Wednesday, October 3, 2012

No wimping out after work

I did it again last night… I stayed up too late watching reruns of “Charmed” and – after a long day at work – I’m too tired to head to the gym like a good fitness fanatic should.

But after a few successive days of shying away from my evening cardio session, I always start to feel really guilty and – as we all know – guilt is an emotion that we should never allow to get out of hand.

In this entry, I’m going to share with you a few tips that I use to motivate myself to sweat (not sleep) after work and also give you some ideas for quick and easy workouts that won’t seem so overwhelming after a rough day at your desk.

SIX ways to motivate yourself to get into motion

(1) Pack your gym clothes the night before: I always do this, because if my gym bag is in the car and ready to go, I won’t stop at home first and get tempted by my comfy couch.

(2) Schedule a post-work gym time with a buddy: when I know I have a commitment to workout with a friend, it’s a lot easier for me to stay on track, because I have someone to be accountable to.

(3) Mentally prep yourself: this might sound a little silly, but it really works! Around 4:30 p.m., right before I get off of work, I’ll say to myself, “I am so excited to hit the gym! I can’t wait!” And actually, I go a little overboard with the excitement, because – even if I don’t really feel thrilled to pump some iron – I kind of convince myself that I do.

(4) Quick coffee: I frown on energy drinks, because they have so much sugar. And even the sugar-free versions are too processed, because of artificial sweeteners. But I don’t see anything wrong with having a small or half-cup of coffee before working out on especially tired days. It might just give you that bit of added zap you need!

(5) Make it in the morning: I recently started working out very early in the morning a few times a week before heading to the office and I just love it! I always feel so accomplished and rejuvenated, and this is a sure-fire way to guarantee that you'll get in some gym-time.

I know it might be really hard the first few times, because let's face it... very few of us are true morning people. But once you do it for the first week, it becomes routine and popping out of bed at 6 a.m. will seem like just another day! To make it even easier on yourself, layout your clothes the night before or heck... sleep in them! Then all you have to do is roll out of bed and lace up those sneakers!

(6) Plan out your workout: Scheduling a workout and putting it into your calendar will definitely help you keep your gym appointments that you make with yourself. But go a step further and plan what you’re actually going to do at the gym. I’ll write out a little schedule for myself, so I have something to follow and say, “Ok… just get through this routine and you’re done.” Sometimes the mystery of not having a plan makes me feel defeated before I even begin. I like to set a goal and see on paper my potential accomplishment before I get to the gym.

Here is an example of a workout I might plan:

  • 15 minutes: stairmaster. Warmup for 5 minutes, then push it at a level 7 to 9 difficulty (on a scale of 10) for the last 10.
  • 5 minutes: treadmill, running between 7 to 9 difficulty
  • 10 minutes: stairmaster again (changing it up burns more calories!), level 5 to 6 for five minutes, level 7 to 9 for 5 minutes
  • 5 minutes: treadmill, cool down between 3 to 5 difficulty


Superset: Just do one superset if you’re feeling particularly lethargic. Repeat twice.
  • Lunges across the gym with 10 to 15 lb weights in each hand (about 10 – 15 reps each leg)
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 15 to 20 pushups
  • 50 leg lifts to target abs
  • 15 to 20 tricep dips
  • 50 sit-ups
  •  Repeat
So there you go! This workout should last about an hour, but if you’re crunching on time, then just do the cardio and throw in some sit-ups at the end.

I also really love this fully-planned total body workout from - Click HERE to check it out. 

Although it says that you can do this routine at home, it does require quite a bit of equipment (a barbell, dumbells of various weights, an exercise ball, a weight bench and an exercise mat) that the average person usually wouldn't have at home. Therefore, I'd say it's best to do this at the gym

So if you're tired and you don't want to think of your next move, write these steps down on a piece of paper and bring it with you to the gym. Again, I always feel that the time goes by faster when I have a plan. I would also recommend modifying this program to add at least 20 - 30 minutes of cardio (stairmaster or the treadmill are my faves!).

