Category Archives: Fitness

Ghosts of Fitness Past: Things That Have Thrown Me Off Course and How I Dealt With Them

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the reasons people give for not being interested in work out. It wasn’t that many years ago that I was one of them!

Here are a few things that used to be barriers for me when it came to getting healthier and stronger.

Feeling Disconnected from Fitness Culture

How I Dealt With It: I stopped trying to connect with it.

I’m tentatively hoping to write a couple of posts about my impressions of fitness culture in general later on this spring, but for now I’ll say that this is a complicated topic that I have a lot of thoughts about. There is absolutely nothing wrong with structuring your life around becoming as fit as possible…but that sort of strict attention to detail doesn’t work for me personally.

Yes, I eat a healthy diet and have found several forms of exercise that I love. These are interests I deeply enjoy discussing with people who share them. There are so many different workout routines and diets out there that I always enjoy discovering what has and hasn’t worked for other people.

With that being said, I do not want to filter every morsel of food I eat or every other decision I make through this lens. This technique seems to  work beautifully for some fitness enthusiasts, but I’m the sort of person who needs to have those occasional breaks – and I’m not only talking about food here – in order to stay interested in following my diet and exercise plan the rest of the time.

Hating Exercise

How I Dealt With It: I drilled down to what it was exactly about working out that made me dread the thought of it and chose alternative forms of exercise.

To make a long story short, it turns out that competition is my kryptonite, I do not enjoy running at all, and I’ve never met a team sport that I found enjoyable.

Kudos to those of you who like them. They’re simply not stuff that appeals to me personally.

Since at least one of those three things were present in the vast majority of the workouts I did in gym class, it took a long time for me to tease them away from my thoughts on exercising in general.

Once I realized that I enjoy dancing, lifting weights, and brisk walking, it became a lot easier to fit those things into my regular routine. I’m always open to trying other forms of exercise, too, now that I know that my dislike of this activity isn’t universal.

Not Wanting to Start

How I Dealt With It: I agreed to do some sort of physical movement for five minutes before re-evaluating how I’m feeling that day.

This isn’t a mind trick, either.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, there have been times when I stopped after five minutes of exercise and decided to take the rest of that day off even if I wasn’t injured, sick, or in pain.

By skipping that one session every once in a great while, I maintain the motivation to continue working out the other 99% of the time. This seems like a fantastic trade-off to me.

Perfectionism is a trap.

Five minutes of exercise is better than zero minutes.

Not only that, but I’ve found that the hardest part of any workout is actually getting it started. If you can convince yourself to start the routine, it often feels much easier to finish it than to stop partway through.

Feeling Frustrated with My Progress

How I Dealt With It: I set goals and made observations about things that had nothing to do with the numbers on a scale, measuring tape, or body fat percentage.

This isn’t to say those numbers are unhelpful, but they’re far from the whole picture when you’re trying to figure out if your fitness program accomplishing its goals.

One of the first changes I noticed when I began exercising regularly again about five years ago was how much more energy I had.

Suddenly, I was sleeping better and not feeling so drowsy in the afternoon.

That wasn’t something I’d anticipated at all when I first began working out, so taking note of it was a sign that I was moving in the right direction.

A reduction in the amount of anxiety I was feeling was the next helpful sign. This happened weeks before the numbers on the scale nudged down enough for me to realize it wasn’t a fluke and I was slowly losing weight.

What are your ghosts of fitness past?

4 Things I Miss About My Old Workout Routines

I have a slightly embarrassing story to share with all of you today. About two weeks ago, I was walking around barefoot in my house and accidentally smashed my little toe into one of my hand weights that was lying on the floor.

(Pro-tip: this is not an amusing way to pass your time. I’d give it zero stars of out five and would not recommend this activity to anyone under any circumstances. Ha! )

That foot – and especially that poor little toe of mine – have been sore for the past two weeks, and I’ve been advised by my family doctor to give them plenty of rest and protection while they heal.

While my pain levels, ability to walk, and range of motion have continued to improve a little bit every day, I obviously have not been able to do my usual workouts for the past two weeks.

I’m at the point now in my recovery where I need very few doses of pain medication and am starting to feel eager to return to my old routines. My foot is not yet ready for all of that activity, so I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to the things I miss the most about the active lifestyle I had before this accident.

Feeling the Endorphin Rush

Brisk walks were something I enjoyed years before I became interested in other types of fitness. I didn’t have a name for the feeling they gave me for a long time, but eventually I learned about the endorphin rush that can happen after cardiovascular exercise.

