52 Healthy Weeks: Week 2 and I FAILED!

I have to eat my words. This is what I said last week when I told you about week 1 of my 52 healthy habits.

I know that when I write here that I am going to get up at 5:30 and that alarm goes off at the crack of dark thirty, I’ll have some accountability to not turn off my alarm clock and go back to bed, because I really don’t want to write a post next week telling you that I failed. See how that works? I just created some accountability.
— http://www.leagendersfitness.com/news/2017/1/16/52-healthy-habits-week-1-early-to-rise

My week 1 goal was to get up at 5:30am to work on my blog, business or to workout. I know getting up at 5:30 is always hard for me in the beginning. In retrospect, I probably should have started week 1 with something easier in order to build confidence before tackling the hard things. Here is how it went. My internal dialogue:


Alarm at 5:30. "Ah, I can go back to bed this morning. I have all week to make it happen. Nothing wrong with having to report that I got off to a slow start on Monday and then kicked ass the rest of the week." Back to bed.


Alarm at 5:30am. "It is still early in the week. I'll get up tomorrow morning for sure." Back to bed.


I accidently changed my alarm sound on my phone to something softer and much less annoying than the typical iPhone ringtone. I think this helps as not to so abruptly jolt me out of a deep sleep. It was a happy accident.

I had some blog work that I needed to get done and I got up to finish it. Hubby and I took Ollie for a walk early in the morning and I got so much work done towards my goals. When I was driving to work I had that "runner's high" feeling of euphoria, even though I didn't even run. "Getting up early rocks. I am going to do this forever!"


"Ugh. I don't have anything important to do. I can go back to bed today" Back to bed. Totally forgot something important. Unlike yesterday, I didn't have a clear plan on what I was going to work on in the morning


"Why start now? I'll start over next week." Back to bed.


I teach bootcamp on Saturday mornings at 8am and I don't like to rush before camp. I want plenty of time to eat breakfast, make sure I have my workouts and equipment in order and drink coffee before I go. I easily got up early because I knew I had to. It wasn't a choice. 


So, I didn't do so well, but I am committed to learning from my mistakes from this past week and improving next week. Here's what I learned from my failure this week.

  • Set the alarm to a soft ringtone.
  • Have a clear plan for the morning's work. When I had specific things I wanted to accomplish on Wednesday, I got up to get them done. This week before bed I am going to write myself a to-do list for the work I want to accomplish in the morning.
  • My 'start over Monday' mindset from Friday is always something I warn my clients against. It's a trap. There is always another Monday. With this mindset you can push your goals off forever. Start today. Start now. 
  • View getting up early as something that is not a choice, but something I have to do, like on Saturday. I got up easier because I had things I wanted to accomplish and I knew sleeping in wasn't an option.

It is never fun to tell you that I failed, but it is real life and it happens to everyone, even the trainers and coaches. If you didn't quite accomplish what you wanted to last week, every day is new day to start over. 


I went to a wedding last weekend and one of the ladies at my table asked me about my blog. She said, "Oh, I wish I could run." I gave my usual advice: "You can! Most reasonably healthy people can start to learn to run. But here's the catch. It sucks at first. Like really sucks. So you have to commit to being consistent during that early hard phase. When it's hard and you can't breathe and your legs hate you, you have to do it anyway. This phase can last a few months, but if you commit to regular practice, you will eventually get past it and then running becomes enjoyable. Most people who love to run first went through that early hard phase. You just have to stay faithful in the hard times that it will get better."

Then it hit me. My advice on getting through the hard phase in running applies to everything. It applies to getting up early. Fight through the sucky-phase until it becomes a habit. It might take awhile, but I just 'do it anyway' in the beginning and it will be become routine. Time to take my own advice.

I feel prepared to tackle it again next week...and I seriously don't want to type another blog next week about how I didn't make it happen, so let's do this!


On to week 2. Since my week 1 habit didn't 'stick" and is still a work in progress, I am going to do something relatively easy for me for week 2. Something I know I can accomplish while I continue to work on week one. 

