Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Way I WOD

Sometimes, I just don’t have time to get outside and have fun.  I’m sure I’m not alone on this one.  We all have lives beyond eating primally.  There’s a lot more to looking good in a bathing suit than just eating well, even if eating well does get you 80% there. 

Now, I’m not interested in Crossfit Competitions or being dead lift champion of anything.  But I AM 41 and finding that being thin just isn’t enough at this stage.  We need to work a little to look good now.  Looking good is a huge motivator, don’t underestimate it.  There are a million other good reasons to do weight-bearing exercises, including improved bone density, reduced injury and increased mobility later in life.  The fitter you are, the fitter you will remain.  I want to be the 70-year-old lady who jumps from airplanes and zip-lines in the Amazon.  But looking good in a bathing suit is on the top of the list for most of us. 

It’s not always easy to get in those weight-bearing exercises, is it?  Not with a 9-5 job, not with children, not with a house to clean and limited money for gym memberships and a million other reasons and excuses.

So lets talk a bit about what works for me, and what doesn’t—let’s talk excuses and motivation...

1.        Get Rid of Excuses.  Do you want to do this or not?  Do you want to have the hot body that makes everyone ask what you do/did to look so good?  Because nothing comes for free.  People are full of excuses, lord knows I am.  Lifting weight is tedious, repetitive and depressing.  Its hard.  I don’t develop muscle easily.  I don’t have the money for a gym membership.  Working out takes time away from my “me time” and my family.  I work a long day, and I commute.  I come home to food that needs cooking and a house that needs cleaning (I don’t have a maid, either).  See what I’m saying?  A million excuses.  Ditch the excuses.  We’ve already come this far, changing our diet and completely eschewing common wisdom and the food pyramid. 

2.       Find Your “Why”.  No one commits to anything without a good reason, or two or three good reasons.  Least of all me.  The reasons need to be personal for them to be meaningful.  I have a laundry list of things I want to accomplish; I want to be fit enough to run the Warrior Dash this summer without coming in last or feeling like I’m going to die.  I want to tone all my body parts as much as I can, because I don’t like how deflated my butt looks in a bikini or my “baby belly”.  I want a six-pack (I have a 4-pack at this point).  I want to be strong enough to do chin-ups/hand-stand push-ups (I could be the life of the party if I did).  I want to feel confident in my own skin.  I want clothes to fit properly, to effortlessly flatter my figure as opposed to “conceal my muffin top”.  I want to be fit and be able to keep up on those outings when I choose to spend the day rock climbing/SUPing/canoe tripping/zip-lining/obstacle course completing.  I want to be able to  do whatever I feel like doing and trying.  I don’t ever want to have to admit that I’m “not fit enough/strong enough/too old”.  These are huge motivators for me.  And don’t be embarrassed if your reasons are pure vanity.  I love it when people refer to me as the “cougar/hot soccer-mom/MILF.”  Vanity is the strongest motivator out there.

3.        Understand What you’re Committing To.  This is HUGE.  The concept of “get fit, lift heavy things” was just too vague for me.  It didn’t tell me how to go about anything.  So first, once I knew I wanted it, I had to learn what “it” needed to be.  Was I going to join a gym?  How much time did I have to commit?  How much/little could I do to see results?  How much results do I need to see to feel like I was making ground?  Break it down and be specific.  I used to be a gym rat.  I’ve learned from personal experience that the whole group motivation social event of gym attendance was not for me.  I didn’t enjoy the repetition of lifting weights or using fancy machinery, either.  But you know what?  Unless your motivation IS competition, you don’t really need any of that.  You don’t need a gym, you don’t need special equipment and you don’t need a lot of time. 

I made myself a promise when I started this.  I hate being in the basement for hours on end, I hate the boredom of staring at walls.  So I decided that I would only commit 3x/week to muscle work, and only 15 minutes each time.  You can commit to that.  It’s all you need.  If you see my FB WODs, 95% of them are timed to be 15 minutes and I only do them on alternating days.  But I push as hard as I can for those 15 minutes, and like I mentioned, I have a 4-pack, so it seems to be working. 