For those of you who have never felt it, it’s like a wave of happiness that envelops your whole body. I personally love giving and receiving hugs, so sometimes I compare it to feeling a big, warm bearhug from someone you really care about. It’s going to be wonderful when I can move fast enough to feel this rush again.

Walking as a Form of Transportation

One of the best parts of living in Toronto is how accessible everything is, especially  if you live in a dense, urban part of the city. When I’m not injured, I can get all of my errands finished without ever needing to use a car or even public transportation for the vast majority of the year. There are multiple grocery stores, post offices, pharmacies, clinics, other medical offices, and speciality stores within walking distance of my home.

I was so used to walking everywhere without a second thought that it came as a surprise to me to see how much further away everything seems when you have an injured foot. Suddenly, I had to think about how heavy the bags would be if I went shopping for groceries or other necessities, how long the journey there and back would be, and how many staircases or slippery patches on the sidewalk I might need to account for.

It’s going to be nice to return to that level of activity once my foot is up for longer journeys and heavier loads of purchased goods again. In the meantime, I’m figuring out how much time I can spend walking and how much stuff I can carry without vexing my foot.

Accomplishing My Daily Fitness Goals

Before my injury, I’d get about an hour of brisk walking in on the average day. Most of it would happen in 10 or 15 minutes increments as I accomplished other goals like running errands or watching television shows, and it would add up to about 12,000 steps a day in total. I lifted weights and did bodyweight exercises regularly, too, but I didn’t count those sessions as part of the one hour goal.

Walking that much or that quickly isn’t something I’m currently able to do, and in the beginning my foot was so sore to even the most gentle touch that I didn’t worry about weightlifting either. All I wanted was to no longer be in pain.

I miss meeting my fitness goals consistently, and I think I might be ready to start doing upper body workouts again as long as I remain seated for them.

Feeling Perspiration

Yes, I’ll admit that this might be an unusual thing to miss. I used to strongly dislike the feeling of perspiration running down my back when I was a kid and had to go straight from gym class to sitting quietly and taking notes for english or history.

There’s a difference between feeling sweat slowly dry on your body in a classroom hours before the final bell of the day rings and being able to go straight to the shower after a workout, though. Now that I can wash up and change clothes instead of feeling vaguely crusty and stinky all day, I like seeing how far I can push my body safely when I exercise.

The perspiration is proof that I’ve worked hard and will have slightly more strength and endurance in the future. I might not notice a change between this session and the next one, but I know that will change if I stick to the habits I’ve created and remind myself of  what I used to find challenging six months or a year from now.

Here’s hoping I’ll be able to get back to my old habits soon!

Have you ever had a similar injury to mine? When was the last time you were too sick or injured to do your normal workout? I’d love to hear your stories.

 

 

My Review of Fitness Blender’s Toned, Lean Arms Workout

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this post is in no way intended to give out medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before beginning this or any other type of workout routine. 

In addition, I’m not receiving any kind of compensation for this post, I’m not affiliated with anyone at Fitness Blender, and there is never affiliate marketing of any sort on my site in general. I’m reviewing this workout simply because I loved it and think some of you might, too.

About the Toned, Lean Arm Workout

This is a 20-minute upper body workout that exercises your rhomboids, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and chest. There is no warmup or cool down included in it, so be sure to get those routines in before and after completing it. 

I’m brand new to this routine, and I find it challenging. Unless your upper body strength is much more developed than mine, I wouldn’t recommend it to beginners. 

You will need a pair of hand weights for this workout. A yoga mat is helpful, too, although it is not strictly necessary. 

Fitness Blender’s Toned, Lean Arms Workout

My Review

I’ve been having such a great time sharing my thoughts on various workouts with you over the past nine months. While I do plan on writing further instalments in this series as I try new videos, it will probably be a while before I update it again. The Brutal Butt & Thigh, Ab Blasting, and Toned, Lean Arm workouts are part of my current routine, and I don’t see that changing in the near future. 

What I enjoy the most about the Toned, Lean Arm workout is the diversity of moves in it. My weightlifting sessions didn’t happen as regularly as usual over the past few months for various reasons, so I have lost a bit of my former strength. 

While this does make this routine more challenging, the fact that it includes easier moves between the more difficult ones keeps me motivated. I probably would have moved back to a different, lighter workout if not for this fact. 

