When You Want to Give Up at the Gym, Try This Simple Trick

The other day I was at the gym and felt like giving up. It had been a long week and I  wanted to take a nap more than anything else.

But before going to the gym, I told myself I absolutely had to make it through legs and abs before leaving, no matter what. Now, I’m not the type of person to only do certain muscle groups on certain days…I do everything all the time otherwise I feel like I’ve wasted a workout. This particular day I just knew I wouldn’t make it through everything, and when you’re that tired, it’s not always safe to be pushing your muscles to their max.

So I started with a really good leg and butt work out—those are my favourites because those areas are where I want to see change.

I did a couple sets of frog jumps across the room, weighted squats, dead lifts and lunges (front and side) for a total butt and legs workout of 25 minutes. Needless to say I was even more exhausted after that. My legs were shaking with each step I took and my butt adopted a constant twitch that made it uncomfortable to sit or stand. I was ready for home time.

But then—and this is where the trick comes in—I told myself, “do 50 crunches before you go or else you’re complete failure.” After all, 50 crunches only takes about a minute to do…so I did it.

But once I got to 50 I thought it would be worthless to stop and NOT make the most of the burn I was feeling in my stomach. So I started doing bicycles, Russian twists and some leg raises as well.

I ultimately tricked my body into doing 10 more minutes of physical activity just by telling myself to do it. You’re like your own personal coach. If you’re hard on yourself, you’ll do the work. Just make sure you’re convincing enough that you believe in yourself like a coach would!

So the next time your bed calls your name just a little louder than the gym, tell yourself to do 50 crunches or 50 squats, or 50 push ups, and I promise your body will be ready for more once you do!

Sincerely,

Kristi

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For Coaches: Thanks for helping us be great

This week I’m dedicating to all of you coaches out there who dedicate countless hours to making your athletes better. And I’m not just talking about making them more talented in sport, I’m mostly talking about how you make them better people, without even trying.

Shari Hebert was my coach for enough of my life that she became my second mom. I can’t say enough amazing things about her and I know there are many athletes out there who feel the same about their coaches.

Please watch this special video that I completed as a media production project titled Who am I— a project meant to highlight a person outside of your immediate family who has had a positive impact on my life.

I’d love to hear about the special influencers you have in your lives as well! If you’d like to acknowledge a coach or mentor, write them in the comments and tell me a story about how they helped make you, you.

 

Thanks for watching.

Sincerely,

Kristi

For those Dieting: Eat a damn cookie already

Okay, this miiiight seem a little bit contradictory from my last post but I promise you, it’s not. Today I want to give you a mid-week “break” by offering one of my favourite HEALTHY cookie recipes. They’re quick, they’re easy and yes, no word of lie…they’re healthy.

Here it goes….you ready?

  1. 2 bananas (slightly spotted)
  2. 1 cup of oats
  3. Trail mix of your choice (pick a non-salted, non-chocolate based one. The one I use has a variety of nuts, dried cranberries and coconut.)
  4. (Optional) 2 Tbsp peanut butter

THAT’S IT! No flour, no added sugar, no eggs… lots of energy.                                                     This should make 12-14 two-bite cookies.

Here’s what to do with those ingredients –  Mash the bananas in with the cup of oats until completely mixed. Sprinkle in little bits of the trail mix at a time. Don’t overwhelm the banana-oat mixture with the trail mix or else the cookies won’t stick together. If you accidentally do this, add 2 tbsp of peanut butter and that should help.

Roll the “dough” into little balls, bake them at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. They should stay soft on the top.

Let cool 3-5 minutes and then enjoy your guilt-free deliciousness.

Sincerely,

Kristi

 

For the Sleepy Ones: Try some yoga

It’s been a wonderful and relaxing winter break. I hope you all found it to be the same! Whether you are a student, employee, a stay at home parent or a mixture of those, it’s so important to give yourself a break and find something that you can be active with to energize your body—especially when we tend to get into a slump over the relaxing holidays.

