Staying Motivated

pushup with rotation

This post is the fifth in BlogHer’s Inspiration to Fitness series.  To start from week one, click here.  Our first 3 workouts can be found herehere and here.

Congratulations!  You have made it through the first half of the Inspiration to Fitness program!  I hope you are starting to really have fun and feel some results.

My biggest hope is that through this process, you will rediscover just how good it feels to be exercising on a regular basis and that you will want to continue working out once this program is over.  After week 8, I don’t want you to give up!  In order to keep going, you will need to find a way to stay motivated so that you don’t slip back into a life of inactivity.

So how do you do that?  How do you stay motivated?  Here are a few tips:

Pump up the jams – I don’t know about you, but the right music can really get me moving.  If you have an mp3 player, make some playlists for yourself that include songs that pump you up.  When I was training for my last 5k, I made note of the moments when I needed a good push, then I made a playlist that had the perfect song for each of those moments.  If you don’t want to take the time to make your own mix, check out these playlists put together by Shape Magazine.  You are sure to find one that works for you!

Mix it up – If you are getting bored with your workouts or stop seeing results, it’s likely because you are doing the same thing over and over.  Challenge your body and your mind by mixing up your workout routine.  It can be as simple as doing all of your regular exercises on one leg, or as different as trying a whole new activity.  Whatever you do, make sure to mix it up!

Grab a partner – Maybe you’re only doing this challenge because you are one of the bloggers who was challenged to complete it.  Once the challenge is over, who will keep you accountable?  You need to grab a workout partner.  Whether it’s a friend that you can exercise with in real life or another blogger/Tweeter/internet person, having someone to encourage and push you will keep you motivated when you’re tempted to give up.  Of course that means that you should be encouraging them at the same time, which is also incredibly motivating!

On to the homework!

The new cardio workout will look a little different than the first half of the Inspiration to Fitness challenge.  This week we are adding in some interval training.  Interval training includes alternating traditional periods of aerobic activity with higher intensity exercise.  Not only is interval training good for your heart, but it can also increase the calorie burn that you experience for up to 24 hours after the workout.   Remember to schedule in 3 days this week for your cardio workouts.

Here’s what it will look like. Notice, the length of the workout is shorter because you are working at a higher intensity:

-5 minute warmup RPE of 3

-2 minutes RPE 5

-30 seconds RPE 7-8

-2 minutes RPE 5

-30 seconds RPE 7-8

-2 minutes RPE 5

-30 seconds RPE 7-8

-2 minutes RPE 5

-30 seconds RPE 7-8

-5 minutes cooldown RPE 3


Your strength workouts are slowly becoming more difficult.  If you are up for the challenge, do the strength circuit 3 times instead of 2 (with 8-12 reps per exercise and 2 minutes rest in between circuits).  Remember to schedule in 3 days this week for your strength workouts.

Dynamic Warmup

dynamic warmup arm circles

Make huge circles with your arms as fast as you can.  Do 15 forward, then 15 backwards.

Stand up as tall as you can.  Bring your right leg forward and up while driving off your left leg.  Swing your arms and make the movements nice and big.  Switch legs and repeat.

bodyweight squats
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Pushing your hips back, lower your body into a sitting position. Keep your butt back and your head up. Make sure to keep your knees over your ankles. Don’t let your knees go forward past your toes. Pause at the bottom, then come up and repeat 15 times.

dynamic arm swing

Standing with feet together, bring arms in front of your body and cross one over the other.  Swing them open then quickly back in front of your body.  Make big moves and complete 15 repetitions.

Core Exercises


From a push up position, rest your weight on your forearms instead of your hands.  Form a straight line with your body from your shoulders to your ankles.  Hold yourself in this position by keeping your core tight and bellybutton drawn in.  Hold for 30 seconds.  Work up to holding the plank for 60 seconds or more.  If your lower back starts hurting, check your form.

Standing on your right foot, extend left leg behind you.  Bring left leg back to center then extend again.  Do 15 reps then switch legs and repeat on opposite side.

checking diastasis

Before moving on to the next exercise, all moms should check for abdominal separation (diastasis recti).  Abdominal weakness, hormonal changes, pregnancy, c-sections can all cause this separation.  If you do traditional abdominal exercises (such as crunches) with a separation, those exercises will only make the diastasis worse.  To do a self-check, lie on your back with your knees bent.  With your fingers pointing down toward your feet, hold two fingers flat on your bellybutton.  Press your fingers down as you slowly lift your head (keep your shoulders on the ground).  Do you feel a gully between the two muscles?  Measure how many fingers wide it is.  If you can fit more than two fingers inside, you should not do crunches or sit ups.  If this is you, I would recommend visiting Julie Tupler’s website for more information.

