Tag Archives: self improvement

January Fitness Challenge

Thanks to my girl Heidi with Train To Live, I joined a fitness challenge for January. The challenge consisted of a three-day cleanse and then two-weeks of workouts. I started January 5 and am proud to say I completed as of this Wednesday, January 21. I lost 2.875 inches total and feel more toned and energized than I have in a long time. Here’s the skinny on getting skinny…

CleanseJanuary fitness challenge
First let me say that this was not a cleanse like most of you are instantly thinking, intaking only lemon juice and cayenne for three days. It was a clean-eating plan with actual good-for-you foods that another health specialist created with Heidi specifically for this challenge. Participants had a meal plan to repeat each day, including tons of hearty vegetables, lean protein and this dank-ass flax granola we were all required to make. We were not allowed to have fast food, fried food, red meat, alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar or white flour. The toughest part for me was caffeine. Cleanse Day 1 was categorized by a lingering headache. I was very happy to discover that green tea had just enough caf to take the edge off and was allowed as an herbal tea, full of antioxidants.

The exercise plan spanned two weeks. It was composed of 6 Fit Day routines. Basically, over the course, we performed each of those twice (total of 12 days) and incorporated two rest days (Sundays). Fit Days 1 to 5 were pretty high-intensity endurance workouts. One day focused on cardio; one day focused on legs; etc. Fit Day 6 was a stretch day, with 10 minutes of warm-up prior. Amazingly, each day’s routine was designed to be done with zero equipment – and anywhere with roughly five-by-five feet of space. I did use a mat for floor stuff, because I had one handy. The rest of the workouts I did in my bedroom, in the driveway, in the hall at the YMCA or even while out of town.

Things I loved about this challenge
1) I am currently undergoing what I’m considering an incubator phase for my new journey into a health and fitness career (as a personal trainer, plus), and this was the perfect opportunity to try something new. That’s where I am right now – learning as much as possible to shape my interests and path. Now I’ve done a sanctioned fitness challenge. Now I’ve done a cleanse. Experience is power, baby.

2) I was greatly surprised with my own personal results. I had already been eating relatively clean – watching sodium, fat and calories. I was working out regularly too – with a goal of three days per week.  But, alas, we are in the winter season and the holidays just past. So I guess, I wasn’t doing all that I could. I am thrilled to see positive changes in my body and can’t wait to enlist in something else for February that pushes me. (Note: Lost 2.875 inches were sum of total measured at 11 sites – neck, upper arms L/R, chest, waist, hips, thighs L/R, calves L/R and butt.)

3) Sparked by a newfound enthusiasm, I recruited several friends to also participate in the challenge. Shout out to Erin and her bridal party for agreeing! This was a whole other angle, to lead a group through the process, to serve as a good example. I have found fulfillment in sharing, motivating and holding accountability.

4) This challenge encompassed 17 days, a short-term commitment. And all the exercises were extremely user-friendly. I am thoroughly impressed with this approach. People lead incredibly busy lives. Got it. But often they are excuse-laden. Don’t have time to exercise? Don’t have a gym membership? Don’t have a finish line so you never start the race? Let’s give ‘em a solution. Workouts 30 to 45 minutes. That you can do at home (hell, in a broom closet). That require no equipment. That only lasts two weeks.

Less Tormenting To-Dos

I am constantly making to-do lists. If not physical, they are always in my head. And mostly I have to create a physical list just to get some reprieve from the mental reminders. It’s on the list, Aarika. Now you can stop obsessing. You won’t forget because it’s now written down.

Fast Company to do listsWork – eNewsletter, print ads, digital ads, photo shoot, website maintenance, press release, SEO report, client call, media buys, invoices, insurance

Personal – Plan gatherings with family and friends, grocery store, gym, pay bills, send mail, read, study for new venture, organize iPhoto library

Cleaning – Sweep, mop, dust, dishes, laundry, bathrooms, make beds, touch up paint

Outdoors – Mow, weed-eat, hoe garden, water, trim shrubs and trees, pressure wash and waterproof back deck

This is my life of lists. I think all the time, analyzing, worrying. I have wakeful, vivid dreams every night. Sometimes I wish I could turn my brain off. But then I realize that this strong sense of aspiration and time management is what makes me the productive person I am.

I was all too relieved to read a recent Fast Company article, as provided to me by a LinkedIn Pulse email, titled “5 Unexpected Ways to Get More Done.” (You know I jumped on that one eagerly. See notes above about my tendencies.) The feature proposed ways to work smarter, not harder. And this made me feel better about my lists, knowing that I’m getting a lot right, per this author.

Here’s a synopsis…

5 Unexpected Ways to Get More Done

1. Limit your to-do list

  • List fewer items that you can actually get done
  • Choose 3 Most Important Tasks as priorities
  • Plan the night before
  • Focus on the present day

2. Measure your results, not your time

  • Keep in mind that more hours does not equal more done
  • Recognize what you accomplished, not what you didn’t get done
  • Create small steps to cross off list (parts of a whole task)

3. Build “getting ready to work” routines

  • Avoid procrastination because of uncertainty, being overwhelmed
  • Use a routine to tell your brain and body it’s time to work (coffee, email, music, lighting)

4. Track what you’re wasting time on

  • Know where your time suck is before trying to solve the problem (picking outfit, browsing web, social media)
  • Make alterations in activities (cut, limit, prepare in advance)

5. Build habits to help you stop working

  • Quit while you’re ahead, clear starting place for next day
  • Set firm cut-off time,
  • Plan something after work, a must-do or fun outing
  • Enstate a wind-down routine (journaling, time tracking, cleaning desk)