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Since I’ve started teaching morning boot camps, I’ve had so many people tell me that they just can’t wake up that early. (“That” meaning early enough to attend a 5:30am Camp Gladiator Boot Camp. If you just shuddered at the thought of that, keep reading.) Well, I beg to differ, so I thought I’d put together a quick list of tips that will help you transform yourself into a “morning workout person.” And believe me when I say, this comes from the heart. I don’t necessarily “love” mornings, but I have taught myself how to become one of those morning people!

1. Set Your Alarm

I know what you’re thinking…”duh”…but there’s more to it than just setting one alarm. Set your alarm the night before with just enough time to eat something light*, grab what you need and head out the door. If you allow yourself more time than you need, you will likely hit snooze and potentially sleep through the workout. Then, set a back-up alarm for about 2 minutes after the first alarm, in case you accidentally hit “snooze.” Make sure it’s something “alarming”, pun intended so that it really wakes you up! Lastly, you can always set your alarm across the room from you, forcing you to actually get out of bed to turn it off. Once your out of bed, STAY out of bed! Don’t go back there!

2. Prep the Night Before

Before you hit the hay, lay out everything you need, so that you don’t have to overtax your already not fully functioning brain early in the morning. Set out what you’re going to wear and anything you need to bring with you. I even go so far as to put everything I need to remember to take with me (that I’m not actually wearing) in the car the night before so that I can’t forget to grab it. I set a banana out as well, and as soon as that alarm goes off, I drink a good 8 ounces of water, have my banana, then start getting ready. This way, by the time I arrive at my destination, my banana is digested and I’m ready to work out! The less you have to think in the morning, the better your chances are for getting out of the house successfully!

3. Do It More Often Than Not

Consistency is key here. If waking up early is difficult for you, try to do it as often as possible. You give yourself a better chance of being successful if you do it more often. Try to change your sleep schedule so that more days than not you are going to bed early and waking up early. If you try to wake up early one day, then sleep in the next, etc., your body will never get used to the schedule and it actually becomes much more taxing on your body. Even on days where you aren’t working out, try to wake up at a reasonable hour so that it makes it easy for your body to continue your new schedule. Also, give it 21-30 days. It takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so commit to waking up early and going to bed early for at least 3 weeks. And of course, be sure you are getting to bed early too. Insufficient sleep will not make you a happy camper when that alarm goes off! Do what you need to do to eat dinner earlier, bathe the kids earlier, etc.

4. Recruit a Partner in Crime

Misery loves company, so recruit a friend to join you in your morning workouts. Although at first you will likely be complaining to each other about how tired you are, soon you will realize that this partner in crime is actually your accountability partner, and is equally important to your success in becoming a morning camper. I highly recommend carpooling with your accountability partner. Knowing someone is coming to your house to pick you up is a huge motivator for getting out of bed and even more so if you’re the driver that day! You can’t bail on your partner!

5. Reward Yourself

Enjoy the rest of the day thinking about how your workout is already completed, and the day is yours! Alternately, the guilt you feel when you miss your morning workout is extremely heavy—and even heavier if that’s your only opportunity to workout all day!

*Note: Eating prior to the workout is important. If you are in the process of trying to become a morning camper, just get something light in you prior to the workout. Something like a banana, a Larabar, some oatmeal, etc. (full or half) are good, quick, light items that provide glucose for your brain and muscles to perform properly. Failing to eat prior to working out will leave you lightheaded and not feeling well. Also, what does your body use for fuel if you haven’t eaten anything? You’re likely to break down muscle instead of building it. As your workouts progress and depending on your body, you will likely need to eat something more substantial. This post is just to give you ideas on how to start small and work your way up!

