3 No Equipment Required Workouts

I absolutely love being in gyms.  I’ll be the first to admit that a gym full of clean, up-to-date equipment gets me feeling absolutely giddy inside.  But sometimes we don’t always have access to a gym or maybe we aren’t in the mood to leave the house and make the trek to the gym.  That’s OK! Not having access to a gym does not mean you can’t workout. Our bodies are one of the best “machines” we have for exercise! Keeping a few bodyweight workouts on hand can come in super handy and increase the likelihood that you will challenge your body with a workout, despite the obstacles life might throw at you.

We will be gallivanting through Europe for two weeks, so I’ve been thinking about different bodyweight workouts I can do while abroad. At the moment you may be thinking, “You are going to be on vacation, why are you thinking about exercise?” Well, you see, I need to sweat. First of all, I enjoy it, a lot. Second of all, I need it for my own mental clarity. I notice a significant change in my ability to think, handle stress and my happiness levels when I don’t exercise.  I am not saying I will be doing hour-long workouts every day, but I know that I am way more likely to do 10-30 minute workouts while on vacation. We also plan on walking and biking as our main forms of transportation, so I will get lots of movement in that way. Here are three total body workouts you can do anywhere without any equipment except your body!

Workout #1

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  1. Burpies
  2. Jump Squats
  3. Push Up to Side Plank
  4. V-Ups
  5. Lunges (split reps between each leg)

Workout #2

10 minutes AMRAP (as many rounds as possible in ten minutes)

Workout #3 (about 30 minutes)

Tabata (20 seconds of work, 10 seconds rest x 8 rounds each exercise)

  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Squats
  3. Hollow Rocks
  4. Lunges
  5. Superman Hold
  6. High knees

Apps I plan to use while traveling:

  • Sworkit
  • 7 minute workout
  • Cards WOD
  • Seconds
  • HIIT Timer

What are your favorite bodyweight workouts? I’d love to hear about them below!

Relationship between Exercise & Food

How many times have you heard someone say, “I worked out earlier, so I don’t feel bad eating this” or “I can’t believe I ate (insert food they feel “bad” about eating), I definitely need to go to the gym tomorrow.” I’ve literally seen a gym advertisement that said “Pizza tonight. Gym tomorrow.” I cringe when I hear these statements. Exercise does burn calories and is good for your health; I have no problem with that. In fact, exercise is extremely beneficial for your physical and mental health. It gives you energy, relieves stress and anxiety, boosts your mood, improves sleep, strengthens your immune system and reduces your risk for many preventable diseases. If exercise does so many of these amazing things, why don’t we focus more on these benefits and less on the negative relationship between exercise and food?

My issue with clumping exercise and food together is that, in most cases, we turn exercise into punishment for eating (insert low nutritional quality food). Rather than focusing on all of the amazing things that exercise does for our bodies, we are focusing on how we are going to use exercise to burn off some food we feel bad about consuming. This in turn creates a negative relationship with exercise, when instead we could be thinking, “I’m really stressed right now. Exercise would make me feel better.”

This issue delves deeper into extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation for exercise. If we solely focus on extrinsic motivators, like body composition, we are much more likely to lose our desire to regularly engage in exercise. If we don’t see the results we want in the amount of time we think we should, it’s really easy to lose motivation. However, when we link exercise to how we feel or something within us, we can reflect on that intrinsic motivator every time we move our bodies. For example, I like being strong, because it is relates to my desire to be independent. If I need something moved or lifted, I enjoy knowing I can do it myself instead of waiting for someone to do it for me. Sure, I enjoy the muscle definition that being strong provides, but feeling competent and physically able makes we want to sustain a consistent exercise schedule for the rest of my life.

