A Love/Hate Relationship with Cardio

The workout I love to hate (or hate to love, depending on the day). Cardio is sort of like kale, I know it’s good for me, but it’s hard to get motivated to actually do something about it. It’s not like I don’t do cardio; most recently I put myself through 60 days of a Shaun T workout which is about the most extreme cardio I have ever done. My past attempts at sustaining a cardio workout plan include traditional cardio like swimming, including training for and completing a 2.7 mile swim across Donner Lake, martial arts/kickboxing style workouts, running on a treadmill (let me just say I hate running of any kind) and I even struggled through a 5k race (did I mention I hate running).

I guess the moral of this blog post is that cardio doesn’t have to be the traditional long duration run/brisk walk (or elliptical machine), I mean, who has time for that kind of stuff? It is just as easy and more fun to incorporate sports that involve running like soccer or basketball, or even martial arts. The beauty of the Shaun T workouts I mentioned is that I can get the cardio aspect done quickly and also include strength and flexibility at the same time.

Just in case I needed any more reason to include regular cardio workouts into my routine, here are some more reasons (thanks Google!):

Most efficient workout for burning fat and calories for which can result in weight loss (with a proper diet of course)

-Increases heart strength which leads to more efficient blood circulation, even when not working out
-It increases lung capacity
-It helps reduce risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes
It makes you feel good (endorphins anybody?)
Increases sex drive (how can that be a bad thing?)
Leads to better sleep
Reduces stress

What’s your favorite cardio workout?

Benefits of Yoga

I will admit…I’m not a fan of yoga. Sitting in poses letting my mind wander for who knows how long is not my idea of a fun workout, but more like preparing for a nap. In my book, any workout where checking Facebook is possible during the workout isn’t really a workout….My favorite workout is strength training or sweaty cardio where I feel that post workout high, deep muscle burn, sweat in my eyes and the need to sit down when done.

But….several of the trainers, workout blogs and workout friends I respect keep mentioning yoga, so I begrudgingly did some research and found that, strangely enough, yoga does have benefits (who would have thought). Before I share my personal experience, here are some benefits that will hopefully encourage readers to take a small step towards throwing in the occasional yoga workout:

“Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown, protects your spine, better bone health, blood flow, ups the old heart rate (can improve cardiovascular conditioning), drops blood pressure, regulates adrenal glands, improves happiness, lowers blood sugar, helps focus, relaxes your system, maintains nervous system, releases tension in your limbs, helps sleep deeper, boosts immune system functionality, gives lungs room to breathe, prevents IBS and other digestive problems, increases self esteem, eases pain (asana, mediation or a combo of the two helped with back pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, arthritis to name a few), gives inner strength, benefits relationships, uses sounds to soothe your sinuses, keeps allergies and viruses at bay! and supports your connective tissue just to name a few.”

That is quite a list, and I am not totally sure how yoga can accomplish all those at once, but I certainly believe the stretching and strengthening aspects are true as I have experienced them myself. Currently I am throwing a PiYo workout into my weekly rotation when I am not in the mood for an intense workout, and find that I am relaxed when done, but still feel like I have kept up my conditioning and have increased mental focus (that is until my two-year-old starts emptying kitchen cabinets). Being around a toddler, I am always trying very hard to avoid getting sick, so if the immune system boosting claim is true, that can only help my cause.

All in all, my weekly yoga workout hasn’t transformed me into a yogi, and don’t imagine myself ever sitting on a mountain in the lotus pose, but would recommend throwing in a yoga based workout once in a while, if nothing else, it will add variation to any workout plan, and best case scenario the benefits could include all those on that really long list….

The Future

This is a fitness blog, but lately getting off the couch is plenty hard enough, so needless to say it has been months since I have done any workouts beyond a leisurely walk. So, during this down time I have been planning for post baby workouts.
The first part of my plan for when the baby comes is to do more aerobic cross training (walking), so, to that end we just purchased the bob sport utility stroller (easy to push and holds a lot of stuff, but with big tires and full suspension to keep my husband interested!). So far it seems great pushing it across the living room, but a review will have to wait since people may look at me funny if I strap Steve into it for a trial run. Picture a rolling, black and white version of a “grumpy cat” demotivational poster, complete with with a rude and unprintable caption. To read more about my workout buddy, Steve, click here
The second fitness plan I am really excited about is P90X3, which is just like the original P90X, but only takes 30 min. This is exciting because each workout only takes 30 min, so it will be easy to fit in while she is napping!

