Fit2B Inspired (Again)

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Photo Credit: Pierce Martin Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Things have been rather stressful around here lately, but exercise is one of my usual tools for self-care. I’ve been trying to make it non-negotiable, but it’s still been a struggle.

I don’t feel quite ready to move on to the Challenging pathway since my DR is not entirely healed but I still want to keep building strength and stamina. So that means, yet again, I’ll be creating my own workout routine. I always do better if I have a set plan than if I wing it. Fit2B is a great site and it has literally over hundred workouts. Without a plan, I’d spend too much time debating and not enough actually working out.

Honestly, I usually love exercise. But lately it has been hard. The kids always seem to be underfoot and I’m constantly interrupted. It has been very hot and even though we sometimes use our air conditioning, it still saps my energy. I’ve also been feeling generally icky and a bit under the weather. I know that exercise is supposed to help but sometimes I feel like I’m doing it in the sleep. So I had to ask myself what I was was looking for.

While I wouldn’t mind losing a bit of weight, my main goal is to focus on strength. My toddler is getting heavier and sometimes I still have to pick up or restrain my five year old. My body just isn’t up for it. I’ve been discouraged that my strength hasn’t increased the way I thought it would have by now. I always seem to hit this wall that I can’t seem to progress past.

 

My plan

 

Cardio (2 X a week)

This means favorite workouts like Basic Aerobics III and some longer ones like Tummysafe Kickboxing.

 

Strength Training (2 X a week)

This will often mean weights, but not always. Big (Little) Band workout works for this, but so does Weightlifting 101 and Weighted Warriors. I’m going to try mix and match a bit.

 

Full Body Workout

What you define as full body is relative. Honestly, most of these workouts are full body. My favorites in this category are 21 Tone Up and Kelly Dean’s Full Body Workout. But you could also do any of the pilates or yoga workouts as well.

 

Stretching

I have been neglecting my stretching and really noticing tightness in my hamstrings and hips along with pain in my SI joint. So I wanted to make sure it was a regular part of my week. I look forward to trying out Restorative Poses III, which I haven’t done before, as well as old favorites like Simply Stretching.

I’m shooting for 20-30 minute workouts, maybe longer once I get going. I really want to push myself with some of the harder ones but it is so difficult to find time for the longer workouts. I like the short and sweet ones and if you are short on time, check out my Fit2B Quick series.

I just know that I have to keep going. I don’t want to give up. It’s frustrating to have these limits I can’t yet overcome. But I’m hoping that if I’m consistent, I’ll be able to see progress.

 

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Fit2B 6 X 6 Pathway: Final Week 6

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Goal: 6 LONG Fit2B routines in 6 days!

Final Week! This has been a tough few weeks for me, for so many reasons. But I wanted to push through it anyway. After this I’ll be stepping back to do some short routines with a focus on bumping up my intensity (heavy weights, etc) without necessarily working out longer. This week had a lot of long workouts, some of the longest on all of Fit2B. So the biggest struggle was literally finishing them.

 

 

Rockin’ Yoga & Pilates

I had some fun using my son’s toys for props in this workout. (He also added himself as a handy prop on several occasions. But a 27 lb, 21 month is makes it a little too difficult to do inclined planes in my opinion.) This workout is exactly what it sounds like, a combination of yoga and Pilates but done at a slightly faster pace using lightly weighted objects to bring up the difficulty.

 

 

Great Glutes

This workout is divided into five segments that can be done altogether or one at a time. This was much harder than I thought it would be. The hands a knees portion, while effective was probably not tummy safe enough for me since my DR is still open. The whole thing was a little much for me to devote all to one muscle area, but definitely effective.

 

 

Peaceful Blend

This workout is exactly as it sounds, peaceful, slow moving and yet appropriately physically demanding. Slow sustained work is often as hard, if not harder, than fast, intense work. Let me just say this about a 40 minute slow moving workout. It is almost impossible to do with small children around. With a faster moving routine (like Basic Step II for example), it’s easier to block out the whining, fighting and general chaos that ensues whenever I try to workout while my kids are awake and not in front of a screen. In this particular instance, I refused to pause and break up their fights, but the noise was definitely distracting from the gentle, relaxing tone of the workout. (My 21 month old was particularly interested in the kitty that made an appearance during the workout and after the cat walked off screen kept saying “bye bye, kitty” which was distracting but adorable).

If you can do this without distraction you will get so much more out of it. That being said, there is still a benefit even if you aren’t able to completely engage because of outside distractions.

