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Exercise: Making it fun…for life

Winter is fast approaching and I have been making plans for my exercise routine on those days that I just can’t bring myself to bundle up and walk/hike outside. Daily cardio in the gym (elliptical and treadmill) was a key part of my training program when I was in fat loss, and though I don’t enjoy it quite as much as being in the great outdoors, I know it is a necessity. So, I either bundle up or bring it into the gym.

I have two principles for bringing movement and exercise into my daily life to remain a fit, active and healthy girl. If you are one to procrastinate, OR, like me, you used to tell yourself, “I don’t have time,” or “I hate to exercise,” I hope my principles will help.

The key for me is to 1) Do things that I love (or at least like and can learn to love); and 2) To set myself up for success. That’s why I continue to hike the trails of the North Shore of Lake Superior, walk my beloved Como Lake, and work with great trainers to build muscle and tone and shape my new body. I know that I need the accountability, so working with trainers and participating in classes helps. I now LOVE to exercise and want someone to kick my butt and continually push me to that next level. My amazing trainers do that every session.

They have also helped me learn to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Thanks to Leif Anderson, I had the privilege of a cardio and strength training program during my fat loss phase that worked with my nutritional plan to optimize my success at each phase. As I quickly learned, more is not always better in the gym.

This Winter as I evaluate how to incorporate fitness into my every day, I am excited about putting a fun workout area in my basement. I plan to take yoga, pilates and spinning classes. All in addition to my regular cardio and strength training, which is non-negotiable. And, I plan to embrace Minnesota winter on the North Shore and learn to Cross Country ski on the trails of the North and downhill ski at Lutsen Mountains this year. Yeah! All things I wouldn’t have even considered at 350+ pounds.

Is walking/hiking really cardio? Does it count?

Many people who read my blog and know of my love of walking and hiking, ask if that is indeed my entire cardio program. I have enthusiastically blogged here about my daily walks around Como Lake and my neighborhood (when I am home) and my daily cardio of fast walking and trail running on the Superior Hiking Trail when I am working on the North Shore. And of course, my very first 10K Tofte Trek and Women’s Half Marathon this past year – all fast walking.

The truth is, I love walking and hiking, and I throw in a little trail running on the trails of the North Shore where my knees can take it. These activities give me such pleasure and peace of mind that I would do it whether it was proven the right exercise for me or not. But guess what, these activities are proven effective for fat loss too. When I was in fat loss mode, I did a combination of cardio outside and cardio in the gym on the elliptical for maximum results. See some of the links I have posted on this topic below.

The point is…just do it! And, know, you can do it. I promise.

My belief is that you are far more likely to do it if it is something you love. This was true for me. So I am passionate about helping people explore what type of movement/activities they love – or at least like – and encourage them to start there. I was one of those people who for most of my adult life said to myself, “I hate to exercise” or “I can’t do that.” And the truth is that I was physically fully capable but mentally sending negative messages and consequently making them true. It prevented me from any physical activity and, well, you saw the result, one day I weighed 381 pounds.

When I first started working out, I did not enjoy it. I did it because it was a necessity to reach my goals. In fact, it me longer than most to get in a groove and to really, truly begin to enjoy working out and how I felt after. One day I noticed, really noticed,  how good I felt and how my spirit soared after a great work out where I pushed myself. Then, quite surprisingly, I started to just love it and eventually to crave it. I feel more balanced, creative, strategic, fun, and easy-going on the days when I work out in the morning before I start my work day. And on the days I don’t, well, I notice differences in my energy level and my attitude.

Exercises smarter, not harder

I have learned a great deal these past two years about how to exercise smarter, not harder. These lessons started with my  transformation coach Leif Anderson and trainers Sandra Swami and Sean Faris at Balance For Life Fitness Center in the Twin Cities. And, most recently, I have learned from the Metabolic Effect who shares that same basic philosophy related to fat loss and exercising efficiently. They have some great resources online to help.

The Metabolic Effect’s approach in a nutshell says this: “Walking should not even be considered exercise but rather necessity.  Leisure walking is done slowly at a relaxed pace allowing full and easy conversation (a speed of 3.5 or less on a typical treadmill) and should be done as much as feasible everyday. Adding 2-3 intense weight lifting sessions and 2-3 intense interval exercise sessions sprinkled throughout the week along with this walking is a great plan for body composition and healthy aging.”

Read some great blogs from Metabolic Effect on this topic here:

Walking & Intense Training for Fat Loss

Five Metabolic Workouts that Deliver Results

And here’s another resource from Jill Coleman, a trainer at ME. “How much cardio should I do?”

So whether you are in fat loss mode and not sure what to do for exercise, or simply trying to stay fit and healthy for life. I say find what you love and do it. And be sure to work in walking as much as you can as a base activity, and strength training and interval exercise too.

What’s type of exercise do you love to do? What is your exercise routine? Please share.

Movement is a beautiful thing. It is good for your body and good for the soul! I am enjoying life so much more now as a fit, active and healthy girl. I want that for you! And now, I must go hit one of my stand bys – Oberg Mountain on this gorgeous Saturday on Minnesota’s North Shore!



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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kim #

    If it is outdoors I love to do it, swim, bike run hike (I tolerate walking cuz it is effective). I refuse to do cardio indoors except on the worst of days. I find indoor cardio equipment to be instruments of torture 🙂

    I am not as far north as you Lori, although still in a cold winter state, so I am hoping that i can get thru another winter of cardio all outdoors!

    October 21, 2012
    • Lori Schaefer #

      We are two peas in a pod, Kim. I had no idea you didn’t do the cardio equipment at all though. lol I am hoping for another month or two outside for sure. Can’t wait to get a nice space in my basement though. Ceiling is too low for elliptical I think. Keep on rockin the cardio and congrats on your 5K this past weekend. 🙂

      October 21, 2012
      • Kim #

        Well, I DO use it for HIIT when that is put in my plan…only because it is easier to maintain a speed…but LISS….no need for speed control…just walk. So far, they have not told me I HAD to do anything on a machine or even indicated that it would be preferable….so until they do….I will NOT get on a machine unless I have to…or for 20 min or less of work! LOL

        October 21, 2012
  2. Lori Schaefer #

    Good for you, Kim. The point of my blog – do what you love and what works!

    October 22, 2012

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