Swivel kicks are one of my all-time favorite exercises. Although this exercise works your entire body, I love the focus it draws to your core, obliques, shoulder complex and glute muscles. The key to this exercise is to keep your hips “down”—as they are in the starting position—and to swivel your hips, pivoting on the ball of the foot that is on the ground.

how to do swivel kicks

How to do Swivel Kicks:

  1. Start out in high plank position with your abs contracted by pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Your hips should be “down”—in between your shoulders and ankles—your body making a perfectly straight line. (No butts up in the air, no arching of the low back). Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders and your neck and spine should be neutral—concentrating your focus about a foot in front of your fingertips.
  2. Keeping the hips “down” (where they are in the start position), swivel your hips by pivoting on the ball/toes of your left foot. Kick your right leg outside of your left elbow so that the outside of your right foot is parallel to the ground. Hold here for two seconds. Be slow and controlled with your movements.
  3. Bring your right foot back to center, switch legs and repeat.
  4. Do 8-20* swivel kicks total, then rest. After 30 seconds – 1 minute of rest, repeat the set once more.

*The amount of swivel kicks you are able to do in one set will vary on your fitness level. Be sure you keep your hips down and abs drawn in. (If you cannot keep proper form, you should discontinue this set and rest. Note how many kicks you did, then try to get at least that number or more in the second set). 

Peace, love and favorite exercises,

Melissa

If you’ve been coming to Live Whole Be Free’s FREE Boot Camp at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, you know that each week you have “homework.” Only being able to train most of you once a week makes it more difficult for you to make progress quickly. Therefore, I’ve elected to give out homework each week, consisting of one exercise that you do every day to help you get the most out of our time together. It also helps keep you in the fitness mindset, while strengthening and improving certain muscle groups each week.

The homework isn’t overly difficult, in fact it’s set up so that no matter what your fitness level is, you are able to complete it. If you are just starting out, you will begin to build your foundation and if you’re in tip-top shape you will continue to work on your stabilization which is ALWAYS important, regardless of fitness level. It’s also not incredibly time-consuming. In fact, it takes less than 2 minutes a day, maximum. So let me ask you, have you been doing your homework? If the answer is no, why is that? Are you SO busy that you don’t have 1-2 minutes to spare each day? Probably not. And we’ve already covered that it’s something everyone can do regardless of fitness level, so…what gives? Truthfully, if your health and fitness is important to you, you will find the time to do these exercises. Those of you that employ my services for Personal Training know that you leave each session/week with 4-5 exercises that you are asked to complete daily and it’s really up to you to do them. You could lie to me and tell me that you’ve completed them when you have not, but what good would that do? You are coming to this boot camp or personally training with me to achieve a certain goal, so why sell yourself short?

With that, the featured exercise (or “homework”) for this week is the side plank. It’s similar to a regular low or high plank, except—you guessed it—you’re on your side. This is a full-body exercise (my favorite kind!) that also really targets your obliques (waistline).

side plank level 1 + 2

How to do a Side Plank:

  1. Start by laying on your right side, right hip on the ground, in a straight line.
  2. Place your right forearm on the ground perpendicular to the rest of your body so that your right elbow is underneath your right shoulder. If you prefer to do the side plank up on your hand, place your right hand flat on the ground in front of you, underneath your right shoulder.
  3. Cross your left leg (top leg) over your right leg (bottom leg), anchor the sides of your feet to the ground, and lift your hips off the ground. Your body should form a straight line, with your hips in between your shoulders and ankles (if you were to draw a straight line from your head to your toes).
  4. Contract your glutes (butt cheeks) and your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Do not “let go.”
  5. Raise your left arm straight up in the air and hold for as long as you can on this side (shooting for 30 seconds – 1 minute), then switch sides.
  6. Repeat 1-2 times on each side.
  7. To progress this exercise to Level 2 in the photo, raise your left (top) leg in the air. Keep glutes/abs contracted and hold. If you cannot hold the contraction, lower the leg and stay at Level 1.

If you attend LWBF Boot Camp, fill out the homework card you’ve been given with the amount of time you can hold each side plank. If you do not have a card, you can email/message me your times at the end of the week. Remember, for every day of homework you complete, you are awarded one point. Each time you attend boot camp, you are awarded one point. In one week, you can earn a maximum of 8 points. The person with the most points on December 31, 2012 will receive a FREE Nutritional Consultation by me!

Let me know if you have questions! See you at 5:30pm on Monday for Boot Camp!

Peace, love and dedication to fitness,

Melissa

I am so humbled and excited to announce this very exciting news. Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, the New York City consulting firm responsible for programming for the new Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, has asked me to teach boot camp classes at The Park coming this Fall!

