Tag Archives: Weightlifting

How to Find Your Lost Motivation to Exercise

Last month I came down with a summer cold.

(As an aside, don’t you wish we could all look as healthy as stock photo models do when they’re acting sick? Most of the reason why I’m sharing this particular photo with you is because of how much it amuses me).

My illness was minor even for a cold, but as I was recovering I noticed that my motivation to exercise was not returning like it normally does after I get sick.

I’d stopped blowing my nose and my cough was quickly fading away. Yet I still didn’t have the urge to even do something as simple as take a walk around the block to get back into the swing of things.

If this is something that happens to you as well, keep these tips and tricks in mind the next time your fitness routine is interrupted or you really don’t want to do your usual workout today.

Commit to Five Minutes

I thought this idea was ridiculous the first time I heard it, but it does work. Promise yourself that you only need to move your body for five minutes. If you’re still feeling apathetic or unmotivated at the end of that time span, stop and go do something else with your time without any guilt.

It’s been my experience that this usually doesn’t happen, though. Five minutes is just enough time to begin to enjoy whatever activity you normally do during a workout. Most of the time when I make this bet with myself, I end up doing my full workout anyways. Getting started was by far the most challenging part of the whole routine.

Remember Why You Started Exercising

You might have wanted to grow stronger, gain energy, become more flexible, improve your health, or lose weight. On a more personal level, I love the warm, happy feeling I get from all of the endorphins my body releases after a long, brisk walk. That one factor alone is responsible for at least half of the walks I go on. It feels so wonderful.

Everyone’s reasons for exercising is different, of course, so I can’t possibly list all of them in today’s post. Hopefully the list above gave you a good starting spot if I didn’t mention your favourite ones.

Sometimes it’s an excellent idea to revisit your reasons for exercising and think about how at least attempting to get through today’s workout will help you reach those goals.

Try Something New

Occasionally I lose my interest in working out because I’ve been doing the same thing for too long. A few years ago, I included free dance videos on Youtube in my workout routine. They worked beautifully for about a year, and then my interests shifted to include more weightlifting in my schedule instead.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll never try another dance video again. Dancing is something I’d like to return to one day, although I don’t have any plans to do so at the moment.

Yoga was another activity I tried earlier this year in an attempt to broaden my interests. It turned out to be something that I wasn’t as interested in as I originally thought, but I’m glad that I gave it a try and I am keeping it in mind for the future. I may very well find it better suited for my needs in a year or two.

Make a Smaller Goal

To be completely honest with you, my goal for the first two or three days after my cold faded away was to take walks. I didn’t worry about anything other than walking for about thirty minutes a day, and most of those sessions were broke into smaller segments.

Getting back into a lighter version of my usual routine was the key to returning to the way I normally live. I’m now back to lifting weights regularly, too, and I’m enjoying it as much as I normally do.

Track Your Progress

One of the biggest reasons why I love my smartwatch so much is that it keeps track of all kinds of exercise statistics for me. I get notifications when I reach specific goals and badges if I make enough of them throughout the week.

If you’re motivated by small rewards like these and don’t want to track your own statistics, definitely consider going digital.

With that being said, tracking can be done in many different ways. You could take notes about how many workouts you completed, miles you ran, or pounds you lifted in a Word/Pages document or with an old-fashioned pen and sheet of paper instead.

When Is It Time to Move Up to a Heavier Set of Weights?

I’ve been asking myself this question over the past week or two. Since I work out at home instead of going to the gym, I try to be very mindful of what equipment I buy and when I buy it. My tiny apartment can only store so many items at once!

The last set of weights I bought also turned out to be a little too heavy for me at first. I ended up switching between them and my previous set of weights for a week or two depending on which part of my body I was using and how my form was looking.

It’s been my hope that I’ll be able to avoid this next time by spending extra time with my current equipment as I wait to grow slightly stronger.

There are a few different signs I look for when I’m deciding when to move up to a heavier set of weights versus when I should stick with my current set of weights and focus on adjusting my form for the time being.

Let’s go through them one by one.

Sign #1: My Workouts Are Getting too Easy These Days.

While there are still a couple of moves in my routine that I find a little challenging, most of them are fairly easy these days.

I’m not breaking a sweat as quickly as I was when I first moved up to this set of weights. I’m also not needing or wanting to take the breaks I sometimes incorporated into the workout the last time I did it with a heavier set of weights.

My endurance has definitely increased since then, so I would agree that my workouts have become too easy.

