Monthly Archives: January 2013

Should You Do Cardio or Weights First?

Cardio or Weights?

As a trainer, this question has been asked to me a dozen times. I thought this was a very informative answer for those of you who have wondered the same.

Ready to run after those reps?

If you’re keeping score in the debate over which part of your workout comes first, a new study seems to add a point in the column for cardio.

About 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise before hitting the weights results in a bigger boost to your testosterone levels than doing the same workout in reverse order, according to results published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

This study doesn’t end the debate, though. For one thing, an increase in testosterone isn’t the only after-effect of a workout. Aerobic exercise also releases a flood of enzymes that can actually block strength training’s muscle-building effects, the researchers caution.

And though you might think the more testosterone, the better, research on whether this initial hormonal surge leads to more strength gains later on isn’t conclusive, trainer Marc Perry, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., founder of BuiltLean, tells

Perry typically recommends that if you can’t do weights and cardio in separate sessions, do weights first for the greatest gains in strength, power, and muscle mass. That’s especially true, he says, if:

  • Your cardio of choice is something other than cycling, which is what study participants did. Running, swimming, or rowing may cause more fatigue that compromises your lifting form.
  • You push your cardio past a moderate effort—for instance, by doing interval workouts. You’ll be too spent to lift if you do them first.
  • You’re doing complex moves—such as Olympic lifts—or using heavy weights. If you hit the treadmill first, you may be too tired to execute them correctly.

But, Perry notes, there are a few cases in which cardio can come first. For instance, if:

  • You like it better—it’ll help you stick to your plan. “If someone hates doing weights before cardio, it doesn’t matter if they’re going to get slightly better results, because they’re not going to do it,” Perry says.
  • You’re not as young as you used to be. “For older individuals who need a proper warmup, doing a good 10 to 20 minutes of aerobic activity before strength training can be sensible,” Perry says.
  • Your main goal is to increase endurance. It’s best to stick with your primary goal first, so you stay focused and don’t skip it

3 Things Americans Do Best

I stumbled across this thumbing through Men’s Health. Interesting and a real eye opener. Check it out.

It’s no secret that Americans are unhealthy—and a new study from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) just rubs it in: The United States is the unhealthiest industrialized nation in the world, and seems to be getting worse.

Researchers compared health measures for 17 countries including infant mortality rate, injuries and murders, heart disease, obesity, and sexually transmitted disease, and the U.S. landed in last place. It’s probably due to a combination of factors, says Steven Woolf, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the IOM study group. The U.S. leads the world in hours spent watching T.V., substance abuse, and percentage of people taking legally prescribed drugs. (Hey, so we did come in first in something!)

Another reason for the health issues: income disparity. While the richest Americans have access to the best medical care, lower income Americans can’t afford even the basics. But money doesn’t make you healthy. Those big houses on cul-de-sacs in the suburbs may have nice lawns, but that that style of living makes you more dependent on your car and less likely to walk places, the researchers say. In fact, the study found that people living on a cul-de-sac are, on average, 10 pounds heavier than people living on a grid of streets.

And that’s pretty bad, but it’s not all so grim. So cheer up, America! Here are three key—and actually positive—areas where the United States does excel:

1. The U.S. produces more scientific and medical innovation than anywhere else on the globe. Of all the scientific papers published in the world, 27 percent come from the United States, according to the National Science Foundation (NSF). In second place: China, with just 9 percent. The NSF also notes that research in the United States leans heavily toward life sciences and medical fields.

2. Americans dominate in the Olympics. Someone has to get the benefit of all that scientific knowledge. Sure, not every tennis or golf champ is U.S. born, and it’s nearly impossible to compare an Argentinian soccer player like Lionel Messi with our homegrown stars like LeBron James. But we’ve been dominating the Olympics for years now, racking up more total medals (2,654, as of this past summer) and more gold medals than any country in both the summer and winter Olympics combined. That’s thanks in part to our extensive college sports programs, which most other countries don’t have. “It is possible for large numbers of excellent athletes to be supported completely and provided with good facilities and competition via scholarships,” says John Barrow, Ph.D., professor of mathematics at Cambridge University and author of Mathletics.

