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I’ve always been into the idea that small changes make the most difference. This holds true in many areas of life, but I think it’s especially applicable for health and fitness.  Hence the name of my blog; the idea has always been that small switches and additions can create tremendous momentum and help change your life (a Healthy Tipping Point).

small changes

If you’ve ever trained for a race, you know this is true. A training plan is based on this philosophy.  Over time, efforts build on each other, transforming you from a couch potato to a runner. At Week 1, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll ever been able to accomplish the workouts in Week 8, but by Week 6, your daily efforts have compounded and that long run seems more attainable.

 

So while I value big fitness goals, I believe the bread-and-butter of healthy living is really in the choices you make every day.  The small efforts are how you get to the big goals. Every day, you must wake up and make the choice to craft the life you want to live. It’s a decision that you make over and over again.

 

Here are five of my favorite ways to recharge your fitness routine. The suggestions are simple, but I promise – they’ll add up to something awesome.

 

Recharge Tip #1:  Turn TV night into a workout.

tv show shape up 2

I’ve been working on this TV Show Shape Up for about a week – I’m up to 7 push-ups, 14 bicycle crunches, and 14 lunges. While that may not sound like much, it’s more than I would normally do while zoning out to back-to-back episodes of Homeland.  By the end of the challenge, I’ll not only know how Carrie Matheson plans to save America from a terrorist plot; I’ll also be capable of 21 push-ups (albeit it modified, I’m sure!), 40 crunches, and 40 lunges.

 

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about how the biggest health problem for most of us is simply being sedentary. When I first read that, I thought to myself, “I’m not sedentary! I work out 5 days a week!” But then I began to add up the hours that I spend at my desk or on the couch.  I easily clock 6 hours of sitting a day.  This little challenge is one way to keep me moving during a time that I’d otherwise be a lump.  This leads me to my next tip…

 

Recharge Tip #2: Follow a 30 / 2 Rule.

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I recently interviewed Tom Roth, author Eat Move Sleep, for another post (going up next week), and one of the ideas that came out of our conversation was that, during sedentary periods, you’ve got to get up and get moving.  Basically, if you’re planning to sit at your desk and plow through your company’s 2013 budget analysis, you need to build in breaks. This isn’t just good for your body; it’s also good for your mind.

 

Set an alarm (I like Online Stopwatch), and every half hour, take a break (the more often you can break, the better, but I think every 30 minutes is realistic for most of us). If your boss would frown on you taking a jaunt around the office for ‘fun,’ use the time to walk to a coworker’s desk to talk about your latest project instead of shooting an email. If you’ve got a bit more freedom and privacy, do these workouts at your desk:

 

  • Tricep dips
  • Decline push-ups
  • Wall squats
  • Lunges
  • Sumo squats
  • Crunches
  • Calf raises
  • Planks

 

As I wrote in this old post (which includes pictures and links to the moves above), when I worked in an office (not a home office), I still did exercises at my desk.  I’ll never forget the day my boss walked in on me in plank position while reading a report on the floor!

 

Click through to read three more of my favorite recharge tips + enter to win one of 15 prize packs valued at up to $500 each from HSN’s #refresh2014 promotion.

Recharge #3: Focus on Form

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Poor form by me – The dreaded heel strike…

 

This little change can make a BIG difference in your running, swimming, biking, or whatever sport you prefer. Form is HUGE! Proper form will not only make you faster, it will save help ward off injuries.

 

Runners should pay attention to head and shoulder position, arm motions, whether their torso is straight, knee lift, and how your feet are striking the ground.  This article on Runner’s World provides a good breakdown on one ideal of running form. I’ve also heard great things about the Chi Running program.  When it comes to triathlons, form is a major part of every leg of the race, but for me, it’s especially relevant for the swim.  Poor swimming form makes cutting through the water seem impossible. Here’s a great checklist on proper swim form.

 

Spend the time working on form, and you’ll see it pay off big time in your workouts.

 

Recharge #4: Reduce Added Sugar

added sugar

HSN repinned this article from Self magazine – it’s a great round-up of sneaky sources of added sugar. I’m trying to watch my added sugar intake (it’s so hard!); I know that I perform better at work, with my family, and when at the gym when I’m not hopped up on sugar.

 

The average American eats about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, but the American Heart Association recommends a limit of 5 teaspoons a day for women. Eek! But where is it coming from? Dessert isn’t always the main culprit. Read on for more sneaky sources

 

Recharge #5: Love Your Workouts

workout that you love

In the photo above, I am 11 weeks post-partum and about to kick off a sprint triathlon.  There’s a reason that I signed up for a race so closely to Henry’s due date: I love triathlons SO MUCH that I really, really, REALLY wanted to squeeze one in before the end of the season. I was totally sleep-deprived, and my body was going through serious hormonal changes, but nothing was going to keep me from the starting line. I love running, but triathlons are my soul mate. I adore the events, I enjoy the variety in the training, and I almost even love that lovely lead-leg sensation between the bike and run.

