30 Minutes or Less – Fast Weight Workouts to do at Home or the Gym

“Feel the burn.”

What’s the #1 reason for skipping workouts or not prioritizing them altogether? I mean, aside from when gyms are closed and we’re all trying to do our part and stay home.

Time is the main reason workouts get skipped, right? It happens to everyone, even those who love exercise and are good at making time for it. Between work and activities and charitable causes and kids and housework and friends – and, of course, sleep – some days, there’s just not enough time to do it all, a workout isn’t high enough on the priority list.

And that’s okay. Not every day has to include a workout as priority time. Even though we all get 24 hours every day, those 24 hours get eaten up fast.

Another offshoot of the ‘not enough time’ reasoning, it’s easy to fall into the trap of, “There’s not enough time…for a good workout…so I may as well just not do one.”

Partner-Stretch

No matter the workout, a good stretch should be included

Oh, but on the contrary. Any and all exercise matters.

Given what we’re all going through right now with most people practicing physical distancing, some full-on quarantining in their homes, and hopefully all of us limiting exposure to the outside world, exercise becomes more important than ever. The mood-boost, stress-relief, and simple normalcy it provides shouldn’t end because we’re limited in other regular activities.

A Quick, Effective Workout
Going back to the scapegoat of ‘not enough time’ preventing us from working out, there are plenty of strategies to get in a quick and efficient workout.

There are about a million people and companies offering at-home workouts right now so I’m certainly not here to add to that. Rather, I have a perspective, a plan most people can take now or apply to future life when, dare I say it, things go back to normal.

While most immediately ‘cardio’ and working up a sweat come to mind when thinking workout, resistance training shouldn’t be overlooked. And there are plenty of ways to get a great lift in a short amount of time.

Now, I know people who regularly spend 45 minutes or even more with each lifting workout. Me, I’ve learned I can get in a solid lift in much shorter time – easily 30 minutes or less. One of the last times I was able to go to the gym, I really raised the bar – or lowered it, I guess? – by cutting that down to 19 minutes. A good, heart-pumping, muscle-fatiguing lift sesh in less than 20 minutes.

Here’s my formula for fast, efficient lifts. Hopefully this helps with those ‘time’ excuses or can be used as you’re doing workouts from trusted companies or trainers.

I should note, this is meant for the average exerciser; someone who’s accustomed to lifting for at least an hour, super heavy and intense might not find this valuable. But, for most, this is more than adequate for feeling a burn and those days when time is crunched.

Resistance Workout Method
First: choose two muscle groups to target, such as back and shoulders or chest and triceps.

Quick note: there are workouts being shared out there that have you working all the muscle groups in one session, similar to the philosophy of a BodyPump class. Those aren’t wrong but, for this quick and efficient method, let’s stick to two groups and really focus on fatiguing them.

Second: plan ahead so you know what you’re going to do and can move quickly between sets. I like to choose two different exercises to do back-to-back as a set, that way it’s easier to keep up the pace.

Example, today I worked back and shoulders. I decided I would do front and side lifts (set one), seated row and lat pulldowns (set two), overhead presses and bent-over single rows (set three) – all with resistance bands.

Resistance-Workout

There’s a lot that can be done with a simple set of resistance bands

A lower-body option targeting glutes and hamstrings: Standard squats and stiff-leg deadlifts (set one), bridges and deadlifts (set two), donkey kicks and single-leg deadlifts (set three). For lower body, I use a mix of weights, ankle weights, resistance bands, and simple bodyweight.

Here are a couple of older blogs to give you additional ideas for lower body exercises. One is a bodyweight circuit – no equipment required; the other does have some gym-inspired moves but is just good ideas for lower body exercises.

To Sweat or Not to Sweat
This strategy should take around 20 minutes, depending on how fast you move between sets. It can be done on its own or, one thing I like to do, is break it up with cardio in between, creating almost a circuit.

I have an elliptical; often I’ll do five mins on that, break to do a set, then back and so on until I’m finished. The same could be done with a treadmill or bike, or non-equipment style with mixes of marching, skaters, jumping jacks, endless possibilities.

If you are indeed looking for an opportunity to really break a sweat and get your heart rate up, I suggest the circuit approach. However, if you’re rushed for time and don’t want to sweat (as in, don’t have time to shower), sticking to just the resistance work shouldn’t get you sweaty enough to require a shower.

And I should know, I have, shall we say, active sweat glands. You can call me an aggressive sweater. Bottom line, I sweat easily. No shame.

I hope this simple strategy I’ve adopted and love helps you in your quest to lift, whether you’re just getting started and need a basic formula to begin or you’re looking to make it more efficient or work from your house if you can’t get to the gym.

How are you handling at-home workouts? Is that a new concept or is it normal for you? What other tips do you have to share for working out at home or efficient, quick workouts that deliver? The comments are your space to share thoughts or ask questions so please do so.

Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

Tips for Building Healthy Habits – Meditation and Mindfulness

“Wherever you are, be there totally.”

It’s an unbelievable time we’re living in, friends. If anyone would have foreshadowed the coronavirus situation we’re in, as a community, as a country, as a global population, I don’t think you’d find one person who’d have ever thought it was even remotely possible.

But here we are, with new COVID-19 changes happening by the day, sometimes by the hour, and life as we’ve known it is no longer the same. It will be again, someday, but not right now and certainly not any time soon.

How COVID-19 Is Affecting Us
My job is in communications so, naturally, I’ve been spending plenty of time watching the news, reading the news, and seeing how our new normal is unfolding on social media. All of this between eating second breakfast, lots of Teams meetings, and, obviously, enjoying the background noise of old episodes of The Office and Seinfeld in the background.