Sign #2: It’s Been a While Since I Felt Sore the Day After a Workout.

No, I don’t believe this is the only or the best indication of a good routine, but it can be one sign that you’re pushing your body enough to become stronger without risking injury.

This might sound odd, but I actually like the feeling you get the day after a tough, new workout. Even if your muscles aren’t necessarily suffering from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), you can often feel them contracting and relaxing in ways that might not have felt so obvious last week or last month. Certain movements remind you that you need to use your arms, abs, or legs for them even if you’re not generally consciously aware of that fact.

If you do have DOMS, some of those movements are slightly uncomfortable or harder to perform than normal. If you’re not, you still often pay attention to your body in ways that are easy to miss on an ordinary day.

It has been a while since I felt this way after lifting weights. I hope my next adjustment is easier, but I’m also curious to see what will happen this time  when I move up to heavier weights. Does a body eventually get so used to lifting progressively heavier stuff that it no longer feels as sore when it’s asked to do something slightly harder than it was doing last week?

Sign #3: When I Finish a Routine, I Still Have Plenty of Energy Left Over

This is by far the biggest sign that I need to move up to a heavier set of weights. It’s one thing to have a little bit of strength left after a workout, but I’m at the point now where I’m not feeling all that challenged. I could easily do some more reps with the weights or add in more pushups if I’m doing bodyweight exercises that day.

Based on my answers to these three points, it definitely seems to be time to get some new equipment.

How about you? What other signs do you look for when you’re decide if it’s time to use heavier weights?

5 Fitness Rules You Should Break

One of the most interesting things about fitness culture is how many different rules there are about what you are and are not supposed to do in order to get healthier. I’ve learned so much about the art of staying fit by listening to what other ordinary people find helpful.

There is a lot of fantastic information out there about what you should be doing, but today I wanted to talk about fitness rules that should be broken instead of being followed.

No Pain, No Gain

Of course there are times when I’m a little sore during or after a workout, but I genuinely enjoy the time I spend exercising overall. It feels good to get my blood pumping as I learn a new move or break a new record. Achieving small goals like that are what keep me motivated as I push through tough or new workouts.

If whatever I’m doing starts to genuinely hurt, though, I take it as a sign that I shouldn’t be doing that particular activity for now. Often it’s okay again if I ease back on how quickly I’m doing it or if I move to a lighter set of weights. Over the longterm, I can almost always work up to whatever it was that was too hard to do the first time I tried it.

There’s a difference between pushing yourself to run a little faster or lift harder this time and risking an injury by ignoring your pain.

If it isn’t fun on at least some level, don’t do it.

Work Out No Matter What the Weather Is Like 

Here in Toronto we occasionally get warnings about smog, snowstorms, fog, sleet, snow, heat waves, or cold snaps. As much as I like exercising outdoors, these days are not safe and healthy ones to do anything active outdoors. This is even more true for people with pre-existing health conditions like asthma.

Other areas of the world have different warnings. I have relatives whose lives are occasionally put on hold by haboobs (dust storms). When I say their lives are put on hold, I mean that they have to stop whatever they’re doing, find shelter, and wait for the storm to pass. One time one of them even got stuck on the side of the road for a little while because all of that dust would have badly damaged the engine of their car if they had kept driving through it.

There are times when it can be downright dangerous to go for a jog or do other strenuous activities if the weather in your community is really bad. I have a full repertoire of workouts that can be done in my apartment or other places indoors when the weather isn’t cooperative. If it’s extremely smoggy or humid, I might not exercise at all that day depending on what the air conditioning situation is like and how my lungs are feeling.

Missing one workout isn’t going to make a big difference in the scheme of things. Safety always has to come first.

Make It a Competition

Some people thrive on competition, but I find that kind of motivation to be demoralizing instead of encouraging. I really don’t enjoy pitting people against each other. This is especially true when it comes to something as individualized as how or when you work out.

Part of the reason why I dislike making exercise competitive is that I have a few friends who are living with various illnesses and disabilities that restrict how much energy and strength they have. They are simply not physically capable of doing a lot of things that I can do without a second thought. There are other people I know who are in much better shape than I am. In all of these cases, the competition wouldn’t be a fair one because we’d be coming from such different starting points.

Even when we’re more or less evenly matched in strength and overall fitness, some of my other friends  participate in types of exercise that are so different from what I do that it’s almost impossible to compare them. For example, how on earth would you compare swimming to jogging? What about tai chi to a team sport like volleyball? There’s no easy way to weigh things like these, especially when you factor in the different fitness levels and physical abilities of everyone involved.