 

Before I found activities that I loved, it was really hard to stay motivated.  I had to trick myself into exercise and – truthfully – more often than not, my tricks wouldn’t really work.

 

Here’s a truly simple and small way to recharge your workouts: FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE.  And do that.  Just because everyone else is running or Zumba-ing or yoga-ing doesn’t mean that you have to, too.  There are loads of ways to stay fit, and the most important thing is that YOU adore getting dressed in your workout clothes.  Exercise is ‘me’ time – it should be something that you really want to do. Don’t know what you like to do?  Try different classes at your gym, sign up for a race, or get outside the gym and try things like hiking, rollerblading, or even rock climbing.  Find a workout that you can be excited about and – I promise! – it will make all the difference!

pinterest competition

If you’re looking for even more tips and ideas on recharging your fitness, enter the HSN re:fresh Pinterest Competition.  They’ll be giving away 15 prize packs valued at up to $500 each. To enter, fill out this form.  The HSN re:fresh Pinterest board will help you stick to your New Year’s Resolutions with ideas to recharge and refresh your fitness routine, diet, home life, and more.  You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

This post was sponsored by HSN.  Thank you for supporting the HTP family by reading my blog.

 

What small change made the biggest difference in your fitness routine?

{ 30 comments }

 

Leave a Comment

  • Aishah @ Coffee, Love, Health January 24, 2014, 10:11 am

    Honestly, seeing your workouts motivates me enough! lol And I am currently cutting sugar to lose the weight I really want to get rid of… it’s so hard :( When you purposely try to avoid it, you realize its everywhere! lol

    Reply
  • Katie January 24, 2014, 10:14 am

    Just a note for the bicycle crunches. I used to hate them because my back hurt. So now I do them on just the left side, then just the right side. I feel it in my abs more, and my back doesn’t hurt!

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 24, 2014, 10:19 am

      Good tip!!

      Reply
  • Aly January 24, 2014, 10:26 am

    I keep these foot pedals under my desk to ‘bike’ while I work. At the very least they get your legs moving, but they also come in handy to work out your job frustrations!
    http://www.amazon.com/Stamina-55-1610-InMotion-Elliptical-Trainer/dp/B000VICRO8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345648378&sr=8-1&keywords=elliptical

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 24, 2014, 10:30 am

      Awesome!!

      Reply
  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun January 24, 2014, 10:39 am

    I think a positive attitude is key. Even if you don’t feel like doing your workout the key is focusing on the positive! Most people feel 100% better once they are moving and working out, it is just a matter of getting going.

    Reply
  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More January 24, 2014, 10:43 am

    Such great tips! I’m all about making small changes and I want to see if my roommate and I can get on board with some commercial break workouts. But even more, I really need to get better about moving from my desk more often. I work from home so it’s really easy for me to just charge through and get in a zone. Sometimes I’ll realize I haven’t left my computer (aside from grabbing more water or to use the bathroom) ALL day!

    Reply
  • Katie January 24, 2014, 10:58 am

    I have always wanted to get healthier and lose weight but I feel as if I always put too much pressure on myself and decide to tackle too many obstacles at once to get there.
    I used to say I will work out every day, or take my dog for a walk everyday and I would always be disappointed when I didn’t.
    In October, I decided to challenge myself to walk 31 walks that month. Having a certain number of walks to do instead of focusing on every single day really helped me. Some days I went on multiple walks and other days I didn’t do any. At the end of the month I think I went on 28 or so out of a total 31 and instead of feeling dejected I was really surprised and happy with that!
    So I think the small change from every day to just an overall number really helped with my motivation.
    For 2014 I have a resolution to do 200 walks, and I’ve gotten a few in on the treadmill so far. I’m excited for all the snow to go away so I can start walking outside !

    Reply
    • Aishah @ Coffee, Love, Health January 24, 2014, 1:06 pm

      Hi hun! I couldn’t help but reach out to you after reading your comment. I hope you don’t give up and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. I’ve lost over 40 pounds and I still want to lose more, but even after losing all that, I sometimes feel that “pressure” creep up. Don’t be hard on yourself- the little steps you take will get you there, just be patient :) Trust me, I know it’s hard. Keep up the great work in challenging yourself to meet the goals you are setting :) xoxo

      Reply
  • Elizabeth @ Positive Change January 24, 2014, 11:49 am

    Great tips!
    Drinking water! I thought I use to drink enough water during the day but when you are training for something you are loosing so much through sweat. When I started to track my water I noticed how much better I was feeling in general and how great my runs were feeling!