This park is unlike any other in the city of Dallas. Spanning 5.2 acres in the heart of Dallas, Klyde Warren Park covers several city blocks between Pearl and St. Paul Streets over Woodall Rodgers Freeway. It includes a performance stage, restaurant (coming soon), shaded walking paths, dog park, children’s garden, great lawn (i.e. boot camp area), water features, an area for games and much more. I am so excited to have access to such a beautiful space bringing people together downtown! The Park’s programming is truly outstanding and includes music, fitness, education, games and art, with a constant stream of free daily activities open to the public, complemented by signature special events. There will be something for everyone at The Park, and I’m thrilled to be able to be a part of it!

The free grand opening of the Park will be held on Saturday and Sunday, October 27th and 28th, followed by Live Whole Be Free’s first FREE Boot Camp class on Monday, October 29th (and every Monday after that) at 5:30pm! As far as what you can expect from LWBF’s Boot Camp—you can expect to get 60 minutes of “you” time that you will not regret! Those of you that have taken my classes for years know that I offer a fun and challenging workout regardless of your fitness level.

I hope that you will join me every Monday at 5:30pm! This is an amazing opportunity to make a commitment to yourself and to your health/wellness without costing you a dime. It’s also a great way to support the City of Dallas and small businesses like myself. Although not required, participants are encouraged to bring a set of dumbbells in a weight appropriate for them as well as a small towel and some water. If you do not have dumbbells—not to worry—you can still participate in boot camp and you will still get a terrific workout! Read more about what you can expect at Boot Camp!

I can’t wait to see you all at Klyde Warren Park on Monday, October 29th! If you plan on attending, please RSVP to melissa [at] livewholebefree.com, as the first 20 people that RSVP (and show up on Monday, 10/29) will receive a free gift!*

* An RSVP for boot camp is not required but sure is helpful!

Peace, love, health and fitness,

Melissa

I’ve been teaching Group Exercise classes for quite a while now and I have to say—the thing that irks me the most—is when the same people find excuse after excuse not to try your class when they actually really want to. I know people that for over three years now have used the “I have to get in shape before I come to your class” excuse. Or there’s the ever-popular “your class is too far away”…(I teach all over the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex), or “I’m busy that day”…(I teach 10 classes a week, you can’t honestly tell me you cannot make any of those), the list goes on and on.

Three years ago, these people were overweight, out of shape, unhealthy and unhappy. Their plan was to “get in shape”, and then come to my class. Again, that was three years ago. If they had just come to classes regardless of being “in shape” or not, I can guarantee you that they would not be in the same physical and mental condition that they are today—stuck.

I think sometimes the classes and instructors are taken for granted. Not in a bad way, just that it is assumed that certain classes will always be on the schedule and these instructors will forever teach classes at that particular club. Nothing is ever certain. Lives change, people change, the needs of the gym change, the only thing that is not changing—is you.

Yesterday you said tomorrow nike

If you live your life saying “I’ll do it tomorrow”, you’ll have to accept the possibility that there might not be a chance tomorrow, for whatever reason. I urge you to do it today. No more excuses, no more waiting. It’s funny—it wasn’t that long ago that I considered myself quite the procrastinator when it came to silly day-to-day duties. Call the plumber, return so-and-so’s phone call, pay this bill, return an email. I would hit ignore on the phone because I was too busy to deal with whatever phone call was incoming. But the truth is, that only created MORE stress in my life. Now not only did I need to return that email, but I needed to remember to return the email, put it on my to-do list so I wouldn’t forget, but then I would forget to put it on the list, so it would get missed entirely! Today, I’m much better about handing things as they come. It’s easier to get them crossed off the list before they even make it to the list!

Nike says it best…”Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.”

A quick reminder of my current group exercise class schedule, which may soon change…who knows! 🙂 Please inquire for personal training schedule. (Revised 12/31/12)

Peace, love and action,

Melissa

For up-to-the-minute updates on classes, follow Live Whole Be Free on Facebook!