3. The rest of us are trying really hard to get in shape. The United States has more paying gym memberships than any other nation—more than 51 million, according to the International Health, Racquet, and Sports Club Association. That means around 16 percent of all Americans at the very least start the year intending to go to the gym regularly. And those numbers don’t even include the people who lift weights in their basement, go running or cycling during their lunch breaks, or play sports in recreational leagues. Keep at it, America—as more people start to live healthy, we’ll all benefit.

by Denny Watkins




Can Red Wine Boost Your Testosterone?

Ran across this article and wanted to share for all of my wine drinking pals!

A compound in red wine could increase levels of testosterone circulating in your body by inhibiting the way you excrete the hormone, according to new research in Nutrition Journal.

Normally, one of the ways testosterone is eliminated from your body is through urine. An enzyme called UGT2B17 attaches specific molecules to testosterone, enabling your body to get rid of it. But researchers at Kingston University in London found that quercetin—a compound in red wine—blocks UGT2B17 in lab studies. That means potentially elevated T levels in your bloodstream, and less in your urine.

What does that mean for you? Researchers aren’t sure yet. “This is a classic example of a study done in a test tube that  potentially might have implications for humans, but there are many steps  that need to be taken to see if these findings can be translated to  humans,” says Michael Joyner, M.D., an exercise researcher at the Mayo  Clinic.

In the meantime, enjoy your wine—but stick to a glass or two max a night. Chugging wine—or any alcohol for that matter—could tank your T levels, not boost them. Men who boozed even moderately every day for 3 weeks saw a 7 percent decrease in testosterone levels, according to a recent Dutch study.

Healthy thought of the day


Whatevery your goals or dreams may be. They aren’t just going to go away! They are your innermost desires and you are going to have to work for them.  It’s not going to be something that happens overnight, But the one thing I know about time is that it is going to pass either way. PERSIST…. reach your goals even if you only do a little each day! You don’t want to wake up 20 years from now with that same nagging voice in the back of your head saying “What if I had”. Make it happen! YOU CAN DO IT!

10 Cocktails with 150 Calories or Less

If your planning to go have a few cocktails with friends this weekend, beware…Many popular cocktails contain more calories than a cheeseburger! To celebrate without adding to your weight, try one of these low-calorie cocktails. Enjoy!
Cosmopolitan Lite: 75 calories, 0 g fat
The ladies on “Sex and the City” popularized this typically-220-calorie cocktail. Lighten it up by squeezing a wedge each of lime and orange into 1 oz of cranberry flavored vodka. Top with club soda and serve on the rocks.
World’s Easiest Cocktail: 75 calories, 0 g fat
And the easiest way to slim down your cocktail order? Ask for a flavored vodka or rum with club soda and a twist of lime on the rocks.
Morning Mimosa: 75 calories, 0 g fat
This classic of 1 oz. orange juice and 3 oz. champagne is the perfect drink for a party or brunch.

Mini Margarita: 80 calories, 0 g fat
Margaritas often come in glasses so big and are made from presweetened bases so sweet that they top 470 calories per cup. Make your own mini margarita: Squeeze a couple of lime and orange wedges into a glass. Add 1 oz of tequila and a splash of sweet and sour mix (optional). Either blend with ice cubes or serve on the rocks.

Poinsettia: 90 calories, 0 g fat
A holiday drink of 1/4 shot triple sec, a dash cranberry juice, and 3 oz champagne is light and cheery!
Basic Bellini: 105 calories, 0 g fat
This popular sparkling cocktail is easy to make: Blend 2 oz white-peach puree with 4 oz Prosecco to enjoy this low-cal Italian favorite!Real Strawberry Daiquiri: 135 calories, 0 g fat
Commercial versions of daiquiri mix contain very little fruit but are heavy on corn syrup and other sweeteners, weighing this “fruity” drink down with 350 calories. Instead, puree 1 cup of strawberries in a blender with 1 oz. light rum and a handful of ice cubes and a sprinkle of sugar.