Exercise should be about rewarding your body wtih strength and endorphios, not pnishing your body what you've eaten..png

I do think that food and exercise are very interrelated, but I think it is essential view this relationship with a positive light. Food fits into two categories for me: fuel and pleasure. Most of the time, I see food as fuel to make me stronger, help me perform better in workouts and focus at work. Our bodies rely on us to fuel them with the food they need to get us through the day and handle the many demands that life throws at us. From years of listening to my body, I know what fuel my body needs to perform at its best. I know that I can’t eat much before exercising, but I do need a large breakfast full of veggies, fruit, protein and fats after working out to keep me satisfied all morning. On the flipside, I know that consuming a lot of sugar makes my head foggy, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop eating sugar all together.

Sometimes I eat food simply for the pleasure of eating it, despite knowing that it won’t do anything beneficial for my body. Sugar usually falls into this category. I don’t focus on this too much though, because I know that it’s not my body’s main source of fuel. When an opportunity arises that involves a food that gives me pleasure, I try to focus on the experience not how I’m going to “burn” it off later. For example, I don’t frequently get the opportunity to share a donut with my nephew on a Sunday morning. We recently had a sleepover with him, so better bet that I sat there soaking up the moment and the donut! Did my body feel awesome after? Not exactly, but I really enjoyed the moment instead of thinking about how I was going to “work” it off.

Is it always easy to avoid turning exercise into punishment for food consumed? No. It’s extremely hard, because of the messages that society and the media have ingrained into our culture. I find my mind frequently letting those thoughts sneak into my head. Now that I am aware of the negative impacts these messages have on my overall outlook on health, I can quiet these thoughts and reframe them in a positive light. So, I challenge you to try the same strategy. Next time you are eating something that might not have the most nutritional value or isn’t something you regularly eat, just simply enjoy it. Don’t think about exercise at this time.Think about how the food tastes, smells and the memories it brings to your mind. Then when you’re thinking about exercise, think about all the positive ways it will benefit your health. Think about how you are going to feel after you exercise and how your body 20 years from now will thank you for investing in its health.  When someone around you makes a negative comment about exercise and food, take this moment as an opportunity to educate them. We have the power to change the conversation and create more positive spaces around us and our community.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this! Comment below 🙂

How I Got Tricked into Joining a Crossfit Gym

When people ask me if I miss living in San Diego, I usually stare at them with a dumbfounded look on my face as I wonder who would even ask that question. If you’ve ever been to San Diego, even on vacation, you understand. It’s an amazing place. Of course I miss the beaches and the weather, that’s a given. But, one of the things I miss the most is the countless exercise options. Yes, there are tons of opportunities to move your body outdoors (especially with the lovely weather), but I’m mainly referring to group exercise classes.

You see, I’m a group exercise junky. I fell in love with group exercise when I first attended a Step Aerobics class with my mom when I was 16. I was easily the youngest and most confused in the class, but I absolutely loved every aspect of it. I love the community aspect the classes create. I love when everyone groans and moans together about the instructor throwing them a curveball, like another set of burpies even though you’ve already done like 1,000. Instead of giving up, you come together as a class to complete the challenge and congratulate each other after. I enjoyed group exercise classes so much that I eventually found myself on the other side, as the instructor, getting the eye daggers as I threw curveballs the the poor, sweaty souls in my classes.

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One of my favorite group fitness experiences, teaching at So Cal Fitbody Bootcamp!

When we decided to move back to Davis, one of the first things I looked for (besides trying to find us a place to live of course) was a gym with classes. Needless to say, Davis’ gym game is nowhere close to San Diego’s. There is a huge gym on campus, so I decided that I would just workout on my own. Although it was extremely convenient, my motivation and excitement towards exercise dwindled.

I decided to start looking into other options and while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day, an advertisement for Get Fit Strength and Conditioning popped up on my feed. It’s like the Facebook gods were giving me a gift (also sorta creepy).  I signed up for a trial month and was extremely excited to get started with something new. I walked through the front door and checked out the whiteboard for the days’ workout and immediately realized I had just signed up for a Crossfit membership.