Five great reasons I’m looking forward to doing P90X3:
1). It’s only 30 minutes long and perfect for me when I’m taking care of a baby because my life will be a time crunch.
2). Is not a graduate program, therefore, I should be able to pick it up quickly even if I am a bit rusty from my layoff. Also, I don’t have a P90X2 diploma.
3). I have all the required equipment – just a pull up bar and weights.
4). There is a modifier in each workout for people like me who are getting back into shape.
5). There is a separate DVD for the warm up and I can throw it in if i have the extra time.

The new P90X3 workout being released December 10, 2013

Here’s a preview of the new P90X3 workout

Modify, Modify, Modify

In past entries I have mentioned that I have been modifying my workouts to accommodate my growing passenger. Modifying workouts isn’t complicated, no need for physiological insights or experience as a master trainer on Biggest Loser, just follow right along with the video because for every exercise they show, they show a suggested modification. Every beachbody program has a multitude of jumps, push ups, pull ups, lifting weights, jump squats, ab work etc. When I first started P90X, I was overwhelmed with all the push ups, pull ups, lifting etc, so I did the modified versions of some of the suggested moves. This meant that I started doing push-ups on my knees and as I got stronger I was able to move up to doing them on my toes (even being able to do a plyo push up (watch for a video in a few months after this baby is born and I get the A-OK to do P90X again!). Pull ups were the same way. I used a chair, put a leg on the chair and pulled myself up. Sure enough, just as I got the strength and technique figured out to follow right along with the video without modifying, I got pregnant and had to start modifying again to keep my heart rate down and avoid working my abs. I am sure when I can work out again after this baby, there will be some modification required before I can follow along with the “big kid version”.
The moral of the story is that with all BeachBody programs there is ALWAYS a modifier in the workouts. It doesn’t matter why (injury, pregnancy, or eating too much ice cream), and, best of all, there is no one to laugh if you have to do “girl pushups”.
All sorts of non workout news this week: we found out our little bundle of joy is officially a girl (down from 80%boy odds), and we harvested our first two zucchini this week from the garden. Before I sign off, just wanted to point out that two weeks ago, BeachBody announced a new workout called Focus T25 with Shaun T as the trainer (trainer of Hip Hop Abs and most known for Insanity). Want to know what makes T25 so awesome? It’s only 25 minutes long! That’s right…25 minutes of cardio. Just go my link (copy and paste in your browser) beachbodycoach.com/ryannford. Here’s a link to the YouTube video giving you a quick glimpse of the workout.


Our first zucchinis of the season!

And we’re having a girl!

Workout Equipment

When most people think of workout equipment, they think of high tech gadgets with flashing lights, programs and constant electronic feedback. Even the simplest workout, like running, can get complicated really fast if you add a treadmill to the mix. I prefer to keep my workouts simple to attempt to offset the technology that seems to pemiate the rest of my life. Also, fancy equipment for home use takes up a lot of space (turned into baby space at our house). Treadmills (if you own one it most likely gets turned into a catch all for clothes), elliptical machine, various weight machines and other types of fitness gadgets all can be counted on to reliably break down. Since I workout at home, my equipment is very simple and consists of: free weights (resistance bands work well too), pull up bar, and bands that go around your ankles for legs and booty. It’s all simple equipment. Most of the equipment can be found at Walmart (keep your eyes open for People of Walmart) or Target (if you are feeling classy) or bought online from beachbody (beachbodycoach.com/ryannford). This simple equipment has several distinct advantages over the high tech gadgets: cheap, easy to use (I have yet to see an instruction manual written in 5 languages for a pull up bar!), will never break down, and did I mention cheap? The best part is that it works!