 

 

Backside Burner II

This is one of the few workouts this week where I felt strong. I was able to do it, and it felt like work but it wasn’t totally unattainable. It’s nice to do something that feels possible, even if it is difficult. Despite it’s name, this workout actually works much more than just your backside. It even has a bit of upper body and there are plenty of opportunities to modify it to make it more challenging if needed. It starts standing but most if it is done on the floor. While this isn’t a favorite workout of mine, it was exactly what I needed this week.

 

 

Tabata Kick & Squat

While my stamina has improved a lot, this workout was still very difficult for me. The movements themselves actually aren’t too bad and the one of the best parts about any Tabata style workouts is the build in rests. However, I still found myself huffy and puffy by around halfway through. It is longer than I can usually manage all in one sitting, but it’s also a good one to break up into sections if needed because, again, Tabata lends itself to that. I’ll definitely be coming back to this one as I get stronger.

 

 

Fusion Mix 1

I had to break this up into two different sections because it is a pretty intense workout and it’s LONG! As in over 60 minutes. In my house, the chances of 60 minutes of uninterrupted workout time while the children are unconscious and not in front of a screen is virtually 0. But it is something fun to work towards as I get stronger and more flexible. I can see the appeal but as a general rule I think I’m more of a cardio & weights girls, which is totally OK.

 

This week was the toughest, but my biggest success was actually working out every day. So from that perspective, this pathway felt like a success. Now I have to decide how to move forward. I want to keep focusing on 6 days a week but I’m going to give myself at least one day a week to focus on just stretching. I’m also going to try cutting sugar in my diet to see how that affects my energy levels and cravings. I’ll be doing shorter workouts but still trying to keep my intensity up. The last few weeks have been harder than I thought they would be. I’ve discovered that I’m stronger than I thought in some areas and weaker in others.  But it still feels good to be able to check this pathway off and call it done.

 

 

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Fit2B 6 X 6 Pathway: Week 5

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Goal: 6 Fit2B routines in 6 days for just 30+ minutes

My posting schedule runs about a week or so behind my actual life. (So when you read a blog post review, I probably started those workouts about two weeks ago). This gives me some important leeway so I can keep the reviews coming to you on time. This past week ate up my entire advance schedule because I only worked out one day! I had a nasty early summer cold that left my chest burning and me generally feeling like garbage. So annoying. But the good news is, this week’s workouts started in such a gentle way that it made things easier while recovering.

 

Gentle Blend

After having been pushing myself pretty hard and still nursing a painful cough, I had a new appreciation for this workout. No, it isn’t necessarily easy. But it is gentle, deliberate and makes it simpler to properly engage and use good alignment with each movement. It really looks deceptively easy because it is slow moving, but you will definitely still feel it. I didn’t get my final stretches at the end done as well as I would have liked because my almost two year old takes any opportunity to attack me if I lay on the floor. The inclined planes were also difficult when an almost 30 pound toddler trying to sit on my lap while I did them.

 

Defining Deltoids

Finally got some new resistance bands. (My old ones are 13 years old and my kids recently snapped one). It really helped take this workout up a notch. I was also able to use heavier weights for this because of the way Beth alternatives between dumb bells and bands so I didn’t over tax myself. This is a little long for me, as just an arm workout. Normally if I’m going to do something this long I prefer a full body workout, but it’s still worth putting on my schedule very now and then because it is very effective without being too intense.

 

Kettle Bell II

Finally, I own a Kettle Bell! I’ve been putting off this investment for a while but I’ve decided to purchase myself a new piece of fitness gear every month or two. The slow start where Beth reviews the various ways to handle the kettle bell as well as good form was very helpful. But oh dear goodness, this workout killed me. As in I didn’t do the last full repetition of all the movements. I did the ballerinas entirely without weights. Whenever Beth said, “do one or two more if you want to” I didn’t. It might be because it’s a 15 lb kettle bell. It’s also definitely larger and bulkier than the one Beth is using in the workout. This kettle bell has a smooth surface, so I had to keep a tight grip on it, especially as my hands got sweatier.

Some things I learned about me in this workout. Apparently I cannot lift 15 lbs over my head with one hand. (At least not yet). I wanted so much to finish this workout, to say I hit the 30 minute mark. But when I found myself asking if it was better to walk away before I hurt myself or keep going and risk bad form and injury, I walked away. I was still sweaty, and shaky. I think I may go back to the shorter Kettle Bell I now that I finally have one and train on that for a bit before I try this one again.

