Are You Up for a Challenge?

Are You Up for a Challenge?

If it doesn't challenge you it doesn't change you. - Frank Devito

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

I’ve seen this quote a lot while picking through memes and pictures for my daily motivation posts on Facebook. Coined by Fred Devito, co-author of Barre Fitness, I think I want to get a poster of this quote and plaster it everywhere.

When we are going about our daily lives, we generally stick to the things that work. We get into a routine and it becomes our normal. We rarely deviate from our schedules and routines. Until we are faced with a challenge, that is.

Life is ChallengingWhat do I mean by challenge?

Challenges come in many different forms. It could be a detour on our normal way to work that forces us to deviate from our route and discover a path that might take two more minutes but it passes by a beautiful park you decide to visit come your next day off. Maybe you had a pipe burst that ruined the carpet on your first floor. After the initial anxiety and frustration wear off, you might decide to finally get that hardwood flooring you’ve always wanted to put down but you’ve been putting it off because of the time and expense.

Or it could be a test result from your doctor that puts you on a medication and motivates you to make changes in your life that will get you to a healthier state. The point is, we rarely make changes until we are forced into it. The trick is to make the best of the new situation you find yourself in.

I find it challenging to fit everything I want to do in a day into the 24 short hours that I have, and at times it is difficult to see where my priorities are, or should be. But I have one particular priority that will never change again: taking care of myself.

No matter what challenges come my way, I will never again allow myself to fall into the thinking that I can take care of myself tomorrow. Tomorrow often becomes never.

Does it have to be earth-shaking?

Now, not every challenge is life-changing, but they do change us over time, in small ways, all the time. I have begun to see the benefit of setting specific challenges for myself. Right now, I’m doing the Inktober challenge for my artwork. 31 days of ink drawings following a specific prompt. My drawing hobby was starting to fall by the wayside, and I needed to get myself going again. I get frustrated because I’m not an amazing artist, but by working at it a little each day, I’m beginning to see steady improvement in my technique.

My drawing hobby was starting to fall by the wayside, and I needed to get myself going again. I get frustrated because I’m not an amazing artist. But by working at it a little each day, I’m beginning to see steady improvement in my technique. I’ve enjoyed it so much that my hubby surprised me with a new list for November so I can keep going.

Last month, I debuted my first shot at making a few 30-day fitness challenges. The mister and I did them faithfully, every single day. And it was killer! It gave us a set number of specific exercises to do each day. We kicked ass all month and each day it was challenging to complete just one more rep than the day before.

All good things must come to an end, however, and we completed the challenge on Thursday.  So, in keeping with my topic today, I have created a new fitness challenge for the next four weeks!

Challenge Accepted Meme

4-Week Total Body Challenge

Keep in mind that you can do these exercises with weights, without weights, and modify them as you need to, including the number you do. The important thing is to do what you can and challenge your limits.

Are you ready to challenge yourself? Join me in kicking ass for the next four weeks by printing out Melting Mimi’s 4 Week Total Body Challenge.


Daily Dose of Music

What's the Real Target?

What’s the Real Target?

Target your problem areas! Melt away your belly fat. Watch the fat on your thighs disappear. Say goodbye to your love handles.

What's the Real Target

We’ve all seen the commercials, heard the hype and read the reviews. Each new product promises to target the fat residing on a particular body part that you deem undesirable. The problem is, the only thing you’ll find yourself losing is money.

Continue reading

Brand New 30-Day Challenges

Last night, hubby and I reached a great milestone. We finished the three 30-Day challenges we started from Blogilates last month. We made it all the way through the 30 days with our sanity intact!

1le6tg

Things looked pretty bleak when I got sick just a few days into the challenge, but I managed to tough it out, and I did not miss a single day. I have trouble sticking to things, so it was important to me that my husband did these with me and kept me moving even on nights when I just wanted to put on my fat pants and watch tv. Continue reading

Ten Ways to Get More Steps

walkingI thought it might be nice to switch up to a list today! Since my husband and I are very into our Fitbits, and we track our numbers carefully, we’ve had to come up with some creative ways to get in our daily steps. Now, just because you’re wearing a pedometer doesn’t mean that you have to walk or run to get in your steps. You just need to be moving and engaging your muscles! The majority of our steps are not actual “steps” at all, but we are still exercising in ways that keep us active in similar ways. So how can you fit more steps into your daily routine without it seeming like a chore?