This is something I’d recommend using a lighter set of weights for than you would normally choose. I scale back to the lightest set of weights I currently own (at 7 pounds each…maybe I should buy smaller ones for this routine?), and I still have trouble doing some of the moves because of how many different muscle groups they work at once. It does give me the motivation to keep plugging away at it, though! 

There were some nice modifications offered for a few of the moves. For example, Kelly (the instructor and demonstrator) recommended doing standing pushups against a wall if you weren’t yet strong enough to do a traditional one on the floor. I appreciated that, and I would have liked to see more of those alternatives offered for other sections of the workout. Fitness Blender has done this more often in the past than they did in this particular video. It’s one of the reasons why I generally recommend them so highly. Hopefully, they’ll go back to their old patterns in the future. 

In general, this is something I’d recommend. I was pretty pleased with the way it was set up and how much effort I had to put into keeping up with the pace of it. 

Every time I review a Fitness Blender video, I comment on the lack of music in them and how much I appreciate that. The only thing I will say on that topic this time is that I’m once again pleased to see such a distraction-free routine. 

Previous Reviews of Free Youtube Workout Routines:

The Challenging Chair Workout 

Bipasha Basu’s 30-Minute Aerobic Dance Workout

Fitness Blender’s Brutal Butt & Thigh Workout

Fitness Blender’s Ab Blasting Interval Workout

 

My Review of Fitness Blender’s Ab Blasting Interval Workout

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this post is in no way intended to give out medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before beginning this or any other type of workout routine. 

In addition, I’m not receiving any kind of compensation for this post, I’m not affiliated with anyone at Fitness Blender, and there is never affiliate marketing of any sort on my site in general. I’m reviewing this workout simply because I loved it and think some of you might, too.

About the Ab-Blasting Interval Workout

This is a 24-minute bodyweight workout that does not include a warmup or cool down. It can be broken down into three groups, each of which includes four different exercises that are repeated once. Each exercise is done for 45 seconds, and there is a 10 second rest period between exercises.

I’m still pretty new to this routine, so it’s nice to have natural stopping point at various points throughout it if necessary.

The only equipment required for this video is a yoga mat.

It’s hard to know what fitness level it was intended for. I wouldn’t recommend it to an absolute beginner, but you might want to check it out after you’ve been doing ab exercises for a while and want to try something new. It’s neither the easiest nor the more difficult workout I’ve ever done.

Ab Blasting Interval Workout

My Review

If you’d like to know what workout is currently keeping me on my toes, you’re in the right place. I recently moved up to this routine after growing strong enough to stop using the previous ab video I’d been following. (I’ll write a review for that routine in the near future!)

As I’ve mentioned when reviewing the Brutal Butt & Thigh Workout, I love the fact that the owners of this channel don’t have any background music in their videos. It makes it so much easier for me to concentrate on the moves I’m supposed to be copying. I hope they never change that.

The variety of exercises in this routine is nice, too. I find some of them  challenging, so it’s helpful to switch things up so often as I work on improving my flexibility and strength.

As usual, the hosts gave suggestions of alternate moves for viewers who don’t have the strength or flexibility to do the same exercises that are recommended for the audience. This is something I really like about these videos in general, and it’s a big part of the reason why I use them so often.

Since there wasn’t a warmup or cool down included in this workout, I also like the fact that not every exercise is intended to be equally difficult. Some of them are clearly meant to focus on our flexibility and range of motion, and I find those portions a bit of a relief after the tougher moves.

I also appreciate the calm demeanours of the couple who runs this site. No matter what they’re encouraging their audience to do, they always explain it in a soothing tone of voice. I am not the kind of person who find being yelled at motivating in any way, so it’s nice to find exercise enthusiasts who take a more mellow approach to the topic.

Honestly, there isn’t anything I’d change about this routine. Everything about it was well done, and I’m planning to continue using this video for quite a while yet. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Previous Reviews of Free Youtube Workout Routines:

The Challenging Chair Workout 

Bipasha Basu’s 30-Minute Aerobic Dance Workout

Fitness Blender’s Brutal Butt & Thigh Workout

My Review of Fitness Blender’s Brutal Butt & Thigh Workout

From the Brutal Butt and Thigh Workout


Disclaimer: 
I am not a doctor, and this post is in no way intended to give out medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before beginning this or any other type of workout routine. 

