Tracking Fitness

During a conversation with my nutritionist, I came to realize that I needed to track more than just my nutrition.  I was telling her how much I work out and felt I wasn’t making enough gains.  I went over my workout schedule for the week and explained how hard I was working each day.  She looked at me and asked, “What about the rest of the day?  How active are you?”  I remember thinking, why does that matter if I work out each day for at least sixty minutes I should be good to go.  That simple conversation was a turning point for me.  I realized that despite running for an hour I didn’t get to sit and be a couch potato the rest of the day.  Clearly I had the wrong mindset.  I was seeing exercise as something I needed to do, rather than a lifestyle change.

I left the nutritionist’s office that day with a simple plan.  I was going to see just how active I really was by tracking my steps in a day.  She said the goal was 10,000 steps per day.  I ordered a simple step counter, set the target and tracked.  On days I ran, I had no issue hitting the 10,000 step target, however I noticed all my step activity was from the morning run.  On days I didn’t run, I was way under that target.  I quickly started adding more steps to my day by taking short walks several times a day, parking my car farther away from the store door and yes, even circling my bedroom before bed to reach the target.  I just love when the watch signals meeting the goal.  Such a simple addition to my day that increased my activity immensely.

Today’s tip is to get a step tracker and log your daily movement.  You will think 10,000 is easy and it very well may be.  But, like me, you may find you are thinking of exercise as something to check of your to do list.  On a day I didn’t run my step count was as low as 4K.  That was truly eye opening for me.  I guarantee with this simple addition to your fitness routine, you will increase your daily activity.  My husband got a Fitbit for his birthday and I am seeing him go through the same process.  He’s always checking his steps and now consistently hits 14K a day.  My dog is super happy for this fitness tip and should really get his own Fitbit because he gets so many walks now.

Are you tracking your steps?  What’s your daily goal?  Please leave a comment in the section below, I’d love to hear about your goals.

Fitbit Trackers

Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker, Silver/Black, Small

Not ready to commit to an expensive tracker, try this inexpensive entry level Fitbit:

Fitness Tracker, MoreFit Slim Touch Screen Activity Health Tracker Wearable Pedometer Smart Wristband, Silver/Green

Tuesday Training Tips

As a new feature to this blog, each Tuesday I will share a quick training tip that has helped me stay on track.  We all know there are a million excuses and reasons to skip a workout.  For me, I have always been pretty steady with my workouts and rarely skip them.  The first tip for my new Tuesday Training Tips post is to keep your workout routines interesting and fresh.

I have found that when I did the same routine over and over I would quickly burn out and lose interest and motivation.   For example, if you currently run for every cardio workout, try adding in days where you do something different such as biking, hiking, swimming, elliptical, rowing or even walking fast.  If you are training for a race, like I am, and don’t have the luxury of not doing a run, try mixing up the route you run or the tempo.

As you know, I am training to run my first marathon.  My official run plan starts in June, but I am currently running to maintain my fitness.  This winter I was using the treadmill most mornings, though I loathe it, because 5:00 AM is might dark, cold and desolate outside.  I found that I quickly began to lose interest and motivation to even run.  I realized it was because a) it is monotonous to run on a treadmill; and b) it was the same thing every day.  In my quest to reenergize my routine, I began exploring ways to make this routine more interesting.  Any of these ideas can apply to your current fitness routine and are easy and free to implement.

Schedule Different Routines

I found having a plan the easiest way to mix up the routines you follow.   Get out your calendar and schedule your workouts to build in variety and keep in interesting.  Below is a sample workout schedule that you could follow.  Just substitute the workout listed for the routine you prefer.

  • Monday – Easy run 45 minutes
  • Tuesday – Yoga class online – 30 – 60 min
  • Wednesday – Tempo training run – 30 minutes
  • Thursday – Strength class online – 30 minutes
  • Friday – Easy run 45 minutes
  • Saturday – Lap swim 60 minutes
  • Sunday – Rest day – easy walk

Another version I personally followed when recovering from broken bones involved only strength workouts.  These were streamed online and I used hand held weights.  The same principles applied in that I scheduled the sessions to stay focused and engaged.