Nada colada: 140 calories, 0 g fat
“If you like pina coladas”… you’re not alone. These tropical cocktails are the perfect mix of creamy coconut and sweet pineapple, along with enough rum to let you forget how many calories you’re consuming: a whopping 700 in a 12-oz drink. Instead, mix 1 oz. coconut rum with 4 oz pineapple juice, then top with a splash of club soda. Serve over ice.

New Cosmopolitan: 140 calories, 0 g fat
Or sip on 4 oz of cranberry juice and 1 oz vodka, a splash of OJ and a squeeze of lime topped with club soda for a cocktail that would bring a smile to the faces of Carrie, Miranda and all their friends.
Spiced cider with rum: 150 calories, 0 g fat
Warm up in the winter months with this seasonal favorite. For a single serving, heat 6 oz. apple cider with a whole clove, cinnamon stick and dash of nutmeg over medium-high heat. Reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain to remove clove and cinnamon stick (optional). Pour 1 oz (2 Tbsp) rum into a mug and pour cider on top.Get even more tips to slim down your favorite mixed drinks and make smart alcohol choices. For everyone’s health and safety, drink responsibly

10 Natural Ways to Defy Your Age

Skip the Gimmicks to Look and Feel Younger Than Ever

— By Ellen G. Goldman, Health and Wellness Coach

Hello there all my “beautiful” friends. I came across this post and thought it was a good way to try to slow the aging process naturally. Hope y’all enjoy it as much as I did. Happy reading!
Have you noticed that every magazine you pick up lately has advertisements for the many ways we can look younger than our chronological years? There are ads for injections and creams to remove our wrinkles, surgery to zap away our fat, and hair dyes to cover every bit of gray. It’s as if aging is something to be ashamed of; something we should hide—and fight—every step of the way.But aging is inevitable! The alternative isn’t one I would like to choose. We should be proud of the years we accumulate. They are accompanied by wisdom, experience, and greater insight. Growing old, I’m on board with. But looking old? I’m not so hot on that idea yet.Although anti-aging cosmetics and procedures may have a place in your overall routine, there are plenty of natural ways to slow the aging process. We shouldn’t forget that the true key to looking younger is feeling younger. There is nothing that ages an individual more quickly than illness, pain and stiffness, or chronic stress. Therefore, much of what we do to take care of ourselves on a daily basis will also help us keep a youthful appearance.Here is a rundown of the many things you can do that won’t cost (or hurt) too much, but will make you feel vibrant and strong. Let’s be proactive in our approach to aging and grow into our later years gracefully and beautifully!
Adjust Your Mindset: YOU Control How You Will Age
Research has found that the most serious aging occurs at the cellular level. Many of our lifestyle habits such as exercise, nutrition, stress management and sleep will enhance the body’s ability to repair the cellular damage that is inevitable as we get older.

Traditional medicine focuses on treating illness to prolong life. But many healthcare professionals want to shift that focus to preventing disease in the first place. We want to not only add years to our life, but life to our years.

Disease occurs when we fail to keep our bodies and minds active; it is not an unavoidable result of getting older. Arthritis, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and even dementia often occur because of the accumulation of unhealthy lifestyle habits rather than as a result of years ticking by.

Much of what you decide to do on a daily basis will not only prolong the length of your life, but the quality of those years as well.

Exercise: The Fountain of Youth
When I visit my parents who live in a senior community in Florida, I can always tell who among their neighbors are lifelong exercisers: They stand taller, walk effortlessly, and easily look 10 years younger than their non-exercising contemporaries. They exhibit a youthful demeanor that comes with feeling and looking well. Not to mention that a good workout gives us naturally-flushed cheeks and sense of well-being–just a few more bonus reasons to include regular exercise in our arsenal of natural age-defyers! There are three types of exercise that can keep you looking and feeling young.

  • Aerobic exercise increases circulation throughout the body and strengthens the heart and lungs. It aids in digestion, helps us reduce anxiety and stress, and enhances the quality of our sleep. Weight-bearing aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, hiking or dancing, can even slow bone loss.
  • Strength training has been shown to build bone mass, which helps to prevent and slow down osteoporosis. Building muscle mass keeps us strong and revs the metabolism, which helps to maintain a healthy body weight and youthful figure. Strength training keeps us limber and improves balance, preventing debilitating falls and fractures. Ultimately, it keeps you independent and capable of more things even as you get older.
  • Lifestyle activities, such as golf, gardening, bowling, tennis and ballroom dancing involve both physical and mental stimulation, keeping both our bodies and minds young. In general, experts agree that the more you can move–even if it’s not as intense as traditional forms of exercise–the better off your body and your mind will be as you age.

