Believe me, I have made every excuse in the book for not getting a workout in. It’s too late. I’m tired. Too sore. Back’s out. Did it yesterday. On the road. Need some quiet time to myself…the list goes on.
When Resolution Season came around this year, I took a good hard look at Me– inside and out. What I found in the mirror was a somewhat lumpy, mostly out of shape 40-something mom who was very uncomfortable in her own skin and altogether too comfortable in a steady diet of baggy sweatpants. But I knew, looking at myself that day, that I had absolutely no good excuse for not getting healthier. Cancer treatments done ✔︎. Back and hips in place ✔︎. Know how to eat right ✔︎. Support group in place (MPC had 10,000 fellow Peakers in place at that time, so that’s like elimination station right there!)✔︎.
The one box not checked: Ready (and Willing) To Do It.
The truth is that checking the Ready & Willing box hadn’t happened because admitting that I was perfectly capable of getting fit and healthy was a commitment I wasn’t sure I was ready to take. It was that action– that little flick of the wrist–that gave me pause, and that pause became a failure to act. A wise friend reminded me that in truth that pause was a failure to assume responsibility for my own destiny. And she is right. The only person in control of me….is me.
And so I decided to get to work. I can’t say that I exercise every day. I don’t have that kind of time, energy or drive. But I am making exercise a greater priority. In fact, its one of my top 5 priorities. Whether its walking the dog our full 3-4 mile circuit, going for a run, heading to the gym or chrome casting my favorite Beachbody workout, I am checking that box way more often than I did last year. And guess what? It feels great! I am doing it with joy. I am doing it with a sense of determination and accomplishment. Its a fantastic mental release. I am a better person from the inside out. In fact, it feels so great that both me and my muscles are bummed on the days I don’t get some form of exercise.
Its especially easy to not prioritize exercise when you are too busy to get out of the house, the weather stinks or you are on the road. Don’t let that stop you–in fact, you might just find that your living room, hotel room or local park becomes your favorite way to burn some calories and break a sweat.
Here is a list of workout toys we can’t live without:
They are totally effective, totally fun and perfectly portable, even in a carryon. With these accessories, and a little self realization, you too really don’t have an excuse.
- Resistance Bands Use them to stretch. Use them in place of weights. Use them for PT. They weigh just ounces and travel in a purse. And they are very cheap on Amazon or in the exercise gear section of Marshall’s. There are a gazillion tutorials about using bands, but I used Autumn Calabrese’s 80 Day Obsession workouts to learn my way with a band, and I spoke with my genius Physical Therapist Stacey Fletcher, DPT about some key moves. Here are 33 resistance band moves you can try.
- Jump Rope This little gadget you remember from Jump Rope for Heart in elementary PE is one of the best cardio exercises you can do. Low impact, heart rate raising, calorie burning, full body exercise that is mentally and physically challenging. T0 make it even more so, consider buying the bands with the weighted handles. Some systems offer severa different interchangeable weights. Just Do it!
- Suspension Trainer (with Door or Fence anchor) My kids and I love our TRX system, which we attach to doors at home or in hotels and even to fence posts or trees at the park. The suspension system allows for an endless variety of moves that use your own body weight to build strength, flexibility, mobility, and cardio endurance all at a level of intensity that works for you
- FitDeck Its been a long winter with a lot of indoor time. When the kids are restless and I need to work out, we sometimes reach for our Fit Deck, a stack of cards with different exercises on each. Its great fun to see what each unique card will entail–what will be easy, what will be hard, where we cruise and where we are challenged. What we love most is that no equipment is needed, you can do it anywhere (we’ve even done them in airports) and inevitably we end up laughing a lot. There are SuperMan fit decks for kids, military style cards, body weight, vertical jump, core and just about every other specialty area you can come up with. Again, no excuses. If you can’t buy a deck of these super cool cards, just make your own!
- Slide Board or Core Discs Like the resistance bands and a jump rope, the slide board or discs go everywhere and work on any hard or carpeted surface. And they are so much fun! If you want abs and booty of steel, or a total body workout you can do on your living room floor that is hard on your muscles but easy on your joints, then consider the sliders. Your hamstrings, quads and glutes will scream. Your core will be rock hard. And when finish, you will have this intense self satisfaction and pride that you made it! Along the lines of a slide disk is my 5a. choice, the ab wheel. Love it!
- Wobble Cushion for Core Stability. The wobble cushion is a tool I first used in PT, but now I have one at home that I frequently use for making squats, lunges, plies and other basic moves even harder. Again, whether you are exercising alone or with your kids, the wobble cushion makes your workout that much more challenging and that much more fun. You can find cushions that deflate for travel on Amazon.
- Super Feet– these are shoe inserts, typically purchased at a running, ski or sports store. I absolutely cannot live without them. I first discovered Super Feet years ago when I worked in a ski shop and customers bought them for their ski boots. Then last April I acquired acute foot pain and the general sense that my feet seemed so tired I couldn’t take another step. Around the same time, I was diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis and my podiatrist suggested an insert to support the arch of the foot. Seriously, Super Feet changed my life. Use them even if you don’t have foot tiredness or pain now, because they can help prevent foot, ankle, calf and back problems later. There is a Super Feet insert for every occasion (athletics, dress, flats, etc.), but I use the running type and switch them into different shoes. ($50 at Fleet Feet Sports in Annapolis Harbor Center)A curb, bench, chair or playground slide
- Strassburg Sock– this sock is not the sexiest thing you are ever going to wear. In fact, its dreadful. But if you have foot, ankle or calf pain, its your new best friend. Especially if you have plantar fasciitis, or if you even think that you do, go out and get this sock! Look at the palm of your flat hand. Put two fingers on the heel of your hand, near the wrist. Then curl your fingers. You can feel the tendons tightening as you curl your fingers. Well this is the same thing that happens to the tendons in your foot when you have plantar fasciitis or weak arch muscles. At night, your toes curl (as do the fingers) and the tendons tighten, causing pain when you first get out of bed, and throughout the day. The Strassburg sock holds the toes in place so they can’t curl. Above all, if you have foot pain, don’t forget to stretch your calves as often as possible throughout the day.
- Foam Roller or The Stick I am not a fan of the foam roller, mostly because it hurts, and I’d rather have a massage. But it is essential. Most hotel gyms will have at least one. Regular gyms will have many because they know how important it is to work the lactic acid, tightness and soreness out of large muscle groups. The Stick is an ingenious little tool found at running stores that you press against a muscle. Essentially the same idea of a foam roller, but a little less painful. You could always use a tennis ball for these self massages too.
- My Fitness Pal An online site or a free app on your favorite device, My Fitness pal is a convenient hub for keeping track of what you eat, what you burn and what you do. You can sync it to your favorite fitness tracker (i.e. Fitbit, Garmin, etc) and your favorite tracker apps (i.e. Map My Run, Stravo, etc). You can pay to access information, but I’ve found the free version to be perfectly fine for tracking calories, macros and more. The act of tracking what you do and what you eat is one of the easiest and effective ways to maintain your Peak Streak. Whether you write it in a journal, take notes on your phone, or use a ready made tool like My Fitness Pal, find something and commit to doing it. www.myfitnesspal.com
So with these tools, and a little motivation, here is your Peaker (Remember, a Peaker is A Person Who Peaks) thought for the day:
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