Quick and easy workouts without a gym

Sometimes the idea of actually getting yourself to the gym is a tiring task all by itself. And not every workout has to be a 700-calorie-scorcher. Once in awhile, I just feel like burning some quick calories in the comfort of my own home. Here are some recommendations I have for doing just that:

Jillian Michaels: Yoga Meltdown Level 1: I have a really hard time finding yoga videos or DVD’s that are challenging enough for me and actually feel like a good workout. But this is one of the best free, online videos that I’ve found so far. The positions and movements are not incredibly difficult, but they really do target your booty! Whoo! I also love that it's 35 minutes and not a piddly 10 or 15. So after a long day of work, come home and wind yourself down by burning those love handles off!

Lady Gaga workout: So the queen of all things glam, pop and outrageous may have put on a few pounds recently, but she's still sexy in my book! And when Gaga was at her fittest, this is the routine she used to follow and I do it at home every now and then to keep things spicy (and to channel my inner diva).

You'll notice that you start and finish this routine with cardio... a simple jog around your block will do it! :)

Click HERE for the full workout, courtesy of Glamour Magazine!

Give your abs a boost: I just dote on Karina and Katrina from Tone It Up! I subscribe to their newsletter and they send me all kinds of juicy workouts and fitness tips. This abs video is one of my faves when I want to tighten up. And I don't know about you, but when I walk around doing my daily routine with a sore set of abdominals, it motivates me to eat healthier because I'm constantly reminded of my shaping tummy muscles. So if you just can't hit the gym or get in some cardio, at least do a slammin' ab routine. Try it out!
Build your own at-home workout: If you'd rather just throw on some hot track of your iPhone and get all sweaty without the help of a video or someone else's personalized routine, make up something that is individual to you! made some excellent suggestions for exercises that will "build the lean muscle and increase your metabolism in the same way as performing exercises at the gym, but without the time constraints and associated costs." 

You might have already guessed it, but these moves include the classic squats, lunges, push-ups and more! Check out the full list HERE!

And so that you can add even more variety to your living room fitness routine, has a stellar list of 25 At-Home Exercises.

In order to build an effective at-home routine, I'd like to make a suggestion: Choose maybe 5 or 6 of these at-home strength exercises and complete at least 2 sets of 15 - 25 reps each (or more, if you have the strength!). Then, add on some cardio! You can either jog outside or do a cardio-based workout video (Find some ideas for these in the next section).

Let your laptop be your trainer: Ever since the Tae Bo craze, I've always been a big supporter of workout videos to add variety to my overall fitness routine. I wouldn't recommend only doing workout videos to stay in shape, because nothing beats some serious cardio at the gym and actual weights to build strength, but it's nice to try something different every now and then. gives a list of more than 40 free online workout videos. Click HERE to see the list and try one! I recommend this super-fun 16-Minute Bollywood Cardio Workout! :)

Work hard, workout harder

I hope I've given you some useful tips on how to commit to a healthier lifestyle, even if your work schedule is ultra taxing. My biggest pet peeve is when people say to me, "I just don't have time to work out." They should be saying, "I just don't care enough to make the time to work out," because if you envision yourself achieving something, you can and you will!

Frankly... if you want to look good and feel good, there is nothing stopping you. To share a bit of my personal story as an example, I commute from Indiana to Chicago every day for my job, work a full-time, 40+ hour/week job with several part-time/freelance gigs, take care of three dogs, go to improv classes, voice lessons and take care of my grandmother. And yes, I still make time for family and friends! So if I can do it, so can you!

If you want to make fitness a priority, it's true that you may have to make some sacrifices. But don't say to yourself that you just can't do it. Have faith in yourself and make it happen, no excuses. And remember... I believe in you! 

And please don't hesitate to reach out to me and I'd be happy to give you some suggestions on how you can do just that. :)

- Brittany

~ Life in the Fit Lane ~

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