I just had surgery on my big toe so I haven’t been able to put running shoes on for a bit. I’ve been going crazy with not being able to go to the gym because of the whole no shoes no service thing (just kidding it’s for safety reasons) and then realized I just need to find myself a bare foot workout! I used to do yoga a lot but with school keeping me busy, I somehow lost my groove with it.

This video is close to 40 minutes long, which might seem like a long time for all of you busy people, but it felt SO good to get back into it. It takes you through everything slowly so whether you’re a beginner or somewhat advanced like I used to be, it really worked with my abilities and it’s easy to follow. And the best part is that you can do it at home!

I urge you to take 40 minutes before this weekend is over and complete this yoga sequence. You’ll feel reenergized afterwards, as well as relaxed—I think yoga is the only thing that lets you be both at the same time haha.

Enjoy and I hope you feel better after trying it! Maybe you’ll find a new exercise to love for the new year!

Sincerely,

Kristi

For My Readers: A thank you

This week marks the last of my PR blogging assignment. It’s been a very exciting 14 weeks posting about ways to keep fit if you have a busy schedule like I do, but I feel somewhat addicted to the weekly habit now and plan to continue with it as long as I can!

My focus this week is not on fitness or living healthily, but simply on thanking those of you who take time to read my posts every week. It’s important for you to know how much it means to aspiring writers like me when you support our work— even if in the form of a fitness blog. Your support encourages me to fulfill my dreams of being a writer, and though this isn’t the type of writing I aspire to do for the rest of my life, it is a great stepping stone that continues to teach me the commitment of being in the writing profession. One day I hope to give my readers a better escape through bigger and more significant projects like novels, but for now I’m thankful there are mediums like WordPress to help me get to that goal.

So again, I give my thanks, I send my hugs, and I wish you the happiest holidays!

Until next week.

Sincerely,

Kristi

*Photo by Marny Barnes of Vivid Intuition Photography*

(P.s. Cam I promise next week will be holiday themed like I promised.)

For the Lover of Stairs: Become a stair MASTER

Let me start this post by saying…I am no lover of stairs.

I don’t think ANYONE likes to take the stairs, because no matter how good of shape someone is in, stairs are a whole new ball game when it comes to exercise.

One of my good friends, Abduselam Yussuf, is the Manitoba Half Marathon champion, two years running. I worked with him on the fifth floor of an old building downtown that used to be a sewing company way back in the day. (I know that because of the needles we would find in the cracks of the floor all the time.) Being as old as it was, the elevator had a tendency to break down about once a month—sometimes more. And being downtown where you have to re-plug your parking meter and move your car every two hours, the elevator breaking down meant we were up and down five flights of stairs, five times a day.

Now, being a half marathon winner, Abduselam, or Abby, as I call him, is in pretty great cardiovascular shape. It’s safe to say his endurance is unlike most people’s. But when it came to doing those stairs, I have to say I felt better being out of breath mid-way to the fifth floor, when I saw he was in the same boat.

There’s something about stairs…


So here’s what you can do to help yourself out a little bit when it comes to taking the healthy, dreaded alternative to an elevator at work, school or anywhere else you may be: Practice!

Yes, that’s right… practice makes perfect, so why not practice your stairs?

Ever heard of a stair-master? Of course you have, it’s an old gym classic! And what’s the gist of it? You climb stairs, and that’s it. I’m telling you this is the hardest machine at your local gym. Don’t believe me? Try it for five minutes. I bet you’ll be tired after 30 seconds. Yes, it seems easy, but this thing will get you into better cardiovascular shape AND workout your quads and butt at the same time. It’s the triple-threat of exercise machines.


Here’s what I do on it:

I set a minimum time of five minutes on it, so that I don’t let myself quit before that.

Throughout the five minutes, I try to vary my speeds so that when I start the exercise, I’m going at a normal stair-climbing pace, and by the end I’m going at a light jogging pace up the stairs. When it’s at a slower speed, you can even skip a stair in between each step to make it more of a butt work out with bigger steps.