The final problem I have with it is that I believe exercise should be fun for everyone. As someone who isn’t competitive, having only one winner at the end of it makes me not want to play at all.

Why not focus on having a great time instead?

It’s cool if other people want to compete with each other to stay motivated, but I’d much rather encourage everyone at whatever it is they enjoy doing and not worry about who “won” in the end. If you’ve found a sustainable way to stay active, you’re a winner in my book!

All You Need Is One Routine

Confession: I was guilty of this one myself when I first started working out. I stuck with the same cardio and light hand weight routine for a long time and was a bit hesitant to try anything new because of how much I liked what I was currently doing.

All of that exercise was still very good for me, but I didn’t realize how much more I was capable of until I started branching out. Dancing and bodyweight videos on Youtube made my muscles ache in ways they hadn’t ached since I first started working out. It was also much more mentally stimulating than doing the same routine day after day. I had to learn how to move my body in new ways and try stuff I’d never considered doing before.

This has become even more true as I explore what yoga routines work best for me. Once again, I’ve been thrown into an entirely new way of working out that’s challenging and exciting.

Food Is Nothing But Fuel

Yes, having a healthy diet is important. One of the things that alarms me about certain parts of fitness culture, though, is how they focus on the physical effects of food so much that they sometimes forget the other meanings it can have.

Sharing food is a sign of love and friendship in many cultures. Some of the best memories of my childhood involved spending time with my extended family as they cooked a big meal. My grandmother has a huge dining room table that gets filled up with family members at the holidays and on other special occasions.

Anywhere between some and most of the food served there would come from my grandparents’ farm depending on what time of year it was and what we’re eating.

There are a lot of fresh vegetables from the garden in the summer, but in the winter we eat more bread and meat instead.

While I wouldn’t recommend doing this every day, eating a specific treat can also be emotionally satisfying. For example, my mom and I used to drive to a nearby city to buy dairy-free chocolate bars when I was a teenager. We lived in a small, rural town at the time that had almost nothing in the way of specialty foods for people with dietary restrictions, so these trips were a wonderful glimpse into how people in more populated areas lived.

Once or twice a year, I’ll buy a couple of bars of dairy-free chocolate and think happy thoughts about that part of my childhood. Those extra calories are easily burned away over the next few months until I treat myself again.

How about you? What fitness rules do you think should be broken? Come over and tell me about it on Twitter today!

Exercise Makes Me So Hungry

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. I don’t mind writing a long post when the topic requires it, but I also think there’s something to be said for conserving your words if fewer will do just as well.

My exercise routine was interrupted a few times over the winter due to an injury and a couple of mild illnesses. Now that I’m back into the swing of things, though, I’ve noticed that I’m much hungrier than normal these past few weeks.

Drinking extra almond milk, water, and tea has helped this somewhat. Sometimes thirst can masquerade as hunger, especially now that we’re in a time of year when the temperatures are slowly beginning to rise above freezing again. I know have to remind myself to drink more fluids once it gets warmer outside until I’m back into that habit again. It’s an easy thing to forget when the weather is cold and you’re not losing a lot of extra fluids through perspiration every day.

The portions of food that filled me up when I temporarily needed to stop lifting weights and taking long walks aren’t enough for me now. Even the amount of oatmeal I eat for breakfast has needed to increase to keep me full until lunch. (That makes me giggle for some reason. I’ve never thought of oatmeal as something that wasn’t completely filling, but now that I’m eating a bigger bowl of it I’m feeling full after breakfast once again).

I didn’t have a huge appetite before I started exercising regularly a few years ago. In fact, I’ve always been known for having eyes that are bigger than my stomach. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve ordered a meal at a restaurant or made a plate of food that I soon realized I couldn’t possibly finish in one setting!

To be honest, I’d half-forgotten how hungry I felt when I first began a regular exercise routine. It was a little surprising to start needing more food again until I remembered that this has happened before.

I’ve started adding food like:

  • Hardboiled eggs
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Radishes
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • And occasionally homemade blueberry muffins

as snacks or in addition to my regular meals.

It’s going to take some time to get used to my bigger appetite again, though. It amazes me to see how quickly I can polish off a dinner plate full of sliced fruit and vegetables as an afternoon snack and still be ready for supper a few hours later.