I tried Crossfit for the first time in 2011. Crossfit wasn’t nearly as popular then, so I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that there was a new class available in Davis, so I had to try it.  The coach had me do a 10-minute workout then spent the next hour talking to me about the Paleo diet. It really irks me when people talk to me about food and diets while I’m exercising. I truly enjoy exercise and love the way it makes my body feel. I like to focus on that when I exercise, not what food I should or should not be eating. Instead, please tell me how I can change my form to lift heavier weights and become stronger. Unfortunately, this initial experience with Crossfit really set me off from trying it again.

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Being upside down terrifies me, but I’m quieting the voice in my head and learning to get used to it one day at a time.

Needless to say, I was a little shocked when I found myself at another Crossfit style gym. I was already there though and needed to exercise for my mental health, so I gave it a go and guess what? I absolutely loved it! I loved it so much, in fact, that I signed up for a membership and consider this gym my community now. These workouts challenge me in a whole new way. I am using muscles I didn’t know I had and am getting stronger every week. Every day we focus on how to improve our movements to get better at what we are doing, not how we can burn more calories to change the way our bodies look. The coaches truly care about each individual and their progress. Also, the coaches seem like real human beings, not some superhero fitness people that live crazy, unrealistic lifestyles. On my first day, someone turned to me and asked my name. That rarely happened in a class in San Diego. Everyone supports each other and doesn’t talk about how they feel guilty for their latest “cheat day”. Instead, we motivate each other to push our limits and support each other when we listen to our bodies. Now that’s what I would call motivating.

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Literally supporting each other
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Some of the kids of parents in class joined us for a round of lunges!

The biggest challenge in trying these new workouts is learning to quiet the doubtful voice in my head. I believe I am very good at self motivation and believing in myself, but I do still doubt my abilities from time to time. Do I think I can really lift this bar with weights above my head? Can I really deadlift more than I weigh? It’s incredibly easy to let these voices get the best of you and I have before, but it’s most rewarding when you learn to prove them wrong.

The lessons I am learning in the gym are transferring into other aspects of my life. I’m finding that I am more confident in my ability to accomplish tasks at work and am more willing to tackle challenges I was hesitant to confront before. For example, I officially turned in my parking permit and am a full-time active commuter (woohoo!). Will it be hard to do it on a daily basis? Yes. Do I think I can do it? Yes. Do I think it will benefit my body in the long term? Yes.

 

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When I first walked in and saw this I dreaded the day we would have to climb it. Now, I look forward to it as long as I have long pants on. The feeling of being at the top is incredibly exhilarating.

 

 

The Weekly Grub + a HIIT Workout

Hello! How was your weekend (Note: I meant to post this yesterday, just roll with it for me ok? Thanks)? I went to bed on Sunday feeling very rejuvenated, grateful and hot (it’s 104 here!). We stayed local and enjoyed all the activities around us, which was nice for a change. Saturday was spent on the lake, speeding around on a jet ski. It felt so nice to be back on the water- where I grew up. I will always be a lake girl at heart. I ventured over to Napa on Sunday to bike through the rolling hills with a friend. My legs appreciated the inclines and my eyes enjoyed the beautiful scenery. It’s amazing how much more you notice your surroundings when on foot or bike. Sunday ended with a delicious dinner, an ice cream run and the Game of Thrones season finale.

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Evening walks
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Jet skiing adventures!

We have both been traveling so much, together and apart, that our weekly meal plan has been neglected. When Kevin leaves, I revert back to eating a veggie mush or eggs every night for dinner as a way to make sure we use everything in the fridge. As much as he tolerates and mostly enjoys the vegetables I make for us, the fridge’s leftover vegetable scraps aren’t necessarily his jam. Since we have a break from traveling, I was able to meal plan and even do some prep for this week! It felt wonderful to get back into the swing of things. 

