My Favorite Workout: Walking

I love walking. Enjoying the outdoors, walking the dogs, window shopping. Walking is also very accessible. There’s a reason why there are so many fitness trackers that encourage 10,000 steps per day. It also doesn’t involve many accessories. If you have a comfortable pair of shoes, you are good to go. You can do it with friends, family, kids and animals! It’s also a very safe way to exercise during COVID-19.

When we lived in a building downtown, I walked everywhere. I estimate I could walk upwards of 5 miles or more each day. I walked the dogs around Lake Eola each morning, walked my daughter to her preschool, then walked across downtown to my office building. There were several months where I was walking to her school for lunch. We walked to the grocery store on the other side of the lake, we walked to dinner, we walked to the park and playground. We walked everywhere! That was definitely the least I have weighed since I hit my 40s.

Once we moved to the suburbs, I would still walk my daughter to school but the 7 block walk fell to 1 block. The daily 1 mile dog walk around the lake was 1/2 a mile around the neighborhood (and sometimes not even that since we could just let them out in the backyard). I had to drive to the grocery store and to my office. My daily movement dropped drastically, even with other exercise programs!

I still prefer to walk over driving when I can. When I am visiting my client las firms downtown, I often park and walk from building to building. I’ve even worn through the bottom of my shoes! I love vacations to places like New York City or Las Vegas that encourage a lot of walking. I also love to spend the day at Disney with friends, walking a ton!

There are also many health benefits to walking, aside from the obvious weight loss. The Mayo Clinic says that walking can lower your blood pressure and your blood glucose levels, can lower your stress levels, can improve your memory and cognitive functions. Walking can be part of your self-care routine as well.

So make October in Walktober and add this great exercise into your routine!

Non-Scale “Victories” or Milestones

Losing weight is always a tricky thing. Our bodies change as we age, exercise, gain and lose weight. One person’s 150 is another person’s 130. It may also be difficult to choose a “goal weight” because you may not have weighed that amount in a decade or more so how do you know if that is an appropriate weight for your current self.

So how can you tell if you are being successful on your journey to slim down? I have several non-scale ways of monitoring my progress.

1. Am I getting stronger or is my endurance changing? The thing I like about doing the same workout programs is I can really gage my progress. If I started out doing 10 pound goblet squats and I’m now doing the same exercise with 30 pounds, I am definitely stronger. If you can make it through a tough cardio workout without pausing, that’s a great sign too. If you are a running, adding distance or dropping your minutes per mile shows progress. These are great non-scale victories.

2. Are you clothes fitting differently? This is a great gage for me. I even have a pair of mint green jeans I am looking forward to fitting into! When I can wear those comfortably again, I know I will have hit my goal! Other clothes begin to get baggy and maybe need to be given away. Be realistic though. If you have been working out a lot, your clothes may fit differently and some may never fit the same as they did before. That’s not a bad thing! Athletic women know the pain of finding pants that can fit right!

3. Do you feel better? If you have more energy, are sleeping better and are less bloated, that is great progress. Honestly, I would rather take all of those than a random number on a scale.

What are some of your non scale methods of tracking progress?

My Favorite Workouts: 21 Day Fix Extreme

I wasn’t going to review another Autumn Calabrese workout this soon but I just finished 21 Day Fix Extreme and I had to get my thoughts down while they were fresh. This was a really tough program for me but it was also a fun challenge to see how hard I could push myself and what I could accomplish!

I did 21 Day Fix (Real Time) and 21 Day Fix Extreme (Real Time) back to back so I really did a 42 Day program. 21 Day Fix Extreme is similar to 21 Day Fix in that it progresses in difficulty each week but is also very different in difficulty and complexity. It is definitely an advanced program. For example, most moves are compound (squat to shoulder press) and your plyo and cardio moves are done with weights. There are a lot of 30 second holds and plyo jumps. By week 3, your burpees are really two shuffle steps with a weight, the burpee and then a plyo jump with the weight! I have see this program advertised for fitness competitors to follow to prepare for competition.

As a note, I have never done the original 21 Day Fix Extreme, which I believe is 7 workouts that you repeat for 3 weeks. It is available on the BOD library but I like the Real Time programs as they offer a unique workout each day and they have the weekly progression.

I loved and hated this workout all in one. It pushed me but it also caused pain and soreness like I haven’t felt in a while. There were many workouts where I was checking the clock to see how much longer I had to do it! The Pilates with the workout band was so awkward and difficult, I really didn’t enjoy it at all. On the flip side, I loved the upper body workout, which is usually not my favorite, and the yoga pushed me and stretched me like no other! I finally nailed crow pose!

Bottom line, I really got results. Doing these two programs back to back shaved 10 inches off my body and I am fitting into clothes that have been in the back of my closet for a while. I am sure I will do this program again but it won’t be in the near future!

Rest Days

As I write this, I just finished my first workout in two days. I planned to take Sunday as a rest day but when Monday came around, I listened to my body and knew I needed an extra one.

