Vacation and Working Out

I recently went on a week long, wonderful vacation with my family to Branson, MO.  We stayed at a beautiful place right on a lake.

Even though I was on vacation, my workout buddy wasn’t with me, and I didn’t have my weights, I still wanted to continue to workout. Therefore, I had to be creative and find things I could do while I was there with my family.

View from our condo. Absolutely beautiful!

I had planned on taking my resistance bands since those pack easily.  But would you believe, once we arrived I realized that I’d forgotten to pack them! I guess next time I should remember to look at my list when I am packing. :)  Since I didn’t have weights or resistance bands, I just had to be a little more creative in order to get some resistance training in. Therefore, I did pushups, tricep dips, crunches, and took the stairs any time there was an option.

In addition, my aunt and I decided that we would go for walks in the mornings. Great idea! One problem though: There was a huge hill that we would have to walk up if we were going to go very far. We decided that we were up for the challenge. Our walks started off at a really good pace, but then we hit the hill. Our conversation stopped and it was all we could do to make it up the hill. Talk about a killer cardio and strength workout wrapped up in one thing. My calves were on fire!

From the top of the hill looking down.

Coming down this hill was easier on the lungs than going up, but just trying to keep our bodies under control so that we didn’t have to break out into a run was tough. I wish you could see this hill in person. The pictures just don’t quite show you how steep and big it was. You can’t even see the top when you are starting up it. It’s crazy.

Bottom of the hill. Can't even see the top

What a great way to get to spend some time with my aunt and get a good workout in while I was on vacation. We had some great conversations while on our walks, except for when we were going up that crazy hill, of course. :)

Vacations can bring a much needed break from your exercise routine, but you can also keep up with some workouts if you want. You may need to make some adjustments but it’s definitely doable. If you would like some other ideas, you’ll be interested to read these tips on How To Stay Fit While On Vacation.

What other things have you found that you can do while on vacation to stay with your workout routine?

Resistance Bands – An Inexpensive Workout Tool

I’ve talked about resistance bands a little in a previous post, so I decided to share a few more thoughts about why I love them. My friend, Laura at Heavenly Homemakers, and I have recently started using resistance bands in our training in order, just to switch things up a little. I try to change our mode of workout frequently to keep us from becoming bored. The resistance bands are a great way to do that!

Resistance bands are heavy duty latex bands with a handle attached.  Different bands offer different amounts of resistance.

Resistance bands add variety to your workouts, they are very inexpensive, and they don’t take up very much space. They are even portable. It is so nice to just be able to throw a band or two into my bag and take them with me when I want to work out on the road. Resistance bands can be used to execute a number of different exercises, making them a great substitute for dumbbells.

Here is an example of some exercises you can do with your resistance bands:

For me, it is just fun to figure out how I can use resistance bands in new ways to work different muscles. I can do an exercise with dumbbells, and then turn around and do the same exercise with resistance bands, achieving an entirely different effect. I love it!

So, if you are thinking of purchasing some equipment to get started on your workout journey, what better way than to buy some resistance bands!

How to Find Time to Exercise

When can you possibly fit one more activity into your day when there is laundry to be done, dirty dishes in the sink, and kids to chase after? You want to exercise but it seems that there aren’t enough hours in the day. How can you find the time to fit in exercise?

My first thought is that you must decide if fitness and exercise are truly a priority in your life right now. Are you so ready to get fit that you will find the time? And even if you are willing, is it really possible for you?

If fitness and exercise are a priority then it does become easier to find time for it. But that doesn’t mean it is always easy to fit it into your day. You will still have other priorities and responsibilities that you will need to take care of. Sometimes exercise has to be fit in around those responsibilities. Sometimes it just needs to be “scheduled” into the day like everything else.

Here are some possibilities for times that might work for you to fit exercise into your busy day:

  1. Get up a half hour to hour earlier! Sometimes it works to get your workout in first thing so that you can continue with the rest of your day like normal.
  2. If you have little ones, maybe you can get your workout in while they are napping. You could also take them with you on a walk or if they are old enough to play at the park let them play while you workout nearby.
  3. You may be able to involve the kids in your workout. Little ones can be held during a resistance training program and be used as the resistance. Older kids might just have fun joining you.
  4. Sometimes exercise will have to be broken up into smaller chunks in order to fit it all in. You may not have an hour to workout but maybe you have 10-15 minutes that you could squeeze part of it in, and then later in the day you have some time to finish it. There is nothing wrong with breaking your workout up into 10-15 minute segments. You will still benefit from the workouts.
  5. You may have to do it later in the evening when you put the kids to bed. This doesn’t always work for everyone because it can affect your sleep. But it’s worth a try if you are serious about trying to get a workout in.

Finding time to workout can be challenging and even frustrating at times. But I don’t think you will regret finding the time. Your body will thank you down the road for making fitness a priority. There are also going to be times in life when it is extremely hard if not impossible to fit a workout in like you would want to. That’s ok. Do what you can when you can.

How do you find time to fit workouts into your busy schedules?

What Kind of Equipment Do You Need to Get Started Working Out?

 

If you are new to working out, you may be wondering what type of equipment you will need to buy as you are starting this journey. The simple answer is that by being creative, you can get a great workout without any equipment at all.

In order to have an effective workout that will strengthen your muscles, you need some type of force or weight that works against the movement you are trying to create.  There are so many ways to add resistance to a workout without spending a lot of money on equipment. Plus it can be fun to come up with new ideas.

