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Surf Divas in La Jolla: Weekend Clinic

 

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This is me surfing a really dinky wave. Obviously the goal is not to impress you with my skills, which are limited, but instead to show you that trying an activity that seems far, far outside the realm of possible or wise can actually be low risk and a lot of fun.

Under the right circumstances.

If you want to try surfing but don’t know where to start beyond taking a group class along the coast, consider doing what my surf buddies and I are going to do in March: a women’s weekend clinic through Surf Divas in La Jolla. They’ll cover lessons, a wetsuit and board.

And no, I’m not getting paid for this announcement. A friend recommended the experience and I’m just now getting to it. That and it’s sometimes nice to have someone take you by the hand for the bigger tries in life.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Happy working out!

Fun Home Gym Equipment: 8 Items for Your Wish List

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30 Ways to Develop and Maintain a Weekly Fitness Regimen

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Besides losing weight, the most popular request I get from class participation and clients is how to develop and maintain a weekly workout regimen.

To set up a movement-oriented life for life, the first step is to understand what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Guidelines recommend for keeping your body healthy:

  • 5 30-min. moderate-intensity aerobic workouts (150 minutes) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week
  • 2 15-min. strength training sessions a week, each of which covers exercises for 5 major parts of the body (legs, arms, back, abdominals, chest)
  • spend less time sitting

The problem for most people, however, is deciding how to build and maintain that movement schedule for not just weeks, but years, despite busy lives.

Below is a list of the suggestions I’ve offered people over the years. Some can be accomplished in 30 seconds, while others can take longer to set up, but then help build the infrastructure of a long-lasting weekly workout regimen. Choose the ones you can do and set the others aside for possible future use.

If you have suggestions not mentioned below, please let me know and I’ll add those tips. You can’t have too many good ideas!

 

Fun

(1) Remember that the #1 goal of working out is to prepare you physically and mentally for all of the fun things you can do in life. Burning calories, relieving stress, enjoying the rush of endorphins and helping you sleep well are happy byproducts.

(2) Make a list of the fun things you’ve done in the past or would like to learn to do. Research opportunities to restart or begin those activities. If you swam on a team in high school, call the local swimming pool to learn the lap swimming times or if they’ve got a U.S. Masters Swimming program where you can meet other swimmers and do drills given by a coach. If you’ve always wanted to learn to swim, ask about classes that accommodate your age.

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(3) Consider vacations that have a movement-oriented focus. Go backpacking. Participate in a surf camp. Take a ballroom dancing cruise.

(4) Shift your attitude regarding workouts. Rather than go to the gym out of guilt or obligation — the necessary evil before you get to do anything fun — make movement-oriented activities the social centerpiece of your weekends. Go hiking with friends followed by lunch. Go with a friend to a trapeze arts class. Enter a local walk/run with co-workers. Volunteer to pick up trash at a beach.

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(5) Take classes to learn how to do an activity properly. Feeling uncomfortable and unsure about an activity is not only no fun, but it can get you injured, whereas getting the right instruction can keep you safe and give you confidence.

 

Planning

(6) Create a list of movement options for all types of situations: when you’re healthy; when you’re feeling tired; during normal work weeks; during busy work weeks; when traveling for fun; when traveling for business; when you’re recovering from an injury or illness.

(7) Put your workouts on a calendar. That will encourage commitment to the workout and formally set aside the time.

(8) If you’re a class person, make a list of those you like along with the times, days and locations.

(9) Have 5 movement options for every 1 that gets carried out. If someone schedules a last-minute meeting and you can’t make your morning yoga class, schedule a run at lunchtime. If that falls through, so swimming during the evening lap swimming time.

(10) For busy days, do three 10-min. workouts. You can climb stairs in the morning, walk at lunch, and do a 10-min. strength routine at night. Together they equal the 30 minutes of recommended movement for the day.

 

Equipment

(11) Purchase the right clothes and equipment for specific activities. You’ll feel more comfortable and will perform better. If you’re on a budget, you can often find great items at used clothing and equipment stores.

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(12) The night before your workout, set out the clothes and equipment you’ll need.

(13) Keep extra workout clothes in an easily accessible place, such as in your car or office.