When my five minutes is up, I challenge myself to go for one more minute. And keep doing that in the last 10-seconds of each minute after the first five. When working out, ALWAYS ask yourself, “can I do more?” Often, you’ll surprise yourself. I’ve gotten to twelve minutes on the stair master with this goal-setting before.

And here’s a tip: Don’t EVER set a maximum time or maximum amount of reps or sets for yourself. You decide when your body can’t take it anymore.

Here’s another tip: This is a slow enough exercise that you can easily read while doing it— I used to study for exams up on those stairs! (AND, having something to distract you from the pain helps make it go by faster too.)

I want to see all of you master the stairs from now on, because realistically, they are a healthier option, and it makes all the difference in the world when you can take the upward challenge every day.

Sincerely,

Kristi

© Sincerely, Kristi. All rights reserved

For The Homebody: Use what you’ve got to get legs you want

Today’s blog is for the “homebody.” You know who you are, and sometimes it’s me.
I’ve become fairly good at using what I have around the house. I will be giving a few examples of exercises that I love to do around the house, and guess what? They make me sore (in a good way) the next day, so I know they work.

A few things to keep in mind before we begin:
Leg zone 1 = legs at shoulder width (focuses more on the butt)
Leg zone 2 = legs about 4-5 inches wider than shoulders. (focuses more on inner thighs)
Light weights + many repetitions = aiming to tone muscles
Heavy weights + less repetitions = aiming to build muscles

Some of my favourite home exercises:
-Start by using your stairs for the warm up! I do about 10 up and downs (Meaning 10 times going all the way up and 10 going back down— not 10 all together.)
Going up: 1, 2 and 3 will be regular running, one step at a time OR skipping a step each time.
4 and 5 – hopping up, one step at a time, with feet together.
6 – hopping one foot and
7- you’ll change feet and hop on the other.
Take a break for the 8th one and do a regular jog up. The one footers will be tough.
9 and 10 – go up alternating between feet together and feet apart. So you’ll be doing a lateral switch on each stair. Each time you hit a new stair, you’ll have your feet together and you’ll stay there for two jumps (a jumping jack without the arms. OR challenge your coordination and add the arms, just be careful to not trip going up.

Going down – Don’t do anything fancy, just regular running to avoid tumbles!

That should get your heart rate right up there! It’s important to always do a warm up so you don’t pull muscles.

NOW, let’s kill your legs some more 🙂 Next comes squats (my favourite.)
For beginners, bodyweight (no additional weight) squats might be enough for you. I urge you to watch this video on how to do a proper squat before beginning.
If you are not using a weight, I recommend doing 30 in a row or however many you’re comfortable with, switching your leg zone in the middle.
Those of you wanting to use weights, it’s time to choose your weighted item! Don’t go buying things to work out. The point of this blog is to keep it cheep and challenging. I’ve been using a case of 12, 2L Perrier bottles because I find it is a good weight for what I want to do. Don’t go overboard!! If you body tells you no, listen. Because this is a fairly light weight but still challenges me, I do about 20 squats in a row for 4 reps. Take 20-30 seconds between each rep.
Keeping this squat position in mind, do 20 jumps landing in this squat. Right after, time yourself for 30 seconds and run on the spot with high knees. THIS WILL FEEL HARD. Keep your knees up as high and for as long as you can.

Lastly for today, I want to focus on the lower part of your legs. This is the part that looks great in a high heel— your calves. Grab onto a railing or do it without. (You’ll challenge your core muscles if you don’t hold anything— an added bonus 😉 ). You will be going high up on your toes and then lowering down (without touching your heel to the ground if possible), and you’ll do this 20 times. These are called calf presses or relevés to dancers. Do them slowly, counting for 1 count up and three counts going down.
*CHALLENGE: If 20 isn’t enough for you, do 20 more at a faster pace! You will feel the burn.

That’s it! I highly recommending doing more every day, but I think this is a good starting point for both beginners and people with some workout experience.
Next week I’ll be tackling a new audience and new muscle groups.
 —
Sincerely, Kristi