Working On It, Week 7: Zombie Abs

This week in fitness, my abs are rock hard six-packs of steel, or at least slightly more present than they were a few of weeks ago. I can do ONE HUNDRED sit ups, which seemed impossible on Day One. I’ve never completed one hundred anythings. If you’ve been doing this with me, how’s it going for you?

I’m on Day 25 and I want to quit, which feels silly given I’m so close to the end. I’ve started realising that, while it’s cool that my abs can now do a wild amount of crunches, I have no desire to keep hitting such high targets. I’d prefer to focus on establishing a realistic daily ab routine that ideally doesn’t involve spending ~40 minutes each evening panting on my bedroom floor. The problem there is that I have no idea what an adequate daily ab routine is. 50 sit ups? 80 crunches? No clue. If you have one that successfully maintains your core then I’d love to hear about it.

Also, how do you feel about me amping up the group participation a little? I was thinking maybe we could tackle more of these short challenges together, or find new ways to motivate each other towards immortality. Maybe I can throw down a new challenge each week or month, or you could suggest one. I’ll ponder this a little more but if you have feelings about it, please share them in the comments.


Here’s what has and hasn’t been working for me lately:

Working: Yoga

After having such a positive experience with using meditation to de-stress my life, I’ve been wondering whether yoga would be a good addition to my routine. I know very little about the practice but it seems like something that could potentially have the same chill factor as meditation but with the added benefits of improving strength and flexibility.

So, so many of you have recommended the Yoga with Adriene YouTube series that using it as my starting point was a no-brainer. I’ve done her Yoga for Complete Beginners video twice now; it’s twenty minutes of the yoga basics: breathing, warrior pose, downward dog, and a few more. I’m finding it to be physically challenging but in a super gentle and non-intimidating way; the poses aren’t held for long and there’s focus on moving the body in ways that feel good instead of perfect (which I suspect comes later).

Watching the video instruction while also trying to hold the poses is one of my biggest struggles. It’s difficult to tell whether I’ve really manoeuvred my body into the same shape as Adriene’s body when my my face is planted into the mat and my ass is in the air. Maybe that’s something that becomes easier once you do it more often and can commit each pose to memory. The good news is that my spine has never been forced into such straightness. It feels AMAZING, and maybe, hopefully, over time these exercises might help to correct my chronic slouching.

A few weeks ago Tippibird and Yvonne recommended Blogilates, an online body strength/pilates/yoga workout, so I hope to check that one out soon too.

Now that the ab challenge is (almost) out of my life, I’m planning to attempt Adriene’s 30 Day Yoga Challenge. Does anyone want to do it with me? If so, let’s start after next week’s column. I’ll remind you. I’ve been told that it’s fine for beginners, although maybe if you’re completely new to yoga like me then it wouldn’t hurt to also have a crack at some beginner videos in preparation.


Working: Gilmore Guys

While discussing gym-friendly podcasts in the first column, Maddie recommended Gilmore Guys. Do you know it? You probably know it. I’m the last to know about most things.

As you may have assumed (although I didn’t, because it felt too good to be true), Gilmore Guys is a podcast where The Gilmore Girls is discussed in depth, episode by episode. The dudes spend an hour having the kind of recap conversations that I wish I could’ve had with my college friends a decade ago, if only they weren’t too busy paying me out for loving the hell out of this show. Recent topics that have spoken to my heart include how Emily Gilmore is the superior Gilmore, and how all the men are underwritten and no one cares.

It’s not always the perfect conversation; I’m three episodes in and there have been a few side-eyes thrown. Overall, though, it’s a great length to soundtrack a solid treadmill or elliptical workout.

Have you been listening to any rad podcasts lately? I’d love some more recommendations.


Not working: Zombies, Run!

Since this column started and even before that, many people have been singing me the highest praises of Zombies, Run!

If you’re not familiar then the deal with this app, I think, is that you run away from zombies and it’s meant to make you a better distance runner, or enjoy it more, or both. I hate zombies and I hate distance running, so I assumed this app wasn’t right for me. However! I’m trying out this new thing where I actually test things out before writing it off. It’s ground-breaking thought leadership, I know.

crystal-runnig-from-zombies

by intern nikki

My instincts were right; I tried it multiple times and couldn’t get into it. There was a silver lining, though. Those few minutes of running reminded me of how hard and fast my heart is capable of beating, which’s motivated me to push it to the max more often. As such, this week I’ve been adding a few minute-long sprints to my uphill power-walking and it’s feeling pretty great so far. Soon I’ll try Couch to 5K.

