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Posts Tagged priorities

Experience Life Magazine

Train Your Brain for Fitness

Even with the motivation the New Year brings, starting a fitness routine still isn’t easy — especially for busy moms. Developing the mental strength to get you moving has to be step number one before fitness can become a lifelong habit.

Training your brain for fitness means identifying your values, then prioritizing your time so you are living your life according to your priorities. If you’re reading this, we’re assuming health and fitness are on your list of family values, or you want them to be. Keeping those values top of mind–even posting them someplace visible–will help ward off Mother Guilt when you’re iffy about working up a sweat. Being motivated by your values is essential if you want to make fitness a habit in your life. It isn’t, however, the only ingredient. In order to turn fitness from a dreaded task to a habit, you need it to be:

Happy inducing,
You don’t have to hate exercise. Find what brings you joy and makes you smile. Set and accomplish goals to enhance that workout high.

Authentic activity,
Pursue fitness as a mission to find activity that is an extension of yourself. Don’t be afraid to try new things. 

make you Better off than before
Sure you’ll feel better after a workout–physically and mentally–but also empowered, which spills over into other areas of your life.

Integrate easily into your life
Workouts should be neither too burdensome to pursue nor too time consuming. Choose activity that fits in with everything else you’re already doing.

and be a Time valued activity.
There will come a point when you value the time you spend exercising–not just the positive side effects like losing weight or a stronger core–but the very act of exercising, because you want to not because you have to.

Every fit mom has to keep training her brain right along with her body. Even when exercise is a priority, clingy toddlers, surprise pediatrician visits, and carpool can interfere with the best intentions. But when fitness is a habit she’ll at least have the mental strength to get moving when the next fitness opportunity strikes.

Kara Douglass Thom and Laurie Lethert Kocanda are co-authors of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.

Experience Life Magazine

Goodbye, Mother Guilt: The Secret to Staying Committed is Letting Go

If you’re like most moms, it takes more than good intentions to stay committed a fitness routine. Don’t let that occasional cookie get you down. What’s really standing in your way is an overdose of something much more toxic: Mother Guilt.

Overcoming Mother Guilt–maybe just locking her in the closet for an hour at a time–is essential if you want to carve out time to get fit. First you need to free up a little mental space so you are strong enough to make the appropriate compromises.

Lose the Preconceptions and Misconceptions
Start by identifying your preconceptions of motherhood; you’ll probably realize what you thought were parenting no-no’s might actually have a place in your life. For example, maybe it’s not so bad to let your kids watch television if it means you can jump on the treadmill or tune into FitTV for an hour. Junk food might be okay if it gets your kids into the jogging stroller. Perhaps you can miss a soccer practice to go for a quick power walk or run. The point is to challenge what you’ve accepted as parenting truths and get realistic about what life is really like.

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Take Inventory
Take some time to write down what’s important to you, what values you want to impart on your children (hopefully health and fitness are near the top of the list). Then, take inventory of one or two typical days and see where you’re actually spending your time. Like it or not, top entries for your day translate into your top priorities. Work to make health and fitness an actual, not just perceived, priority. Then, remember who is watching because, like it or not, we lead by example.

Protect Your Priorities
Once you’ve established what your actual priorities are, it’s easier to fight to protect them. Allocating the right amount of time to each of your priorities leads to a certain type of contentment; the alternatives are resentment and (you guessed it) guilt. Saying “no” to something that isn’t a priority starts to feel good when you use the time freed to attend to something that is. You’ve likely fine-tuned your ability to say “no” walking the aisles of Target with your kids. It’s time to put those skills to good use and clear a little clutter from your life.

Remember it’s a Balancing Act
Learning to say “no” is important because sometimes we have to say it to something that is a priority–including fitness. When life throws you a curve ball, make a decision on how you will react. If fitness doesn’t fit in during a particularly hard week, let it go. In making that decision, you stay in control–there is no resentment, no anger, no feeling like the victim. Keep those priorities in check and realize it’s okay to experience temporary imbalances. Sooner or later, you’ll find equilibrium again and your fitness will return.