Some days you just need to rest

Rest days are important. They help heal your body from the strain you put it through during your workouts. Sometimes you also need the mental break from working out. Whatever the reason, no one ever lost all their fitness or weight loss from taking a rest day here and there. Could I have forced myself into my gym yesterday? Probably, but that extra day of rest allowed me to tackle the workout today with heavier weights and more energy.

Even an active rest day can be beneficial. Taking a walk or a bike ride, doing yoga or swimming in the pool; these are all great active rest days that allow you to physically and mentally take a break. You can even stretch or foam roll!

What is your favorite rest day activity?

My Favorite Workout: Yoga

Yoga is one of those omnipresent things that it seems like everyone has tried at least once. One of the things I love about yoga is it strengthens your body and your mind. It also helps to stretch out all my muscles I make sore while I’m lifting weights. It can be your only method of exercise or you can fit it into a cross-training schedule. It is perfect for active rest days. I am pretty sure I do at least a few down dogs and crows every day just to stretch!

Total Zen

I was fortunate to experience my first yoga class on a rock pier jutting into the ocean in Jamaica. The teacher was an Expat hippie with dreadlocks down to her ankles. It was so amazing and zen, especially at the end, sitting in Shavasana (corpse pose which has you lying on your back, still, at the end of each class) at sunset. I honestly thought this is what yoga was all about.

I didn’t really start taking regular classes until after I had my daughter. I had gained 54 pounds with my pregnancy and when she was six months old, we relocated to Orlando. I signed up for the local YMCA and started attending yoga classes there. Taking classes three times a week, along with regular walks, helped me shave off those 54 pounds and then 10 more! I felt strong and clear headed. My favorite teacher (no deadlocks on this one) would put a lavender scented towel over your eyes while you were in Shavasana. Again, total zen!

Since then, I’ve had private classes in Las Vegas (surprise that I was the only one that signed up for the 8am yoga class), a giant class outside on top of one of the office buildings in downtown Orlando, tried out the Beachbody Yoga, a few apps including one called Pocket Yoga and quite a few yoga DVDs. The favorite DVD (also available online) is Body by Bethenny which is shockingly good for a celebrity exercise program, especially the core section. Yoga is so versatile that it translates to so many different modes.

You can even do virtual yoga! My friend Kelly is a yoga teacher in at the Yoga School of Miami. Unfortunately, I was never able to take her class because of the distance but now anyone can! Just sign up here. With Kelly, you get Pink Floyd, David Bowie & Prince, which is an awesome way to do yoga! Check her out. She does yoga teacher training too!!

Photo by Cedric Lim Ah Tock on Pexels.com

Yoga is perfect for all fitness levels and ages as well. There are even programs specifically for kids. I have heard many times that there is no ego in yoga. You only try and improve yourself each time your practice. I have also found the others in my classes are only encouraging. At the Y, we would have time to practice stands, whether it be shoulder stands, head stands or even a handstand. It would usually involve lots of laughter and cheering when someone achieved the stand that had been working on. I always leave yoga a happier person then when I started! So where some people don’t enjoy working out at gyms, yoga is a much more inviting space for group fitness.

So get your yoga on!

My Favorite Workout: 21 Day Fix

21 Day Fix (and now 21 Day Fix Real Time) is one of the most famous Beachbody programs there is. With super trainer Autumn Calabrese, you will exercise seven days a week for three weeks: upper body, lower body, cardio, cardio with weights, pilates, yoga and what she calls the Dirty 30, which is a total body weight workout. On the third week, you can add a second workout each day if you wish. There is also 2 days of 10 minute abs.

I am on week three of this program right now but this is probably the 5th time I’ve done it. I love this program for three main reasons: the workouts are 30 minutes a day, the program is only three weeks long and there is such a variety day-to-day. This is a great program if you are just starting out or you want a sense of accomplishment. If you do multiple rounds of 21 Day Fix, you can really see how much stronger you get with each round.

It’s not to say that this program is easy. Even in 30 minutes, it will challenge you. In fact, the first time I tried this program (on DVD years ago), I didn’t even finish the first week! I had to pause abs and cardio the first few rounds! The biggest thing is, as with any fitness regime, you have to have the right mindset. As Autumn says, whether you think you will succeed or you think you will fail, you are correct. It’s all about what you choose to do.

Autumn is one of my favorite trainers. I’ve done two rounds of 80 Day Obsession, I follow her nutrition program Ultimate Portion Fix and I love her cookbooks and cooking show, Fixate. If you do one of her programs, you are going to get a lot of talking, inspirational quotes and motivation throughout the workout, something that I know is not for everyone. Last year, Beachbody remade 21 Day Fix into a real time program, meaning each workout is different. The workouts also progress in difficulty each week in the updated version. I love this format because you don’t get bored and it really brings out the personalities of both Autumn and the cast. This really helps with home workouts!

I guess a fourth thing I love about this program is that I don’t outgrow it by not having heavier weights. I have weights that range from 1 pound to 15 pounds. When I was doing 80 Day Obsession, there were days I really could have used 20 or 25 pound weights. With the current pandemic, weights are extra expensive and backordered for months, so I haven’t upgraded my collection yet. However, because of the other enhancements in the workout, I could easily challenge myself without needing something heavier than a 15 pound set of dumbbells.

