Shut Up and Work Out Already.

I used to think that Trainer Bob, of The Biggest Loser, was a little…edge-less.  A little too nice. 

That was until the Most Glorious Moment of Reality Television Ever, when he flipped the switch and handed Joelle her own bum for breakfast. 

Do yourself a favor this Thursday morning and take four minutes to watch this whole clip.  We can probably all be a little like Joelle at times, but hopefully you will identify with Trainer Bob in this instance.

Because happy parents tend to raise happy children, I recently launched “Spring Cleaning for the Brain”:  a four-part series in which I (and you!) discuss the techniques we use to be the happiest selves we can be.  (Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.)

Exercise is the single most effective tool in my arsenal to keep me on top of my ‘A’ game.   Since most of us, unfortunately, do not have a Trainer Bob to drag our asses to the gym, below I’m sharing…

Seven Mistakes I Sometimes Make Regarding Exercise, and How You Can Avoid Them:


Mistake #1:  Thinking I can go 3 days or more without exercising, and still maintain my effectiveness.

You know the science: exercise releases endorphins, increases oxygen transport to the brain, enhances the removal of toxins and waste, reduces stress, and helps us sleep better at night.  It also stimulates the hippocampus, the segment of the brain linked to learning and memory. 

So why would any of us think we could be our best selves without exercise?  Captain Obvious has news for us:  we can’t.

How many days can you, personally,  go without exercise and still be effective?  Test this out, be honest with yourself, and then act on it. 

I’ve figured out that my bare minimum is 35 minutes of moderately-high-intensity cardio (HR > 150) every three days.  Once upon a time, I was doing a lot more than that.  Nowadays I shoot for 35 minutes every other day. 

Mistake #2:  Not using a heart rate monitor (HRM.) 

In order to become a certified Mad Dogg Athletics Spinning Instructor, I was required to receive 50 lashings with the chest strap of a HRM. 

Okay, that’s not entirely true, but they did figuratively beat it into us that everyone should wear a HRM while exercising. 

And I ignored them, until I got pregnant, and I wanted to continue spinning (and teaching spin) without hurting my baby. 

Now, if I work out without it, I feel like I’m wasting my time. 

Key take-away:  your perceived level of exertion is probably inconsistent with your actual level of exertion.

Mistake #3:  Not using music.

I used to feel guilty about watching TV before bed.  So I bought a spin bike for my living room so that I could watch “Grey’s Anatomy” without guilt.  Here’s the problem with that plan:  when I was observing McDreamy and McSteamy, I wasn’t McListening to McMusic. 

When I listen to pump-up music while spinning, my heart rate consistently jumps up an extra 20 BPM.  For me, that can be the difference between spinner’s high and a wasted half an hour.

Mistake #4:  Forgetting my goals

Exercise provides a cornucopia of benefits.  The only of those benefits that currently lands on my list of priorities is mental clarity.  I can enjoy the other advantages (weight loss, muscle-building, socializing, etc) if they coincide with my cardio, but I have to be careful not to get so distracted by them that they compromise the cardio.

Mistake #6:  Not hydrating.

Given my tendency to overdo things, I think it’s pretty remarkable that I have only once worked out until I vomited.  (Long story short:  Hot Yoga + Iced Coffee – Water = Up-chuck.)  

Exercising without water is like driving a car without oil.  I am no mechanic, but I know oil-less driving is not advisable.

This link provides guidelines for determining how much to drink during exercise.

Mistake #7:  Thinking I don’t have time to exercise. 

Here’s a thought-provoking post by career advisor Penelope Trunk on this topic. 

Let’s agree on one thing:  we don’t have time to not exercise.

Mistake #8:  Planning to work out for too long.

If I plan a 2.5 hour workout, I will find 147 excuses not to do it. 

Here’s a great trick you can use to get your butt in gear:  promise yourself you will work out for 25 minutes, no longer.  Twenty-five minutes of cardio is sometimes all that is separating me from mental clarity.

Come on, you can motivate for 25 minutes, for crying out loud.

Mistake #5:  Thinking about it too much. 

There’s a reason Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign is so successful. 


So, tell me, how are you going to get your exercise today?

Hold up–looks like we have a prudent interruption from Trainer Bob:

“Words, words, words, words, words!  Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk!  Shut the F up–just do it!  Just stop talking and do it.  Don’t say one more word:  JUST DO IT.”



But seriously–how do you get your exercise?  I could use some fresh ideas.

If you are a parent, how do you fit in your workouts while juggling kids?

If you don’t exercise, why not?


17 responses to “Shut Up and Work Out Already.

  1. I bought an elipitcal after my son was born. I put it in my bedroom (because if it were in the basement it wouldn’t stare me in the eyes and force me on). I have a nice routine going. I live in a very hilly neighborhood. Depending on the day, I either take Tyler for a 40 min run, do 35 min on the elipitical when he is napping….or my favorite – hot yoga! I love yoga. Talk about getting an insane workout while relaxing. It leaves you wanting to go back for more.

    • Nice, Marissa! Sounds like you’ve got a great routine going. Thanks for the reminder about how great hot yoga is. I haven’t been back since the dehydration incident. 🙂

  2. I do the 30 Day Shred, because it’s only 20 minutes long. Anything longer and I won’t do it. I get up at 5 am Tues. & Thurs, and do it on Sat. & Sun mornings too.

    I aim for 4 days a week, but honestly, if I only get in 2 days, I don’t beat myself up over it. That would defeat the purpose of making myself happier.

