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Exercise and fibromyalgia

Conditions that cause pain in your joints and muscles can lock you into a terrible loop.
Often sufferers are afraid to exercise out of concern that it will worsen their pain.
Unfortunately, the lack of exercise will usually make their condition more difficult to bear.
Fibromyalgia, which affects 5.8 million Americans, is just such an illness.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Although it is not very well understood, fibromyalgia can be a debilitating disorder that is characterized by pain in the muscles and joints, fatigue and cognitive difficulties. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown but researchers suspect that it is linked to physical or psychological trauma.

The constant dull aching that is associated with fibromyalgia can make it difficult to sleep and is often experienced along with other sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.

Fibromyalgia also commonly occurs alongside depression, anxiety, endometriosis, headaches and irritable bowel syndrome.

When you consider the wide range of symptoms that accompany fibromyalgia, it is logical that people enduring it would avoid exercise. But research indicates that a properly designed fitness program could be an effective way of treating the condition.

How Exercise Can Help

One of the major concerns facing patients with fibromyalgia is deconditioning. The lack of activity will gradually make your heart, lungs and muscles function less and less efficiently. This will, in turn, cause greater difficulty in movement and increase the amount of pain in your joints and muscles.

Poor posture, tight muscles and limited range of motion are also byproducts of inactivity. Each of these factors can contribute to pain and difficulty moving.

If you struggle with fibromyalgia, the solution may be to do whatever is in your control to improve your body’s ability to move efficiently. Even light exercise can provide exactly that.

A large study that observed 170 fibromyalgia patients was funded by the National Institutes of Health in 2013 to gain further insight on the effect of exercise on the disorder. Each participant was given an exercise prescription based on their starting fitness level that gradually became more challenging, more frequent and longer over the course of the 3-month study. Throughout the study, and for six months following, they were also asked to fill out several questionnaires.

At the end of the study, it was found that they subjects who stuck to their exercise routine experienced less physical impairment and better overall well-being than those who abandoned their workouts.

One key element appears to be a steady increase in activity, which showed a corresponding decrease in pain. A rapid and short-live burst of activity didn’t produce any benefits.

Of all the participants who increased their activity levels, even beyond the length of the study, no one experienced an increase in pain.

How To Do It

Anyone, whether they have fibromyalgia or not, will experience pain if they jump in to a difficult workout too quickly. Start off gradually and incorporate both strength and endurance training.

Your strength training should consist of light weights so that you can focus on maintaining perfect form throughout the movement. Consider working with a trainer to be sure that your form is correct to help avoid injury.

Aerobic training should be your chief concern and should be performed at least three times per week. Stick to a moderate intensity, where you can comfortably have a conversation, and start at just a few minutes. Gradually increase the duration of your workouts to about 40 minutes.

Each session should begin and end with mobility training. These movements should be done slowly, emphasizing flexibility and a full range of motion.

If you experience flare-ups, when your pain is especially bad, take time off the recover. Pick up your routine again as soon as you feel better.

Do you struggle to stay active despite fibromyalgia? Please share your experience with us in the comments.


Treadmills – To Lubricate Or Not To Lubricate?

Ensure Maximum Life Of Your Treadmill With Lubrication

Proper maintenance for your treadmill, including lubrication, is a must do! Depending on your model, you may sometimes have to lubricate the running deck with paraffin wax. The reason for applying wax to the running deck is so the running belt moves smoothly over the deck surface. The wax reduces the friction between the two, thus creating a longer life span for your running belt and deck. Note: please refer to your owner’s manual for any questions regarding maintenance for your specific machine, but here are some pointers.

Please note that if you have had your running belt and deck replaced in 2012 and after, it is possible you have a maintenance-free running belt and deck. If you are unsure, please call tech support at 800-335-4348 and we can assist you in figuring that out. If you have a maintenance-free running deck and belt, do not put any wax, or any type of lubricant on your treadmill. They are made so the running belt is infused with wax, and will run smoothly onto the deck, requiring no maintenance from you!



