10 Super Simple and Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Workout

fitness-061. Build Your Mind Muscle. Meditate your way to a deep sleep every night. In order to have a great workout routine, you must have a nightly relaxation ritual that does not include a couple of drinks to calm you down. Some of the best guided meditations for sleep and relaxation are here.

2. Be your Own Best Coach – but first you must listen to how you feel. Do you hold any guilt, anger, resentment? You can’t carry that extra weight to the gym. It’s not like fat that you can burn off. That baggage is heavy and more exhausting to schlep around than those extra pounds.

 

Really get a sense of how you feel during the day. Log those emotions. Do you tighten up when you see your coworker? Feel anxious when someone stands just a bit too close on the train? Feel like you want to choke the loud cell phone talker on the street in front of you? Those emotions are invaluable. They’re keys to the things that will really improve your life if you dig into them, because those kinds of emotional responses that we quickly temper are signs of an internal disagreement.

More on how to be your own life coach here.

Remember, resolving the internal disagreements that lead to unhealthy emotions and choices  are vital for improving your life.

3.You can’t head to the gym in your paint-stained sweat pants that double as your bathroom/kitchen cleaning outfit. Eventually you will want to go pro and prepare with the right workout gear. This includes clothes, water, podcast or music playlist, headphones, FitBit, etc.

My favorite picks for the gym here and more here –

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Nike Team Training Gymsack Black/White Size One Size

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Nike Women’s Free 5.0+ Running Shoe

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Aquasana AQ-6006-BLU-TR 18-Ounce Glass Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve, Blue

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Champion Women’s Absolute Workout Capri Legging

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Champion Women’s Absolute Workout Sports Bra, Black, Medium

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adidas Performance Women’s 24 Seven Deep V-Neck Tee, Midnight Grey, Large

4. Play the Leading Role in The Award-winning Film of Your Life – This is what worked for me. Weigh yourself, look in the mirror, see yourself as you are now.You are the star. This your time. Every day.  Then, in your mind, see yourself as you want to be. Visualize yourself. Want to drop 10, 20, 50 pounds or more, fit into a tight tee shirt or just feel more energized?  List the things you must do to become who you want to be. Write them down. Now do one simple thing each day on this list to get yourself closer to where you want to be during your workout. Note: you need to eat less to weigh less, so tracking calories for a 500 deficit each day is imperative to losing weight. Do this in conjunction with your work out if you want to lose weight.

5. Talk to YourselfIncessantly. I repeat the following to myself every time I walk into the gym. 123 Tone. That’s my goal weight of 123 pounds and my tone body. I have linked it to the photo of myself in my mind of what I look and feel like at 123 pounds with slim tone arms, a flat stomach and strong legs. Keep that vision in front of you as you work out. See yourself slipping into those jeans.

6.Set a time limit and and a target list of what you will perform while you are at the gym- don’t leave until you are done. Today my goal was 60 full minutes of cardio and three rounds of 22 push ups, 60 and sit-ups. Although I fought it – yes, I really did want to leave early, I did not walk out the door until I finished. It wasn’t easy.

7. Listen to Someone Motivating. If you have a smart phone, down load a motivating podcast to listen to while you are on the treadmill.  My favorite todayThe Good Life Project. Click here for more.

8.Sweat and track you success daily. I have come to understand that if I am not sweating or getting really heated up during at least a part of my workout, than, I are not working out hard enough. You have to push yourself.  But first you must know your target heart rate. It is a very simple calculation and you can find it at Every Day Health, here. After working out a while, you will be able to physically tell if you are in fat-burning mode by the way your body feels.

9. Switch it up. Do not do the same thing every day. You will get bored and you will not optimize your workout. Try new machines and classes, today I did 20 minutes on the tread mill -a set of sit-ups and push ups and then 20 minutes on the Elliptical followed by another set of sit-ups and push ups and then another 20 minutes on the other machine that looks like the Elliptical but it’s a stair climber thing. Play with the buttons on the treadmill – build an incline, jog for a minute, slow walk, then speed walk, etc.

10.  Move Every Single Day. Do something active every single day. I work out every day but every day is just bit different. One day is a 5-7 mile walk with hills and stairs, another a day at the gym, another is Spinning class, etc. I don’t take a day off from movement and do not believe it would help if I did.

Do you have a workout tip that is simple, easy and effective? I would love to learn from you, so please share in the comments below.

Dodging Raindrops, Brilliant Podcasts and Rising Above A Toxic Workplace

sitting-posture

Two words, good posture.

Stop. Did you just do what I think you did? Did you just sit up a little straighter?

Next time you walk into the elevator or a big meeting, think about what your posture says about you as you pass through those doors. Then try these exercises for better posture.

