fitness level.
4.    Practice at home. Do your moves in front of a mirror, if only to prove you don’t look stupid. Doing your moves before you hit the gym also serves two other purposes. First, you improve your form. Second, you can plan what workouts to perform at the gym. (The Internet, books and magazines are rife with free workout ideas.)
5.    Skip the gym entirely. The money you cough up for months-long membership fees and travelling to the facility might be better spent on home equipment. You can work out in your own time, at your own pace, and without a trainer to micromanage you.
6.    Don’t forget dumbbells. In addition to resistance equipment, dumbbells are important to activate stabiliser muscles, resulting in muscle mass gain and enhanced metabolism.  Start with light weights and work your way up; lifting heavy weights too soon only leads to torn muscles.
7.    Some exercises can be done at home anyway. Jumping jacks, crunches, and band pulls can all be done in the comfort of your home. They are the perfect cop-outs from exercising outside.
8.    Run inside. If you’re not ready to jog outside yet, try doing it indoors. The trick is to run in place as fast as you can for 10 minutes. But you can always invest in a treadmill for your home.

 

Conclusion

When you’re overweight or obese, you may feel being excluded by society because of your condition. But you aren’t. Mind’s survey underscores the fact that 90 percent of women, fat or thin, can empathise with you.

Even if other women don’t share your timidity, choose to ease yourself into a healthy attitude of not caring about what others think. With your health on the line, strive to move just a bit every day. For now, it is better that you’re exercising in the wee hours than not at all.

Just remember: Don’t look pretty to exercise, exercise to look pretty.

 

 

Sharon Freeman is a fitness specialist writing about companies like North Shore Health and Fitness

Spinning Playlist: December 19, 2013

Hey everyone! Sorry for the late post (and absence most of this week) – the holiday season truly is hectic this year! Tonight was my final cycle class of 2013, as I’ll be flying back to DC from Chicago next Thursday, and I’m a little afraid to cut it too close upon my return (I am flying out of O’Hare, after all).

Here’s tonight’s playlist, a little later than usual off the bike:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a Scale of 10)
If I Lose Myself – One Republic

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8+)
I Believe – Timeflies
Forever Now – Ne-Yo
Safe and Sound – Capital Cities
The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9+)
Ocean Avenue – Yellowcard
I Need Your Love – Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding
Up in the Air – 30 Seconds to Mars
Telephone – Lady Gaga ft. Beyonce
Find Your Love – Drake

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8+)
Best I Ever Had – Gavin DeGraw
Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon
C’Mon – Ke$ha
Rosa Parks – Outkast

Cooldown
Marry Me – Jason DeRulo
Unconditionally – Katy Perry

Have a very Merry Christmas, and I’ll see you in 2014!

Spinning Playlist – December 12, 2013

Happy Thursday everyone! Can you believe we’re less than two weeks from Christmas already?? I know it certainly feels like it outside, but I swear, I blinked in January, and here we are already.

Here’s tonight’s Spinning playlist, fresh out of the studio:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Start Resistance 3-4 on a Scale of 10)
Marry the Night – Lady Gaga

Building Block #1 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 8+)
Animal – Neon Trees
Dirty Little Secret – All American Rejects
Glowing – Nikki Williams
Funhouse – Pink

Building Block #2 (Start Resistance 5, Build to 9)
Turn Me On – David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj
I Believe – Timeflies
Feel So Close – Calvin Harris
I Kissed a Girl – Katy Perry
Don’t Cha – Pussycat Dolls
Let it Rock – Kevin Rudolph ft. Lil Wayne

Building Block #3 (Start Resistance 4-5, Build to 8-9)
Lucky Strike – Maroon 5
Closer – Tegan and Sara
Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing – Chris Isaak
Stay the Night – Zedd ft. Hayley Williams
Miss Jackson – Panic at the Disco ft. Lolo

Cooldown
Lego House – Ed Sheeran
Say Something – A Great Big World

Remember, next week is my last Thursday class for 2013! Jen will be covering for me on the day after Christmas, as I’m flying back from Chicago and, knowing O’Hare, I’d always rather be safe then scramble for a last-second sub if I need it (my flight is due back in about 90 minutes before class … but it’s Chicago … in December…) My schedule is not changing in January, so you can continue to catch me every Thursday at 6 p.m. Have a great weekend – and try to stay warm!

