How can I get my partner to workout?

This post was inspired by a reader who asked how to get her partner to join the fitness journey she already started. I can’t let a reader question go unanswered!

I’ll start by pointing out that your partner needs to have some inkling of desire to want to participate in fitness in order for these to work. Often, a partner who doesn’t exercise doesn’t know where to begin or needs some motivation to get started, and these tips can help. But if your partner absolutely and stubbornly has no interest in exercising, it’s unlikely you’ll change their mind quickly.

Don’t make them feel bad about themselves.

This sounds obvious, but I’m not just talking about being outright mean. Pointing out that your partner should be exercising or should be eating differently can be taken as criticism. Even if you have their best interests in mind, be careful not to make your partner feel like his or her current lifestyle choices are wrong.

Plan activity into your daily life.

Suggest going for a walk after dinner to talk about your day. Plan a bike ride into your weekend date or family outing. Helping your partner get active is a good start, even if the activity isn’t intense.

Make it about you.

Let your partner know that he or she can be supportive of your fitness journey by joining you because working out with the person you care about most will hold you accountable and motivate you. Your partner may be more willing to hit the gym if it’s a favor to you.

Share your progress.

Your partner might be more motivated to work out if he or she sees your good results. If you hit a new PR in weight lifting or your mile time, talk about it. Let your partner know if you’ve lost weight, fit into a new clothing size or you have more energy and less joint pain. Your partner may realize there’s something to this working out thing, or want to keep up with you.

Go with your partner.

The gym can be an intimidating place and finding motivation to work out alone can be difficult for a newbie. Even if you’re someone who likes to exercise solo, try to find the time and energy to accompany them if it’s important to you that they continue the habit.

Make it fun.

Don’t choose jogging as the workout you do together if your partner would rather die than go for a run. Their first workout probably shouldn’t be the one that leaves you unable to walk for three days. Pick something doable and fun to build their confidence and show them exercising isn’t so bad. Ask if there is a type of exercise they would like to try. Sign up for some new classes at your gym. You might find something you didn’t know you liked while introducing your partner to fitness.

Help them set a goal.

A realistic but challenging goal will help keep your partner on track with exercising. It doesn’t have to be running a marathon or participating in a bikini competition. It might be running a mile without stopping or feeling comfortable squatting with a barbell. No goal is too small and every achievement is valuable.

Reward yourselves.

Set up a reward system for both you and your partner. If you achieve a fitness goal or reach a certain number of workouts in a set time period, give yourselves more free spending cash, make a toast, treat yourself to a new pair of gym shorts, or whatever motivates you to keep exercising.

Brag about your partner.

It’s a great feeling when you know your partner is proud of you. Tell them you’ve noticed their effort and think it’s awesome they’re working out. If they’re okay with it, post a picture on Facebook or Instagram of their first fitness class or the finish line of their first race.

In my relationship, my husband enjoys cycling, so I try to bike with him as much as possible. Last summer, he noticed I was spending a lot of my time away from him running, so he decided to join. While he had no interest in training for a half marathon, he was willing to run if I agreed to sign up for a 5K with him and run a couple 1-mile loops around our neighborhood together. I was surprised to find he was actually pretty fast, and I told him so. He felt good about running after that because he was proud to be good at a physical activity. I posted on Facebook about the 5K we did together and told our friends and family what a quick runner he is. I plan to buy him a pair of good running shoes before he starts to train for his next race.

Have you ever had a partner encourage you to start exercising? What worked and what didn’t?

Stay fit,

Marisa

How am I training with a walking boot?

Being in a walking boot means I’m limited to the types of exercises I can do. I can’t do anything that’s heavily weight bearing on my legs like squats, lunges or deadlifts. I can’t use the stair climber, elliptical, rowing machine or battle ropes. I can’t do plyometrics. I can use the stationary bike and do seated or lying upper body exercises. I’ve been doing some very light, high rep cable work while standing, like tricep kickbacks and straight arm pushdowns.

Here are my workouts for this week in the walking boot.

Chest, arms and cardio

  • Bench press 5×5
  • Incline dumbbell press 3×12
  • Machine chest flys 3×15
  • Skull crushers 3×15
  • Tricep cable kickbacks 3×20 each arm
  • Rope curls 3×12
  • Seated dumbbell bicep curls, elbows angled out 3×15
  • 20 minutes steady state cycling on the stationary recumbent bike. This is not my favorite machine so I’ve only been doing it twice a week.

