What's Working Out - January

Lately, I have done some reevaluating of my fitness goals and decided to focus more on maintaining my current level of fitness and finding a sense of balance in my overall health. Last year was all about getting in shape, and this year is about maintaining what I have achieved, while also putting my mental well being of equal priority and trying to eliminate stress on my body. Part of this shift has to do with some physical symptoms that popped up for me at the end of 2015, which primarily consisted of headaches, back pain, and inflamed joints. I’m focusing right now on consulting several different medical professionals including a naturopath, my MD, and a chiropractor to get things on track, and also have dramatically shifted my workout endeavors to ease the stress on my body.

Last year was all about heavy weight lifting. I wanted to build muscle, and strong ones at this. And I did. And it was really empowering. But this year is about something totally different, and my routine has shifted because of that. Here is what I am doing right now that is working for me:

Moderate weight training

I’m not deadlifting more than my body weight anymore. In fact, some days I’m just working with the 45 lb bar. When it comes to free weight exercises, everything is about 5-10 lbs lighter than what I was lifting towards the end of 2015. I’m also focusing on higher reps rather than fewer reps and no longer working towards exhaustion. Right now I am lifting about 4 times a week, taking two days on at the gym and then a rest day (for example, this week I am working out Sunday, Monday, rested Tuesday, then working out Wednesday, Thursday, resting Friday, and so on). My rest days are not totally sedentary, they involve yoga and doggy walking. I am still training with an emphasis around specific muscle groups, so every week I am working biceps/triceps, chest/core, shoulders/back, and legs/core, one for each of my four workouts at the gym. What exercises I am doing can often vary each workout, but I am typically weight training for 45 minutes in the morning, followed by 5 minutes of yoga and stretching.

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Yoga

I am trying my best to get yoga in every single day. It has made a huge difference when it comes to my back pain and stress levels. Doing a quick round of sun salutations after a workout helps my feel limber throughout the rest of my day, and 15-20 minutes of vinyasa flow in my evenings helps me let go any residual stress from the day and find deep sleep quickly when it’s time for bed. When I can fit it in on a rest day, I am trying to get in an hour long class, preferably one that is heated to do deep stretching. If I can’t make it to a heated class, I will try to fit in light stretching in the steam room at my gym once a week to get the same deep muscle stretching and relaxation.

Chiropractic medicine

I started incorporating my chiropractor into my training routine early last year when my back first began to flare up, and he has become an essential part of my overall well being. With as much as I travel, train, sit at a desk, and absorb stress like a sponge, getting regular chiropractic care makes a tremendous difference in releasing tension and properly aligning my body. I see my chiropractor as a crucial part of my health team, and he and I collaborate to discuss my training routines and make sure that I am properly aligned to support even and consistent muscle development that also eases strain on my joints.

Consistent healthy eating

I try my best to eat a diet consisting of primarily healthy whole foods, and I do the majority of the cooking in our house. This is great because a) I can control how healthy our meals are and b) because I have a partner and son that are loyal and honest guinea pigs/food critics to my latest recipes. That being said, we love food, which means we also love going out to eat. Between weekly indulgences and work travel, it is really easy for my diet to get off track. With the new year (and our new kitchen remodel that just finished this week!) I am trying to get focused and back to my meal prepping ways so I have healthy meals to take with me to my Seattle office, and easy delicious meals to whip up for the family when I get home. Also, getting back on track for me means staying away from gluten and dairy, two culprits that impact my issues with inflammation, make me break out, and overall just make my belly unhappy.

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Getting away from my desk

I work really hard. I love what I do. But often times I get so wrapped up in my work that I end up going hours on end without getting up to move and tear my eyes away from a computer screen. In order to combat this I invested in a new fitness tracker (more about this soon) that vibrates to alert me when I have been inactive for a time period of my choosing, and I’ve also put a daily activity break on my calendar. Because of the way I work, I know that if it is on my calendar, I feel obligated to get it done. In that spirit, my daily activity “meeting” reminder gets me up midday for a walk, which I can use for a call or meeting with an employee if I’m really busy, or walking my dog if I’m at my home office.

Breath Work

Lastly, I have been putting serious and conscious effort into getting my stress levels under control. One of the latest things I have been trying is to commit to 10 minutes of breath work a day thanks to the help of some guided exercises that come with my new fitness tracker (again, more on this soon!). I typically do the exercises right before bed, but sometimes also lean on them midday or at moments where I’m feeling particular stressed or my nerves are shot. The excises have helped so much. I am less anxious, more even keeled, calmer, and even sleeping better to boot.

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So that’s what I’ve been giving a try in January. I know many of us are still in the midst of trying new regimes and routines during this resolution season. So what’s working out for you this month? Feel free to give a shout in the comments.