One of the stories that caught my eye last week is that downloads for meditation apps are up significantly within the past couple of weeks. It makes me think that it’s all really starting to catch up with us, take a toll on people – all the social distancing, working from home, and how this type of unprecedented situation has made trying to do our jobs pure madness, at best.

Home-Office-Setup

A new normal for many of us – working at home.

I decided this would be a great topic for this month’s opportunity focus: meditation and mindfulness.

Now more than ever, I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to practice some form of daily mindfulness or meditation to keep ourselves sane, focused, and perhaps most importantly, grateful, amidst all the chaos that can too easily bring us down and defeat even the most positive person.

Meditation and Mindfulness
What are we talking about with starting a mediation or mindfulness practice? Let’s begin with, what I believe is the simpler act of the two, mindfulness.

The practice of mindfulness is a bit easier to grasp than meditation, simply because I think the word and concept of meditation in itself freaks people out a bit and conjures up thoughts of long-haired people in white linen pants sitting cross-legged and humming “ohm” over and over.

Yet, to my knowledge, the concept of mindfulness is appealing to most people. The idea of slowing down to speed up, of taking a few pauses during the day to check in, and the discipline of being a bit more self-aware about everything, from positive word choices on your next conference call to whether or not you really want that second breakfast (and if the answer is yes, that’s 100% acceptable. Eat that second breakfast.).

Meditation, on the other hand, is a little more intimidating. However, the concepts really aren’t much different. Both concepts have essentially the same benefits, reducing stress and anxiety among them, are intentional acts, and are about achieving a position of being fully present.

The real difference, as I see it and putting it very simply, is that while mindfulness is meant to be practiced frequently throughout the day, in quick bursts, meditation is a much more focused practice. It really deserves more time and focus to truly clear the mind, get to a state of total awareness, and achieve a sense of calm.

How to Create A Healthy Habit
Before talking about creating either one as a habit, let’s go back to the foundation of this healthy habits series. Like any habit, the desire and a goal along with it are important. Please don’t go into this with anything less than both.

First ask yourself, why do I want to build this healthy habit? Do I really want to or do I feel like I should? Find that purpose, that desire.
If you really want to, the second step is to set your goal and be specific about it. A goal gives you something to measure, something to gauge success, and see where adjustments or improvements could be made.

In this case, you could set a goal to practice mindfulness before every meal. Another goal would be commit to a 15-minute yoga meditation three times a week. Any goal is acceptable and there’s really no “wrong” way to do mindfulness or meditation. Here are a few tips to get started.

First – Mindfulness Basics
Mindfulness is a great healthy habit to adopt. To get started, there are a couple places one can begin.

Figure out times during the day that you could work in mindfulness. One of the best ways to find times for mindfulness is repetitive actions – every time you sit down to eat, every time you get into the car, every time you sit down at your desk, those types of things.

One of the simplest mindful actions is to take a few deep breaths. Pause. Be aware for those moments. Take a moment to slow down, acknowledge, be aware, then act.

Baby-Yoga

One of my favorite meditation practices – yoga.

First – Meditation Basics
Meditation and mindfulness are pretty similar. In fact, some of the same basic points of meditation apply to mindfulness. Simple acts of deep breathing and finding awareness of, everything from that breath to the feeling from your fingertips to your toes.

Meditation requires a bit more dedication, time, and focus, so, again, choose a time to do it regularly that coincides with a routine or perhaps a time of day that’s ultra-stressful and could benefit from calm and focus.

Next – How to Practice Mindfulness
To begin practicing mindfulness, choose that time of day or that regular, repetitive action that lends itself to a brief moment of pause and clarity.

One example is to start the day in a mindful place, beginning with breakfast or coffee. Don’t turn on the TV or look at your phone, instead, take a few deep breaths before taking a bite or sip. Eat and drink slowly, taking time to breath, enjoy the simple pleasure of the food or coffee, and think about how you want to show up today. Gain perspective on challenges you know are going to come your way and what really matters that day.

Another ideal time for mindfulness is when you sit down at your desk. This could be the start of the workday, after going to the bathroom, or returning from a meeting – all opportunities to take a few seconds of deep breaths and focus and get back to the right state of mind.

One of the great things about mindfulness, once the practice begins, it’s easier to incorporate into more activities. It can be done often and while doing other things – yet it’s not the same as multitasking because you’re not trying to do something, rather you’re giving deeper focus and attention to what you’re already doing.

People think I’m crazy, but I don’t use headphones when I run outside – even on three-hour long runs. I use that time for focused, mindful thinking. I gain perspective on challenges in my life. I give gratitude for the health and ability to run (that one comes in handy when I’m fatigued, hurting, or just not feeling it). And, admittedly, I think about food. There are a lot of food thoughts.

Next – How to Practice Meditation
Similar to mindfulness, choosing a consistent time of day is one idea to get started with a meditation practice. Eventually, you might find there are certain times in the day that work better or those where meditation is really needed.

A great way to practice meditation is through yoga. Start the process by just sitting and taking deep breaths, then noticing how you feel through the different poses.

If yoga’s not your thing, skip the poses and just sit quietly, taking deep breaths and getting that deeper sense of being in touch with yourself. That’s really what meditation is all about. The act of doing nothing yet some of the most productive ‘nothing’ there is. Being still, being aware, gaining so much.

Again, these are just basic ideas to get started with mindfulness or meditation. Remember, there’s really no wrong way to practice mindfulness and meditation, as long as it’s serving as a way to find more calm, clarity, focus, and positivity.

Those following along with the monthly wellness opportunities, please share feedback on this one. Additional tips? Opportunities that didn’t work so well? The comments are your space to share thoughts or ask questions so please do so.

In case you missed it, check out January’s healthy habit opportunity: tips to create a gratitude habit and February’s healthy habit opportunity: tips to eat more inclusively.

Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

When Things Are Unknown and Out of Your Control, Find the Positive

“From chaos comes clarity.”

Recently, I was reminded about the importance to focus on the positive and not get caught up in the negativity of things I can’t control.

I imagine a lot of people are feeling this right now in some way, shape, or form.

For me, it all started with a little bug.

When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan
I got hit with a terrible cold bug last Friday. I was hopeful that extra rest in the afternoon and a good night’s sleep would be all I needed to feel up to my Saturday long run. That was silly.

I spent most of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in bed. The rest of the week was spent working from home in partial quarantine while I continued to have a sore throat, stuffy nose, and nasty cough that was not acceptable to bring into the workplace.

Running-with-Stroller

Looking forward to days like this.

That’s the thing about colds. They stick around. They linger. It’s not like the flu where it’s a day or two that you’re down for the count, full-on misery, but then things feel better pretty quickly.

Because of the longevity of this particular bug, not only did I miss my weekend long run, I missed the entire following week. And, naturally, it was some of the nicest, springy-est weather we’ve had yet.

The Stages of Running FOMO Grief
My first instinct was to be super bummed and feel sorry for myself, then move on to wonder if my entire training was down the tubes, if I’d have to miss my next marathon, probably never run one again. Whew, good thing I didn’t overreact.

It is a tough place to be in, not knowing when things will pass, how the body will rebound to running again, and what the rest of the training season will bring. In short, some people think running sucks. I think it sucks when you can’t run.

So after I went through all those stages of running FOMO grief, I tried to remember my own advice I had given my friend, Jordan a few days earlier: missing one long run really doesn’t derail a training plan that much. Even missing subsequent shorter runs doesn’t mean you can’t pick it back up the following week and get back on track.

My good friend and fellow runner, Jenny also helped catapult me back to reality, reminding me that these were just the first of much nicer days to come. I’d get plenty of nice running days in the weeks and months ahead.

And, worst-case scenario, if I got to the point my training did get thrown off to the point I’d have to downgrade from the full marathon, at least I’d have good rest and be healthy to continue running.

When things happen that throw off normalcy and routine, whether training or everyday life, I think it’s important to try to maintain at least a shred of perspective. Yes, it’s okay to be uncomfortable with the unknown, to worry, and to play out all the ‘what if’ scenarios. But it’s also okay to remember that it will eventually pass and life will go back on. And being in the best, positive mental state possible can only help.

Pace-Group

We may be a ways off from this type of group run, but we can still run.

Is My Race Going to Be Canceled?
Even though I’m still not fully healthy yet, I did feel good enough to go for a long run yesterday – and, surprisingly yet not surprisingly, I pretty much picked up exactly where I left off.

With everything happening in the sports and racing world right now, another curve ball might be thrown my way – the marathon I’m training for, my beloved annual Fargo Marathon, could be canceled. Do I worry? Sure, maybe a little bit. But do I forge ahead with my training, knowing that I’m getting so much out of it, more than what I’d show on race day? Damn right.

In the event my race does get canceled, maybe I’ll run my own marathon on May 9. Maybe I’ll throw it out to my fellow runners that we all practice #socialdistancing while doing a virtual marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k, or whatever distance, on our own but united in spirit and our love for running.

How do you react when life throws those big curveballs – worse, knuckleballs – into your routine? Runners, are you currently training for a race you’re worried will be canceled? How are you handling it?

The comments are your space to share thoughts so please do so. Or, connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

The Big Question: Which of the Reese’s Holiday Shapes is Best?

“Not sorry.”

Yep, here we go. In all my years of being an obsessed, er, enthusiastic fan of Reese’s, it’s time to answer an important question: which Reese’s holiday shape is the best.

I’m about to rate each of the Reese’s holiday shapes to determine, once and for all, which is the most delicious.

I’m surprised it has taken me this long to formally document the process but recently I got the inspiration I needed to really dive in and take on this important piece of writing.

Heart-Shaped-Reeses

Showin some love for Reese’s on the blog.

How the winner will be chosen:
I’ve included a few categories of comparison so that I’m not just going with a gut reaction, but truly examining what makes the shape worthy of the ultimate title.

One thing to note, I did set aside all personal holiday feelings to make this decision. For example, my sis-in-law, Danielle, loves the fall season. Naturally, Reese’s Pumpkins are her favorite. While this is certainly one way to make the decision, I assure you, I’ve gone through the appropriate layers and remained as unbiased as possible to arrive at the final decision.

Without further ado, let’s get on with the Reese’s rankings!

Round #1: Best Combo of Chocolate and Peanut Butter
Perhaps the most important factor in this discussion is the overall taste, which really comes down to the right balance of chocolate and peanut butter.

I don’t think there’s any room for argument on this – the Reese’s Egg has the best ratio of chocolate-to-peanut butter. It’s really quite simple, there’s no design to the egg, no nooks and crannies to work around like the Bat or Tree, which leaves room for a big ole blob of peanut butter.

Coming in at a close second: the Reese’s Pumpkin.

Round #2: Most Fun to Eat
Because eating is fun and should always remain fun, I weighed a fun factor into this decision.

The winner: Reese’s Christmas Tree. I enjoy eating this one in bites, starting with the small top of the tree chunk, then going from there.

Coming in second: the Reese’s Bat. Side note, I believe last year was the first time I discovered this new shape and I recall enjoying the process of biting off a wing, then working my way through the rest.

Tree-Shaped-Reeses

Merry Christmas indeed.

Round #3: Best for Sharing
Want to make someone’s day brighter? Reese’s, the answer is Reese’s. In the spirit of easy sharing, there’s one shape with a design that naturally lends itself to sharing.

The winter: the Reese’s Heart. You could easily split it in half to share your Reese’s with someone.