Reason #97 why you can’t lose weight…because let’s face it, there are potentially quite a few things contributing to the fact that you can’t lose weight. It’s supposed to be easy, right? Burn more calories than you consume and you “should”, in theory, lose weight. But what if you don’t? Well, there’s a myriad of reasons why this could be happening. Without a full blood panel, it’s impossible for me to tell you exactly why that is, since it could be related to thyroid issues, hormone imbalances, etc.). However, something you may or may not have heard of as being a culprit is called homeostasis.

Human homeostasis is derived from the Greek, homeo or “same”, and stasis or “stable” and means remaining stable or remaining the same. In other words, your body is going to attempt to maintain stability within its internal environment when dealing with external changes. This is most often discussed in terms of survival, whereas the liver, the kidneys and the brain help maintain homeostasis by metabolizing toxic substances, regulating blood water levels and excreting wastes. Another example occurs as our body regulates temperature in an effort to maintain an internal temperature around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. We sweat to cool off when we are hot and we shiver to produce heat when we are cold.

However, homeostasis also plays a role in terms of weight loss. As your body starts to change, it will also try to “hold on” to what it’s known for so long. For example, if you have been 30 lbs. overweight for the last say…10 years and you are beginning to lose that weight, your body will fight to get back to that 30 lb. overweight “place” because that’s what it’s known for so long. This is just one more reason why to truly lose weight and keep it off for good, you have to make lasting lifestyle changes, not temporary fixes. Short-term, lose weight quick diets will only hurt you in the end, messing with your mental state as well as your hormones and metabolism.

We all know that there are a bizillion (yes, a “bizillion”) reasons why it’s difficult to lose weight. However, the more responsible, knowledgable and committed you are as you embark on your weight loss journey, the more successful you will be. There will be roadblocks, obstacles, plateaus and the like, but be aware, be smart and be persistent and you will minimize this homeostasis issue.

Peace, love and responsible weight loss,

Melissa Villamizar, CPT

It had been a really long day at the office. I was tired. It was late. I was hungry, grouchy and did I mention tired? It was 8:15pm, the sun was already setting and I just didn’t feel like running. I work out all the time, I’m going to work out tomorrow, I’m injured, I’m pregnant… No. I’m not really, I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. 🙂 Point is—I had a million reasons to justify why it would be okay to take the day off from working out. But I put my trusty Nikes on, grabbed my iPod and left. I ran into my husband outside. “What’s wrong” he asked. Me, with a frowny face acting like the world was ending, “I’m tired and I really don’t feel like running.” “Oh well,” he said. “You’ll feel better afterwards.” I knew he was right, after all, that’s why I had my darn shoes on even though all I really wanted to do was eat something and sit on the couch for a bit.

So off I go on my run. About three minutes later, I had completely forgotten that I almost didn’t go. Even better, I figured I’d arrive home thinking “that wasn’t so bad.” Instead (as usual), I arrived home and thought “man, that was awesome.” I got a quick 2.5 miles in, finished with some pushups, bridges and planks, and called it a night. Although it’s a lot less than I normally do, I consider tonight a success. Tonight I got up and did something when I truly did not want to and had all the excuses in the world to slack off.

I say it all the time, but sometimes the toughest part of a workout is actually getting off the couch or walking through the gym doors. Tonight, that was definitely the case. I never regret working out after I’m through and tonight was no different. I feel so much better now—my mind is reset, some calories have been burned and some toxins have been eliminated from my body.

The next time you’re wavering about whether or not to workout, put your shoes on and just do it!

Peace, love and dedication,

Melissa

 

 

As a Group Exercise Instructor, one of the excuses I hear most often for not coming to class is “I have to get in shape before I come to your class.” Um… color me confused, isn’t that what class is FOR? It is indeed. There are numerous people I can think of who have fed me this excuse…. years ago. They’re still not in any better shape than they were the day they spoke those words to me. If they had just come to class instead of procrastinating, who knows, they might be in a better place than they are today. As with everything in this world, you have to WANT to make a change before it will ever happen. You have to want to come to class yourself, I cannot force you. You have to want to lose weight for yourself, get healthy, make changes, etc. Although I wish these things for many people, unfortunately I cannot do anything for them if they don’t want to help themselves first.