Does this mean that I’ll be able to eat an entire portion of restaurant food the next time I go out to dinner? Anything is possible, although I’m still going to be prepared to ask for a doggy bag for the leftovers unless I’m very hungry that day. Haha!

If you’re around on Twitter today, come over and tell me about your experiences with exercise and suddenly wanting to eat all of the food in the entire world. 😉 I’d also be curious to know what other changes in your life you’ve noticed after exercising more frequently or more intensely.

What Will Exercise Routines Be Like in a Hundred Years?

A new fitness fad comes along every decade or so. There were gentle stretching exercises for ladies in the 1910s, twist dances in the 1950s, aerobics videos in the 1980s, and Zumba classes in the 2010s. (If you haven’t seen it already, this video shows 100 years of fitness in 100 seconds).

A hundred years ago, exercise was built into everyone’s day. The vast majority of people didn’t own cars or many other modern conveniences back then. They walked or rode a horse into town, chopped wood, scrubbed their clothing by hand, planted, weeded, and then harvested their crops, preserved food, repaired their wagons and tools, carried buckets of water to the plants and animals under their care, and did many other physically demanding chores from morning until evening.

The First Half of My Prediction

As fossil fuels become far more rare and expensive, humans will start adding some of these activities back into their daily lives in order to save money. Walking a couple of miles to a nearby destination only costs as much extra food as it will take to fill your stomach once you need to eat again. While this has already been a common thing here in Toronto for many years, I see it becoming much more socially acceptable to walk to all kinds of places in suburban and rural communities, too, in the coming years.

Eventually the price of driving to all of those locations is going to be too high to do anything else on a regular basis. As grocery store costs rise, I wouldn’t be surprised if it also became more common for people who own a patch of unused land to start growing and preserving some of their own food again as well.

Exercise will no longer be about purposefully lifting weights or setting aside half an hour a day to break a sweat. People will naturally need to do these things during their daily routine in order to save money or maybe even to survive in general. This is going to change everything from what folks do for fun to how far away from their jobs or schools they’ll be willing to live.

I wouldn’t be surprised if tele-commuting became almost universally available for students and workers alike, especially for those who aren’t able to live closer to town for any number of reasons. Why physically go into school or the office if you can get all of the same information online while saving valuable money and time on the commute?

The Second Half of My Prediction

The other thing I see happening with exercise in the future is it becoming much more technologically-aware. We have just entered the age of digital fitness trackers, and I only see them becoming more important in the future for many different reasons.

Imagine students who are enrolled in online schools getting credit for gym class while they’re digging potatoes out of the garden or wiping off the solar panels next to their house. Some kids would respond much better to this than they would to playing the kinds of team sports that are generally shown as examples of staying active. I know that I would have been much more interested in gym class had I been shown a wider range of ways to stay fit and then been allowed to pick a few that interested me the most. There’s nothing wrong with liking football or basketball, but there are so many other forms of exercise out there!

Think about how much information your family doctor could get about your health if he or she was able to see an average of how many minutes of exercise you’ve gotten per day for the last year as well. Maybe he or she could also see your blood sugar levels, blood pressure numbers, and resting and active heart rates, too. I’ve known people whose blood pressure rises dramatically whenever they have it checked at the doctor’s office because they get so anxious around people in the medical profession. These sorts of changes to the way health data is collected could give doctors a much more accurate picture of how their patients are really doing.

Insurance companies could give discounts to people who agreed to share their activity levels or who showed a steady increase in the number of minutes of exercise they did every week as well. While I would never agree with forcing people to share this kind of information in order to qualify for insurance coverage, it could be a nice incentive for folks who want to save a little cash and begin some healthier habits at the same time.

Will some of these predictions come true far sooner than 2117? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did, to be honest. It will be interesting to see how technology and exercise continue to develop over the next few decades. Only time will tell if I’m right about some, all, or none of the societal changes I think are on their way.

Rest Days Aren’t Optional

It’s been a few weeks since I blogged about fitness. I stuck to my exercise routine pretty well during the holidays. (My diet, though, definitely had more treats included it than normal). On a recent rest day, I thought about an experiment I did last summer that turned out to be a bad idea. The Experiment  You see,… Read More

Exercise Gear Shouldn’t Be Gendered

Today I wanted to talk about something that annoys me a little bit every time I go shopping for new exercise equipment. In every store I’ve browsed in so far, there’s been a pastel section for women and a black or grey section somewhere else for men. I haven’t noticed a huge difference in quality between the two sections, although the equipment… Read More