(14) Purchase inexpensive strength and cardio equipment, such as a resistance tube, you can use at home, in the office or take in a suitcase.

(15) Whatever exercise tools you buy, keep them within sight so you’ll remember to use them. Keep a stability ball in your office so you can switch back and forth between sitting on that and sitting in your desk chair. Keep a small yoga ball in your change dish in your living room. Keep a resistance tube hooked on a coat hook so you can do bicep curls while watching TV, or a foam roller by the door so you can self-massage after a bike ride. When you take a break at work, or are thinking about a challenge you have to solve, you can use a hand strength gripper.

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Motivation

(16) Use only the technology that motivates you, rather than the reverse. If an exercise data tool like a Garmin watch can help keep track of your workouts and give you a new goal for your next outing, great! If a Peloton bike class stokes your competitive nature, great! Similarly, online classes can offer endless variety and can be viewed on phones or other small devices that offer easy use in most settings, whether hotel rooms, a corner of a busy gym or with friends in their home.

(17) Get a workout buddy, or two or three. Those you work with are obvious choices because you see them regularly and often have similar schedules.

(18) Go on a fitness field trip. Take up an invitation to go biking in a new location. Try a new class. Though often involving more set-up than usual, all tend to offer new experiences that can keep your workout life exciting.

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Traveling

(19) Since traveling presents challenges, and is often cited as the reason a workout habit gets broken, develop a workout plan for your various travel circumstances: when you’re traveling for fun to a variety of locations; when you’re visiting family; and when you’re traveling for work.

(20) Before you go out of town, research fitness options where you’ll be staying. Include location, hours, cost and any necessary clothing you might not otherwise bring. Maybe you’ll be able rent a bike one day, while the next day you could pay a drop-in fee for a local gym if you’re not staying at a hotel with such a facility.

(21) If you’re traveling with or visiting people, let them know you plan to workout and when. That will solidify your commitment, while alerting them to your need to stay healthy. Try to choose times that don’t impact any planned events for the day.

 

Be kind to yourself

(22) Change your mind when you feel the need. If you planned to go to a bootcamp class, but are too tired and instead attend a gentle yoga class, marvelous!

(23) Link your workout to something pleasant. Treat yourself to your favorite coffee/tea/juice after you leave the gym.

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(24) Use mirrors only to check specific aspects of your form. Otherwise mirrors can wrongly focus your attention on your appearance.

(25) Open yourself to friendships based on fun activities. Go to breakfast with fellow Jazzercise participants or accept an invitation to join a friend’s hiking group.

(26) Whenever you try something new, take it easy! Make sure you feel good during the activity so you’re sure to feel good after the workout, which will make it more likely you’ll return to the activity again.

(27) If you don’t like a certain type of workout, take it off your list.

(28) Avoid negative influences. Avoid disinterested instructors and friends who mean well, but discourage your participation because the workout is “too hard,” despite knowing you can take the activity at your own pace.

(29) Appreciate those working out with you and around you, rather than comparing yourself to them.

(29) Fully appreciate that you’re a good person and are trying hard to live a stronger, healthier, more fun life!

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Conclusion

You’ll know you’ve succeeded in creating and maintaining a robust weekly fitness regimen if you see that you’re:

  • moving regularly
  • really enjoying your activities while continuing to add more
  • roll from one week to the next without feeling like you’ve broken your fitness habit
  • see an improvement in your social life and general well-being

 

Happy working out!

 

How to say, “Yes!”

When talking recently with a friend about having a yes! philosophy to life, I said that coming up through journalism, I learned to automatically respond as such when opportunities arose, lest another reporter get the story. That often meant accepting a challenge I didn’t know anything about. Though harrowing at times, the habit became a lifelong practice that has since led to many adventures, including a backpacking trip where I met my husband.

After the conversation, however, I realized there are three specific things I do, and that you can, too, to turn more nays into yays!, especially when it comes to physical adventures.

 

Fun

If you hear about an opportunity and your reaction is, “That sounds so fun!”, that’s a challenge to contemplate in more depth. Remember that fun is not synonymous with easy. Instead, fun means what promises to prove interesting, challenging and push the boundaries of your normal life.

