20 Ways to Make Your Workout More Fun

My husband eats the exact same breakfast every morning: Greek yogurt with protein powder, oats, and blueberries.

Every. Single. Morning.

It doesn’t seem to bother him, but that type of monotony would drive me crazy.

That’s not to say that I don’t find comfort in routine, but we all need a little variety once in awhile.

The same applies to our workouts.

Admittedly, my biggest exercise flaw is that I have a tendency to do too much of a good thing.  For example, I really wanted to be able to stick a handstand without the wall.  So, I did a handstand every day.  One handstand turned in to multiple, and I kept going and going, until one day I woke up with an ache in my shoulder that started to spread down my arm.

Too much of a good thing, in this situation, equaled none of that good thing at all while I recovered.

Adding variety to your routine is good for more than just avoiding injury.  Keeping our muscles guessing is important for improving our fitness, and keeping ourselves from getting bored is definitely essential to adherence to an exercise routine.

So, allow me to share some ways to spice it up:

1. Buy some new workout clothes.

2. Move your workout outside (if you typically exercise indoors).

3. Grab a buddy to join you.

4. Try a new group fitness class or gym (most places offer the first class free).

5. Jump in the car and find the closest park or forest preserve, and do your workout there.

6. Make a new playlist to listen to while you exercise.

7. Download the audio version of a book you’ve been wanting to read.  Go for a long walk, and start listening!

8. Play a sport with the kids.

9. Jump on your bike and explore a nearby neighborhood (it is National Bike Month, after all).

10. Sign up for a 5k.  You don’t have to be a runner; many people sign up and walk the three miles.  Some races also have a one-mile course specifically for those who plan to walk.

11. Download an app that tracks your running/walking/biking route, distance, and speed.  I’m a fan of Map My Run.

12. Another fun app idea: Zombies Run!  Although it’s a paid app (I’m the queen of cheap when it comes to downloads on my phone), I have heard rave reviews about this one.  I admit, I haven’t tried it, as I am a wuss when it comes to zombies.  However, a friend of mine trained for her first charity run with this app, and she loved the entertainment factor it added that made her feel like she had to keep running or the zombies would catch her!

13. Check out Meetup.com for active groups of like-minded people in your area.

14. Buy a new piece of exercise equipment, even if you’re not sure how to use it.  Stability balls, for example, are super cheap and typically come with a chart or link with directions for how to exercise with it.

15. Go shopping at an outdoor mall, and park as far away as you can from your favorite store.  Your shopping trip just doubled as your workout!

16. Take your dog for a long walk.

I sure do love my Libby Doodle!

I sure do love my Libby Doodle!

17. Hop on the treadmill with your iPad and read some things you haven’t had time for while you walk.  I don’t know about you, but my Pocket app is FULL of articles that I never seem to have the time to read.  Walking on the treadmill while I read suddenly becomes relaxing reading time.

18. Jump on the trampoline with your kids.

19. Look for coupons for adventurous activities.  Being near Chicago, I always find coupons for bike or kayaking tours of the city.

20. Challenge yourself to do something that seems impossible.  Plank Challenge, here we come.

5-20 Plank Challenge

Which of these ideas will you do first?  Share it in the comments below!  And while you’re add it, share these ideas with a friend!

A Big Announcement

If you haven’t heard or seen it elsewhere, I am pregnant.

Headstands already?

Headstands already?

And, oh boy (or girl, chuckle chuckle), is pregnancy tough!

I will say that everything I thought would be the case about pregnancy (i.e. as long as I make the decision to exercise, it won’t be a problem, and I’ll just keep eating the way I have always eaten and just grow that bump in the front) is NOT the reality.

So, in an effort to a) keep myself accountable and b) possibly help someone who is feeling the way I feel, I am going to journal my fit pregnancy week-by-week here.  I am on the tail end of my 9th week, so this journal will cover the previous 4-5 weeks, since I have started to “feel” pregnant.  (Note: not all journals will be this long…I have a lot of time to cover.)

Workouts are way more work than they used to be

Working out so far in pregnancy has been TOUGH.  Fatigue has been my strongest symptom, so just the thought of a full-on workout has been enough to wear me out on some days.  I did find pretty early on that what they say is true: if I get myself moving, my fatigue somehow gets a little better throughout the day.

I obviously haven’t written down every workout up to this point, so we will just start fresh at week 9:

  • Saturday: Taught yoga sculpt (a bit of a slacker workout, as teaching a class isn’t really a workout of my “own”)
  • Sunday: Walk (my walks are usually a mile and a half to two miles…I think)
  • Monday: 15-minute hips and glutes video & 1-hour Yoga Basics class

I just have to side step for a second and say that I almost skipped this class, but I am SO glad I went.  Pregnancy so far has been a struggle to feel like “me,” and I enjoyed the living daylights out of that yoga class, as it made me feel strong again.  I need to make a commitment to keeping yoga classes in my schedule!