If you’ve had a hard time maintaining a regular fitness routine in the past, try focusing some attention on the mental components first. Physical fitness requires mental training; knock Mother Guilt out of the picture and the possibilities are endless.

Laurie Lethert Kocanda is an endurance athlete, mom and co-author of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.

Experience Life Magazine

Time Crunch Christmas Workouts

Tis the season to scramble for last minute Christmas gifts, put up the remaining decorations, plan a big family dinner, attend parties, and engage in the other festivities that come along with Christmas and the fast approaching New Year.


Because people are busier than ever during this time of year, they have trouble sticking with their training program or worse yet, they skip the gym all together. Just because you have minimum time available during the busy Christmas season does not mean you should stop working out. What you need are some Time Crunch Christmas Workouts that get you in and out of the gym in 20 minutes while still allowing you to make progress.

Yes, you only need 20 minutes to get in a great strength training workout.

Time Crunch Workout Tips

Before you get to the time crunch workouts, you must understand a few important tips if you want your training sessions to be effective.

1) Just get to the gym! The hardest part of sticking to a training program during a busy time is just getting to the gym. Schedule a time to train, and just get there. It’s not about “having time” to train, it’s about making time. Do it!

2) Make the most of your time in the gym. Once you’re there, make the most of every second. You can do that by performing big compound movements that work the greatest amount of muscle possible. And, please, lift something heavy while you’re there. Strength training for 20 minutes will provide better results than spending 30 or more minutes on a cardio machine.

3) Work hard. If you’re only going to train for 15 to 20 minutes, you better work hard. Just so there is no confusion, my definition of work hard means you will train with intensiveness. For example, if you are going to perform five reps on the deadlift, you better use a heavy enough weight that allows you to perform five perfect reps, and no more. Using a weight you could perform for 10 reps but only doing five is not training with intensiveness.

Yes, this means you will have to really focus on what you’re doing and push yourself. However, if you work hard and stay focused, you’ll get more out of a 20 minute workout than most people do from a 60 minute workout.

Sample Time Crunch Christmas Workouts

Workout 1 – Barbell & Bodyweight
1a) Deadlifts 3×5
1b) 1 Arm DB Push Press or Parallel Bar Dips 3×8

This workout is very simple because it contains only two exercises. After a warm-up for the deadlift and push press/dips, select a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed number of repetitions with perfect form, but no more. As an example, you should use a weight for the deadlift that allows you to complete five reps without your form breaking down, but another rep should be almost impossible. This is working hard.

Do the same for the push press or parallel bar dips.

You will superset the exercises, meaning you will perform a set of deadlifts, rest 90 seconds, and then perform a set of push presses or parallel bar dips. Rest for about 90 seconds and go back to the deadlifts. You will repeat this format until you complete three sets of each exercise.

Workout 2 – Barbell & Bodyweight
1a) Squat 3×8
1b) Neutral Chin-ups (or pull-downs) 3×8

The same guidelines from Workout 1 apply to this training session. Remember to train with intensiveness!

Workout 3 – Dumbbells Only
1a) Dumbbell Goblet Squat 3×8
1b) 1 Arm DB Row 3×8
1c) 1 Arm DB Bench Press 3×8

This workout uses dumbbells only and contains three exercises. Perform a set of exercise one, rest 60 seconds, perform a set of exercise two, rest 60 seconds, and then perform a set of exercise three. Rest 60 seconds and repeat until you complete a total of three sets per exercise.

So there you have it; three time crunch workouts you can use during the busy season that will get you in and out of the gym in minimum time while still allowing you to get results.

Remember – train hard!

Nia Shanks is a personal trainer and author of Fat Loss Detour and Beautiful Badass, which includes 16 different training program and no-nonsense, stress-free nutrition guidelines.