How I Trick Myself into Having a Good Workout (When I Would Rather Not)

As a professional athlete, it goes without saying that I work out quite a bit. If you enjoy exercise, this probably sounds like a dream. However, no matter how much you enjoy training, I’ve found there are always going to be days when you struggle to motivate yourself to work up a sweat.

I usually train twice a day (sometimes less, sometimes more), and am on my feet coaching a good bit as well. My daily life basically consists of a lot of eating, training, and motivating. However, after I’ve trained in the morning, then coached clients, I occasionally hit a little slump (for me it usually occurs after lunch). I am grateful that my afternoon workout is a habit and a part of my daily routine, but I also know that simply going through the motions is not the best that I can do. Furthermore, 98% of the time I love training. So why not find a way to enjoy the process?

I love fitness, but there are some days where mentally, I am not jumping into the gym with 110% enthusiasm. Fortunately, I’ve worked out a few tricks to get myself into a good workout mood, so that I can try to make the best of my session. Whether you’re an athlete, ex-athlete, or just someone who likes (or needs) to exercise, hopefully you can put these tips to good use. We all have days where we need that extra bit of oomph, and while it’s much easier to say “no” to a workout, or to back down on that last set, you’ll always be glad you said yes!

1. Get Some Tunes

I’m convinced music is the ultimate motivator. On several occasions, I’ve switched the music in the gym to an upbeat playlist, or put on some tunes to solo hit, and it has completely changed my attitude. Same exercise/drill, new me!

If I am dreading or procrastinating a workout (and if I’m not already at the gym) I create a new playlist to get me excited to move. I’ve found this works especially well with running and indoor cycling. Plus, if you make a playlist consisting all of songs you’re really pumped about, it’ll give you that extra motivation to push hard throughout the entire workout.

2. Get Moving

A body at rest wants to stay at rest. A body in motion wants to stay in motion. For me, this statement is so true! If I am feeling mentally “blah”, I hop on a piece of cardio equipment for at least 10 minutes to get my heart rate up and sweat a bit. Unless I am truly exhausted (in which case I should just take a day off), this method works every single time. Once my blood gets flowing, my mind snaps into gear, and I am ready to start training.

I’ll usually hop on the bike for 10 minutes for a low impact cardio warm up

3. Get Some Company

Playing an individual sport like squash has its pros and cons. On the upside, you only need one other person to hit with to have a good session. The downside is that in unlike a team sport such as soccer, there is seldom a larger peer/training group to serve as a constant motivator.

When I have a tough or particularly monotonous workout planned, I coerce a friend to do it with me. (I have a handful of trusty friends who will willingly suffer with me). If possible, I schedule the session ahead of time, so that I don’t have the chance to back out last minute. Having someone else there not only gives you some accountability to start the workout on time, but also incentivizes you to stay focused through the entire workout.

Next time you’re feeling indifferent about your workout, try out one (or all) of these tips to get the most out of your training session. Good luck!

NASM CPT: My Experience + Tips

I am officially a NASM Certified Personal Trainer!

Image 10While I don’t know what my official score was (yet), I do know that I passed, and right now that’s all that matters! Coming right out of college, I was pretty used to the whole study/exam process, but it had been ages since I’d had to teach myself an entire course (hello, grade 9 math!).

My biology background helped me out with a lot of Chapter 2 (Science), and my experience as an athlete made it much easier to understand the Human Movement Science portions. (For example, I know from personal experience that my knee has caved inwards during a single leg squat because of my underdeveloped gluteal muscles).

Reading blogger’s study guides online was also extremely helpful, so along with this NASM review, I will also link to all of the worthwhile tools I used throughout the studying process.

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Why NASM? (National Academy of Sports Medicine)

  • It is widely accepted and recognized. I’d seen the name pop up everywhere- on blogs, workout forums, and gym/fitness studio websites. Out of all of the personal training certifications out there, I’d say that NASM was the one which appeared the most, followed by ACE.

How much did it cost?

  • I chose the second cheapest option (exam + online self-study materials), which costs $699. (Note: I received a discount for agreeing to write this review post, which ended up bringing my cost down a bit). The cheapest option is $599, and only includes the exam- no practice materials, no textbook, nothing.

How long did I study for?

  • About 2 months. I purchased the NASM package at the beginning of June, and took the exam August 11th. I studied nearly every day during June, backed off a bit for the first two weeks of July, and then ramped it up towards the end of July/beginning of August.
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Studying on my “couch” (aka a pillow on the floor) before I had a bed or anything to sit on in the apartment!

 

How did I study?

  • Textbook (provided by NASM). I read through the entire textbook and made notes, which took me the better part of a month. After attempting some questions, and realizing I was nowhere near prepared, I then went through the textbook again, this time highlighting important areas and bookmarking certain tables with post-it notes.
  • Online flashcards (provided by NASM). There are roughly 400 flashcards in total, and they are very comprehensive. If you don’t know a topic very well, reviewing these will most definitely point out those weaknesses.
  • Online practice tests. I ended up finding lots of practice questions online, but beware- some of the information may be outdated and/or incorrect. Nevertheless, it’s a good way to test yourself, but when in doubt, always refer to the official NASM resources for the correct answers. Below are a few links to some of the online quizzes/tests/flashcards I used:
  • iPhone apps. I downloaded two free apps, and one paid app, which cost me $5.99, and provided me with about 450 questions. The paid app was great for when I was killing time on the train/subway, or trying to fall asleep. It allowed me to practice without having to lug around the ginormous textbook everywhere.
  • This Bodybuilding.com forum. Skip to the last page for the most recent material and tips. It is really helpful- I highly recommend checking it out! Some of the same exact questions popped up on my exam.
  • Blogger’s study guides. To get a better sense of NASM, and what was important, I read a lot of online study guides- the best being one by the Healthy Gamer (link below).
  • Extra practice exam ($20) from NASM. I purchased this the night before, and am really glad that I did. I ended up completing the exam at 11:30 pm in about 40 minutes (rushing through it), and passed- barely. The lesson I learned from this is that I needed to really concentrate during the exam, read the questions thoroughly, and avoid “stupid” errors. I also learned some things I somehow skipped over while reviewing the textbook. Taking this practice exam was also great practice for understanding how NASM phrases their questions, which can be tricky sometimes.