I am going to log my meals into MyFitnessPal. I am not a big believer in tracking every morsel that I eat for the rest of my life. It can become cumbersome and for someone like me who leans towards an 'all-or-nothing' mindset, putting too much emphasis on tracking can throw off my healthy balance if I become too attached to meeting certain numbers. With that being said, I think it is a good idea to track occasionally so I know where I stand. My meals don't drastically change from day to day or week to week, so if I log my calories for a week or two, It gives me a pretty good idea if I am on track. 

I am not looking to lose any weight, but I am experimenting with a macro-cycling program to see how it affects my body composition. For week 2 I will track my meals in MyFitnessPal every day to establish a baseline. 

What are your goals for the week?

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Build a Home Gym on any Budget

I work out at home in the #shredshed but it is not your typical home gym. We went all-out and built our ideal gym environment in a separate building on our property. Since I am a trainer, it is part home gym, part private studio. I can train clients in a studio environment without the monthly overhead. For me, spending more on building my own gym made sense. (Although I do miss the pool and sauna at the big box gym.) 

There are a lot of benefits of a home gym. You eliminate the commute so you can get your workout done faster. After an initial investment of basic equipment, you don't have to pay a monthly fee so you could save money in the long run. You never have to wait to use equipment, wipe someone else's sweat off equipment or elbow strangers in the weight room. 

I understand that not everyone has the budget or desire to spend a lot of money on their home gym, so whether you are on a shoestring budget or if money's no object, let's talk about what you'll need to build your own version of the #shredshed.

This post contains affiliate links which means If you buy from my links I make a (very) small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. It helps with the running (pun intended) of this blog.


You don't need a lot of equipment to get started building your own home gym. Whether you make some room in your garage, clear out a spare bedroom or build a gym in your backyard, with a few basic essentials you will have everything you need to get started. You can always add on with additional equipment later. 


An affordable simple flat bench is all you need to get started, it's what we use in the ShredShed. It doesn't take up much room and can be easily moved around and out of the way. You can upgrade by buying an adjustable bench with leg extension if you have the space. 


Choose three different dumbbell weights to start. For women just starting out, I recommend 8, 10, 15 pound dumbbells. You can always add heavier weights as you get stronger. If you are already working out, purchase weights according to your current fitness level.


A stability ball is an inexpensive way to add an unstable surface to challenge your balance and help strengthen your stabilizing muscles and joints. Check out my stability ball workout for some ideas to get started.


Resistance bands are great for when you're traveling, but also are an inexpensive way to add resistance to your workouts. Check out my resistance band workouts for some ideas to get started


If you are working out on hardwood or tile floors you will want to have an exercise mat for floor exercises. You could opt for a roll-up mat or a foam floor tiles.

I also recommend a timer and a foam roller


Once you get started on your home gym, you may find you want to add a little variety to your workouts. While not a necessity, these are some nice-to-own pieces of equipment in your home gym depending on your fitness goals and abilities. 


Kettlebells are ideal equipment for functional training. With kettlebells you can do whole body movements in a strength and cardio workout in one. 


A barbell can be a great tool for building strength. The ShredShed has both a barbell with adjustable plates and a weighted exercise bar. They each can be beneficial depending on your goals.


I recommend an 8 or 10 lb medicine ball to add some variety to your workout. It can be used for strength, power or stability workouts. Check out my medicine ball workout for some ideas.


The BOSU ball is a fun addition to any home gym. BOSU stands for BOth Sides Up. One side is flat plastic and the other is a half rubber dome. The BOSU ball adds an element of instability to your workouts to challenge your core. Check out my BOSU workout for some ideas.


Once you have all the basics covered and added a little variety, there are a few high ticket ticket items that are nice to own if your space and budget will allow. 


I fell in love with my suspension straps as soon as we installed them. They use your own bodyweight as resistance and can challenge you in multiple planes of motion (especially important for runners). You can get a full-body workout incorporating the stabilizers and the core.