    Reply
  • katie January 24, 2014, 12:40 pm

    I started using a pedometer and have a goal of hitting 10,000 steps each day. Some days it’s really easy, and other days I find myself going for a late-night walk to hit the mark. I’m surprised that even on days when I feel like I’m running all over the office, I’ll come home and only have 4500 steps. I tend to be a little competitive so I MUST GET THOSE STEPS IN! Ha! It has definitely boosted my activity level.

    Reply
    • Aerevyn January 25, 2014, 10:50 am

      Pedometers and late night walks and being competetive …. hahaha … I’m with you. I’ve had times this winter when I was out at 11:30 at night in single digits to make sure I hit my number. But I felt great when it was done. Love. It.

      Reply
  • Liana@RunToMunch January 24, 2014, 1:59 pm

    I try to loook at workouts as something I want to do, vs. have to to do. I eliminated the words “I have to go to the gym” from my mouth as much as possible

    Reply
  • Jessica January 24, 2014, 3:07 pm

    I love the TV workout!

    Silly question. Do you do the full workout (push ups, crunches, lunges) during EACH break? Or do you do push ups during the first break, crunches at the next, etc.?

    Reply
    • Jaye January 25, 2014, 7:38 pm

      I was wondering the same thing… I think it must be do what you can each break until you are done, because by the time you get to the one on day 31, you could never fit it all in one commercial break.

      Reply
      • Caitlin January 25, 2014, 7:52 pm

        Yeah! I can do it all now in one commercial but soon I won’t :)

        Reply
  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs January 24, 2014, 3:20 pm

    Love this — great tips! Like most things in life, it’s all about the small things! :)

    Reply
  • Elisabeth January 24, 2014, 6:42 pm

    Great tips! The best thing that helps my fitness routine is making sure to get enough sleep! I have to get at the very LEAST 8 hours of sleep & try to get 9 when I can.

    Reply
  • Jessica January 24, 2014, 8:40 pm

    Thank you for these tips! I have been fighting a “bored with my workouts” attitude but now I have some tricks to try to get back into loving it. :D

    Reply
  • Megan @ The Skinny-Life January 25, 2014, 8:19 am

    Great tips! I especially like the 30/2 rule. I work 10-12 hour days at an office & blog so my time sitting, in front of a computer adds up. It’s easy to become focused on work & suddenly hours have passed by without moving.

    Reply
  • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork January 25, 2014, 12:32 pm

    I completely agree that small changes add up to a big change. This is my philosophy in everything: health, career, etc. It’s what has worked for me and I am convinced it can work for anyone. Plus, it makes it more manageable to get to a goal. It’s intimidating to think of the big picture! If you break it into small pieces, you can get there!

    Reply
  • suzanne January 25, 2014, 12:50 pm

    I love the tv show shape up! Easy peasy! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Verlin January 26, 2014, 6:54 pm

    I love that you’ve posted that 11-week post-baby picture a few times. That is what a healthy woman looks like 11 weeks after a baby – there is a pooch still there!!! – most women don’t like to show those pix, so I think it’s awesome that you do. PS – of course your pooch is gone now, so I guess it’s a little easier, but still — good on ya for posting realistic pix. A few weeks after I had one of my boys someone said to me “when are you ever going to have that baby” – ummm, she really felt bad, but thankfully I wasn’t hormonal that day and it didn’t bother me at all.

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 27, 2014, 7:17 am

      I totally know what you mean and thank you! i appreciate the comment a lot.

      PS my pooch is definitely not entirely gone. babies change you forever (well, at least me!) but that’s okay. :)

      Reply
  • Jodi January 27, 2014, 8:07 am

    “Every day, you must wake up and make the choice to craft the life you want to live. It’s a decision that you make over and over again.’ This hit home for me today! I have been in a major slump for the last several weeks and all I do is complain about how I look and feel. I have a choice to do something about it! Thanks Caitlin!

    Reply
  • Ashley January 29, 2014, 12:23 pm

    HI Caitlin,

    Long time reader first time commenter & I had a question about indoor cycling. I’ve been going to indoor cycling classes for years but took several months off after I bought a new home. I recently starting going again and have been having some “issues” staying in the saddle, especially at higher RPM speeds. It isn’t due to the uncomfortableness of the seat…it feels similar to chaffing/pain on my inner thighs and beyond. Is there anything you can recommend for this? I’m looking for biking shorts, underwear, a seatcover, gel, anything!Most of the instructors I have at the moment teach classes based off real rides so I feel akward constantly standing. FWIW I’m about 5’4 and 135ish and I’ve never dealt with this problem in the years before. I’ve put on some weight in my thighs and butt since we bought our house and thats the only thing that I can think would be causing this. Sorry to get off topic and thanks!

    Reply