A case in point is when I received an email from the Richard Schmidt Surf School in Santa Cruz about 1-week surfing camps in Costa Rica in Jan./Feb. My instant response was, “That sounds like fun!”

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The naysaying part of my brain immediately lit up. What if I couldn’t handle the waves? What would it be like sharing a house with nine other participants? Should I really spend the money on such a luxury?

But because the yes! proved so strong, the possibility made that crucial shift from “I can’t,” to “I can.”

If you don’t have that immediate response, there’s a good chance something about the experience is not appropriate for you, whether skill level, location or social situation.

 

Confidence

Once you’re in the yes! column, the challenge is to use the time between now and the adventure to make the experience happen.  Just knowing you have the skill to figure things out, even if you know precious little at the moment, is a huge add to your life!

 

Organization

Making the experience happen is where the real work takes place. That includes finding out as much as you can about the setup, the reputation of the outfitter you’ll be dealing with and who else will be participating. Then comes arranging transportation, acquiring the right equipment and taking care of any other details, such as having the right currency and knowing any local customs.

And a word about cost. Some adventures may well be out of the contention for that reason. But I’ve managed a number of experiences cheaply by bartering services; borrowing equipment; and/or buddying up on hotel, transportation or other costs. While not always true, the saying where there’s a will, there’s a way is true often enough that trying pays off.

Secondly, if during your exploration you get strange vibes about the situation, whether due to safety concerns or questionable reviews or poor communication from the organizers, feel free to scrap the attempt. You can always look for a similar experience where you get all of the information necessary to make you feel safe.

 

Reassurance

The last part of saying yes! is to reassure yourself that even if the experience you attempt doesn’t go as planned, you’ll be okay. That means giving yourself an out for any given situation. Regarding my surfing trip, I told myself if I didn’t feel comfortable with the wave size, I’d find surf where I felt more comfortable.

Other outs include getting second options for hotels or finding other fun things to do in the area if the experience you’re participating in doesn’t pan out.

 

Conclusion

I would never have gone surfing in Costa Rica without the fantastic experience that Richard provides attendees. No way would I have known where to go surfing, much less where to stay. Nor would I have wanted to go alone! So saying yes!, then following up with the work necessary to make the experience happen, really paid off.

If you have a yes! experience to tell, let me know!

 

A New Year’s Resolution: Get Off of the Weekly Up-Down Weight Gain Rollercoaster

 

Holidays and weekends have the same thing in common: people enjoy both immenseley, yet despair at having eaten too much. And so goes the Weekly Up-Down Weight Gain Rollercoaster.

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Why We Ride the Rollercoaster

So many of us take that ride due to our put-your-nose-to-the-grindstone culture. By working so hard during the week, we often deprive ourselves of sleep, fun activities and proper nutrition. When the weekend rolls around, we’re exhausted and feel we deserve to lie around, eat and sleep.

If we were all heavy laborers, that pattern might be necessary to regain weight we during the week and will need to power through another rigorous week. But most of us have sedentary jobs that leave us mentally tired, but physically untaxed. Therefore, weekend lounging creates caloric overloads.

 

The Aftermath of the Wild Ride

The Weekend Wild Ride leads to Monday Weight Gain Blues:

  • We feel depressed about our lack of discipline, which casts a pall over what would otherwise have been a really fun weekend.
  • We feel driven to lose the weight over the next five days.
  • Whatever workouts we manage to fit in become “have to” tasks of drudgery that drain the fun from what would otherwise be enjoyable de-stressing breaks.
  • We feel obligated to work extra hard to burn more calories, which increases our chance of injury.
  • By gaining and losing weight on a weekly basis, we create a metabolic whiplash Uncertain of what nutrients our bodies will get and in what quantity, they alternately encourage us to overeat and then starve ourselves.

 

How to Get Off the Rollercoaster

Before the concept of weekends and holidays, people typically lived each day the same. They worked and rested as needed, and either ate when hungry or at set meal times, depending on the culture.

That makes a strong case for eating and resting as though weekends didn’t exist. According to that concept, all of us would more or less eat the same amount of food every day while including some sort of daily movement.