Although I will always profess my love of running outdoors, it is very convenient to have a treadmill available for those days when the daylight or weather is not cooperating with my workout schedule. The treadmill doesn't have to be boring, I put together these boredom busting treadmill workouts to keep things interesting. 

Are you considering a home gym? Any questions? Let me know in the comments.

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Hi, Friends. It is Super Bowl season again but my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers aren't going to the big game this year. I was never a huge football fan growing up, but ever since I left my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA (20 years ago) I've grown to love watching my Steelers. It's my connection to home.

In our house, we joke that we cheer for the Steelers and whoever is playing the Dallas Cowboys. (Sorry Cowboys fans, you had a great season.) I drive my husband crazy asking "what just happened?" and needing him to explain the rules for the millionth time, but I like to watch the games, especially when my team is doing well. When they're not doing well it stresses me out a little. Sometimes I need to walk out of the house during the game because the tension gets too much for me. I don't handle stress well. hah. 

Even though the games I care about can stress me out, I like the sounds of football as background noise. Hearing the announcer's voices and the cheers from the crowds is soothing and relaxing to me, no matter what game is on. I think it is because growing up in Pittsburgh all family gatherings and holidays had a backdrop of football and even though I didn't like to watch football back then, I think I associate the sounds on the TV with the good 'ol days. I guess that's what happens when you grow up in a football town. You get sentimental for football.

I put together a BIG GAME workout that you can do during the Super Bowl. It's a fun way to get active and engaged in the game so you're not just sitting on your butt for three hours. Just be careful not to spill your beer. Just kidding. See if you can get your game watching buddies in on the fun. 



Any time a team gets a first down then you perform 10 squats


One pushup for every penalty yard. 5 yard penalty = 5 pushups


Field goal is worth three points, so let's do three lunges on each leg for every field goal


If there is an interception, pull up a dining room chair (or edge of the couch) and perform 15 chair dips OR as an alternative perform the player's jersey number of jumping jacks. Example: Antonio Brown intercepts the ball, you do 84 jumping jacks. 


Touchdown is 6 points, so we will do 6 burpees for every touchdown


One minute plank if they kick the extra point or two minutes of jumping jacks if going for two

Let me know how it goes! Who are you rooting for?

Have fun, friends!

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52 Healthy Habits: Week 1 Early to Rise

Welcome to my new series: 52 Healthy habits. This may sound like something I should have started the first week of the year, but I am big believer that making healthy changes, chasing goals and pursuing greatness is something that can start any week or any day, not just during the new year.

It's the fourth week of January, how are your resolutions coming? Most people forget all about their new year's resolutions by March 1st, but I am not going to let that happen. I am going to pursue my goals all year long. 

How do you meet goals? You develop healthy or positive habits. How do you develop healthy habits? You practice them. You commit to them. You make yourself accountable to someone for them.

I already know (from trying to failing) that making a lot of new changes in your life all at once is never an effective strategy, so I am going to tackle 52 healthy habits one week at a time. I plan to build on with a new habit each week. For example, my week one habit is to get up early before work in order to write, blog, workout or work on my business. (I honestly planned on doing this for January 1st but haven't been able to pull it together.) I will focus on this habit for a week and then week two I will work to continue and build on this by adding another habit.

I am not sure yet what the 52 habits will be, but I am sure as the next 52 weeks come and go I will have a lot of opportunity for improvement. I also know that just because I focus on a healthy habit for one week that it will mean it will "stick" for life. I'm just going to do the best I can.

This is an experiment. I am going to try some new things and make some small positive changes. Some of my healthy habits may just be to make my lunch for work the night before instead of rushing around in the morning, or adding more greens to every meal, or increasing my protein intake or reading instead of scrolling social media. This isn't a whole life overhaul but rather an experiment to make small incremental changes that have the potential to snowball into big results.

It's about building consistency, it's about accountability, it's about sustainable healthy habits. 