How has your past week in health and wellness been? Is there anything you’ve been kicking ass at or struggling with? Let us know in the comments! And if you haven’t yet heard, we’ve set up a Working On It social group. It’d be pretty cool if you join.

Coming up next week: I think I’ll talk a little about mental health.


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Crystal is a 33-year-old Australian living in Chicago. Founding member, does HR stuff, writes now and then.

Crystal has written 329 articles for us.

83 Comments

  1. You def don’t have to use Zombies Run for distance — you can set it for half an hour. When I’m starting out I walk except during the zombie intervals, when I jog. Then after a month or 2 I jog normally and run faster during the zombie intervals. If you’re not into it, you’re not into it, but the winding narrative really helps to keep me entertained, and helps to keep my mind off of how much I hate running 🙂

    • By ‘distance running’ I really mean anything that’s longer than about 1/4 mile, ha. That feels like a few thousand miles to my lungs. I kinda just tried running straight away, but maybe I should try your walk-then-run approach.

      • Lol I love it. Yeah the walk/run option is great, it’s motivation to do short intense intervals, which research has been saying lately is really good for us, sandwiched in between some nice relaxing healthy walking or super relaxed jogging 🙂

  2. As a n00b to the gym scene, and someone who is constantly wondering what to do when I actually get there, this column has been so awesome was solving that problem. Also hell yes to Emily Gilmore.

  3. Crystal, I also decided that that stupid ab challenge was tooo much by like day 17, but just wait until you’re done! You’re going to be so impressed with yourself! I totally convinced myself I was going to do, like, 50 or something situps a day, but I haven’t done a single one since I finished that last month. Oh well. I am still doing bicep curls from the arms challenge 4-5x/week, so I guess that’s something?

  4. I got nothing other than I found out Sunday night I still have (or regained dunno haven’t exactly had opportunities to test things before I started working out again) the core strength to do foolish things on a trapeze with rings while the thing is in motion.

    My décolletage is has always been hard muscle but I’ve noticed since getting back into doing pushing up this year some weird shape things occur when I flex now. I dunno what the heck they are, but it’s like a four pack happening on my chest or an alien maybe.

    Um I think I had a point in here somewhere but it got lost in the chest navel gazing….push ups improve core strength, I think that might of been it.
    Yep I’m gunna go with that.

  5. I’ve been checking out darebee.com and nerdfitness as recommended to me a couple of weeks back!
    I was going to ask if you guys would be up for starting a Darebee program in a collective manner? They’re going to release a postapocalypse challenge in September, and I might start “The Hero’s Journey” with my friend as soon as I get home from my vacay.
    Also, “The Spartan Trials” look interesting.
    Speaking of:
    That ab challenge has gotten so time consuming that I’m now stretching it out over several days.
    It’s starting to feel weird to be devoting THAT much time to my abs..my arms and the rest of my body get jealous.I’ve now added planks and push ups loosely to the routine.
    Anyways, I’m beginning to feel that I need a routine that’s a bit more all encompassing, ergo the Darebee thing.
    Have a good week everyone!

  6. I highly recommend the Swork It app for core workouts (and other targeted workouts like cardio, arms, legs etc). So maybe that would be a good follow up after the ab challenge.

    Also if anyone knows of similar Swork It-style apps I’d be keen to hear about them.

  7. Yay running!! I recommend couch to 5k, I know a lot of people who have used it and love doing 5k runs. I think that 5k runs are a great way to get into running, plus medals are really cool. There are also virtual runs that you can do at your own pace on whatever day you want so you don’t feel pressured about having to finish within a certain time frame. Also streets re-opening.

    I have a couple of 5ks and a 10k (my first) coming up in November. The Aloha Run (5k), Hard Rock (5k), Disney Avengers (10k) and mustache Dache (5k)! The 10k was something I really wanted to do ever since I did my first 5k.

    I really want to try out yoga…I think it would be pretty beneficial to my recovery days and help with some elasticity in the body. I don’t think that stretching before and after my gym routine is quite cutting it anymore.

