How can I work an exercise routine into my inconsistent work schedule?

If you didn’t already know, I work part time as a dietitian for the county health department and I pick up anywhere from 4-15 days each month at a hospital about 30 miles away. The health department is super flexible and as long as I get my hours in I can shift my schedule around days I pick up at the hospital. Although I enjoy the variety I get from working in both clinical and community settings, it gets hard to be consistent with my workout routine.

A few months ago I wrote about my goal to attend Body Pump twice a week at 6:30am. I enjoy the class so much but a big problem is that I can only do Body Pump in the morning if I’m working at the health department. If I got to the hospital any later than 7:30am my 30 minute drive home would turn into a 2 hour drive due to the traffic that builds up once 4:30pm rolls around. The morning instructor also has a varying schedule and she’ll only be able to do Mondays some weeks and Tuesdays other weeks. To add to this mess, I have quite the inconsistent work schedule next month since everyone is taking their summer vacation and I’m picking up a lot of shifts at the hospital.

Here’s my schedule for June:
Blue = hospital
Red = health department











































I’ll be able to make Body Pump on Mondays and/or Tuesdays but it looks like I won’t be making any classes on Thursday mornings. There are afternoon classes offered but that means I don’t get home until 6:30 and I’d like to get some stuff done, make dinner for the hubs, and spend time with him before we hit the pillow around 10pm (old farts, I know).

So what do I do? If I could sum up my advice for those of you (and even myself) who have inconsistent work schedules like me, I would say this:I’m not going to enjoy waking up early more times during the week to workout, especially when there’s no class with an instructor to motivate me. On the bright side, summer is here and I love listening to sermons on my iPod, so morning runs might not be so brutal as I think as long as I peel myself out of bed on time. I write everything else I do in my planner… I’ll have to start scheduling my own workouts when I don’t have classes scheduling them for me. I’ll be planning to succeed. Stay tuned.

How do you budget your time to include exercise?

Incline training: Part 1 of 2

Part One:
“Hey, it’s nice out. We should go for a run by those hills…”

Are you a runner? I dabble in the running world sometimes, but I can’t say I enjoy it as much as the group fitness classes at my gym. Since the weather is perking up in Michigan, I’ve been logging a few outdoor runs lately.

Dave decided it would be fun (ha) to run a hilly 3-mile route by our apartment. Here’s how the route is set up: We run a mile and then come to a 14% grade hill that drops for about 100 feet. There’s a gradual incline for 50 feet before we head down another 14% grade hill for 100 feet and then we turn around and take the same route back home. Yes, Dave, this sounds like a fun run….

I figured the easy part would be running downhill but I quickly learned otherwise. My quads and calves were burning because I had to use those muscles to slow myself down. It was like running in a squat position the whole way down. Cardio-wise, I wasn’t breathing too hard so it was tolerable. I can’t say the same for the way back.

We reach the bottom of the hill and I make an excuse that I need to fix my hair so I get a chance to stop before we turn around and go back. We head up the first hill and my lungs are on FIRE. I probably jogged 2 mph during the break between the hills. I’m breathing too hard to say anything at this point, so I just keep trotting along. The last hill was a killer. Dave told me to just sprint it and get it over with since I’d be done faster than just jogging. Fine by me, I’ll sprint. I had to redefine sprinting on this hill…it felt like I was playing that inflatable bungee run game with the Velcro bean bags. I’m pretty vocal if I don’t like something, so I probably wasted a lot of energy yelling things like “I just want to walk” or “I hate running” or “You’re carrying me home when this hill is over.” I think it took me 20 seconds to cross a street after the hill was over and you bet I made a car wait at the stop sign while I did so.

Once that drama ended and we made it home, I said I didn’t want to do that again. That was Friday. We ran the same route Sunday and I did much better! I think it was a combination of knowing what I had coming and deciding not to yell any negative comments that helped me out. Even though it’s a killer workout, it’s also a quick workout and we were done in 30 minutes. I can deal with 30 minutes.

Now that you’ve heard my lovely experience with incline training, I’ll share part two tomorrow and explain some of the benefits and research behind incline training.

Have you tried incline training before?

Say yes to love and no to love handles

Happy Valentine’s Day! We’ve decided to stay in tonight and make that Black Bean Salmon after all. This holiday in particular is near & dear to my heart because my maiden name was Valentine. How cute 🙂 It was a bummer to lose, but I got to trade it in for quite a handsome and godly husband. What is bittersweet about this day is that I can’t walk by one desk at work without seeing a bowl of chocolate and sweets! I have a ridiculous sweet tooth and so does Dave, so how do we share the love without putting on some love handles on this oh-so-sweet Hallmark holiday?

Chew that gum
Bring a pack or two with you and chew it all day long. If someone offers you a sweet, it will be easier to say “no thanks.” You’ll be less likely to mindlessly snack or grab a chocolate or three.