 

Tabata

This is a great workout if you have frequent interruptions which I always do. I was able to do half this workout before dinner and the other half after. I was able to pause to deal with kids crises, of which there are often many at my house. I love that there are so many levels for each movement. It doesn’t have to be a challenging workout, but it can be if you want to.

 

Basic Step Aerobics 2

I finally purchased a real step to use for this workout. It really did make a noticeable difference. This is a serious cardio workout, but the entirely upright nature of it makes it easy to keep the core strong and avoid any bulging. But as you get tired (as I usually do during the second half), it can be a challenge not to slouch. Basic Step workouts are a great way to supercharge your cardio without adding additional pressure to your core as it heals.

 

Functional Workout I

This workout is deceptively long. It does run around 31 minutes but almost all the heavy work is done in the first half. I was able to use my 6 lb weights, but I also did a little bit of modification to the hands and knees position that Beth used at one point. While this workout moves at a steady pace, it isn’t complete cardio, and the weights are incorporated mostly into the first half. It feels a little bit unbalanced as a workout. I think I would prefer a couple more minutes of higher impact work before slowing it down so much. But it still works well.

 

This was a tough week for me. I’m doing better prioritizing my workouts and actually getting in 6 workouts a week. But I’ve also been very tired and my eating habits haven’t been great. I’m toying with the idea of a sugar fast of sorts, but I have ruled out the idea of trying something too extreme. I haven’t had a good history with extreme diets and the long term staying power. But in the past, I’ve done well with healthy habits, so I’ve decided to try and build some more. Week 6 promises to be the most challenging one yet.

 

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Fit2B 6 X 6: Week 4

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Goal: 6 Fit2B routines in 6 days for just 25+ minutes

 

We are officially into some longer workouts this week. It will definitely challenge your endurance. But it isn’t worth sacrificing your form and core engagement, so you can always break the workouts into small increments or even just stop early if you can’t keep going. As always, if you still have an abdominal separation, make sure to modify when Beth mentions it.

 

21 Tone Up

I’ve been a member at Fit2B for more than four years and this routine just joined my favorites list. While I like using different fitness equipment, I love that this workout doesn’t require any. It is a full upper and lower body workout. Plus, it takes up hardly any space. Nothing is more aggravating than going down to our family room first thing in the morning only to discover that the kids have left it so messy that I can’t even move. Then I end up wasting my workout time cleaning. But this workout takes up so little space that all I had to do was shift some toys out of the way with my feet. For those of us whose workout areas aren’t large, this workout is essential.

 

Thigh Workout II

While not up there with my favorites, this workout succeeds in providing just what its name suggests, a great thigh workout. There are ways to increase the upper body work if that’s what you want, but I decided to focus primarily on the lower body with this one. I’m finding that the”thigh thing” (that you’ll see featured in many of Beth’s workouts) is getting a bit easier for me. I don’t quite have the range I want yet, but I’m being especially cautious that my core is steady and my upper body isn’t shifting every which way.

 

Weighted Warriors

Since I’d already done the suggested Pilates & Yoga Loaded two weeks ago, I opted to substitute Weighted Warriors instead. This was an exercise in restraint for me. I began the workout with my heavier set of weights and quickly downgraded. I’m glad I did. I was able to focus on maintaining proper form and I was even a tad sore the next day, so clearly the larger weights would have done more harm than good. It can be so difficult to remain in a lower level when we want so badly to be pushing ourselves harder. I’m learning, slowly, that it’s better to be confident at a simpler level than to struggle at higher one. Learning when to push and when to hold back can be so hard to discern sometimes. Hopefully it will get easier as I continue to know my body better.

 

Plain Ol’ Pilates

For those of you who miss traditional Pilates workouts, this is a good one. It’s so much like what I used to do before I found Fit2B. That being said, I continue to find any extended portion of my workout down on my back depressing. It makes me acutely away of how far I still have to do with closing my DR. (I also take it as an opportunity to measure my abdominal separation if it’s been a while and I’m not due to start my cycle. In this case things had improved since I last measured, but still not where I’d like to be. Discouraging, but living in denial won’t help either).

The side leg series here were very challenging to my glutes especially, though I’d like more inner thigh work, since that seems to be an area that doesn’t get much attention. Overall a successful workout though; heart rate up, muscles engaged but not over taxed, not too much sweat.

