Step Right Up!

Anyone else have a job that keeps you sitting at your desk all day? Anyone else feel like a lump who never geTin Tin Takes The Stairsts up and on her feet? Not just me, right?

There are a number of reasons why getting up and about is a good great idea during the day, and any number of reasons why you might not. But, one really ridiculously easy thing that I’ve been doing for the last few months to get myself up and about at work is taking the stairs to the bathroom anytime I need a break.

I have the mis/fortune of working on the 7th floor of my building, which means its a bit of a stretch to take the stairs all the way up (though there are impressive people with whom I work who do this!), but there’s plenty of room to go up or go down during the day. So, I’ve experimented with all my options within the range of +/- 4 floors before I settled on my current choice: Floor 4. Three floors down and three back up at 20 stairs a floor – you know I’ve counted! – that’s 60 extra steps up per trip, and I’m covering somewhere between 6-12 extra flights of stairs a day without much effort or thought. I started with one floor, then added another, and now I’m up to three.

This isn’t going to make you crazy fit and toned or lose 10 pounds, but it will get you into the habit of moving around more in an otherwise sedentary day and can help “refine your routine” towards some other healthy habits. I’m definitely finding those three flights of stairs getting easier over time, and might even start going for four soon. You can even mix it up with a variation like skipping a step on the way up to really work your legs.

Pro-tip: If you can do this, take the stairs down to the bathroom. If you go up and you get the blood pumping, you may find yourself breathing a little extra hard in the bathroom which I imagine could be pretty embarrassing if someone else is in there. Not that I would know. Definitely never happened to me. Nope….No way…

If you don’t work in a multi-floor building like I do, maybe take the long way around, park an extra couple floors up in the parking deck or find some other way to put a few extra steps in your day. Take a look at your typical day, identify an opportunity to do a little bit more and then try it. Start small and build on that over time.

Do any of you fellow office workers have suggestions on how you’ve added a bit of fitness to your work day? Skylar wrote a while back about her Stability Ball Chair, which still sounds intriguing to me, though I haven’t tried it yet. And, has anyone figured out how to avoid the office snacks yet?? I could really use a magic trick to build resistance to those sugary temptations!

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Fitness DVD Review: Jillian Michaels’ Kickbox FastFix

Disclaimer: I purchased a copy of Jillian Michaels’ fitness DVD “Kickbox FastFix” with my personal funds. I did not receive any payment or other compensation for writing this review.

Jillian Michaels Kickbox FastFixDVD Title: Jillian Michaels’ Kickbox FastFix
Date released: March 2012
Duration: Three 20-minute workouts
Number of discs: 1
Cost: $9-$15 (I’ve seen this DVD for sale at Target and on Amazon)
Additional equipment needed: Hand weights and a mat if you are working out on a hard surface

I currently own three Jillian Michaels’ fitness DVDs, and Kickbox FastFix is one of my favorites. The DVD includes three 20-minute workouts that target specific muscle groups: workout one targets the upper body, workout two targets the lower body and workout three targets the core.

What I love about this DVD is that the workouts are short enough to fit into my often hectic schedule but intense enough that I’m always dripping with sweat at the end of those 20 minutes. All three workouts offer a fantastic cardio workout while integrating some strength training. They’re a great option for those days when you don’t have a lot of time but you still really want to get a workout in.

I am also a big fan of Jillian Michaels’ fast-paced style; she doesn’t give me time to get bored or think about how tough the workout is that day. I have actually stopped in the middle of a fitness DVD because the pace was too slow, not because I’m super fit but because a slow pace gives me too much time to think, which then makes me feel tired and bored. I don’t have that problem with Kickbox FastFix.

As the title of the DVD suggests, the workouts are inspired by martial arts, so most of the exercises use body weight for resistance. This means your results will be directly affected by the effort you put in. If you halfheartedly throw kicks and punches, you won’t see any results from this DVD. Be sure to watch and participate in the tutorial included in this DVD so you understand how to properly execute the moves for maximum results. Also, don’t get frustrated by the combination moves when you first do the workouts. It took me several times to get the combinations right because they get more and more complicated as you go (it’s almost like a game of memory), but I started to have a lot of fun once I got the moves down.

Be warned that Jillian throws in some unexpected exercises into this DVD. You’ll see body resistance exercises such as pushups, situps and bicycle crunches; you’ll need weights for strength exercises such as back rows, head bangers/skull crushers and chest flies; and she amps up the cardio with suicides and even some plyometrics. A tip on those suicides: If you don’t have a ton of floor space, which I don’t, pick up your knees as high as you can to intensify the workout.

