Drilling down

These days, I'm really into simple. Simple makes me happy. Life seems to be getting faster and more complicated, and sometimes I feel like the greens I pack into my trusty blender after I hit "puree." My solution to handling these stressful times? Simplify. Drill down to what really matters.

When it comes to my workout plan, which matters a helluva lot to me because it's the cornerstone of my stress relief program, lately I've simplified even more. I've compressed my workouts into short, intense bursts that leave me relaxed yet invigorated.

The Tabata Drill fits perfectly into the space occupied by the kids' bath, or the husband's Nascar special, or anywhere you have 10-15 minutes. I've done these drills at gas stations during road trips, while cooking chicken for dinner, in parking lots waiting for a friend, at an airport, in a field at sunset (see below, in fact).

Am I super disciplined? Mmm, I guess. But what makes me that way is knowing how I'll feel after I work out, versus the way I feel right now. That's what keeps me going.

Two things about this kind of approach to fitness. OK, three:

1. Be forewarned: You might stop caring what others think. (In fact, you may be surprised how you inspire someone by stepping outside the workout box). Ever drive past a big gym at night and see all the little hamsters on their treadmills? Quit it. Don't be a lemming.

2. You no longer have any excuses not to exercise. Anyone can do this, anywhere, anytime. Period. If you don't do it, it's because you plain ol' don't want to. Your decision.

3. Not so much with the grains and sugars. But one step at a time.

OK, so here's how you do a Tabata Drill (also see below for a few pointers):

To recap: 20 seconds of squat leaps, 10 seconds off, 20 seconds of pushups, 10 seconds off. Do that 6 more times, for a total of 8 sets. You can do whatever two exercises you want, or just do one! Last night I just did 8 sets of Burpees.

He's picked YOU out for dinner, lucky duck! What're you gonna do about it?

Some key points to remember:

1. Warm up for 5 mins. and cool down for 5 mins! This is critical. Focus on active warm up work (push-ups, squats, side bends, lunges, neck rolls, etc.), not static stretches. Save the traditional stretches for after.

2. Only go as fast as you can while maintaining good form! Speed is important for the effectiveness of the workout, but form must always come first. Build speed as you get stronger. Modify the movements as necessary. If you can't yet do a full squat leap or pushup, do a half or a quarter. Your body will get stronger FAST!

3. Act like a tiger's chasing you or you're chasing your own dinner. That's how your body is meant to work. Miraculous things will happen.

4. Don't do this more than 2-4x week. Not only not productive, but counterproductive.

5. Have fun! We're all too frickin' serious around here.

PS/Disclaimer: This can be an intense workout. If you're new to exercise or have pre-existing health problems, go easy and extend the rest period as long as you need, but not to the point of completely regaining your comfort level, or you're losing the benefits of this workout! Check with your doctor, blahblah, etc. Just use your head and stay at about a 5-6 on an effort scale of 1-10, with 1 being sitting on your ass and 10 being puking. On the other hand, if you're already fit and want to get fitter, go for it! :) Aim for 8-10 by the end of the set.