Some people assume that because I'm a Personal Trainer, I work out 6-7 days a week for hours at a time, maybe even two-a-days. It may come as a surprise to those people that I actually work out 4-5 days a week for about an hour each session. I'm pointing this out because I'd like to establish that I don't exercise obsessively. It is a small part of my day that I enjoy (most of the time) but I won't lose my shit if I miss a day or two. Although I'm not afraid to miss a few days of exercise, I do work out on vacation as well as over the holidays. My reasons for doing so may not be what you think. As summer approaches and many of us hit the road for vacation (I'm actually headed to Scotland shortly), it may be time to consider your fitness and nutritional goals for while your travelling. Here are a few reasons why I workout while on the road:
As I mentioned earlier, I don't work out every day, but I do CONSISTENTLY work out 4-5 days a week, every week, month, year for the past several years. It's a part of my life and I make sure it fits into my schedule because I've gotten pretty darn strong by sticking to it and I can't complain when I check out my glutes in a pair of leggings. When I go away on a trip or take time off for the holidays it's easier to continue to exercise because when I return home/to work there's no struggle to get back "into it". I was never "out of it". Have you ever returned from trip and struggled to get back to the gym? Sometimes it takes 3 weeks or more to get back to your routine, and how badly does the first work out suck? As you finish your first set, sweating and weak do you ever say to yourself "I'm so glad that I didn't work out a single day on my vacation"? Probably not. I may not do my programmed work outs and I could miss a few but I'll make sure that I get a few sessions in so that when I return to the gym at home I don't feel like it's my first work out ever.
Vacation is all about getting out of your routine. You can stay up as late as you like, sleep in and have a morning cocktail, and of course my favorite: naps. I usually find myself looking forward to vacation and then toward the end I'm excited to get back to my routine. Exercising provides a small enough semblance of routine so that I can enjoy the lack thereof for the remainder of the day. Everything else I do may be different from a "normal" day but getting a work out in will ground me.
It Relaxes Me
Sitting and doing nothing does not come naturally to me. I know that I need it but I can have a hard time settling down on vacation and getting over the fact that I don't need to do anything. Working up a sweat can help me get there faster. I'm at my most relaxed right after a work out, all other worries have left my brain and I'm just soaking up the glory of being done. I can carry that feeling straight to the pool or the ocean, take a quick dunk and I'm ready to chill out the rest of the day.
Try Something New
I love living in Vermont but it is a SMALL ass state! Our fitness options can be limited especially when it comes to up and coming trends or world renowned coaches. Last year I was in LA and San Diego where fitness options where varied and abundant! I was able to try out unique classes and work with a coach who had studied with Shaulin Monks in China. Although I was in an unfamiliar place, it was easy to find common ground with the other folks in the class. What better way to bond than cheering on a partner as they go through brutal battling rope intervals!
It is NOT Punishment
I do NOT work out on vacation to punish myself for over indulging. Exercise is a gift for my body, my health and my wellness and I refuse to sully it by making it a punishment. I don't feel like I need to do it, it's what I want to do.
Give It A Try
If you've never included exercise in your vacations, maybe it's time to give it a try. The work outs don't have to be long, even 10-15 minutes can be helpful. You may find you relax more and your re-entry into non-vacation life goes more smoothly. Here's a quick body weight workout to take with you on your next trip.
Push-ups x 10
Front to Reverse Lunges x 8 each
Skaters x 10 each
Inchworm with Toe Touch x 5 each
Single Leg Deadlift with Y x 10 each
Prisoner Get-Ups x 5 each
Do you struggle to come up with workouts while traveling? Click here for your FREE Road Kit guide to working out while on the road.
Today I'd like to talk about breakfast and maybe even touch on the subject of snacks. I jokingly tell my clients that "Muffins are just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast" but there is some truth there. The first meal of your day could be sabotaging your good intentions. Before I get up on my soap box and offend all of the oatmeal/granola loving folks out there, if you enjoy your breakfast AND it's working for you, then feel free to continue with your morning sugar infusion. Food is a matter of taste and you should never force yourself to eat something that you don't like. That being said if it is broken, it's time to fix it.
Most of us know that "Eating the Rainbow" does not mean scarf down a bowl of sugary food colored cereal however many folks are still treating their first meal of the day like a high sugar buffet. Bacon and sausage aside, many breakfast favorites are carbohydrate rich: granola, oatmeal, fruit flavored yogurt, juice, toast, English muffins, and cereal. I'm not saying carbohydrates are bad and I'm not saying don't eat them, however a typical breakfast usually combines several servings of carbs, very little protein and very little fat. I'm going to provide you some ways to upgrade your breakfast as well as posit a completely different way to look at your first meal. Waking up can be a jarring experience and if you need the warm hug of carbohydrates to usher you in to the day then here are few tips to keep it sweet AND achieve your goals.