Pack a super healthy lunch
If you’re eating a healthy lunch, you might not want to ruin it with a bunch of extra sweets. You also won’t feel as guilty if you break down and have one (or two).

Take a romantic stroll
After dinner, go for a walk to get your digestive system going. You don’t have to have dinner and your dessert at the same place; you might be too full from dinner to enjoy it anyway.

Walk, walk, walk
Park at the back of parking lots and walk a little further to your destination. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a 5 minute walk during your lunch break. Squeeze in any moment of brisk activity.

Write down your intake
Some people benefit from the accountability of writing down their intake, some don’t. Unless you have a real person holding you accountable, it may help to keep track of what you eat so you can avoid overindulging. I don’t recommend keeping a food log long term because calorie counting and even food logging can take away from our natural ability to listen to our hunger cues and eat what our body needs.

What are some ways you enjoy sweets yet avoid over indulging?

Get fit with Beachbody

Meet my friend, Hannah. We played volleyball together as youngins and both attended Michigan State University. Hannah & I agree that everyone should find a way to make physical fitness enjoyable. I recently mentioned that I loved taking Body Pump classes, but was trying to decide what I wanted to do about a gym membership. Hannah’s a coach for Beachbody (the company who created Body Pump), so I asked her to write a guest post & share all the opportunities that Beachbody offers.





I’m sure you’ve heard of P90X and Insanity – but how much do you know about the company behind these products?
(Jess: My friend Jeff @ Money Spruce completed P90x and is currently tackling Insanity. Be sure to read his post about Home Workouts.)

Team Beachbody is an amazing company dedicated to ending the trend of obesity through workout programs, supplements, online support, meal planning, advice from leading fitness experts, and more. If you shop Team Beachbody from the website listed below, you’ll find more than just intense programs like Insanity, P90X2, Turbofire, and ChaLEAN Extreme. You will also notice beginner-friendly workouts such as 10 minute trainer, Power 90, Hip Hop Abs, Brazil Butt Lift, and TurboJam. I truly believe Beachbody has a workout for everyone. The resources provided by Beachbody have helped thousands of people to reach their fitness goals.

One very unique thing about Team Beachbody is its coaches. Beachbody coaches are not salespeople and we are not necessarily experts. A coach does not have to be a nutritionist, a personal trainer, or a body builder (although all are welcome). If you have the desire to help end the trend of obesity by motivating and encouraging others – YOU can be a Beachbody Coach!

One of the greatest options that Beachbody Coaches offer is our new Challenge Packs. Coaches form small accountability groups of 5-6 individuals who want to lose weight and improve overall health. The reason is simple: Fitness + Nutrition + Support = Success. Challenge groups incorporate all of the above. You get fitness in the form of a workout program, nutrition in the form of Shakeology, customized meal planning through a VIP membership, and personalized support from your very own Beachbody coach. It’s a fantastic concept, AND Challenge packs are the only way to save $$ on this combination of products!

So what if you need to get in shape, but you feel like you’re just not ready to start a workout program? My advice for you is to just START and do the best YOU can. You deserve to invest in your own personal health and fitness in order to feel better in all aspects of your life. Taking action is the first step to a healthier lifestyle. I’m not saying you have to work out and drink Shakeology seven days a week – but after you notice how much better you feel, you just might want to!

(from Jess): Have you tried any Beachbody workouts? What do you think?

Tabata training

Need a quick workout during the holidays?

Between last minute shopping, wrapping, driving, visiting and eating, it’s difficult to make time for a workout in your busy schedule. Tabata training has been a very useful workout when I’m on a time crunch or when I know I won’t have much time to exercise on certain days.

Tabata training is high intensity interval training that can incorporate any type of activity. You can do pushups, burpees, pull ups, dips, sit ups, squats, high knees, sprints, mountain climbers, plank, use weights, kettle bells…the list goes on. Here’s how the workout works:

Do as many reps as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.
Repeat 8 times (4 minutes total).

I use the Tabata timer to cue me in 3 seconds before each start and stop with a verbal count down. Yes, there’s even and iPhone app for it! Many timers allow you to change how many seconds you want to workout or rest and how many sets you want to do. After the first two sets, I’m usually thinking “This isn’t too bad; maybe I’ll do a few extra sets.” Before I even reach the halfway point, I’m gasping for air and trying to convince myself I can do anything for 2 more minutes. Trust me- 8 sets in 4 minutes will be enough to kick your butt. It’s a great mental and physical challenge for me to try completing the same number of reps each set or beat the amount I did in the previous set. I’ll take a minute break in between rounds and will do 2 or 3 before I hop in the shower to get ready for the day. Since the legs involve large muscle groups and continue to burn more calories after I’m done working out, I like to start with a round of squats, then do some form of sit ups and finish with a round of burpees. By this time I’m dripping sweat and ready to shower up!

What are ways you manage to sneak in a workout during the holidays?