Fill Their Stockings with New Workout Gear this Holiday Season!

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year – holiday season! I get so excited about Christmas, and everything that goes along with it (and I’m especially excited to head home to see the family in a couple weeks). Have a fitness junkie on your shopping list – or are you looking for a little something for yourself this holiday season? Here are some easy to find ideas that fit into most any shopping budget:

  • BPA-free water bottles. My brother Eric gave me couple orange Nalgene bottles a few Christmases ago – and it’s a gift that keeps on giving. I don’t go anywhere without a water bottle, so it’s been one of the most useful gifts I’ve received in recent history.
  • Yoga or Pilates mat (and maybe throw in a DVD). The beauty of Pilates and yoga? All you need is enough space to fit a mat, so you can practice at home, on the road, or in the studio or the gym. Check out TJ Maxx and Marshalls – they tend to stock high-quality mats, for a fraction of the price you’ll see in sporting goods stores.
  • Heart Rate Monitor. I’m a huge advocate for heart rate monitors – I haven’t exercised without one in probably close to seven years. Depending on the features, they can run from as little as $40, or up to $400. My recommendation: check out Polar (I’ve been wearing a FT60 for about two years now, and I love it! They are currently on Amazon.com for just under $150).
  • Gym bag. If you’re like me, you carry your life to the gym with you (example: on Wednesday nights – when I go straight from work to teaching two classes, I usually show up with my regular bag, with my gym clothes, and my Pilates mat bag, with my mat, Piloxing gloves (need them? You can buy them here), my mic belt, batteries … yeah, I pretty much fall into the studio with my armloads of stuff).
  • Foam roller. I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with these evil saints in the last several weeks. One to use at home is on my list this year!
  • New gym clothes. Gym clothes are great for the outdoor enthusiast, the yogi, the hardcore cyclist … there’s something for every activity and every personality. Not sure what to look for in gym clothes? Check out my recent post here.

One quick reminder, though (and no, I’m not just looking at the gentlemen here): unless you have been specifically asked to purchase a gym membership, DON’T DO IT. You’ll thank me for saving you a fight (do you really want to hear your loved ones ask you if you think they’re fat?? Didn’t think so). Have fun shopping – and remember, window shopping does count as exercise, but that’s no excuse to skip the gym this time of year (and do still park in the back of the lot)! It is a busy time of year, but make time for yourself this holiday season – your health – and sanity – relies on it.

Spinning Playlist – December 5, 2013

Happy Thursday everyone – I missed you last week! Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Now let’s get back to work!

Here’s tonight’s playlist (including a couple new ones!), straight off the bike:

Warm-up (Flat Road; Resistance 3-4 on a Scale of 10)
I Write Sins Not Tragedies – Panic! at the Disco

Building Block #1 (Start 5, Build to 9)
Lucky Strike – Maroon 5
Repeat – David Guetta ft. Jessie J
Come to Me – Diddy ft. Nicole Scherzinger
Burn it Down – Linkin Park

Building Block #2 (Start 4-5, Build to 9)
Sweet Nothing – Calvin Harris ft. Florence Welch
Still Into You – Paramore
Forever Now – Ne-Yo
So What – Pink
Uprising – Muse

Building Block #3 (Start 5, Build to 7+)
Endorphins – Sub Focus
Clarity – Zedd ft. Foxes
Animal – Ke$ha
Desert Rose – Sting

Cooldown
Burn – Ellie Goulding
I Want Crazy – Hunter Hayes

Have a great weekend everyone – have fun watching the conference championship games! My Tigers aren’t playing, but keep your fingers crossed, because the Bowl selections are coming on Sunday. Will we go Orange? Here’s hoping!!

Also… remember, the new year is just around the corner! What does that mean? A couple things. One, remember to show up to claim your bike early. Two, I need your music suggestions! What do you want me to look into in the next couple weeks? Share below!