If your treadmill running deck does require wax, it is a fairly straight forward procedure. We recommend the use of a SLic-STik, which is a wand with wax on the end, and it makes it a fairly easy process.

How To Lubricate Your Treadmill

  1. Start off by turning off and unplugging the treadmill.
  2. Loosen the rear roller bolts with an Allen wrench to allow the belt to be lifted up from the sides of the deck.
  3. Clean and clear the deck of foreign debris. Inspect the deck for signs of wear. If large deep scratches are present or the black coating has worn to wood color, the deck should be flipped to a good side or replaced.
  4. If surface is OK, lift the side of the belt and insert SLic-STik under the belt to wax the surface. Generously apply the SLic-STik to the deck from front to back using a back and forth movement concentrating on the center surface area of the deck.
  5. Remove the SLic-STik from under the belt and adjust the belt back to its proper tension. Plug the treadmill in and it is ready to use.

A Vision Fitness treadmill deck should be lightly waxed every 500 miles to insure maximum life of the treadmill components, but it is better to wax more often than to wait too long. However it is important to note that over-waxing can have a negative effect, such as belt thumping or excess wear of components.

Following these guidelines can help keep your treadmill in great working condition. If you want to purchase a wax stick for your Horizon or Vision Treadmill, you can by calling tech support at 800-244-4192 or 800-335-4348.




6 Quick power breakfast ideas

You’ve already heard how important breakfast is for providing morning fuel and starting your day with regulated meals and metabolism. The trouble is how much time it takes to build a traditional breakfast — time you’d rather spend getting as close to 7 1/2 hours of sleep as you can manage. Get the best of both worlds with any of these 6 quick and powerful breakfast ideas.

1. Breakfast Burritos (10 minutes)

Scramble up some eggs and sausage with cheese and spinach, then wrap it in a whole-wheat tortilla. This combines high protein and healthy fat with fiber from the tortilla and spinach. Add bell or hot peppers for flavor, and feel free to trade in a vegetarian option for the sausage.

2. Greek Yogurt Parfait (3 minutes)

Alternate layersof greek yogurt with layers of fresh fruit, granola, dried fruit and nuts. Stir it all together, or keep the layered effect for a different taste and texture with each bite. Add flavor with a little honey, a splash of vanilla or a sprinkle of dark chocolate powder. Flax seeds or chia seeds can add extra omega oils and micronutrients.

3. Protein Bars (20 to 30 minutes)

You can find protein bar recipes that match your diet all over the web.  The trick for using them as a quick power breakfast is to make a batch on the weekend, then pull out what you need each morning. It’s portable, energy-rich and full of the proteins and fats that will help you focus and control your appetite all morning long.

4. Simple Preloaded Smoothie (4 minutes)

Load yogurt, frozen fruit, bananas and your favorite flavoring into your blender just before you go to bed. Put the thing in the fridge. Pull out in the morning with the contents partially thawed, add your ice and blend. If you forget your evening prep, the whole thing takes only 10 minutes in the morning.

5. Peanut Butter Celery (5 minutes)

It’s not just for kids’ lunch box side dishes anymore. The peanut butter — use organic instead of the sugar- and salt- laden regular — carries the protein and fats that turn breakfast into power breakfast. The celery adds a compelling crunch and plenty of fiber. Experiment with some added nuts and seeds, a little organic honey, or a sprinkling of dark chocolate to add some adult flavor to this handy and portable package.

6. Breakfast Sandwich (7 minutes)

Take some salmon or lean deli meat and slip it between two slices of organic, whole-grain bread along with a fried egg and some lettuce or kale. You get whole-gran carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat in a package that’s easy to carry and eat as you go about your morning. Bonus points for frying the egg and slicing the meat the night before.

Honorable Mention: Breakfast With Family (60 to 90 minutes)

This isn’t a realistic option for most families during the week, but the mental and emotional nourishment you’ll get from making this a weekend tradition pays wellness benefits all week long. Make the time to connect on Saturday or Sunday morning with the people you share your life with. If you live alone, make a standing date with friends to come over, or get together at a healthy breakfast spot in your neighborhood.

