How to find a workout that sparks joy

I am probably one of the very few who didn’t fall head over heels for Transform:20, the new workout by Beachbody Super Trainer Shaun T. I tried a sample workout before launch and just wasn’t feeling it, so I knew I wouldn’t be motivated to complete it.

Many people who say they hate working out just haven’t found the right workout…yet.

Personally, I hate going to the gym. I’ve tried it time and time again, but I just don’t feel comfortable in that scene. Last year, my husband and I started building our own home gym, and I feel like it’s pretty complete now. The great thing is that it doesn’t even have to be expensive! We found a barely used NordicTrack treadmill on Facebook Marketplace for $150, picked up a barbell set from DICK’S Sporting Goods, and scored a nice spin bike from Bath and Beyond (coupon eligible!).

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Said bike! Isn’t it great?

The above, coupled with a dance floor, huge projector, and many other odds and ends, makes our gym my happy place.

What works for me

After years of experimenting with different workouts, I’ve found a few that stand out as favorites. Instead of just sticking with one workout program, I decided to create a schedule incorporating all of my favorites. Two days a week I’ll do pure cardio, in the form of dance or step. (I’ve found that I’m better suited for longer cardio sessions in the evenings, so if I plan it right, I can bust out my workouts after work while my husband goes to the local gym.) Three days will be cardio/resistance in the form of spin and weight lifting. Two days are reserved for light workouts such as yoga, or just an old fashioned rest day.

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Some of my favorite dance workouts!

My current schedule looks like this:

  • Mon/Wed – 60 mins Cardio (Evening)
  • Tues/Fri/Sat – 15-30 min Spin & 30 mins Strength Training (Morning)
  • Thurs/Sun – Rest/Yoga/Meditation

How can you find your perfect workout?

  1. Do more of things you already enjoy. Like hiking? Plan outings with friends or take your fur baby for extra long walks on a local trail. Love dancing at the club? Bring the energy home. YouTube has some fun workouts, but you could also opt for something more regimented, like Beachbody’s Cize or Country Heat (pictured above) – both amazingly fun!
  2. Try something new. A lot of gyms and online classes offer free trials or discounts for first-time members/users. Keep your eyes peeled for deals. I just scored great ones from the Sweat app (3 months for $1) and Peloton Digital (3 months for $19.49 plus tax).
  3. Take note of what your friends are doing. A friend of mine is into spin class. I did some research and found out that local classes are pretty expensive – like $150 a month. It ended up being cheaper to buy a bike and pedal away in the comfort of my own home. One of my friends loves yoga, another does MMA, a few others are runners. Ask to join a workout and see what you think.

Really, it’s just about experimenting. Not everyone will love every workout. If a workout doesn’t spark joy, kick it to the curb and say “thank you, next.”

Warning: Unpopular opinion shared below. 

At the end of last year, I decided to cancel my Beachbody Coach account. After toying with the idea for a while, I had a few revelations that culminated in one huge Eureka moment before my 29th birthday: it just wasn’t bringing me joy. And like Marie Kondo says, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart.” I feel like this is true with material objects AND every other aspect of life.

I’ve completed so many fitness programs and so, so many reviews, but at a point, I feel like it just gets old. You drop pounds, you gain them again. You restrict your diet, then you add in cheat days, and finally, life just becomes one big feast. At this point, I should look and feel like a fitness competitor (insert laughing so hard I’m crying emoji). But instead, like many other loyal Beachbody groupies, I’m right where I started, ready to “begin again” with the next program launch.

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The beginning of LIIFT4.

While I’ve loved programs like Shift Shop and LIIFT4, I could only complete them so many times before they just got…well…stale. So, after four years of Beachbody, I’ve decided to bid adieu to coaching and BOD. Don’t get me wrong, $99 a year is a great price for what you get – if you use it.

In the last few weeks, I’ve tried classes from Sweat by Kayla Itsines, AKT (Kelly Ripa’s trainer), Jillian Michaels, and BodyBoss. While good, none of them are really worth the $20+ a month, in my opinion.

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Calorie burn from a Body Step workout.

This year, I’ve decided to DIY my own fitness plan, incorporating all of my favorite things – dance, HIIT, strength training, and biking. Stay tuned for future posts on what that looks like and how you can create your own!

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New gym equipment coming soon!!