    Re: Establishing a realistic routine…I think this is something that comes with time. I would at least try to throw in another body part every other day if you’re really into the ab challenge thing. These past months, there are days when I don’t run or bike but use battle ropes at the gym aka windmills for your arms. It’s been really good cardio though. If you’re curious as to what my routine is like for a week it looks something like this:
    Sat-Legs
    Sun-Chest and back
    Monday-30 min ♥
    Tuesday-Shoulders+abs
    Wednesday-Biceps and Triceps
    Thurs&Friday-30min ♥

    Although there are weeks when I’m doing 5 days of weightlifting and 2 days of 30min ♥. I think that switching up your cardio like going for a hike vs running is a good way to stimulate the mind and it’s just more enjoyable. =)

    My 30mins of ♥ are cut into intervals of 3min easy and 1min hard..so like 3min jog then 1min sprinting.

    • Thanks for sharing your routine! It sounds great, way to mix it up. I’d like to do something similar, a weekly routine where every day works a different body parts. I just need to figure out how could work with a fairly unpredictable schedule. Currently the exercise I do really depends on else I have planned for my evening. E.g. if my night is entirely free then I’ll do a long treadmill session or aerobics video, but if I’ve gone out to dinner or something then I’ll just do the core workout before bed.

      • You can also pair body parts that are worked in somewhat the same way like back and biceps. Or chest and triceps. These 2 groups are almost always together but some people prefer to do antagonistic body parts so there’s less ‘cheating’ e.g when you train back, it’s really easy to let the arms do the work. I know it might sound like I’m not kinda making sense but it’s very true. It took me a good few months to focus on letting my back pull vs my biceps. Someone on a forum I go on said to imagine like you’re pulling from your elbows rather than your hands so that kinda helped me out.

        It sucks when life gets in the way and you’re actually in that mindset of wanting to help yourself and your body. But don’t give up!! Take your time to find out what works for you. What kind of routine can you do and what other things can you do that won’t affect that workout you’ve been dying to do? I know that we are all busy with life, some of us put in 60-72 hours of work a week, are single parents, have 3 jobs but if there’s a will, there will be a way! =)

  8. I did a the Zombie run event with a few friends a few years back it wasn’t bad. It’s a good way to go camping over night drink some booze with friends and party it up. The run itself if I remember correctly is either 2 or 3 miles and there are obstacle courses like mud, not so sharp spikes and obviously zombies who may or may not seriously chase you.

    For abs you could always go on one of those ab machines that offer resistance/weight so you could slow work you way up. Say start at a low resistance and do 4 to 5 sets of 10 and slowly increase resistance. I really need to start doing ab exercises again as I have been slacking for a long while. And also do some butt exercises(like I see Nicki on tv and get a bit of dysphoria), besides squats.

      • I went on one the crunch machines(the flat ones without weights) for the first time in a few months. I did 100 crunches, 4 sets of 25. It took about 4 minutes, but I want to slowly work my way up to 5 sets of 30. Maybe next week. Good luck.

  9. The golden rule for any exercise program I’ve done has always been 3 sets of 10 (or 2 x three sets of ten, increase to infinity). If you want to do core strength properly you have to make sure you’re working all of it. Crunches are great for your upper abs, but only doing those is kind of like lifting weights with only your right arm. For a beginner I’d go something like two rounds of:

    10x crunches
    10x ankle touches (these guys: https://youtu.be/rObhoJUmA9c) for the obliques
    10x leg raises for lower abs.
    30 second plank

    If that feels easy, go for three rounds etc etc.

    Ridiculous ab challenge running total: 375 reps and a 140 second plank. I’m now counting the hysterical laughter every time I open the app as at least 200 reps.

    My week has been frustrating, work/study deadlines have taken over my life for the moment, so I’m tired and not super healthy, and I’m trying to get something ready in time for a show in a few weeks. Instead of being the usual great stress relief I’m getting fed up that my body isn’t cooperating and everything is harder than it should be. Ugh.

    Less depressingly, I’m always keen for group participation. Count me in.

    • Thanks, your ab routine suggestion is super helpful! I’ll definitely try it out. I like the idea of doing a smaller number of exercises in sets.

      Sorry to hear that your workload is so stressful right now. I don’t have any advice for you but I empathise with the frustration of exercise feeling harder than it once did.

  10. SKATE UPDATE- I’ve been going to an indoor park 2-3 times a week to build my skills before tackling the concrete behemoth in my town. My transition skills are better than they ever were back in the day, and my body hurts after every session, which I guess means I’m getting a good workout. learning to not be self-conscious and just work at my own pace is really good for my mental health! I’ve found that skating amps me up enough to do other stuff on my off-days as “training,” ie yoga to improve flexibility/reduce injury; I’m definitely into trying the 30 day challenge next week.