So, what do I do in those 15 minutes?  There are only 5 main movements that you really need to focus on: Squats, push-ups, pull-ups, overhead press and plank.  It is that simple.  How you go about each one is up to you.  I DO believe you should get a chin-up bar.  It is the only piece of equipment I use.  Sure, you could make do without it, but you have to get really creative finding things that will work.  You do not need weights for the overhead press.  That’s where handstands come in.  It’s ok to use the wall.  Just try to hold a wall-handstand for 20 seconds.  You’ll see.  It engages muscles you didn’t know you didn’t have.  Seriously.  But if you have high blood pressure, beware of this one. 

Now, I’m not always the most creative person.  Sometimes I am completely without inspiration whatsoever.  And I have a short attention span.  And I hate repetition.  So I need a little help now and then.  I have a few good sites that I go to for ideas and technical explanations of how to do certain moves.  All the crossfit websites have descriptions of WODs and their definitions, but they often call for machinery/equipment that I don’t have.  I like bodyweight moves.  Check out .  There is a bodyweight-only category, and you can keep hitting the button to generate a new WOD until you see something you like.  Sometimes I have to Google the moves it suggests.  Youtube is awesome for that.  I LOVE the facebook fan page Get-Fit-Naturally.  They post regular WODS that are pure bodyweight exercises, and they are challenging.  For a bit of creative ideas/outdoor WOD ideas, I like The Fitness Explorer and Nerd Fitness, both of whom post outdoor playground workout ideas.  Lately, I’ve been mixing up my own WODs to make sure I’m covering all the bases.  There are a million variations on how to do each muscle group move—like how squats can be squat-jacks or wide-outs (sumo-squat jacks) or can add pistol-kicks or side leg lifts, how planks can be superman planks, plank-jacks or side planks, etc.  The more variety you try, the more muscles you will work for that overall toned look.  

4.      Make it Fun.  I can’t do the same thing day after day.  Every day I strive to come with something new and interesting.  I add new reasons, new “why’s” all the time.  Right now, I’ve decided to work on the “100 push-up challenge”. .  It mixes things up a bit, and adds a new level of difficulty for me.  I take advantage of when I have time and good weather and head out for a 30-km bike ride or a really long rollerblade or throw in a game of tennis, or go trail running with some really challenging hills.  Whatever you enjoy.  It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you like doing it.  Working out can’t always be fun, but it shouldn’t totally suck, either, or you wouldn’t want to do it anymore.  Go for variety, and push yourself hard.  You’ll be pretty proud of yourself afterwards.  I always am.

5.      Ignore the Scale.  This is the hardest thing for me.  I think a lot of us have trouble with this one.  I hate the scale.  It defeats me and makes me crabby all day long.  It taunts me. 

In the last couple of months, I have really upped my workouts in frequency and intensity, and I have not seen a single pound of difference on the scale.  I do have these interesting side-ab muscles now that add to my 4-pack, and I’m developing really sexy, defined arms, but no change on the scale.  I know I am building muscle and must therefore be losing fat, but it’s hard to stay motivated when the scale doesn’t budge.  So I stay away from the scale and remind myself that muscles are hungry even when not being used.  The more muscles you have, the more fat your body will burn even while sitting still.  My weight won’t bother me at all if I’m flashing people my soon-to-be six-pack abs.  I’m pretty sure it won’t bother anyone else either, if they’re seeing my six-pack abs. 

Have I missed anything?  This is the way it’s been working me for a while now, I’m happy with it.  And if I’m happy, I’m going to keep doing it.  But if I haven’t defined something clearly enough, or you just want more info on the basic moves, check this link out 

Also check out Mark’s Daily Apple.  He has a free downloadable fitness guide that goes over how to properly complete each of the 5 basic movements.
Not bad for 41, 2 c-sections and appendix surgery last year.  And still improving...

Remember, habits take time to build.  They are learned actions.  Nothing happens perfectly overnight so just keep trying.  If you lose your motivation, you just have to find another one (sometimes that takes time, too, so forgive yourself if that happens.  We all have stretches where we’re inactive).   It’s a good thing  to take a regular day off.  I take off one day every week.  Rest time is as important as working hard, and yard work can count as a WOD, if you are at all like me and tend to move around huge piles of dirt and uproot whole trees.  It’s all about intensity.  And perception.

And if all else fails, just follow my WODs.  Everyone needs to start somewhere.

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