Month: July 2016

In this article you'll learn how to make your Google calendar your favorite fitness tracker and workout planner in 5 easy steps. Click to see how or save this pin for later!

How to make your Google calendar the ultimate fitness tracker

Oh technology. We love you and we hate you. To be honest, I’m a pen and notebook kinda girl. But, I’m also the kinda girl who refuses to cart around a pen and notebook when there’s a technologically more efficient way. That’s why I’ve set out to make my Google calendar an efficient and reliable fitness tracker.

why you need this

Are you wondering why you need a fitness tracker? Think about it this way… Your workouts are appointments with yourself. If you don’t schedule an appointment it’s SO MUCH EASIER to tell yourself you’ll do it another day. On Mondays, for example, why work out? You have 4 week days left to get to the gym. On Tuesday you decide to go to happy hour with some co-workers (because you had nothing else planned!) and so on…

Does putting a workout on the calendar prevent you from missing the workout? No. But it does allow you to visualize your healthy week early on. A fitness tracker allows you to motivate yourself, to think through your goals and to remind yourself of why you’re doing all of this. When it’s Wednesday and we haven’t been to the gym yet, our brains are already exhausted from making excuses. Don’t make it easy for yourself to just start over next week.

Here’s what I needed

Yes, there are a ton of fancy apps out there that can be used for fitness tracking. But I found all of the bells and whistles to be more than I was looking for. First and foremost, I wanted the following:

  1. An online solution that would keep me on track with my workouts
  2. A tool that could be accessed across all of my devices
  3. A tool that could track all of my workouts (classes, workout pins, my own developed workouts)
  4. A tool that would allow me to enter all of my workouts for the week (or month) quickly

the ten minute rule

The tedious typing. Most of the apps I’ve used required you to individually manage your workouts by entering each one into your calendar. Boo! Even when I took the time to think through my workouts AND type them into an app, I had a hard time motivating myself to do it every week. Ten minutes or less seemed to be the magic number. Anything more, and I ran the risk of not planning ahead and ultimately skipping workouts throughout the week.

Related: 10 little habits for a healthy week

sometimes the answer is right in front of you

I use my Google calendar and Gmail for organizing my life. But, I always struggled with adding every single workout in my calendar as its own event. That’s when I realized that of course there’s an easier way. And it’s powered by one of my very favorite things: a spreadsheet. Follow this step by step guide to learn how to schedule your workouts and keep a fitness tracker in less than 10 minutes each week!

What you’ll need

  1. A Google account
  2. Three or four workouts you’re excited to do this week
  3. The .csv template that I’ve created for you

step 1:

Open up your Google calendar by going to this link: https://calendar.google.com. Then, on the left sidebar, click the little down arrow and select Create new calendar.

Google calendar fitness tracker. Select create new calendar.

step 2:

Name your calendar and add a little description and the location (if you want!) Otherwise, a name only will work just fine.

Google fitness tracker. Name your calendar.

When you click back to calendar, you should see your new calendar in the left sidebar!

step 4

step 3:

Open up your .csv template and add as many workouts as you want. I’ve only added 4 in this example, but it’s so easy to add a month’s worth of workouts if you’re doing a 4 week plan. Or if you want to plan week by week, just add your weekly workouts to your fitness tracker.

Fitness tracker. Add your workouts to the template

Here’s a breakdown column by column:

Column A: This will be what shows up on your calendar as the name of your event

Column B: This is the start date. Just put the date of your workout here. It’s important that you don’t change the date format in this file. The import tool is very picky when it comes to formatting!

Column C: Start time. You’ll notice the template uses a 24-hour clock. When you enter your time, you can use the time you would use for a 12-hour clock (with AM and PM). Just make sure you add a space between the time and the am/pm. For example, use ‘6 pm’ instead of ‘6pm’. You’ll notice that when you move out of the cell, the time will convert to the 24 hour clock time.

Column D: End date. Obviously, your workout will not last more than 24 hours. Just use the same date you used for Column B

Column E: End time. Same story as Column C with the 24-hour clock!

Column F: You’re not working out all day long, so just keep the word FALSE (in all caps) in this column for each event

Column G: This is where you can add a link to your workout, your entire workout, or general notes about your workout

Column H: Add your location. This can be an address or a general location.

Column I: Unless you would like your calendar to be accessible by search for other people, just keep the word TRUE (in all caps) in this column for each event

step 4:

Save your file in a .csv format.