To start with, there are so many different exercises you can do that simply use your body weight as the resistance. Push-ups, squats, and lunges are just a few exercises that you can do that will tone your muscles using only your own body weight as the “opposing force” you are working against. Or, you can pick up objects that you have around your house to use for weight, thus adding resistance. This could be milk jugs filled with water or sand, bricks, your child, canned food, bag of potatoes, or even books. Be creative and use what you have around the house to get more out of your exercises.

While getting started with your workouts can be completely free of financial investment, here are my thoughts on some of the basic equipment that may be worth buying as you get started. I would recommend getting a good water bottle, one that is BPA free or stainless steel. I love my stainless steal water bottle and carry it with me where ever I go. It is very important to stay hydrated while working out and this is much easier to do when you always have a water bottle available.

The next thing I would suggest is to purchase a set of resistance bands. They are cheaper than buying a set of dumbbells, they don’t take up much room for storage, nor do you need a lot of space in order to use them. Dumbbells can be fairly inexpensive, especially the lighter weights, and may be something you will want to look into as you continue in your training.

In the future, I’ll offer more equipment recommendations and suggestions that you may find helpful as you build your training programs, but in my opinion, as you are getting started, you simply need the above mentioned pieces of basic equipment to make your resistance training program easier.

Supplements – Should You Take Them?

What exactly are supplements and should you be using them? That is a very good question, and one that a lot of people will struggle with to give you a definite answer.

There are two primary categories of supplements in my opinion – dietary supplements and sports nutrition supplements. Dietary supplements are taken with the intent to “supplement” or enhance one’s diet. This means that the multi-vitamin that you take daily is considered a dietary supplement. Sports nutrition supplements are known as ergogenic aids and are simply any product used with the intent to enhance athletic performance. These products are full of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals among other things. Supplements are available in all different forms and can typically be purchased by anyone without a prescription.

One of the problems with supplements is that they are not governed by the FDA. Some supplements have a lot of research backing up the claims that they make, while others have very little research behind them. This makes it very difficult to know which supplements to take or if you should even take one at all.

There are several supplements that I am personally comfortable with taking. For example, I’ve used different protein shakes, pre-workout drinks, and post-workout drinks. When I’m trying to decide on a supplement one of the first things I look at is the company behind the product. Is it a company that I trust? Is it one that I have used before? I also try to find supplements with natural ingredients. Will this supplement help me reach my current needs and goals? These are all questions I have to answer as I look into using different supplements.

These are the same type of questions you will need to answer. You will also need to consider what your goals are and what you are expecting from the supplements as you consider adding them to your workouts. These sports nutrition supplements are primarily going to be used by people doing high intensity workouts 4-6 days a week, but that may not hold true in all cases.

Because there are so many things to consider when you are looking into adding supplements, it can be very confusing. In no way do I feel like I have this all figured out. I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error to find the few supplements that I’m comfortable taking based on my current needs and goals. If you would like to email me questions about this I would be glad to help you out as much as I can. My email address is: jen at gettingfitwithjen dot com.

Resistance Training – What is It?

Resistance training is any type of exercise that requires you to contract your muscles in order to push, pull, lift, or throw an object or weight. The external resistance can come in many forms including dumbbells, resistance tubing, your own body weight, or even your kids. This allows resistance training to be tailored to your needs, goals, and available equipment and space.

Resistance training will look very different for each individual based on their goals. Most resistance training programs will accomplish a couple different things but will have one main goal in mind. Some of the different goals of resistance training are to increase strength, muscular endurance, mass, or to tone up.

There are many positive benefits to resistance training.  For starters, it improves our bone density, which in turn helps us fight problems such as osteoporosis.  No brittle bones here! Resistance training also increases strength and improves our metabolism. From my own personal experience, I have also noticed that strength training increases my energy levels and improves my mood. For me, this form of exercise is a great stress reliever.

There is much to consider when trying to decide on a resistance training program. How much time do you have or are you willing to devote to training? What equipment is available for you to use? What are your goals? It is important to learn proper technique in order to get the most out of program and reduce the risk for injury. Resistance training really can be very simple and not require a lot of equipment, time, or space. That may mean you have to get a little creative, but that also makes it fun!

Cardio Training – What is It?

 

What is cardio training? Well, cardio stands for cardiovascular, which mainly involves our heart. Our heart is a muscle and needs to be worked out just like any other muscle so that it will stay strong. Our heart is responsible for pumping blood, which carries oxygen and other things to the rest of our body. Without this oxygen, our bodies can’t produce the needed energy to make our bodies move.

Anything that raises your resting heart rate can be considered a form of cardio training. Your resting heart rate is defined as simply the number of times your heart beats in a one minute period. Walking, running, swimming, and bicycling are all examples of cardio training.

Cardio training is important for a number of reasons. As mentioned before, it strengthens your heart.  When your heart is strong, it functions more efficiently.  Cardio training also strengthens your lungs since your heart and lungs work together to provide your muscles with the needed oxygen. Cardio workouts also help you burn calories and boost your metabolism. All of these are positive benefits to cardio training.

Cardio training can vary from something very low impact and low intensity to high impact and high intensity. Low impact workouts are easier on your joints and great for beginners. An example of a low impact workout would be a walk at a slow to moderate pace. Running and sprinting are examples of higher impact workouts. The higher the intensity the workout the more calories you will burn.

The fun thing about cardio training is the variety. You can constantly change up your cardio workouts to avoid boredom. It is also a great opportunity to spend some time with a close friend, spouse, or a child. I have found that walking with a friend is a great time to visit and catch up. It also seems to make the workout go quicker! That’s always a good thing.