Summer has pretty much arrived in Montreal and the gyms are as crowded as can be! Everyone’s goals are different  – some people want to look good in a bathing suit, some people want their clothes to fit better, some people want to feel better and be healthier by losing that extra weight..the reasons are endless . However I *do* think we all have something in common – we want to get there, and we want to get there FAST! I read something funny the other day in a magazine  where a trainer says ” You didn’t put all that weight on in 2 weeks – why would you think you can lose it in 2 ?  :)) So funny and yet so true!! I’m totally guilty of this ! While there are no shortcuts, I just wanted to share some tips that work for me to get back /start a routine (and stick to it.)

Getting back

I took quite a long break from active gymming ( I was doing some light weights and cardio at home, but nothing major) for a few months and only started going back about 3-4 weeks ago after I returned  from my vacation. While it’s good to take short breaks of a day or two or even a week or two from excessive exercise/gymming, the longer we stay inactive (and this usually goes hand-in-hand with veering off-course from clean eating) the harder it becomes for us to get back into that groove.

If you were a gym-regular before, then the physical challenge of getting back into shape will likely be less harrowing than the mental one! It’s so tough to get back after a break , for the simple reason that it’s so much easier to just stay lazy!! But how can we do this so that it doesn’t feel like torture? How can we do this so that we actually WANT to put in the time to be as active?

The trick for me (and most people I think) is in picturing that end result . I don’t mean just thinking about it and then forgetting it. I mean REALLY picturing that end result  – actually SEEING yourself that way and the feeling that you’d have if you actually achieved that goal. If you’ve been able to achieve that goal in the past , picture how you went about it the first time and try to repeat that . Being mentally prepared is the first and MOST important step.

Another thing that’s equally important is to find a routine that doesn’t bore you! If you find running on a treadmill boring, maybe take a nice brisk walk/bike ride outside.  If you’ve been doing the same routine for weights, switch it up  – learn some new exercises, up the resistance  JUST SWITCH IT UP. If you listen to your own music at the gym, get a new playlist. It’s AMAZING how invigorating just  a fresh new playlist can be, and change is exciting. You are more likely to succeed when you’re not bored doing what you’re doing:)

HIIT

My primary goal right now is to get toned (especially in my legs) and to  lower my body fat % as well. Since I am not on a very restricted /low carb diet I can do a lot more HIIT ( High Intensity Interval Training) which is perfect, because  it helps keep my cardio sessions short (20 to 30 minutes)  yet super effective. HIIT is not for everyone as it can be very taxing on the central nervous system ( which is why when you are very close to a fitness competition you may be advised to do longer , less intense sessions of cardio) – but if you are already active, have sufficient nutrients , and are used to cardio, go for it!

HIIT boosts your metabolism for hours after you’re done so you continue to burn fat for longer! Also great for when you want to lose fat but want to keep as much of your muscle as you can. And  *yet another* to love HIIT is that you never have to get bored ! You can always vary the parameters ( incline, resistance, speed etc) on machines or even your free form exercises ( jumps, lunges, squats…whatever you want to throw in there for your routine) so that it doesn’t get “old”.

There are different variations of HIIT for various forms of cardio and a google search will find you a whole bunch that you can try on your own. Here are some of my favourites for the elliptical ( because that’s what I have at home):

http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/3768/try-this-hiit-workout-on-the-elliptical/

http://blog.anytimefitness.com/395325-quick-hiit-a-20-minute-elliptical-workout/

http://www.wholeisticallyfit.com/2013/03/07/20-minute-tabata-style-hiit-elliptical-workout/ ( Tabata worksouts are SUPER HIIT workouts)

or this:

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(taken from http://calorie-smart.com/2012/09/24/35-minute-elliptical-hiit-workout/)

This was me at my disgustingly sweatiest best after a 30 minute HIIT session on my elliptical yesterday :)) It would have taken me an hour and then some of my regular cardio to work up a sweat like this and I still wouldn’t have been as tired

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You should barely be able to respond to anyone /anything when you’re on the high intensity portions of your HIIT routines.

For recumbent bikes:

http://mygymtrainer.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/back-to-basics-killer-recumbent-bike-workouts-to-burn-fat/

with some arm exercises thrown in if you dare:)

http://jillfit.com/2010/11/03/30-days-fat-loss-day-24-recumbent-bike-intervals-toned-arms/

A Gymboss timer is perfect for  interval workouts! I have it in a bright, happy pink and I love it! It looks like this:

If you do specific Tabata style workouts like this one there are many Android & iPhone apps that help accurately keep track of the intervals ( can use the Gymboss too).

You can also apply the principles of HIIT to your weight sessions  when you’re pressed for time,  but is most commonly used for cardio .

I have to say I’m still getting back to my routine and not completely there yet, but sometimes I do just force myself , because otherwise laziness prevails! I think this is where having a tangible goal like a competition or something similar really helps. There’s something about us humans…we work harder when there’s an exam at the end because no one likes to fail! :)

While we might  need much more than 2 weeks to get to where we want to be, and HIIT may not be THE answer to everything, cardio is a big part of losing weight and just being fit overall – so the shorter we can keep those dreaded sessions, the more pleasant (and hence less dreaded) the whole experience becomes!

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 Some tips to help: If you’re just starting out with HIIT, try to keep it limited to your non-weight training days. Even if you are used to HIIT , I suggest NOT doing it on a day that you are training legs at the gym – personally, I find it too taxing :s