Tag Archives: workout

For a Good Time, Take Your Workout Plans Outdoors

22 Jul

When the weather is nice, you want to be outdoors, right? If your response is not a big, loud YES!!, you have issues. There’s nothing like enjoying fantastic cardio workouts under the bright sun and clear skies of the great outdoors. Not only are you getting a great physical workout, it’s also fantastic for the mind.

I don’t know about you, but but my normal workout plans involve hopping up on the cardio equipment and quickly turning on the television. While I’m deeply grateful and a large fan of the built-in televisions on the cardio equipment in our gym, sometimes it’s nice to have a change of scenery when working out. And no, I don’t just mean channel flipping until I find a new show to watch. I mean giving the gym a break for the day and partaking in some outdoor cardio workouts.

The great outdoors of the Hollywood Hills.

My kind of nature, “the great outdoors”, a.k.a. the Hollywood Hills.

Now that we live in LA, my husband and I have no excuse not to fit some outdoor exercise into our workout plans. We both work from home, so there’s really no reason not to bust out of the office (okay, fine, our one-bedroom apartment) and get some fresh air. Running, biking, or even going out for a leisurely stroll, are all great ways to enjoy the great outdoors of sunny LA and burn some calories at the same time.

Last weekend we took a trip to Runyon Canyon, in the beautiful Hollywood Hills. Now that is my kind of park! Sweeping views of the entire city, under the watchful eye of the famous Hollywood sign, is the true definition of the “great” outdoors. At least in LA.

We had such a great time exploring Runyon Canyon! We went during the afternoon, when the sun was beating down at its hardest, so we just took our time walking around and exploring the area. Not the most challenging of our cardio workouts, but definitely one of the most fun! We’ll  be back again for sure, probably for a morning run next time.

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The Hollywood Sign — so fun to go for a walk and see this!

Finding ways go about achieving your workout plans in a fun, scenic area makes exercising much more enjoyable! When you’re exploring somewhere new, or visiting an old favorite spot, you’re much more focused on where you are and how much you’re loving it, than your sore legs and massive desire to finish your workout as quickly as possible.

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View of LA from Runyon Canyon

Eating Healthy and Exercising On-the-Go

10 Jun

It’s not always convenient to fit eating healthy and exercising into your day. Especially when you’re traveling or just really busy. When you’re short on time (and exhausted) it can be tempting to skip the gym and head to one of the closest fast food restaurants in the area for a quick and easy meal. Admittedly, sometimes this is the best option in a bind, but make a habit of it and your waistline is going to expand. And fast.

Personally, I’ve been pretty busy lately. We’ve been out-of-town the past three weekends, in addition to preparing for a cross-country move. A bit overwhelming at times! I can more than relate to just how difficult it can be to find the time to fit exercising into an already packed schedule. And to work up the energy to make a healthy lunch and dinner.

Here’s a few tips to keep eating healthy and exercising, even when it’s a whole lot easier not to:

  • Schedule Your Workouts: At the beginning of the week take note of the days you’re free to workout at your normal time. If your availability doesn’t equal an adequate amount of exercising time for the week, get creative! If you normally workout in the evenings, wake up early and go for a morning run. It’ll be rough rousing yourself out of bed early, but trust me, you won’t regret it.

  • Work Exercise Into Your Day: If crafty scheduling still isn’t cutting it to get your normal workouts in, you can always find fun little alternative ways to fit exercise into your day. Last weekend my husband and I were in NYC and instead of working out in the gym, we went for a bike ride around the perimeter of Central Park. So fun! I also love to go outside for lunchtime walks. Sure, it’s not the greatest calorie burner ever, but it’s something. And it pulls me away from the glare of my computer screen for awhile. Total bonus!

I hadn't been on a bike since I was about 11 or 12. The first few minutes of the ride were interesting, the rest were fun!

Biking in Central Park was  a great way to get our daily exercise in.

  • Prepare Healthy Food in Advance: Sometimes you really won’t have time to cook dinner or pack a healthy lunch for work. Combat this problem with a little advance planning. If you know you have a crazy week ahead of you, spend an hour on Sunday making dinner for the week, putting individual portions in freezable containers. Quick, easy, and healthy!

It can be tempting to opt for fast food restaurants and declare an exercising ban when you’re really super busy, but well, just don’t. Healthy food doesn’t typically come from restaurants where employees wear funny little hats. Eating healthy and working out shouldn’t be an option, it should be your way of life!