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NASM Special Offer

Good news! The NASM people have agreed to set up Squash on Squash readers with a discount for your CPT package! For more info and to take advantage of this, email Michael Miller (michael.miller@NASM.org), and let him know that you were referred from Nicole at Squash on Squash. Michael was incredibly helpful, and I really enjoyed partnering with him/NASM!

If you have any questions regarding my NASM experience, feel free to reach out and shoot me an email at squashonsquashblog@gmail.com.

Questions:

Are you considering getting your CPT? If so, have you heard of NASM?

If you are certified by NASM, what was your experience like? Anything to add?

 

5 Healthy Holiday Habits

Hi guys! How’s the Thursday going so far?

I’m currently holed up at a local coffee shop trying to get all of the things done that I should have gotten done last night. Even though Princeton’s finals period isn’t until after winter break (I know, not ideal), we seem to somehow get dumped on with a million things regardless.

Anyway, despite all of those things, I did get a chance to write an article for our school newspaper again this week, which I thought I’d share here as well!

5 Habits for a Healthier Holiday Season

I love the holiday season. As soon as December 1st hits, I break out my festive sweaters (all two of them), blast Michael Buble’s “Christmas” album on repeat, and replace note-taking in class with intense Pinterest stalking. However, as much as I love these holiday rituals, none of them can compete with the best one of them all: food.

IMG_5593Along with festive movies and parties, winter break brings with it an endless string of food-centric events. Don’t get me wrong, as a self-proclaimed foodie I’m not complaining one bit. There’s not much I love more than baking snowman shortbread with my mom while a cheesy romcom hums in the background. However, while endless cookie dough sampling can be fun, there’s no doubt that making this behavior a habit could lead to some less than satisfactory realizations, come the New Year. So, how do you enjoy the holiday cheer without the holiday hangover? I don’t have it nailed down to an exact science, but these tips might come in handy when you find yourself surrounded by a cozy couch and scrumptious stuffing in the coming weeks!

“Limited time only” does NOT mean “must have”

  • Do you really need that Reese’s peanut butter cup just because it’s shaped like a Christmas tree? (I almost fell for this gimmick when they came out with a pumpkin version- I thought it was a pumpkin flavoured PB cup!) Are you actually a fan of candy-cane flavoured desserts, or do you just think you are?
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I clearly didn’t abide by this “rule” when Chobani came out with their “limited time only” Pumpkin flavour…
  • Tip: ask yourself if you would normally be inclined to indulge in this “special” dessert. If yes, go for it! If you’re not really as enthused about the flavor as you are about its scarcity, consider giving it a pass.

Talk and walk

  • You don’t have to sit down at Starbucks to catch up with a friend (although I know their chairs are quite comfy) so why not get your coffee to go? Tip: If it’s not a complete blizzard outside, go for a walk around a local park, or kill two birds with one stone and do your Christmas shopping! And if you’re still a 5 year old at heart like me, don’t be afraid to grab a friend or two and join the neighbourhood kids for some sledding fun! (On second thought, I might be the only kid left on my block…more snow for me!)

185840_501188146330_4067948_nBreak up the feast(s)

  • In my family, we have both a big brunch and a dinner on Christmas day. If I don’t get up and move between the hours of noon and 4, I go into a serious food coma which to be honest, kind of puts a damper on the whole day!

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  • Tip: Do a family/friend run or walk on the day(s) of your feast! Turkey trots exist for a reason, right? So why not take a Jingle-bell Jog, a Hanukah Hike, or if you’re fortunate, a Santa Ski?

Pregame, game, or postgame?

  • You could be surprised to find that this tip has nothing to do with alcohol, but instead, revolves around food. Part of the reason I come away from dinner parties as full as Santa is because it is usually about 4 hours of eating, between appetizers, dinner, and dessert. Tip: Either nix one of these 3 meals altogether, or make sure you eat less of each in order to keep yourself in balance. Trust me, if you fill your plate with dinner and dessert, you won’t find yourself missing those mini quiches that looked like heaven when you arrived famished.

Choose Your Booze Wisely

  • Between exes, old high school friends, and your strange Aunt who’s not really you’re aunt, chances of awkward conversations this holiday season are pretty high. If you’re 21, you might even find yourself reaching for a strong glass of egg nog to calm the nerves, or facilitate a laugh. However, one glass of egg nog (or your beverage of choice) usually leads to two or more, which is sure to add up (depending on the level of awkwardness).

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  • Tip: Avoid those interactions at all cost. KIDDING! If you do feel like celebrating the season with a little booze, try to steer clear from the cream and sugar-laden drinks such as Baileys and Margaritas and replace them instead with lighter options. (Click here for Shape’s list of best+worst holiday cocktails!)

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Hope you have a great holiday with friends and family! 🙂