Thursday, March 10, 2016

Building a Workout Plan

Recently, I've been trying to kick my regular work out up a notch to prepare for a really exciting vacation I have planned for the end of April.

More on that in a future post... just know that it is imperative I can rock a bikini!

I'm sure many of you can relate to how I'm feeling right now, which is that my workout routine, as is, is more about maintenance. Allowing for my indulgences (wine), my occasionally excessive calorie consumption (wine), and generally making sure that in spite of my habits (wine) I stay healthy.

But now, I've needed to kick it up a notch.

Whether you're just starting out, or a seasoned gym rat looking to beef up your workout, the amount of information out there can be really daunting. But, if you know where to look and how to sift through it, you can find what works for you! 

Here are some of the things I've found help when creating a workout plan that works.

1) Plan for Longevity

If you're looking for a quick fix, you may as well just go back to enjoying what you're already doing. Yo-yo dieting, quick losses (and then gains) or unhealthy practices to get the most bang for your buck are just going to leave you feeling MORE unhealthy, and probably not so happy with your progress.

In fact, unless you're really making a life change, it's unlikely you'll SEE any progress.

My advice: Set a goal (a specific date, a weight, a pair of pants you'd like to fit again) and work towards, and then PAST that. Once you hit your goal, you don't want to undo all that hard work in a few short weeks!

Any form of calorie restriction/weight training/cardio plans need to be reasonable enough to maintain LONG TERM.

2) Get Appy!

Finding, and using, the right tools is so important.

One of my favourite tools is "My Fitness Pal" which is both a great website AND a great app. You can track your calories, your exercise, set goals (ex: lose 10 pounds in 8 weeks) and connect with a support network. 

The phone app also has a handy "barcode" function, so if you're calorie counting, all you need to do is take a picture of the barcode and it will add that food/serving size info to your day. Easy-peasy!

3) Get Googling 

Looking online for workout plans is both necessary AND dangerous. Depending on your goals, your age, your weight or your health issues you need to be really careful in the advice you follow. 

My suggestion is to pick and chose from workout plans that make sense for your lifestyle. If a plan says "you need to workout in the morning" but you're up at 7 and in the office by 8, that's not going to work. If one diet suggests that you need to eat Paleo.. but you love pizza more than your best friend (Becky, you know that's legit) then it would be silly to take on that particular eating fad. 

You should be looking to tweak your existing habits and rebuild them into more active and healthy versions of themselves, not overhaul your entire life at the drop of a hat.

You should also be looking for a workout plan that includes weight days, cardio days and rest days. If you're looking to lose inches by doing only weight OR cardio... you're only going to get so far.

Some of the plans I love include the 7 days to Skinny Jeans (the original and the reboots!) over at Lauren Conrad's site, The Londoner's Anti Diet, and This Workout Post which is currently the basis of my own workout plan and offers great advice about weight lifting for newbies!

Also, check out my run down of Seven slim-down breakfast smoothies that are a full calorie breakfast, delicious and healthy!

4) Make a Schedule

You're armed with all the information you need. You have online resources, apps, a lifestyle attitude; now make yourself accountable. 

Set yourself up with a weekly schedule that outlines all the exercises you're planning on doing each day. I find that having a daily checklist when I arrive at the gym, rather than just "today you should lift weights ok?" helps in making sure I'm progressing each week. 

Then, create a monthly schedule where you can track info like what kind of "day" (weight, cardio, class) it is, what your net calories were, how you're feeling, and cross off each successful day! 

At the end of the day, the thing you most need is dedication and moderation. Be good to your body, be good to your future self, but don't always deny yourself those happy indulgences (wine) that make life worth living!

Good luck with all of your health goals! Wish me luck with mine!