This Week’s Grub

  • Sunday: Grilled zucchini taco boats (recipe coming soon!)
  • Monday: Red snapper fish tacos with a mango salsa + corn
  • Tuesday: Grilled sausage + corn, cucumber and cauliflower salad
  • Wednesday: Picnic in the Park (Farmer’s market, live music & food vendors=Night off from cooking!)
  • Thursday: Chinese chicken salad
  • Friday: Pizza night! It’s our current weekly themed meal and has been quite fun!
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Taco stuffed zucchini boats
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Cauliflower, cucumber and tomato salad
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Fish Tacos

I’ve been doing more HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts recently, because they are more time efficient. Research shows that if you really push and perform this method correctly (you should be going all out) you get the same positive health benefits in a fraction of the time as moderate-intensity (ex: steady state cardio) exercise. I also like that you are constantly switching exercises and get more variety in your workout. However, if you haven’t been regularly physically active, I don’t recommend jumping right into this type of exercise at 100% effort. Take things slower and listen to your body, then slowly increase the intensity.

HIIT Bodyweight Workout

30 seconds work, 30 seconds rest between exercises, 1 minute rest between rounds X 3-4 rounds. There are links for some of the exercises!

Tip: To ensure that I am truly pushing myself, I like to set a goal before each exercise. If I meet that goal, I keep going and set my goal higher for the next round. If I don’t meet it, I just try harder the next round.

  1. Push-Ups (get that chest to the floor!)
  2. Floor touch jump squats– focus on sitting your hips back and landing softly
  3. Crossover mountain climbers
  4. Push-Up to side plank
  5. Switch lunges
  6. Hollow rocks
  7. Shoulder taps
  8. Skaters
  9. Plank jacks
  10. Jumping jack toe touches

Try it and let me know what you think!!

Get Movin’ Pal

It’s safe to say things got a little crazy around here the last few weeks. There was lots of traveling for work and play, birthdays, wedding events, work events, family BBQ’s and not enough blogging. During the first week of the craziness, I was trying to find time to set aside to write a post. I would look at my schedule and convince myself I could squeeze in some time here and there. Then I asked myself, why am I doing this? As much as I enjoy writing, having some “me” time and just walking or reading to keep my sanity sounded much better. So I said, let’s lower the bar and take a break. But guess what? I’m back!!

Luckily, I have a pretty awesome job where I get to constantly learn about health and wellness. During this recent crazy time in my life, I attended the annual American College Health Association conference in San Francisco. Basically, I spent 5 days nerding out about new health and wellness research and best practices in college health promotion. I soaked up tons of new information and ideas, but the main thing that stuck with me was the negative impact sedentary behavior has on our bodies and how we can motivate individuals to decrease sedentary behavior.

The majority of public health campaigns have focused on increasing physical activity. That’s great! But it’s not enough. We need to reduce sedentary behavior. Sit less, move more. This really hit home for me. Sure, having a sweaty, heart pumping workout for 60 minutes is awesome, but you know what’s not so awesome? Sitting for the rest of your day. I’m not saying that your exercise doesn’t matter, but research is showing that it does matter less if you are sedentary for the rest of the day.

But Shantille, I have to sit at work for 8 hours a day. Yes, many jobs (including mine) require that we sit for most of our work day. Unfortunately, we can’t really get around that. However, even small increments of movement such as standing up during a phone call or meeting can add up and reduce the deleterious effects of sedentary behavior has on our health. The conference schedule had 30 minute breaks between sessions. My first thought when seeing this was, “Can’t we have shorter breaks and just get done earlier in the day?” By the end of the week, I realized that I really actually enjoyed those longer breaks, because it gave me time to move. Rather than sitting and perusing social media or email, I told myself to go walk. I ended up logging about 16,000 steps a day…at a conference! I was shocked.