  • Monday – chest/triceps
  • Tuesday – legs
  • Wednesday – back/biceps
  • Thursday – active recover – yoga/pilates
  • Friday – shoulders
  • Saturday – full body
  • Sunday – REST – easy walk

Scheduling workouts like this keeps it very interesting.  It also breaks them down into smaller, manageable parts.

Download an App

There are SO many free apps to choose from these days.  I’m currently loving the Running for Weightloss App, which has a free version.  I am in week 6 of using this app and it has really kept my interest on runs.  The one I am using is an interval training program which includes a coach who speaks to me on runs.  She tells me when to run, walk and sprint.  I find I look forward to these runs and include them into my routine three times a week.   I get a great workout and the session flies by.

Join a Club or Find a Friend

Everything in life is better with friends.  For me, finding someone to run at 5:00 AM is pretty impossible.  I joined an online running club and found many friends to network with.  We keep each other motivated and yes, sometimes meet up in person at races to run.  Just because you don’t have someone every day to workout with, don’t give up.  Even if you have friends you can talk to about your workout routines, you’ll find your motivation will increase.  My club is called the Sub30 Club and is offered through Runners World.

Vary Routine

If you are training for an upcoming goal race and need to just plain run, I’ve found the way to keep it interesting is to vary your routine.  Again, a schedule and a plan are most helpful to keep yourself focused and to ensure you are training enough to meet your goals.  When I trained for my first half marathon last year, I purchased a running plan.  I couldn’t believe the difference the plan made in my motivation to get out there.  I didn’t have a live coach pushing me along, it was just me and the road, but I was motivated and never skipped one planned run.  I am obviously schedule driven, but I think changing up the routines was the true key to my success.  Here is a sample week for my runs on the plan –

  • Monday – easy effort run 60 minutes
  • Tuesday – tempo run 45 minutes
  • Wednesday – easy effort run 60 minutes
  • Thursday – active recovery – walk/yoga/pilates
  • Friday – tempo run 45 minutes
  • Saturday – long run 90 minutes, easy effort
  • Sunday – REST – walk

The times increase over the course of 20 weeks for the long run.  The shorter runs generally stayed in the same range.  The plan I purchased was from Another Mother Runner.  There are many free programs available online if you are looking for a plan and can’t afford to buy one.

Do Just a Little Bit Each Day

I love the concept of doing short workouts every day.  It really makes it so accessible for anyone.  Seriously, who can’t carve out 10 – 15 minutes a day.  You may think it’s not enough and it may not be in the long run, but in the short run it will get you engaged and started.  For me, I use this concept to get my strength training in when I’m training for a race.  Running during training takes pretty much all my free time in the morning.  There just isn’t enough time to do a 60 minute run and get in a proper strength training routine.  My choice became either get no strength training, or add a little in each day and go for the compound effect.  I chose the later and added 10 – 15 minutes to the end of each run.  Here’s a sample of the add on to my current routine –

  • Monday – easy effort run 60 minutes/foam rolling 5 minutes/strength 10 minutes
  • Tuesday – tempo run 45 minutes/yoga burn 15 minutes
  • Wednesday – easy effort run 60 minutes/foam rolling 5 minutes/strength 10 minutes
  • Thursday – active recovery – yoga/pilates/walk
  • Friday – tempo run 45 minutes – strength 15 minutes
  • Saturday – long run 90 minutes – yoga burn 20 minutes
  • Sunday – REST

If I can’t fit the short add on into the routine in the morning, it is surely manageable to do at night.  I am the queen of excuses at night, so I make sure to fit it in, but you can certainly see that doing 15 minutes of something at night is much less stressful than carving out 60 minutes after work.

My routines are all available online and were inexpensive to purchase.  I use Yoga Burn, which is segmented into 15 minute segments.  I purchased Danette May’s Fit for Life subscription and it includes workout calendars for the month.  I just pick and choose the ones I wish to do for each day.  They are all segmented into 8 – 10 minute workouts.  Both of these are meant to be repeated three times, but for me I only really have time for one go around.  As I said, it’s not my only routine and I’m using it as an add on.  I’m also hoping for the compound effect and looking across the week rather than fitting it all in one session.

During the summer when I have more time, I will surely add more strength in, but if I want to stay in the game this works for me.   What are your routines to keep yourself motivated to workout?  I’d love to share some new ideas.  Please leave your comment in the section below.

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