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!

Stairs HIIT Circuit

In college, I would look forward to the stair climbing portion of our conditioning workouts. No matter how tired I was from the ghosting or other exercises, I could always keep going on the stairs. In hindsight, it was probably because there were only 3 flights to climb before we would run down and start again, giving our quads a bit of a break. Nevertheless, it wasn’t an exercise I dreaded (unlike court sprints…blah!)

A few months ago, I was coerced into running a set of stairs with my coach, John after our session. After one set of 9 flights, my quads were on fire. I don’t mean a slight burn in the legs- I mean such an intense feeling that my legs physically couldn’t accelerate anymore. The hardest part? Once the legs started burning, I had to keep going, which made the last couple of flights a huge feat of mental strength.

A little while ago, I decided to dip back into the dreadful stairs pain cave, and drew up this stairs conditioning workout to test the lactic capacity of the legs, as well as muscular endurance. I had Jello legs by the end of the session!

Stairs Conditioning Workout

Complete 3-4 rounds of each circuit, taking little to no rest as needed between exercises. Between rounds, take ~45-60 seconds rest.

Circuit 1

1)  Stairs. I did 9 flights, because that’s how many are in the building, but depending on your current level of fitness, that may be too many (or perhaps too little!) for you.

2) Bent over row (15 reps) 

3) Walking lunges (12 reps / leg)

4) Jump rope (60 seconds)

Rest 45-60 seconds, then repeat 3-4x

Circuit 2

1) Stairs

2) Bear crawl (30 seconds)

3) Kettlebell squat to OH press (15 reps)

4) Jump rope (60 seconds)

Rest 45-60 seconds, then repeat 3-4x

If you do end up trying the workout, drop me a comment and tell me what you thought!

Disclaimer: While I am a certified personal trainer, please make sure to consult with your doctor before trying this (or any) workout regimen, especially if you are new to exercise. 

Why Not or Why NOT?

Hello from Laguardia airport! I’m currently settled in a chair by my gate with a $13 bag of Blue Diamond roasted almonds by my side (so worth it!), waiting to board. (Update: I’m almost done this post and have probably had about 5 servings. Why are almonds so addicting?!). I took public transit (subway + free bus connection) to the airport , and was really pleased with how smooth of a ride I had. From the time I left the club in midtown to the moment I sat down at my gate, it was about an hour. You can’t beat that! Maybe I’ll start trying to fly mid afternoon on Mondays more often…

Breakfast

After a solid 9-hour sleep, I woke up to a grumbling stomach and a craving for coffee. I quickly put on a pot of coffee, while simultaneously fixing breakfast and throwing a few last minute items in my suitcase. I did my absolute best to not overpack, since 90% of my bag is filled with training clothes, and I know that I’ll have several chances to do laundry over the next 10 days. Plus, I’m hoping to be able to fit my Salming duffel into the overhead bin and not sky check it. All about saving doll-ahs and being efficient over here!

Although breakfast this morning was influenced by clearing out all perishables from the fridge, it was quite tasty!

Today’s scramble mix included:

  • 3 eggs + 1 egg white
  • raw spinach
  • a bucketload of chopped chives
  • Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning (<– love this stuff!)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • sweet potato spirals sautéed in coconut oil that were on the verge of death (not pictured)

I heated up some coconut oil, scrambled it all up, and deemed it very edible! Coconut oil just may be my new favourite sautéing buddy. A little bit goes a long way, and it gives the food a slightly sweet taste, which I love.

Workout

After breakfast/packing, I headed into Manhattan to teach a lesson and sneak a quick workout in. The 45-minute lesson flew by, and after sorting out a couple billing tasks, I debated for about 2 minutes whether or not I should do a little bike workout. I was feeling indecisive, and formed a mental pros vs cons list:

Pros:

  1. I’m well-rested (HRV was also green this morning)
  2. It will energize me
  3. I said I would, and it’s part of the training schedule I set out to do
  4. It’ll only take 20 minutes

Cons:

  1. I’m a little short on time and don’t want to be late/stressed for my flight
  2. I’m ever so slightly hungry, but not really that hungry

Honestly, all this thinking just confused me. In the end, I thought to myself: “Why NOT?“. When you’re motivated, it’s easy to accomplish a given task. Similarly, when you’re unmotivated, it’s quite convenient to go with any number of excuses. But what happens when you’re ambivalent? At this point, the battle becomes mental, rather than physical. For example, I was well-rested today. My body felt good, and my mind was up for it. I had finished the other tasks that needed to be done, and really did have 20 minutes to spare. When I realized I had zero legitimate excuses, I figured I’d better shut my mind up and get on with it.

… I wish this was my setup today! This was taken over winter break.

20-something minutes later, I hopped off the bike, sweaty and out of breath. One of the benefits of being constrained for time, is that I made sure to make every single minute count. The workout looked something like this:

  • 0-5 min: warm up (alternating 1 min seated, 1 min standing, with the beat)
  • 5-10 min: 5 minute “climb”: one 10-25 second sprint every minute, and in between, pedalling out of the saddle with the beat
  • 11-20 min:
    • 20s on/40s off (3x)
    • 30s on/30s off (3x)
    • 40s on/20s off (2x)

After cooling down for a minute, it took me no more than 10 minutes to shower, dress, pack, and head out!

Anywho, now I’m chilling at my gate, munching on almonds, and wondering whether or not I should take a $500 travel voucher for a flight that leaves 3 hours from now…

Beating Stretching Boredom With a Magazine

Hi guys!!