Legs and core

  • Banded glute bridge 3×15 + 15 glute bridge clam shells (prescribed by my physical therapist)
  • Side lying hip abduction 3×15 (prescribed by my physical therapist)
  • Lying hamstring curls with neutral feet, light weight 8×10
  • Hip abductor machine 4×25
  • Hip adduction machine 4×25
  • Upper ab crunch, hands pointed to the ceiling 3×15 (done as a circuit with the next two exercises)
  • Dead bugs 3×30
  • Stacked leg raise 3×20 (switch which foot is on top halfway through)

Back

  • Assisted pullups 5×10
  • Straight arm push downs 4×15 (superset with the next exercise)
  • Wide grip lat pulldowns 4×12
  • Incline bench chest supported single arm dumbbell rows 3×15 each side
  • Machine single arm low rows 3×15

Shoulders, core and cardio

  • Shoulder press machine 4×12
  • Rear delt fly machine 4×15
  • Face pulls 3×20
  • Seated dumbbell front raises 3×15 (superset with the next exercise)
  • Seated dumbbell lateral raises 3×15
  • Upper ab crunch, hands pointed to the ceiling 3×15 (done as a circuit with the next two exercises)
  • Dead bugs 3×30
  • Stacked leg raise 3×20 (switch which foot is on top halfway through)
  • 20 minutes steady state cycling on the stationary recumbent bike

Can you think of any other creative exercises for me to do while I’m in the boot?

Stay fit,

Marisa

I’m broken: Ragnar aftermath

Remember how I said in my Ragnar recap that my shin was bothering me during my runs?

THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S BROKEN.

Well, stress fractured. As soon as possible after the relay, I made an appointment at the sports medicine clinic next to my gym. The doctor I saw made quick work of doing preliminary tests, ordering an MRI and diagnosing me with a stress fracture in my left lower tibia. Actually two fractures, according to the images. I now have a walking boot that I expect to be wearing about six weeks. As of today, I probably have five weeks left in the boot.

That means no running of course. For cardio, I can use the stationary bike. I can’t squat, lunge or deadlift. I’m limited mostly to seated upper body workouts, light hamstring curls and the hip abduction and adduction machine.

I have physical therapy once a week each week that I’m in the boot.

Needless to say I’m annoyed. But I’m following instructions closely so the fractures can heal and I can return to normal activity as quickly as possible.

If I had to guess why I got stress fractures, I’d say it was from doing sprints on the treadmill. I often ran 7-9 miles of sprint intervals over the winter on a machine which doesn’t easily allow a runner to take a normal stride. In the future, I’ll stick to running outdoors, even when it’s cold.

Have you ever had a stress fracture? How long did it take to heal? How long did it take for you to return to normal activity?

Stay fit,

Marisa

Ragnar recap

A little over a week ago I participated in my first Ragnar relay from Madison, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois. About 200 miles over a day and a half living in a van with five other women. The experience was exhilarating, exhausting, humbling, adventurous, nostalgic and oh-so-worth it, even when it got difficult. Here’s a recap of my adventure.

June 9

8:30 a.m. My friend Erin picks me up in the minivan she rented. I’m loaded with gear – a hiking backpack full of clothes, shoes and personal care supplies; pillow and blanket; a bag full of bath towels for my van-mates; and a bag full of food for us to share. We organize the back of the minivan for the first of about a million times to fit the items Erin, Marissa and I brought for ourselves and to share. Now we are three.

9 a.m. We venture to our next van-mate, Brittney’s, apartment. We organize the van again to fit her things. Now we are four.

11:30 a.m. We arrive at Lake Mills High School and see runners starting to come in. This is where we meet our other van of six teammates, who have been running since 7:30 a.m. It’s also where we pick up our fifth runner, Paty, who got dropped off there because she doesn’t live near Milwaukee. The scene is part track meet and part high school or college leadership conference. Spirits are high, people are walking around with matching t-shirts and costumes and the school grounds are filled with registration tents and people lounging on picnic blankets resting or preparing to run. We decorate and register our van, have lunch, check out the merch tent and find our teammates from the other van.