 

Tabata Ball Workout

I finally invested in a weighted ball after doing this workout many times with just a dumbbell. (I purchased this 8 lb ball from Amazon. You can check out this link for the exercise equipment Beth Learn recommends or just find something from around the house). Wow, this workout got my heart rate going and the part that it worked the hardest, my fingers. If you have the time, I recommend doing Fingers and Toes after this workout. My hands actually ached a bit.

(I even I wasn’t aware of it at the time, this workout worked my hamstrings like crazy because I was sore for days.)

 

Love Handles Lost

This workout is usually not very difficult. But I did do it the day after Tabata ball. The entire side leg series was killer on my glutes and hamstrings. It was a good reminder why it is important to alternate the kind of workouts I do and which major muscle groups they work. As much as I want to do cardio everyday or weights everyday, for me, alternating seems to produce the best effect with minimal overtaxing or injury. Overall, I wouldn’t call this a difficult workout, but it’s nice to do the day after something pretty new and challenging.

 

There are definitely days when I still feel discouraged. But overall I do feel like I’m making progress. I’m trying to squeeze a workout in first thing after breakfast (at least after the kids eat, sometimes before I do). I never know if I’ll have the almost two year old sitting on me or the five year old running circles around me. On tired days I really struggle. Sometimes I have to take it easier than I’d like, using lighter weights or doing fewer reps. But I feel like I might finally be seeing some progress. (Now I just need to break the cookie habit to jump start my weight loss!) Week 5, here I come.

 

 

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Fit2B 6 X 6: Week 3

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Goal: 6 Fit2B routines in 6 days for just 20+ minutes

20 minutes doesn’t sound like very long. It some ways it isn’t long. But it can still be difficult to find 20 uninterrupted minutes to focus on exercise.

 

Bag a Better Back

This was a tough one for me this week. I probably should have used less weight and in fact I did lower the weight at one point, but I probably should have brought it further down. I did my best to engage my core, but I probably over taxed myself in places. I was irritated at myself and my lack of progress so I may have pushed myself a bit too much with this one. But the beauty of these “bag” workouts is that you really can adjust the weight to your abilities.

 

Basic Aerobics IV

Basic Aerobics IV is one of my favorites in no small part because of the addition of weights. It’s got the same fast paced but doable choreography as in Basic Aerobics II & III plus the nice extra difficulty added on.

 

Jump Change

I heavily modified this workout, since I know that my core was a bit weak right now. I did side planks instead of full planks and made sure I was fully engaging my core with each movement. That said, while it did get my heart pumping, it’s just not a favorites.

 

Insane II

I was pretty worried about trying this workout. It’s been years since I attempted it. But it wasn’t actually as awful as I remembered. It’s definitely challenging and I had to be continually aware of honoring my core’s current state, but I was still able to do the whole workout. There is no doubt this routine will push you but it is insane in name only.

 

Wood Floor Workout

This is an usual workout. It’s definitely not like anything else on Fit2B. It works my muscles in a way that is unlike anything except when I take a good ballet class. The natural resistance produced by the floor and yet the control needed to prevent too much slippage makes this harder than it looks (but in a good way).

I did not get all the way through the first time I attempted this workout because as soon as I lay down on my back, my 20 month old son thought it would be funny to jump on my core. But I was able to come back and finish up after I put him in the high chair.

 

Kickboxing

This workout kicked my butt (pun totally intended). It’s been a while and this is an old favorite. I was excited to do it, but once you hit that 20 minute mark the chances of repeated interruption by small children go up exponentially. But I did manage to get through it and I look forward to coming back to it. I find this to be an easy workout to maintain good core engagement while still picking up the pace and making it a more difficult cardio routine.

This was a week of feeling accomplished. While I didn’t love every workout this week, overall I was pleased with how I felt. I was able to engage, modify at times and overall workout strong and in good alignment. I know from here things are about to bump up in length and intensity. I’m going to try very hard to carry this confidence (and good sense of healthy limits) into Week 4 of 6 X 6.

Week 4

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Fit2B 6 X 6: Week 2

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Each workout is a little longer this week, but still not too bad. I’m still really struggling with getting 6 workouts in 6 days. (It tends to be six in seven or eight days).
Goal: 6 Fit2B routines in 6 days for just 16+ minutes

Pilates & Yoga Loaded
A long time favorite, I was able to use a heavier weight for this, for the majority of the workout. However I had to be especially cautious of keeping my core properly engaged and using modifications as recommended.

 

Kelly’s Core Cardio

It’s been a while and it felt great to be doing this workout again. Because of her background in ab rehab, I really appreciate the extra effort Kelly puts in to core engagement and the stretching portions of this workout. Plus, you definitely won’t find anything else on Fit2B that includes phantom hula hooping!