There are many more power breakfast options available even for the most on-the-go. What are some of your favorites, and what tricks do you use to make them faster and better?


Power lunches: The healthiest ways to brown bag

Whether you work in an office or work out of your home, you have three choices for lunch.

1. Eat out. This limits your food options to what’s available nearby, and can double or triple your meal choices.

2. Skip lunch. This is more common than you’d think, and sets you up for poor productivity and less-than-healthy panic snacking.

3. The brown bag. It’s less glamorous, but gives you complete control and leaves money in the bank.

Though it takes more effort, option three is the right choice for your physical and economic health … if you do it the right way. To make that happen, take a page from the pros and develop these five habits to beat the brown-bag blues.

1. Put Variety in Your Sandwiches

What says packed lunch more than a sandwich? It’s tidy, easy and a natural fit. Eat one with a side of fruit or veggie sticks and you have a well-balanced meal complete with whole grain bread. But don’t limit yourself to meat on bread. Mix it up with pita bread or wraps. Replace the cold cuts with egg salad and tuna fish. Try hummus instead of mayo. The variety isn’t just healthier, it keeps lunches fresh and exciting.

2. Overcook for Dinner

Lunch gets the short end of the busy schedule stick. Breakfast is easy, and dinner gets some time and attention, but lunch often remains an afterthought. The answer is easy: simply cook enough dinner to pack a serving for the following day. The nutrition and diet attention you gave the evening meal is just as valid for lunchtime. Besides, you can make your cold-pizza-eating colleagues jealous when you reheat that dinner treat.

3. Pack Three Snacks

More than one diet recommends dividing your daytime meals into three snack-sized chow sessions rather than a single lunch. You can set up your lunch to work with this by bringing along enough for all three, or packing three distinct and different mini-meals. If you do this, try packing each in a separate container to avoid the temptation to eat it all at once. This method is about spreading food intake over several hours.

4. Bottle the Water

Drinks are a lunchtime blind spot for many, especially with the easy access to sodas and other sugary drinks at most work-friendly food counters. If you pack your lunch without a drink, you’ll be apt to run down to the vending machines or corner store — and tempted to get the same sugar-rich beverage you would at a restaurant. Instead, invest in a reusable water bottle and use it during, before and after lunchtime.

5. Salads Are Your Friend

We’re not talking some iceberg chunks and shredded carrot like the side dish where you’d buy lunch if you didn’t know better. Instead, take pieces of what you had for dinner and mix them together, then add some shredded veggies and cheese for added flavor. A dinner of beans and whole grain rice gets mixed in with feta, raisins and bell pepper for a Mediterranean treat. Resist the temptation to drown it in dressing. After a week or so, you won’t miss it.

Comment contest! Post below your most successful healthy brown bag lunch ever! Comment on the comments to vote for the winner. Whoever gets the most comments may brag to all their friends until further comments end your reign. 


Why Drinking Water is Essential to Your Health

Consuming enough water is essential to maintaining good health whether exercising or sitting still, yet many Americans do not consume enough water, which can lead to dehydration.  Why is water so important? How much do you really need?

What does water do?

Water is a powerhouse when it comes to keeping your body working as it should. It assists with digestion, circulation, absorption and transportation of vital nutrients, saliva creation and body temperature regulation. H2O is responsible for keeping the kidneys healthy so they can eliminate toxins from your body through urine.

Staying hydrated also prevents and treats constipation. “Adequate fluid and fiber is the perfect combination, because the fluid pumps up the fiber and acts like a broom to keep your bowel functioning properly,” says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.

Water can also aid in weight loss by helping you feel full, as well as serving as a replacement for higher calorie beverages. Water-rich foods are always a great option since they are absorbed more slowly. In addition to keeping your weight in check, drinking enough fluids energizes your muscles so you can perform everyday functions, as well as push it really hard during those tough workouts. Muscle fatigue can be caused by an imbalance of fluids and electrolytes.