  • Tuesday: 15-minute shoulder workout
  • Wednesday: Brisk walk and taught yoga sculpt
  • Thursday: Brisk walk
  • Friday: Restorative Yoga video…was NOT feeling good last night, still groggy this morning.  So, I took it easy.

The name of the game here, as best I can, has been to listen to my body, not necessarily my mind.  There is many a day when I just don’t feel like it (that’s my mind talking).  But, I know my body is capable, and I will feel good if I do.

I am also lucky in that my job requires me to get little bursts of movement in often.  I have found that the “mini” workout has been great for me so far, particularly if I’m working out on my own.

“Eating for two” is a part-time job

Pre-pregnancy, I was having some pretty frustrating stomach issues, and I was seeing a fantastic naturopathic doctor (whom I finally found after a long road of trying medications, elimination diets, Internet research, shoulder-shrugging specialists, and an emergency room visit) who had me on a pretty strict diet and supplement regimen for a month to heal my small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

My positive pregnancy test changed all that with about a week left in the therapy plan.  My diet had consisted pretty exclusively of meat and vegetables, both of which started to sound disgusting pretty quickly.  In fact, the rather repulsive thought of them sparked me to take the test in the first place.

So, I started craving carbs (which is not uncommon for me ever, let alone during pregnancy) and allowing myself to have them basically right when I found out I was pregnant.  My appetite was weird, and, with a sensitive stomach, I did a lot of reading about it.  I followed the advice that I read in many places to eat small meals often, and it ended up making me feel better pretty quickly.

Now, however, I feel like I am at the point where I am eating ALL.  THE.  TIME.  So often, that I literally get tired of eating (this is something I never thought I would experience).

So, at my first doctor’s appointment last week, I discovered I was up 7 pounds.  This has me pretty freaked out, although the doctor didn’t seem too concerned.  I suppose, realistically, it’s more like 4, as I was down a few pounds from cutting out carbs at the time I got pregnant.

I’m doing my best to make all my food choices “healthy” ones, and I am trying not to let it bother me.  I know I will never be the pregnant girl who binges on donuts and ice cream, but I also want to feel good during my pregnancy, and don’t want to gain weight too quickly.

I’m also still eating gluten-free (aside from a blissful moment of Ikea cinnamon roll weakness…everything in moderation, right?), but I am toying with the idea of re-introducing gluten a little bit to get some of the good whole grains.  We shall see.

At this point:

Cravings: Just about anything saucy

Aversions: Nothing crazy, I’m just not a huge fan of meat that isn’t in tiny pieces.  (Again, I wasn’t a fan of meat before pregnancy anyway.)

Is there even anything clever to say about symptoms?

As I mentioned in the previous sections, my biggest struggles are being hungry constantly and being seriously tired.

Luckily, my schedule allows me to manage my need for rest pretty well, so I haven’t found it to be the tears-inducing, debilitating fatigue that it was around week five.

Just yesterday, I had my first experiences with some noticeable dizziness and heartburn, along with the return of super-fatigue.  Luckily, I have a pretty mellow day today, including a little pampering time, so I can take it easy.


All these big changes in my life mean some big changes for Can’ts into Cans as well!

For starters, you will see a “Pregnancy” page on the website (if it’s not there already).  After today’s pregnancy update posts, future weekly updates will be posted there.  That way, the non-preggo’s don’t have to scroll through all the pregnancy stuff, haha.

Even more exciting, I am launching a plan just for mommys to be!

Preg-Go Fit Graphic

Stay tuned on Facebook today, and keep an eye out on the website for more info before the weekend!

Five Ways to Make Your Workout a Family Affair

One of my favorite things about my neighborhood is that it has a family atmosphere.

 

On any given weekend (at least in the non-polar-vortex months of the year in Chicago), I can look out my patio door and see couples and families out walking, running, and biking together.

And, why not?  In our increasingly busy lives, who wants to walk out of the house full of family to go workout?

 

For that reason, I love, love, love to see families get active together.  Here are my tips for making it work for your family:

 

1. Take turns choosing the activity.

My husband and I are both very active people, but we are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as our preferences.  I am a yoga and cardio girl, while he is a fan of heavy lifting and golf.  I don’t hate his forms of workouts, but if all I ever did was his choice, I would get discouraged easily and not want to work out together.  When everyone has a turn, and the rest of the family makes the commitment to at least give it a shot, everyone wins.

My Valentine's Day gift...partner yoga!

My Valentine’s Day gift…partner yoga!

2. Don’t sell it as a workout.

For some reason, the word workout can have a negative feeling for some (kind of like the way I feel about diet).  So, call it something a little more fun, like Family Fun Time, or Get Outside time, or whatever works for you.