The excuses for not coming to class got me thinking, and I realized they all have one thing in common. They are all some form of a procrastination. “I have to get in shape first”, “I have (insert obligation here) tonight”, “I’m tired today,” etc. In all of these instances, people seem to be waiting for the perfect conditions to exist before they make a change, in this case, trying a group exercise class. This theory can be applied to anything, really. Trying a new class, changing jobs, going back to school, having children, etc. In all instances, people always seem to be waiting for the stars to align. Sadly, this is never going to happen. Although if it does, will someone please call me? 🙂

Once you realize that these perfect conditions you are waiting for never exist, you have cleared a huge obstacle. A class member and friend of mine recently experienced a chain of frustrating events, where she could easily have skipped her workout with VERY good reason—but she did not. I absolutely love this story and had to share. Here is her message to me:

You will be so proud to know that it is midnight here in Milan, after only about 5-6 hours of on/off sleep in the last 24 hours, one of Joe’s bags still MIA from the airport (where is tennies are), me with the worst case of IBS, we did 30 min NTC app our skinnies in the hotel room!! Lol…pure dedication to fitness!

That is the perfect example of someone who wanted something to happen, so they put all excuses aside and just made it happen—plain and simple. It’s perfect.

The truth is, you will never have enough time, money, this or that to do anything if you don’t REALLY want to do it. So ask yourself what the true reason is that you are procrastinating, and be honest with yourself. If you are not coming to class because you “want to get in shape first”, ask yourself “why?” Why do you want to get in shape before coming to class? You will get in shape IN CLASS, I assure you. So is that you are afraid that you will be tired during class? Won’t make it through class? Who cares?! If you don’t try, you will never know! Maybe you are embarrassed about being out of shape—no problem, I know the perfect place to help remedy that! I can also guarantee you that you will lose more weight if you just come to class TODAY rather than taking a month or two or twelve to “get in shape” before you do come to class.

Take a moment to think about the things you have been putting off lately, and make a promise to yourself to complete the first thing on your list. Then move to the second, etc. But quit waiting for those perfect conditions to arrive and just do it!

For my current group exercise teaching schedule, visit the “about” section on my Facebook page.

Peace, love and motivation,

Melissa

It’s week 8 of the Biggest Achiever Program, and for the most part the challenges so far have revolved around food, and what we do or don’t put into our bodies. Good nutrition is essential for a healthy body. Also necessary, however, is exercise. Unless you are involved in some sort of rigorous/two-a-day training program, it’s probably safe to say that you could use a little more exercise in your life. So this week’s challenge will be to take your exercise up a notch.*

*There are many different ways to “take your exercise up a notch.” I would say “increase the amount of exercise you currently do”, but some of you will be at your max for the days of week that you train. For some the increase will come by increasing the amount of days per week and for others, it will be the duration or intensity of the exercise itself. There are many other acute variables that can be adjusted as well, including volume, load, rest periods, etc. If you are currently solely doing cardiorespiratory training, adding strength training into your routine is another great way to shake things up.  Since this challenge is so individualized, feel free to email me with questions on how you should safely take this to the next level. 

This challenge will obviously vary based on your current exercise regimen. Below are a few quick examples of what you can do to switch up your routine. As a Group Fitness Instructor, I highly recommend you try a Group Fitness (Group Exercise/GroupX) class. They can be intimidating at first, I understand that. I was intimidated as well. But just remember that everyone has had their first class, everyone has felt those same feelings. Take a risk, you may find that you really enjoy it. Worst case scenario is that it’s not your thing. If so, no big deal. If we all liked the same things, the world would be a terrible place to live. So embrace it, and try something else.

SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE: So let’s say you are currently doing nothing for your body in terms of exercise and/or are currently under a doctor’s care. If this is the case, you will need to start VERY slowly. In fact, I recommend you get your doctor’s approval to engage in exercise. An easy way for someone living a sedentary lifestyle to start exercising is to simply go for a short walk. Any way you can move a little bit more during the day will go a long way for you.

