All You Can Do


There’s nothing like parenthood to force you to operate in “good enough” (vs. perfectionist) mode. In that vein, today Jules encourages women to shift their fitness mindset from an all-or-nothing to an all-you-can-do approach, offering tips to get you on the road to strength and good health, and exercises you can do in as little as 10-15 minutes:

“Earlier I posted on how to shape your back, but in hindsight, today’s post really should have come first. The simple basics of getting moving are more important than focusing on any specific body part.

Recently, an acquaintance asked me to be her personal trainer. I’m not a certified personal trainer; but I do have many tools in my tool belt that I have picked up along the way as a collegiate athlete, longtime gym rat, marathon runner, and coach. Even as women burning the candle at both ends, we should be careful not to compromise our own health “feel good” time. Here are a few tips to get you on the road to strength and good health:

1. Make time. If you only have a few minutes a day to get moving, make the most of it. If this means doing squats in your kitchen, do it.

2. Don’t be intimidated. So many women I meet are afraid to go to a gym or to start a program because they are afraid of feeling ostracized or disappointed. Keep in mind that you don’t need to start out by running a marathon. Set small, reasonable goals for yourself and reward yourself when you achieve them. Make sure you find something that you enjoy doing. Someone once said to me, “Every time I run, I feel like passersby are looking at me thinking, ‘Oh that poor woman, she’s DYING out there.’” If you truly feel self conscious, find a different activity. You can always mix it up from day to day. These days, there are things far beyond jogging and biking.

3. Find some friends. Recruit your pals or a loved one to hop on the wagon with you; it always makes it easier to have a friend to support you and motivate you.

4. Most importantly, remember how you feel when you are done. There’s no better feeling than finishing a work out and feeling tired and spent. Your endorphins are in full gear and you’ve worked hard. Consider even writing in a journal about how you feel when you are done so you wont forget the next time you have to tie on those kicks.

And when you’re crunched for time, be satisfied with using what you’ve got. In only 10 or 15 minutes, the exercises below can make a difference:

  • Jumping jacks: Okay, so these DO seem sort of silly but they are the ultimate cardio. Try doing them for five minutes. It’s HARD.
  • Jump rope: Steal your child’s jump rope and learn to perfect it so you can jump without stopping. Professional athletes jump rope to work on their endurance, coordination, and get small bursts of cardio vascular exercise.
  • Push-ups: So few women can do push ups correctly; and the old notion that we can’t do them because we don’t have the upper body strength is bunk. There is no excuse. On days when I don’t have time to do a full session of weight training, I do as many sets of 25 pushups as I can. They are a full body workout, working your chest, back, shoulders, triceps and abs. Make sure you keep your head straight (not hanging down) and keep your butt down (you should be flat, not shaped like a V). If you can only do two, do two and then do five with your knees on the ground. Now do two more sets.
  • Run up and down the stairs: I know that doing this in your house seems silly, but take advantage of it. Sprint up the stairs and rest while walking down them.
  • Interval training: The best way to melt the fat is to do interval training. That is, raise your heart rate and then do intermittent sprints. These can be done on an elliptical machine, bike, treadmill, or outside if you can’t get to a machine. In college, we used to alternate sprinting and jogging between the telephone poles. Find markers like this in your neighborhood. One quarter of your workout should be sprints (or, for every minute of jogging, sprint about 15 seconds). MAKE SURE TO STRETCH.
  • Finally, walk it out. Though walking IS considered heart-healthy, I encourage you to walk like you mean it, with conviction. Walk fast, so that if you are having a conversation, you are working to do it. Stand up straight and swing your arms. Find a hill and attack it.


    Although we’ve heard over and over again that somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes of exercise a day is ideal, don’t disregard what just 20 minutes a day can do for you. For many, it’s all we can find time to do. For others, it’s a good start into the world of working out. Take your life into your own hands and be encouraged by remembering that exercise should never be an all-or-nothing approach, but rather an all-you-can-do approach.

    * Please be advised to talk to your doctor before beginning any rigorous exercise program. And always, always stretch.”