No More Excuses: 18 Ways to Stick to Your Goals
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Fitness

No More Excuses: 18 Ways to Stick to Your Goals

Forgot to pack your sports bra? Stuck eating office takeout? When life throws your healthy plans for a loop, these smart moves will get you back on track.

Stick to Your Workout Schedule

You get to the gym and realize you don't have your sports bra.

Make these adjustments for a workout in your regular bra.

Cardio: If you're an A cup, you can still run, says Andrea Metcalf, a fitness instructor in Chicago. If you're a B cup, stick to the elliptical machine or walking. "Raise the incline to amp up the intensity," Metcalf says. C cups and larger: Get your heart going with the stationary bike.

Group class: Yoga and Pilates remain on the menu whatever the size of your assets. You can also modify a circuit class, swapping jumping jacks, say, for squats or lunges. "You'll be able to get your heart rate up without the impact by using the biggest muscles in the body," Metcalf explains.

Strength training: You should have no trouble making the rounds in the weight room. Carry on.

You had a lot of wine last night, and now it's time for your early a.m. workout.

It ain't gonna be pretty, but if you can make it through your sweat session, you'll actually feel better. "You'll be sweating out the acetaldehyde, the by-product of alcohol breaking down in your liver that contributes to a hangover," says Carlton Erickson, PhD, a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. Next time you have a drink too many, gulp down a few glasses of water before going to bed and take an ibuprofen to ward off a headache. "Prevention is a lot more effective than dealing with it after the fact," Erickson says. In the morning, do a lighter workout than usual. If you're nauseous, though, stay in bed. Sleep is going to do you a lot more good.

You're traveling light. (Pay extra to check luggage? You don't think so.) But now there's no room for your sneakers.

Time away from home doesn't have to mean taking time off from exercise. There are plenty of ways to work up a sweat barefoot and without ever leaving your hotel room.

Strike a pose: Sun salutations include a sequence of yoga poses that stretch and strengthen your major muscle groups. "Doing three to five rounds of the poses will really get your blood pumping," Metcalf says.

 

Dance your booty off: Pop on your headphones or crank up the hotel radio and shimmy and shake your way around the room for 10 to 15 minutes, suggests Jeanette Jenkins, a FITNESS advisory board member. Don't worry, no one's watching!

Pack a DVD: If you're schlepping a laptop, bring a workout DVD that doesn't require equipment, such as Jenkins's Kickboxing Bootcamp. "It's a high-intensity routine, but there's no jumping in it," she says. "It can definitely be done without shoes."

Your lunchtime workout got derailed.

You're pumped for your fave cardio class, but your boss suddenly needs five minutes, which inevitably becomes a half hour and KOs your plan. Instead, do these moves right at your desk, in your regular clothes. Run through the routine below once or twice for a 10- to 20-minute workout.

Knee Lift
Targets: Abs and quads

1. Sit near edge of chair and hold armrests or seat for support.
2. Lean back 45 degrees and bring knees to chest.
3. Slowly extend legs diagonally upward; hold for a count of 5.
4. Bring knees back to chest and return feet to floor.
5. Do 15 to 20 reps.

Diagonal Chop
Targets: Upper back, shoulders, biceps, and obliques

1. Sit in chair, holding your purse with both hands near right hip, torso rotated to right.
2. Rotating torso to left, raise arms diagonally upward to hold purse above left shoulder.
3. Return to start to complete 1 rep.
4. Do 12 to 15 reps; switch sides.

Wall Squat
Targets: Quads and calves

1. Stand with back against wall, feet hip-width apart about 2 feet from wall.
2. Cross arms in front of chest and relax shoulders.
3. Bend knees until thighs are almost parallel to floor.
4. Hold for 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Make it harder: Press back and upper arms into wall to work core and triceps.

Reverse Plank
Targets: Triceps, abs, butt, and hamstrings

1. Sit near edge of chair, grasp sides of seat with hands, and straighten legs in front of you, feet together and flat on floor.
2. Straighten arms and lift hips until body forms a line from head to toe.
3. Hold for a count of 3; lower to seat.
4. Do 12 to 15 reps.

Stick to Your Diet and Healthy Habits

You're stuck late at work, and your boss is passing around a takeout menu.

You'd planned to head home and make a healthy salad, but now you're facing fatty dinner options. Remember, "restaurant portions are huge, so eat only half," says Jim White, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Your best bets:

Chinese: Beef or chicken with broccoli, or stir-fried vegetables with steamed rice. Tip: Choose brown rice and put no more than a cup of it on your plate. "Even steamed rice has 200 calories a cup," says Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Mexican: Chicken or steak fajitas, which have no sauce and plenty of veggies. Tip: Limit yourself to two tortillas and skip the sour cream. Ask the restaurant for extra salsa for flavor.

Italian: Grilled shrimp, fish, or chicken with vegetables. Tip: If you really want pasta, get the primavera or order it with a simple marinara sauce. Avoid cream sauces, lasagna (read: a brick of cheese and meat) and anything "Parmesan" -- code for breaded and fried.

Pizza: A thin-crust slice with veggies for 100 fewer calories than deep-dish. Tip: Swap sausage for chicken.

You drank three cups of coffee this afternoon, and now you can't sleep.

It's 10 p.m. and you're lying in bed, trying to get some rest before tomorrow's big presentation. Instead, you feel as though you could sprint around the block. Twice. What gives? "Some people are more caffeine sensitive than others, but generally speaking, you want to cut out coffee and cola by 2 p.m.," says Michael Breus, PhD, a sleep expert and author of Beauty Sleep. Too late for that now, we know. Here's how to cope tonight.

Pick out a good book: The only remedy for over-caffeinating is to wait it out. "Once caffeine is absorbed into your system, it takes eight to 10 hours to break down," Breus says.

Skip the closet overhaul: Resist the urge to use this awake time to do something productive: Stimulating your muscles and nervous system will only make it harder to get to sleep. To improve your shut-eye odds, try this relaxation exercise: Working your way from head to toe, tighten the muscles in your body one by one, hold five seconds, then release.

Break the cycle: "The biggest problem people have with caffeine is that it's hard to stop," Breus says. In the short term, quitting can make you sleepy. If you find you're nodding off at your desk the next day, take a brisk walk outside instead of heading for the java machine. That night, go to bed 30 to 45 minutes earlier to catch up on some zzz's.

Your late-night weekends are messing with your Monday mornings.

The beginning of the workweek finds you tired and grumpy and wishing you could have one more day just for sleep. "Regularly disrupting your circadian rhythms causes sleep deprivation, which has been shown to lead to cardiac complications," Breus says. Here's how to get back in sync.

Be consistent: Snoozing until noon on your days off isn't going to help you conk out before midnight. "You won't be tired at night when you want to be," Breus explains. Practice waking up at the same time, whether it's Wednesday or the weekend.

Temporarily unfriend Facebook: Preslumber computer sessions can disrupt your circadian rhythms, thanks to the bright light emitted by the screen, recent research says.

Take 60: Your body and mind need about an hour to make the transition from busy day to sleep mode. "Spend 20 minutes finishing up whatever you were doing, the next 20 on hygiene, and the last 20 on some form of meditation or relaxation," Breus advises. Sweet dreams!

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2010.

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