Tips,Tricks & Facts

Get more out of walking

Hello my fitness warriors!  It's not necessary to walk for this fitness challenge, walking is a great way to get in the miles. There are some great ways to make your walks fun and fit.
If you're on a treadmill, make the most of your workout by walking at an incline or adding some faster walking or jogging intervals. Have some fun watching a movie or listening to an audiobook or music. If no one's in the room - or perhaps even if they are - add some dance moves while you listen to that music (just be careful not to trip!!).
If you walk outside, see if you can find more than one path to walk, so you can vary up your workouts. Are there any places with hills or rough trails to add some challenge? Anywhere you can go with particularly beautiful scenery?
Are you up for a slightly harder workout? Try jogging a little sometimes as you go, and if jogging isn't your thing, you can get a much stronger cardio workout if you lift your knees into a low-level march or add some ankle or hand weights.
What other ideas do you all have for sprucing up your walking workouts?


How many of you guys are up for running, or would like to learn to run? There are many programs to help a runner begin.
C25K - Couch to 5K is a nine-week program that takes you from the bare minimums of running (one-minute intervals) to being able to run a full 30 minutes. Having completed this program once myself, I have a huge amount of faith in it! I still can't run a full 5K, because I'm a slow runner, but I'm getting closer! The C25K program is flexible - you can spend more than nine weeks if you'd like - and works to build you up gradually.
MiCoach - This program offers a variety of different running plans based on your fitness level. It works with your smart phone and tracks your progress through GPS and your heart rate.
Sparkpeople's Running Program - Sparkpeople has several plans for different levels of runners to train for a 5K distance. The programs are simple and gradually work your way up. Unlike programs such as the C25K, it has lower levels for people who prefer to keep working in walking/running intervals rather than building up to full runs.

There's an app for that

RunKeeper - This app works like a GPS. You can track how far you've gone and what speed you were going. It also has connectivity to a website for more detailed information and and to track stats over time. You can also use it to manually track miles on a treadmill.

MiCoachC25KBridge to 10K - I mentioned these running programs in last week's post. These apps help you to follow those running programs and track your progress. Some include GPS technology to track how far you've gone, some include a journal for your personal use, and some connect back to a website to evaluate your program in more detail. There's a huge variety in running programs so you can find one that works for you.

Nike Training Club - This app acts as a personal trainer, designing custom-made workouts of various lengths just for you. It also includes tutorials on how to do different exercises and allows you to use your own music and audio for workouts.

Calorie CountLose It!Sparkpeople - These programs, and others like them, combine fitness aand nutrition for weight loss purposes. They focus on the calories you take in with food and the calories you burn by various exercise activities to streamline weight loss.
Do you use any apps to help you with fitness? What are your favorites?

My Fitness Pal - this app does it all. counts calories, tracks our progress for weight loss,  calories consumed in a day, and exercise. They focus on the calories you take in with food and the calories you burn by various exercise activities to streamline weight loss. 

Elliptical Lovin'

Ellipticals are a great way to get a good, solid cardio workout in. It doesn't put any stress or pressure on joints and it uses a full spread of muscles throughout your body. Most ellipticals come with many settings to add different resistance levels or provide different kinds of exercise. Some read your heart rate and track your calories burned. There's quite a wide range of prices for them too, and they're available at gyms as well, so they're pretty accessible.

exercise can be fun

Boredom is one of the biggest saboteurs of exercise, probably even bigger than pain or difficulty. You don't want to get to a place where you dread your exercise because you're bored to death of it! Today, I'm going to talk about a few things you can do to keep boredom out of your workouts!

- Add variety! At the beginning of this challenge I listed ten different kinds of exercise, and that was just a tiny example of all the many varied things you can do. Try something new. Go to the library and pick out a new workout DVD. Choose a new piece of equipment you haven't tried at the gym. Walk a different route.

- Listen to music or an audiobook. Engage your mind in a story, or get happy listening to your favorite songs.

- Get your friends involved. If you're working out with friends, you're more likely to enjoy the time you spend exercising, plus you'll be more motivated to work out when someone else is involved.

- Join a class. Fitness classes are high energy and can give you a chance to do something new. You can also make fitness buddies!

My mini-challenge for you this week is to go out and try one new thing to add variety to your exercise. Come back here and let us know what you did and how it worked out for you! :)

The most wonderful thing about the Wii is all the things you can do on it to get active. With the Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus, there is a huge variety of games to help you get fit, especially with the Fit Plus. The games range from the more aerobic (like boxing or hula hoop) to the lighter balance games. The Fit can also track calories burned or activities you do off-Wii.

Outside the Wii Fit, there are many games and programs that can also get you moving on the Wii. There are dancing games such as Just Dance, DDR, and Zumba. There are interactive sports games, exercise programs like The Biggest Loser, and gym-based workouts like Gold's Gym Cardio. Any of these and others are great ways to work up a good sweat while still having a lot of fun!


