Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Other Hobby: Fitness (With Couch to 5K Links & My Current Workout Playlist)

I hardly ever post on weekends, but I thought I would today. It is the next to last day of spring break; Monday we go back to school, reviewing with a vengeance until our students take state standardized tests in two weeks. It's enough to bring on stress in overwhelming abundance. So what do I do when stress seems on the verge of overtaking me? Well, I used to eat. But now? I exercise.

When I started working out again a year ago (after several years of doing little to nothing), I couldn't run a mile. It was probably a stretch for me to walk a mile. I began my working out by doing the Couch to 5K program. I cannot say enough good things about it. It got me motivated, it was always different, it involved good music, and it was a challenging but attainable goal.

I highly recommend it as a jumping off point. Also, if you have a long way to go in terms of exercising, losing weight, or getting in shape, you can tailor the program to your needs. For example, you could easily use it as a walking program instead of a running program. The best thing about it is the free podcasts that you upload onto your iPod or mp3 players. They tell you when to walk and when to run. It couldn't be easier.

My favorite sites to use were Carli's Running Into Shape, Go Nicole Yourself!, and Inside the Mind of Suz. Many people also use Robert Ullrey's Podcasts for Running, DJ Steve Boy's Podrunner: Intervals, and Christian Indie Tracks.

Since I joined the Y last fall, I have enjoyed taking advantage of their classes. I love the mixed cardio class, spin, sculpt, and yoga. On non-class days, I do my own cardio using interval training workouts on the treadmill or the elliptical. My favorite fitness blogger, Trainer Momma, has written several posts on the topic of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts. I have used her basic HIIT formula, but this week also began doing varied forms of it, found in her More Interval Workouts post.

Also, I have mentioned it before, but Ali Sweeney's book The Mommy Diet lists some excellent workout plans, HIIT-style. They will have you doing things you never thought of on a treadmill! (Like walking lunges and climbing.)

Music is my main motivation when I am exercising. I love the high-energy music tracks played in most classes, so when I'm exercising on my own on a Saturday, I have to match that intensity with my music. Here is what I've been listening to lately as I HIIT it on the treadmill (Get it? "HIIT" instead of "hit"-- funny, right?):

45-Minute Workout Playlist:
  1. "Stay Here Forever" - Jewel
  2. "Blah Blah Blah" - Ke$ha
  3. "Say Hey (I Love You)" - Michael Franti & Spearhead
  4. "Only Girl (In the World)" - Rihanna
  5. "Only Prettier" - Miranda Lambert
  6. "Blow" - Ke$ha
  7. "Everlasting Light" - The Black Keys
  8. "Forget You" - Cee Lo
  9. "We R Who We R" - Ke$ha
  10. "Coming Home" - Diddy - Dirty Money
  11. "In the Sun" - Joseph Arthur
If you noticed that list was heavy on Ke$ha, you are exactly right. I can't think of any other band or singer whose music is so perfectly suited to working out. I also mix in Katy Perry, the Black-Eyed Peas, and Usher from time to time. Most of these artists are not people I listen to regularly, but they make working out very easy! I also purposely start with Jewel's laid-back song for my warm-up, and end with the somewhat slower "Coming Home" and then "In the Sun" to cool down.

In my opinion, my two hobbies -- reading and fitness -- are perfectly suited to one another. Reading is a solitary, sedentary activity; exercise (at a gym anyway) is more social and balances out all that sitting/reading time! And dedicated exercise for a year equals results -- 37 pounds of results, in my case.

Get moving, and happy reading! (Oh, and even happier reading starting on Monday, when you have a chance to win one of my Favorite Reads each week in a new giveaway series! Come back for the details!)

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