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Overcoming Obstacles in Your Fitness Journey

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Overcoming Obstacles

Over the winter, not a day went by that I wasn’t met with some kind of obstacle preventing me from reaching my goals. There always seemed to be some unplanned, unimaginable catastrophe, or a last minute change of plans that somehow burgeoned into a major dilemma that required me to drop everything I was planning to do. Sure, some of it was in my head (I’m exhausted. I need a break. I just want to curl under a blanket and read. It’s too cold. Too hot. Too early. Too late. I have too much to do. Tomorrow. Monday. Next week.)

But other times, there’s situations beyond your control. Just being in a relationship, working full-time, and having kids, can completely blow up all your good intentions. I can’t tell you how many times I drove home from work and cheered myself on the entire way home: “I’m throwing my gym clothes on and immediately going downstairs, turning on the music and working out. No One Will Bother Me! Woo hoo!”

Then you get hit with “I have a science project due tomorrow.” “I had a huge fight with So-n-So in school today.” “The washing machine broke.” “I’m working late, you’ll have to start dinner.” “Can you drive me to my friends house?” The list goes on and on, and I’m sure you have many phrases to add to this list. How are you supposed to keep in shape when things keep popping up?

There is always an alternative plan, another path, another way to fit in what you need to do, but it does take organization and planning. Search through your schedule and see what’s possible. I remember years ago, after my 2nd daughter was born, I NEEDED to get back in shape but with two small kids, there was no time. Back then, I realized that I didn’t need to sit in the cafeteria for an entire hour eating and yacking about drama and gossip, and other negative conversations. I found a local gym less that 10 minutes away and decided to work out on my lunch hour. I had it all planned out. 9 minute drive, 1 minute to change clothes, workout for a half hour, change back into work clothes, 9 minute drive back, 10 minutes to eat my salad. Totally doable and didn’t take away any time from my family or my long to-do list. I found sitting in the cafeteria was actually a waste of a good hour! I did this for over 6 years.

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After many, many years, of running on my lunch hour, I decided to try hitting the gym after work. It worked perfectly in the beginning. I changed into my gym clothes before I left work, drove straight to a gym 10 minutes from my house that was on the way home, worked out for a half hour, and went home. Loved it. I got my workout in before reaching home and dealing with any problems. There’s always a way!

When I started writing my books, the problem was in my head. I loved writing and wanted that more than the gym. It was weird at first because weightlifting was always part of my life – for almost 30 yrs. But I wanted to write more. And let me tell you – I found MANY ways to fit in the writing: very early in the morning, late at night, on my lunch hour, I’d even jot down ideas and scenes while driving, waiting in a Dr’s office, while my children did their homework. Suddenly there was pockets-of-time that were never there before.

This past year though, after publishing my third book, I had enough. Sure, coming up with ideas, characters, and scenes was fun, but everything else was becoming a chore, and my family was being neglected, I was moody & miserable and I hadn’t seen my friends in forever. I wanted my life back but found it harder to get back into it this time. I struggled all winter.

I bought myself a huge DVD exercise set for Christmas that I loved, but when I came home from work on many occasions, my younger daughter was either in the den doing homework with her books spread all over the rug where I needed to work out, or my older daughter brought the kids she babysat for over our house to hang out. My workout room was converted into an instant playroom.

Another time, I came home from work and everyone was actually in their rooms! I tiptoed into my room, threw on comfy clothes and snuck down stairs and saw this:

tea party

My full-gym was converted into some kind of tea party for my daughter’s dolls, and I wasn’t allowed to touch it.

Another time, I decided to do walking lunges around my entire basement which is huge and spans the entire length of my house. As I was well into my set, about 10 reps in, I turned the corner and came in contact with this in my way:

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Apparently, this part of my basement was converted into a classroom.  (As I’m writing this, my husband just called me to tell me our dryer isn’t working! I give up). Which reminded me of the time my dryer broke:

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Anyway. There will always be roadblocks, challenges, obstacles. You HAVE to come up with a new plan. Even if they keep happening (and they will) get to work and devise a new strategy. Grab a pen and paper, a calendar, a scheduler, anything you need and figure it out. It’s better when you write it all down and can see it come together right before your eyes.

I recently switched my workouts to the morning, which is working well. I get up at 6am, which isn’t too bad – everyone is still asleep – workout for a half hour in my basement and jump in the shower. It starts my day on a positive note and keeps my eating on track too.

I mentioned on my Facebook Page a while back that one day when I had a lot to do when I came home, but NEEDED to get my workout in before I seriously lost it, I tried this:

I did one set of tricep dips, then started dinner. Then another set and watered the hanging baskets. Then another set while cleaning up the kitchen and setting the table.
Then I did a set of biceps, cleaned the litter box, then another set, then brought garbage out to street, then another set while straightening up the den.
It felt good. I was getting my workout in and still doing everything I needed to do after work. Instead of resting between sets, I cleaned up.
I woke early this morning and decided to do the same thing again. I did a set of chest presses, then got my clothes, makeup and hair things, ready in the bathroom. Another set and then emptied the dehumidifier, another set and cleaned up the kitchen, a set of pushups and then I packed up my car with everything I needed for work. I just kept doing this until it was time to go in the shower. I only managed 2 sets of back, (I ran out of time) but felt good that I worked out almost my entire upper body AND got things done around the house.
I can’t do it all, but there is always a way out. Always a brand new plan to try. Even if you have a bad day, a bad week (or two) just keep trying.