    For me, the biggest obstacle (and most rewarding?) part of getting back on my board is learning to fall. It happens to everyone regardless of skill level, and I’ve found that after taking a few hits, I’m actually more confident in pushing my limits. What are y’all doing to build confidence in your athleticism?

      • @dante I hear that, and I think that’s part of the reason I gave up when I was younger. However, I think the vast majority of skaters remember when they were first learning, and will by happy to help you out, or at least ignore your presence so you can do your thing in peace. There are assholes in every walk of life, but I’ve seen a lot of interviews with pros (both male and female) where they stress that skating is for everyone. One thing that gave me the courage to get out there again was the Girls Skate Network on youtube. They’ve got over a hundred videos of badass female-identified skaters and just seeing them on my screen, even if not in person was really validating. YOU CAN DO IT! The biggest step is getting out there to go skate. Even if you stick around fifteen minutes the first time, you’ve made progress.

        • @bluebluebaby This has been one of the most motivating comments I’ve received in a while. Like I could print your words and paste em on my wall.
          Seriously, thank you so much! I will definitely check out that youtube channel (avoiding the comments, as is protocol). 😉 You are awesome, please continue to update us with your skating endeavors!

    • How do you learn to fall? I quit skating b/c of the injuries (I never got good at all and was trying to teach myself, though I did try to pick stuff up on youtube). I heard that you’re supposed to try and ‘run off’ a forward crash if your board does the sudden stop from getting a rock in the wheel or whatever, but I was never fast enough to catch myself before hitting the pavement.

      I still have my board and would like to try again (with safety equipment this time heh) but learning to fall sounds like it would help a lot. Is it the same as karate class (slapping the ground in a roll to slow your momentum)?

      • @rebcalle a big thing for me is wearing knee pads and learning to knee slide on transition. Also, tucking your arms in when you fall so you don’t break a wrist. I’ve taken some hits on my butt and shoulder, but those are both relatively fleshy parts, so while I’m bruised I’m not broken. It’s half fall technique and half accepting a little pain every now and then, I think.

        • I’m actually pretty depressed b/c my workout aspirations were too hard for me — I’d do a morning workout and then basically sleep/eat the rest of the day, instead of my schoolwork. I was really really enjoying challenging myself physically and it actually got me out of a lingering funk so I am sad to let go of those workouts.

          Trying to adapt esp now that fall schedule will be even more busy school-wise.

          Here’s an article for an efficient overall fitness routine that won’t take up a bunch of time. Maybe it will answer your question about how many crunches per day are good for basic fitness once you finish your Ab challenge:

          https://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/dont-be-a-specialist-your-routine-needs-variety

          I’ve never done kettlebells so *shrug* guess I’ll give it a whirl.

          I’m into the 30 day yoga challenge; will join.
          Definitely for meditation practice as well; looking forward to next week’s column.

          Still swimming! :^D I hope Crystal comes back to the pool some time. I bet you’ll be faster with all your ab strength. Running uses a lot of core strength too; maybe running will be more fun for ya.

          • Oh BOY do I have a pool/swimming update for you. But I won’t tell you about it now otherwise I won’t have anything to say in future articles, ha.

            Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out. And I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had to let go of some workouts; hopefully there’ll be a time in the future when you can start them up again without it having such a big impact on your body.

  11. Ha! I’m glad you like the Gilmore Guys! They are definitely not flawless, but they are entertaining.

    I gave up on abs because they made me feel like my back was going to break in half, which I don’t think was supposed to happen. BUT I have been going to yoga multiple times a week. It’s been amazing, but highly contingent on the specific things that I like about this studio I’ve been going to, which is pretty queer, and very open to all levels and bodies.

  12. Sounds like you’re well on your way Crystal, congrats! I’ve been teaching yoga for many years now (and also happen to be a visible trans woman) and the asana work (physical poses), when combined with pranayama (breath work) and dhyana (meditation), has an AMAZING effect on the body and mind over time. As your practice deepens so will you’re understanding of how to take these yogic concepts and implement them in your life off the mat. Best of luck with your pursuits and if you would ever want to see what I’m up to you can find my Instagram profile at: YoginiJess1. Aum Shanti Namaste 🙂

  13. I LOVE yoga with Adrienne! I tried to do the 30 days of yoga, but I prefer to choose the intensity and type of workout I do every day rather than on a prescribed schedule. Of course, my workouts lately are nonexistent. Thanks, unemployment funk.