Up first: The early morning habit. I love getting up early and spending time doing the things that I love before I haul off to my corporate job. Until I don't love it and the warm bed beckons me to shut off the alarm and resign myself to another hour of sleepytime comfort. 

I know that when I write here that I am going to get up at 5:30 and that alarm goes off at the crack of dark thirty, I'll have some accountability to not turn off my alarm clock and go back to bed, because I really don't want to write a post next week telling you that I failed. See how that works? I just created some accountability. Who can you be accountable to?  

I've written a lot about getting up the morning. I've done it successfully in the past and have always felt amazing during those times. It can be hard at first but it is worth it. Especially when I have big goals and dreams to chase.

Will you join me? No matter where you are in your healthy lifestyle journey there is always room for improvement. What small positive healthy habit can you focus on this week? Is it to drink more water? Get outside for some fresh air? Eat one salad a day? Watch less TV? Turn off your cell phone during time with friends/family? Pack a lunch for work? Get 8 hours of sleep? Just choose one small sustainable goal and focus on it for the whole week and let me know how it goes! Here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing. 


Week 1: Get up at 5:30am to work on my business, blog(s) or to workout. 

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Where Should I Run? The Pros and Cons of Common Running Surfaces

When you ask the question "Where should I run?" you should first evaluate your goals. If your goal is to run a road race, you should mostly be training on the road, likewise with trail races. If you have a track meet coming up, it makes sense to practice in the same environment in which you will be performing. With that being said, there are pros and cons to all running surfaces and barring any immediate event, it makes the most sense to vary your running surfaces to help avoid certain repetitive and overuse injuries.


Running on sidewalks and urban trails, usually made from cement, can be a safe environment for running that is away from the dangers of traffic. 

However, cement surfaces like sidewalks and urban trails are some of the most inflexible surfaces where you can run and can be hard on the joints. There is no shock absorption to reduce the force of impact when your foot hits the ground. Cement can be as much as 10x harder than asphalt.

While cement surfaces may be harder on your body it doesn't mean that you shouldn't run on them. Just be aware of the potential pitfalls and pay close attention to the signals your body sends. If you feel aches and pains give yourself extra rest days and combine with lower impact activities. 


Asphalt is softer than cement and therefore easier on your joints, so if it is safe to do so, I usually take my running off the sidewalks onto the street, against traffic on low traffic roads. 

While the surface may be softer you may open yourself up to more risk by running on street, even in low traffic areas. You might have to watch out for cars, animals, potholes and running repetitively on a cambered (sloped) road could eventually lead to certain types of running injuries. 

When training for a road race or if roads are most accessible surface for you, leave the headphones at home, pay close attention to your surroundings, run against traffic and change up your route often! 


The track's soft flat surface is easy on the joints and it makes measuring the distance very simple (as each time around the track is 1/4 mile). It is a safe environment away from traffic and you're often in good company with like-minded runners.

However the track isn't ideal for long distance running and running in the same direction around long curves on the track can be hard on the hips and ankles when done repetitively. 

Use the track for shorter speed or interval sessions and take longer runs to the roads or trails if you prefer. 


The treadmill offers shelter from weather, protection from traffic and you have strict control over your pace. It has a soft surface that is easier on the joints than running on cement or asphalt.

To some people the treadmill can feel repetitive and boring and not everyone has access to a treadmill on a regular basis. 

A treadmill is a great tool if you have access to one. Try these boredom busting treadmill workouts to keep things interesting.


Nature trails offer a soft forgiving surface to run with usually beautiful scenery that is safe away from traffic. Trail running is quiet and can be used as a form of meditation. Trail running can help improve balance and proprioception. 

Depending on the how technical the trails, you may run on uneven ground with loose rocks or gravel which can be dangerous if you fall or twist your ankle. 

The trails are a wonderful place to run, you may need to run at a slower pace to account for an uneven or changing terrain. Run with a friend for safety if the trails are isolated.

Where is your favorite place to run? Do you prefer on one running surface over another? 

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