 

3. Schedule it!

If you read any of my tips, you know that scheduling a workout is one of my biggest.  Maybe it’s just how I roll, but I am a calendar kind of girl.  We have one on the side of our fridge so that we can keep each other posted on what we have going on.  Plus, we know not to schedule things in the way of activities we have planned that we might forget.  So, scheduling Get Outside Time is the perfect way to make sure that everyone is free to get some activity in together.

4. Include everyone.

Even the dog (but maybe not the goldfish or cat).  This time can be so much more than a workout.  How often does the whole family stop and do something together, without phones or TV involved?

 

5. Make it fun.

This is by far the most important, whether you are working out alone or with your family.  Make sure everyone will have fun.  If your daughter freaks out about bugs, maybe a hike in the forest preserve across the street isn’t the way to go.  If your husband will dread going to a yoga class for the whole week, maybe you should pick something else.  There are literally hundreds of ways to get active as a family, so pick one that everyone will enjoy.  (Here is a fun list of ideas I found on Kristen Duke Photography.)

 

Take a moment today to talk to your family and schedule a time for some active fun this week.  Want to plant the seed with your husband, sister, mom, etc?  Share this with him/her!

 

Then, head to the comments below and share how your family will get moving this week.  The idea sharing will be super helpful!

How to Eat Healthy While Eliminating “Diet” from Your Vocabulary

Happy No Diet Day!

For real.

For me, though, every day is no diet day.

Before you roll your eyes, that certainly doesn’t mean that I eat whatever I want.

I just plain old hate the word diet. As soon as I have it in my head, a ton of negativity and “can’ts” follow. On my diet, I can’t have chocolate, dairy, carbs, etc. It’s instant torture, well before the food even gets physically involved.

5-6 Meme

 

I have been through the full spectrum of eating habits.  I was the skinny girl growing up who could eat whatever I wanted and still look the same.  I actually lost the freshman 15 rather than gaining it.  However, as I pushed toward my mid-20’s my body started to decide that that wasn’t going to happen any more.

I have never been one to jump on a diet bandwagon.  However, there was a time where I was the queen of counting calories and beating myself up for eating something that was “bad.”

In fact, the Amy who was counting calories and beating herself up about food was probably the most miserable version of me of my adult life.

So, now, I keep from getting worked up about what I’m eating by changing my self-talk in a variety of ways:

  • I am especially mindful of the way foods make my body feel (I’m talking like an hour later, here).  I eat more of those that make it feel good and less of those that don’t.
  • I recognize that “healthy food” doesn’t have to mean just salad.  (Ugh, how boring are salads?)
  • Instead of “I shouldn’t have eaten that” or “I was so bad today,” I tell myself “I honored my body’s cravings, and one unhealthy meal is not going to ruin my progress.”  Then, I let it go and move forward.
  • Instead of viewing food as a comfort or even something to do, I recognize it as the fuel that it is.  At the same time, though, I make sure to enjoy it.  There was a time that I would eat a ton of broccoli slaw just because I was hungry, and it was low-calorie.  No more.  If I don’t like it, I don’t eat it.  I don’t care how good celery is for you; it’s gross!
  • I choose foods that are as minimally processed as possible.  I try to buy things that don’t even need a list of ingredients, but, when I do, I look for those with ingredients that I actually know and can pronounce.

 

In celebration of today’s holiday, let’s all take a look at our “diets”:

1. Ask yourself why you are eating the way that you do, and how it is benefiting you.

2. If you’re not thrilled with the way it is benefiting you, decide right now to make a change.

3. Change your self-talk.  No beating yourself up.  Just encouragement and positivity. Eating well is supposed to make us feel good, mentally and physically.

Need a little help?  Join us in the comments or on Facebook for a bunch of buddies in your corner to help you keep it positive.

Have a healthy recipe that you love?  Share it in the comments and help us all eat a little healthier, without the torture of a diet, today!

**Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist.  All advice provided above is my own.  Please consult with a nutritionist or registered dietitian with any diet or nutrition concerns.

12 Reasons Why an Online Trainer Can Revolutionize Your Fitness

Like it or not, just about everything is going online these days.

I will admit, that I used to scoff at the idea of e-books when they first came out.
 