We need to stop saying we can’t. Instead, we need to capitalize on opportunities or find opportunities to move. Prioritize your health. Since coming back from the conference and adjusting to being at a desk most of the day, I have some tips that I started using to reduce my sedentary behavior:

  • Schedule an alarm on your computer to go off every hour to tell yourself to get up and move for 5 minutes. You can go on a short walk around the building, go refill your water glass, do some stretches, go say hi to a coworker, head up and down some stairs. Just move for 5 minutes.
  • Request walking meetings with your coworkers. I take notes on my phone when I do this and email them to myself.
  • Instead of calling a coworker in the same building, walk to their office.
  • Subscribe to UCLA’s Move Mail! You get emails sent to you at 10am and 2pm daily with office friendly exercises: http://www.recreation.ucla.edu/fitwell#168711080-movemail
  • Are you in charge of planning a long meeting or training? Schedule stretching/walking breaks into the agenda.
  • Lead by example. Ya sure, people might think you are weird when you are the only one standing in a meeting. Eventually though, you will start to influence others. You will be that annoying “healthy” person. Embrace it.
  • Invite others to take 15 minute walking breaks with you. I am terrible about taking my 15 minute breaks. I get caught up in something and completely forget. If I schedule a walk during my break with a coworker then I’m held accountable and take my break to move.

Do you have any tips that you use to be less sedentary during your work day? I would love to hear about them below!

Move More in May!

 

Yeah, yeah I know there is a national day or month for everything, but I still feel obligated to inform you that May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month (it’s also National Bike Month, so get pedallin’). Most of the National Day celebrations are somewhat pointless, but you’ll be shocked to find out, I find this one rather important. And yet, I’m not seeing many posts on social media celebrating Physical Activity Month. Sure, it’s really hard to compete with the likes of National Donut Day, National Pet Day, Mother’s Day, etc. Regardless, let’s make it a priority to get moving in May! Here are some tips to help you move more this month:

  1. Schedule it.

We schedule so many aspects of our lives from work to hair appointments to social activities, so why not schedule time to move our bodies as well? Next time you are looking at your calendar, look for time slots to fit in physical activity and make that commitment to yourself to improve your health. I like using Google calendar and setting up reminders for when I will exercise. Here’s the stumbling block though. It’s really easy to just ignore that reminder or tell yourself you will do it later, especially when you aren’t being held accountable. Personally, I hate letting people down and falling through on a commitment, so it helps if someone else is relying on me or expects me to do something. If I have a workout scheduled after work and know that at the end of the day I will probably just want to go home, I will tell someone to ask me if I did the workout. Given my nature, I don’t want to admit that I didn’t follow through on my commitment to my health, so I will likely complete the workout.

2. Break it up.

Research shows that adults should perform at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days (5+) of the week for health benefits. Finding a 30 minute chunk in a jam packed day can turn people away from regularly engaging in physical activity. However, research also shows that breaking the 30 minute bout into three 10 minute sessions throughout the day is just as effective! Fit in some movement right when you get out of bed, go on a walk during lunch or do body weight exercises in your office and end the day by moving during the commercials of your evening TV show.

3. Move throughout the day.

The majority of professions require that we sit, a lot. It’s really easy to get used to that, but our bodies don’t enjoy it. Find ways to move more throughout the day. You may even notice an increase in your energy and productivity! I work in a three story building and my new strategy is to use the restroom on the first floor and take the stairs. You can also set a reminder on your computer to get up every hour, propose walking meetings or walk to your coworkers office instead of calling or emailing them. All the little things add up!

4. Do what you enjoy.

I’m pretty sure I preach this to just about everyone, but please don’t force yourself to do exercise you don’t enjoy. There are SO many ways to move your body. Heck, I just learned foot golf is a new thing! Physical activity is supposed to make us feel good and energized. The more you enjoy it, the more you will look forward to it and maintain these habits long term.