 

Most Common Obstacle: Treats

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A major reason we overeat on the weekends is because we’ve usually got more time to eat, and more often than during workdays, we choose items that fall into the category of treats, otherwise known as food we otherwise restrict.

Here are two easy means of overcoming the treat dilemma:

  1. Fit treats into your daily menu, which will boost your morale, make you feel satiated and decrease the likelihood you’ll overeat when offered treats on other occasions.
  2. If offered a delicious treat after you’ve already eaten your daily dose, take the offering home for the next day’s delight.

 

New Year’s Diets: Beware!

By now, the research is fairly clear: what you should eat and how much is dependent upon your particular body chemistry, body composition and activity level.

That means no general diet or nutrition plan will guarantee you success in maintaining or decreasing your weight.

A great solution is to create your own nutrition plan. Research a number of nutrition concepts that encourage eating normal food and healthy amounts, rather than relying on supplements. Then choose the aspects you like from each. The last step is to experiment with all of those different ideas and foods. Be patient! The effort will be worthwhile when you finally find the mix of foods and the style of eating that works best for your body. 

 

Final Reasons to Exit the Weekly Gain-Lose Fun House

Count down to the New Year!

  1. You’ll wake up on Monday mornings without a too-much-food hangover.

 

  1. You’ll have a smooth re-entry into the workweek.

 

  1. You won’t have to readjust/decrease your food intake.

 

  1. You won’t have to find more time for longer workouts.

 

  1. You won’t feel obligated to push yourself to un-fun limits during workouts.

 

  1. In short, you’ll feel great!

 

Happy working out in the New Year!

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Plan your holiday fitness now!

 

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The easiest way to make your holidays better is to workout daily. Doing so will decrease the stress of holiday planning and travel and of eating too much.

While those results are no secret, knowing how to plan ahead can be tricky. Fortunately there are many helpful online articles, including one by Cedric Bryant in U.S. News & World Report titled 8 Secrets to Staying Fit During the Holidays.

Here’s my list, some items of which are shared in the above article:

 

Plan one movement-oriented activity for every day

Make sure to put the activity on the calendar and your daily to-do list just as you would any other task. The activity can be as simple as walking to a favorite coffee shop with friends. When the activity is done, you’re happy from the endorphins circulating through your body, the fun you had with your friends and the satisfaction of checking the deed off of your list.

 

When you eat, enjoy yourself!

But remember that eating until you’re stuffed isn’t really all that enjoyable. The fullness is uncomfortable and the guilt of eating too much is never worthwhile. Therefore, consider eating only one plate of food at each meal, which means taking only normal portions of food. If anything looks too tasty to pass up, put some aside for yourself to enjoy at another meal. If you’re the host, that’ll be easy. If you’re a guest, hosts are only too happy to let you take food home. You’ll get to look forward to eating something delicious, you’ll save food from being thrown out and you won’t suffer any food guilt.

 

Plan active outings you’ve always wanted to try, but don’t normally have time for

One of the beautiful things about the holidays are those treasured vacation days that allow you to do activities that take more time.

I’d heard about kayaking at Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing for years until I remembered the recommendation while planning for my holiday fun. I made an online reservation through the nearby outfitting company then followed the instructions about what to bring. The day proved amazing! I’m happy to say I now know what a raft of otters looks like.

 

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Other ideas:

  • Take a trampoline class through a sports center like Sky High Sports.
  • Rent a bike through a company like Adventures by the Sea in Monterey and ride along the coast.
  • Go with friends to that pole dancing class you’ve always wanted to try. Someone recently recommended Entangle and Sway in San Francisco.
  • Plan a long hike to a beautiful location like Joshua Tree National Park that’s farther away than you can normally travel.

 

I’ll be offering a Turkey Burn Bootcamp at 9:30 a.m. on Fri., Nov. 23, at Bandley ($15 a person, 6 people minimum). If you’d like to join, email me at martha@engber.com by Tues., Nov. 20.

If you’re not a member of my gym, however, invite some friends over or recruit some family members and hold your own Turkey Burn!Thanksgiving13-Workout

 

 

Happy working out during the holidays!