But, who wants to do that? Reese’s shapes aren’t meant to be shared. If you really want to share with someone, you get them their own bag. End of story. This category is bogus, I’m done with it, and the Reese’s Heart has been eliminated from the competition.

Round #4: The Holiday’s Choice Candy
Every season has its recurring candy staples, the stuff you always know is coming. Think Cadbury eggs for Easter, candy hearts with sweet phrases at Valentine’s, and fun-size everything for Halloween.

One of the seasons in which we find a Reese’s shape is severely lacking in its own special identity: Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, there are always plenty of Christmas-themed candies, but there isn’t one true standout, one unique staple of the holiday. I think that’s because there are so many foods associated with Christmas. Candy is often the last thing on anyone’s mind when there are Christmas cookies, fudge, pies, and a smorgasbord of sweet treats all throughout the season.

The winner: the Reese’s Christmas Tree. Every other season has pretty stiff competition when it comes to themed candy (looking at you, Cadbury chocolate eggs) so the tree easily stands out as the best option to take the trophy as the hallmark Christmas-themed candy.

Round #5: The Nostalgia Factor
There’s something to be said for throwbacks. Things that bring up pleasant memories. Your first time experiencing something.

That said, the winner of this category is the one that started it all, the one that set the stage for many years of happy, holiday-themed snacking.

The winner: the Reese’s Egg.

Egg-Shaped-Reeses

The best of all the Reese’s – the Egg.

Coming in second to the Egg, again: the Reese’s Pumpkin.

I think back to my own college years when my roommate Heidi and I had a philosophy during the Easter season of, “An egg a day.” Simply meaning, we felt it was appropriate and necessary to eat a Reese’s egg every day. And we did. We kept them in the fridge, oh they were just chilled perfection and something I think we both looked forward to after a long day of class and work. Ah, memories.

The Best Reese’s Holiday Shape
The competition has been pretty stiff, with all five choices showing up in at least one category.

It wasn’t an easy decision. After careful deliberation and all things considered, I declare the winner of the Reese’s holiday shapes to be: The Reese’s Egg.

While the Christmas Tree took two categories and the Pumpkin was close to the Egg in both of its categories, for me the final decision was both the Egg’s nostalgia factor and it’s ideal peanut-butter-to-chocolate ratio.

But here’s the really good news: All five shapes are delicious. Enjoy them all with each new season. Just be sure to stock up on Eggs during the Easter season because it can get long waiting for Fall and the Pumpkin and Bat to make their appearances.

Your turn: Which Reese’s holiday shape is your favorite? The comments are all yours so please share.

Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @lindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post right to your inbox.

Best Foods to Eat for Runners and Training for a Marathon

“Food is fuel.”

Training for any race, whether a 5k, half marathon, 10 mile or 10k, requires dedication, good sleep, logging miles, and food – lots of food. The question is: what are the best foods to eat for runners?

Fueling is important in everyday life and especially important for runners. One of my biggest challenges is finding new, good ideas for marathon fueling. Especially right now, as I’m in my middle phase, soon approaching my peak weeks, the appetite increases and so, too does the need for good fuel ideas.

Marathon-Training

One rule of training – food is fuel.

Additionally, I’ve had to experiment with my food choices throughout the years. Certain foods fuel my runs better than others, while some foods don’t sit well in my stomach on long run days. I think every runner goes through this to a degree and it’s all about finding what foods work best for you. Another great reason to track food (but without counting calories).

In the spirit of always being on the search for the best marathon training foods, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite marathon training foods and, in my case, all of these are vegetarian so a little bump for those looking to eat more veg-friendly foods and still feel well-fueled.

Breakfast
My go-to breakfast before a run is a whole wheat waffle with peanut butter and half a banana sliced on top. If I need a little extra energy, I’ll top the other half of the banana in peanut butter and enjoy that, too.

On non-race days, another breakfast I love is oatmeal with a spoonful of a plant protein powder like pumpkin seed or hemp.

Lunch
On run days, lunch is usually lighter for me. I’m one of those people who’s not hungry after running – my runger usually sets in the day after a long run.

One of my favorites, especially because I usually train for marathons in the winter, is two slices of avocado toast topped with fried eggs and a little cheese, along with a side of veggie or bean-rich soup. If you want to add an extra punch of good to avocado toast, include mixed greens, cucumbers, or tomatoes.

Other days, I love a good salad with a hardboiled egg and cottage cheese, along with a side of tater tots. Yep, that’s right, tater tots. They’ve proven time and time again to be great fuel for an evening run plus they’re tasty and a great starchy compliment to a protein and veggie-heavy salad.

Waffle-Peanut-Butter

Waffles – pretty much great fuel anytime.

Finally, a Jimmy John’s veggie sub is probably my favorite lunch – often, I eat JJs the day before a long run, sometimes, I’ll eat it after a long run. Other days, I’ll just eat it because it’s tasty and always makes my stomach happy.

Dinner
Carbs are good, they’re not evil. And especially a dinner the night before a run or after one, carbs are good fuel and replenishment.

It’s so runner cliché to eat pasta but it’s true for a reason. What I like to do is mix up traditional pasta like noodles or spinach tortellini with zucchini noodles (I’ve also tried carrot, squash, and other veggie noodle varieties), plus add a ton of veggies like artichokes, spinach, and olives, then top with a light, garlicky tomato sauce.

On lazy days, I’ll take a frozen meal (Amy’s bowls are my favorite) like mac and cheese with broccoli or pesto tortellini, then add a bunch of my own veggies to it.

Other days, tacos are one of my favorite dinners and, best of all, you can mix up the ingredients based on what you’re feeling or what you need to clean out of the fridge (the latter if often me).