My overall rating of this DVD is four stars out of five. It’s an intense, fast-paced workout in just 20 minutes, but the complicated combination moves might be a deterrent to some.

Everyday Fitness: Stability Ball Chair

As a writer and a communications professional, I find myself sitting in front of a computer screen for more than 80 percent of my waking hours. Sometimes when I’m at work, I start to feel this pain gradually spread across my posterior and into my lower back, and I realize I haven’t moved for several hours. It saddens me to admit it, but I’ve become the dreaded office drone.

I do enjoy hiking and biking, and I try to exercise regularly (my current kick is Jillian Michaels’ “Body Revolution”), but I also try to find small ways I can engage my muscles while I perform my daily (physically inactive) tasks. My latest experiment in improved fitness has been the stability ball office chair.

stability ball chairI have two stability balls in my home gym (I’m using the term “gym” very loosely, as this is really just a spare room with a TV, DVD player and small fitness equipment), so I decided to swap out my office chair for one of the stability balls. Because I am as graceful as a drunk goose, I chose the stability ball that is weighted in the bottom, making it far less likely to roll out from under me.

I didn’t think much of it the first time I used it. I sat on it for close to an hour while working at my desktop computer. I did feel some pain and muscle stress in my lower back, but I didn’t think my core was getting much of a workout. However, the next day I felt unmistakable soreness in my upper abdominal muscles. Success! I had gotten a bit of an ab workout by doing what I normally do: sitting at my desk working on my writing.

Due to safety concerns (such as the rolling out from under oneself mentioned earlier), stability ball chairs are not allowed at my place of employment. Major bummer, but that doesn’t stop me from implementing this full-time at my home office. My new goal is to sit on the stability ball chair for a minimum of an hour when I write, incorporating some actual stability ball exercises during those moments when I’m thinking/brainstorming so I am engaging more than just my lower back and upper abdominal muscles.

Is this a realistic goal? Well … at the moment I’m actually sitting on my couch writing this from my netbook. Victoria’s Secret’s semi-annual sale is going on via web only right now, so I was watching Law & Order while browsing the online catalog. After placing my order, the writing bug bit me pretty hard, so I paused Law & Order to bring you this easy and useful health and fitness tip.

So after tonight, there will be no more writing from the couch. It’s stability ball chair. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going and maybe even recommend some stability ball exercises that work well in the office environment.

Until then …

Keep it real,

Skylar

Breakfast: My first step towards better eating

As mentioned on the About Page, this blog was inspired by Bob Harper’s talk about making the change you can make today. Choosing a small step and making a change you can handle right now. Though this talk was over two years ago now, I think it’s only appropriate to start with the first change I decided to make: eating breakfast.Yogurt Parfait

I’m sure this will become a theme of my posts on this blog, but let it be said from the start: I hate mornings. For as long as I can remember, I have had the absolute worst time waking up in the morning. We’ll talk more about that later.

A result of my extreme aversion to mornings was my failure to get up in time for breakfast regularly and needing to rush along into my day without eating. This started in college and eventually I got so out of the habit of eating breakfast that the thought of eating in the morning made me literally feel queasy. Food before noon? Gross. Food before coffee? Impossible.

You don’t need to get very far into any diet/exercise/healthy living reading before you start getting the idea that health experts think this breakfast business is important. Like, really important. When I saw Bob’s talk, I knew that first step I needed to take was eating breakfast.

This whole thing will sound silly to those who eat breakfast, but those who don’t/haven’t might understand just how [ridiculously] hard this was. But, I bought a box of granola bars and forced myself to take nauseating bites one after another each morning for weeks, knowing this was for my own good and worst comes to worst, I puke at my desk! Ha!

After a while, I started to notice myself not feeling so sick. Then, I started to actually like the granola bars from the first bite. Then, I started to get hungry in the morning and wanted to eat! Step One: Accomplished. Now? I love breakfast and enjoy eating every day. I’m going on two years of eating breakfast now, but it’s good to look back and remember taking that first active step towards changing my life for the better.

I’m kicking this blog off with a success story. There will be more to come, but there will also be frustrations, progress check-ins, and sometimes failures. Also, not all of these will be so long! So, never fear, dear readers!

Cheers and Cheerios,

Anthea