Simple and easy to use

A New Way of Working Out

I know it’s been a while since I last posted, but I have some exciting news I would like to share…I’m pregnant! This is a major change to most aspects of my life – no coffee, sub sands, no wine, asking what is in stuff, nauseous most of the time, grouchy for no reason, but I really didn’t want to give up working out. Working out has become a big part of my routine and it would be hard to quit now. So instead of sitting on the couch for 9 months, I have taken the docs advice about not lifting heavy things and keeping a low heart rate and modified my workouts accordingly. No Insanity for me. Some people will have different opinions about working out while pregnant, but my doctor says it’s perfectly fine, as long as I play it safe,
My workouts now consist of TurboFire, Brazil Butt Lift (gotta keep that butt perky), and lifting weights and using moves from P90X that are safe for a pregnant woman like myself. During TurboFire, there is jumping, but I make sure to do squats or leg lifts. Not only keeps my heart rate down, but adds a little strength component to the workout. When it calls for weightlifting, I keep the weights light (with more reps 12-14) and stop if I get winded. I make sure to stick to bicep curls, tricep extensions and what I feel is safe! I avoid anything like ab work (no Ab Ripper X)) or anything where I am laying on my back lifting weights. As I get further along in my pregnancy, I will be adding in prenatal yoga.

I have noticed that the benefits of working out while pregnant are not much different than working out while not pregnant, except now I am working out for my babies benefit too. Here are some of the benefits I have thought of so far (let me know what others you can think of):

1. Boost your energy
2. Sleep better
3. Reduce pregnancy discomfort
4. Prepare for childbirth
5. Reduce stress and lift your spirits
6. Improve your self-image
7. Get your body back faster after childbirth

Make sure when starting a fitness program, especially a BeachBody workout, talk to your doctor about the type of workouts you will be doing. Drink plenty of water during your workout and through the day and modify, modify, modify!

In other household fitness news, I would like to give a big thumbs up to my wonderful husband who finished 4th overall in the Silver State 50k race yesterday He just missed a trophy, but was happy to have a solid race.

Until next time,

What Works

The fitness side of the internet is full of really good information about the best way to work out, best time, best pre-post nutrition, acceptable heart rate and just about anything else you can think of for the proper way to sweat (just in case you are thinking of checking for yourself, I can tell you right now that every website has a better way to work out). Working out can get really complicated, with gadgets, schedules and rules. The thing I like about working out at home, and what has kept me at it for the past two years is that it is what you make it, and I make sure it is as simple as possible. It is easy enough to follow along with any video you choose (I will continue to post reviews of the videos I am enjoying), but I thought i would share what I do to keep my workouts at a high level regardless of outside influences or obligations. These are just the first tips that came to mind, so dont think that this is all there is to it…

First, I like to get my workout done in the morning so I dont have to dread it for the rest of the day, and Steve can help out with his “special brand” of motivation before his morning nap. If I wait until after work, there are way too many other important things to do, like watch TV, check facebook, play with Steve, vacuum the house, trim my toenails, watch the grass grow…you get the point, just about anything but workout. The point is, it wont get done unless I make myself get it over with before I have had my first cup of coffee and my brain is awake enough to know what I am about to put my body through.
The other advantage of working out first thing in the morning is that I can get through the workout without having to eat anything before hand. I don’t really know why, because I am definitely hungry after my workout, but I feel that my energy level is good without eating. It is rare, but if I am too hungry to focus on the workout, I eat a spoonful of natural peanutbutter to get a little bit of protein. This is a personal preference, and I am sure it wont work for everybody, but find something that works for you, like a few bites of banana or something. The main focus is to help you with the workout without puking up a full meal of pancakes and bacon (not fun!).
This isnt a workout tip, but my birthday was last week (I wont say how old I am, and no points for guessing…). These non-milestone birthdays are pretty boring when you are past 21, but we splurged anyway and got pizza (plenty of cheese and cured pork products). Then it was lunch at a chain restaurant with a friend (just a few carbs), then family dinner at our house…makes it sound like my birthday wish was to eat all weekend, but I swear it wasnt.
Here is my weekly (well, almost two weeks since my last post) workout summary: I enjoyed Turbofire for every workout last week (and the week before) – took both weekend days off due to birthday obligations. Overall I felt good, my abs got a bit sore from the HIIT workouts tuesday and friday (for more info on that acronym, see my Turbofire review, “Burn, Burn, Burn”). My goal is always to get a little sore, so I will consider that goal met!
Next week (this week really since this is a bit late…) I am planning on mixing in a Body Beast Lucky 7 workout into the Turbo Fire just to change it up a little bit. Mixing up workouts is another tip, but that is for another post, stay tuned!