6 Tips for Boosting Progress in Your Workouts
Workouts can be a jagged piece of the puzzle. You know, the one that struggles to fit in just right, if at all. Maybe right now, you’re not finding time for any exercise in your chaotic schedule. Or perhaps you’re doing the same workout you always do but have plateaued due to a lack of motivation, boredom, or energy.
Life’s busyness and our own cognitions get in the way of body movement goals. As I shared on Instagram, it was happening to me. I wasn’t feeling my best – I was bloated and sluggish. While I was continuing to work out, I noticed my slacking effort. Surprisingly, when I was finally brave enough to step on the scale, the numbers didn’t show a drastic change. But I could tell by my pant’s tighter waistline that I needed to switch up the track I was on.
Whatever hitch in your giddy-up you’re experiencing, it’s essential to work through it. Body movement is critical for feeling your best and getting your metaphorical puzzle to piece together seamlessly. Here are 6 places to zoom in on to get the best results and feel healthier!
Focus on measurements, not the scale.I’ve been doing Beachbody for a long time, and the coaches always preach before and after photos and measurements. The photos have never been my thing, but I could get on board with the measurements. Before my 21-day hiatus mentioned on Instagram, I’d completed a Beachbody program where I’d gotten a baseline at the beginning. Before day 1, I took the fabric tape measure and measured my waist, hips, arms, legs, and chest. In 3 weeks of moving less and going a little off the rails eating-wise, I’d gained 2.5 inches in total around my body. I’d expected this, judging by how my pants were fitting. The funny thing – the scale showed hardly any movement. This proved to me that the scale isn’t the be-all of progress. As you advance through your wellness goals, remember, muscle weighs more than fat. If toning and strengthening is your goal, you may not see the pounds come off. You could actually see a little weight gain. There’s a place for the number on the scale, but that number’s movement does not dictate your health level and progress. It’s about how you feel in your skin (and how good you can feel in your jeans!)
Plan around your cycle.Yep, as in your menstrual cycle. Have you ever noticed when you have your period, your energy feels zapped? It’s not just you. Hormone levels are at the lowest when Aunt Flo’s in town, so schedule your rest days and various types of workout styles around that time of the month. My Mastermind buddy, Ash McDonald, is a wonderful source for cycle syncing and posts great Instagram posts for workouts during the different phases. She takes care of all her sisters – whether you’re a runner, lifter, or yogi, she’s got you. Check out Ash’s Workouts for Your Cycle for a beautiful explanation of each cycle and the best workouts for each stage. Where has this information been all of our lives? This would have been more helpful back in elementary when the school nurse came in to have the pad talk! I can attest that there’s some truth to matching workouts with my cycle.
Here’s a brief recap of my own experience with cycle mapping workouts.
- Menstrual phase: I’m so tired when I have my period, but I used to try to force my workouts anyway. Now that I know my body is busy doing her thing, I use that time to stretch my muscles and take advantage of low-impact workouts. It’s much easier to make it through a workout when I’m not expecting so much out of my body.
- Follicular and Ovulation phases: The most energy I experience through the month happens right after my menstrual cycle. For almost a solid two weeks, I find it pretty easy to throw on some loud music and go for a run, bump up my weights, or do a HIIT workout. Of course, I still find it valuable to stretch well before and after going at it hard to reduce muscle soreness and still have a weekly full-body stretch day.
- Luteal phase: Even though I don’t yet have my period during this phase, my body is prepping, and my workout energy decreases. Rather than forcing a long run, I may jump on the treadmill for an easy couple of miles and gravitate towards lower-impact workouts. Less intense HIIT workouts at this time! Fortunately, Beachbody has a ton of options for low-impact HIIT, barre, yoga, pilates, dumbbell, and other activities that add to my progress without making me overexert myself beyond my energy level.
Do what you like.To make regular body movement a steady part of your life, it’s important to find joy in your workouts. Don’t get me wrong – to see real change, you have to push yourself. But don’t push yourself in the same direction as your friend who loves CrossFit boot camps if that’s just not your style. If you hate what you’re doing for 30-45 minutes a day, you will dread that time, and that’s missing the point. Working out should add value to your day and give you time for yourself. I like Beachbody, but I realize it isn’t for everyone. When I force workouts I don’t like, I don’t stick with them. If this is something you find yourself doing, you’re likely feeling like you’re in this cycle of constantly starting over and never making the progress you want.