Some combos I enjoy are typical, others have a unique twist – here are three:
A black bean burger crumbled up with some tomatoes, spinach and ranch dressing.
Eggs, Spanish rice, tomatoes, spinach, and salsa.
Quinoa, black beans, zucchini, squash, spinach, and salsa.

Veggie-Tacos

Throw anything & everything in tacos.

Finally, breakfast food is my favorite food – so breakfast for dinner is a frequent occurrence. A couple eggs on toast with a sweet potato or scrambled eggs with a waffle topped with berries. Even if it’s just straight up pancakes for dinner. The possibilities of breakfast know no limits.

Snacks
Oh, snacks. I love snacks. Whether a small snack or one much larger, I’m not a three-meals-a-day kind of gal. I need the snacks.

Speaking of breakfast foods being the best, a bowl of cereal with skim milk is often the best snack, any time of day. I tend to go with either a mix of fiber and sweet like Frosted Mini Wheats or Raisin Bran, or simple like Rice Chex or Special K.

When it comes to smaller snacks, Belvita protein bars have become one of my favorites.

Berries, grapes, mangos, oranges, really any fruit is also high on the list.

Hardboiled eggs are another good snack if I don’t have eggs planned for one of my other meals; I usually eat three, one with the yolk, the others just the whites.

And, of course, Reese’s. Can’t go wrong with Reese’s, all day, every day.

Fellow runners, please share your favorite training staple, whether a meal or a snack. I’m always looking for new ideas.

The comments are yours so please share.

Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

Why the 4% Rule is Wrong & It’s Hard to Make Time to Exercise

“A one-hour workout is only 4% of your day”

That quote – powerful, right? I admit it, the first time I read that quote it got me. Only four percent? Of my entire day? That’s nothing! What am I wasting all my time on, I should be at the gym two even three hours every day.

While the root of it is technically true, one hour is four percent of 24, it’s not that simple. And it can create unfair feelings of failure and inadequacy for many.

As I often do, allow me to share a reference story to help illustrate the point I’d like to make.

The Corey Mason Meltdown
In her role as the overachieving, pill-popping, adorable Corey Mason in the movie, Empire Records, Liv Tyler famously – or not famously, depending on your familiarity with the movie – said, “My dad always said there are 24 usable hours in every day.”

Workout-Gear

Making time for this is hard.

We later find out Corey feels enormous pressure from her dad to achieve and do everything. So, usable hours? Sure, if you’re okay with being overscheduled, eating speed like it’s candy, and not sleeping like we discover is happening with Liv’s character.

p.s. eventually she loses her shit and has an epic meltdown from trying to do everything and be everything to everyone.

My point in sharing this little cinematic throwback is to showcase how incorrect the “four percent” quote is and why finding even one hour to work out every day is really tough. It’s also another great opportunity to remind how to prioritize wellness by saying no.

What Happens in 24 Hours
Let’s be real – there are not 24 usable hours in every day. As human beings, there are certain things we need to do – sleep and eat among them.

As citizens contributing to the greater good of this universe, there are other things we need to do – work being at the top of that list. While the rest of it varies from there, here’s a very general example of how quickly those 24 hours are eaten up every day. Everyone is going to need to adjust this to their own lifestyle but it’s a good place to start and illustrate my point.

Subtract 8 hours for sleep – 8 is the holy grail, we all know that. Yet, I know not everyone gets that. So let’s say this 8-hour block also includes time to wind down and get ready for bed, and time to hit the snooze and drag oneself out of bed.

We’re down to 16 hours

Subtract 1 hour for getting ready each day – for some, this is generous; for others, it’s laughably short. Still, seems like a good middle ground.

We’re down to 15 hours.

Subtract 9 hours for work – assuming an average 8-hour workday, plus a lunch hour.

Suddenly, we’re down to 6 hours.

I’ll never be the mom who makes amazing treats – and that’s okay

Subtract 1 hour for driving – to and from work, possibly daycare pickup or drop-off. Similar to the hour for getting ready each day, this hour commute time may be overestimated or hilariously underestimated.

That drops us down to 5 hours

Subtract 1 hour for breakfast and dinner – time to cook, time to eat, and time to clean up.

Now we’re at 4 hours

Finally, subtract one more hour for miscellaneous – if it takes you longer to drive to work, walking to and from places, using the bathroom, or, for many, putting in more than 8 hours per work day.

That puts us at 3 hours

Assuming those averages – and even with the added flex hour, I believe those are still pretty conservative estimates – we’re left with 3 truly usable hours every day.

A one-hour workout becomes 33% of your day, not 4%. Pretty big difference there.

And don’t think I’ve forgotten about kids. It takes plenty of time keeping other human beings alive and cared for every day. For many, that’s the remaining 3 hours right there.

And don’t think I’ve forgotten about the other things in life we need to do for our enjoyment and sanity. Errands, co-worker happy hours, TV time with your spouse, cleaning, reading, calling your dad, a few minutes of relaxation for yourself, and, of course, all the things we say yes to because we “should” do them, whether a committee, PTA event, or other obligation. With or without kids, those remaining 3 hours are easily eaten up, and quickly.

Grandmas-Marathon-Girls

A girls’ trip to run a marathon – prioritizing two things in one!

So, what we’re ultimately left with, looking at those remaining 3 (or likely fewer) hours, is choice and sacrifice.

Say Yes to What Matters
Something’s gotta give to fit in that workout. Most of the time, it’s sleep that’s sacrificed to get up early and work out. Others are willing to sacrifice time to relax and watch TV in the evening, pursue a hobby, or attend an evening networking event. Or choosing to work out vs. spend time with your kids – bring on the #momguilt and #dadguilt.

