We have slowly built up quite a collection of fitness “tools” in our house. I’ve always been one to “go big or go home,” so my need for tools and gadgets is not a surprise to those who know me. I throw myself into anything I set my mind to (job, crafts, cake-making (I have a coffee cake in the oven right now), fitness, fashion) and getting the results I want requires the right tools 😉
We have a YMCA membership, but I’m not a “gym girl” at all. I’ve never been one to get dressed for the gym, make my way in and pick a machine or attend a class, and make friends with people there. I like to do a lot of things privately, and working out is one of them. It’s weird, I know.
There was a point in time last year when I went to the Y quite a bit just to get some alone time without my kids, but every.single.time I put them in the childcare center there, I felt guilty. I know that a lot of moms do this, and I think it’s great… but it’s not me. I stay home with my kids so that we can do things together, not so I can put them in 2 hours of childcare each day or even 3 days a week. I felt so uncomfortable about it, and really despised the whole gym atmosphere because I lacked privacy, that I quit going. We go once in a while to use the pool 😉
Body Fat Monitors
We met doing an extreme fitness bootcamp (my husband taught it) and that experience made me realize that a body fat monitor was a MUST. We bought the one that they used at bootcamp (Omron) and used it regularly for a few years.
A couple of years after we met, we did a different fitness class that used a body fat monitor built into the scale, and the reading was quite different from our hand-held – so we got the scale (Tanita). I’m always amazed because for my husband and our male friends (yes, I made them test them out for me), both of these monitors give them the same readings, but for years and years, the readings for me were 6-8% different. In the last 2-3 weeks, those readings finally lined up for me and almost match. Because of my history with these monitors though, I still use both to measure my body fat percentage. Bad habit! I use the hand-held Omron as my measuring stick when I report my stats because I’ve had that one the longest and don’t have to convert when I look back on past stats (yes, I have spreadsheets dating back to 2006).
For fun, I recently bought some body fat calipers because some people believe they are the be-all-end-all of all body fat monitors. I will say, the reading from them was anti-climactic. It was the same as the hand-held and the scale, but wasn’t as exact (it has a range – not a specific reading). I’ll only use the calipers at initial, mid-challenge, and final check-ins because of the range – checking weekly wouldn’t show much difference.
I use the Garmin Vivofit wristband to count my steps and also monitor my heart rate when I feel like checking in on that. I chose the Vivofit over the fitbit because of the display (the fitbit with the display was recalled at the time) and the heart rate monitor functionality – I already owned the Garmin HR strap from prior use with my Garmin Forerunner running watch. My husband works for Mic.ros.oft so I think their new fitness band (Microsoft Band 2) will be under the Christmas tree this year and I’m excited about that! It is pretty slick and it could really motivate me to try new fitness challenges!
The best thing we ever bought was the BOB running stroller. I bought it for myself for my birthday when my oldest son was turning 1 because I thought I’d get back into running. I didn’t. When I was finally ready to get back in shape, I started running with my younger son and he absolutely LOVES it. He will go with me for up to 9 miles (I’ve not yet tried taking him for longer) any day of the week and often times asks to go. It’s very motivating to be asked by your toddler to take him for a run 😉 In the summer months, I log 15-25 miles a week with that stroller. Hands-down, it’s the best thing I ever bought for myself!
I use Endomondo premium on my phone to track my workouts. I tried a bunch of different apps and that one fit my needs the best. It is ridiculously accurate with mileage and has a super easy layout. I barely use their online app – I just log everything through my phone. The online app, though, has lots of reporting tools that are right up my alley, and I’m sure I’ll start using them sooner than later.
We have a treadmill in our home gym, handed down by my grandpa who used it just a few times. It does the job and purrs like a kitten! It’s a Nordictrack 2000 – it is 15 years old and you would never know it. I put 15-20 miles a week on it during the winter months, and probably 5-10 a week in the summer. One time, we had a power surge and the treadmill refused to turn on, and my husband was convinced he’d be buying me a new one within days because he knew that I could not survive a week without it. It recovered within a few hours and is as good as new again.
Interval/High Intensity Training, and Cross Training
So back when I was going to the Y, I started attending INSANITY classes and fell in love with them. I would go and write down every move we did, then come home and write them up on poster paper and hang them in my kitchen to do my own workouts. This required an interval timer – so I got one (Gymboss MiniMAX). I used it all.of.the.time for months and months, and I could not have been happier with it!