It’s early morning, pouring rain, headed to the office in Soho (70 minutes, stuck in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, followed by a soaking 30 minute walk). Rain coming in sideways. I feel like –

sunshine

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Wellness in the Workplace

Now, while big corporate decides whether there’s enough ROI (return on investment) around creating a “corporate wellness” program at your office (read: you healthier in their work camp), organizations are adding things like energy-absorbing flooring and enhanced air and water filtration. That’s all well and good but you must take matters of health into your own hands and back to your cozy cubby.

offices1

Movement + Meditation = My Medication

When there is no time to work out in the morning I walk the five miles to and from work.

Walking at various speeds with intervals of stairs help me stay energized throughout the day and less guilty about not getting to the gym. Except when it rains really hard. Then I’m just like, what was I thinking?

That’s why I have invested in some serious commuter gear – I have provisions -umbrellas, rain coats, knapsacks, rain boots, you name it.

Love these rain boots and my  jacket below from Uniqlo

sperrySperry Top-Sider Women’s Pelican III Rainboot

UnknownTotes Signature SuperDome Auto Open/Close Umbrella, Black, One Size

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Learning on the Go

Podcasts I listen to at the gym and on my warrior walk to work.

  1. The Unmistakable Creative – brilliant interviews with super creative people.
  2. The Tim Ferriss Show – the #1 business podcast on iTunes right now
  3. School of Greatness with Lewis Howes – because he just wants to get better and better and so do I.

Or sometimes I simply walk and meditate. Huh? How do you do that? Well, you breathe and walk and just be aware of the fact that you are breathing and walking. Unless you are like me and want to Instagram every little stupid thing. Then you might want the guidance of a walking meditation app.

Movement meditation can be a very accessible way to restore the equilibrium of the mind.

desk

Workouts During the Work Day

Not as powerful as sweating it out for 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym, moving throughout the day gently keeps my body and head in check. Evidently, according to this Forbes contributor, there is something to this fidgeting.

Here’s what I am trying to do every day at work.

  • 10 Exercises to Do at Your Desk on Forbes.com here
  • A full glass of water (8oz) every two hours.
  • A healthy lunch – salad with protein.
  • Two 100 calorie snacks. Almonds or apples. (buy in bulk at Costco).
  • Always take the stairs and go outside every few hours.
  • 1 minute of breathing meditation at my desk on the hour.
  • A moment or two to laugh. Best of Jimmy (Fallon) here
  • Network – spend a little time connecting with others.

waterbottlemarkedwithtimeAre you shy? Want to make friends but feel a bit socially awkward?

Listen to this brilliant Tim Ferriss episode How to Build a World Class Network in Record Time.

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Pattern Interrupt, Pushing Through and Improving Your Workouts

russian-twist-exercise-illustration

Usually habits are really useful. When we are on “auto pilot”  our brains have become so efficient at doing something we can tune out our conscious minds, which can be helpful sometimes, like when brushing our teeth, but not when working out.

More about the upside of habits in this awesome book:The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Problem with Mindless Patterns

Habits and patterns can also be a real problem. We can eat mindlessly and therefore overeat. We can tune out important people and not actively listen. We can exercise without paying attention and not get the most out of our workouts.

Russian Twists

I’m focusing on a bit of mid-course correction while making sure I don’t become weary from unconscious behavioral patterns during my morning exercise routine. The minute boredom sets in, I am reminded to “pattern interrupt”. It keeps things fresh – and improves results. So I do something different – I step up my stride, moving faster; add 20 more squats with calf stretches and try new exercises, like today – the Russian Twist (see illustration above) for toner abs.

Chi Walking and Core Movement

I’ve also been practicing engaging my lower abs throughout the day, especially when walking, jogging, running and sprinting. It has taken my routine to the next level.

When you correct your posture, you will be able to tighten your abdomen while you are walking. Leading your stride from your pelvis or what some call “Chi Walking” teaches us how to redirect the workload of propulsion to our core muscles around the pelvis and lower trunk area.

Pushing Through

When you are working out  every single day, it is easy to find yourself in a state of apathy about the mundane routine. Four things that help me push through –

Focusing on my super hero strength.  Yes, that’s me, in my mind, when working out. Lara Croft. Beautiful and brainy, with a fearless quest criss-crossing the globe, in an amazing attempt to save the world. 

Lara_Croft_film

Break it down into small increments. 200 squats in a row my ass. I do 10 sets of 20 deep squats and jog in-between. Before I know it, I’ve completed 200 squats with a tighter tush.