Likewise, water moisturizes skin from the inside out. Dehydration can make skin appear dry and wrinkly, but proper hydration will help “smooth” everything out. However, over hydration will not eliminate wrinkles since the body will just excrete the excess water through urine.

How much water do you really need?

Our bodies are comprised of 60 percent water, but everyone’s needs differ based on health, activity level and geographic location. That means although the advice has typically been to drink eight glasses of water a day, it will vary. Since water is lost through breath, perspiration and going to the bathroom, fluid levels must be kept up through consumption of food and beverages containing water.

On a typical day, strive to drink enough water so you’re urine is light in color and odorless, typically about a liter. Here is a chart that may be useful in helping you determine whether or not you’re approaching dehydration:  Try drinking a glass of water with and between each meal. Keep a reusable water bottle with you, so you can fill up wherever you go. You can also get water through food, like watermelon, broccoli and tomatoes.

If you’re actively exercising, you need to consume additional water to compensate for the loss of fluid through sweat. Drink two glasses within two hours of exercise and continue to drink while exercising. However, endurance athletes working out for one or more hours may need to supplement with a sports drink to also replace sodium lost through sweat.

Hot or humid weather can also make you perspire, therefore quickening the onset of dehydration. Whether you’re indoors or out, pay attention to how much you’re sweating and boost your fluid intake. This is also important for high elevation areas, as you may find yourself breathing heavier than usual. The simple way to make sure you consume enough water is to always have it with you, so it’s easily accessible when you want it.

Keep your fluid intake up to reap all of the benefits water has to offer your body. Remember, “If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.”



Protein powders: What they do and don’t do

One of the most widely used sports supplements by far is protein powder. Generally consisting of either dehydrated whey or casein, protein powder is featured in the routines of bodybuilders, runners and everyone in between. And while the research bears out the usefulness of protein powder in certain situations, it has also been promoted as being an effective weight loss aid.

Since so many people use protein powders in their workout regimens, it makes sense to consider what it truly can and cannot do for the athlete. Do protein powders improve athletic performance? Can they help you gain muscle mass? Do they really help you lose weight? How much do you really need to feel its effects?

What It Does

Proteins are made of amino acids, which are commonly referred to as the building blocks of life. In various forms, these proteins are vital to the composition of every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies. Protein is also used in building and repairing muscle fibers.

This is especially useful after your workout, when muscle fibers are damaged and left in need of repair. That reparation process is what causes muscles to grow.

Most people satisfy their protein needs through their diet, but if you find that you have difficulty fulfilling those requirements, protein powders can come in handy.

What It Doesn’t Do

Even though protein has such a direct, logical link with muscle, there is no evidence to prove that protein supplementation can actually improve performance. In fact a 2007 study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine showed that protein supplements did nothing to increase upper body strength, lean muscle mass or total anaerobic power in college athletes. There was a small improvement in lower body strength, but not enough to recommend protein powder for athletes.

The research is still inconclusive as to whether or not protein powders can actually increase lean muscle mass, though. It’s a difficult thing to prove or disprove, since everyone gains muscle differently.

One study did find that supplementation with whey protein, compared to soy protein, did encourage weight loss in obese individuals. The researchers give credit for this change to low levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin that was found in the whey group. It should be noted that the weight loss was only about two pounds over six months and that the entire mechanism at work here is not yet fully understood. More research is needed to really support the use of whey for weight loss.

The use of protein powders, whey or any other, really isn’t supported by science, despite this study. Most protein powders are high in calories, including calories from fat, so taking large amounts can actually lead to weight gain.

How Much You Need

As stated, most people get all the protein they need from a healthy diet. Still, teenagers who are growing rapidly, vegans, people recovering from sports injuries or those embarking on a new, more difficult workout plan, will all have increased protein requirements. Talk to your doctor to see if you could benefit from protein supplementation.

To calculate how much protein you need, you’ll first have to classify your activity level. Casual exercisers need about 0.5-0.7.5 grams of protein daily per pound of body weight. Competitive athletes need 0.6-0.9 grams per pound.