#1 Add Protein
Whatever it is that you enjoy for breakfast, add eggs. Notice the "s" at the end of egg, that means plural please. We're trying to get that meal up to at least 15g of protein and one egg isn't going to cut it. If you're worried about cholesterol, the US government has acknowledged that dietary cholesterol does not lead to higher levels of blood cholesterol. Live a little, have some yolks folks! Sometimes I crack a few eggs into my stove top oats for the last minute of cooking. I simply stir as the eggs cook in and it makes for a hearty breakfast. Greek yogurt is rich in protein, but go for the plain and add your own fruit and a little sweetener if you need it. Some cinnamon will also bring out a sweeter flavor. You can also add protein powder to your breakfast; it goes well in oats or make some high protein pancakes and of course you can always start your day with a smoothie.
#2 Budget Your Carbs
As I said before, carbohydrates are not the devil. They're a great source of energy, especially if you have a very active day ahead of you. If you're going to sit in your car then sit at a desk for 6-8 hours, chances are you don't need multiple servings of carbs to fuel a fairly sedentary day. Choose high fiber carbohydrates such as berries, apples, whole grain breads and oats. Rather than having granola, sweetened yogurt, berries and a glass of orange juice, ditch the juice, swap the flavored yogurt out for plain and buy or make a lightly sweetened granola.
In fact, I may eat something like that any time of the day. People often ask what I eat for snacks, once again under the impression that snacks need to be sweet or small. I don't generally snack, I sit down and eat a moderately sized meal 4-5 times a day and it works for me. I enjoy a full-ish stomach and 6 almonds isn't going to cut it. If I eat something like this at 3pm, I won't inhale everything in my kitchen when I get home at night. Do you struggle with evening snacking? Maybe it's time for a mid-afternoon meal, or "Second Lunch" as I like to call it.
People have success with many styles of eating. If you're trying to lower your body fat you can keep your traditional breakfast with a few upgrades or you can take a walk on the savory side and try out last night's left overs. Breakfast tacos anyone?
Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.
- Salvador Dali
It could be argued that we often fail at our New Year's Resolutions because we're striving for perfection in our actions/habits/goals and when we don't achieve it we give up, believing that we've failed. Some people won't even try because they know they can't do as well as they'd like to, so they quit before they even get started. What if you started with a resolution and had really really low expectations of yourself?
Try Something You Suck At
It may seem as if there are only 2 ways to go here: all or nothing. I propose a different kind of resolution, one where the journey is the goal and the destination doesn't matter. I'm not going to lie, it's going to be uncomfortable, maybe even scary at times but I promise you'll learn something about yourself and your efforts may cause a ripple effect to other areas of your life. This year I challenge you to do something you suck at.
Recently I've been learning to play the ukulele. I have no experience playing a musical instrument and have yet to find any deeply buried natural talent (I can still hope). I hired an instructor because I was overwhelmed by trying on my own. Every Wednesday I carry that baby blue ukulele up the narrow stairs to my instructor Colin's studio. I sit on his little piano bench and I sweat profusely as I try to play the Beatle's tunes that he's taught me. I'm not kidding about the sweat either, when I get up to leave, I'm paranoid there will be an Iron Bunny shaped ass print on his bench. I really do suck at playing the ukulele, BUT I suck a lot less than I did when I started!
Unlike a traditional New Year's Resolution where I'd be striving for 6-pack abs or to be fluent in Italian, I have no end goal in mind for my ukulele playing. I may eventually achieve mediocrity and that's fine with me. It was more about getting started, challenging myself and being uncomfortable then it is about succeeding. I've learned a few things in the process. I can relate to my clients better when they stand in front of me, shakily attempting their first squat during our fitness assessment. I know what it's like to feel the pressure of expert eyes on you as your perform your novice reps. I know about the sweating. I've always been self conscious about sharing my exercise videos, worried I don't look the part of a trainer or that my form will be critiqued in a very public way. Since braving through those ukulele lessons I've become more willing to take a chance and post more videos. I can even sing along with one of the songs! I have a new found respect for musicians that sing, dance and play at the same time. No one ever needs to hear me sing, but it makes me happy to chirp along while I strum. Here's a clip of me playing "Hide Your Love Away". Even the actual video is lacking in perfection. My hat got tucked behind my ear, the sound is bad, the top of my head is cut off. (Oz makes a cameo, but he is perfect and can do no wrong).
As January 1st approaches, take another look at your resolutions or lack thereof. It may seem unambitious, expecting to aspire to be bad at something, or you might not want to exit your comfy sweatpants and try something new, but one venture into something you suck at could be just what you need to kick ass at 2018.
Fear holds us back from reaching our potential so often in life (which I will touch on in another blog). For the "Do Something You Suck At Resolution" you'll be facing fears of being embarrassed, not doing something perfectly and failing. You'll do it, you'll suck at it and you'll realize "Hey, that wasn't so bad".
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
What my clients are saying about me:
"Now that I've worked with Jen I see the value of having a trainer. She helps keep me on track and focused. I'm a busy mom and it's nice to have someone I trust give me my work outs. No more researching workouts in magazines or instagram. I get my own personalized program that works with my schedule and helps me achieve my goals faster."