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I’d like you guys to find a pocket planner that has a time schedule. Look over your day and find certain times of the day, certain hours, where you can squeeze in workouts, runs, gym classes, etc. Then make time on Sunday’s to plan out your week of meals. If that’s too much, plan out your breakfast for the week, and then create healthy snack ideas for the following week. Keep doing this until it becomes a habit and soon you will see it’s doable. You can do something like this: (Whatever works for you).

6:00am – Work out Abs for a half hour

6:30am – Drink 2 glasses of water in bathroom

8:00am – Breakfast: 1 egg, turkey, onion, tomatoes, peppers, with 8oz milk

11:30am – Run up and down stairs at work for 3-4 minutes. Drink 2 cups of water

12:00am – Snack: Kashi Go Lean cereal with 4oz milk, blueberries

2:00pm –  Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken, 2 more cups of water

2:45pm – Walk around building before going back into work

7:00pm – Dinner: Salmon with asparagus

7:45pm – Go for a 1 mile jog

You can play around with the schedule and see what would work for your day. Everyone is different. But, sometimes when you write it down, it actually seems possible.

What do you do to overcome your obstacles? Do you schedule things? How do you balance exercise & eating healthy?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Exercise: Do You Really Know What You’re Doing?

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What on Earth Are You Doing?

My last blogpost, Why You Won’t Lose Weight From Exercise Alone, sparked the next series of questions: If you are exercising, are you even doing it correctly? My comment about: “I won’t even get into the ones that pig out all day and then casually stroll around the block every evening after dinner,” got a lot of people to ask: that’s not enough? Yeesh.

No, a casual stroll will do nothing. Especially if you’re talking on your cell phone while doing it. Also, slowly pedaling on a stationary bicycle while leaning back and reading a book: Not Exercise. The proper way to know if you’re getting a real, good workout, is to exercise in your target heart rate. A simple equation is:

220 minus your age. So let’s say you’re 47 years old, your MAXIMUM heart rate should be around 173 beats per minute.

To determine your heart rate while you’re exercising: take a quick break, check your pulse and count the beats per a 60 second time period. (or you can do a 10 second time period, and then multiply it by 6.) This chart will show you how hard you’re working. It will also show you how out of shape you are. If a casual stroll around the block has your heart rate at 180 beats per minute, you are Out of Shape! On the other hand, very conditioned athletes may have lower than average heart rates because their hearts have learned how to adapt and work more efficiently. Therefore, everyone is different and you need to know what YOUR max heart rate is, and what range you need to exercise in.

Heart_rate_chart                                       Image Courtesy of http://www.cybexintl.com/ 

Range of Heart Rate determines where you should be at certain times. You should not be at your max heart rate all the time, actually it’s impossible to be there for more than a few minutes. But you should test your heart rate to see where you normally are. If you’re always at the 50% range, you may not be working hard enough. If you’re always at the 85% range: is that too high? Or are you out of shape and any exercise you do, drives your heart rate up? You should vary your workouts though, so that some are high intensity and some are low. Mix it up.

Another way to determine if you’re exercising hard enough, is to gauge your breathing. You should be ABLE to talk, but feel that you don’t really want to.

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If you’re weightlifting, and don’t rest between sets (and text your friends) you can get your heart rate up pretty high, as well. (Yes, you can get a cardio workout from lifting weights. Test your heart rate and see). But, if you want to know if you’re lifting heavy enough to build muscle, then once you’ve lifted weights long enough to be comfortable with your routine, you can test this out: You should NOT be able to lift the weight or push the weight, for more than 10 reps. If you are lifting a pretty pink weight 18 times, it’s too light. Trust me.

Here is another graph displaying where you should be according to your level of fitness. You want to start slow, but then make sure you make improvements!

target-hearrate-chart      Image Courtesy of ACEFitness.com

How Much Do You Need to Exercise?

It depends what your goals are. If you’re trying to lose weight, then 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week is recommended for slow, healthy weight loss. 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat. So divide that by 7 (days in a week) and you would need to get rid of 500 calories a day to lose 1 lb a week. So, you can burn (exercise) off 500 calories a day, eat 500 calories less a day, OR a combination of both (eat 250 calories less and burn off 250 calories a day).

Want to lose it faster? Then eat a lot less and exercise a lot more.

If you find you’re losing weight in the beginning, but then it slows down, look at your exercise routine. If you’ve been doing the SAME routine for weeks, then you’re burning less calories now because it becomes easier and you exert less energy. Also, when your body is more conditioned, it gets used to your exercise routine, so you need to do MORE to continue to lose weight.

Or, again, you can eat less. If you’re already eating very little, (1,000 calories a day) then you cannot eat any less, so you will need to exercise more.

As for how long and how many times per week should you exercise? Read this for more detailed information on that: http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/exercise-frequency/

How many of you frequently check your heart rate? Do you push yourself at each workout? Do you mix it up to get your heart rate up to different levels?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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12 Inspirational Stories to Get You Off Your Butt

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By Christine Ardigo MSRD

Running, Biking, Swimming, so Many Races to Try! I’ve written many posts on weightlifting, my true love and passion for many reasons, like here and here and here. But cardio is just as important for our lungs and heart, therefore I dedicate this wonderful post to all of you that get out there and do it and to hopefully inspire those of you that don’t.

I ran three 5k races several years ago and loved the excitement surrounding the races. I completed a Spartan Race in April and a Mudd Run with my daughter in June. But to really inspire you, I am lucky enough to have 12 amazing people in my life that want to share their stories with you. Why they started entering races, what they felt like while training, and of course, what it felt like to complete a race. Without further ado, here are their stories. I hope it motivates you and moves you as much as it did me.                                                       Read More

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