Seven Tips to Make Working Out Easier

Life isn’t easy and neither is finding balance in life. For example, the weight loss adage goes something like this:

  • 80% diet
  • 20% working out

Well, unfortunately for me, I haven’t quite mastered that whole 80% portion. I’m a born and bred Southern girl with a strong sweet tooth and a love for Diet Coke. I’m human and no matter how hard I try, my diet hasn’t totally cleaned itself up over the past few years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve vastly improved but I’m no where near perfect. But, that other 20%, working out, is a whole different story.

I have somewhat of an extreme personality; I either commit to something all the way or I don’t commit at all. Therefore, when I joined Weight Watchers in 2005 and they told me I needed to start working out in order to overcome my week 3 plateau, I joined a gym and started waking up five mornings a week before my 9am classes senior year in order to break a sweat. This is when my relationship with running started.

Over the past five years a lot has changed in my life:

  • Graduated from University of Georgia
  • Moved from Athens, Georgia to Philadelphia
  • Started a new job
  • Survived a long distance relationship for 2 years
  • Got engaged
  • Moved to New York City
  • Started a new job with same company
  • Moved in with my fiancé
  • Started a blog
  • Married above fiancé
  • Trained for and ran two marathons
  • During all that change, one thing has stayed constant and that is the 20%- working out. Therefore, for this week’s installment of Tuesday Tips, I figured I’d share a few tips and tricks with you all since I receive a comment or email each week regarding “how I do it” while balancing career, marriage, friends, and the blog. Realize that the below list includes things that may seem like common sense to some but others it may create an “aha” moment or spark an idea. I hope these help you commit to your workout plan so you can look back a year from now and feel like you’ve made headway on the 20%.

1. Find a friend: It is much easier to commit to a workout if you know there will be someone waiting for you. This can help fight the snooze buttons on the alarm, the post work slump, or the winter blues. Whether it’s running, walking, Zumba, or even a trapeze class, I guarantee you it will be more fun with someone else.  I know that at least one morning a week I need someone to drag me off the treadmill and onto the sidewalks. Luckily, Jocelyn lives in my neighborhood and was just that person last week, even when it was cold and rainy! Working out with a friend provides a low cost to free alternative to cocktail hours and dinner dates while allowing you to catch up at the same time you break a sweat. Who doesn’t love efficiency? 004 2. Join a club or a group: What if you’re the first of your friends to commit to working out and therefore have a difficult time finding a friend to break a sweat with on a weekly basis? Lucky for you, there are a plethora of free or low cost groups you can join. For example, in almost every town there is a running club associated with one of the local running stores. Most times these clubs cater to power walkers through elite runners. When I was running in Philadelphia, I joined a Main Line running club out of Bryn Mawr Running Store which I found by searching “Philadelphia running clubs” on Google. In addition, if you have a Lululemon in your city, they definitely feature multiple free group workouts each week ranging from yoga to running. Just use their store finder tool to find your local store’s website or Facebook page. Another resource is local health bloggers. If you’re new to blog reading or writing, use Google and try a few different search terms. This sounds crazy but it’s worked for me before. When I moved to NYC I knew very few people outside my fiancé and his co-workers. Therefore, I started looking up NYC health blogs on Google and came across Melissa. We ended up meeting when I emailed her about NYC races and gyms. Joining a club or group helps keep you accountable, can push you to do things you didn’t think possible, and can be a great way to meet new people.


3. Always be prepared: In case you didn’t know, I grew up in a scouting family. Therefore, the motto “always be prepared” has been engrained in my head from an early age. While this can apply to many things, for me it is a perfect motto for keeping up with workouts. I don’t have a figure 8 ball which I can consult or trust on a regular basis. My work schedule changes by the day, and sometimes even by the hour. But, I always keep a gym bag under my desk filled with the essentials: old gym shoes, shorts, top, sports bra, rubber band, headband, and water bottle. This allows me to join friends at the gym on a whims notice or leave the office for a quick stress relief when I know it’s going to be a long evening. In addition, this always alleviates the “i forgot my clothes at home” excuse which used to plague me quite often.

4. Make hitting the snooze button harder: If you’re anything like me and Bo, your natural inclination when your alarm goes off, especially during the cold and dark winter months, is to hit the snooze button. No one wants to leave the comfort of a warm bed. But, if the only chance you have to workout is before the craziness of the day begins, then you have to do everything you can to ensure you don’t hit that snooze button. Over the years, Bo and I have learned that we have to make it harder because we both love using the snooze button. If you put your alarm, whether it’s a cell phone or actual alarm clock, somewhere in your room which requires that you get out of bed to turn it off, you’ll be far less likely to hit snooze. Also, we find that annoying alarms work best. This means the louder and more disruptive the better. There are no harps or favorite songs going off at 5:15 in our household. Instead, both of our cell phone alarms are set to the tug boat setting and one goes off at 5:15 and the other goes off at 5:20.