Back in the Saddle — My Return to Yoga Classes

27 May

My gym offers free yoga classes a few times a week. Once upon a time I used to go to these yoga classes all the time. I’m not going to lie, I loved bragging that “it’s yoga night,” or “I’m sooo sore from yoga.”

I suspect that most of the classes are structured primarily as a yoga for beginners group, but some of the instructors show us moves that are definitely not meant for yoga newbies. Some of the more “strict” instructors also like to correct you when you’re not doing the yoga poses correctly. I’m not a fan of being manhandled by strangers, so I quickly learned to avoid those classes. And then I just quit going to yoga classes altogether.

Fast forward about a year and a half to last week. My husband and I are getting ready to move to Los Angeles in a few weeks, where according to urban legend, everyone does yoga and drinks kale juice all day. Rightfully, these people are lean, toned, and look fabulous while prancing on the beach.This is a far cry from Pittsburgh where the average person’s idea of exercise is lifting an IC Light back and forth from the table to their mouth, while watching actual athletes from one of the city’s sports teams run around a field, hockey rink, or whatever.

I need to perfect my yoga poses before moving to LA.

I need to perfect my yoga poses before moving to LA.

Though I do not identify with the yinzer “couch athlete,” I decided it was time to hop back in the saddle with the yoga classes. After all, if I’m going to be a California resident, I need to brush up on my ability to bust out yoga poses in class and not look like a flaming idiot.

My Triumphant Return to Yoga Classes

I walked into my first class in a year and a half feeling excited to be at it again, but a little apprehensive. The teacher that night was someone I’ve never taken class with, and my friend who used to take classes with me has since quit going to our gym.

A few minutes into the downward dogs and forward folds though, I realized this was probably going to be pretty easy. Though I hadn’t done yoga in awhile, I had taken to doing Pilates videos at home almost daily. This turned out to be clutch.

As our hour long class went on, I was almost getting bored. Hands down this instructor was easier than some I’ve had in the past, which was kind of a good thing, but also made me wonder if it was worth going back for another class next week. Many of the people in the room seemed to be struggling with the poses, so perhaps I magically graduated from yoga for beginners?

Regardless, I was still blissfully sore the next two days, so although the yoga poses were pretty easy, they did something!

Now, should I go back next week or skip it?

Need Friday Night Date Ideas? Try Working Out Together!

20 May
If you live near the beach, jogging together should already be on your list of date ideas!

Live near the water? What could be better than a Friday evening jog on the beach?

I rarely workout on Fridays, which is ironic as it’s typically one of my “fatter” days of the week. Friday night is a fun time to relax with my husband and maybe some friends, so clearly I’m not too keen on welcoming the weekend by spending time at the gym by myself. One could argue that nothing is stopping me from getting up early and exercising before work, nothing that is besides my love of sleep and the desire not to be a cranky beast to everyone I come in contact with during the day. Thank me later people.

Living in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA doesn’t really offer much along the lines of scenic, fun outdoor activity. In fact, I would guess that the majority of our Friday evenings are either too cold to be doing anything outside or involve some sort of dreadful precipitation falling from the sky. Yuck. Luckily this is not always the case.

A few weeks ago we were “kicked out” of our house for an hour on a Friday evening. My first thought was to go get drinks somewhere, but then my husband, knowing my love for healthy date ideas, came up with this fantastic idea — going to the park for a jog! It was a nice day out and were planning to stuff ourselves with takeout from our favorite Thai place for dinner, so why not negate some of those calories beforehand? Brilliant!

We had so much fun with that jog (and felt so utterly superior) afterwards that we decided to do it again the next week. To switch our route up, we drove to a neighboring town, and my husband mapped a little route for us to jog using Map My Run.

Of course it’s pretty impossible to commit to Friday evening jogs every weekend. When the weather acts up or if we’re planning to meet up with friends or go out to dinner or something, it’s not always possible to fit it into the plan, and that’s okay. It’s just nice to have a fun little workout to add to our list of Friday night date ideas, when we don’t have anything else going on.

Make Losing Weight a Balancing Act

13 May
Counting calories is one tiny sacrifice I'm more than willing to make to look my best while frolicking on the beaches of Santa Monica.

Counting calories is one tiny sacrifice I’m more than willing to make to look my best while frolicking on the beaches of Santa Monica.

So, I’ve been trying to lose weight. Nothing remotely substantial, just a pesky little five pounds or so. Swimsuit season is around the corner, and I’m moving to LA next month. Get it now?