  14. I’m so full of excitement and optimism right now! I’ve just started Body Pump classes and I’m loving it so far. My eventual goal is to do Stronglifts 5×5 but I’m working on form and getting up the courage to work out alone. Social anxiety hurts worse than muscle burn, y’all.

    I like the idea of group challenges. I was thinking of starting some yoga by myself, actually. I was hoping it might be something relaxing to get me to the gym more often and get my money’s worth, but I didn’t like my gym’s classes. I could do it solo at the gym but for the first time since childhood I have a bedroom big enough to fit a yoga mat, so there’s that.

    I love Zombies, Run! but I already loved running, not a big fan of zombies but once I got into the story it was fun. I have to turn off the chases and run in short intervals so it’s more like a podcast for me. I wouldn’t recommend any fitness thing if you don’t enjoy it.

    • That’s so awesome! I have the opposite problem where I haven’t worked up the courage to attend a Body Pump class yet. It looks tough!

      I’m really enjoying the solitude of doing yoga at home, I recommend it if group yoga situations aren’t appealing to you.

  15. I signed up for a 5K with some friends with the promise of a Doctor Who themed medal at the end. That got me back to Couch to 5K, which really is pretty remarkable in getting me ready for it. Now if only the humidity would let up here in New York! Indoor running bores me to no end.

  16. I think I need to try those yoga videos! I’ve learned a few poses during other fitness classes and it’s been a great experience. Also, I secretly love doing crunches but I cannot motivate myself to do them at home. Maybe that should be my goal for this week.

  17. I always feel like doing X amount of crunches/sit ups every day can get repetitive, and thus can become boring, which leads to me skipping out on doing it. I think something that may change things up a bit is doing a smaller amount of reps of several exercises. So like say you did 10 sit ups, 10 crunches, and 10 leg lifts – and then you do that set 3 times. So you’ve got 10 reps and 3 sets. Might help break up some of the monotony, and maintain various areas of your core IE upper abs, lower abs, obliques, etc.

    Some of the easier core/ab exercises that I’ve done and may be accessible to your goals at this stage would be: reverse crunches, planks, leg lifts, flutter kicks, 100s, and sitting twists. All of those you can find short 10 second videos of how to do them on http://darebee.com/exercises.html aside from 100s, which I think is a pilates exercise. So I would say pick like 3 to 4 exercises, choose the amount of reps you want to do, then how many sets you want, and go from there! I hope that can help with some of your core-related questions.

    • Yeah this is helpful, thanks! From what you and others have said, I think this would be a really good approach for me. I get bored of crunches and so it’d be nice to learn some new ab exercises and piece together workouts where I’ll enjoy all the things.

  18. I bow to those of you doing that many sit-ups! I hate doing them with a passion, so I try to wiggle my way around this particular excerise, replacing it by other terrible things. I go to ballet class twice or three times a week, so I get my core strenght there. The link for at-home-yoga looks great, though, and I’ll definitely check it out. I’ve wanted to try some at-home-exercises for a while now, and the beginners-videos seem to be great place to start.

    Anyone else here into Zumba? I’ve recently tried doing it as a means to fit more cardio into my life (I can’t run due to medical reasons – which sucks, as I ran for years – and hate the gym with a passion.) I was very surprised it works and is indeed as much fun as the advertising everywhere claims.

    • Have you tried FitnessBlender.com? Someone on here recommended it a few weeks ago and I’m loving the at home workout videos, especially because they have a lot of beginner videos. I guess it depends what kind of at-home videos you’re looking for – the ones I’ve tried so far are mostly cardio/total body strength.

      I’ve never tried Zumba but it’s on my list. I’m terrible at dancing and so maybe I’d benefit on two levels.

      • Thanks for the idea! I’ve never heard of that page before, so I’ll make sure to check it out.

        The great thing about Zumba is that it feels like turning on music and just shaking it in my bedroom while someone is yelling at me in delightful spanish to look hotter, because I’m obviously so hot. (in every single layer of meaning this could have). Maybe it’s just my teacher, though. My class also boasts a large variety of people and bodies, and I love looking at humans just shaking it all off. That being said, if you’ve never done any choreographed movement (like Arobic, e.g) it will take a while to get into. Just don’t give up! With time it’s getting easier.