5. Think outside the box.

Let’s all say this together- You don’t have to go to the gym to move your body! Yes, the gym is a great place to exercise, for some people, but it’s not a motivating environment for everyone. Personally, I love it. Guess what the main factor was when I chose the college I would attend? Yep, the gym. That doesn’t mean I always want to exercise there though. Sometimes I just want to be outside and use my bodyweight and park benches for exercise. Other times I don’t even want to deal with people or even put appropriate gym clothes on, so I exercise in my living room in my gross shorts (I sat in wood stain while building a sofa table, so Kevin now refers to them as my poop shorts I should probably throw them away…). Do you live in the frigid cold? Go walk around a mall, do walking lunges and step ups on benches and laugh at all the people wasting money on overpriced clothes #tjmaxxforlife.

6. Involve others

Our social wellness is just as important as our physical wellness. I really enjoy combining the two and getting active with friends. Sure, grabbing a drink is always fun, but why not go on a walk or take a group exercise class together before enjoying a beer? Stream a free yoga class and host yoga and brunch at your house. Play basketball at lunch instead of going out for a heavy meal. Be the friend that suggests social outings that involve a little sweat. One day they will thank you.

I would love to hear how you are going to move more in May! Do you have any strategies that work for you? Share it all in the comment section!

Deck of Cards Workout

I am not famous for many things…actually I’m not famous for anything. However, the Deck of Cards workout is something I can say I am at least well known for.

My roommates from college might shake their heads in disdain and remember when I convinced them to go to a park for this super fun workout. Sometimes I have to remember that my definition of “fun” is different from others.

The lucky souls that used to attend my boot camp classes would probably just laugh out loud and remember the buckets of sweat shed during the deck of card workouts we did as one big happy boot camp family. I’m not going to lie, I greatly enjoyed watching their faces and reactions when they walked in on a Saturday morning and realized they had 45 minutes of sweaty fun ahead of them. On multiple occasions they accused me of stacking the deck with higher number cards and even took the deck to count it themselves.Sure, I took a few 2’s out, but who really want to do 2 reps of anything? 10 reps is way more fun. 

Recently, I was at a wedding and the groom’s father came up to tell me that he told his gym instructor about the deck of cards workout after we did it together during his visit to San Diego. Guess what? They are doing the Deck of Cards workout at his gym in Philly now!

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Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe it’s the Deck of Cards workout that’s famous. It is one of my all time favorite ways to move, because it is so adaptable to any situation. You can do it by yourself or with friends. You can make it easy or a gut buster. You can use your own body weight or equipment. You can do it indoors, outdoors, anywhere! 

The Infamous Deck of Cards Workout

What you need: A deck of cards or the Deck of Cards WOD app (it’s free!)

Directions:

  1. Assign an exercise to each suit. For example, hearts could be squats.
  2. Make the jokers something special. For example, hold a 1 minute plank for each joker.
  3. Decide how many repetitions the face cards will be. I usually assign 10 repetitions to all face cards, but you could also do 11 for a jack, 12 for a queen, 13 for a king and 14 for an ace if you’re feeling really frisky! (Sorry this isn’t blackjack, Aces cannot be 1 or 11)
  4. Pull your first card! The number determines how many repetitions you will do. Ex: If you pulled a 6 of hearts, that’s 6 squats. Get movin’ pal.
  5. Keep pulling cards until you complete the deck. It’s your workout, so you determine the pace. Go as slow or as fast as you want to go. Take as many or as few breaks as you need. Depending on your pace and the exercises you choose, this could take anywhere from 20-45 minutes. 

Here are some example workouts:

Workout #1 (body weight)

  • Hearts= Squats
  • Spades= Push-Ups
  • Jacks= Sit-Ups
  • Clubs= Jumping Jacks
  • Joker #1= 30 walking lunges
  • Joker #2= 1 minute plank 

Workout #2 (with equipment)

Next time your friends want to get together, you should suggest that you all play cards. I’m sure they will love you after it’s all said and done!

This workout is a great option for when you’re traveling as well. I’ll be living in a hotel for a week in May and you can bet that I’ll have a deck of cards in my suitcase 🙂