Again, there are dangers associated with protein supplementation, so discuss it with your doctor. Too much protein in your diet can cause digestive problems, heart disease and gout. Soy protein supplements have even been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers in men by decreasing testosterone levels.





A Magic Number for Weight Loss

Simply stated, if your goal is to lose weight, your body needs to be in a calorie deficit. That means you need to burn more calories than you consume. You can achieve this goal three different ways: You can eat a lot less, exercise a lot more, or you could eat a little less and exercise a little more. You choose, but remember to set a goal and come up with a plan to achieve that goal.

When deciding which of the three aforementioned means you choose, consider which you are more likely to maintain over a period of time. The choice with the greatest health benefit is to combine a moderate exercise routine with some minor tweaks to your current eating habits. How long you need to maintain the new regimen depends on how much weight you aim to lose. Most fitness professionals recommend that a modest goal of one to two pounds of weight loss per week is realistic and achievable by almost anyone.

So, how much exercise and diet tweaking is enough?  In order to keep things simple we are talking about calories in vs. calories out. I like to use 3500 as a magic number. “Why?” you might ask. Well, one pound of body fat happens to equal 3500 calories. By achieving a 3500 calorie deficit in a one week period you can lose one pound of body fat. That may sound like a lot of calories at first, but let’s break it down. You only need to average a 500-calorie deficit per day to lose a pound per week.

It is easy to combine a few diet substitutions with a bit of exercise to come up with a 500-calorie cut each day. Below is an example for one day:

-150 calories = One 12 oz. can of soda is approximately 150 calories. Substitute a can of regular soda with diet soda or, better yet, a glass of water.

-85 calories = Just one tablespoon mayonnaise adds up to 90 calories. Try honey mustard instead at only 10 calories per serving or regular mustard at only 5 calories a serving.

-195 calories = A small order of French fries at McDonalds is 230 calories. Replace that with Apple Dippers at only 35 calories. Skip the caramel dip, which triples the calorie count with nothing you need.

-181 calories = Go for a 20-minute jog at 5mph (based on 150-pound male).

The smarter nutrition choices made above in addition to the short jog adds up to over 600 calories. This is something almost anyone can do. Can’t jog for 20 minutes? You can also try the Calorie Goal program on many of the Vision Fitness cardio products. With this program you can set the number of calories you didn’t eliminate through nutritional choices to get to your 500 calorie daily goal. For instance if all you eliminated was the one can of soda (150 calories), you still need to burn 350 calories. This program will vary in time based on your workout intensity until you have burned your calorie goal.

You may ask, “How many calories should I be eating in the first place?” Check out this website for a weight maintenance calculator:

Furthermore, learn to read food labels so you can become more consistent with your daily calorie consumption and make better choices. I also like the book Eat This, Not That, which can be used as a guide to making better choices.


How to talk to a friend who is sick

Anyone who’s dealt with a serious illness knows how it goes….you’ll bump into a friend you haven’t seen in a while who has heard about your situation and they’ll ask “How are you?”  Even if you answer “Fine,” they’ll  then lower their voices an octave and say, “No, how are you really?” Or you tell them you have breast cancer and they blurt out, “I had an aunt who died from breast cancer.” Not very helpful or uplifting!

Most people know someone who has been sick or has a chronic disease. But most have no idea how to talk to them about it. Some people simply ignore the issue, even going so far as to drop the friendship because they don’t know how to deal with it. Others ask “What can I do for you?”  But this means that the ill person has to come up with a way for you to help them. Better is to offer a tangible way to help from offering to pick up their child from school to getting them milk the next time you go shopping.

It’s a natural human reaction to feel awkward in the face of illness, but what you don’t want to do is make the sick person feel worse or demoralized by an insensitive comment or even ignored by no comment at all. So what’s the best way to talk to someone who is dealing with an illness, surgery or even facing their mortality?

