Summer Shape Up: Week 1 Update

Well, it has been one week since I started participating in The Fitnessista’s Summer Shape Up Program. This is a free month long fitness program offered on Gina’s blog. Each week she provides a workout schedule and healthy meal ideas. The idea is do what you can, when you can. I think I did alright for my first week. I figured I would post my progress each week in order to keep myself accountable.

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Food

We all know that my kitchen skills are weak at best so it was a relief to see that most of the ideas that Gina suggested are pretty simple. Basically, she is just promoting wholesome and healthy eating. To access the recipe suggestions provided by Gina, visit her site!

Breakfasts: I had a protein smoothie for breakfast from Monday to Friday. I usually have breakfast around 7:00 am, so with the right amount of protein powder and healthy fats, the smoothie kept me full until at least 11:00 am when I had a small snack. My smoothies contained cranberry juice, almond milk, spinach, raspberries, blue berries, vanilla protein powder and hemp hearts.

Lunches: Remember my story about the super salty brown rice, well I ended up using it to make grain bowls, as per this recipe. Essentially it is a layer of rice, a layer of spinach (or whichever green leaf you like), some chic peas and whatever else I could find in my fridge. So one day I added salmon and red pepper, another day it was avocado and red pepper, another day it was cucumber, tomato, and feta cheese. So so soooo delicious, filling and healthy!

Dinners: I didn’t do quite as well with my dinners. One night I made spicy shrimp and rice (healthy), another night I had salmon and sweet potato (healthy), but then one night Lucas and I ordered burritos (not so healthy), and another night we had a BBQ (really not healthy at all but oh so delicious). Ya win some, ya loose some I guess.

Saturday & Sunday: While I managed a pretty successful first week, my first weekend was a hungover mess of two-bite cinnamon rolls and mini-pizzas. Note to self: stop ending your nights-out with vodka shots, it is never a good idea!


Exercise

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Daily: 20-30 minutes of Yoga with Adriene

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Workout # 2

Wednesday: 4 km Run

Thursday: Workout # 3 + 20 minutes of Cycling on the stationary bike

Friday: Workout # 1 + some labour intensive household chores

Saturday: Dance recital rehearsal

Sunday: Dance recital show x2 (matinee & evening)

All in all I am pleased with the amount of physical activity I got over the past week. I didn’t exactly follow Gina’s plan, especially on Sunday but the dance recital this weekend ate up a lot of my time. I think I would have enjoyed the plank burner so I am going to do my best to fit it in somewhere this week. I also had a dance show on Monday night so I am jumping back into the week 2 schedule today.


Summary

So far I haven’t noticed a difference in my body in terms of size or shape, I think a lot of that has to do with my diet. Also, the Shape Up has made me very aware of how much I am lacking in the strength training department. My running training has helped me become very good at cardio and heart rate management but my muscle tone just isn’t there. This makes the strength workouts super challenging (I wanted to cry while doing workout #2 on Tuesday) but it also a very welcome change for my routine. The greatest part about this program, I feel, is the facebook group. Essentially it is a closed community for people who are participating in the Shape Up to ask questions, check in, provide support, ect. Seeing other people’s check in posts have motivated me in ways I didn’t think possible. They have even motivated me to set some goals for this week:

  • Drink a lot more water
  • Reduce wheat & dairy intake
  • Complete all workouts on the schedule

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Accessing the Online Fitness Community.

With the arrival of warm weather (finally) I’ve been spending a lot more time in my back yard than at the gym. Don’t get be wrong, there is no better thing than a little fresh air but skipping gym days makes it difficult to get into ideal summer body shape. I’m still running on the regular in prep for my upcoming 5km race but there is so much more to fitness than cardio.

So I turned to the great and ever expansive world wide web. I think that the fitness corner of the internet can be described in two words: contradictory and overwhelming. There is so much information out there (and here I am adding to it) and it is all over the place. Everyone has an opinion. Some people insist that cardio is the be all and end all of exercise. Other people swear by weight training. Some people only use their own body weight, others only use a bar bell. The list goes on… and on and on and on. It is very easy to get lost and discouraged when searching the internet for fitness advice.It is also easy to fall into traps and scams. I have found that these traps look something like this.

“Get the beach body that you have always wanted! Sign up FOR FREE! Try out the 30 day Premium Club trial today to gain unlimited access to the best personal trainers and the greatest fitness videos! Join our fitness community, we deliver results*!”

Sounds pretty great, huh? Seriously! Except it gets not so great really fast when you start to read the fine print. Lets break this down, shall we.

  • Sign up for free: This is code for get a user name and profile for free. But access to the online content such as workout videos, meal plans, ect. only comes with the premium package.
  • 30 Day trial: How is it unlimited if it is limited to 30 days?… Because they take your credit card info first! Your 30 day trial begins as soon as you press the enter button and once those 30 days are up you are charged automatically charged a hefty fee. No reminder emails, no warnings and no returns. Nothing but a very large expense. After that you’ll be charged a weekly or bi-weekly fee for your membership.
  • Unlimited access: But only if you have wifi. There are no downloads here. This content is for streaming only. In addition you don’t have the ability to actually converse with these personal trainers, they just record the videos and sell them to the website to stream. Sorry.
  • We deliver results*: See the asterisk there, that means there more here than meets the eye. Waaaaaaaay down at the bottom of the webpage in size 2 font you will find this disclaimer. “*Results vary depending on starting point, goals and personal effort”.