My point in all this is to remind you that it can be really hard finding time to work out. That’s okay. All the motivational quotes, inspirational memes, and health and fitness “coach” cheerleader posts aren’t the solution and, in fact, may be the opposite of inspirational and leave us feeling like we just suck because we can’t seem to allocate a measly 4% of our day to exercise.

We can’t add more hours to the day, all we can do is try to prioritize and make the best of them. This is where it’s so important to say no and truly spend those precious hours doing what you want to do.

After all, they may not all be “usable” but we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Using them in the way that works best for you is the ultimate goal of wellness.

What do you think about the 4% concept? Where do find most of your time goes?

The comments are all yours so please share.

Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

Tips for Building Healthy Habits: Inclusive Eating

“If you’re not intentionally inclusive, you’re unintentionally exclusive.”

I think we’re officially past the point of talking about New Year’s Resolutions, although, if you made one, I hope it’s still going strong.

Along those same lines, a good resolutions conversation to have this time of year may be about refocusing. Most resolutions fail and it’s not because people are bad and can’t achieve their goals, it’s because of a multitude of reasons.

When it comes to eating, one of the downfalls of resolutions is often that they’re too restrictive. You can’t eat that, only eat this, no sugar, the list goes on.

In time with my next installment of my series about opportunities to build healthy habits, I’d like to make the case for inclusive eating – that means, eating a variety of foods and eating anything and everything you want. That’s right.

Inclusive Eating
There are so many reasons to eat inclusively. Check out my previous blog on the benefits of eating a variety of foods to learn more.

Cute_Baby

Abel believes in eating all the food. Smart kid.

A few reasons to eat inclusively: nutrition, avoiding bingeing, and a happier relationship with food. And, like any good habit, eating more inclusively takes intention. It’s not enough to just want to do it, there has to be a goal, a plan, and specific ways to achive it.

If you could benefit from expanding your food choices, whether to give yourself a break from being so restrictive, to find something new you love, or to add more nutrition, please read on to learn a few tips for healthy eating.

How to Create Healthy Habits
But first, let’s go back to the foundation of this healthy habits series. Like any habit, the desire and a goal along with it are important. Please don’t go into this with anything less than both.

First ask yourself, why do I want to build this healthy habit? Do I really want to or do I feel like I should? Find that purpose, that desire.
If you really want to, the second step is to set your goal. It’s not enough to say, “I want to build a habit of eating a greater variety of foods.” What does that mean? Does it mean daily or would starting with a new food once a week be enough to get going? A goal gives you something to measure, something to gauge success, and see where adjustments or improvements could be made.

Okay, now that the two basic foundations of healthy habits are there, let’s get on with the eating.

Opportunity #1 – Treat Yo Self
Let’s kick off this eating discussion with one of the keys to any healthy, balanced diet – treats. That’s right, treats.

If this is the one lesson I can hammer into everyone’s heads it’s that no food is bad and it’s okay to indulge in something that’s a “treat” every once in awhile. That could mean once a day, that could mean once a week.

To one person, a brownie might be a treat. To another, bread might be a treat. Everyone’s goals and metabolism and genetics are different so it’s up to you to figure out what foods best fuel your body and which should be enjoyed with the most moderation.

Peanut_Butter_Cookie

Tis the season for Girl Scout Cookies – one of my favorites ways to #treatyoself

One more time for those in the back – food is not bad. You’re not bad for eating a treat. Use it as fuel and move onto something better next time.

Opportunity #2 – Fruits and Veggies
It’s nearly impossible to deny that fruits and veggies are good for us. They’re full of nutrients and lower in calories than most other foods.

If you’re not currently an avid fruit and veggie eater, take the opportunity to enjoy at least one of each every day. If you’re already a fruit and veggie aficionado, take the opportunity to try one new one a week.

Now there are some eating plans out there that don’t believe in eating fruits or some veggies. Fruit has too much sugar and some veggies are too starchy so they’re basically carbs. Unless you’re on one of these super-restrictive diets for a reason, there’s no reason to avoid fruits or veggies. Pile ‘em on!

Opportunity #3 – Dress Up the Veggies
Okay, the fruits and veggie thing is easier said than done. Especially when it comes to veggies, it can be a struggle to eat them – and, as importantly, enjoy them. Because, while food is fuel, it should also be enjoyed. That’s why you’ll rarely see me eating kale, regardless of how “super” it is (#teamspinach all the way).

In addition to choosing veggies that taste best, there’s another way to enjoy them, rather than suffering through eating something you don’t like but feel like you should eat: dress up veggies with cheese, hummus, ranch dip, something to make them tastier to you.

Opportunity #4 – Hide It
Not limited to just veggies, there are other foods that are healthy but we may not like. Rather than write them off as something that doesn’t make the cut into a regular diet, find a way to hide them in tastier foods.

There are prepackaged foods that incorporate veggies, for example, I buy a brand of pasta that includes a serving of zucchini and lentils. Cauliflower pizza crusts are super-popular now and zucchini bread has been a tasty treat for quite some time. Just a few ideas to get you thinking.

Veggie_Noodles

Veggie noodles with flavorful sauce are one of my favorite ways to eat more veggies – zucchini, carrot, the list goes on

One of my favorite ways to disguise food is tough to recreate but it has worked for me – fish tacos. I don’t like meat, fish included, but fish is so good, it’s one of those foods I’m trying to incorporate into my diet. A really good fish taco is a great way to eat fish without tasting it or even realizing it’s in there. Figure out what could be your fish tacos then go for it.

Opportunity #5 – Try Something New
And finally, the whole point of eating inclusively is to try new things, expand beyond the usual.

The last opportunity in this month’s healthy habit focus is to try a new food every week. And new doesn’t have to mean brand-new, it could mean something you haven’t eaten in awhile.