 

 

New Adventures for 2018

While the term “New Year’s resolution” seems positive in tone, the slogan is negative to the core. The promise to do better in the future implies people have somehow been bad, as in lazy, weak, distracted, or all three.

Forget that!

Instead, make a list of new adventures you can look forward to in the coming year, even if they might make you a little nervous to try.

To get you started, I’d like to pass on the many excellent suggestions I received from people in the last year that you might make your new year fun and challenging.

 

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Mt. Umunham: a Yummy New Trail

This hike was great, thanks so much for the recommendation! Happy new year!

— From Natalie, a fellow fitness friend

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District just opened and excellent stretch of trail that leads to the top of Mt. Umunhum in Los Gatos, CA. At almost 3,500 feet elevation, the peak is one of the highest in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I recently hiked the shady trail from the Bald Mountain parking lot and would describe the 3.6 miles to the summit — over 7 miles roundtrip — suitable for beginning hikers on up through those with more experience. Besides a fantastic 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains, the summit has very nice bathroom and picnic facilities. The three parking lots along the route can get crowded, so consider hiking in the morning.

 

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Nuts and Bolts Nutrition for the New Year

If you’re tired of nutrition books that are full of do’s and don’t and that include a lot of confusing and seemingly contradictory studies about what’s good for you and what isn’t, try Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (Fifth Edition).

Despite the title, you don’t have to be an athlete to love the common sense advice this registered dietician offers to help every person make great choices for his/her unique body type, movement needs and lifestyle.

She advocates eating as much “real” — unprocessed — food as possible, while offering loads of easy strategies to get around common problems, such as eating nighttime snacks that lead to weight gain.

Here are just a few of the topics she covers:

  • vegetarian/vegan vs. omnivore
  • whether there’s value to “organic” foods and sports drinks
  • how to plan for food choices under a variety of circumstances, whether you’re on vacation, have a busy work week or when you’re training for a sports event
  • when and what to eat before, during and after exercise
  • how to lose weight in a healthy way
  • comparative lists of actual food and drink brands and their nutritional value
  • why muscle cramps during exercise

 

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Private Class Anywhere, Any Time

Workout apps are more motivating and effective than ever.

If you’re often strapped for time, or have to work out in small spaces such as hotel rooms or your living room, consider trying an app like Aaptiv, an audio program. Launch the app; choose a class (outdoor running, strength training, yoga, treadmill, elliptical, spin bike); put in your earbuds; and listen as a trainer guides you through a workout.

If you’re not sure how to go about strength training, consider using Fitbod, a recommendation from Linda, yet another fellow fitness friend. Besides offering workouts statistics, such as calories burned, the various formats focus on strength, muscle tone, bodybuilding, and olympic and powerlifting.

Now that she’s more experienced, Linda said she’s moved on to HeavySet, a workout tracker and log for bodybuilding and strength training.

Lastly, she’s also found Seconds Pro to be a first-rate interval timer for HIIT, Tabata and circuit training.

While checking out a variety of apps, I came upon an article titled There’s an App for That:  Fitness Apps and Behavior Change Theory that’s worth a read.

 

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Aspens in mountain along trail outside of Flagstaff, AZ

Wheel Away from Work!

In a previous blog post (Discovery: The Difference Between a Fitness Workout and Fitness Adventure) I explained how I took a mountain biking clinic last summer to improve my skills for a 4-day mountain biking trip in September in Arizona. I’m happy to say the effort paid off in spades. I not only enjoyed myself tremendously while riding through gorgeous terrain in the company of great people, but I remained injury-free, and best of all, had a terrific adventure. I even made it through a 40-mile day, which I wouldn’t do again, but am happy to have survived.

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I’d recommend the outfitter, AZT Expeditions. Our guide  took us to the trailhead, then set up camp — chairs, an outdoor kitchen, fire prep, etc. — when we arrived after a day of riding. While we were responsible for brining our own camping gear and food, our group organized well so that kitchen duty and daily camp pack-up went smoothly.

Now our group is considering a trip next year to Durango, CO. Woohoo!

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Whatever you do in the coming year, be sure to keep those recommendations streaming my way!

Happy working out!