There it is, the harsh reality that the only thing that can make you fit is your own personal effort. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend or how many videos you have access to, all that matters is how much effort you put into it.

My point here is that paying for fitness advice online is a waste of money. Paying for a real life trainer can be a great investment, but when the content is online only, it’s just not worth it. Especially when there is so much great free content available online. But as I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of material to sift through. Sometimes it just takes a little trial and error to find what works best for you. Some focused searching helps as well. Below is a list of where I look online to find quality fitness content.

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    Map My Fitness App

    Cardio: Apps! Apps, Apps, Apps. Whether you are running, biking, swimming or walking. There’s an app for that! Earlier this year, when I was getting into running I needed as much guidance as I could get. So I used the Couch-to-5K app. It is a 10 week interval training program that told me exactly when to jog and when to walk. Now that I am comfortable running without assistance I use the Map My Fitness app. This monitors my speed and distance using the gps tracker in my phone, so that I can keep track of my progress. Both of these apps can be used outdoors or on the treadmill.

    • Health Food: Blogs! Fit foodies love to share! Sometimes food blogs can be intimidating because the pictures are so beautiful or they use fancy ingredients. But there are also many, MANY food blogs out there that keep things simple and easy. Those are the blogs you want to follow. If/when there is an ingredient or a method that you are confused about send them an email or leave a comment. Most bloggers will respond to you directly or write a post based on the questions they have received.
  • Weight Lifting (at home): Pinterest! I have found that using free weights at home can get pretty stagnant pretty fast. Probably because the only free weight moves I can ever think of are bicep curls and squats. Both great moves, but alone they make for a pretty boring work out. I have found that pinterest info-graphics are a great place for free weight workout inspiration. There is an endless supply of new and different combinations of moves, just make sure your search terms are clear and focused.

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  • Yoga & Pilates: YouTube! Being that I am pretty new to yoga I feel like I need instruction. Sometimes I will splurge and go to a class but that can get pricey real fast. So I have found that youtube videos are a wonderful tool. It is yoga instruction from the privacy of your own home. Finding a video teacher who you like is one of those trial and error situations. But reading user reviews and number of views is a easy way to figure out what is good and what is not so good. Recently I happened upon a YouTube channel called Yoga with AdrieneShe has a series of yoga instruction videos, some are designed for beginners, some for weight loss. I am attempting her 30 days of yoga with Adriene challenge (more on that in another post). yoga
  • Community: Facebook! These days, most organizations, groups and personalities have facebook pages. All you have to do is press the follow button and you are part of the social community. For example: One of my favourite fitness bloggers, The Fitnessista, has a FB page. On it I am able to interact with other readers and have conversations about the content of the blog. We can share stories, be supportive, provide motivation, ask questions. However, it is important to keep in mind that FB is a public forum and people can say anything from behind the safety of a key board. Haters gonna Hate. Just use the search bar to find the community you are looking for. There is a public group called Exercise Motivation and it just shares and spreads motivational wisdom! How great is that?!

The hardest part about online fitness is that you consciously have to make the effort to workout. Sometimes it’s easier to skip a workout because you are at home alone instead of at the gym surrounded by other people. Just remember, as with all forms of fitness you will only get out what you put in!

Where do you go to find fitness online?

Share in the comments!

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You Can’t Stop the Beats

A few weeks ago I was in a health rut. In addition to actually being sick, I had no desire to work out or to eat well. That caught up with me faster than I imagined and I was not feeling so hot. So I chucked the junk, put my running shoes on and started fresh. I’ve come to realize that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to health and fitness. More often than not I talk myself out of the last mile or the last set. “I’ve come this far… and that’s good enough” is what I tell myself. Therefore I’ve never reached my true potential, I’ve never pushed myself to my limit and I’ve never seen real results. That is about to change.

So, how do I plan on making this change?

Step one is simply acknowledging that my will power is lacking and now that I am conscious of that fact I will fight back when the voice inside my head says “that’s good enough”.

Step two is guidance. If I could afford a personal trainer I would get one but I don’t have that kind of dough. So I downloaded an app called Couch to 5k. Seeing as I am running a 5k in the spring I figured it would be a good idea if I got myself a virtual training program to help me reach my goal.  The program is designed for beginner runners, like myself. Using walk/jog intervals it gets you in shape to run a 5k over the course of 10 weeks. I’m on week 2 and so far so good!

Step three is music! My iPod is bursting with chill, indie folk music and easy going pop. It’s fun, it’s carefree, it’s beautiful, it’s relaxing. It’s so not good for working out. At other time of the day you wouldn’t catch me listening to electronic dance music but I’m pretty sure those top forty remixes were made for runners. They keep a constant beat, they are fast and they are usually pretty long. Essentially, they are the perfect accompaniment to the sound of my feet hitting the belt of the treadmill.

So I’m in the process of creating the ultimate 5k playlist. Starting with Zedd’s latest single I Want You To Know which features Selena Gomez. Confession time: I love Selena Gomez. I thought she was the coolest when she was playing Alex on Wizards of Waverly Place and my opinion of her hasn’t changed since. The song which was released on Monday February 23rd is the perfect candidate for my running playlist. The lyrics are fun and the beats are fast. This song is going to keep me going kilometer after kilometer. Take a listen!

What song is on our running playlist? Share in the comments!