    I don’t have a lot of rules or goals or requirements about my exercising. I gauge on how I feel when I button my jeans. If I feel like I look good, then great. If I feel a little lumpy, I amp up the workout a bit over the next several days.

    • LOVE your philosophy! Love that you don’t beat yourself up over not working out, but that you ramp things up when you need to.

      I can’t wait to check out the 30 Day Shred. This is the second time I’ve heard of it, so I will be googling it momentarily. Thanks for the tip!

      5am? You go girl. I don’t even form full sentences at that hour. 🙂

  3. May I add that Marissa also runs marathons! I, likewise, enjoy walks with my lil man. I’m trying to really increase my speed as I push him uphill – he provides a little resistance (tipping the scale at 6.2 lbs as of yesterday). Mommagoose – we should hit the park for a walk soon! Any suggestions on baby sunblock?

    • T, you inspire me. Can’t believe you’re already back on your feet, one week after the little guy was born. Would love to hit the park with you!

      A friend recently told me she prefers the Water Babies Spray lotion, which has a “no tears” guarantee. I’m using the Banana Boat right now, which does give Punga tears, despite its “no tears” label. (The tears don’t seem to bother him, but I’ll switch anyway.) However, I think you’re not supposed to use these ones until the baby is 6 months old, and I never tried the natural ones for newborns…sorry I don’t have more info for you!

  4. An excuse for not exercising (a funny predicament, really): I am a momma of a super active three and four year old. On an average day I cart around TONS of groceries, bench press chubby 3-year old and “fly” less chubby four-year old, walk to and from work (in the 100 degress+ misery that is Houston), climb the monkey bars, slide the slides, and, chances are, drag some delapidated piece of furniture to our home for a face-lift. Once kids pass out I collapse onto the nearest piece of horizontally-shaped furniture, and remain in this state of forgetfulness till morning, when everything starts anew. Now the excuse: I wonder, if I am THIS tired without it, what will happen if I do throw a 30-minute jog into the mixture?

    I may just never get up from the couch again 🙂

  5. Funny, smart blog…and oh my, today’s topic is quite timely & relevant. You rock Momma Goose!!

  6. Great post! I have been exercising regularly since January. Just recently started falling off my routine. Not sure why this is happening. After reading this wonderful post I am going to kick myself out of bed tomorrow morning and stop with the excuses and get back to working out.

    • Yay! Glad the post helped! We all get into ruts once in a while. When I’m in one, I try to remind myself how good I feel when I do work out. Sometimes that helps. Good luck! You are amazing!!

  7. Love this!! Mistake #3 (not using music) is a frightening wake-up, though, so I might selectively disregard it. The only thing that gets me to the gym is the prospect of watching the Food Network, which I don’t get at home. However, when they’re making something really good, I’m pretty sure my heart rate hits 150. 🙂
    I’m so excited about your heart rate monitor tip – I’m asking for one for my b-day from my husband, who incidentally also wants one — can we share? Is Polar the best brand to get?

    • LOL! Yes, I’m fairly certain that food excitement counts for cardio. 🙂

      I love the Polar, and it synchs with most cardio equipment too, which is a nice benefit. (That way, your heart rate appears on the cardio machine in addition to appearing on your wristband.) Other brands may do this as well, I am only familiar with Polar.

      The F4 is great because it also displays your calories burned. At first, I purchased the F6, but I found I wasn’t using the additional features, so it therefore wasn’t worth the extra money for me.

      You will probably want to have a different chest strap than your husband (they get very sweaty), but you could share a wristband…the mens’ wristbands are just a bit more bulky than the womens’…presumably to accomodate larger wrists.

      I think the chest straps are only about $20 or $30, so you could definitely save money by sharing a wrist band. Good luck!!

  8. Slightly off topic, but I was reading the comments and saw Terri’s question about sunscreen. Just thought I’d a take a minute to share a link with you lovely ladies…

    Until this information was released I’d been using Banana Boat for years. I have since put a whole lot more thought into what’s in these products and swtiched to California Baby – pricey but SO much better healthwise. Hope you all find it as informative and helpful as I did 🙂

    • Thank you, Mrs. Armywife!

      This makes me realize I don’t know enough about this topic. I just read the helpful link you provided, and I learned that some sunscreens which claim a high SPF actually provide poor protection against harmful UVA rays.

      Now I’m trying to find information about the UVA and UVB protection ratings of individual sunscreens, but I can’t seem to find any helpful sites.

      What made you choose California Baby? Do they have higher UVA and UVB scores than the other products on the market?

      Thanks so much for your input!

  9. You’re welcome! I too was caught pretty unaware, something I try to avoid!

    I have since spoken with my pediatrician on the subject. She says that an SPF rating of 50 is sufficient and anything higher isn’t truly of value. For example, a sunscreen boasting an SPF85 is only offering an increased protection from UVB rays which prevents sunburn but also offers a false sense of security since the UVA protection isn’t any better than a sunscreen with an SPF of say, 35 . Since our little ones aren’t getting red and we feel they’re ‘protected’ we’re likely to stay in the sun longer thus getting more UVA exposure.

    It all seems pretty technical from there but my ultimate understanding is the best sunscreens offer a good balance of UVA and UVB protection. This, and the breakdown of ingredients, was what ultimately led me to choose california baby. EWG found it didn’t breakdown too quickly, contained safer ingredients, and had a good UVA/UVB balance.

    Truthfully, the whole thing has left me very uneasy. I still feel like I had to choose the best of the worst so to speak but unless I’m going to turn my kids into miniature recluses, what alternative is there!

    Good Luck Momma 🙂

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