1:30 p.m. The other van’s last runner comes in and our first runner takes off. It’s about 80 degrees out and sunny. She has about 7 miles ahead of her, but she’s energetic for her first run. We travel from one exchange to another, getting running gear ready, ringing cowbells, and preparing to hydrate our runners coming in.

5 p.m.-ish. We’re already a little behind schedule because the heat is slowing some of our runners down. I take off and have a nice 6-mile run on a flat gravel trail. I stay on pace and arrive at my exchange, hydration belt empty, shins aching, Weezy blasting in my headphones. When I get there, our last runner, Jenn is waiting to meet the van. She missed her first run because of work and will have to do two runs in a row.

8 p.m.-ish. We arrive at Martin Luther High School in Greendale, Wisconsin. This is where we rest and wait for the other van of runners again. They have shorter runs and it’s cool out, so we don’t have much time to rest. We eat Chick-fil-a, which messes up Marissa’s order and she eats BBQ sauce for dinner. We go to Walmart, which is out of sweatshirts. We’re all starting to get tired. We take ice cold showers and attempt to sleep on the hard gym floor. It reminds me of a middle school lock-in.

June 10

12:30 a.m. It’s time for us to start running through the night. Trying to sleep on the gym floor makes us more tired and achey. Our runner Jenn takes off with her headlamp, tail light and reflective vest. She throws up on the course. We make more stops at more exchanges and declare “No one appreciates Van 2!” since we have longer runs in the heat of the day and middle of the night. We’re so tired that we’re delirious and silly.

4:30 a.m. After a few hours of sleeping 20 minutes here and there in the van, it’s time for me to run again. I start to feel more energetic as I start moving. My 6-mile run starts out fine. It’s cool out. I’m listening to Mumford and Sons. Then I turn on to a dark horse trail through the woods. I have to run slowly and watch my footing. At the same time, I’m basically scared shitless and try not to fall behind another runner’s reflector I see about 50 yards in front of me. Of course it could be a killer… who knows. I’m finally out of the woods about a mile and a half later and onto more dangerous footing – an old plank road with uneven boards. I need to be more careful or I’ll trip and fall. After that, it’s on to rolling hills and seeing animals’ eyes on the roadside. The hills are exhausting on little sleep. I reach a busy road and hope I don’t get hit by a car. The sun is starting to peek over the horizon, and I stay on the shoulder of the road. Finally, I see the next exchange and sprint to pass the wristband to my teammate. I’m exhausted. I lie down and immediately start having vocal cord spasms. My shins burn, but I’m mostly focused on getting air in my lungs. I stay on the ground for a while until I can haul myself back to the van.

7:30 a.m. Our last runner arrives in Racine, Wisconsin where we are waiting for her at the YMCA. Unfortunately, all of us fall asleep in the van and don’t see her hand off the wristband at the exchange. We wake up to her texting all of us, trying to find our van. We enter the Y, which is our next rest stop to sleep and shower while the other van runs. I decide to shower before I sleep. The showers can only be described as disgusting. They’re full of clumps of hair, old razors and travel-sized shampoo bottles, and even a pair of shitty underwear. Really? Throw out your drawers. I quickly rinse off, put on clean clothes and head back up to the carpeted rec room to sleep for three hours. Either the room is more comfortable, or we’re exhausted.

10:30 a.m. We slowly start to wake up. My van-mates who haven’t showered do so. They apparently find a different, cleaner bank of showers. We pack up and head for Lake Forest, Illinois, where we will start running again in a few hours. The other van is moving a bit slower because temperatures are in the upper 80s and it’s windy.

12:30 p.m. Our runner takes off down a long, paved recreational trail next to a public train line. She’s equipped with a hydration belt and a cooling towel. Her run is short, but she gets leg cramps from a combination of exhaustion, heat and dehydration. Soon, she’s done running.

3 p.m. I take off on my last run. It’s short – less than 4 miles. But it’s 95 degrees out in blazing sun on a dusty trail with 25 mph headwinds. I go slow. I tell myself I’ll run for two or three songs before I can take a drink from my hydration belt. There are lots of stops because my shins hurt, my lungs hurt and I’m thirsty. I finally turn off the trail into a neighborhood and get some shade. There is no 1-mile marker for me to alert my team I’m coming into the exchange. I think I’m close so I text my team. I ran slowly, but not so slowly that someone from my team is waiting for me. I wait for my teammate to meet me at the exchange.