As previously mentioned, I’ve been counting calories with the Lose It app for about a month now. My bathroom scale is consistently insane, and currently on my list of things to replace that I haven’t gotten around to doing yet. So you guessed it, a lack of reliable scale in my life makes it a bit difficult to know if I’m actually losing weight or not.

Then it happened — the annual worksite wellness exam, complete with a weigh-in from what I would assume is a perfectly functioning scale. The good news is I have not gained weight. The somewhat discouraging news is that I’ve only lost 1.2 pounds in the month I’ve been counting calories. At first I automatically assumed it was the scale’s problem, not mine. Then I realized how completely stupid that rationale was.

I’m very fortunate that eating healthy is something that naturally comes pretty easy to me. It’s not a struggle to choose vegetables over french fries or a salad instead of a cheeseburger. During the week I pretty much eat the exact same things everyday, never going over the 1,500 calorie per day limit (plus extra daily allowances depending on how many calories I burn exercising) that my Lose It app has set for me.

However, I’m typically not so well behaved on the weekends, which in my world is defined as Friday-Sunday. So four days a week I’m staying at or slightly under my daily calorie limit and I’m defying the rules the other three. And I wonder why I’m not not losing weight at the speed of light?!

Losing Weight Without the Sacrifices

I’ll admit it, while I typically don’t spend my weekends scarfing down french fries and raiding all-you-can-eat buffets, I do like to indulge a bit more than I do on the weekdays. I’ll have a couple glasses of wine, split a pre-dinner appetizer with my husband, and often eat a “filling” portion of self-serve frozen yogurt. I don’t feel bad about this.

Eating healthy every single day at every single meal is not only boring, it’s exhausting. You’ve got to live a little!

While I have to applaud myself for this uncharacteristically sane way of thinking, I still need to find a way to balance out my extra weekend calories. So I decided on two things — first, to exercise a bit harder. Second, to start counting calories on a weekly basis, instead of keeping it as just a daily goal. If I can manage to bank some extra calories during the week, I’ll have some extra leeway to do as I please on the weekends, and not have to wonder why I’m barely losing weight.

Thank me now, future abs!

Sunny Days and Lunchtime Walks

29 Apr
Amazingly, this pretty little park was once the home of an OccupyPittsburgh camp.

Amazingly, this pretty little park was once the home of an OccupyPittsburgh camp.

Though it currently appears to be operating on a day-by-day basis, rumor has it that springtime has arrived in Pittsburgh! I swear, it feels extra fantastic this year, after Mother Nature’s cute little torture fest over the past few weeks.

Despite the fact that I live in a city that averages about 12 sunny days per year and is perpetually freezing, I hate cold weather. So, when it’s cold outside, I only venture out into the great outdoors when I have to. No leisurely little outings necessary.

Prolonged hermiting can result in a serious case of cabin fever, so now that some gorgeous spring days are finally making it into the mix, I’m busting out of my cave every chance I can get!

Sunshine!

Sunshine!

One of my favorite times to get outside is during lunchtime. It really helps to break up the day and gives me a much needed boost of afternoon energy! Believe it or not, sitting in a cubicle, staring a computer all day can get a little monotonous…

No matter where my lunchtime walks take me, it usually results in walking over a bridge.

No matter where my lunchtime walks take me, it usually involves walking over a bridge.

Not only is taking a long lunchtime walk good for the spirit, it’s also good for your waistline. Trotting around at a moderate, comfortable pace for an hour burns 167 calories. As bikini season is supposedly right around the corner, I’m absolutely loving this as a fun little addition to my normal workout schedule!

My Newest Workout Obsession: The Tone It Up Best Ab Workout Circuit

15 Apr

Summer is almost here, meaning it’s time to shed that layer of blubber that kept you warm all winter, and get in swimsuit shape!

While I’m not a huge fan of the ab workout, I do understand that it’s a major part of the bikini body package. A lot of ab workout videos either bore me or require me to move in ways that I simply cannot (or in some cases will not) do. It’s hard to make yourself do any type of exercise when you feel like you’re buying yourself a one way ticket to hell while doing it. Not fun.

Well thankfully I recently managed to find a new ab workout that I actually like! It’s from the ladies at Tone It Up, and exercises are tough, yet manageable. I am SO gloriously sore the day after, which is always encouraging because if your muscles hate you, that’s a sign you’re making them work.

Truth be told, I actually start getting sore abs during this workout (but it hurts so good). Honestly, I can only do two rounds of it at a time right now, but one of these days I swear I’m going to start doing three.