Healthy Beginnings

FLEX: Fitness Tips

This new department will bring you thought provoking ideas, stories and tips on how you can flex the muscles of your mind, body and soul. For the next 12 months, Healthy Beginnings will provide a little insight into the world of yoga, Pilates, meditation, strength training, core conditioning and much more. We would also like to extend our resources on a personal level by helping you find answers to any questions within the realm of FLEX. Simply e-mail the editor at with a question that has stumped you, or a personal story that you would like to share. We would love to hear from you!

First things first, you should always start with a plan. For instance, how does one incorporate new exercises into an existing workout plan? Or, how does one add more “to-do” when their time is limited? The answer: prioritize. This is the key ingredient to any successful plan. If we could get all of our monthly shopping completed in just one day, we would, right? Considering that’s not possible, we plan. We organize our shopping over the month to incorporate what needs to be purchased, what is on sale at particular times and when the purchasing should actually take place–all of which revolves around our daily and weekly schedules.

The same is true for your workout. It is just not possible to squeeze in every aspect of your exercise routine into one day. In fact, it’s not really the best for your body either. For example, if you lifted weights with your arms, legs, back and core on one day and then did the same routine the very next day, you would not be giving your body enough time to rest. Even if you do not incorporate weight lifting into your life, it is still essential to create balance within your exercise.

Planning a workout schedule can be tricky, but if you set it as a priority (like doing your laundry on a certain day or eating a specific diet) it will become a natural part of your routine–a lifestyle. There are many ways to put together a plan. Check online for planning and calendar templates specifically for exercise. You can also look to your smart phone for help; there are apps for it. Of course, the old-school paper calendar method is still legit. The main thing to keep in mind: all of the cool and trendy ways to keep track of things and stay organized only work if you actually follow through with the plan itself.

So, if sticking with a plan is difficult, try rewarding yourself–buy yourself a new water bottle, gym bag or running shoes after you have consistently followed the plan for a month. Set weekly and monthly goals for yourself, like increasing your speed or distance, or adding more days or time to your weekly meditation schedule.

Try this basic activity to help weed out the fluff:

Write down all of your current physical activities (including walking the dog, shoveling, hiking, etc.)
Write down all of the physical activities you would like to try (or do more often)
Write down all of your current stress relieving activities (yoga, meditation, running, etc.)
Write down all of the stress relieving activities you would like to try (or do more often)
Now, look at your “already doing” and “would like to try” lists and compare them
Write down all of the free time or time slots you have available throughout your week
Choose at least four activities from each list (16 total)
Choose four time slots you can set aside for these activities
Pick one activity from each list and complete each activity within first week of the month
Then, pick another four and do each activity within the second week of the month, and so on, until you have completed all 16 within one month
Listen to your body during each activity and make sure to take notes throughout the month

This activity is not based on a scientific weight loss, fitness or training program, however it will help you determine which activities offer more bang for their buck, according to how you feel after completing them. Once you find what you like, you are more prone to sticking with a schedule that entices you. You can also work with a personal trainer, fitness instructor or physician to fine tune a program that suits your needs–based on activities you know that you like.

For the long-time planners of the workout world, you most likely have a solid schedule intact. If that is the case for you, try adding a few mornings of meditation to your routine, or maybe a yoga class here and there. Do something new to shake things up a bit. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

As for the soul, well, laughter offers a cheerful lift. Find the humor in life; it’s all around you. Even at the gym…

My workout partner and I reserve our chats for our “card” time (our nickname for cardio). She was recently telling me about this new method for reducing wrinkles. As some of you know, when you chat during a workout, words can be choppy, breathy and possibly even left out. At any rate, I was very curious to give this new method a try. A day or two later, we were in the midst of our card session as I relayed my experience to her. Yep, we may as well have played telephone with 50 other card goers. I had completely misheard her story. After I told her I was in my bathroom where I looked into the mirror, placed my hands in a perfect angle above my head and then delicately slapped my face several times over, she burst out laughing. The method she mentioned was not “slapping” away the wrinkles, it was using acupuncture. Hmm, I failed on that one. Although, the slaps did puff away the fine lines for a while.

*This department comes from the mind of Ffjorren Zolfaghar, HB Mag’s Editor & Content Director–a workout enthusiast. She began a regular routine of long distance running and core conditioning when she was 13 years old. Since then, she has tested the vast waters of workout models including marathon running, weight training, yoga, Pilates, Tae Bo, kickboxing, boxing, Zumba, spin, P90X, hiking, walking, prenatal yoga, water classes, core conditioning classes, sandbox workouts and the list goes on. She is excited to dig a little deeper and offer support in this very important area of our lives: keeping our bodies FLEXed and ready for life!