  1. Move your pedometer to your ankle, if you are currently wearing it on your wrist. But it’s supposed to be worn on your wrist, right? Doesn’t matter. Through trial and error, I’ve found that my Fitbit is vastly more accurate when I wear it in a band around my ankle than on my wrist. Plus, I have the added bonus of more control over the shopping cart when I use two hands (sorry random strangers I’ve almost plowed into…).
  2. Speaking of grocery stores….I’m sure you’ve heard this one a hundred times, but it really works. Park far away. Seriously, unless you’re going to carry twenty bags of groceries out to your car without the aid of a cart, park at the end of the lot! This can dramatically increase the number of steps you get, and you also are more likely to avoid dents, dings, and chips that weren’t there when you went inside.
  3. Still at the grocery store folks? Forget things on your list. Picture this: Our dairy section is all the way at the opposite end of the store from our produce section. We’re picking up a cup of CarbMaster yogurt when we suddenly remember carrots for the guinea pigs. Oh man, we have to walk all the way back over to produce? Damn. That sucks so bad. But the extra 200 steps to get there don’t. And then when you have to go back to frozen for the Halo Top you had next on the list…You see where I’m going with this.
  4. One of the benefits of having your pedometer on your ankle is that your hands are free for other things. Like playing video games. You all don’t even know how much I play Fallout 4 and Skyrim on the weekends while I’m walking with a controller in my hands.
  5. Go ahead and binge Netflix. So what if you’re watching tv? Unless there is something wrong with your legs, you can watch and walk at the same time. Getting steps doesn’t mean that you have to be sprinting around a track. Walk in place, or walk around a room while you’re enjoying a season of Supernatural.
  6. Get yourself a stationary pedaler or mini elliptical. This is how hubby and I get the majority of our steps. In fact, I’m cycling on the elliptical beneath my desk as I type this post! Talk about multi-tasking.
  7. Become super inefficient. Well, at least when you can afford to be. If your boss would look poorly on you taking several trips to the copier when you could just use one, by all means, make one trip. But if you can, make a separate trip for EVERYTHING. For instance, at the end of the day, I fill up the office coffee pot for the following morning, and I have to make sure the back door is closed and locked. So I take the coffee pot back to fill it up and take it back to the front office. Then I grab my coffee cup and take it to the back and wash it out, then bring it back to my desk. Then I walk back again to make sure everything is closed up. Yeah, it takes three trips, but I’ve just added over 100 steps to my count.
  8. Do your chores! I don’t personally do this simply because hubby is in charge of laundry, but I know that he steps in place while he’s folding laundry. And he makes multiple trips to hang things up in the closet. Extra trips=extra steps! Besides, walking while doing chores makes the walking less of a chore than the chore…right?
  9. Go to the mall. Or an amusement park, or the beach. Somewhere that you can’t drive around to get the things you want or to do things. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your steps add up while you’re walking around a museum somewhere.
  10. One last little piece of equipment that can help get that step count up is a mini trampoline (rebounder). Trampolines aren’t just for kids anymore! They get your heart rate up, and make walking or jogging in place a little more fun than simply marching.

Let me know in the comments if any of these tips help you add more steps to your daily goal!

That Diet is So Yesterday

Have you ever tried a fad diet? I know I have. There are SO many of them out there, and they all promise you a miracle. Lose 10 pounds in 10 days! Lose 4 inches off your waist in a week! Detoxify! Eat this, not that!

The one thing that every fad diet has in common is that they make claims that sound too good to be true. Because they are.

That 10 pounds in 10 days was water weight. That 4 inches, is probably because you just spent that week in the bathroom. Detoxifying is a myth, and let’s be honest, cutting out foods, or even full food groups, is a recipe for failure.

Then there are the diets that say: “Lose weight without any exercise!” And the exercise plans that say: “Lose weight without having to diet!” Except there’s a caveat to each of those. When you read more about the diet, it always says “results not typical,” or “pair with exercise for even better results”. And then you look at the exercise program and it says “results not typical” or “pair with our healthy eating plan for even better results.”

Why is that? Because the results aren’t typical and using diet without exercise, or vice versa, isn’t going to get you much of anywhere.

But Mimi, surely there has to be some easy way to lose weight?! Folks, the truth is: No, there isn’t. There are a lot of ways out there that really do work. And not a one of them is easy. They ALL take effort. They ALL take commitment. They ALL take determination. They ALL require some sacrifice and they ALL require you to make changes to your lifestyle.

There is no miracle pill, diet, plan, or shake. There is just the decision to be better tomorrow than you are today. Until you are ready to make that commitment to change, you aren’t going to change.