Author Letty Cottin Pogrebin helps us through these common situations with her new book out this month, How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick. The book is chock full of great advice to help you be a good buddy. Here are some of HER tips:

·         The main three things you ought to be able to say to someone who’s sick:

o   Tell me what’s helpful and what’s not.

o   Tell me if you want to be alone and when you want company.

o   Tell me what to bring and when to leave.

·         Show you care. That’s the key even if you don’t know what to say or do, be there for the person.

·         If you’re going to visit a sick person, first make sure they really want you to visit. Sometimes just dropping off their favorite food or writing a note telling them you are thinking of them may be enough. Don’t overstay during a visit because you think your friend wants company; actually ask and get them to tell you the truth. And don’t expect to be entertained.

·         Ask if they want to talk about their illness, and if they do, really listen without judging, interrupting or offering your solutions. “Advice,” she writes “can be dangerous, usolicited advice infuriating.”

·         Don’t tell horror stories and avoid self-referential comments or anecdotes. You probably don’t know “what it’s like” so don’t claim to. Even success stories can fall flat because every situation is different.

·         Avoid hackneyed platitudes, empty eloquence, and feel-good clichés.  “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “Chin up.” Those don’t help. More helpful  is to express empathy and availability: “I’m so sorry this happened to you.” “I’m here if you want to talk.” “I’m bringing dinner.”

Think before you speak, she advises. “What pops into your head should not necessarily plop out of your mouth.” And remember, everyone wants to matter and know they are thought of and loved especially if they are going through a hard time. You can never go wrong telling someone what they mean to you.  “Your job is simply to be their friend.”

Let us know if you’ve found words that have helped or something someone said to you or did for you when you were sick that was spot on.


·         How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick, by Letty Cottin Pogrebin (PublicAffairs)

·         Help Me Live: 20 Things People With Cancer Want You to Know, by Lori Hope (Celestial Arts)

·         There are lots of free web-based care-giving coordination sites that allow family, friends, colleagues and neighbors  assist those in need by setting up a private community and calendar to organize visits, meals, rides and other tasks so life can run smoothly when someone is sick. Here are a few:




Condiments can make or break your diet

What would a burger be without ketchup? A sandwich without mayo? Or a baked potato without sour cream? It’s hard to imagine eating many foods without their condiment counterparts. But using high-calorie condiments may actually be sabotaging your healthy eating efforts.

Condiments and Your Waistline

Condiments kick dishes up a notch by adding flavor. But if you’re not careful, you may end up getting more than you bargained for. Many popular condiments are loaded with calories, fat, sodium and added sugar.

What’s more, even if you use “light” versions of your favorite spreads and dressings, you may not be doing yourself any favors. That’s because experts say when we see “less sodium,” “low-fat” or other nutritional claims on labels, we assume the food is healthy, and end up using more of it. One tablespoon of reduced fat mayonnaise comes in at approximately 5g of fat and 50 calories. Compared to one tablespoon of regular mayonnaise, with 11g of fat and 100 calories, it is healthier. The problem is that most of us don’t limit ourselves to one tablespoon.

Healthy Alternatives

To keep condiments from sabotaging your diet efforts, the key is to make healthy choices and be mindful of portion sizes. Try these substitutions:

·         Instead of using mayonnaise or sour cream for dips and spreads, opt for plain, low-fat Greek yogurt. The consistency is the same, but the Greek yogurt packs a protein punch, meaning your meal or snack will be more satisfying.

·         Dip your crudités and chips in hummus rather than ranch dressing. It’s lower in fat and higher in protein and fiber.

·         Make your own salad dressings instead of buying them. This way, you can control exactly what goes into them. Mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a dollop of mustard and a spritz of water together for a healthy, homemade vinaigrette. If you must have the store brand, keep in mind that vinaigrettes are typically healthier than cream-based dressings and sauces.

·         Don’t double up. Do you like to dip your buffalo wings in bleu cheese dressing? Chances are the chicken wings are heavily coated with buffalo sauce. Either skip the dip or only garnish the wings with buffalo sauce. Choosing one or the other will help you cut calories.

