Friday, June 22, 2012

Back in the saddle, y'all

Hi loves,

Happy almost-weekend! Alright, alright, I know that I'm on summer vacation and every day is kind of like a weekend, except not.  I like taking a break from my every day routine and splurging a little (food-wise), having a drink, spending time with a friend.  I am definitely a routine kind of gal.  It keeps me in order, and all who know me would vouch and tell you I love organization.  See picture below for confirmation.
My color coded and date prioritized FINALS WEEK To-Do List from 2011 
Anyway, back to makes me happy.  I like knowing what to expect and I find that my life runs so much smoother that way.  So even though my summer is pretty much free of any commitments I created a routine for myself filled with trips to the gym, healthy breakfasts, light dinners, and studying for the GRE (well, attempting to).  My weekend is open for spontaneity, as spontaneous as a girl like me can get anyway.

A huge part of this summer is working on my health and happiness.  I am most happy when I feel healthy and my body reflects this lifestyle.  I was very good at this in college, especially my sophomore and junior years.  The stresses brought on by my senior year (and a new relationship) along with my first year of teaching in rural Louisiana put a halt to my previous lifestyle.  A small, small, small town with a total of two gyms in the entire parish (county to us normal states) have few to zero classes and is a good drive from my apartment.  About a week into my summer vacation in my hometown I am back in the groove and feeling amazing!  I am attending a local gym that fulfills my needs.  It is no 24 Hour Fitness (which I miss dearly), but it is spacious, has loads of classes, great hours, and a friendly staff!  

Now, if you're wondering what my gym schedule looks like and what keeps me motivated then this is for you.  I am a huge believer in listening to your body, if you've never been to the gym (or worked out), or need to get back on the saddle then don't attempt a full hour intense workout if your body can't handle it the first day.  Don't try going every day the first week, actually I wouldn't recommend working out every day because our bodies need to rest and recuperate.  Others may disagree, but then again that is what my body needs.  Yours is different.  I began by going three times a week and have increased that to four to five days a week.  With a variation between cardio and strength training.  I LOVE classes, LOVE them.  I think I feel more committed when I go to classes at the gym and I also perform better because I like to do my best and when you have an audience we have a tendency to try our best.  At least this is my philosophy, I'm sure I read an article about it somewhere.  If you've never tried a class then I definitely recommend you try one, or two, or five.  Most gyms will offer a description of all the classes they offer so that you are aware of what each entails (weights, upper body, hand-eye coordination lol).  I would say to choose a class that seems safe, that way you don't become discouraged by an intense boot camp class that makes you throw up after thirty minutes.  Maybe a Zumba class or a class that focuses on upper body strength.  

A couple of tips for attending a class: 

1. Let the instructor know that it is your first time in the class, and if the class requires equipment (weights, steps, resistance bands) ask what items you need and how many.  
Note: Classes will have all equipment available :)

2. Don't be embarrassed to set up near the front.  I wouldn't recommend a spot at the very front your first time so that you can follow along with an experienced class goer and also have a great view of the instructor.  

3. Don't be that person who is afraid to raise their hand when the instructor asks, "Who is here for the first time?"  By being a little vulnerable and raising your hand others in the class will be more likely to help you out, be friendly, and smile at you.  

4. If you need to step out early because of exhaustion or simply listening to your bodies needs, don't hesitate.  All instructors would rather you listen to your body than hurt yourself, so they will not be offended.  

5.  LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Don't push yourself because the old lady at 75 next to you can hold a plank for 2 minutes straight and you can barely keep it up for 30 seconds.  Take breaks if you need them and get back in the game.  

6.  Drink lots of water! Unless it's a low-key yoga class.  

I am biased to Spinning classes! I am, really.  Spinning typically takes place in a separate room from other classes.  The spinning room will have lots of stationary bikes and some kind of cool lighting, mine has disco lights and my previous gym had blue lights.  It is customary for these classes to keep the lights off so that attendees can focus on their own fitness and not anyone else's.  Awesome upbeat music is usually played and you have different intervals on the bikes such as (hills, jumps, sprints, jogs).  It is intense, and you burn calories in a quick period of time around 500 usually in a 45 minute spin class.  This also depends on how hard you're working.  Spinning is a great option if you're looking to burn a lot of calories in a short period of time.  Great for leaner, longer looking legs, and burning belly fat (keep that core tight).  
A picture of the spinning room at my current gym.  The lights are on here, they go completely off except for the disco
lights when class is in session.  
I know what you're thinking, "But what if I have trouble staying motivated?!"  I have got the perfect solution for you.  Now, I am not Miss Suzi Sunshine every single morning (yes, I go in the morning) and I do have my lack of motivation every now and then.  You gotta do whatever it takes!! Make a star chart, keep a reward system, set an alarm with an inspirational message (see mine below).

But, the best external motivator I have found so far is the iPhone app GymPact.  Disregard if you do not have an iPhone and do yourself a favor and go buy one...NOW.  GymPact is fantastic, you make a weekly pact for working out and check in every time you go.  If you fulfill your pact you earn money (yes, for real) and if you don't you pay up.  For example, I currently commit to going to the gym a minimum of 4 days a week and my workouts must be a minimum of 30 minutes for them to count.  You set your stakes for not going, I have $5 because I think that's a lot of money to lose for not going to the gym.  But you can do $10 or even $20 if that will motivate you more.  
A real image from my check-in process when I went to the gym this week.  

I hope this post inspires you to get back in the saddle with your fitness.   Hopefully GymPact will get a few more users in the next few days.  Seriously, it's the best.  If you use GymPact and love it, leave a comment.  Maybe you can make your gym alarm say "If Brittney can get through 2007, you can get through another workout." (Inspiration here) haha.

What about y'all, what is your favorite gym class? Are you going to try a class now?  Did you download GymPact? 

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