Goblet_Squat

Feel your body and get to know the slow, soft burn. Get to know what small progress feels like in your muscles. Where there is energy, there is life and growth – Seneca. More philosophy and wisdom here: Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

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Don’t focus on the time. Cover the clock and speed up the pace, even if it is just a bit quicker.

What are your workout tips? 

Do you have tips to push through to the next level? Something awesome to help make workout routines more fun? I’d love to know what you recommend. Leave a comment below.

 

Sparking Joy and Spontaneous Fun

rsw_7977When your body is spinning towards a heart pounding, sweat streaming, muscle burning exertion rate of 9 out of 10 it’s really difficult to find room in the mind for limiting beliefs. All of the focus is on breathing, pushing and moving forward. There is a sense of freedom in this state of motion that has helped me get out of my head. I have found getting out from behind enemy lines, free from the worry and anxiety, to be the most empowering place to be.

Turning Pro

Getting to Spinning at Covert Fitness on a Saturday morning is trying enough, let alone getting my body to an exertion rate of 9.0. I’m always wondering, is this my 9? Should I push harder? Load up the resistance? So I tap it on. I tap it on because I want to believe I’m turning pro. Turning pro means doing what professional athletes do. Call me crazy, but I think that’s what it takes to get you where you want to be.

“When we’re living as amateurs, we’re running away from our calling — meaning our work, our destiny, the obligation to become our truest and highest selves. Addiction becomes a surrogate for our calling. We enact the addiction instead of embracing the calling. Why? Because to follow a calling requires work. It’s hard. It hurts. It demands entering the pain-zone of effort, risk, and exposure.”  Quote by Steven Pressfield

Wanna Go Pro?

Recommended reading
Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work

Sparking Joy & Spontaneous Fun

The idea of spontaneity, trying things on a whim, letting go – it all seems so foreign to my ambitious, list-making, task-master lifestyle. No more.

Starlight Pajama Sails

Last night we went sailing under the stars with friends in our pajamas. The intention was to unwind with a glass of wine and a one hour sail around the sound on a beautiful summer night.  Jib and main up and a nice breeze to move us along, we sliced through the water, jogging waves, by the beautiful star lit sky. We rowed in at midnight, rather tired as we crashed on the bed in our salt-water soaked bottoms. We were nine years old again, and it felt so right.

Karaoke Spinning

Karaoke singing during Spin class this morning felt the same way.  Our instructor had us belting out pop tunes through our most difficult climb. It felt ridiculous and it was fun as hell. I like ridiculous.

spotify:track:63dETSxIKCdUHGzlUyCjWb

Try a bit of letting go. Next time, do it in your pjs or take it outside – camping, workouts, cooking. Sing out loud while you scrub the kitchen floor.  All engines running. Super-charged. Switch it up. Have some fun.

Mount Climbers, Transhumanism and Being Bored to Genius

transhumanismNever one to get too comfortable with my routine, I’ve added mountain climbers (fat burning, toning and strength-training all-in-one) to my daily workout, which now includes – 60+ minutes of interval cardio with strong sprints, 100 bicycle sit ups, 30 push ups, 50 squats, 50 forward and 50 backward lunges, 25 side lunges and 30 mountain climbers. I am aiming for 100 of each daily.

Podcast Picks

Tim Ferriss and Srivanas Rao of The Unmistakable Creative both had interviews with artificial intelligence experts this week.  You can listen to a fascinating interview about the future of technology and the human race with Zoltan Istvan, the transhumanist running for U.S. president here.

What exactly is a “Transhumanist?”Transhumanism_h+_2.svg

Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Think bionic eyes and robotic hearts. Note: I am not a member of this tribe, I just find their stories of the future very intriguing.

One of my favorite Zoltan (his name even sounds transhuman) quotes from the interview –

“I do not let emotions be part of my decision making

process because it leads to dangerous things.”

Zoltan warns of the dangers of “going with your gut” when making big decisions. He claims that one should really consider the long term effect each decision may have. Emotions shouldn’t dictate every decision because they may lead to irrational choices – and you know what happens then.

I must remind myself that today I am a result of the decisions I made yesterday. Deciding to workout each day a year ago, has made me a healthier and happier person today.

The takeaway: Decisions are what get you where you want to go. Everything you are today is a direct result of a decision you made at one point in time.

Some should be made through the prism of reason.

In the meantime, back on the treadmill, I can make bigger decisions because I have Fitbit technology to track my workout habits and success.  Habits + technology help free up the brain. Not having to think about tracking my movements or what to eat for breakfast, leaves more brainpower for the bigger, creative ideas. Read more about the science behind being bored to genius.

Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband, Black, Large

fitbit

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Black

As you think, so shall you become. – Bruce Lee