Get Condiment Savvy

These condiments are almost always fat-free and generally low in calories. Just watch the sodium and sugar content:

·         Ketchup: This picnic staple is made using puréed, cooked tomatoes, spices and seasonings. Look for low-sodium and low-sugar versions.

·         Barbeque sauce: BBQ sauce is made from combining ketchup, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Steer clear of “brown sugar” or “honey” varieties to keep sugar in check.

·         Mustard: Yellow mustard just contains mustard seeds, vinegar and seasonings. On the other hand, honey mustard is usually packed with sugar and fat.

·         Salsa: Salsa is made using fresh veggies, fruit, herbs and/ or spices. It’s one of the lowest calorie condiments out there, coming it at just 5 calories per tablespoon. Use it as a dip, on a baked potato or as a marinade for fish or chicken.

·         Soy sauce: Soy sauce is made from fermented soy beans, roasted grains, water and a lot of salt. Choose low-sodium soy sauce and use it sparingly.

What’s your favorite condiment? I put hot sauce on everything!


Sign Up for a Race for More Workout Motivation

Are you in a fitness rut? Telling yourself you’ll get back on the workout wagon next week? You’re not alone. Even those of us that work in the fitness industry have lapses in workout motivation.

For years I followed the roller coaster that is typical of many people. I’d get in a workout groove and follow my plan religiously for a few weeks and sometimes for months until something popped up that made it inconvenient. A few missed days turned into weeks and then I’d end up losing all the gains and starting over months later. Sound familiar?

Have you been slobbering along through your workouts or just given up on them entirely? Register for a race or even a fundraising ride or run. You’ll be amazed what a little competition will do to get you off the couch. Having that goal to strive towards will make you workout longer, more intensely and more consistently than you can imagine. These days there are more options than ever. Consider 5K runs, Duathalons, Triathlons, Road races, Off-road MTB and Trail running races. A popular trend lately is obstacle course challenges such as a Warrior dash or Tough Mudder. Many of these types of events can also be done with a partner or as a team.

Here are six tips to get you heading in the right direction to completing your event and regaining your workout motivation.

  1. Go online and search for an event in an activity of your choosing, whether it is running, biking, swimming or otherwise. A good source for many events across the country is
  2. Register. Sometimes forking over the money in advance is all the motivation you need to train and prepare for the event.
  3. Search for a training plan. Some websites will offer free training plans for 5K’s, sprint triathlons, marathons etc. Coach Jenny has a bunch of free running training plans for a variety of distances (
  4. Find a training partner. Accountability can be a great motivator to get out of the house and complete your workouts. You can motivate one another and maybe even have a friendly little competition. If you’re training solo, share your goals and plans with a social community. Friends and family online can also be very encouraging.
  5. Have a plan for bumps in the road. What will you do if you get to the gym and forget shoes? Pack the night before? Make a checklist? Prepare for potential missed workouts by scheduling them in advance, putting them on your calendar and sticking to them. Or, have an alternative time available. You won’t miss out on a training day if you plan for the worst.
  6. Mentally prepare for race day. Begin visualizing the race as soon as you sign up for it. When you go to bed at night, imagine waking up on race day and go through your motions – what will you eat, what will you wear, how will you warm up? Visualizations can help you feel more ready physically because it will be as if you had completed the race already. If possible, complete the race route at least once in one of your training sessions prior to the event.

After embarrassing myself in a partner-based triathlon event I vowed the next year to do better. The event motivated me to work out harder and more consistently than I had since being forced to as an athlete in school. Since that time, I’ve used that event as motivation every year. Over the years I’ve begun adding additional events to further spur the motivation…1/2 marathon, Turkey Trot, Mountain bike races. Although there is no chance that I will ever win any of these races, the motivation to do better each year, or in some cases even to finish the race, drives me to put in the extra time or intensity leading up to race day.

Find an event and get a friend to sign up with you. Come race day, you’ll be healthier and in better shape than you have been in years. Good luck!