My Typical Workout Routine
This is probably the top trending DM I get on both of my Instagram pages. Unfortunately, you probably won't like the answer. My typical workout routine consists of a lot of walking with other workouts sprinkled in between. No, not some magical set of specific exercises targeting different body parts. No, not a "do 10 reps and repeat" kind of thing. Just very simple, basic stuff.
3-5 days a week
Walking (30 min-1 hour on the treadmill while answering e-mails, TBH)
Elliptical (10-30 minutes)
Pilates (if I can afford it)
I've realized that doing mass amounts of cardio isn't good for my body. I have an auto immune disease that affects my joints, therefore, if I overwork myself at something like Barry's Bootcamp, my joints become inflamed and I won't be able to walk (treadmills are hard on your knees) or type on the computer (mountain climbers and planks are hard on your wrists) without discomfort.
Debunking the cardio myth
I used to think cardio was *the answer* to all my problems, back when I was weighing myself every morning and trying different diet fads. For a few years, I would try to run at least 3 miles a day on the treadmill just to make sure I'd keep pounds off. I also was trying high-intensity workout classes all over the city, such as Barry's Bootcamp, Shadowbox and HIIT training. This running/high-intensity routine wasn't helping me control the shape of my body and/or add definition (even though some of these classes have weight components and core workouts, they were so fast for me that I was never doing them correctly.)
This high-cardio exercise routine was also causing a ton of problems with my joints and muscles, since I was overexerting myself at least 4 days a week. I know 3 miles isn't an outstanding amount of cardio, but for my body, it apparently was, as my knees were in pain every day. And these classes didn't help. Because my joints and muscles were inflamed, my body was under stress trying to repair itself, leading to me to become sick more often and overly tired. My body also began to swell because of water retention, as my adrenaline and cortisol levels would be out of wack due to all the stress these workouts were putting on my body. It's amazing what stress can do. Overexercising can cause lots of stress.
I know you're all not like me with this autoimmune condition, but I still stand by my point of view that high cardio and high-intensity workouts aren't the answer to all your exercise woes. And quite honestly, cardio is probably why you hate going to the gym -- because you're tired and don't feel like going for an intense heart rate-boosting workout. That's okay. When I used to workout just to lose weight and boost my heart rate, I didn't enjoy the process of exercise. Once I started listening to my body and realizing, "hey, going slow today won't kill you," I began enjoying the gym and figuring out what was best for my overall health. I also began to become in tune with my eating habits and enjoying what I wanted to eat until I was full. You'd never think slowing down your exercise routine would help you look healthier, but it did for me.
Just wanted to address this before going back to my typical workout routine.
A typical day at the gym
I try to go to the gym at least 3 days a week, if my schedule permits, and I stay for 1-2 hours. Yes, that's a long time. But I take my time and I love exercising. To be honest, if I don't exercise, my mind gets foggy and I get really bitchy. Recently realized this after a 3-week hiatus during my moving process....I was a different person who cried in front of my cable guy and bitched out the Spectrum automated voicemail.
1. The first thing I usually do at the gym is 10 minutes on the elliptical to warm up. This can be fast or slow, with high tension or low tension.
2. Then, if I have a lot of work to do, I hop on the treadmill, set it to 3.5-3.8 speed with an incline anywhere from 0-2 and start walking and doing work. I guess you could say this isn't an exercise process that's super "in tune" with your body since you're blasting out e-mails while walking, but for me it's as great as it gets. I love it because I feel like I'm maximizing my time and walking keeps my heart rate up and my attention focused. If you're not a multi tasker, this isn't for you. I stay on here anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Sometimes, even more if I have time.
3. I then, usually go back to the elliptical and do 10-20 more minutes.
4. Next, I hit up some machines. I like the inner and outer thigh machines and do intervals of whatever amount I feel good about...I'm probably the worst exerciser ever. I don't count reps, I just listen to my soul. I notice that in addition to strengthening the "hard to reach" muscles in your legs, this machine also really helps with core tightening.
5. After this, I do either the ab machine (which I honestly haven't done in a while, since I started trying pilates) or I just do some sit ups on the mat. Once again, I don't even count. Just do what I want until my core feels tight. Boring. Standard. Workout.
The exercise I wish I could do more
If there's one thing I wish I could do more, it's reformer pilates. I love reformer pilates because you can control all the tightest muscles in your body without putting strain on other ones. The machine really helps you get control of your body and lengthens you as you go. And you're hearing this from a girl who's torn her hamstring 6 times, pulled her groin, suffers from shinsplints and has plantar fasciitis. I can barely touch my knee caps. It's embarrassing at pilates, but it's worth it because the reformer classes help me improve that flexibility. I think it's ABSURD that gym memberships don't include this (cough, cough, @Equinox) in the small fortune you pay to be a member. But oh, well.
An exercise I like, but only do once in a while
Boxing is great. I grew up playing sports, so I love boxing because you have to really focus and "get your head in the game." Some of the classes here in NYC are really intense and expensive, so I don't go as often as I'd like. I also belong to Equinox and go to their's once in a while (it's included in my membership), but each time I couldn't understand the instructor and I felt like he was honestly laughing at me when I would mess up and then I would mess up more and be so awkward. Through that process, I've learned that kickboxing just really isn't for me as I can't even straighten my leg to kick. Oh well.
But there you have it. I hope this answers all your exercise questions. The point of this new blog is to show you what goes on behind the scenes of the life of a girl who likes to indulge. If you were expecting intense cardio that makes your heart beat out of your chest, then you were wrong. You don't have to overexert yourself to stay healthy and in shape.