If home workouts aren’t your thing, I also easily brought this workout into the gym and on the road to the hotel gym. With Beachbody On Demand, I would just throw on my AirPods, prop my phone on the weight rack and follow the program . No one ever looked at me funny (or if they did, I sure didn’t notice them!)

As with most Beachbody programs there is a modifier who works out alongside everyone else but uses low impact moves, a smaller range of motion or lighter/no weights. This truly is a great program for all fitness levels. It even made me enjoy HIIT cardio, which is really saying something!

There’s also a 21 Day Fix Extreme (also updated to real time last year) which I will be starting next week so check back for a review on that program. This one I haven’t done before so it will be exciting to try something new!

If you want to try Beachbody on Demand for free, click here.

My Best Workouts: Running

Running is one of the most popular workouts in the world. It’s also one of the most basic. You can run by yourself or in groups big and small. You can run indoors or outdoors.

I didn’t start running into I was in my 40s. Well, I take that back. I was a member of my track team in high school but I was always the slowest one of the team and usually the last one across the finish line. I had no training and no training plan. The coach just told us to get out there and run. Needless to say, my track status only latest one year.

In my 40s, while I was still practicing law, my assistant at the time and I decided we were going to run (not walk) the annual Corporate 5k that takes place in downtown Orlando every year. We did a couple of months of training and actually ran the whole thing without stopping! It was such a great sense of accomplishment. I decided to keep running. I eventually ran more 5ks, then a 5 miler, then a 10k. I finally set my sights on running a half marathon. Years later, I had run several half marathons and also ran a series of races put on my a local running store each year.

My SWAG wall

Running has some amazing benefits. It can even improve the density of your bones! You can work more than just your lower body and running can increase your strength and endurance for other physical activities. You can also workout anywhere and you don’t need much equipment (although you can buy a lot of accessories!)

Before you go out and find your inner Usain Bolt, there’s a few things you need. Number one is a good pair of running shoes. I recommend that you try out the shoes before you buy and if you have a running store, go and get professionally fitted. A good pair of running shoes can make all the difference and a bad pair can cause injuries and pain. You may also want to pick up something to carry your phone and keys in. I use a Spi Belt, which are lightweight and come in different colors and sizes. I even have some small water bottles I can hook over the belt for longer runs.

There are also a ton of running apps that can help you get started or train. I started with Couch to 5k, which called out intervals of walking and running, gradually increasing as the program advanced. I have also used Nike Run Club, Runtastic, Map My Run, Runkeeper and the Apple Fitness App. All of these programs have training programs or running groups you can join which can help you with distance and pace.

I also used my Apple Watch, which worked well for me, but other people can’t live without their Garmin watches. It all depends how much money you want to spend. Like I said, you can spend a lot of money on accessories or you can just keep it simple.

One of the thing I loved about running is it was easy to travel and bring my workout with me. Almost every hotel would have a map of nearby running paths or directions on where to run or I would just hit the treadmill. I ran on every business trip or vacation. I even did a running tour in Vancouver with a professor of Urban Studies, which was a really cool way to see the city and learn about some of the art installations. That year we went on a cruise and I swear the only reason I didn’t gain any weight was that I ran every day!

The major downside of running, at least for me living in Florida, is that you can’t choose the weather. Most of the half marathons in Florida start in the Fall so you are training through the summer, which can be pretty brutal. There were long runs I finished with such a headache from the heat! On the flip side, the last Half I ran, at Disney in January, was around 28! I didn’t feel my feet for the first 4 miles! That was my fastest race because I just wanted it to be over.

I also found that running was not a weight-loss activity for me. This was mostly due to the fact that my nutrition was all over the place and after a long run, I wanted chicken wings and beer! On the plus side, my legs looked amazing!

In the past few years, I’ve moved on to other workouts but I will occasionally run a race or run through the neighborhood. I’m not saying I have given it up forever, but I can definitely say I enjoyed my time running. Overall score: 8/10.

Here’s why you should listen to me

Well, maybe you shouldn’t. At least not exclusively. There is not a one-size-fits all way to stay healthy. You have to takes bits and pieces of what works for you and make it into your own healthy lifestyle. I just hope that you will find some of those bits and pieces here!

A great example of this is my group of friends. We are all different ages and even though we are all different types of lawyers, we all have demanding jobs, community activities, social lives and families. All of us fit that healthy lifestyle as well but nothing we do is the same. I prefer home workouts, mixing lifting weights and cardio, following various Beachbody programs. One friend does CrossFit. Another runs and a truly bad ass one does Spartan Races and Ninja Gym training.

One thing we do all have in common is that we understand there is more to a healthy lifestyle than eating nutritiously and exercising. We know that spending time with each other, our other friends, our family and our larger groups of acquaintances and colleagues is important. We all volunteer in service of our profession and to the community we live in. We practice self-care. When we went into lockdown in March and these things were curtailed, we made a point of spending time together via Zoom or FaceTime and we update each other on a group text almost daily.

When you decide to make some positive changes in your life, first write down all the positive things you have, like some in the lists above. Then figure out how to use those positives to help you make the changes you want. Let me know what you think is a positive that helps you!