How To Meet Your Fitness Goals In 2017

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The New Year is a time when many of us re-dedicate ourselves to, overhaul or ramp up a fitness/nutrition routine. The gym parking lots are packed (I literally drove around, vulturing for a spot at 24 Hour Fitness this week for what seemed like an hour!) and mamas all over the country are buying dumbbell sets and resolving to complete their home workouts during nap time. Have you ever told yourself you were going to “get in shape” on January 1st but  found yourself in the same place you were then by the end of the year? If getting in shape is a goal for you this new year, how will you make sure you make that happen for yourself?

This where strategic goal setting comes in – being realistic and specific about what exactly you are hoping to achieve and setting a goal that you can actually measure progress toward and accomplishment of.

A specific goal has a MUCH better chance of being accomplished that a general goal.

Nothing motivates me more than seeing measurable progress toward a fitness goal. I’ve dabbled in lots of different forms of fitness over the years (swimming, running, CrossFit, bodybuilding, cycling, etc.) but the part that keeps me coming back for more is setting, meeting and even surpassing goals I set for myself. From college until age 27 I was a runner, and although I was not winning any awards for speed, I was continually motivated by seeing my times on the track or at a race decrease as a result of my training plans.

The cardio years.

At age 28 I found CrossFit and quickly became absolutely addicted to making measurable progress in strength, endurance and gymnastic skills. In CrossFit you keep track of basically everything, from the time it takes you to complete a particular workout, the maximum weight you can dead lift from the floor, the amount of strict pull ups you can complete, etc.

Scary lifting face but, hey, that’s a lot of weight!

Two things I’ve found helpful when it comes to setting and achieving my fitness goals over the years are:

1) Putting goals out there to a friend/s or family (or even on social media!). There is something about others knowing what you are trying to accomplish that creates instant accountability and motivation to stick to what you said you wanted to do.

2) Using strategic goal setting, such as a SMART goal format to develop and track progress toward goals.

SMART stands for:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Time-based or Tangible

For example, although certainly realistic and achievable, “I will get in really good shape in 2017”  is not specific, measurable or time-based:

  • What does “really good shape” mean exactly? What components does this person consider as part of being in shape?
  • What is the baseline for for each of those components?
  • What would be the indicators of progress toward getting into really good shape?
  • How would someone actually know if they met that 2017 goal?

If I had that goal (“I will get in really good shape in 2017” ) for myself (which I do in fact!) I would want to:

a) specifically define the components I personally consider part of being in shape or that I cared to focus on for the year (body fat %, strength,skill, speed, etc.)

b) find my baseline times/weights/numbers for those components

c) set a realistic goal based on my current baseline and what I know to be possible within a year given any physical or time/schedule limitations,

d)  make sure that the components I choose to focus on can be tangibly tracked so that I can monitor my progress along the way.

Following this formula, a potential SMART goal for “getting into really good shape” could be:

“By January 1st, 2018 I will be able to run an 8:00 mile on a treadmill, do 10 consecutive push ups, hold a plank for 2 minutes,  and have a body fat percentage of 20% or less(the numbers would of course vary based on a current baseline for mile time, push-ups, planks and body fat).

Or even simpler, “I will join a gym and work out 3 days per week” would be a much more specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based goal than ” I will get into shape.”

My Fitness SMART Goal for 2017:

I thought I would increase my chances of achieving my own SMART strength and fitness goal for 2017 by sharing it with you:

1. I want to regain some of the strength and fitness capacity I lost during pregnancy and the past 9 postpartum months during which I have not been able to physically lift or exert myself like I used to. In order to set a realistic, achievable goal, I need to consider my baseline times/weights/numbers and also that I have less time than I used to to workout (read about how I still stay motivated as a busy, working mama HERE!). I chose 6 elements to create my strength and fitness goal, so that I can tailor my workouts toward making progress in those areas. My 2017 Fitness SMART Goal is:

““By January 1st, 2018 I will be able to run a 7:30 mile on a treadmill, do 15 consecutive push ups, hold a plank for 3+ minutes, add 50 pounds to my current deadlift and back squat max lifts, and complete 5 consecutive strict pull ups, and workout 3 times per week.”