Couple exercising outdoors

MODERATE EXERCISER: Let’s say your current workout regimen is a run or some sort of moderate exercise 2-3 times a week. I would encourage you to add strength training to that, twice a week, and possibly one more day of cardio. If you are a runner, try adding one day of exercise on the elliptical machine, which will provide you with some cardio exercise with less of a stress on your body. Maybe you don’t want to strength train. I could go on and on about the benefits of strength training, regardless if you want to change your muscles/body or not, but I’ll save that for another post. If you prefer not to lift weights, I would recommend you try some body weight exercises, like planks, push ups, bridges, etc. As a moderate exerciser, you are shooting for 4-5 days of exercise, up from 2-3.

WORKOUT-A-HOLIC: Maybe you work out quite a bit, say… 4-6 times a week. I would encourage you to switch up what you are doing for the week. Try interval training for example? Tabata is a great way to torch calories fast, lose weight, retain lean muscle mass, and rev up that metabolism! Or if you always do interval training, try to go for a long walk or a run. Get some strength training in and try some new exercises. Or maybe you always work out in the evenings, try morning workouts this week. This is for the person who is in their groove as far as their workouts go. You never want to get too comfortable. Also, ensure you take at least one day off a week to rest and let your body recover. Hard workouts tear the body down, and you will need to let it recuperate, otherwise your body will being breaking down muscle, which of course is no good.

One week is not nearly enough time to see a difference in switching up your workout routine, but it will be good to introduce yourself to new things. It takes 21 days to make/break a habit, so I highly recommend trying to switch it up for the next 21 days. You’ll truly be amazed at what comes out of it. Contact me for me current teaching schedule! If you are not a member at 24 Hour Fitness or Equinox, please let me know, and I will get you in on a guest pass!

The Biggest Achiever Program is about improving ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally. In order to become happier and healthier on the outside, we have to work on the inside first. Although this week’s challenge is  bit different, it is equally important.

This week, your challenge is to give one compliment to yourself and one compliment to someone else, every single day. I urge you to step outside of your comfort zone on this, and give a complete stranger a compliment. When was the last time you remember getting a compliment from someone you’ve never met before and will likely never see again? Those compliments are very special, since the person giving them truly has nothing to gain in return. It always makes my day when I get a compliment like this, and with that knowledge, I try to do the same for others.

Now, you may give someone a compliment, and they may look at you as if you are from outer space. Forget about it. You are not giving this compliment for a sense of gratitude from them or anything in return. If they show appreciation, that’s just an added bonus. Also, try to give a compliment in regards to something about their personality, their body, their skill set, etc., instead of a material item. For example, telling someone they have beautiful eyes, a lovely smile, great muscles, a great personality, or that they are great at their job or are very well-spoken are better compliments than telling someone you like their shirt. Anyone can own that shirt, so although that is in fact a compliment, we’re seeking something a bit deeper here.

It is also important that you give yourself a compliment, every day. Find something you like about yourself, even if you think it’s tough. Maybe you did a good deed today, that is something worth complimenting. Perhaps you took the stairs instead of the elevator… that too, deserves a pat on the back. Find at least one thing that you can be proud of yourself for and say it out loud. Even better, leave it in the comments here! We want to draw attention to the positives in our lives. Doing that for ourselves and doing nice things for other people, make us feel good. When we feel good, life is better. Our worries don’t seem as big, goals seem more attainable, our stress levels decrease and the level of serotonin in our brains rises. Serotonin = good stuff.

I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. I was in yoga when this challenge came to me, and wouldn’t you know it, two minutes later, a complete stranger came up to me and gave me a compliment. 🙂

Exercise Challenge — Push Ups

Every night before you go to bed, do push ups. Even better, do them in the morning and the evening! I’m not going to tell you how many, you will be dictating your own goals. To find/set your goal, do as many push ups as you can in a row, then every night, add one more to it. For example, if you can currently do 5 push ups in a row, tomorrow night, do 6. The next night you will do 7 push ups, and so on. The most important thing here is that you do the push up correctly. It is perfectly acceptable to modify the push up so that you are pushing your body up from your knees. If that is too difficult, you can do push ups in a standing position, against the wall. Doing the push up with proper form while showing control will build a solid foundation with the proper muscles. From here, you will be able to advance to other exercises, while decreasing the risk of injury. Click here to see the Mayo Clinic’s video showcasing proper form for modified push ups.

 

Good luck!

Peace, love and kind hearts,

Melissa