 

Hipster Chair Moves

I tend avoid this workout because it never feels like it is challenging enough.. One of those neither core, nor cardio nor weights and I don’t quite know what to do with it. But part of the point of 6 X 6 is the consistency, not necessarily the intensity. This provided important hamstring stretches that I’ve been neglecting. I especially like the way this workout reaches the inner hip ligaments (what we used to call the turnout muscles in ballet). Since we don’t have any chairs downstairs where I usually workout, I hauled my laptop to the living room and grabbed a kitchen chair. It worked wonderfully while my kids were downstairs for their regularly scheduled afternoon screen time. I may have to try it again soon.

 

Balanced

I was pleased that I was able to do at least a portion of this workout with my heavier 6 lb weights, though not all of it. Since I’ve hit a wall with my core, I’m trying to be cautious about increasing my difficulty but I don’t want to give up entirely. I like this workout because even though it is a full body, it still leans heavily (ha ha) on weights as the primary source of adding difficulty.

 

Body Sculpting
I love this workout. I like that it has a heavy weight component but also has a slight cardio feel as well. It definitely qualifies for my list of effective full body workouts without being too long or overly intense. I think it may also have made it to my list of returning favorites.

 

Hold It!

Whenever I see this workout come up in the rotation, I sigh a little bit. Because usually I don’t like this workout. But today when I was bumming about the state of my core and feeling a ton of stress in other areas of my life, I was able to really focus on the benefits of this workout. The slow sustained nature of the workouts allowed me to better concentrate on engaging my core, maintaining my alignment and breathing. Don’t underestimate the benefits of breathing and engaging your core when you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Despite being interrupted multiple times by my son, I still felt more relaxed and in better alignment after this one.
Two weeks down, four to go. I’m definitely have consistency issues but I’m refusing to give up. Just because I can’t do it perfectly doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it at all. I miss when I used to workout consistently 30-60 minutes, five times a week. But if that’s not where I’m at right now, that’s Ok. I’m also feeling the strange urge to run again, but I don’t want to start doing that until my core is better healed and I’ve built up my upper body muscles a little bit more. So I’ll stick with working towards the consistency of the 6 X 6 for now.

Week 3

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Fit2B 6 X 6: Week 1

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This week starts slow, which is good because trying to do 6 days in a row isn’t going to be easy for me. But 10-15 minutes is very attainable.

Goal: 6 Fit2B routines in 6 days for just 10+ minutes

 

The Big {Little} Band Workout  

I’ve always loved this little workout because I’ve always preferred stretchy bands to weights. While I’ve learned the benefits of weights and I’m looking forward to exploring them further as I improve my witness level, this is still one of my favorites.

 

Wall Workout with Beth

It was a lot harder to do this workout this time around, because I barely had any wall to work with. (It’s temporary until we can get some more boxes unpacked and out of the way). I appreciate how Beth provides modifications for this workout. I’ve been having to scale back the level of challenge I give my core while recovering from a bad two week cough. I was especially glad for her cues and reminders for how to keep the movements simpler while my core recovers.

 

Insane Upper Body

I’m still using a combination of 3 and 6 lb weights for this workout. I’ve fallen off the exercise wagon and not been able to increase my strength as I’d hope. However, I’m not willing to give up yet. Short workouts like this are a great opportunity to increase the intensity, because naturally it’s easy to do that for shorter duration.

 

Ab Attack

I haven’t done with one in more than a year. It’s great if you miss traditional Pilates style ab workouts. It’s totally tummy safe but still employs versions of many of those movements. Also a good opportunity to get down on the floor, since many of my favorite workouts are done entirely standing up.

 

Body Sculpting II

This little workout packs a punch. This was day where I had been too busy to workout but I thought I’d just squeeze it in before my kids got home from their evening program. It got my heart rate up, but could still do it at the end of a long day without feeling like I was immediately so exhausted that I had to go to bed.

 

Bag a Better Booty

I really do enjoy this workout but I can’t seem to find the right size bag to use. I often end up struggling to maintain my alignment and still be able to get the bag off the floor and perform each exercise as suggested. But it is definitely effective.
I really appreciate that this week is made up of such short workouts. (In the interests of honesty, it took me longer than 6 days to do this because I couldn’t manage to fit in a workout every day.) It can be so hard to build a consistent exercise habit, so starting with these short, but still appropriately intense workout makes consistency easier to attain.

On to Week 2, hopefully a little stronger now.

 

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