FItness tracker. Save file in .csv format.

step 5: Upload your calendar

Go back to your Google calendar. Click the little gear icon and access your settings.

Fitness tracker. Select settings.

When you click the calendars tab, you should see an import calendar option in the middle of the page. Click it!

FItness tracker. Import calendar

Then click browse and find the .csv file you saved. Make sure your calendar name is your ‘workouts’ calendar. Then click Import.

Fitness tracker. Browse and upload

Now, when you go back to your calendar you should be able to see all of the workouts you added.

Fitness tracker. check your new calendar

Now make it fun

I like to color code my workouts so that they stand out against all the other things I have going on in my week. You should be able to toggle between all of your calendars (including your new workouts calendar). The first few times you do this, it might take a few extra minutes. But, once you’ve mastered the process, you’ll be able to easily manage all of your workouts just like any other fitness tracker. Don’t forget to grab your template for easy tracking!

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No matter how much you love your gym, you probably still don't want to spend too much time there. That's why we try to make most of our workouts 30 minutes or less. Why? Because you can get just as much done with a 30 minute workout as you can with a 60 minute workout if you do it right. Click through for our three best short workouts, or save this pin for later!

Our three best 30 minute workouts!

No matter how much you love your gym, you probably still don’t want to spend too much time there. Please. There are about 20 other things I’d like to be doing with my time. That’s why we try to make most of our workouts 30 minutes or less. Why? Because you can get just as much done with a 30 minute workout as you can with a 60 minute workout if you do it right.

We talk about this subject a lot. So much, in fact that we wanted to do a quick round-up of our favorite 30 minute workouts (maybe less if you hustle!).

30 minute workout #1: Get sweaty

Our number one quick workout is short, but it will get you nice and sweaty. You will definitely be thanking us for this one tomorrow morning. Why do we love it? Because this workout combines our favorite body weight exercises and dumbell exercises to give you a totally efficient workout in no time

Workout routine that’s over in 30 minutes

30 minute workout #2: Hiit it, gurrrrl

Have we mentioned lately that we love, love, LOVE us some HIIT workouts. They’re fast, they’re challenging and they WORK! Why? Because you’re combining strength AND cardio AND some seriously intense movements. But never fear! The short rest periods will allow you to regain your energy between sets.

HIIT for Beginners: Burn calories quickly!

30 minute workout #3: Totally tabata

Tabata is great for those of us with short attention spans. Tabata workouts are made of cycles of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. Sound too easy? Try this workout and then get back to us.

Workout burnout? Tabata training can help!

 

this week

Oh look at that! We just planned THREE of your workouts for this. And they’re all 30 minutes or less! Leave a comment to let us know what you’ll be doing with the hour and a half you’ve saved!

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Having a healthy week does not have to take up all of your time. In fact, it shouldn't. Otherwise you're unlikely to get healthy and stay healthy. In fact, you can do most of the leg work it takes to have a really healthy week in a couple of hours next Sunday. Click for a free checklist or save this pin for later!

10 little habits for a healthy week

Having a healthy week doesn’t have to take up all of your time. In fact, it shouldn’t. Otherwise you’re unlikely to get healthy and stay healthy. You can do most of the leg work it takes to have a really healthy week in a couple of hours next Sunday.

Planning and prepping for a healthy week all at one time will allow you to get everything out of the way so that you don’t have to actually think about it later in the week. That’s important because as the week drags on and you become more focused on other things, your brain gets lazy. Your brain will tell you things like, “You don’t have time to be healthy today.” Or “You deserve to skip today’s workout, you’ve worked so hard this week!”

The bottom line is, we need to outsmart our brains, and we can do that by taking some time on Sunday to prepare for the week’s struggles.

1. Write down your health/fitness goals

Writing down weekly goals won’t necessarily keep you on track, but it’s a lot easier to give up on your goals if you don’t have any! The act of jotting down a list and putting it in an accessible location is the first step in keeping you accountable for your healthy week. Commit to this healthy habit each Sunday as the first step in your successful week.

Your weekly goals should support your long-term goals. If you ultimately want to lose 10 pounds, make this week’s goal to lose 1 pound. Your goals should be attainable and get you one step closer to that big thing you’ve been really wanting.

2. Plan weekly workouts

Your next step is to decide which workouts will help you accomplish that weekly goal. Choose to do something every day of the week. Even your rest day should include a walk or 30 minutes of stretching. Why? Because in order to form a habit, you need to make it second nature. If you work out every single day, soon it will feel like you’re missing something if you don’t exercise.