Those following along with the monthly wellness challenges, please share feedback on this one. Additional tips? Opportunities that didn’t work so well? The comments are your space to share thoughts or ask questions so please do so.

In case you missed it, check out January’s healthy habit opportunity: tips to create a gratitude habit.

Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

A Super Bold Idea – Set Super Bold Goals

“You’ll never know what you’re capable of unless you try.”

Ha, get it – super bold, like because it’s Super Bowl time. Oh, sometimes I just can’t help myself.

I’ll cut right to the chase. It’s February, which means many people could use a new burst of motivation, now that the shine and shimmer of the New Year has officially blended into the winter that’ll for sure be here another 6 weeks or so.

Here’s a little something I want to throw out there: When looking at what you want to accomplish or a goal you’d like to set, go bold. Go Super Bold.

What It Means to Be Super Bold
By that, I don’t mean set a goal to lose 50 pounds in a month or to run a marathon next weekend without training.

What I do mean is give yourself permission to go for something that doesn’t seem like you could do it or you thought would be cool but you could never do it…but that you might be able to and you really want to.

SecondPlace

Some Super Bold goals will come up short.

There’s this statistic out there that women, in general, don’t apply for jobs or promotions unless they’re 100% qualified or confident they can do the job. Conversely, men, in general, are much more willing to apply for a job or promotion they’re not qualified for or may be way above their skillset.

The point of this isn’t to pit men against women, so let me stop that right there. This is an example, one of several I could share, that shows many of us (some men, some women) are afraid to go for something if we don’t feel we’ll succeed – or, worse, if we think we’re going to fail.

Super Bold Successes
When I was less than two years into my professional public relations career, I had the opportunity to join a start-up agency – not to write or do media relations, which is what I was learning to do, but as the Director of PR. That meant, in addition to writing and media relations, laying out the PR strategy for clients. Building the entire program. Eventually, managing people.

Essentially, I was being offered a job that I was in no way fully qualified for or mentally ready to take on.

But I did it. And, while I can’t say everything was 100% all the time, I did it well.

Or how about the time me, a former running hater, figured I’d try to qualify for the Boston Marathon – you know, one of the biggest running goals out there. And only after I’d run one sub-4 hour marathon (I’d need under at 3:35 to qualify).

But I did it. And, while I may have failed twice at attempting to qualify and I worked for three years to make it happen, I got that BQ.

Speaking of failures, let’s also talk about Super Bold failures. Because if you set out for greatness, you’ve got to be okay with failure, which is where I think many take the detour away from Super Bold to super safe.

Super Bold Failures
Another risky career move I made in my 20s was taking a job at a super cool start-up company in the obstacle course racing industry. Again, I wasn’t qualified for the job on paper or in real life, but I went for it.

BQ

But other Super Bold goals will be successful.

And, while we as a company had some wins and some missteps, ultimately the company failed. I failed along with it. But I learned a lot and I had a really cool experience.

On the heels of the late 20s, my running became really strong, particularly my combo of speed and endurance in the 10k distance. For several races, I set the audacious goal to win them. As in, be the first female across the finish line, regardless of age group.

And, while I did win one, ONE of those 10k races, I came in second or third in about half a dozen others. I probably had no business setting that Super Bold of a goal but, even in those losses, I ran my fastest 10k races ever.

So, next time you think you can’t go for the promotion, ask out THAT girl from the gym, squat more than your bodyweight, whatever it may be that you think you could “never do,” give yourself permission to go for it – to do something Super Bold. And be prepared to work hard and possibly fail in the process.

What’s your biggest or most Super Bold accomplishment to date? What’s your most Super Bold failure and what did you learn from it?

The comments are all about you so please leave one. Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you receive every weekly post straight to your inbox.

Tips to Stay Healthy and Well While Traveling

“Every adventure can have a wellness moment”

This is one of the longer breaks I’ve taken from blogging, I bet since my son was born. I’ve been traveling quite a bit, including over the last two weekends (and I leave for another trip today) so, especially considering weekends are usually my time to write for me, the blog has taken a slight hit.

However, the hiatus gave me some time to think and I recognized all the things I have managed to keep up with amidst all the traveling.

Travel is something many of us deal with, whether for work or pleasure, that can throw off wellness goals.

Sledding

Chris keep up the cardio.

Here are five ways I stay on track with health and wellness while traveling.

1. Remember the Vitamins
This one is a pretty easy one to keep up, it just requires some pre-planning to pack all my vitamins ahead of time. I take a daily multivitamin, elderberry, and fiber, plus, when I travel, I usually add an extra dose of Vitamin C.

I have this nifty pill pack divider container where I portion out all the vitamins and it’s easy to make sure I’ve taken them every day.

2. Keep Journaling
It’s a simple one but keeping up with journaling is my favorite, easy way to stack on track with traveling. Right now, I keep a daily gratitude journal, a detailed exercise journal, a simple food journal, and also include a short end-of-day check in which covers everything from mood to energy level to something notable from the day.

One way I often need to adjust my journaling is to do it all at night. Normally, I do a lot of my journaling early in the morning but I find it’s tougher to do that when traveling because it’s not my normal mourning routine. Plus, moving it all to the evening is a nice wind-down from the busy day and a good way to reflect on the day.

3. Some Exercise
Second only to eating well, I’d say exercise is a tough one to keep up while traveling.

I go into every trip knowing I won’t be able to keep up with my normal exercise – but I use that to give myself grace but also to take the opportunity to try something new. Maybe I’ll do an easy, quick bodyweight leg circuit in my room in lieu of a normal lift. Or, when I was in Montana the other weekend, the altitude got to me so I had to be okay with slowing my pace a bit.

Another simple idea – walk the halls and stairs at the hotel. My colleague, Jim often winds down the day by going for walks, even if it’s simply around the hotel and stairs.