How Yoga is Making Me a Better Runner

Dee Dee is a New York based freelance writer, fitness enthusiast, and bibliophile. We’ve know each other for about 25 years, and I’m so grateful she volunteered to guest post this week! Read on to see how she developed a yoga practice after running her first marathon. Then go follow her on Twitter @cityofdeedee.

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First came running…

I started running in 2013 after moving back to New York from Florida. I was interning in New York City and struggling to find a full-time job, so I thought picking up a hobby like running would be a nice way to boost my self-confidence and distract me from obsessing over my job search. Well, long story short, it worked. After my first 5K, which felt like a marathon, I signed up for more races and trained for longer distances before running my first real marathon in 2016. After crossing the finish line, I decided to try it one more time, so I signed up for the 2018 race.

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Crossing the finish line in 2016!

My goal for the second time I did the marathon was to do better than the first because I knew I wasn’t gonna be doing this again anytime soon, but that goal got deterred by shin splints. Anyone that runs knows that shin splints can completely suck and your training can be severely compromised when you have them. I tried everything I could think of (or Google) to reduce the pain, but nothing worked fast enough. It didn’t help that I had a job that had me on my feet most of the day despite it being a “desk job” so taking a break from running didn’t make a difference.

Then came yoga…

Eventually, I figured I’d give yoga a shot because it felt like it was the only thing I didn’t try. Plenty of blogs recommended yoga for recovery, but I never cared for it, even after trying it numerous times. I was a runner. I liked going my version of fast (I am actually really slow compared other runners) and hard, and yoga felt like the exact opposite. But I was desperate. The NYC Marathon was less than two months away, and I needed to be able to cross that finish line. So with all of that in mind, I reluctantly began my yoga journey.

I started each morning with a few poses I found online that I could easily incorporate into my morning routine. I got some relief from them, which made it more tolerable to do, so I worked my way into 5-10 minute routines. By late October I was doing it twice a day, in the morning for pain relief, and in the evening to help me sleep. It took a lot of mental effort to persist through a workout that forced me to slow down and pay close attention to my body, but as the benefits revealed themselves week by week, I couldn’t see a reason to stop doing it.

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A little backyard yoga.

By the time the marathon came around, the pain left, but my desire to continue with my yoga practice was only beginning. I decided to hit up my best friend from college who had experience with yoga and together, we decided to offer each other encouragement and support from a distance as we pursued our journeys.

So, what comes next????

Since the marathon, I’ve done a good job at keeping up with my yoga practice and making an effort to study it off the mat too! Even though I haven’t been running as much, I like to think that yoga is making me a better runner. I’m learning that so much about yoga is letting things go, good or bad; being stuck on either prevents progress, and no one wants to be held back by dwelling on an especially tricky move or continuously thinking back to that ONE time you did an especially good down dog. Focusing on any one of those things don’t help you move forward because they bring you back into the past.

I used to spend a lot of time beating myself up if I couldn’t run as far or as fast some days; especially during marathon training. Now that I’m working running back into my routine (I stopped for nearly two months after crossing the finish line), I’m a lot more forgiving of myself and where I am. I acknowledge where I am, promise myself to work harder and not give up, then pretty much leave it alone.

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Personally, the mental/emotional changes that are taking place due to my new workout are way more valuable for the physical changes because I’ve always had a hard time letting anything go, but I am excited to have an exercise that’s helping me change my mindset just in time for the new year!

Have you ever started something that you didn’t think you’d like but ended up loving? Or, do you have something that worked out for you in 2018 that you’re taking into the new year? Let me know I wanna hear from you!

Finding the Balance: Recap

It’s Friday! Seriously, where did the time go this week? I blinked, and it was over. Let’s do a quick recap of the last few weeks.

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Self-Care

I can go on and on about this topic because it’s so important to take care of yourself. Whether you like to color, read, exercise, get crafty, take a bath – or countless other things – take some time out of each day to show yourself a little love.

You can still take care of others and do things for yourself. It doesn’t make you selfish – it makes you a better YOU.

Work

Let’s face it, most of our waking hours are spent at work. There is no such thing as work-life balance. So, if you don’t have a job you’re crazy about – either find a way to get crazy about it or find a way to get out.