5. Track It: Just like tracking food helps with managing your diet, I find that tracking my workouts helps keep me motivated. There are a number of wonderful tools out there, ranging from spiral notebooks to computer programs but at the end of the day, Daily Mile is my favorite tool right now. The important thing to understand about this website is that it’s not just for runners. As you can see from the below screen shot, they make it easy to enter everything from yards swam to miles ran or cycled. In addition, they have numerous other actives in the more section. At the end of each week, they send you an email with how the week compares to your average and even give you an inspirational phrase for the week: groovy progress, rockstar, etc. During marathon training, many of us looked forward to this weekly email which not only showed our progress from a mileage and pace standpoint, but also gave us that “pat on the back” that you need when the going gets tough.

image 6. Do what you love when you love it: If you follow me on Daily Mile, Twitter, or just on this blog you know that I am a morning workout person by nature. It’s far easier for me to make it to the gym before work than after work as I often have the 7pm slump when all I want to do is go home and curl up on the couch. I have to use groups and friends to motivate me for evening run clubs or yoga classes. Therefore, I use the mornings as my “core” workout time. I plan in my head that I will workout Monday through Thursday from 5:30-6:30 each morning. Anything in addition to that is just an “extra” workout. That way if I have to cancel on an evening workout due to work or hit the slump, I know that I already logged a workout for that day. It’s also important to break a sweat in the way that makes you the happiest. I’ve tried to commit to spinning and Bikram yoga twice before, once in Philadelphia and once in New York. At the end of the day I don’t love those workouts as much as I enjoy running, weight training, or power yoga. I’d find myself skipping workouts or not pushing myself while I was on the bike or mat. I finally realized that it was because I had no passion for these workouts. If you focus on doing the workout you love during the time period of day that you love, you’ll be more successful.

7. Tell Others: Do you find it hard to workout while you’re traveling for business? What about working out before work or after work? Try sharing your plan with someone who your with and see if that doesn’t change things. I started telling my co-workers, casually during dinner conversations, that I was working out the next morning in the hotel gym and this immediately made waking up during business travel earlier. Often times, they’ll join me because they’re inspired by my strong ethic. I’ve done the same thing with Friday long runs. It’s tough to log 11 miles before work in a foreign city, but if your team members know you’re doing this you’ll not only get tons of cheers when you see them but you’ll also feel accountable. When I was on a girls weekend beach trip, I knew that running 20 miles would be tough between our late night chats, alcohol, and vacation mode. Therefore, I told my girlfriends in advance that I’d be doing my 20 miler while we were at the beach. They were supportive and even ran a few miles with me while also motivating me to keep my plan in place, especially when tempted with the idea of hanging out on the beach instead or sleeping in.

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I’m sure I’ve inadvertently left something off this list, so I’ll keep it updated under the soon to be updated Exercise page on my blog. Until then, if you have any questions, feel free to email me as always.

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Bar Method Soho Review: Pain with a Smile

Tonight I had the great opportunity to check out the newest Lotte Berk kid on the block in NYC thanks to Jes free class she set up for her readers. I’ve enjoyed classes inspired by the Lotte Berk method previously at Core Fusion and Physique 57.
In preparation for class, I reviewed the basics of The Bar Method.
The Bar Method™workout creates a uniquely lean, firm, sculpted body by combining the muscle-shaping principles of isometrics, the body-elongating practice of dance conditioning, the science of physical therapy and the intense pace of interval training into a powerful exercise format that quickly and safely reshapes and elongates muscles.

I’ve found from previous experience that taking a bar class 2x per week results in definite body changes. When I was taking Physique 57 classes last year 2x per week I noticed arm definition and my thighs were more slender. It has similar results as swimming.
The Bar Method Soho location is located on the second floor of 155 Spring Street right in the heart of Soho. Upon entering the space this evening I immediately noticed the warm, bright lighting and clean lines. This environment is definitely refreshing after walking through the Subway station grime.

The reception was warm and attentive as each reader entered. Everyone was smiling and more than happy to give us a tour of the space so we could make it our own. First up, the necessary water and treats in their kitchen area. I’ve never seen this before in a studio!

They offer filtered water to refill your water bottle or sell bottled water for $1.25. In addition they offer herbal teas for post class refreshment.

As you can see above, the lobby area features a plethora of lockers and benches which students may use to store their belongings. The lockers have key locks which remove and hang in the rooms during class which makes it easy to know your things are safe and sound.
Next stop on our tour was the ladies locker room. Once again there are plenty of lockers in the locker room along with changing space, bathroom stalls, towels, and a small shower area featuring a few stalls.

This locker room was definitely easier to navigate than both Physique 57 and Core Fusion. There was plenty of space even when 10 of us were in there changing. In addition, the new space has been kept up very well and is still spotless!
After meeting some of the other attendees, many of whom I’d met previously at other events, we were ready for a great class.

The class itself was very, very similar to both Core Fusion and Physique 57. The class is an hour long and best practiced while wearing socks or special grip socks which are sold at the front desk. I wore my Core Fusion socks and they worked perfectly.