One final tip: Plan your workout schedule so you build in at least one rest day during travel, that way when you need that day (or two) off, it’s an easy, guilt-free decision.

Journaling

A perfect end to the day – journal therapy

4. Eat Well-ish
This one is without a doubt the toughest to keep up with while traveling. As hard as I try to make the best choices, sometimes there just aren’t great options, especially when you’re with a group and dine out at restaurants for every meal.

One of the ways I try to combat this is set myself up for the day with a good breakfast, nothing excessive and similar to what I eat at home. Then, throughout the day, I don’t strive to eat super healthy…just well-ish, as I call it. Burgers for lunch? I opt for the side salad instead of fries. Ordering dessert for dinner? Hell yes! Often, I’ll just split it with someone else.

I also pack healthy snacks, from fruit cups to protein bars, so that I have good options during the day and later in the evening when I’m back at the hotel (no need to hit the vending machine!).

Especially when I travel for work, we’re often outside, moving around and I get hungrier than normal. So if I eat a little more, it’s okay!

5. Get Some ZZZZs
One of the most important pieces to the wellness puzzle, travel or not, is getting good sleep. Again, this is a tricky one because of earlier mornings and later evenings, and just more activity in general. And, when I’m working, I’m one of those who spends the later evening hours catching up with emails and trying to work on projects I normally would during the day.

But I have a rule: I always cut it off by 9 or 9:30, that way I have a little time to relax and wind down with my journaling or reading, then still get to bed by a reasonable hour. Even when traveling for pleasure, I have no shame in sticking to my early-to-bed/early-to-rise schedule as much as possible.

Travel throws us all off, no doubt. But with a little extra effort and planning, these are a few of the ways I prioritize wellness and try to do my best when I’m not in the comfort of my home routine.

What ways do you stay well while traveling?

The comments are your space to share thoughts so please do so. Or, connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

Why to Track Food – For Health, Not Counting Calories

“Food is fuel – fill your tank.”

Food tracking is a common strategy for weight loss. I’ll guess quite a few people out there are currently tracking food, probably counting calories, all in the name of keeping that New Year’s Resolution to lose weight.

But tracking food brings benefits that, while supportive of weight loss if that’s the goal, aren’t about losing weight. And, no matter the goal, food tracking can (and, in my opinion, should) be done without counting calories.

Food Tracking and Counting Calories
The theory behind weight loss is burn more calories than you take in. Simple, right? While the theory is true, the execution is where it’s flawed in real life. Not only is it tough to calculate actual calorie burn (especially exercise machines, those are a ballpark, a best, not an accurate count), it’s even tougher to count calories.

Burning-Calories

Take it from JoeFitness – counting calories isn’t a good idea.

I could give you my explanation but it’s better coming from a professional. Check out this video from my pal and the best authority on everything health and fitness related, JoeFitness. Joe explains why counting calories is a terrible idea and flawed process.

Let me say one thing quickly: no judgment if you track calories or have before. It makes sense in theory, if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight. However, now that we understand why it’s a bad idea to count calories and try to balance out with inaccurate estimates of calorie burn, let’s talk about the true value behind tracking food: fueling the body to feel and function its best.

Food is Fuel
In case I haven’t said it enough before, food is fuel. Food is good for us. Food is not bad, food choices shouldn’t incite guilt, and consuming food is not a punishable offense by cardio and burpees to “burn it off.”

Keeping in mind this positive association with food, it’s just as crucial to realize what too much or the wrong foods for you can do.

I believe that healthy food isn’t black and white. What’s healthy for me may not be for you and vice versa. Healthy foods are what makes each person happy and functioning at their best.

Tracking food helps to ensure the foods you’re eating are providing adequate fuel, nutrition, and making you feel your best. Conversely, tracking food can be a great strategy for those feeling sluggish and looking to boost energy for workouts, raising kids, getting through classes – pretty much living life.

Why to Track Food
I’ll admit it – I’ve tracked calories before. However, I didn’t do so to lose weight (again, no judgment if you have, it makes sense in theory).

When I was training to quality for Boston Marathon, I tracked calories, carbs, protein, sugar, all of it, to help ensure I was getting enough to eat, as well as identify patterns of what made me feel great for a run and when I didn’t feel my best.

Cute-Dog-Eating-Ice-Cream

Food is fuel – sometimes, that fuel comes in the form of ice cream

Still today, I track my food, though I do it fairly casually. No numbers, no specifics, but I like to keep track for similar reasons as I did when training for a Boston qualifier. Tracking food ensures I’m getting enough to fuel my body for its needs, along with helping me realize if certain foods are getting in the way of feeling my best. So there’s plenty of value to tracking food even if weight loss isn’t a goal.

Don’t Count Calories to Lose Weight
For those who are looking to lose weight, there’s still benefit to that goal that comes from tracking food – without tracking calories.

Tracking food makes a person aware of how often and what they’re eating. This can help identify patterns (hmmm…when I don’t eat a quality breakfast, I’m hungry by 9:30 and the donuts in the breakroom sure look good…) as well as makes eating more mindful. There’s something about writing it down that makes you stop to think, “Am I really hungry? Or am I eating this for another reason.”

Of course there are reasons to eat when you’re not really hungry – and that’s okay. Even though you might not be hungry, but something sounds really good, that doesn’t mean it’s bad to eat it. Enjoy it! The exercise of mindfulness is beneficial and may help diminish a craving next time.

For the record, when hungry, eat. Weight loss be damned, if you’re really, truly hungry, your body’s signaling you should eat. Also, life’s too short to be hangry.

What do you think about tracking food without counting calories?

The comments are your space to share thoughts so please do so. Or, connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter. Subscribe to Wellness in Real Life so you get every new blog post straight to your inbox.

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