You Are What You Eat, So Feed Your Face
Much has been written about the power of nutrition to ward off illness, boost the immune system and enhance your complexion.

Real food tend is more beneficial to your body and skin than supplements are, and eating a wide variety of super foods increases your chances of absorbing the most nutrients possible.

If maintaining healthy skin is your concern, foods containing vitamins A, C, and E, and polyphenols (antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties that protect and benefit the skin) should be part of your daily diet. Here are some examples of deliciously colorful foods that provide these key nutrients:

  • Vitamin A: Sweet potatoes, broccoli, leafy greens (such as spinach and kale), red, yellow and orange produce (such as cantaloupe, carrots, bell peppers), and asparagus
  • Vitamin C: Red bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, pineapple, kiwifruit, oranges, and cantaloupe
  • Vitamin E: Nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, tomato products, and spinach.
  • Polyphenols: Green tea, cocoa and dark chocolate.

Most health professionals who study the effects of food on aging agree that a balanced diet made up of a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, healthy monounsaturated fats, seeds and nuts, and whole grains is the way to go. Minimize your intake of sugars and highly processed foods and drink plenty of purified water and green tea, and you’ll be doing your best to keep your body functioning well as you age.

Get Your Beauty Sleep.
Experience a night of insomnia or stay up into the wee hours for any reason, and you’ll probably notice signs of sleep deprivation in the mirror the next day. Bags under the eyes and pallor to your skin can definitely make you look old and tired. Repeat this night after night, and the chronic sleep deprivation will age your body from the inside out.

Most of us don’t get enough sleep, and that plays a significant role in our appearances. Individuals who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night may be at an increased risk for viral infections, heart disease, obesity and stroke, with an associated decline in mental functioning to boot.

If your lack of sleep is due to your desire to get more done each day, think about the time you waste due to fatigue interfering with your efficiency. Adjust your attitude and your habits, and begin working to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

If your lack of sleep is due to insomnia, a snoring partner or other nighttime disturbances, some simple lifestyle adjustments might help. Reduce afternoon caffeine, kick the dog out of your bed, or keep a pad by your bedside to write down things you need to remember in the morning. If that doesn’t work, talk with your physician to rule out sleep apnea or other medical conditions that may be preventing you from getting the rest you need.

Calm the Years Away: Deep Breathing, Meditation and Yoga
Chronic unmanageable stress wreaks havoc on our bodies and makes us feel old before our time. It’s been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and skin inflammation. Stress has also been shown to suppress our immune system, making us more prone to illness and disease.

Anything you do to manage and alleviate stress will have a positive impact on how you look and feel as you age. Setting aside a few minutes each day to be quiet, center yourself, and let your worries drift away is smart medicine. Make deep breathing exercises or meditation a part of your routine. Yoga has the added benefit of not only calming the mind, but also keeping the body flexible and strong.

Take Care of Your Smile.
Most people don’t take the time to connect the two, but the health of your mouth can also affect the health of your body. Individuals with gum disease are more prone to heart disease and lung problems. For people with diabetes, treatment of gum problems can also help control blood sugar levels. And nothing can make you look older than yellow, stained or missing teeth.

Make twice-a-day brushing and flossing a regular part of your daily routine. There are excellent whitening toothpastes and strips available over the counter, too. Schedule a professional cleaning with your dentist at least twice a year. And if you are already experiencing cavities, bleeding gums, or loose teeth, consider implants. A periodontist (a dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease), can restore you with a younger smile, fresher breath, and overall health.

Protect Your Skin (and Eyes) from the Sun
Nothing ages the skin faster than sun overexposure. Collagen, the structural protein of our skin, breaks down in response to UV radiation. The sun also increases the production of free radicals, which damage cells and break down collagen as well. Although sunscreen offers some protection, many people apply too little of it—and not nearly frequently enough.