I would really like to enjoy more Bar Method Soho classes but right now it doesn’t fit into my monthly gym budget since I already enjoy an Equinox membership. However, I think this is a great class to enjoy with friends every now and then. It forces me to focus on the difficult, small movements. If you are interested in learning more, their website is very thorough! In addition, a few other ladies have reviewed the classes: Jes, Dori, and Missy. Thank you Jes and Bar Method Soho for an amazing evening and workout! Hopefully I’ll be back soon to receive more pain with a smile.
Here are some of my favorite aspects of tonight’s class:

                                         Amy, one of the founders, led our class and had an amazing knack for learning names. She complimented and critiqued each of us throughout the class while addressing us by our names. This made me focus more since I knew I wasn’t “invisible”

    • Everything was done with a smile. The instructors and all staff must have been extensively trained on service and it shows!
    • The music was awesome! I’ve found in other classes that the music is dull at times and rarely actual music, especially during my experiences at Core Fusion. Tonight’s music was a great mix and really helped me stay with the beat.
    • I enjoyed tonight’s thigh sequence at the bar. It wasn’t necessarily as long as Physique or Core Fusion’s but I felt it very effective.
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Crazy Friday and Yoga Works NYC

Fridays are supposed to be relaxed and a time for catching up since I have “Summer Fridays” from Memorial Day through Labor Day. This means that Monday thru Thursday all summer we come in 30 minutes early and stay 30 minutes later so that Friday afternoon at 1pm most people can leave.While I rarely get to leave at 1pm, it is nice not to have any meetings planned after 12.
My Friday started with a quick Weight Watchers stop. I lost .5 lb this week which all things considered isn’t horrible. In addition, I picked up more of my favorite oatmeal and had a great chat with the leader their about my experience thus far. Some people have asked whether I’m going to the meetings. As of now, my schedule doesn’t allow for a 30 minute meeting and I’ve seen results historically without the meeting. Therefore, I go to their “open hours” where you can walk in and weigh in without waiting for the meeting.
Breakfast was refreshing and energizing! I’ve found that my oats stay with me longer when I add flax seeds so this week I’ve tried to get back to that. In addition, I’ve been easing into Maca Powder.
Blog Pictures 2010 244
1/2 c blueberries (0 points)
1/3 c Chobani yogurt (1 point)
2 Tbsp flax seeds (2 points)
1 Tbsp Maca Powder (0 points)
1 package Weight Watchers Vanilla Oatmeal (2 pts)
I worked like a crazy lady going meeting to meeting until 1pm. I spent the next hour working through my inbox. Doesn’t it feel great to make it through your inbox and actually file, delete, or respond to everything? Before heading to my PT appointment, I had a quick call with OpenSky to discuss my upcoming shops. I’m really excited about this venture and am equally thrilled that it will launch sooner than I expected.
Unfortunately, I lost track of time which meant I had five minutes to reach my PT appointment. Friday afternoon traffic meant a cab wasn’t possible so I power walked a mile to the appointment as quickly as possible. I’ve really come to love my mile walk to and from PT. We’re making great headway in therapy and finding that a lot of my issues also come from tight hip flexors. He couldn’t believe how tight they were yesterday when he spent 20 minutes digging at them. Luckily, he’s set me up with some great stretches that I can do everyday at home or in the gym.
After my appointment, I planned to head back downtown towards my normal Equinox for a great workout but instead literally ran into an Equinox at Broadway. I love that there are locations throughout the city. It makes working out so much easier!  I ran 15 minutes at 6.2 on the treadmill which is great headway! I’m still worried about getting into marathon shape but it’s a great improvement versus two weeks ago when I could barely walk due to my back injury. About 15 minutes into my elliptical HIIT session that I found on Fit Sugar I realized that my Yogaworks groupon had to be activated by July 2nd and it was in fact July 2nd. I was literally going through my weekend checklist in my head while working out and realized that I’d always thought July 2nd was Saturday which would fit my workout schedule perfectly.  After muttering a few select words I quickly dashed into the locker room, changed, and called Yoga Works. I was hoping they’d say that I could show the Groupon on my Blackberry. Unfortunately, I had to bring the actual coupon which meant I had to rush 20 blocks back to my office, print the coupon, then grab the Subway down to Union Square for the 5pm class.  

My Yogaworks experience was wonderful! The studio was a little cramped overall but our individual studio had huge open windows which allowed fresh air to flow through. The sunlight and fresh air helped put me in a relaxed state of mind. I was apprehensive about the Level 2 Vinyasa Flow class as I wasn’t sure what their level system meant. But, this hour long class was the perfect end to a stressful day. It definitely challenged me as the instructor included many poses that I’ve never done before and 10 minutes of inversion work. Janna, the instructor, really made this class for me. 

Janna did a great job adjusting us throughout the class, describing the poses, and helping us focus on our breathing. My goal for the class was to make a conscious effort to breathe into and through each pose. I successfully held warrior three for an entire minute and did a wall hand stand and head stand without assistance!
I would love to include this 5pm YogaWorks class into my normal schedule. It shed the stress of my Friday and helped me “let it all out” before arriving home to Bo for our date night.
How do you let your stress go after a long day and week?

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