So, What’s Next?

Once you have your SMART fitness goal/s established, you can create a plan to help you get there.

What are your fitness goals for 2017? I would love to read your goals in the comments! Could you make your goal a SMART one? 

Try out my  Busy Mama’s Home workout program!

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A Busy Mom’s Motivation To Work Out

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Hi Mamas!

I haven’t done a fitness post in a LONG time. That’s mostly because, as much as it used to be my “thing” (e.g. 14 half marathons, competing in CrossFit, wanna-be body building, etc.), since becoming a new mom I’ve been struggling to feel as passionate about working out as I have in the past.

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Pre-preggo/baby, when working out was a top priority and I had free time (what’s that?).

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep (thank you teething/growth spurt/sleep regression/whatever), the minimal time left after trying to be excellent at my job whilst trying to be an excellent new mom (I’m not accomplishing either of those to that standard, FYI), or the general discomfort I feel when I actually do work out, but I’ve been cutting myself a break in the workout department these last few months. Now, I haven’t completely fallen off the wagon, as I am still eating relatively healthily (90% of the battle) and making sure I am active in some form 3-4 days per week which usually consists of a gym workout once or twice, a few walks, and lots of planks and push-ups during crime show commercials after Taylor has gone to sleep…

All that to say that I worked out Sunday night after a really long week (I think I slept a cumulative 21 hours, and I say “think” because I barely can…) and during my warm up thought through the reasons why I continue to make fitness a part of my life even when I don’t feel like doing so. This thinking got me re-motivated and I wanted to share that with you in case you were feeling as lackluster about fitness as I was. It’s easy to want to put it on the back burner, or even give it up entirely, when we’re SO busy as moms trying to do “it all,” but there are many valuable reasons -both physical and mental – to persevere and find some time to move.

At this stage in my life as a new, working away from the home mom, these are the reasons that motivate me to work out, in no particular order:

  1. A clear mind – as moms we have SO many “to dos” running through our minds at all times. For me, working out is the space where I permit myself to turn all of that off and tune in only to what I’m doing physically. Even if it’s a few rounds of 1 minute plank holds (which, by the way, are infinitely harder after childbirth) giving my neurotic mind a mini-break is well worth the effort. If you need one reason to workout, let this be the one.
  2. Alone time – aside from driving in my car to and from work, one of the only times I am alone is when I go for a workout. We have a gym in our garage, but I find that I crave going to the actual brick and mortar gym – it’s so tempting to cut my workout short when I know my precious baby is just a few steps beyond my garage door whereas if I’ve driven to the gym I’ll usually put in at least 45 minutes. As much as I love being with my family, I also need to have time where I don’t have to interact with anyone in the world; As an introvert, this time is integral to my feeling balanced and refreshed. Any other introvert mamas out there who relate?
  3. A confidence boost – when I’m working out consistently I definitely keep my shoulders more square and hold my head a little higher. Working toward a goal – whether strength or aesthetic – makes me feel really good about myself. If you work out consistently, you know what I mean. If you haven’t given yourself this gift, you certainly deserve to.
  4. Endorphins – when we exercise, our bodies release these amazing, feel- good hormones that can be just as addicting as any other vice; I got hooked in high school and haven’t been able to quit them since! I find that, even on sleep deprived nights like last night, no matter how tired I am if I can just motivate myself to move – go for a jog, a short but intense workout, etc. – I get an instant mood and energy lift. Who couldn’t use a little more of that in their life?
  5. Getting my “body back” – as much as that phrase irritates me, and I think that all moms (and women) are beautiful no matter what their physical state, I honestly do want to get back into fighting shape eventually. For each mama getting your “body back” looks a little different, but I go by the mantra that the ideal weight/shape is whatever you reach when you are living the healthiest life you actually enjoy living; I’m sure this will look different for me at this stage in my life than it has in the past, and than it may look in the future. The most important motivator is that physical strength & ability translates into mental fortitude – which I for one can always use an extra dose of!

Why do you work out? What is motivating to you to keep moving and take care of yourself physically? If you don’t already, do any of these reasons make you consider incorporating workouts into your (busy) life? Leave a comment and let me know!