I know that sounds harsh, but it is a hard truth that I had to face. There was no easy way to lose the weight I need to lose. There was no easy path back from diabetes. There is no shortcut to a smaller pants size. But that doesn’t mean you have to change everything all at once!

steps

Baby steps. Start with small changes and add in a new one every few days, or even every few weeks. When you start making little changes and keep building on them, before you know it, your life will look entirely different.

What’s App?

appsAs tied to our phones, tablets, and computers as we are today, it is easier than ever to utilize apps to track weight loss, exercise, diet and activities. But how do you choose the best ones? How do you know which ones will work and which ones won’t?

Today I’m going to show you the apps that I personally use, most of them on a daily basis, to stay motivated and keep on track. For the most part, they are free to use, though I use the premium version of one.

Fitbit: Okay, so it’s not technically an app itself, but it has an app. And from what I understand, the app itself is free to use, even if you don’t have one of the bands, though its main functions are tied directly to the tracker. I have this app tracking my daily steps, miles, calories burned, active minutes, hours I’ve hit 250 steps, and how many days I’ve exercised each week. It also tracks my amount and quality of sleep, and how much weight I’ve lost. These are the things that are tracked automatically just by me wearing my Fitbit tracker and using an Aria scale that is linked to the app. Manually, I can note how much water I drink, and the amount of calories I’ve consumed, however, these are usually filled in by my use of the next app on my list.

My Fitness Pal: This app has been a life-changer. It is free to download and most of its functionality is free as well. It can also be used on the computer. This app has the capability to sync with a ton of other apps, including Fitbit and Apple Health. This app’s main function is to track nutrition. I started using it when it was only accessible by computer, and it has only gotten better over the 12 years since it launched. Along with a massive database of foods that you can search, there is also a barcode scanning function that allows you to scan any commercially packaged food and automatically import all of its nutritional information. There is also a function to enter your own recipes, either manually or by entering the website you found it on. Counting calories has never been easier than this app makes it. We purchased the premium addition so that we can more easily track our carbs, fat, and protein, rather than just calories. There are other functions on the app, but these are the main points.

Achievement: Are better health, a smaller waist, and not sweating when you walk up stairs not enough incentive for you? Well, have I got an app for you! Get paid to walk, lose weight, and make healthy choices. Yes, you read that right. And it’s a free app! You earn 10k points and you get a gift card for $10. Yes, it takes a while to get to 10k points. For instance, I slept over 7 hours so I earned 6 points. I weighed myself and got another 6 points. I walked 10k steps and earned 28 points. I answered a health questionnaire and received 100 points. They add up slowly, but they add up! Who doesn’t want free money for making your body a better place to live?

iPeriod: Yeah, yeah, guys cover your eyes or keep scrolling. But I’ll tell you, this free little app is very handy! It allows me to not just track Aunt Flo’s ETA, but also my moods, symptoms, and ovulation. It’s also useful for planning ahead since you can look at projected dates months in advance. For women who are very irregular, it can be helpful to track symptoms so you can better gauge what’s going on. And for someone like me, who deals with PMDD, knowing when my cycle is going to go into a tailspin helps me grasp better control of it before I go into full on meltdown mode.

Pintrest: Who doesn’t love Pintrest? It is filled with a wealth of recipes of every kind, inspirational quotes, and exercise tips (along with wedding dress ideas, cute new purses, and a million other ways to sidetrack your searches). But there is no doubt that I’ve found some wonderful ideas on this hour-eater.

So this is a glimpse at some of my favorite fitness and health related apps (even if Pintrest doesn’t really count). Comment below if you have a favorite health app that the world needs to know about!

The 4 E’s

vacationI know you’re asking yourself, “What are the 4 E’s?” Ha, I’m so glad you asked! Hubby and I have been socking away to our savings since we came back from our anniversary trip, to get ready for our 5th anniversary. We’re going back to Vegas! We’re having a second honeymoon in the same hotel, etc. But that’s not exactly what this post is about. It did get me thinking about fitness on vacation.

Did I hear someone groan? (It was probably me!) But I’m not here to tell you about all the work outs you can do while you’re on vacation, or that you have to watch what you eat, or you can’t drink, or the first place to find in your hotel is their rinky-dink gym.

No, I’m here to tell you about the 4 E’s! Ease, Energize, Entertainment, & Enjoy. These are my cornerstones to any truly great vacation. So let’s talk a little about each of these.

Ease and Entertainment are simple enough. Take it easy. Relax! That’s what vacation is for. Of course, that takes a little preparation, especially if you’re traveling with small children. Entertainment is a must, whether you watch street shows, or buy tickets for a concert, having something to look forward to seeing or doing makes for wonderful memories.