Aside from being a fashion accessory, sunglasses will protect the health of your eyes and will help prevent the wrinkles that accompany squinting at the sun. Purchase sunglasses that provide 99-100% UV protection for both UVA & UVB rays. And protect your skin from exposure by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, longer sleeves and other sun-shielding apparel.

Don’t Neglect Your Ears
Our ears contain tiny hairs that vibrate in response to noise. This then excites the auditory nerve, allowing us to hear and interpret sounds. However, too much vibration due to excess exposure to very loud noises frays those hairs, and could lead to hearing loss over time.

By all means, enjoy listening to music–but turn down the volume. You should still be able to hear outside noises above the music in your ears. Wireless headphones have saved my marriage, since my husband loves to stay up way later than I do watching movies. But if I try to talk to him and he can’t hear me, I know they are too loud.

If you work in an environment that exposes you to constant loud noise, or you love a good rock concert, consider using earplugs or sound-reducing headphones to muffle the sound. Nothing will make you feel old faster than not hearing the conversation around you!

Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol. Smoking can accelerate the aging process and shorten your lifespan (and quality of life) considerably. Decreased lung capacity, emphysema, and heart disease are all associated with smoking, not to mention the detrimental effect it has on your looks. Smoking correlates to wrinkles around the lips, yellowing of the teeth, and aging skin. If you want to look younger, feel younger and live longer, give up smoking!

Alcohol is another vice you should consider giving up to look and feel more youthful. One alcoholic drink a day for women and up to two daily for men (4 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of spirits) may have beneficial effects on the heart, but the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reminds us that chronic alcohol consumption can result in premature and exaggerated aging. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption negatively impacts almost every physiological system in the human body. So if you enjoy the occasional drink, go ahead and partake. But if you overindulge too often, cut back.

Your Brain: Use It or Lose It
When we meet an elderly individual with mental acuity, we are inspired. We say things like, ”Can you believe she’s 90? She seems so much younger! Still sharp as a tack.”

Although dementia does have a genetic component, lifestyle has a tremendous impact on whether history will repeat itself. Many habits, such as exercise and healthy eating, can keep our brain cells functioning well into our elderly years. Some research even shows that seniors who keep their brains stimulated enjoy the same quality of life as younger people.

To keep your mind sharp, play games such as Scrabble, chess, and Sudoku, or do crossword puzzles. Read, go to lectures, concerts and the theatre. Learn to play a musical instrument, or study a foreign language. Anything that continually stimulates your mind and keeps you learning new things is helpful to your brain.

Most importantly, maintain friendships and social connections. An Australian longitudinal study found that older adults with the strongest network of friends were 22% less likely to die during the study than those with weaker social networks.

Don’t call a plastic surgeon to delay getting older! Grab a friend, go for a walk, or play a game of Scrabble. Do what you can to slow the aging process naturally, and enjoy all of your years to their fullest!

How Women Build Muscle

There are more myths and misconceptions about strength training than any other area of fitness. While research continues to uncover more and more reasons why working out with weights is good for you, many women continue to avoid resistance training for fear of developing muscles of Herculean proportions.

Other women have tried it and been less than thrilled with the results. “Don’t worry,” people say. “Women can’t build muscle like men. They don’t have enough testosterone.” This is, in fact, only partly true.

Many women, believing they wouldn’t build muscle, hit the gym with a vengeance and then wondered why, after several weeks of resistance training, their clothes didn’t fit and they had gained muscle weight.

The truth is, not everyone responds to training in quite the same way. While testosterone plays an important role in muscle development, the answer to why some men and women increase in muscle size and others don’t lies within our DNA.

We are predisposed to respond to exercise in a particular way, in large part because of our genetics. Our genetic makeup determines what types of muscle fibers we have and where they are distributed. It determines our ratio of testosterone to estrogen and where we store body fat. And it also determines our body type.

A Question of Body Type

All women fall under one of three body classifications, or are a combination of types. Mesomorphs tend to be muscular, endomorphs are more rounded and voluptuous and ectomorphs are slim or linear in shape. Mesomorphs respond to strength training by building muscle mass much faster than their ectomorphic counterparts, even though they may be following identical training regimens.