As I was walking back from the U-store this morning, I thought to myself: “Man, I miss blogging!”. With the craziness of exams, being sick last week, and not to mention training, blogging has taken a bit of a backseat over the past couple of weeks. Fortunately, my exams are alllll over now, which means I can devote allll of my time to blogging! Ha, well not quite. I still have jobs to apply for, a senior thesis to write, and squash to train for, so I’m not exactly free as a bird, but I am feeling much more relaxed 🙂 .

Breakfast

Usually I am very picky about which kind of protein powder I mix with my Greek yogurt. In the past I’ve found that plant-based protein powders outweigh (or out-whey, get it?!) whey protein powders in the taste department when it comes to yogurt protein “pudding”.

However, I went out on a limb the other day to mix in some whey vanilla protein powder with my overnight oats, and was surprised how well the powder tasted when mixed with the yogurt, oats, fruit, and peanut butter. In fact, I’ve been loving my new combo so much, that I have been making it every morning for breakfast! Plus, you can’t beat it’s convenience!

IMG_6089Last night I combined the following ingredients in a tupperware dish to enjoy this morning:

  • 1 cup 0% plain Fage Greek yogurt
  • a small handful of rolled oats
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 banana
  • 4 frozen strawberries + a couple pieces of frozen mango
  • a little water to mix it all together
  • ~2 Tbsp peanut butter

IMG_6090I had absolutely no trouble finishing this delicious breakfast off. It was a winnnna!

Workout

I had plans with our assistant coach to hit this morning, however due to some family issues, he had to cancel last minute. Since I was well fuelled and all ready in my workout clothes, I decided to head to the gym for a quick workout.

I followed up my 30 minute bike with a couple minutes of abs, and some light stretching. Usually I get bored pretty quickly when stretching by myself, and struggle to finish out a routine- especially when I get hungry! To combat the stretching-sorrows, I grabbed a Women’s Health magazine to keep myself entertained as I tried to stretch out my muscles.

FullSizeRender-3It’s been ages since I’ve read a hard-copy magazine, and had completely forgotten how much fun it is! I usually check out articles online pretty frequently, but haven’t actually read a physical magazine in a long time. Maybe that’s some extra motivation to get back to the gym! 🙂

Post Workout

Now I’m re-fuelling with some coffee, water, blueberries, and a mango Chobani Greek yogurt. I forgot how hungry I get when I increase my training… I swear sometimes it’s endless!

Questions:

Do you read magazines at the gym during your workout or while you stretch? 

Pumpkin and Coconut Delights {WIAW}

Hello all!

I’m currently writing this post in my PJ’s as I munch on some chocolate protein pudding with cashew butter (easiest, healthiest delicious breakfast ever), and as soon as I hit publish, will be off to the student health centre to get an X-ray of my knee! I’ll be seeing the ortho tomorrow, and will most likely be getting and MRI done, but before any of that, they need to make sure that none of my bones are broken! (Which they shouldn’t be, because I think I would feel that!)

Workout (Tuesday)

AM Yoga: Yesterday morning both the mens and women’s team yet again had our early morning vinyasa yoga session. It started off a little slower than normal, which I really appreciated as it helped my body to ease into the poses.

PM Practice: Let me tell you a little bit about what was going through my head at 4:15 pm yesterday as I left my last class of the day: To practice, or to nap? That is the question! Since official NCAA practices start today, yesterday’s practice was optional, and I seriously considered plodding back to my room to curl up in my bed for about an hour. After some deliberation, I decided against it, and hit with a teammate, Kira for about an hour.

What I Ate Wednesday : Pumpkin and Coconut Edition

Thanks to Trader Joe’s, the following munchies have found their way into my life. Question: does eating pumpkin butter count as eating a serving of vegetables? I’d say that’s up to personal interpretation 😀

  • Pumpkin Pie Parfait

I made myself a little pumpkin parfait the other day, with plain Greek yogurt, canned pumpkin, and pumpkin butter, with some cashew butter drizzled on top.

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  • Coconut Chocolate Covered Almonds

IMG_0086Be proud! I’ve had these nuggets for almost 4 days now, and I still have basically the whole container left! These almonds are sweet and perfectly crunchy, and a great way to satisfy a little sweet craving after a meal (or before a workout…?).

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  • Pumpkin Butter

I’ve been enjoying my pumpkin butter a couple of ways, with cottage cheese (don’t hate!), and topped on crackers with some cashew butter. These combos may or may not have turned into breakfasts over the past couple of days. Yumz!

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Ps. The crackers I’ve been using are the multigrain crackers from Trader Joe’s. They’re pretty inexpensive (about $2.50 a box?) and they’re great with both sweet and savoury toppings.

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  • Coconut Cashews

Just then you thought I couldn’t make any more combinations- stop that thought right there! I will always make more combinations- especially when they involve nuts. Or coconut :).

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The best thing about these nuts besides the fact that they taste amazing, is that they don’t have any other ingredients, other than cashews and coconut! No sugar added = big ups from me!

  • Coconut Chips

Probably my favourite purchase over the past couple of weeks. I just love how these chips aren’t really chips, but are rather just toasted coconut pieces! They’re crunchy, sweet and salty, and kind of creamy at the same time! Wins across the board!

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And one last thing, although it involves neither pumpkin nor coconut… my dinner from last night (recipe to come!!!)

  • Sweet Potato Chick Pea Quinoa burgers with Lemon Tahini sauce

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Blogging time’s up, and I am feelin’ a Wawa pumpkin spice coffee before my X-ray. Toodles!