Energize is a little more difficult. And this is where fitness comes in. How do you energize? That’s usually a little different for everyone, but for me, a little physical work, and staying hydrated always gives me a boost. If you don’t want to hit the gym (and let’s be honest, you don’t), go swimming! Or if you’re more adventurous, walk everywhere. Strap on that pedometer and go exploring until you hit your 10k or more. If you want to take a break from your normal fitness routines, that’s okay!

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This is especially important if you are eating foods that are saltier than you are used to, if you are in a different climate than you are used to, or if you are drinking. Alternate a glass of water with every alcoholic drink (this also helps with hangovers).

With the combination of the three E’s above, we come to the fourth. Enjoy. Let the stress roll off your back. Take a deep breath of air that is different than you normally breathe. And just….enjoy.

It’s okay to come back from vacation with a few extra pounds. It really is! The important part of vacation is a refreshing of your mind and body so you come back ready to jump right back into your daily routines, with renewed commitment and passion.

Get Down with the Sickness

SickTo exercise or not to exercise? That is definitely a question you should be asking if you are sick. Two days ago, I felt fine all day. Then we went out to do a little grocery shopping and as we were leaving the store, I felt…off. But we went by GameStop and then headed across the street to pick up some barbeque. By the end of our errands, which only took about a half-hour, I was headed downhill fast.

We got home, and I knew that if I didn’t do our 30-day challenge right away, I wasn’t going to be able to. By the time we were done, I was a sweaty mess! And these are not hard exercises. Most of the time, my muscles feel worked, but I don’t break a sweat. So I ate most of my dinner and then crawled into bed. I spent the whole night tossing, turning, burning and freezing. I took most of yesterday off work, but thankfully by the time I did go in at 3 pm I was feeling a lot better, and the fever had broken. So did I take a rest from my challenge yesterday? Nope. However, I didn’t do my 20k steps, and I didn’t dance yesterday either.

I refused to give up on my goal to hit a 30-day streak, but looking back on it, I probably should not have pushed myself on Tuesday evening. After reading up on exercising while sick, my mistake was exercising at all while I was running a fever. Yesterday, however, I was in the clear for moderate, low impact exercise.

So, to answer the question of whether or not to exercise when you are sick: It depends!

From my research on the topic, I discovered that if your symptoms are from the neck up (a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, itchy or watery eyes, etc) you should go for low impact, and low to moderate intensity. If you normally run, walk. If you normally walk, walk slower or less distance, etc.  If your symptoms are neck down or whole body (a cough, nausea, fever, etc) then no exercise is the way to go.

The reason behind this? When you exercise, your immune system improves. This is why people who are active and include moderate exercise in their daily routines tend to get sick less, and the duration of their illness tends to be shorter. However, if you have a fever, raising your body temperature through exercise just makes it worse (case in point above). If you have a cough, the increased respiration can exacerbate those symptoms. If you are nauseous…well, you can see where I’m going with this.

The biggest take away from this is to gauge how you feel. If you hurt all over and just want to crawl into bed and sleep, take that as a cue that it’s probably okay to take a break until you feel better. If you can take a decongestant and feel okay, then you’re probably good to hit the treadmill, but maybe dial back the speed a bit.

In either case, taking care of your body when you’re sick, and when you’re healthy, is the best way to get over that illness a little faster.

WebMD

Precision Nutrition

Men’s Fitness

Mayo Clinic

 

Why Don’t We Just Dance…

Coming back from an injury isn’t easy, especially when it’s one that doesn’t pain you, but you know that you have to stay off it or it won’t heal correctly. Last week, we started easy with the 30-day challenges, but tonight, we stepped it up a notch!

Hubby and I love to dance. In fact, the song “Why Don’t We Just Dance” is our song! So we’ve been enjoying the Just Dance video games since 2014. Having it come to the Switch was a total bonus because we could finally do it together instead of alternating songs.

And just after we got the game…Well, we certainly couldn’t do much dancing with hubby in a Darko even if he’d had the doctor’s okay. But he didn’t, and so we didn’t. It sure felt good to break out the game tonight though!

Dancing is one of those very few purely aerobic things that I actually enjoy. It’s a great outlet for stress and a mood lifting activity for me. After dinner tonight I just wanted to veg out so much. But my husband gave me the kick I needed and up we got.

If you’ve never seen this quote before, it is absolutely true:

workout

By the time we were done sweating, my arms felt like jelly, but I no longer felt like going to take a nap or passing out in front of the television.

It might sound counterintuitive, but expending a bit of energy can really give you more. I am so glad that we’ve been able to get our dancing back into our routine a few times a week. Now we just have to build up the number of songs we can do before we want to fall over!