Then… I got…
Beachb.ody On De.mand (BOD) – and let me tell you – it is fantastic! I am not a BB coach and I’m not affiliated with BB at all – I’m just a happy customer 😉 BOD has INSANITY and TurboFire, which I was enjoying so much at the Y, so I have everything I need to get crazy good workouts at home. I no longer need my interval timer (but I still love it!) because I’m dialed up to BOD workouts telling me what to do and when. The intensity is great and I feel like I’m in a class at the gym. This fits in perfectly with my hang-up about working out privately!
We have mats galore to facilitate my interval training. Big mats, yoga mats, thick mats, etc. It’s ridiculous but they all have their purposes. My favorite right now is actually an equipment mat handed down by my in-laws and it’s really big and gives me lots of space to workout and sweat!
I LOVE specialty fitness shoes. I am a firm believer that you need the right shoes for the job. For INSANITY, I wear my Asics Gel-Fortius TR’s because they have a low profile but provide excellent grip for jumps and side lunges. Wearing running shoes for INSANITY puts too much between your feet and the mat, and the soles are too squishy. The Gel-Fortius TR’s were created with crossfit in mind, and I like that – that means sticky soles. For Turbofire and sometimes PiYo, I wear Nike Studio Trainers. They’re not pretty, but they do the job well and again, they have a low profile which is better for TurboFire than runners.
We are deciding if we’re going to get my in-laws’ elliptical machine. We want it, but we don’t want to have to move it. That decision probably needs to be made in the next 2 weeks. If we get it, I’ll be excited to add that to my routine. It will be nice to be able to burn calories without having to run 5 days a week – my knees would thank me!
I wish I was more motivated to do strength training. I get on a strength kick, and then I get off of it. Right now, I’m on it. It’s amazing how much better your body looks and feels when you’re doing more than just cardio.
I am in the midst of the 8-week Beachbody PiYo program and I LOVE IT. It has made a huge difference in my flexibility and I am getting stronger by the day. Within 2 weeks, I dropped a full body fat percentage, and that is HUGE. I am a believer!
We love cardio kickboxing and my husband is a fabulous instructor, so of course we have a Century Wavemaster punching bag in our garage! We have heaps of gloves as well, ranging from 12-18 ounces in weight. Nothing feels better than hitting and kicking the bag and it does wonders for strength. I’ve missed it quite a bit and am ready to get back out there a bit this winter.
Part of the bootcamp class, where my husband and I met, included resistance band training for strength. They really work and are easy to take with you when you travel, so we have a full set of those for when we feel the urge to use them. It’s really hard to feel the urge though…
Our latest and greatest addition to our arsenal is the hoist prime 8 weight machine. This was handed down from my in-laws and it’s really nice to have. My husband really enjoys lifting weights so this has been a bit of a dream come true for him. I will use it once in a while, but I prefer plyo and PiYo for strength. I’ve never been one to enjoy weight machines.
We try to be a paleo family when we eat at home (most dinners and breakfasts – usually 6 nights and mornings a week) and really watch how we eat when we’re out. We never order fried food, our kids have never had chicken fingers or mac and cheese or grilled cheese, we really limit grains when we’re out, and we cook only whole foods – no processed foods at home. Moving into this way of eating was a hard transition for me because I do the cooking and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it, but my husband bought Sarah Fragoso’s “Everyday Paleo” cookbook and it is amazing! We have made so many of her dishes and they are fantastic and easy. Once we made the transition to eating this way, it’s become very easy to plan for and execute.
Don’t be fooled though. We have our occasional frozen pizzas for dinner and the kids had pizza rolls today for lunch because we were just done. And… my biggest need in the world is Diet Pepsi. I drink way too much of it every day. A good water drinker I am not.
I log every.single.thing.that.goes.into.my.mouth into MyFitnessPal. The minute I stop tracking my food, I lose control and plump up. I know what each food is worth in regards to calories, but this has become such a habit that I feel thrown off if I don’t do it. And calories add up – it’s amazing how a couple of quick choices during the day can set you back.
For now, I think we’re pretty stocked up on what we need to be successful. There’s always some new program, some new craze and maybe I’ll check it out and maybe I won’t. As long as I can stay focused with what we have – and we have a lot – then there shouldn’t be a need for more…. except shoes. I need a new pair of runners 😉