Here are a couple of the workouts I’ve done lately, at home and at the gym. If you’re looking for ideas, Pin these for when you find time in the coming weeks:

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gym-workout

xo, Ashley (1)


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Losing The Baby Weight: The Secret To Bouncing Back Postpartum

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Not sure how to achieve your postpartum fitness and body goals?

What will not work is yo-yo-ing between being 100% dedicated to whichever diet plan for X amount of weeks or months, then going back to relatively crappy eating because you feel deprived.  What will not work is telling yourself you’ll work out 5 days per week, feeling discouraged because you only worked out twice, and then doing nothing for weeks/months following. What will not work is beating yourself up for not getting where you want to be fast enough, breaking an unsustainable diet or missing a workout. What will not work is feeling guilty or self-indulgent for wanting to take care of yourself and feel good about your body as a mama, thereby not pursuing your health & fitness goals. What will not work is putting unreasonable pressure on yourself to look a certain way or reach an arbitrary weight.

Your best weight is whatever weight you reach when you are living the healthiest life you actually enjoy living.
Amen?!

 

My secret to “bouncing back” after pregnancy?

CONSISTENCY – working out regularly [including weights], and eating healthily [80% of the time] before, during and after pregnancy.

What has always worked for me, and what I think can work for you too, is devising a reasonable, sustainable workout and nutrition game plan that I feel good about, and being CONSISTENT with that plan.

That will look different for every mama; our metabolisms, backgrounds, goals and levels of fitness are all so different, so I can’t say how long it will take for you to achieve your personal postpartum body/fitness goals. However, I can guarantee you’ll make progress you will feel good about if you find ways to get and stay consistent with workouts and nutrition for the long haul.

For me, in regards to nutrition, I know I’m not able to consistently stick with any particular type of diet [I’ve tried Atkins, super low calorie, Paleo, Zone, etc. over the last 15 years or so] without A) beating myself up for “cheating” and then giving up for the rest of that day or week, or B) getting way too OCD and un-balanced about it. I’m also just not going to cut out wine or my regular cheeseburger or pizza indulgences at this point in my life. For these reasons I choose to eat healthy about 80% of the time, ALL the time. Even on vacation. Even while pregnant. There’s that consistency piece again : )

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Nap-time lifting sesh in the backyard.

My formula for exercise has been the same for years: set a minimum amount of workouts I can reasonably get in for the week, then make it happen. If I do more than that, great! If not, I know I’ve taken care of myself and my body at a level I feel good about. I do that week in, and week out, no matter what’s going on in my life: injury, grad school, vacation, pregnancy, etc. I find I’m never so busy that I can’t find time for 3 workouts of some kind weekly – and I believe that will continue to be true even when I go back to work in a few weeks.

I plan to continue sharing how I am finding ways to adapt to my new mama reality and stay consistent with working out and keeping my nutrition on point – especially as I head back to work. If you are on your postpartum fitness journey as well, I hope my sharing will inspire you to find ways to incorporate fitness in a way that feels healthy, balanced AND helps you achieve your personal goals.

After I started this blog post, I went to a Physical Therapist to learn more about this Pubic Symphysis Dysfunction I have going on resulting from delivery. I wanted to understand more about it, and make sure I wasn’t doing anything to impede healing or cause further damage. Although not surprised, I was pretty bummed at what I learned. In a nutshell, if I want my body to heal correctly and resolve as quickly as possible, apparently the only cardio I can do until a minimum of 6 months postpartum is swimming with a pull buoy between my knees or walking with a “short stride”…Suuuuuuuper fun…. Additionally, no split leg movements [lunging, step ups, etc.], side or front planks, squats below parallel, and on and on. Basically, most of what I would like or recommend others to do for exercise is off limits until at least November. However, can I still find ways to train consistently and get back into shape as planned? Absolutely. I can and I will! That said, until I’m in the clear, the workouts I’ll share with you on the blog/social media will be a combination of what I am actually doing, and what I would be doing if I could.