  19. I’d be scared to do yoga on my own/through a video (as opposed to in a class with an instructor) because I’d be scared of doing the poses wrong and getting injured. The same thing with my regular exercise routine (mainly when I’m doing strength training) – I like to have an instructor to make sure I’m doing everything correctly. I also enjoy group classes and being with real people, so it’s totally a you-do-you thing.

    I started 2 new jobs last week, and my workout routine is definitely getting screwed over. I’m also not taking as many steps as I used to, as my job is right near my apartment, and it’s a desk job, so I’m sitting in front of a computer. I’d love to hear/read some stuff on staying active at work, when work involves sitting for 8 hours.

    So excited for mental health next week!

    • Staying active at work is something that I’m currently trying to figure out for myself (and will write about soon). If I come across any good articles in my research then I’ll let you know. I’m sorry to hear that your activity levels have taken a hit. Does the workplace have any stairs? I work in a three-story building and have started walking to see co-workers on other levels instead of using the phone. It’s a tiny thing but getting up from my desk more often makes me feel a little better.

    • Re: doing yoga on one’s own: I feel you on this. While Yoga can be awesome for everything from strenght to posture to flexibility a bad instructor or no instructor can cause some severe damage (at least according to my orthopaedist..) So, yeah.. that’s really something to keep in mind when pulling up a YT video on yoga for the first time.

      Re: active at work: I got one of those jobs, too, and it’s aweful. I second taking the stairs (yay 5th floor office!). I also keep a theraband in my office and do all kinds of wonky movements when I have a minute or two, but then that only works when you’ve got your own office and aren’t stuck in cubicle farm.

  20. My fave podcast is Pop Culture Happy Hour, it’s great and it really clear from listening to the show for a while now, that their politics is pretty good and they don’t say any douche-canoe things, and have had really very insightful things to say about race, gender and queer issues in pop culture, whilst being quite an entertaining and light ‘let’s chat about pop culture’ show.

    I also totally hear you on the ab thing, I’m only on day 20 today, and while I’m super-stoked with how much crunching, sit-upping and planking I can do now, it doesn’t seem sustainable in the long-term with how long it takes. I think after I finish it, I’ll try doing less sit-ups but holding a medicine ball instead?

    The other thing I’ve been enjoying are these superhero workouts http://darebee.com/workouts.html there’s a Buffy one and a few other female superheroes included too! ^_^

    • That podcast sounds excellent, thanks for the rec.

      Well done on hitting day 20! I’m glad I’m not the only one questioning how sustainable it is.

      Once upon a time I tried core with a medicine ball and loved it! If I wasn’t about to move country then I think I’d invest in one for home. Those superhero workouts are on my list of things to check out, I’m intrigued.

  21. I don’t seem to do well with exercise, but I do fit little bits of strengthening into my day. I have a chin up bar, and I’ll either use it a couple of times a week or at the playground I’ll use the monkey bars. I don’t do many chin ups, but I hold, engage my abs, do a couple of leg curls (?). My abs are a bit squishy lately, though. Lol. I do a lot of kid lifting, so my arms are strong. My boys are up to 75 pounds together and I can lift and carry them easily, which is really one of my fitness priorities.

    Part of the reason my abs are squishy, is the new layer of fat over them. Oops. I put on a few pounds over a few months so I started using the Lose It app this week. I’m keeping more easy fruits and veggies in the house and that’s been pleasing my toddlers, who have been snacking on more celery, carrots and hummus, and fruit. The app has reminded me that everything has calories. Lol. My coffee had been getting richer with more milk and more sugar. And I still have a bad habit of finishing the kids’ food (oh, you don’t want the other half of your poptart?) so I need to work on giving them smaller servings. And more veggies, since they’re more willing to eat veggies than they used to be.

    I went off track on calorie counting yesterday, but I probably did some extra exercise yesterday, so maybe it’s not as bad as I’m thinking. I’m just jumping back in today. But 1200 is not a lot of calories (I just switched to 1200, because the comfortable 1400 calories a day was putting my goal weight two months away, ugh)!

    I enjoy reading this column even though I can’t bring myself to think about doing the fitness challenges. I like the weekly reminder to check in and think about what’s working.