Endomorphs generally need to lose body fat in order to see a change in size or shape as a result of strength training. Ectomorphs are less likely to build muscle mass but will become stronger as a result of resistance training.

Building Just Your Heart Muscle

One of the fundamental principles of strength training is that if you overload a muscle, you will increase its size. With aerobic training, the overload is typically your body weight. Activities such as step training or stair climbing result in changes in the size and shape of the muscles of the lower body. Increasing the height of the step or adding power movements increases the overload.

For those concerned about building muscle, it would be better to reduce the step height or lower the impact of the movements. While this may reduce the aerobic value of the workout, it also will decrease the amount of overload on the muscles, making it less likely that you will build more muscle.

Training by the Rules

When it comes to strength training, the old rule still applies: To get stronger, work with heavier weights and perform fewer repetitions. To promote endurance, use lighter weights and complete more repetitions.

It’s encouraging to note that just like men, most women will experience a 20 to 40% increase in muscular strength after several months of resistance training.

Understanding your body type and how you might respond to exercise can help you set realistic goals and expectations. Avoid comparisons to others you see, at the gym or elsewhere, and remember that no two people are alike.

Focus on how good exercise makes you feel rather than how you would like to look. Accepting our bodies for what they are is a great way to get rid of the guilt or pressure we often feel to look a certain way.

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup


Submitted by: DIXIED88


This tortilla soup tastes better than anything you can get at a restaurant. And it’s healthy too! Don’t let the long list of ingredients fool you. All you do is dump everything into the slow cooker and walk away. This tortilla soup tastes better than anything you can get at a restaurant. And it’s healthy too! Don’t let the long list of ingredients fool you. All you do is dump everything into the slow cooker and walk away.

Minutes to Prepare: 30

Minutes to Cook: 240

Number of Servings: 8



              1 pound frozen chicken (shred near end of cooking time)
              1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
              1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
              1 medium onion, chopped
              1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
              2 cloves garlic, minced
              3(14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
              1 teaspoon cumin
              1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
              1 (10 ounce)package frozen corn  
              1 can black beans, rinsed



Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in chicken broth, and season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir in corn and black beans. Cover and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours. Garnish with crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese, or avocadoes. (Note: garnishes not included in nutrition information) Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 8
  • Calories: 168.6
  • Total Fat: 2.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 35.0 mg
  • Sodium: 311.2 mg
  • Total Carbs: 20.3 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.2 g
  • Protein: 17.4 g

Habits of Fit People: Work Out Like It’s Your Job

For most of us, work is a reality of life. Whether you love your job or hate it, working for a living is something that you know you have to do, and probably don’t have much trouble motivating yourself to show up to each day. Wake up, get ready, arrive on time, do a decent enough job to not get fired (maybe better!), rinse and repeat…day after day, week after week. As responsible adults, we make our careers a priority out of necessity. We work to make money, which helps us live the lives we desire. You can complain about it, think it’s boring and wish you didn’t have to do it, but ultimately, the rewards we get from working outweigh the “rewards” of not working (like sleeping in or having more free time).

So why do we treat other areas of our lives as so much less important? You can hate your job but still show up 40+ hours a week for decades. Even if you don’t enjoy exercise, couldn’t you muster enough motivation to spend 10 or 15 minutes a day on it? After all, the benefits of exercising—weight management, stress relief, stronger bones and muscles, a healthier heart, less depression, higher self-esteem, a sense of pride and accomplishment, a decreased risk for countless chronic and debilitating diseases—far outweigh the temporary “rewards” of skipping it (more couch time or a few extra minutes of sleep).

What would it look like if we all treated exercise like our jobs (or at least our second jobs)? Doing exactly that can help you make fitness part of your life once and for all.

Here are a few ways you can treat exercise like your job. View it the same way, and you’ll make far fewer exercise excuses.