5 p.m. We’re finally done running! We meet our teammate at the beach in Chicago. By now we’re sick of everything, including heat, sand, wind, feeling dirty and especially, running. We get our medals in an anti-climactic finish, take photos and head home to Milwaukee. We were exhausted, but still so grateful for the experience of running “200-ish” miles as an amazing team of 12.

I’m not ready…

RAGNAR is this weekend. You know that thing where you jump in vans with 11 other people and take turns running until you’ve crossed the finish line about 200 miles later.

I’m not ready. Like not at all.

In April, I dropped out of a half marathon because my shins were bothering me. I assumed it was shin splits. I took six weeks off running, assuming shin splits should sufficiently heal in that time.

With traveling and two straight weeks of rain, six weeks off quickly turned into eight weeks off. I knew I wouldn’t be very well conditioned, but I was sure my legs would feel better by the time I stepped out for a run.

As it turns out, I’m deconditioned AND my shins still hurt like a summabish. Like worse than before. And the pain is localized. Which leads me to believe I might have at least one stress fracture, possibly two.

I did make it through a five-mile run yesterday, just to prove that I could do it. Today my shins feel, well, horrible. So running 15 miles over about 36 hours should be super fun. I know, I probably shouldn’t be running anything if I suspect a stress fracture, but dropping out would screw over my whole team. I just can’t do that.

So Ragnar, here I come in all my huffing, puffing and limping glory.

My first stop after the race is going to be the sports medicine walk-in clinic next to my gym. And definitely no running for a while.

Have you ever competed with an injury?

Stay fit,

Marisa

Should I diet before vacation?

If you mean, “Should I continue an existing diet/healthy habits I had for several weeks or months prior to vacation?” by all means, continue!

If you mean, “Will crash dieting and exercising like a maniac make me look lean for vacation?” then the answer is probably not.

Here’s why: A one or two week diet before vacation will cause you to shed mostly water weight and MAYBE a pound or two of actual body mass. You’ll look lean for your first day of vacation and by day two, after you’ve traveled, eaten a burger and poured back a margarita, you’ll be wondering why you’re bloated again. It’s just a given with extra salt and carbs in your diet and the change in your routine.

Personally I don’t think two weeks of starving and crazy workouts are worth it for one day of results and no long-term benefit. I wouldn’t do a two-week diet for the sole purpose of going on vacation.

If I happened to start a diet shortly before but unrelated to vacation, I would ease my way in and keep in mind that my results would be delayed because of my vacation.

When you return from vacation and notice bloating or a higher weight on the scale, don’t panic, don’t starve yourself, and don’t spend hours doing cardio. Your best bet is to drink a lot of water and get back to a healthy routine.

How do you prepare for vacation?

Stay fit,

Marisa

New training block/split: Time under tension

I started a new training block on Monday! Patience is not my strongest point, so I was really hoping it would be a strength block with lots of heavy lifting and some PRs. Instead, my programming involves time under tension. I was initially worried when I heard these words because I expected lots of paused reps. There are no paused reps, but every (EVERY!) movement in the program is performed at a tempo. I’ve done a little tempo work before but I wasn’t completely familiar with it. Basically it means the eccentric, or stretching, part of the movement is performed in a slow and controlled manner. My program includes a specific number of seconds it should take to perform each eccentric movement – 3-6 seconds depending on the movement.

The goal is to build a combination of strength and mass.

I also got a new training split that includes more lifting days. My last training block had 4 lifting days and 1 core day. This block has 5 lifting days, and I’m doing my own core exercises of choice on a cardio-only day. Here’s the split:

Monday: Chest/triceps/cardio of choice

Tuesday: Back/shoulders

Wednesday: Cardio of choice/core

Thursday: Legs (quad focused)

Friday: Shoulders/biceps

Saturday: Legs (hamstring focused)

Sunday: Active rest/light cardio

So far I’ve done the first two lifts (and the cardio). I have a circle of pain around my upper body, especially in my lats. But I love it. I didn’t think I would but the slower pace of the movements is soothing somehow.

What does your training look like right now? How do you feel about it?

Stay fit,

Marisa