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The 12 Days of Christmas Workout

So the other day I felt a little crazy.  I googled one of my own posts and my ego was rocked.  You see, as a gift to my clients last year, I came up with something called the 12 Days of Christmas Workout.  For the last year, I wholeheartedly believed that this was an original idea.  Then I fell down a google rabbit hole.

12 Days of Christmas workouts were everywhere!  Was this some kind of conspiracy?  After some furious research and a lot of date checking (someone had to have stolen my idea!!!!) my fantasy was shattered.  And so, with the sadder-but-wiser feeling of a little girl who just learned there is no Santa Claus, I invite you to share in this holiday tradition.  It may not be an original idea, but it’s still a darn good workout:

The following circuit is made up of entirely bodyweight exercises.  Each “day” builds on the previous, just like the song.  How many can you get through?

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-a jumping jack and a burpee

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-3 sumo squats

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-4 supermans

-3 sumo squats

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-5 shoulder swings! (rest)

-4 supermans

-3 sumo squats

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-6 hands-free get ups

-5 shoulder swings! (rest)

-4 supermans

-3 sumo squats

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-7 speed skaters

-6 hands-free get ups

-5 shoulder swings! (rest)

-4 supermans

-3 sumo squats

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-8 mountain climbers

-7 speed skaters

-6 hands-free getups

-5 shoulder swings! (rest)

-4 supermans

-3 sumo squats

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-9 lateral lunges

-8 mountain climbers

-7 speed skaters

-6 hands-free getups

-5 shoulder swings! (rest)

-4 supermans

-3 sumo squats

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-10 T raises

-9 lateral lunges

-8 mountain climbers

-7 speed skaters

-6 hands-free get ups

-5 shoulder swings! (rest)

-4 supermans

-3 sumo squats

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-11 perfect pushups

-10 T raises

-9 lateral lunges

-8 mountain climbers

-7 speed skaters

-6 hands-free getups

-5 shoulder swings! (rest)

-4 supermans

-3 sumo squats

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

-12 breaths downward-dogging

-11 perfect pushups

-10 T raises

-9 lateral lunges

-8 mountain climbers

-7 speed skaters

-6 hands-free get ups

-5 shoulder swings! (rest)

-4 supermans

-3 sumo squats

-2 walk out planks

-and a jumping jack and a burpee

Happy Holidays!

For more fun workout ideas check out the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook !

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That’s right T, keep those holiday fantasies alive…..
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How a Joyful Gym Rat Does Europe

How does a Joyful Gym Rat do Europe?  Well, not that often for starters.  My first and only other European adventure was Italy back in 2011.  Though I do enjoy traveling to other countries, I am not exactly a jet-setter (the fact that I just used the term “jet-setter” probably solidifies that last statement….).  So when the opportunity presented itself  to travel to London and Amsterdam, my initial hesitation about leaving T for nine days gave way to my sense of adventure.  Grammy came for T (thanks Grammy!) and we flew across the pond.

When it comes to travel, I strive to come back feeling better than when I left.  Though many things are out of my control (damn you wisdom tooth infection on the 13 hour flight home from Italy….) I do what I can.

So, in typical Joyful Gym Rat fashion, I’d like to share a few insights from a not-so seasoned traveler on finding healthy plant food, managing travel stress, and keeping active in two of Europe’s coolest cities:

Plants a Plenty:  

According to the Telegraph UK, Amsterdam and London rank as the second and third most vegan friendly cities in all of Europe.

In London, there were fabulous plant based options everywhere, many of which were grab and go.  We’ve been vegan long enough to know to stay somewhere with a kitchen when we travel just in case, but the ready made options were just as good (and more convenient) than anything we could have cooked ourselves.

Amsterdam was even better with a slew of totally vegan restaurants and health conscious take out chains.  There was even an outdoor market every day right outside the apartment!  Again the kitchen went unused, as did the little blender I travel with to make smoothies in faraway lands.

Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First:

I only had to do this figuratively, not literally (thank goodness). This particular trip was both less stressful due to the fact that T wasn’t there (not trying to keep a 3 year old entertained) and also more stressful due to the fact that T was not there (we were flying almost 4,000 miles away from T!!!!).

