Workouts: Getting It Just Right vs. Just Getting It Done

November 19, 2012

Hi, I’m Brooke and I’m a perfectionist. It’s my downfall more days than not.

It seems the more of a fitness nerd I become, the less adaptable I am. I mean, I can get creative with the best of them in the gym and make it work. But truth be told, if I had may way I  wouldn’t be on the plain ol’ treadmill. I want to use the force Woodway Treadmill at Peak Performance where I’m tied to a pole behind me and sprinting against the tread. I don’t want to put more plates on that bar, I’d like some chains please! And I have crafted a perfect metabolic circuit to blast this fat and I’d like to do it to the letter, with the exact exercises and equipment. What do you mean this gym doesn’t have those little magnetic 1 and 2 pound additions for the dumbbells ?? I need 27.5 pounds please, not 25 and not 30. I mean if I’m gonna do this, I want to do it right. Well I live in Brooklyn now, not just blocks from my former home away from home, Peak. I am 45 minutes each way on the train, plus the time there – time I don’t have most days to dedicate to working out. I have a gym here, close to home that’s fine by many standards – but seriously lacking if you’re a fitness pro. And with a baby and business, some days I can’t even make it there…and it’s across the street. Some days I have too much work to do to step away for an hour to get to gym, workout, get home and change. Sometimes I have the best of intentions only to realize that my gym time is about to come and go and I’m starving and lightheaded because I’ve been too busy to eat all morning – not a good way to start a workout. And there goes the babysitter and my chance to go to the gym.

Who’s getting the way of your workout, me??

It’s easy for life to get the way of “gym time” – I mean we’re busy! When this happens to me I tend to be ticked off that I’m one step further from my goals. “I’ll never get there at this rate!!” Or I feel stressed and agitated and I’d love nothing more than to move some weight around and work off the tension, but I can’t get there. Ugh!!! Worse, this starts a chain reaction of negative thoughts ranging from lazy to outright failure. None of this is helpful and will increase the chances that I will just say, “Eff it” tomorrow. I messed up today so badly, why bother, this will never work anyway and on and on down the spiral I go. So my choices are to stomp my feet and whine that I can’t have it perfect or simply be frustrated that yet again, my day got in the way of my workout or…… Or I could give up the idea that if it wasn’t a perfect workout in the ideal setting, it’s worth nothing. I could give up the idea that doing nothing is an appropriate response to a missed trip to the gym. I could give in to the frustration and idea that, “I just can’t do it all every day! Life is just too crazy and something’s gotta give!!” (That something that “gives” is often exercise or a healthy meal. I could decide that now’s “not the time to get in shape, I’m just too busy.” But how long would I be saying that? We’re always gonna be busy and for many people, trips to gym are a necessarily evil so it can be all too easy to let that thing be the “to do” on your list that always gets pushed out. Some of us like the gym and have the best intentions, but there will be days that even the die-hards can’t pull it off. The mantra at my office is, “If you can’t do everything, don’t do nothing – at least do something!” So if your day gets in the way of a workout and you’re only allotted a few minutes, at home, without any equipment, here’s a few ideas to “at least do something”: *Got a stairwell? 6-20 sprints (depending on length/duration and your level of fitness) will blast fat and takes between 2 and 5 minutes. And guess what? 2 minutes of sprinting (for me this is 10 sprints up 16 stairs) has been shown to burn more fat than 30 min cruising along doing “cardio”. (Check out this study for more details.) *Pick 4 body weight exercises (think squats, pushups, reverse lunges, full sit ups) and grab a deck of cards. Assign an exercise to a suit (say squats are hearts, pushups are spades, etc) and count all face cards as 10. Then flip over a card and do the exercise and rep that the card indicates. For example, if you turn over the 3 of hearts you’ll do 3 full squats. Then you flip a 10 of spades and you drop and do 10 pushups. Your rest is just the time it takes you to flip the card. I love this workout for an extra blast at home or for travel. *Invest in a great piece of equipment, the TRX. This allows you to get some “pulling” motions in like a row or tricep extension without weights. Hang over a door and go. Also excellent for travel – takes up about as much space in your suitcase as a pair of shoes. Again, throw together a quick circuit and be done in 15-20 minutes of bodyweight exercises with little to now rest and avoid the guilt of skipping your workout.

At home workout – Joe adding an extra 20 pounds.

*Home all day with a baby or waiting for a delivery or just stuck in your office? Set a goal of 200 pushups or 200 squats and break them up into 1-2 minute bursts. 1pm rolls around and you need to stand up from your work or your little one: drop and do 10-20 pushups or to failure (when you think you can’t do another, you’ve probably got 2 left in you). Then get back to work. Keep a running tally and hit 200 before the day’s up. Bonus: you get to say you can do 200 pushups! *If you’re a city dweller like us New Yorkers, consider walking home from work and skipping the subway. I have patients that will sometimes walk from my office on 11th Street to their apartment in the 70s on the Upper East Side – just cuz they are trying to get in more movement or they missed a workout and this was “at least something”. We always have opportunities to BETTER ourselves, they often look less than desirable at first glance but give them a chance. The best part of doing one of these little mini workouts (besides the fact that they really do burn some fat if you work hard enough to get a bit out of breath and get a burn in the muscle) is that you feel great afterwards. No guilt. No feeling further from your goal – be it a number on the scale or just being someone who exercises every day, no matter what. No berating yourself about why you can’t “do it all”. Just a few minutes and voila! You’ve been successful at one more day of working out. And if none of these little fat blasting tricks happen? Could you at least eat clean that day and be sure to skip sugar and wine in effort to still do as much as you can today? Again, don’t do nothing, at least do something. One final bit of advice from my recently made over website: Between perfection and “I give up”, there’s BETTER. Focus on what you can do today, not how to be perfect. Perfect is unattainable – believe me I’ve tried!!!! Here’s to getting it done!

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