In addition, I’m not receiving any kind of compensation for this post, I’m not affiliated with anyone at Fitness Blender, and there is never affiliate marketing of any sort on my site in general. I’m reviewing this workout simply because I loved it and think some of you might, too.

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a workout video here. it’s time to change that.

Fitness Blender creates the videos I use for the vast majority for my weightlifting workouts. Kelli and Daniel are the couple who created and own this brand.  Their Youtube channel and website offer free workouts for every fitness level.

About the 30 Minute Brutal Butt & Thigh Workout

This workout consists of 5 groups of 2 different exercises. There are ten repetitions of each exercise before you move onto the next one, and all of the exercises are done in the AB/AB format. For example, Kelli’s movements looked like this in the first section:

  • Traditional Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Traditional Squats
  • Deadlifts

Between each muscle-building exercise, she spent 20 seconds jogging in place.

This is a good routine for more experienced weight lifters. I would not recommend it to beginners due to the intensity of the moves.

All of the videos from Fitness Blender that I use require a minimal amount of equipment. For this particular one, you’ll need a barbell or dumbbell. If you happen to own a yoga mat, that extra cushioning can be useful for the cardio portions of this routine. It’s not strictly necessary, however.

The last five minutes of this video are dedicated to cool-down exercises, but it doesn’t have any warm-up activities. I’d recommend warming up on your own before beginning it.

 

Brutal Butt and Thigh Workout

My Review

This is one of my all-time favourite workouts, so you’re going to hear a lot of complimentary things about it today.

The lack of background music was one of the first things I noticed about it. While I like background music when I’m doing a dance video, I find it distracting for most other types of exercise. It was nice to not have to think about it during this video.

Instead of instruments or the sound of people singing, the only noises you hear on this video are of the narrator explaining which moves are coming up and discussing how they affect your body. There were alternatives suggested for people who couldn’t do the full range of motion for certain moves which was helpful. It was also interesting to hear Daniel talk about how your muscles will react if you’re able to do the moves the way Kelli was in this workout. I only ever felt encouraged by his descriptions. It was fascinating to hear how the human body works and how it can adapt to new challenges over time.

While Kelli did jog in place between all of the exercises, I appreciated the fact that participants were encouraged to find their own level of activity between sets if they weren’t able to jog every time. Honestly, I can’t jog in place for the entire workout every single session. There are times when I need to walk instead, especially at the end, and that’s perfectly okay.

The Cool Down Portion of This Workout

One of the unique features of the Fitness Blender brand is an icon on the right hand side of the screen that shows you how much of the workout you’ve currently completed as well as how much of it you still have to go.

It looks sort of like a thermometer, and the color of it changes from green to yellow to red as you progress further into the routine. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this feature to see how long I have left to go and to find another burst of energy when I know we’re getting close to the end.

The weightlifting exercises themselves are challenging for me in a good way. When I first began using this video, I was a little sore the next day. While my body has grown stronger and adjusted since then, this routine is by no means an easy one for me. I enjoy being challenged in this way, and I can see myself going back to it over and over again for quite a while yet to come.

I also enjoy the cool down portion during the last five minutes. By the time it comes up, I’m usually covered in perspiration and totally ready to take a break from exercising. All of the stretches in the last few minutes are a nice bridge between weightlifting and the quieter portions of my day that are soon to follow.

Honestly, the thing I’d change about it if I could would be to include a short warm-up at the beginning. I find that I am more diligent about warming up properly when I have someone else telling me which body parts to stretch and for what period of time. Going to the trouble of actually warming up for it is well worth the effort, though!

Why Do Library Holds Arrive Simultaneously (and Other Questions I Wish I Had Answers To)

Lately, I’ve been taking a break from my normal interests like reading science fiction and exercising outdoors in order to try other stuff. One of the consequences of this has been that I haven’t come up with as many blog post ideas related to those topics as I’d normally be playing around with. I suspect… Read More

The Best Fitness Advice I’ve Ever Received

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3 Things I Love About Autumn Hikes

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Why I Prefer to Exercise Alone

As I’ve mentioned here in the past, I didn’t learn to enjoy exercise until adulthood in large part because of my negative experiences in physical education classes. To summarize that post for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, my gym teachers never explained why exercise was an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. It was… Read More

My Review of Bipasha Basu’s 30 Minute Aerobic Dance Workout

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this post is in no way intended to give out medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before beginning this or any other type of workout routine.  Before I dive into this review, let me also note that I’m not receiving any kind of compensation… Read More