Make it a priority.
For most people, our jobs are our #1 priority. You spend more time at work that almost anywhere else, and your daily life revolves around your work schedule. If you exercised like it was your (second) job, you’d treat those gym appointments with as much importance as work. You’d make all the other things in your life work around your workout schedule. I know it can seem daunting, but think of all the many other commitments that you treat with respect in your life. Working out is just as important as many other hobbies and responsibilities because it keeps YOU in tip-top shape to be your best at everything else (including a better worker, partner, volunteer, parent, friend and so on). So next time your girlfriends want to plan drinks during your Wednesday night Kickboxing class, ask them to pick another day or time, or squeeze in a shorter workout and then go meet them. Only by making fitness a priority like you do your job will you ever be able to really stick with a workout regimen.

Show up on time.
Most of us don’t have trouble hitting the sack, setting the alarm, and getting out the door in time to beat rush hour and get to our posts on time. Why then are you chronically late for your personal training session or unable to wake up 30 minutes earlier to squeeze in a morning walk? The truth is that you are capable of showing up to things on time, but you aren’t prioritizing your workouts like you do your job. If working out was your livelihood, you would not hit snooze or stay up too late. Think about that next time the early morning alarm sounds. If you treat exercise like your job, you may feel tired—maybe even unmotivated—but you’ll get out of bed anyway and put your shoes to the pavement.

Dress appropriately.
Most jobs have some kind of a dress code, whether strict uniforms or a certain level of business-appropriate attire. Because work is important to you, you adhere to those standards, purchasing enough work clothes for a variety of seasons and occasions. You don’t have to spend a lot on workout clothes, but you should have something you can work out in: appropriate shoes for your activity, the right layers if you hope to walk or run in the winter, and any other gear that makes working out more comfortable and convenient, such as a gym bag and water bottle. Treat your workouts with as much respect as you do your job, and you’ll never be at a loss for clothing or gear, which means you won’t be able to make excuses about skipping it.

Try your best.
I know plenty of people who just clock in, put in their hours, and leave when the clock strikes five. But I know a lot more people who try hard at work—and in many areas of their life. There’s a lot of satisfaction that comes from a hard day’s work, regardless of your job. You probably feel better at the end of each day when you know that you gave it all you could. Not only do you feel better, but your boss probably notices your work effort, too (and hopefully rewards you for it). Similarly, I see people in the gym who trudge through their workouts on autopilot without even an ounce of intensity. Yes, some exercise (even low-key) is better than none, but why not put a little more “oomph” behind your exercise sessions? Not only will your body benefit from a greater calorie burn and challenge, helping you get even fitter as a result, but maybe more importantly, YOU will feel proud of yourself. When I am teaching my Kickboxing class, I remind my students not to quit just because we’re close to the end of a series, the end of a song, or the end of the class or workout. Give yourself a workout that you can be proud of.

Climb the ladder.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? If you’re career-oriented, then you probably have some goals in mind. You work hard, challenge yourself in new ways, and hope to climb the corporate ladder. Whether it’s for prestige, self-satisfaction or simply more money, most of us hope to move up the corporate ladder. Your workouts should be no different. Regardless of your age or fitness level, you can always improve and take yourself to the next level of fitness. Have you been walking for years? Maybe it’s time to graduate to jogging. Have you been lifting the same 5-pound dumbbells for 6 months? Then give yourself a promotion to the 8 pounders and see what you can really do!

Strive for work-life balance.
While most Americans struggle with this, it’s something that we all want. If you follow a typical work schedule, you are at least taking a couple days off from work each week or weekend, which helps us better achieve the balance that we need in our lives. It can’t always be work, work, work. And it can’t always be work out, work out, work out. You need downtime, easier days, rest days, and a variety of workouts to help prevent boredom and burnout. Build rest, variety and downtime into your workout program just like you do (hopefully) into your work life. We all need to cut ourselves some slack sometimes!

One of the reasons exercise is part of my daily life is because I treat it like it’s my second job. It’s a major priority for me—probably the second biggest priority in my life next to my career. Other than motherly duties, there’s almost nothing I do every single day other than work and exercise, but at the same time, I’ve learned to make it fun and give myself the balance (and downtime) that I need, which keeps me going strong.

So next time you find your workout motivation waning, or start making excuses to skip your exercise session, ask yourself how you’d respond to that hurdle if exercise was your job. Chances are, you’ll clear it (and be glad you did).

Happy New Year!

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