Related: Mini habits will help you start working out

Your workouts should be tailored to you and no one else. If in the past you’ve struggled to fit in a 45 minute workout every day, then focus on short Tabata workouts or HIIT workouts. Or, if you really hate running, then don’t run! Find something that actually motivates you!

3. Plan weekly meals

The meals for your healthy week should support your workouts. If you plan on spending a lot of time in the gym, make sure your meals support that. For example, if you know you’ll be craving some serious protein after an evening workout, then don’t plan a vegetarian dinner. Prior to Sunday, take note of your cravings and make sure you have something healthy to satisfy them throughout the week.

4. Wash your gym clothes

The number one thing that blocks me from getting my workout in? Not having clean gym clothes. It doesn’t matter how motivated I am, there’s just no way I’m going to do a load of laundry and THEN get to my workout. At the beginning of each week, wash all of your gym clothes so that you don’t run into this blocker.

5. Put together gym outfits for the week

Take the workout clothing prep one step further and match up your outfits. While a mismatched outfit probably won’t keep you from working out (unless you’re REALLY dragging), you’re likely to feel better and get the most of your workout if you’re not worried about that middle school band t-shirt you’re rockin’ at the gym.

Another benefit to pre-matching your outfits is that you can easily see what you’re missing. It’s a lot easier to see that it’s time for some new gym socks when you can’t find seven matching pairs at the beginning of the week.

6. Pack your gym bag with everything you need

Fill your gym bag with anything you need except for your clothes. My gym bag always has my favorite dry shampoo, hair ties, body wash and deodorant. If you want to take things a step further, pack an extra set of make-up so that you don’t have to worry about remembering your make-up bag every morning.

Think beyond toiletries. Do you need any workout equipment this week? Refer to your workout plan (that you should also pack!)

Also, divide protein supplements and healthy snacks into easy portions. Throw them into your gym bag and have one less thing you have to think about the night before your workout.

7. Pick out your workout playlist

Find a killer workout playlist to support your healthy week. Or, find an awesome book or a really great podcast. Workouts don’t have to be boring. In fact, I’m the biggest proponent of workout multi-tasking. Choosing your workout ‘distraction’ can get you excited and motivated for tomorrow’s workout. Once you choose your distraction, download any media, find your headphones and make sure everything is easy to access.

Related: Health hack: Get smarter while you workout

8. Pack up for tomorrow

Each night, clean out your gym bag and pack a new clean workout outfit. Your gym bag packing should be a breeze since you’ve already packed most of your bag and planned all of your workouts. Make sure you refill your snacks and supplements if you need to. Otherwise, you’re ready to go!

9. Plan your healthy breakfast

This should fit right in with your meal planning. To make things easy, try to plan some grab-and-go breakfasts for the week. Small portions of oatmeal or smoothies (I make mine in a Ninja Blender and take individual portions with me to work) are great! Because you’ve done all of your planning, you should be able to grab your quick breakfast and gym bag and get out the door!

10. Go to sleep on time

This is a healthy habit many people take for granted. You are wayyyy less likely to stick to your plan if you’re too tired to think straight. Even if you’re not a morning workout person, less sleep will make you want to eat more and exercise less. Get enough zzz’s to set yourself up for success every single day.

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Portion control is essential to a healthy diet. But it doesn't have to be hard. These three easy steps will help you plan your meals the smart way. Click through to see how to master portion control. Or, save this pin for later!

Portion control in 3 easy steps

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Usually the idea of portion control makes me want to give up and go get a cupcake. Who are these people trying to make me give up my Friday nights with a bottle of wine and so much pizza. (SO much pizza!)

If we’re going to be completely honest and open here, Aaron and I absolutely struggle with portion control. We almost didn’t write this post due to our love for some serious portion uncontrol. But ultimately, we decided that this is exactly why we should discuss this topic.

We both try to focus on sticking to a proper and sustainable diet throughout the week and cheat a little on the weekends. Is it true that you can completely undo all of your hard work with one bad weekend? Yes! Does that mean that you should be discouraged when Monday rolls around again? No Way!