    • I think anyone who can regularly pick up 75 pounds of human is doing pretty well in the fitness stakes. It’s great that you’re finding other healthy things to focus on like injecting more fruit and veg into your diet. Try not to be too hard on yourself with the calorie tracking, though! I know from recent experience that 1200 is super difficult to maintain daily. Plus I imagine if you’re taking care of toddlers, it’s possible that you’re burning more calories than you think.

      • I’m in love with food, so I’m not hard on myself about calories at all. Mostly just less sugar and milk in my coffee and watching my serving sizes and not cleaning up after the kids. Water instead of juice. Just several little tweaks. More veg, less cheese.

        I have a daughter. I want to be a good example for both taking care of my health and loving the skin I’m in. No beating up about those three brownies yesterday. 😉

        Oh, I love the This is what 200 calories look like pictures, if you’re unfamiliar.

  22. Couch to 5k is great! Really beginner friendly. I’m a person who is very much on the couch side of things, like could not run, but I actually got up to about half way through couch to 5 k and it was amazing. Yeah, I kinda did end up dropping off at that point, I felt maybe it was moving slightly too fast by that point, like how dare it expect me to run 8 minutes in a row…. BUT I reckon up to that point it was really good, and honestly I could probably have done that tricky 8 minute week like twice or three times until I got the hang of it but sadly I gave up.
    I’m doing it again now, started back at the beginning and now onto week 2.
    Really enjoying this series! Look forward to the next one.

    • I had a similar problem with couch to 5k. The zombies, run! 5k app worked a million times better for me. I actually finished the program, which was a shocker based on my track record of finishing things, and I gained fitness more rapidly than I ever have before. It was super effective and I had so much fun doing it. The 5K app is actually not super focused on zombies, so my aunt (who despises zombies and anything remotely tied to the horror genre) tried it and ended up laughing, crying, and cheering her way through the story, too.

    • Maybe the Zombie app will be a more effective option long term. I have no idea how quickly the level escalates though.

      I think I’d be happy with a running app that gets me started as a runner, even if I drop off when it gets serious. I can only run for about 90 seconds currently and so I’d be happy with just hitting 5 minutes, not necessarily 5K.

  23. I found Couch to 5K was too much for me when I was first starting out. I actually highly recommend the Zombies, Run! 5K app. It’s a lot less focused on zombies than the main game (you barely ever spend time outside the little farm you live on), and it does a great job of getting you from “kind of running sometimes maybe” to “running 3 miles without stopping.” I could barely walk a mile when I started, and I was running a mile without stopping by about week 5. It was fun and really effective. Best $2 I ever spent on my health.

    Also, Dr. Myers is my bae and it turns out she used to have a girlfriend, so I’m pretty happy about that. She’s a great running coach, too.

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying this! Me too.

      I know very little about taking care of mental health and that’s something I’d like to start working on. I’m not really sure where to start though. Spoiler alert for next week, I guess. I’ll be asking more questions than answering them.

  24. Blogilates is really great, Casey is super cheerful and motivating (which I find I appreciate when trying to do some killer planking that makes me want to crumble and die.) She also has really nicely put together work out calendars for beginners and advanced folks.

    I’m also a HUGE Zombies, Run! fan, but it should be noted I’m a massive zombie fan in general so maybe I’m biased. 🙂

  25. Yay I got a shout out! I stand by my Blogilates recommendation. I do Cassey’s workouts about 4 or 5 times a week. I don’t follow her calendar, but if I had more time I would. I usually just pick two or three videos that sound good to me that day. On the (free) blogilates app she has the videos broken into categories so you can pick a leg workout or a cardio workout or abs etc. She has beginner level videos for people who are just starting, and she offers modifications to her harder exercises too.

  26. I’ve really been enjoying these posts, though the ab challenge sounds terrifying!

    I particularly want to thank you for reccing “Stop, Breathe, Think.” I’m not managing to check in or meditate every day, but I’m managing more days than not and it’s been helpful.

    I’ve also started going to a weekly yoga class again and would definitely like to play along with the 30 day challenge to try and start practicing at home too. I always forget how much better regular yoga practice makes me feel.

    I think I saw somewhere that you were pondering mental health and exercise and wanted to share this link I thought you might find interesting:

  27. Definitely try Blogilates, I follow her monthly calendar and it’s amazing, I’ve gained so much strength.
    I’ve tried to start the 30 day yoga challenge with Adrienne and I find it too hard to do alongside the daily blogilates, so I only do her videos on rest days :/

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