HERE is my log for the first week I started doing more than slow walks, kegels, heel taps, planks and pelvic tilts [6 weeks postpartum]. As you can see, the largest part of my fitness routine was walking. Walking continues to be my only cardio for now – uphill walking when I get into the gym – and it’s really helped me to shed off the preggo pounds. Seriously, don’t underestimate the power of walking! Let me know if you’re interested in seeing the rest of my log – I’m happy to share.

Below is a workout I did at the park with Taylor this week. Obviously, I’ve since learned that I can’t continue with these movements, but YOU can!  Try this one out and let me know how it goes – I thought it was pretty fun : )

Steps & Squats:

1. Walk or drive to a local park with your little one + stroller.

2. Locate several locations you could ‘step up’ on [spread throughout the park] as you walk around for a 5-10 min warm up.

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Here are some places I found to ‘step up’ at the park down the street.

3. Park your stroller and complete the following 3 exercises [A-C = one set], briskly walk for 3-5 minutes, do another set,  and so on until you’ve walked 1 mile or 30 minutes have elapsed [whichever takes longer!].  I use the Map My Run app to track how far I’ve walked:

A]15 walking lunges w/stroller, each leg

B] 25 air squats

C] 15 step ups, each leg

Now go get after it, mama! Come up with a reasonable plan and stay consistent with it. If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey: make 2 workouts and 1 walk your weekly goal. When you feel like you can and want to, throw in another workout, or an extra mile to  your walk. Go slow, listen to your body, and stay balanced- getting back into shape after having a baby is a marathon, not a sprint. You can do this!

P.S. If you’re interested in more workout ideas, follow me on Instagram, @taylormademama. I plan to post workouts there more frequently.

xo, Ashley (1)

Stroller: Baby Jogger City Select w/ car seat adaptor

Car Seat: Peg Pérego Primo Viaggio

 

 

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Making Fitness Fit – Postpartum

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It’s important for us ladies to find ways to get in  “me time” – incorporating whatever elements keep us happy and balanced. For me, one of those elements has always been exercise. Over the years I’ve been a swimmer, a runner, a Crossfitter and a gym regular/wannabe bodybuilder – no matter the forum, I thrive from the mental and physical strengthening a hard workout brings. However, I’ve found that my expectations of myself and what my workouts would look like postpartum needed a little re-adjusting. I’m sure even more adjustment will be necessary once I head back to work!

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Shameless gym selfie – 2 months postpartum.

I truly thought I would be [superwoman/mom] able to jump quickly back into everything I loved to do before being pregnant/giving birth when it came to workouts. I dreamt of sprints, high intensity interval workouts in many iterations, heavy squats, etc. while the baby would have “daddy time” with AJ…I worked out 4 times a week throughout my entire pregnancy, even when I really didn’t feel like it, with the assumption that I could pick up where I left off after delivery.

I’ve since discovered that plan o’ mine is just not going to pan out due to unexpected, lingering pain resulting from a delivery complication – pelvic disruption. Frustrating? You bet. But rather than feeling discouraged and giving up altogether, I’m doing what I personally can to continue to stay consistent with working out [as well as making regular trips to my chiropractor!]. I can still rebuild strength & fitness around this issue.

The way I see it is that this pain [and my new, softer belly] is a reminder that I was Taylor’s home for 9+ months, and that she is now safely here with me – blessings worth ANY amount of discomfort.

How and when we get back into a shape we feel good about after pregnancy is a challenging, individual journey with no time limit. We mamas have to remember to be gracious with ourselves in this and all things – after all, our priority is loving our babes and keeping them healthy and happy every day. I’ll continue to share with you as I figure out ways to make fitness fit [oh, that’s catchy!] into my new, baby-centered reality, especially as I head back to work. 

In addition to getting in workouts in our garage gym [thanks, Hubby!], and the occasional jaunt over to 24 Hour Fitness, I’ve been coming up with a lot of quick, bodyweight workouts that you can complete in about 15-20 minutes in your home.

I came up with the workout shown below the other day and it took about 13 minutes with :45 second planks each round. Next time I may even tack on a few extra rounds!

Try it out, let me know your time and how it goes in the comments:

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P.S. If you’re interested in more of my postpartum workouts, subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss future posts on that topic : )

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