Home

Even if you have a stellar job, your home should be a solace – the place you love coming to every day. Many times we get so overwhelmed by chores and *gasp* adult responsibilities. I’m with you on that one. But with little adjustments, we can balance (or even farm out) some of the tasks. Think meal deliveries or a chore chart.

Relationships

All of our relationships are so important – the ones with ourselves, our family, our spouses, and our friends. We need to make time for them, to show them that we care. No one is promised tomorrow.

Zen

The world as we know it is filled with so much stress. It could be bad or good, but it’s still taxing to the body, and so, so important to find time to relax and be happy. It took me a while to find a morning routine that works, but I’ve finally landed on a good mix of prayer and exercise. With a little experimenting, you can find what works for you.

If you have one key takeaway from this balance series, let it be “make time for the people and things that matter.” If you’re interested in reading more, check out each week via the links above.

Peace, Love, Zen

DS

Finding the Balance: Zen

It took me a long time to come up with a morning practice that works. One that I would stick to even on the weekends. I tried journaling, reading fiction, rolling out of bed and pushing play on a workout right away, and what feels like a million other things to have a more productive start to the day. Nothing felt right.

Then one day I decided to focus on two of the things that really matter to me – prayer and workouts. It might seem a little silly because both of these activities are radically different. You have prayer, which is solemn and quiet, and then you have workouts, which are vibrant and loud, but both help put me in the zen zone and set good intentions for the day ahead.

It goes like this…

During the week I wake up around 5 am, stagger into the kitchen with one eye open, shake up my pre-workout, and head down to the basement (gym) to begin my morning ritual. (On the weekends the practice starts a little later – Oh, how I love my sleep!)

I chose 5 am because at that time, I’m the only one awake in the house and have a full two hours to get ready for the day in complete peace. I love talking to God when it’s quiet and the only sounds are vibrations from the furnace. It’s also nice to get my workout done before work so I don’t have to worry about fitting it in after.

Prayer

After chugging my pre-workout, I settle in with a blanket and whatever prayer or meditation book I’m currently reading. Right now it’s The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, which I’m reading with my nanny. It takes about half an hour for the supplement to kick in and give me the buzz I need to power through my hour-long routines.

Then I have about 30 minutes to read and run through a series of prayers for my family, friends, myself, and the world. When time permits, I’ll throw in a meditation or repeat a mantra while counting my mala beads or breaths. This is usually the most relaxed I’ll be all day, and I love starting the morning so focused.

Workouts

I work out for about an hour six mornings each week – usually skipping Saturdays. I’ll do a mix of cardio and resistance – dance, MMA, strength training – really, whatever floats my boat that day. Lately, I’ve been on a dancing kick. It’s just so fun and energizing in the morning and helps me burn a ton of calories.

It helps to stick with routines that I like, so I’m motivated enough to get up and workout before the sun comes up. In the past, I’ve fallen off because I’ve settled for programs that weren’t a good fit.

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Post-workout I enjoy a nice stretch or foam roll and then get ready for the day.

This practice leaves me refreshed and feeling great. In fact, if I miss my routine, my ENTIRE day goes down the toilet.

Creating your own practice

The world as we know it is filled with stress. It could be bad (current politics, being laid off from a job, or an illness) or good (new baby, buying a house, or starting a new job). Regardless, it’s still taxing to the body and so, so important to find time to relax and be happy.

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I love this book that shows you how to meditate without going overboard.

Have yourself a little zen

Perhaps you like waking up at 9am and eating a big breakfast every morning. Maybe you’re a night owl and need an 11pm practice. Whatever it is, you can work it out. Here’s a 5-Step practice to help you find a zen routine that works.

Step 1: Pick a time that will consistently work for you (morning, noon, or evening)

Step 2: Think of all the things you love or find relaxing. (Listening to classical music, reading, weeding the garden)

Step 3: Put a few things together and keep it SIMPLE (You can listen to music while doing another activity or mesh your love of reading and the outdoors by taking a book outside)

Step 4: Test it out. (Listening to classical music as you garden just before sunset each night OR reading a book while swinging in your hammock at lunchtime OR taking a stroll every morning after you wake)

Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 until you find a good fit. (Listening to classical music while taking a stroll at lunchtime)

Whatever you land on, make sure it’s something that makes you happy!

Check out last week’s post and stay tuned next week for our Finding the Balance Wrap Up!

Peace, Love, Zen

DS