Something I did differently this time around was airplane research.  Without a 3 year old to keep me distracted my mind can travel to some pretty dark places (What was that noise?  Did the wing just fall off?  What if this emergency door I am sitting next to pops open mid-flight?).  Though we were blessed with a pretty smooth flight both ways, it helped to have a little more understanding of the mechanics of flying.

In an article on reducing stress by travel guru Rick Steves, he points out that since the European opinion of the US is sometimes quite unflattering (as in the oft used term “ugly American”) it can be helpful to do at least one thing that makes you proud of your homeland.  Scoring tickets to Hamilton helped quell rising feelings of inadequacy (and accent envy).

Have Yoga Mat, Will Travel:

Yoga mats make wonderful traveling companions.  Keeping a morning routine anchored to the current timezone is thought to help the body adjust quicker.  I found that even when I woke up confused as to what time it was, sticking with my morning yoga practiced helped convince my body that the day was just beginning.

I decided to skip the gym in favor of spending more time walking around (and getting lost in…) the cities we visited.  The 5 flight climb to our Amsterdam apartment was a nice bonus.  The misguided confidence I had that living in New York City and Chicago meant I could navigate London resulted in thousands of extra daily steps.

It’s said that in Amsterdam there are more bikes then people.  Though I traversed by foot rather than two wheels for fear my skills were sub par, I consider the fact that I was not hit by a bicycle a win.  Maybe next time I’ll join in.

For more tips, tricks, and musings on health, head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

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Taking a pic of a double decker bus to send to T….one of the few times I wasn’t lost in London….

 

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To Be Continued:

Heading overseas!  Is London as plant positive as this article claims it is?  Can this rat remain calm for the duration of an international flight?  Will T behave for his Grammy and Pop Pop?  All this and more on the next exciting installment of The Joyful Gym Rat!

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Photo credit: https://www.michaelwest.com.au/rodents-with-a-taste-for-travel/
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30 Days to Better Health

In the wellness world, and the world in general, there seems to be a misconception that dramatic change originates from dramatic effort.  Unless you live in a rom-com, I’m assuming your life isn’t replete with grand gestures.  For us average folk, most days are a series of subtle actions that may or may not contribute to our long term goals.  In other words, it’s the small day to day choices we make that create the larger picture.

We can all agree that consistently smoking cigarettes on a daily basis would be more likely to raise our risk of lung cancer than going on the occasional smoking binge would.  Consistency, rather than occasional all out effort, is what truly shapes our lives.

What if I told you there was a way to improve your overall health in roughly 20 minutes a day?  For the low, low price of….just kidding, you didn’t accidentally stumble into an informercial.  This is simply an invitation from an over enthusiastic Joyful Gym Rat.

Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to add the three habits listed below to your daily routine for 30 days.  Don’t feel like you have 20 minutes?  Try adding them in one at a time if you must.  Small steps forward are always better than taking no steps at all.  Feel like you have more than 20 minutes?  Increase the amount of time you spend on each activity as you see fit.  Consistency is key, so do what you deem realistic.  Throughout the span of 30 days you may change how or when you perform these habits, the only requirement is that you perform them.  So what are you waiting for?  Today is the first day of the rest of your life (cue inspirational rom-com music and pan camera in on you reading this post with a starry-eyed smile….):

Drink Water First Thing In the Morning:  Drink as much as you please with the minimum being 8 oz.  Feel free to have your morning coffee or tea as you normally do, just make sure to drink water first.  Need some inspiration as to why?  Check out this post.

Exercise for 15 Minutes Every Day:  If you regularly read this blog, you are familiar with my fondness for morning rituals and routines.  Morning exercise is great but for the purpose of this challenge we can keep things more general.  Try moving your body and getting your heart rate up wherever and whenever you like, just make sure to do it every day.

Meditate for 5 Minutes:  For my clients new to meditation, I often recommend this app.  You can also set a timer and go on your own.  For more information on the whys and hows of beginning a meditation practice, take a scroll through my Mindfulness Monday series.

For more ideas and inspiration check out The Joyful Gym Rat Facebook page!

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Dee credits her robust health to drinking water first thing in the morning…and copious amounts of sleeping on the couch…..