If you have less than a two-finger separation, continue on to the next exercise!

Lie on your back with knees bent.  Looking up to the sky, bring your head and shoulders off the ground to contract your abdominal muscles.  Do not pull on your head or strain your neck.  Lower back to the ground and repeat 15 times.

Strength Exercises

plie exercise

From a standing position, position your legs wider than hip-width apart with toes pointed out.  Lower into a squat position and hold.  Push up through your heels, squeezing your inner thighs, and push yourself back to standing.  Repeat.

pushup with rotation

Perform a push up.  At the top of the push up, rotate your body into a side plank position with one hand on the other ground and the other hand pointed up toward the sky.  Slowly rotate back to push up position and perform another push up.  At the top of the next push up, rotate to the other side.  Make sure your hip doesn’t dip!

forward lunge

Lunge forward with left leg, landing on heel first.  Lower body into a lunge until knee is close to the ground.  Pushing from left leg, return to standing position.  Repeat with opposite leg.  Make sure knee does not extend past toes.

supine rotator cuff

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.  Bring arms out to a “T” position with forearms resting on the floor.  Shoulder blades should be pulled down and back for the entire exercise.  Keeping back flat on the floor, slowly rotate your arms forward and down toward the floor.  Hands should end up 2-4 inches off the ground.  Hold for 15 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat.

Abduction: Lie on your side with legs straight out and feet stacked.  Make sure your body is properly aligned and engage your core muscles.  Raise the upper leg as high as you can while maintaining posture.  Hips and knees should be pointed forward at all times.  Lower back to starting position and repeat.  Do all reps on one side before switching to other leg.

Adduction: Lie on your side with legs straight out and feet stacked.  Bring lower leg forward and gently raise off the floor, squeezing inner thigh muscle.  Lower back to the ground and repeat.  Do all reps on one side before switching to other leg.

cobra exercise
Lie face down with your hands directly under your shoulders. Legs should be straight out with toes pointed. Gently exhale, pull your bellybutton towards your spine and push your hips into the floor. With your shoulders pressed down and back, curl your chest away from the floor. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then gently lower yourself down, lengthening the spine. Repeat. (This exercise should not hurt your back! If it does, try not extending as far. If it still hurts, stop.)


shoulder stretch
From a seated position, extend your right arm across your body in a straight line. Reach your left arm up and pull gently back on your right arm, stretching the shoulder. Hold for 30-60 seconds then repeat with other arm.

overhead tricep stretch
From a seated position, bring your left arm backwards and your right arm overhead. Gently pull down and back on your left arm, stretching the tricep. Keep your posture nice and tall while doing this stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds then repeat with other arm.

door chest stretch
Standing in a doorway, place hands on either side of the doorway at chest level. Take one step forward and allow the chest to stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

seated hamstring stretch
From a seated position, extend left leg out front and bring right foot towards left thigh. Reach forward with your left arm as far as possible while keeping leg straight. Hold for 30-60 seconds then repeat on opposite leg.

kneeling hip flexor stretch progression
From a kneeling position, bring left leg out front with foot flat on the ground. Push body forward through the hips, stretching that right hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds, then bring right arm straight up, slightly twisting body to the right and leaning to the left to go further into the stretch. Hold for 20 more seconds then repeat process on opposite side.

piriformis stretch

Lying on your back, cross right ankle over left knee.  Grab your left leg behind the knee and bring towards you, lifting leg off the ground.  Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat with other leg.

child's pose
From a kneeling position, bring your arms out in front of you, sink your hips back into your heels, and rest your chest on your knees. Sink into the pose and relax all of your muscles. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Foam Roller (optional)

foam roller it band
Lie on your right side and place your right hip onto the foam roller. Place your hands on the floor for support. Cross your left leg over your right with foot flat on the floor. Roll from your hip towards your knee in small movements. If you come across a spot that is particularly painful, hold the position for 30 seconds before moving on. Repeat on opposite side.

foam rolling the piriformis
Sit on foam roller with it positioned under your right glute. Cross your right leg over your left and lean into the muscle. Roll back and forth in small movements while shifting your body slightly to roll all of the muscle. If you find a spot that is particularly painful, hold for 30 seconds before continuing. Repeat on opposite leg.

foam rolling the back
Lie faceup with foam roller under your upper back and feet flat on the floor. Roll from the top of your back to the middle of your back in small movements with your hips elevated off the floor. If you find a spot that is particularly painful, hold for 30 seconds before moving on. Be sure not to roll your lower back as this could cause injury.


How do you stay motivated?



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