Despite the funny poster above, consistency is in my opinion the number one most important thing about exercise. Without consistency, exercise is wasted. We only get stronger and healthier if we work out on a regular basis.

Take, for example, my exercise year in 2010. I participated in the 100-Mile Fitness Challenge all four quarters, even when it wasn't officially going on. All four quarters, I hit 100 miles, but I was completely inconsistent with it. I would exercise 40 miles one month, only 12 the next, and scramble the third to get the last 48 in. Even within those months, I wouldn't be consistent. I'd do well for two weeks, 8-12 miles each, then slack off the next two and do almost nothing.

That sort of exercising did nothing to help my muscles or heart or fitness level. I didn't start getting fitter until this year when I began to exercise on a consistent, regular basis. There's a HUGE difference between exercising one mile every day for a week, and exercising six miles one day and one mile six days later. Same number of miles in the same number of days, but completely different results. With consistent exercise, your body learns and grows stronger. Sporadic exercise only makes you sore without adding any real value to your body over time.

When you start on an exercise plan, it's best to set up a schedule and routine for yourself to stay consistent. That doesn't mean you have to do the exact same thing every day or every week, and you can definitely change things around to suit you, but you will get the best results if you keep going on a regular schedule.

Strength training

Strength training is exercise specifically designed to build muscle. It doesn't necessarily burn a lot of calories, but it builds muscle, which makes you strong and boosts the calories you burn while at rest. Strength training can be done in several ways, all of which involve repetitions to put stress on your muscles:

1. Weights and weight machines: By lifting, pushing, and pulling weight for multiple repetitions, you build muscle. This is what most people commonly think of as strength training.

2. Resistance bands and machines: Like weights, repetitions with these will build muscle, but unlike weights, they don't have a specific poundage attached to them. This makes them very flexible. The bands can be adjusted during the workout for more or less resistance. Resistance machines will resist more the harder you work.

3. Body weight exercises: These involve using your body as a leverage to act as the weight to build muscle. Examples include pushups, crunches, or certain weight-bearing yoga poses.

Strength training is great for cross-training with aerobic or cardio workouts such as walking, running, biking, etc. The aerobic workouts increase heart health and burn calories, while the strength training builds muscle and boosts your resting metabolic rate. Together, they make a great exercise combo!!

Staying Hydrated 

Water is so important, and most of us don't drink nearly enough of it. We all know that the basic guideline out there is to drink 64 oz of water every day, but most of us don't. Unfortunately, we don't realize how many ill effects there are to not drinking enough!
  • headaches
  • increased hunger and calorie intake
  • lighter sleep
  • bloating and water retention, especially on the abdomen
  • muscle fatigue
And those are just a few! It's so important to stay hydrated. Now, with exercising, it's even more important because you are sweating away more water than before.

I drink between 100 and 120 oz of water every day, with an off day periodically when I only get in 64-72 oz. I only started doing this in 2011, and it's made a HUGE difference in my life. Once I got past the first week or so of needing to pee all the time - and yes, that DOES go away - so much began to improve. I didn't get hungry as often. My stomach shrank and I lost a lot of water weight. My skin got healthier. I stopped having headaches 95% of the time when they were near-constant before. Now, I start feeling dehydrated if it gets to be noon and I haven't had 5 or 6 glasses of water! I can't imagine only drinking 3-4 glasses in a whole day like I used to!

There are some good tricks to help you ease into drinking more than you're used to, if this is a problem for you. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and fill it up several times a day. If you are home during the day, keep 5-oz Dixie cups in the bathroom and fill one up every time you're in that area. While I haven't done this myself, I hear you drink more through a straw than if you're just gulping straight from the cup. If you don't like the taste of water, you can add calorie-less packets of favoring or some citrus to it.

Once you get used to drinking all the time, you'll be amazed how different you feel and wonder how you ever could have lived in a constant state of near-dehydration!

Getting Enough Sleep?

Rest is another important thing we shouldn't do without. By rest, I mean both a time for your muscles to recover from exercise, and sleep.

Sleep is important for many reasons. People become less stressed and better focused with a good 7-8 or more hours of sleep a night. They are less cranky, less hungry, less forgetful, and less unhappy. Often, people will feel like they're doing fine on 5-6 hours a night, only to realize - once they've had some longer nights - that they weren't doing as well as they thought.

Non-sleep rest is a time of recovery for us. If you spend every single day working the same muscles, they will never have a chance to heal and grow. It's good to have a day off every once in awhile, or to cross-train so that you alternate muscle groups and give each set time to heal.

So remember in all this exercise to take some time to rest, and some time to sleep. It's important.