Think of these as your Sunday-Thursday guidelines and try not to overdo it on the weekends.

step 1: Remember your fractions

I get pretty frustrated when I think about all of the math I learned in middle school that has vanished from my memory. Not fractions though. I use those little suckers daily. When it comes to portion control, there’s no exception. Think of your plate as a nice pie chart (math for the Mathletes! Woot!). Try to break that chart up into 4 parts and get as close to this breakdown as possible: 45% vegetables, 30% carbs, 20% protein and 5% fat. If you’re like me, you see that part about 30% carbs and you get reallllllly excited. But don’t loose  your cool at the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet just yet. Step 3 will cover the kinds of carbs we’re actually referring to here.

percentages-portions-01-01

The reason I love this portion control process is because I’m always excited about at least one thing on my plate. I typically crave savory foods, so sometimes spicing up my vegetables with salt and some spices actually make healthy foods worth eating. Think about your cravings. What can you buy at the store that will satisfy them?

Cheese/dairy cravings? Add two tablespoons of feta to a salad. Don’t forget to add a TON of vegetables, your protein and your carbs.

Salt cravings? Chicken sausage or any ground meat can fix this when prepared correctly (add a little salt if there’s not already a ton of sodium in your meat).

Sugar cravings? Add fruit to your meal!

Related: Protein supplements: The beginner’s guide

step 2: eat with your hands

We don’t mean throw away the utensils (although, it turns out foods have the same amount of calories whether you eat them with utensils or not!)

So many diets will have you measuring exact portions of everything you eat. You might even notice some diets recommend you purchase a food scale. If you want to get that specific, that’s great! But, if you’re more interested in fast and easy portion measurement, you’re in the right place, friend!

portion-hands-01

You can use your palm, hands and fist to roughly measure the amount of food you should eat for each meal. One serving of protein is about the size of your palm. A serving of vegetables is the size of your fist. A serving of carbs can be measured with a scooped hand. And finally, a serving of fat is about the size of your thumb.

Step 3: keep it simple

Quick and easy portion control is all about finding the foods you enjoy and preparing them in a way that makes you excited to eat them. Keep a list of foods you enjoy on your refrigerator so that shopping days are less daunting. Even if you like to make your meals fancy, make sure you’re using the suggested percentages and portions of each food group listed above. Here are some healthy examples from each food group:

foods-portions-01

I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent making creative and elaborate grocery lists. I finally realized that I KNEW what I wanted to eat after work on the weekdays. And it certainly was NOT a grand spectacle. I found that my chances of eating a healthy meal declined with the amount of ingredients and time it took to cook a meal.

Here are some ways to keep your fridge and freezer stocked with easy, healthy choices all week long:

  1. Pick up a rotisserie chicken at the beginning of the week. Shred it up and put it in an air tight container right when you get home from the store. Then, voila! You have chicken for tacos, salads, and sandwiches in no time.
  2. Stock up on steamable veggie packets. Frozen veggies are one of the best, easy ways to eat your veggies. Freezing doesn’t take away any of the nutrients or add sodium like canning does. And, even if you don’t finish them in a week, they stay nice and fresh in your freezer.
  3. Make mini meatloaves or meatballs with lean ground beef or ground turkey. Just mix the ground meat, an egg, some breadcrumbs and shredded zucchini. You can put a tablespoon of tomato sauce on top and bake in the oven in a muffin tin. You’ll know they’re done when the middles are no longer wet.

it’s really all about you

The thing is, especially as you’re starting out, it’s unlikely that your diet will look like anyone else’s. Why? Because you’re you. And they’re them. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget. Getting on track isn’t just about starting to eat a specific lineup of healthy foods. We believe that’s unsustainable. Take these three portion control steps and develop a plan that works for you. And make sure you actually like it!

3 easy steps for portion control

Let’s recap:

Step 1: Remember your fractions! They’re not just things you learned in middle school. Consider your plate for each and every meal. Are you getting enough vegetables? Are your healthy carbs on point? If not, remove or add as needed.

Step 2: Eat with your hands. Your best measurement tools are your hands! Never mind the food scale or the measuring cups in your drawer. Roughly measure the recommended portion of each food group and move on with your day!

Step 3: Keep it simple. Pick your faves from each food group and stick to them! Do you really like chicken? Buy a couple pounds, throw them in your freezer and then make your favorite recipes. Sick of chicken? No prob! Pick out another item on the list!

Portion control is essential to a healthy diet. But it doesn't have to be hard. These three easy steps will help you plan your meals the smart way. Click through for a free printout for your fridge!

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Workout burnout? Tabata training can help!

Ever wanted to get a whole workout done in just minutes? Well there’s a realistic and effective way to do just that! Tabata training involves short bursts of 100% work followed by very short periods of rest. The rest periods are just long enough to allow you to recover so that you can go back to using 100% of your energy.

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