Now, I have the Kindle app on every device I own, and it’s definitely awesome to be able to pick up wherever I left off in the book I’m reading, no matter where I am, without having to haul the whole book around in my purse.
Danny Amy phone
So, why wouldn’t fitness go online too?  YouTube is filled with exercise videos, and websites like Grokker offer all sorts of free full-length yoga and fitness videos from experts in the field.  (Have you checked out Ashleigh Sergeant’s videos?  Love!)
It’s natural, then, for the personal training end of the fitness world to head to cyberspace as well.
Bringing an online trainer into your routine can completely revolutionize your fitness.  You get all the benefits of a “live” personal trainer:
  • A plan that is individually built for your specific needs and goals
  • A certified source of knowledge for what techniques will work best as you work toward your goals
  • A motivator who can remove the chore of figuring out what should be in your workout
On top of that, though, a virtual trainer will give you:
  • 24-7 access to the latest information via email, Facebook, etc.
  • Check-in’s outside of your “scheduled” meeting time
  • The flexibility to do your workouts on your own schedule, when it works best in your day
  • Easy adaptation of the plan if something isn’t working
Not to mention, a virtual trainer will eliminate your need to:
  • Drive to the gym
  • Wait for equipment
  • Pay a cancellation fee if you’re sick or have something important come up
  • Suffer from that fear of being judged by the “regulars”
  • Match your workout clothes (Rock that hot pink tank with green pants…you know they are the most comfortable anyway)
Ready to make it happen?  Well, you’re in the right place.   Head over to the services page to see which plan will work for you.  Questions?  Send me an email, or toss ’em in the comments!
Group training can go virtual too!  Have some buddies that you love to workout with, but have a hard time fitting it into your schedules?  Share this with them!
Let’s hear from you in the comments: What annoys you most about heading out of the house to exercise?  How do you overcome it?

A Fitness Community Like None Other

Today, starting just about the same time this blog entry is posted, is the big show of the running world: the Boston Marathon.
4-20 2015bostonmarathon
Even if you’re not a runner, you know that Boston is the marathon of all marathons.
In honor of this big day for lots of people, I thought I’d take a little time to pay tribute to the most amazing community of strangers I’ve ever encountered in fitness: the running community.
Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon...largest half marathon in the country

Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon…largest half marathon in the country

 

Why is this community so fantastic?
1. Even people who don’t run get to be part of the community.
4-20 Photo Non Runner
2. Runners still cheer on those who are racing “against” them.
I distinctly remember being passed by people when struggling on a walk break who told me to “keep going” or “you’re almost there.”  Plus, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you went, there will be people there to cheer you on (and give you a medal) when you finish.
3. They always wave at each other out on the trails.
Unless they don’t, and then I get really angry.
4. Runners party before, during, and after the race.
From night-before dinners, to on-course entertainment, to post-race parties, a race is not just a competition; it’s a celebration.
4-20 Photo Balloons
So, today, even if you only run from the kitchen to the family room, I challenge you to create your own mini Boston marathon within your day.  Then, head to the comments and let us know where you ran (or where you plan to run)!
Looking for an awesome fitness community of your own, but don’t want anything to do with running races?  That’s ok!  Make sure you sign up for my newsletter, because Thursday I will be sharing some tips for how to find a fitness community of your own that fits your needs (plus, you get a pretty awesome free gift when you sign up).
Don’t forget to share with a runner in your life!

The #1 Necessity for Making Fitness the Most Stress-Free Part of Your Day

I don’t know about you, but when I get stressed, I feel like the whole world is moving at fast forward, including my thoughts and, likely, my actions.
My mind is racing too much to make a feasible plan for just about anything.  So, getting my workout in, for me, would typically be the workout that requires the least preparation: running.

And then, I look outside, and it is a hot rainy mess.  Not worth it.

I’m left with a choice: figure out another workout (i.e. more stress) or don’t work out at all (also, more stress).

How do we make fitness the most stress-free part of our day?  It’s simple.

Always, always have a fitness plan.

If you are signed up for my newsletter and got my guide to making workouts fit your busy schedule, you know that scheduling your workouts is one of my biggest tips.

However, simply scheduling your workout without a plan of what you’ll do with your time just creates an excuse to skip your workout.

Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated.  If you have a lot of exercises in your mental bag of tricks, a plan like this could be all you need:

4-13 Blog Graphic 1

If you don’t, maybe your schedule can look more like this:

4-13 Blog Graphic 2

Is just the idea of creating your own plan causing you stress?  Call in some assistance!  Check out my membership page for options on virtual training programs.

This option might be your saving grace if…

  • You have a specific fitness goal and you aren’t quite sure how to get there.
  • You don’t have many exercises in your mental bag of tricks, or find it difficult to conjure them up on the fly.
  • You get bored easily and want to make sure you have variety in your routine so you stick to it.
  • You just plain don’t have the time to create a plan for yourself (or, if nothing else, you know you won’t take the time).

So, get busy!  If you are ready to make your own plan, get it scheduled for this week!  If not, check out your options for having a plan created for you. I’d love to help!

After you’ve made your plan, head to the comments section below and share your plan for tomorrow.  Your idea might help someone else make a plan of her own.

Did you find this helpful?  If so, please share with your friends!  They might find it helpful too!

Can'ts into Cans Fitness is on a mission to empower you to realize all the amazing things your body CAN do! From losing weight to achieving a fitness goal, Amy can help give you the tools to succeed.

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