Try Something NewSo, try new things to see what you like. You might end up loving yoga, or pilates, Tabata, spin, barre, or a combo of a few. If I hadn’t given barre a try, I would have never known I actually enjoy it and sweat my ass off during the low-intensity style training. I’ve been mixing running 2-3 times a week with weight training. I realize as I get older that building strength is almost more important than cardio. Building strength ensures our muscles will continue to cling to the bone, making everything look tighter as we age (who doesn’t want more of that?). If you hate lifting weights, no worries! There are plenty of exercises using only bodyweight or bands that are just as effective, like barre blend on Beachbody. And just because you start a 10-week workout plan doesn’t mean you have to complete it if you find you hate it in the first week. Have fun moving your body, especially if you had to rearrange a bunch of other stuff to make time for it. Time is precious! Don’t waste it hating something! Swap subscriptions with your friends so you each can test out what each other likes before you take the financial plunge with Peloton or workout apps. Some gym memberships allow you to bring a friend, give it a whirl and enjoy time with your bestie. Love HIIT and plyometrics but hate how you get the urge to pee (or actually do) the second you jump up? Stay tuned for a special LIVE interview about tightening your tinkler without kegels!
Be consistent but flexible.
Because you’re a busy mama, every week isn’t going to look the same. Some weeks (months, if I’m being real) will be more challenging than others to fit in the identical workouts. Don’t focus on fitting into a strict workout routine because consistency is key for long-term progress.
With planting season among us, I’m about to be a one-person show in the parenting department again. I know I won’t get in as many solo runs as I’d like, and earlier mornings will be the only way to fit in my workouts and to get my kids on the bus. But I’ve learned flexibility is essential for fitting a workout in between work and caring for my kiddos.
Part of being flexible is knowing I might not get a solid 30-45 minute workout in at once. Fitting in a 15-minutes of movement in the morning, or a 10-minute walk in the evening while kids are at practice, or a quick 15-minute core or arm workout in the evening while dinner is cooking is better than just calling the day a wash. Find movement wherever you can find a few extra minutes, even if it’s just a quick round of push-ups, planks, and squats while your little one is splashing away in the tub next to you. Get your kids involved and teach them what you’ve learned along the way of proper form. You might enjoy some extra giggles seeing them do their first pushups or have their cutie little booty way up in the air trying out a plank!
Whatever flavor of workouts you choose, make sure to focus on your body while you’re moving. Going through the motion without being mindful makes it easier to get discouraged and stop, and the results aren’t as good either.
Mind to muscle focus is important. If you are doing a glute workout, focus your mind on squeezing your glutes. The same for doing an upper body workout – concentrate on the muscle or muscles you’re working on, getting an extra squeeze at the top. Almost every workout move, especially cardio moves like running, biking, or HIIT, includes working your core, so be mindful about engaging your ab muscles and breathwork. A strong core keeps injuries at bay, which is all the more reason to keep your mind on it when you’re doing cardio.
Ab workout tip if you feel like you can’t kick that mama pooch – engage your lower ab muscles approximately 4 inches below your belly button. For floor exercises, think about keeping your low back flat on the floor to get a more impactful workout and avoid lower back pain later. You shouldn’t be able to put your hand between your back and floor.
Stretch, stretch, stretch!
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of pre and post-workout stretching. Not only does it warm your muscles up for your workout, but it can eliminate some of the after-workout soreness. When you make time for stretching out muscles, you see a wider range of motion and flexibility, too.
Stretching is also super beneficial for our mental health, which is a giant part of our overall well-being. I find that in moments where I feel anxious and overwhelmed, taking a minute to do a few side stretches and breathing can really re-ground me so I can get on with my day.
Even if you feel stressed for time, don’t skimp on the stretching! Even a few minutes can make a big difference!
Did you know…
That many of us have 5 to 10 pounds of garbage backed up in our pipes?! It’s crazy to think it’s that much, right? But giving in to our everyday food temptations can contribute to our bloating and cement-block-in-the gut feeling.
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